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'External pressure behind OPCW altering facts on Douma attack'

This file photo shows the building entrance at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) headquarters in the Hague, Netherlands.

Retired US army colonel Lawrence Wilkerson says international organizations such as the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) at times come under pressure from certain countries to "alter the facts."

The Courage Foundation - a group dedicated to defending whistleblowers - said recently that OPCW had “sidestepped” concerns about its controversial investigation into the 2018 alleged chemical attack in the Syrian city of Douma, accusing the body of accepting “unsubstantiated or possibly manipulated” findings.

"One of the favorite techniques of organizational leadership, when their organization is accused of malfeasance or wrongdoing, is to open attacks on their accusers.  This is particularly true when all or some of the accusers come from within the organization's own ranks, as is the case with this incident with the OPCW. In America, we call such accusers "whistleblowers" and supposedly have laws to protect them; but those laws rarely function properly," he explained.

The chief of staff of former US secretary of state Colin Powell acknowledged the existence of such pressure on international organizations.

“In this case of the OPCW's investigation of the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria in April 2018, there seems to be more weight of actual evidence on the side of the whistleblowers than the OPCW leadership.  It would not be the first time that an international/United Nations organization like the OPCW was pressured by one of the Perm-Five members of the UNSC to "alter the facts" so that they conform to the wishes of the member,” he told Press TV in an interview on Sunday.

Wilkerson blamed external pressure as a factor that undermines the professionalism of such organizations.

“I think that when the OPCW is operating in a more or less non-controversial way -- for instance, when it helped the US Army and others to destroy over 600 metric tons of chemical weapons from Syria in 2014 -- it operates in a professional and competent manner.  However, when such organizations as the IAEA or the OPCW come under strong pressure from one or more members of the Perm-5 of the UNSC -- particularly the US, China, or Russia -- they sometimes bend to that pressure and are thus less competent and less professional,” he said.

He said the allegations raised by the West against the Damascus government stemmed from a long-time desire to overthrow President Bashar Assad and bring about a ‘regime change’ in Syria.

“Certain western countries -- led by the US -- had a strong interest in making Syrian President Bashar al-Assad appear to be a tyrant whose actions inside Syria against some of his own people warranted his removal from power-- in other words, regime change in Syria. The leaders in these western countries have in the past brought pressure to bear on agencies like the OPCW to render findings that comport more with these leaders' policy aims than with the actual facts on the ground. I believe that is what occurred with the April 7 attacks,”  he stated.

On April 7, 2018, an alleged chemical attack hit Douma near the Syrian capital, Damascus. Western countries pointed the finger at the government of President Assad.

A week later, the US, Britain and France targets sites and research facilities near Damascus and Homs in a coordinated missile strike with the purported aim of preventing the government from producing chemicals.



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