Former OPCW Chief Says His Office Was Bugged While USA Pushed Iraq War

Caitlin Johnstone

In an important new interview with The Grayzone’s Aaron Maté, the first Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has revealed new insights into the way the US exerted control over the Organisation in the lead-up to the Iraq invasion and the suspicious way pro-US narratives appear to be dominating controversies in the supposedly impartial OPCW to this day.

The most significant piece of new information revealed in this interview with the acclaimed former OPCW chief José Bustani is his assertion that while the US was orchestrating his 2002 ouster due to the risk he posed of derailing the Iraq war agenda with successful negotiations, his office was packed with hidden surveillance equipment and that his American head of security vanished immediately after this was discovered.

After noticing suspicious phenomena and leaks coming out of his office, Bustani reports that he sent for a trusted security expert from outside the Organisation to investigate over the weekend.

“The fact was that the wall behind my desk, the wall behind the desk of the Director-General was full of equipment, listening equipment,” Bustani reported. “He broke the whole wall and removed everything, and there were bugs in the drawer, my desk, phone. I was shocked I must say. But he did it immediately. It took him the whole of Saturday, half of the Sunday, he took it [away], he removed everything and nobody realized except me and my wife. On Monday when people came to my office, they were shocked with the way the wall was. It was a big hole.”

“And interesting thing is — and I never said this before — is that I had then a person that was the head of the security of the Organization,” Bustani said. “He used to be an American. He had a large office full of equipment. I called him, the Monday after that happened, I called his office to check with him how come he didn’t know, he was in charge of security of the building, how come he didn’t know that there was such bugging equipment behind me. And he wasn’t there. And I was told that he was traveling to Germany, and I asked then, ‘Who allowed him to go to Germany? I am his direct boss. He was my subordinate, he was directly subordinate to me.’ Nobody could say anything. So I said ‘As soon as he returns tell him I want to have a word with him.’ This was the Monday. You will not believe it Aaron, but on Tuesday as I got to the OPCW I am told that I should go up to the head of security office and when I got there the office was empty, and this person disappeared and never showed up again. Never showed up again.”

This is a major revelation. When you’ve got an American infiltrator covertly surveilling a foreign official to advance US foreign policy agendas, what you have is a US spy. We don’t know what agency that spy would have worked for, but what Bustani is describing is US espionage targeting an international watchdog organisation.

Bustani gave additional insights into the ongoing OPCW scandal surrounding the extremely suspicious practices that were implemented in the investigation of an alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria in 2018 which preceded airstrikes against the Assad government by the US, UK and France. He stated emphatically that as Director-General he would “never” have allowed the Douma investigation team to be replaced with a “core team” who never went there or permitted a team of inspectors to meet with US officials during an active investigation, as reportedly happened after the Douma incident.

“This would have never happened if I were Director-General,” Bustani said when asked if he’d have allowed a US delegation to lobby them to come to a specified conclusion in their investigation. “The Inspectors know themselves that they cannot. They cannot. They are not supposed to meet with delegations on issues like inspections in particular. I don’t know how it happened, maybe they were forced to or they were led to by… I don’t know how it in practice happened because if I were Director-General this would never happen.”

“Absolutely not,” Bustani said when asked if he’d have permitted a team of investigators to be replaced mid-investigation with another team who never visited the crime scene. “It would have never happened to me, unless there was a serious violation of the code of conduct on the part of the inspectors. Which fortunately never, never happened.”
Bustani said he knew the whistleblowers who sparked the OPCW scandal from his time at the Organisation, and decried the way they are being smeared, silenced and their anonymity removed for simply voicing objections to an investigation’s methodology in the interest of protecting the OPCW’s legitimacy. He voiced a great fondness for the Organisation and a grave concern for the suspicious abnormalities in its investigative practices involving the United States, and he expressed shock at the way the US, UK and France recently blocked him from offering comments to the UN about those concerns.
Maté pointed out that one highly suspect common denominator in both the current OPCW scandal and Bustani’s 2002 ouster is John Bolton. As US ambassador Bolton is known to have been actively involved in arranging Bustani’s removal as Director-General to such an aggressive extent that he reportedly threatened Bustani’s children, and Bolton’s stint as Trump’s National Security Advisor began immediately before the 2018 airstrikes on Syria after the Douma incident. Bolton claims to have played a role in planning those airstrikes and was active at the highest levels of the US government’s executive branch throughout the entirety of the OPCW Douma investigation.

