The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has an important role to play in ensuring people know the truth. Nothing should get in the way of that.
In the very early spring of this year, I gave a lecture to European military personnel interested in the Middle East. It was scarcely a year since Bashar al-Assad’s alleged use of chlorine gas against the civilian inhabitants of the Damascus suburb of Douma on 7 April 2018, in which 43 people were said to have been killed.
Few present had much doubt that the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which represents 193 member states around the world, would soon confirm in a final report that Assad was guilty of a war crime which had been condemned by Donald Trump, Emmanuel Macron and Theresa May.
But at the end of my talk, a young Nato officer who specialises in chemical weapons – he was not British – sought me out for a private conversation. “The OPCW are not going to admit all they know,” he said. “They’ve already censored their own documents.”
I could not extract any more from him. He smiled and walked away, leaving me to guess what he was talking about. If Nato had doubts about the OPCW, this was a very serious matter.
When it published its final report in March this year, the OPCW said that testimony, environmental and biomedical samples and toxicological and ballistic analyses provided “reasonable grounds” that “the use of a toxic chemical had taken place” in Douma which contained “reactive chlorine”.
The US, Britain and France, which launched missile attacks on Syrian military sites in retaliation for Douma – before any investigation had taken place – thought themselves justified. The OPCW’s report was splashed across headlines around the world – to the indignation of Russia, Assad’s principal military ally, which denied the validity of the publication.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.