Team probing Syrian war & Skripal poisoning case reveal all

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Made up of 15 academics, researchers, and PhD candidates across the UK, the group was established to “facilitate research into the areas of organised, persuasive communication (including propaganda and information operations)… with respect to the 2011-present conflict in Syria, including related topics.”

So far, the group has been slammed by the media, including a hit piece in The Times that accused the group of “spreading pro-Assad disinformation and conspiracy theories.” Others have praised their work for questioning mainstream narratives and providing pluralism.

Sheffield University Professor of Politics, Society and Political Journalism Piers Robinson took aim at The Times’ accusations on Twitter, retweeting a comment suggesting that the paper’s actions were akin to a “McCarthyite witch hunt at the exact moment that the UK is illegally bombing,” in reference to the UK’s recent participation in the airstrikes on Syrian government facilities.

Robinson spoke to RT following the release of the group’s most recent investigative analysis, an “update on the Salisbury poisonings.” Robinson said that the UK government’s theory that the chemical smeared on the front door was what led to the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, was an unlikely scenario.

“Our briefing notes that it is implausible that exposure to a nerve agent on the front door could have caused both Skripals to collapse suddenly and simultaneously at least three hours later,” he said, declining to enter into speculation about other possible scenarios. “Our concern is about what the evidence shows, not what we think,” he said.

The paper did note, however, that there were obvious possible motives for actors other than the Russian state to assassinate Sergei Skripal in early 2018. “The UK’s case that ‘only Russia’ had such a motive does not stand up to critical examination,” it read.

Robinson did have his own questions for the UK government. “Why will they not reveal the identity of the compound, what is known of its toxicity and how to treat it, and what is known of how to deal with contamination? This information is needed in case any more attacks occur,” he said.

“What steps has the UK government taken to rebut the Russian suggestion that Yulia Skripal is being isolated against her will,” Robinson questioned. “For instance, why not allow a neutral lawyer or diplomat to take a deposition from her that she has freely chosen to isolate herself from her family and from social media?”

Fellow member, Leicester University International Relations Lecturer Dr Tara McCormack slammed The Times’ hit piece, labelling it “a hatchet job on me and other colleagues who are against [Syrian] intervention.”

SPM member and Professor of Environmental Political Theory at Edinburgh University Tim Hayward echoed the sentiments laid out by his working group colleague. Referencing the questionable veracity of the Douma attack, Hayward said “such claims have been questioned by many people, including senior British military figures. The fact that people who aim to provide support to the questioning are attacked in a major news outlet is itself a matter of concern.”

Professor Hayward told The Express in April that the group was not pro-Assad at all, having only released one paper at the time… on the Skirpal poisoning. “Members of the working group have so far published just one item, a research note on the poisoning of the Skripals in Salisbury,” Hayward said.

“Although still work in progress, the piece, [an] update to briefing note ‘Doubts about Novichoks,’ has been well received by academics and serious commentators. It has been singled out by Cornell University’s Professor of Organic Chemistry David B. Collum as the most definitive work on the Novichok nerve agent scandal.

“According to The Times, the group is ‘spreading pro-Assad disinformation.’ In fact, the group is scrupulous in its analysis and presentation, which stands always open to correction, as any academic work in progress does. The group is not ‘pro-Assad.'”

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6 COMMENTS

  1. If the British government had nothing to hide about the Skripal poisoning’s, than why would they issue a D-notice (Defence and Security Media Advisory Notice) to the press, in order to prevent information that could potentially damage their narrative from getting out to the public?

    “From: DSMA Secretary
    Date: 7 March 2018
    Subject: URGENT FOR ALL EDITORS – DEFENCE AND SECURITY MEDIA ADVISORY (DSMA) NOTICE

    Private and Confidential: Not for Publication, Broadcast or for use on Social Media TO ALL EDITORS The issue surrounding the identity of a former MI6 informer, Sergei Skripal, is already widely available in the public domain. However, the identifies of intelligence agency personnel associated with Sergei Skripal are not yet widely available in the public domain. The provisions of DSMA Notice 05 therefore apply to these identities. DSMA Notice 05 inter alia advises editors against the:
    ‘inadvertent disclosure of Sensitive Personnel Information (SPI) that reveals the identity, location or contact details of personnel (and their family members) who have security, intelligence and/or counter-terrorist backgrounds, including members of the UK Security and Intelligence Agencies, MOD and Specials Forces.’ The full text of DSMA notice 05 can be found on the DSMA website.

    If any editor is currently considering publication of such material, may I ask you to seek my advice before doing so? Please do call or email me if you have any questions or need further clarification.

    I would be grateful were the Press Association and Society of Editors to promulgate this notice through their own networks.

    Thank you,
    Yours sincerely,

    John Alexander

    Group Captain John Alexander | Second Deputy Secretary | Defence and Security Media Advisory Committee”

  2. So, now that time has passed and ample opportunity to provide evidence for both cases is in excess, and neither has been done, and in fact the opposite has happened, let’s proceed to the logical conclusion.
    Due to the pressing nature of the upcoming Cambridge Analytica scandal (because the ‘family” had a heads up ) they sought to redirect blame towards Russia and Syria as chemical weapons abusers when in fact , it is a rather obnoxious bunch of very rich thieves who have been caught and do not have the moxie to step forth and accept their punishment such as they demand from their “subjects”. Again I ask, “How does a family that does no work,.. get rich and generationally powerful ?” If you say they are smarter, I say “Bullshit”.
    If justice was done, the British ambassador would be called before the Senate of the US and all military intelligence cooperation would be put on hold awaiting a full and honest investigation. For crying out loud.
    The British have skated by on some invisible layer of assumptive innocence for many decades. Bad idea.

    • The decision to have an “American” Bishop speak at the “royal’ wedding, is a gross display akin to Trump claiming to be an evangelical representative. Please go get married without cameras, and stop jamming your babies faces in our business.
      Sincerely Yours (not)
      Sons of the American Revolution.

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