The mountains of evidence that the US has been meddling in an investigation of an incident which led to an act of war by the United States and its allies keeps stacking higher. The way the US power alliance has been actively suppressing and avoiding that evidence is appalling, and the way the mass media have refused to report on this fact is even more so.


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Originally Published by Caitlin Johnstone

CHINA’S GLOBAL LEADERSHIP LIST – CHARTS AND FACTS

A vast majority of Americans have absolutely no clue how advanced China has become. Look at the social media comments, and it’s clear that too many Americans – especially Trump supporters – are filled with misinformation and prejudice. “China is 100 years behind” … “All Chinese products are crap” … “China can’t innovate” … “It’s a communist, poor, polluted country” … and, of course, the most popular theme is “China’s economy is about to collapse.” It’s hard to change these opinions, since those people reinforce their biases by gleefully consuming and sharing only anti-China articles. Anything remotely positive about China is attacked as “Chinese propaganda.”

This potent mix of ignorance and hubris is also precisely why western corporations gladly and voluntarily shared their intellectual property (IP) with their Chinese joint-venture partners. The term “forced technology transfer” was invented retroactively only after Chinese corporations started threatening western profits — for example: Huawei has overtaken Apple, Nokia and Ericsson in smartphones, 5G and telecom infrastructure; BYD manufactures more electric vehicles than Tesla; Alibaba and Tencent process 50x more mobile payments than the US; and the most valuable (ByteDance) and the most innovative (Meituan) startups are Chinese.

While it’s true that China as whole has a long way to go in GDP-per-capita, many big cities in China are essentially “developed economies.” Plus, China has surpassed the US in many areas and is catching up in others.

If you don’t know your competitor, you’re certain to lose the game. So here are some quick statistics on China’s global leadership:

Economy, Manufacturing, Trade

=> #1 in PPP GDP (been so since 2014 when it surpassed the US)

=> #2 in nominal GDP ($13.5 trillion in 2018 and $14.4 trillion in 2019). And it’s as big as the next 4 countries combined!

=> #1 in exports (been so since 2009 when it overtook Germany)

=> #1 in container traffic (40% of global market). 7 out of the Top 10 busiest seaports are in China

=> #2 importer ($2.1 trillion)

=> #1 in manufacturing value added (been so since 2010 when China took the crown from the US, which had been #1 for the previous 110 years). The chart below is based on data from the World Bank

In spite of coronavirus/COVID-19, China’s manufacturing continues to grow and accounts for28% of global manufacturing. In fact, China is as big as the US, Japan and Germany combined.

=> #1 in foreign exchange reserves (>$3 trillion)

=> #1/#2 holder of US debt (>$1 trillion)

=> #1 banking system (twice the size of the US, in terms of assets). Surpassed the EU in 2016.

=> #1 trade partner for 130 countries (trade = exports + imports). And for 37 countries, China is their #1 export destination (meaning, they sell the most goods to China).

=> #1 in contribution to global GDP growth for the past decade (25-35%, which is twice that of the US). That is, if the world GDP grows by $100, then $25-$35 comes from China.

=> #1 in steel, cement, aluminum production (linklinklink). In three years (2012 – 2015), China used more cement than the US did in the entire 20th (link)

=> #1 in electricity generation (link)

=> #1 importer of crude oil (link)

=> #1 in purchase of industrial robots, accounting for almost 40% of global market in 2018 (link)

=> #1 in manufacturing of conventional cars (>26 million per year)

=> #2 in hi-tech manufacturing (Yeah, China isn’t just making t-shirts anymore)

=> #2 in billionaires (415 billionaires as of 2020)

=> #2 in millionaires (5 million millionaires)

=> #2 stock market, by market cap (overtook Japan in 2014)

=> #2 bond market, worth $16 trillion (link)

=> #1 in representation in Global Fortune 500 companies. (surpassed the USA in 2020). The chart below is from 2019. By mid-2020, mainland China had 124 and the US had 121 companies.

=> #1 in production of rice, wheat, potato, beer(!), tea, apple, strawberry, grapes and numerous other grains, vegetables and fruits. (link)

=> #1 in Middle Class population (350 million in 2018; and it overtook the US in 2015)

=> #1 country in the wealthiest Top 10% of global households (overtook USA). Now there are 100 million Chinese worth $110K or more.

=> #1 in poverty elimination (800 million lifted out of extreme poverty). Extreme poverty will be practically 0% in 2020.

