Sunday, 22 April 2018

Is the chemical attack to provide a pretext for excalation

Chemical Attack in Douma: a false pretext for escalating war against Syria?

8 April, 2018

Update 20 April – now we have heard testimony not only from residents and medics, but also from one of the children featured in the video

Further update: German TV News from ZDF carries report of numerous witness statements from Douma refugees who all say the chemical attack was staged (from minute 7:30), which does reduce the likelihood that witnesses could have been ‘planted’ or coerced. (I have added a separate note on this latter matter, 
21 April.)

Update 16 April – further to doubts expressed by prominent journalists and senior British military figures over recent days, today renowned journalist Robert Fisk visited the actual scene of the clinic and reports doctor’s confirmation of what two medical workers had previously said (April 13), namely, that smoke/dust inhalation following an explosion had caused the breathing difficulties patients presented with. What then happened was that a man came in shouting that there’d been a gas/chemical attack, causing panic, and starting getting people hosed down for the camera. This same story was also reported by Pearson Sharp for OAN who additionally interviewed dozens of local residents, randomly chosen from queues for relief supplies, none of whom had seen any sign of any chemical attack.

Original post 8 April 2018 Allegations of a chemical attack in Douma by Syria on 7 April were met by threats from President Trump to attack Syria. These were followed by Israeli missile strikes on an airfield in Homs early on 9 April. Given the pace of events and their significance for potential escalation in tensions between the Western powers and Russia, it is helpful to have timely information about questions that are under investigation by independent researchers. This post will be updated as and when insightful contributions are published, including as work in progress. Comments are open to allow for readers’ further recommendations and observations.
In the media

OAN’S Pearson Sharp refutes MSM reports of alleged Syrian chemical attack’ (18 April) – 7 minutes of interviews with witnesses in the street by the site of alleged attack
Dirk Emmerich, RTL Deutschland (16 April) [in German, shows citizens saying they were used as human shields, knew of no gas attack, and are very glad for the food they can now get.]
Testimony from on the ground in Douma
Current work in progress
Research on previous chemical incidents in Syria:
Selected interviews about wider context of the current crisis
Jeffrey Sachs (12 April)
Maria Zacharova (12 April)
Summary of key questions
1. Was there a gas attack?
[ If no, how can deaths alleged caused by it be explained?]
2. If yes, was Syrian government responsible?
[If no, who was?
3. If yes, were the airstrikes justified under principles of international law?
The answer to (3), even assuming affirmative answers to (1) and (2) = NO, according to Professor Mary Ellen O’Connell, Robert and Marion Short Professor of Law and Research Professor of International Dispute Resolution—Kroc Institute, University of Notre Dame. (Unlawful Reprisals to the Rescue against Chemical Attacks? – 12 April 2018)
Further discussion of legitimacy and legality of Western action

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