The former head of the OPCW has defended the whistleblowers who alleged that it engaged in a cover-up of exonerating evidence in Douma, arguing efforts to silence him prove the dissenters right.
Jose Bustani, the OPCW’s founding director general, has fiercely defended the inspectors who braved political pressure from their own organization along with the US and its allies to expose the apparent cover-up of evidence countering Washington’s hole-filled narrative that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government used chemical weapons in Douma in April 2018.
In an interview with the Grayzone, Bustani lamented the political co-option of the body he helped establish by the US, which – together with its allies, including Britain and France – barred him from testifying before the UN Security Council earlier this month, using the bizarre excuse that he lacked the expertise to speak about the operations of the organization he once led.
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Not only are the Douma whistleblowers “extremely competent…extremely professional and extremely reliable” – trusted colleagues from his early days at the OPCW – but the group’s very reluctance to hear them out signaled it lacked confidence in its own revised conclusions of Syrian guilt in the Douma attack, Bustani told the outlet. The body’s insistence Assad had used chemical weapons was held up after the fact to justify US airstrikes on Damascus.
“If the OPCW is confident in the robustness of its scientific work on Douma,” Bustani explained, referring to the official report alleging the use of chlorine gas on civilians by the Assad government, “it should have little to fear in hearing out its inspectors.”
If, however, the claims of evidence suppression, selective use of data, and exclusion of key investigators, among other allegations, are not unfounded, then it’s even more imperative that it should be dealt with openly and urgently.
Bustani explained he had volunteered to testify before the UN Security Council because he felt it was his “duty” to help the whistleblower inspectors get the fair hearing they had been denied and bring their concerns to a wider audience.