=> #1 in online/e-commerce retail sales (3x the US)

=> #1 in personal luxury goods sales (35% of global market)

=> #1 retail market in the world by 2019 or by 2020 ($5.6 trillion) ($5 trillion)

=> #1 in international tourism spending (In 2010, Chinese tourists spent half as much as Americans; and by 2017, China was spending twice as much as the US)

Technology Superpower
=> #1 in Internet users (China had only 2 million internet users in 1998. It then grew to 300 million by 2008 and 900 million by early 2020).

=> #2 in Unicorns (startup companies worth more than $1 billion). 142 in China versus 175 in US. In 2020, the number of Unicorns are 227 in China versus 233 in the USA). Interestingly, 16 Unicorns in the US were founded by Chinese immigrants or Chinese Americans.

=> #2 in venture capital funding ($100 billion of new venture capital funding for about 2,900 startups last year )

=> #1 in e-commerce (42% of world market)

=> #1 in 4G mobile network (2 billion users)

=> #1 in Internet users (830 million people) and fiber-optic broadband users (320 million)

=> #1 in smartphones (Chinese brands have 50% of the global market)

=> #1 in solar, wind and hydroelectric power (link)

=> #1 in electric cars – manufacturing and sales (link)

=> #1 in consumer drones (70% of global market)

=> #1 in supercomputers (227 out of the 500 supercomputers are Chinese)

=> #1 in mobile payments (50x larger than the US)

Infrastructure Giant

=> #1 in skyscrapers – more than half of all skyscrapers are in China (link)

=> #1 in global infrastructure projects. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) involves 152 countries and international organizations. (link)

=> #1 in patents — accounting for almost half of all patents in the world!

=> #1 in international patents – according to WIPO. The US had been #1 since 1978 when WIPO/PCT was established. China had 58,990 international patents in 2019. Here’s an infographics

from WIPO:

=> #1 in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) college graduates (4x as many as the US)

=> #1 in scientific publications since 2016. And also catching up on the Top 10% and Top 1% of these papers/articles. (link)

=> #1 in the world in math, science and reading proficiency among high school students

=> #1 in 5G (China owns about 40% of 5G patents, and the world’s leading 5G vendor and patent holder is none other than Huawei)

=> #1 in Artificial Intelligence (AI) funding, startups and publications (linklink)

=> #1 in R&D spending in 2019 – according to US National Science Board; here’s an updated article for 2020. In the chart below, brown = USA and purple = China. The chart shows only up to 2017.

=> #2 in number of satellites in orbit/space (280 satellites as of 2018). In 2018, China became the first country to land on the far side of the moon. In both 2018 and 2019, China was #1 in rocket launches.

What should the US do? Try to “contain” China? Start World War III to maintain global hegemony? Become depressed and paranoid? Thankfully, the answer to all those questions is, “NO.” There are constructive things that America can and should do to prepare for the future.


-Chris Kanthan

Originally published on WORLD AFFAIRS

Oman Has a Good Reason for Dragging Its Feet About Normalising Ties With Israel

by Ekaterina Blinova

26.09.2020

Oman has a lot to lose if it decides formally to normalise ties with Israel, argues Pakistani political analyst and author Sabtain Ahmed Dar, shedding light on Muscat’s longstanding special relations with Tehran, Sultan Haitham bin Tariq’s foreign policy priorities and the sultanate’s role as the Muslim world’s peace broker

After the Sultanate of Oman openly praised the conclusion of peace pacts between Israel and the monarchies of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) officially signed at the White House on 15 September, the Israeli and Arab media started speculating that the sultanate may very soon follow in the footsteps of Abu-Dhabi and Manama.

Sputnik: Will Oman be the next to normalise relations with Israel or does it fear to harm its longstanding special relations with Iran?

Sabtain Ahmed DarFirst, it is important to lay a methodological foundation through which we would understand the variables attached to this phenomenon. Oman is known for its quiet diplomacy since a couple of decades, the prime reason for this phenomenon can be understood through the prism of two main factors; one is the Arab-Israel conflict and the second is war on terrorism since the dawn of 21st century. Oman is the only country in the Arab world that has not indulged itself into an armed conflict with Israel and it also falls at the lowest in the global terrorism index, or in other words, a country which still remains unaffected by terrorism. So the monarchy and the neutrality of Oman in regional geopolitics of the Middle East provide all the tools for Israel to diplomatically influence Muscat for their vested interests in the region.

