How Corrupt is the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons? Very corrupt indeed!
Eric Reeves | April 4, 2018 | https://wp.me/p45rOG-2ep
In September 2016 Amnesty International produced a report on the brutal military assault on the Jebel Marra region of Central Darfur. Thousands of civilians were killed either at the time or from the effects of the military campaign; at the time, some 200,000 civilians were displaced. Notably, violence has recently seen a sharp uptick in the same region, with the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) again the primary weapon deployed by the Khartoum regime.
Following this immensely destructive military action of 2016—primarily directed against civilian targets—Amnesty International produced an authoritative report:
Using satellite imagery, more than 200 in-depth interviews with survivors and expert analysis of dozens of appalling images showing babies and young children with terrible injuries, the investigation indicates that at least 30 likely chemical attacks have taken place in the Jebel Marra area of Darfur since January 2016. The most recent was on September 9.
“The scale and brutality of these attacks is hard to put into words. The images and videos we have seen in the course of our research are truly shocking; in one a young child is screaming with pain before dying; many photos show young children covered in lesions and blisters. Some were unable to breathe and vomiting blood,” said Tirana Hassan, Amnesty International’s Director of Crisis Research. (“Scorched Earth, Poisoned Air: Sudanese Government Forces Ravage Jebel Marra, Darfur,” Amnesty International | 109 pages; released September 29, 2016)
Victim of the Khartoum regime’s use of chemical weapons during the 2016 Jebel Marra military offensive
I recently wrote at length about what was represented by the failure of the international community and in particular the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to investigate; indeed the OPCW has managed to avoid investigating any of the many serious and credible charges of chemical weapons use by Khartoum’s military over the past twenty years. See |
“Just How Effective a ‘Watchdog’ is the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons? Sudan as a test case…” (March 29, 2018 | https://wp.me/p45rOG-2ei )
This is the backdrop to a dispatch today from the BBC about the effort by Russia and Vladimir Putin to obscure Russian responsibility for the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, southern England a month ago (March 4, 2018). Russia put forward a proposal to the OPCW that was patently designed to obscure its own responsibility—and found some support in predictable quarters: China, Azerbaijan, Algeria, Iran…and Sudan.
Why is Sudan a voting member of the OPCW? The Africa bloc of the organization, as I noted in my comments of March 29, 2018, decided that it was appropriate to elect the Khartoum regime to the position of Vice Chair of Executive Council of the OPCW. The Executive Council is responsible for the most important decisions by the Organization. The extraordinary cynicism, finally cruelty of the Africa bloc at the Organization (Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa, and Sudan) is reflected in Sudan’s vote to accept Russia’s proposal for, in effect, investigating itself in the case of the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in the UK.
To be sure, the membership as a whole voted down Russia’s proposal 15 to 6, although with 17 abstentions. But such a split vote is deeply unsettling and certainly does nothing to diminish the disgrace of the OPCW’s failure to investigate the Amnesty International report of September 2016, an indictment that speaks to the wholesale use of chemical weapons against civilians nowhere near actual military fighting.
If Khartoum can be handed the position of Vice Chair of Executive Council of the OPCW, then there is simply no reason to believe that the organization is even slightly serious in truly “Prohibiting” chemical weapons use. A grim reminder provided recently by the New York Times makes clear just how complacent this corrupt organization can be:
“Russia, Praised for Scrapping Chemical Weapons, Now Under Watchdog’s Gaze” | New York Times, March 20, 2018 (London)
Last fall , President Vladimir V. Putin summoned a Kremlin television crew to his residence for a ceremony marking the destruction of Russia’s last declared stocks of chemical weapons.
The occasion called for a touch of theater: Shells were dismantled on camera, decorated with flowery Cyrillic script reading, “Farewell, chemical weapons!” Mr. Putin spoke proudly of Russia’s status as a peacemaker, and derided the United States for lagging behind. An official from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the global body that monitors agreements to whittle down stockpiles, stood by, beaming…
Russian spy: Moscow bid for joint poisoning inquiry fails at OPCW | BBC, April 4, 2018
Russia’s proposal for a new, joint investigation into the poisoning of an ex-spy and his daughter in England has been voted down at the international chemical weapons watchdog at The Hague.
Russia has accused Britain of blocking access to an investigation being carried out by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Britain earlier said Russia’s call for an inquiry with the UK was “perverse.” Russia lost the vote by 15 votes to six, while 17 member states abstained.
China, Azerbaijan, Sudan, Algeria and Iran were among the countries that backed Russia’s motion at the OPCW executive council, Reuters reported.
Russia called the meeting to challenge the UK, which has blamed Moscow for the March 4 poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, southern England.
Russia has strongly denied any involvement and in a press conference after the vote said it had reason to believe what happened in Salisbury was a “terrorist attack.” It strongly criticised the US and EU countries for siding with the UK. At the meeting, UK acting representative John Foggo had said the victim of a chemical weapons’ attack was not required to work with the “likely perpetrator.”
The British government says a military-grade Novichok nerve agent of a type developed by Russia was used in the attack. The incident has caused a major diplomatic fallout, with the expulsion of some 150 Russian diplomats by the UK and its allies being met by counter-expulsions by Moscow.
On Tuesday the UK’s Porton Down laboratory said it could not verify the precise source of the Novichok nerve agent used in Salisbury, although it did say it was likely to have been deployed by a “state actor.” The comments were seized upon by Russia to discredit the UK’s accusations. It has requested that the UN Security Council meet on Thursday to discuss the situation for a second time. At The Hague on Wednesday, the European Union re-iterated that it backed the UK’s assessment that it was “highly likely” that Russia was responsible.