At the end of my article on “the Framing of Russia”, published initially by American Herald Tribune on October 4th and since on Off Guardian, I wrote:
.. In the plausibility stakes in fact, this whole story – which as Elena (Evdokimova) observes is only hypothetical – rates at least as “highly likely”, if not quite “beyond reasonable doubt”, and is a substantial base on which to mount further speculation and prediction on the conspirators’ next moves. That the UK government, its agencies and assistants are the conspirators, with everything that this implies, can however no longer be in doubt.”
On that same day their “next move” materialised, in the shape of a coordinated press release by Dutch and British governments. This was actually more of a coordinated release of misinformation, detailing actions six whole months earlier, so the question must be what specific purpose was being sought and achieved by this long delayed action?
Was this not just the next move in creating a profile of Russia’s GRU as some sort of bogyman and mortal “threat to our way of life”, that began on September 5th with the launching of Bellingcat’s chosen patsies “Chepiga and Mishkin” onto the Western media stage? We should ask the National Cyber Security Centre, which appears to be the source of the UK Government’s latest statements.
The NCSC, a branch of GCHQ set up in October 2016, alleges that the GRU tried to gain access to OPCW computer networks, and to those at Porton Down in April 2018, assessing with “high confidence” that the GRU was “almost certainly” responsible for those alleged cyber-attacks.
We can’t however have even moderate confidence in this authoritative sounding information from the UK’s chief spy agency, as the NCSC expresses exactly the same “high confidence” that:
In 2016, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) was hacked and documents were subsequently published online”, and that “the GRU was almost certainly responsible.”
Really? Didn’t Russia’s military intelligence unit have enough on its plate in 2016, dealing with US support for Al Nusra in Aleppo and ISIS in Palmyra and Deir al Zour?
The wider agenda of the UK and Dutch governments in making this fabricated case against “Russian meddling” and “reckless behaviour” – even labelling Russia a “pariah state” – is worrying, simply because it is fabricated. To understand why, we need only examine the context of that action taken against Russian diplomats/GRU agents at the time it happened, in mid-April. In fact they were expelled the day before the US, UK and France launched a missile attack on Damascus, having refused to wait for the OPCW to reach Douma to establish whether a Chemical Weapon attack had really taken place.
During the week between the Douma stunt and the missile attack, Russia had been working furiously to prevent such an attack, in the full knowledge that Opposition claims of a chemical strike on Douma were fabricated by the White Helmets and their Special Forces aides. No-one on the ground in Douma knew anything about such a strike, and Russian experts had already done tests and found no chemical evidence of one. Russia and Syria had demanded that the OPCW visit Douma as soon as possible; evidently the US/UK/French coalition intended to strike at Damascus regardless and didn’t want the truth to get in the way of their great story, so found ways to delay the OPCW’s mission both in Holland and Syria.
Whether Russian diplomats were also at the Hague making representations to the OPCW over Douma during that week is unknown, but they were surely there in connection with the OPCW’s investigations of the alleged nerve agent used to poison Sergei and Yulia Skripal. Following on the OPCW’s visit to Salisbury to “collect” samples around March 21st and their analysis at undisclosed certified laboratories, their conclusions on the nature of the poison were issued on April 12th, the day before the expulsion of Russian diplomats.
On the 14th of April, Sergei Lavrov took the extraordinary step of releasing the confidential results of the OPCW analysis performed by the Swiss Spiez lab, publicly revealing what had been omitted from statements by the OPCW head and the UK government, which merely confirmed the presence of “Novichok” in blood and environmental samples.
The OPCW report available here stated only that:
- The TAV team notes that the toxic chemical was of high purity. The latter is concluded from the almost complete absence of impurities.
- The name and structure of the identified toxic chemical are contained in the full classified report of the Secretariat, available to States Parties.
Like the “release” of misinformation on October 4th, on the alleged GRU hacking of the OPCW six months earlier, it appears that even this public statement from the supposedly neutral OPCW was timed to suit the political and strategic agenda of the UK and Dutch governments. The previous day the new head of GCHQ, Jeremy Fleming, speaking on the last day of a three-day NCSC conference in Manchester, had already delivered the verdict of Russia’s guilt and recommended the punishment.
In his first public appearance as an intelligence chief, Fleming’s particularly rabid and intemperate contribution seemed almost designed to inflame the dangerous confrontation with Russia over Syria. At least it appears to confirm the close connection between the UK’s claims of chemical weapons use in Salisbury and Syria, and the intent to smear Russia with the same toxic poison as Syria in the mind of the Western public.
What Lavrov had revealed, on the undisclosed presence of the incapacitating agent BZ in the Skripals’ blood samples, was of course a breakthrough. It is more than ironic that the revelation of this astonishing campaign of lies told through Western media was completely submerged by news of the illegal missile attack on Syria that happened on the same day.
Thanks to this propaganda campaign from the creators of “Operation Nina”, the truth Russia also revealed about events in Douma and its later confirmation by the OPCW barely caused a ripple. When Russia presented a group of real Syrian witnesses from Douma at the OPCW headquarters, UK, French and Dutch governments condemned their action as an “obscene masquerade” and “gruesome spectacle”. It’s hard to think of a better description for that criminal war provocation those governments and their agents had just contrived in Syria.
So where does this all leave us now, as the situation in Syria begins to look more promising? Not only have the Jordanian and Golan border crossings been opened this week, but there is positive progress on the Demilitarised Zone, to be policed by Russian and Turkish forces. With the bizarre events in Istanbul over the apparent murder of Jamal Khashoggi causing severe tensions between Turkey, the Saudis and the US, the “rebel” forces all three countries have been supporting in Idlib province may be thinking it best to keep a low profile and comply with the ceasefire plan.
In fact it’s hard not to see some strange connection here, as the DMZ agreement effectively marks the end of the joint Saudi-Turkish “surge” of March 2015, when thousands of fighters invaded Idlib under the joint flag of Jaish al Fatah, or Army of Conquest. The Saudi-supported faction that dominated this army – Jabhat al Nusra – now rebadged as Tahrir al Sham or HTS, remains the wild card, of foreign jihadists on life-support from Syria’s most intransigent enemies.
But the question remains – what is the next move from those countries who have supported the war on Syria for seven years and now finally failed to achieve their goal? Does this new focus on “cyber-security” – otherwise known as “information warfare” – signify a departure from the “War on Terror”.
Perhaps this glowing portrayal of one of the leaders of the West’s new cyber-army is showing us the way. In an almost unreadable puff piece on “open-source” journalism, titled “Citizen journalists – the fighters on the frontline against Russia’s attacks” Carole Cadwalladr posits that:
We can no longer count on our governments to protect us from a tide of disinformation. Our security rests in the hands of open source intelligence, as pioneered by Bellingcat.”
As Cadwalladr says – disinformation is “the defining story of our age, and the story of 2018”.
We could hardly dispute that!