38th UN Human Rights Council : Side event organised by the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Geneva 27 June 2018
Statement by Peter Ford, British Ambassador to Syria, 2003-6, Representative of the Commissioner General of UNRWA, 2006-14
Peter Ford will also be speaking at Imperialism on trial, a series of speaking events being held in four cities in the United Kingdom (July 2018). For details see below at foot of article.
The objective of this meeting is to show Syria in perspective. That is, Syria as she really is after eight years of war, not as she is almost universally portrayed in the West.
A brave stand by the Commission of Inquiry on Syria over alleged use of chemical weapons in Douma
I shall look at the broad picture, but I want to zero in by dealing with the report presented yesterday by the Commission on Syria.
I am not going to endorse that report but I want to begin by congratulating the Commission for standing firm and refusing to make premature pronouncements about the alleged use of prohibited weapons in Douma.
In doing so the Commission obviously angered those in the US administration and elsewhere who are impatient to see the West bombing its way to regime change in Syria. Hence the petulant leaks to the New York Times of a rejected earlier draft of the Commission report, and hysterical accusations against the Commission.
The body which actually has prime responsibility for determining what occurred or did not occur in Douma is the OPCW. Its investigations are not yet complete. Perhaps worried that the outcome might not be what Washington wants, the US administration had clearly been pinning high hopes on the Commission for producing a report which would suit the administration’s purpose of retrospectively justifying the illegal US/UK/French bombing of Syria in April – and more importantly, of conditioning opinion for the next, bigger aggression.
Conditioning Western opinion for the next aggression
Make no mistake, conditioning opinion for the next Western air strikes is crucial for the coming phase of the Syria conflict.
Imagine that today you are a leader of one of the armed groups, in Deraa, say. You have seen how gullible Western governments and media are.
You have seen how easy it is to fabricate incidents to incriminate the Syrian government. You don’t even need to stage a false flag operation, that is one where you yourself use chemical weapons in order to pin the blame on Assad. You did that in 2013 only the former Commissioner, Carla Del Ponte, to veer off message by stating that there was strong and concrete evidence that the rebels had stocks of sarin and had used it.
The UN hierarchy intervened quickly to row back on what Carla Del Ponte had blurted out. So you, the jihadi leader, felt confident in staging more false flag incidents, as with the Khan Sheykhoun incident in April 2017. You knew that the OPCW inspectors would not actually visit the site, because your jihadi forces made sure it was unsafe. You knew that that – incredible as it may seem – would not stand in the way of the inspectors, in violation of their own protocols, accepting as genuine ground samples, photographs and other evidence provided by your auxiliaries, the White Helmets. You knew the inspectors would not demand biological samples.
You were worried when some of your coached witnesses in an excess of zeal presented themselves to hospitals too early and were logged as being treated even before Asad’s planes had left Sheyrat air base. The inspectors, however, relegated this killer fact to an appendix to their report. It was of course ignored.
Douma was a bigger challenge because you, the jihadi leader, left it so late that the inspectors were actually able to visit the site. But you were confident that your Western paymasters would bomb Asad without waiting for the investigation. And then when the investigation, delayed by the bombing, was finally about to get under way it was a simple matter to engineer more delay and deterioration of evidence by having your sleeper cells left behind fire a few shots. You knew the West would blame Russia and Asad. You knew also that even though the Russians found the people seen in the key video of the incident and had them recount here in Europe the true story of what happened, the Western media would prefer to believe you, the accomplice of Al Qaida.
Pentagon acting as Al Qaida air wing
You really cannot believe your luck. You have lost the war but here is the Pentagon willing to act as Al Qaida’s air wing as long as you just provide them with a credible staged incident.
To get the US, UK and France to go to war, a lower standard of evidence is needed than it takes to get a conviction for a parking ticket.
After Douma Western leaders swore that next time the gloves would be off, and reports emerged that Plan A for Douma had been to target Asad himself and his command centres, though the Russians nixed that. So what do you, the jihadi commander, do now? Well obviously you start planning the next fake attack. You would be a fool not to.
Thus , my friends, a repeat of Douma is fated to occur. Unless, that is, sufficient doubt emerges about the Douma charade, the Douma hoax, to give Western governments pause in assuming that their public opinions will swallow a repeat dose and allow them to risk a much more serious confrontation with Russia and Iran.
Against the background of that likely scenario, we see what a crucial service the Commission has performed by refusing to join in the conditioning of opinion by pronouncing on Douma.
Siege warfare is not the unique vice of the Syrian government
Enough praise for the Commission. Now for some caveats
‘we visited 44 sites and interviewed 112 civilian residents’
‘[they] launched air strikes on buildings full of civilians using wide area effect munitions…’