Secondly, Oman’s and Israel’s ties date back to 1994 when Prime Minister of Israel Yitzhak Rabin visited Muscat and was greeted by Sultan of Oman Qaboos bin Said al Said. In 1995, a few days after Rabin was assassinated, then-acting Prime Minister Shimon Peres hosted foreign minister of Oman Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah in Jerusalem and in January 1996, Israel and Oman signed an agreement on the reciprocal opening of trade representative offices. It was these offices that would lay the foundation for possible future diplomatic ties with Tel Aviv. However, when the second intifada took place in October, 2000 their relations got frozen. It is to be noted here that Oman lies just at the south of Pakistan and shares territorial waters, Pakistan’s arch-rival India was also provided access to Iranian Chahbahar port in 2016 through the good offices in Muscat where India’s ally Israel played a significant role. 

Thirdly, in January, 2017 President Donald Trump along with his Jewish son-in-law Jared Kushner initiated a long awaited Middle East Plan. The author [Sabtain Ahmed Dar] wrote an analysis on the deal of the century in 2018 which explicitly states that it is resulting in a divide in between the Muslim world where Iran through its defiance and deterrence model would never recognise Israel and there is a possibility that the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) may implode because of Israel’s strategy of keeping a permanent divide between Saudi Arabia and Iran. In this scenario, Oman’s role of neutrality becomes not only significant for its divide in between Saudi Arabia and Iran but also to all those Muslim states that do not recognise Israel. This is the strategic area for Israel where Mossad’s chief Yossi Cohen has been playing the game since 2017. If we just take an account of his foreign tours in the Muslim world since January 2020, he had already met representatives of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and Egypt.

So far Omani recognition of the state of Israel remains speculative but an unnamed journalist, who is close to the foreign office in Muscat, told the author [Sabtain Ahmed Dar] on condition of anonymity on 17 September that “Mossad chief Yossi Cohen is in constant contact with the king of the sultanate, Haitham Bin Tariq Al Said, formal ties between the two countries”. If Oman recognises Israel, it would mean only one thing and that is that it has made its strategic role in the region its priority rather than its ideological one in reshaping the New World Order where the civilisation is about to witness a possible shift of power from Pax-Americana to Pax-Judaica.

Having said that, this step remains a brave task for the new Sultan, Haitham bin Tariq. But if he continued with Israel’s recognition, as a consequence of this, Oman will immediately sever its ties not only with strategic partner Iran but also with its northern ally Pakistan including all of those who are not willing to recognise Israel. Oman can also lose its mediation and reciprocation in the Yemen conflict to settle issues between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Moreover, after the UAE-Israel deal, there were reports saying that the UAE Navy is jointly establishing an intelligence headquarter in partnership with Israel on Socotra Island. This is perceived as a threat by Iran and Pakistan because Israel would have the ability to monitor the Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea. So in every case, in the grand scheme of the Middle East chessboard where the United States is also playing a critical role for Tel Aviv, Israel is in a win-win situation as long as the Muslims do not do something about their divided house.

Sputnik: What’s actually behind Omani-Iranian special relations? When did it originate? Why is Oman interested in remaining a neutral broker between Iran and other Gulf States?

Sabtain Ahmed Dar: Both Iran and Oman currently have strong diplomatic and financial ties dating back to the Pahlavi era. It reached its maturity during the brutal Dhofar Rebellion (1962-1976) in Oman; Mohammad Reza Shah dramatically intervened in support of the Omani government and saved the sultanate from implosion. To this day Omani officials recall and offer gratitude to Iran even though Khomeini and Khamenei’s Iran is totally different from Pahlavi’s.

Today in the international system both states are members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77. From July 2012 to October 2013, all Iranian interests in the United Kingdom were maintained by the Omani embassy in London as a protecting power. Additionally, Oman’s role of neutrality has allowed them to play on both sides in multilateralism. Iran–US secret talks under the Obama administration were mainly arranged by Oman. Talks were conducted over the nuclear issues, Iranian involvement in Syria conflict and threats to close the Strait of Hormuz etc.

In May 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry visited Oman to make sure the channel would be kept open because it served American-Israeli interests of engaging Iran though Oman. When Hassan Rouhani was elected as the president of Iran, the final secret meeting was held with the US under chief US nuclear negotiator Wendy Sherman. After the deal was struck, regarding Muscat’s role, President Hassan Rouhani said that Muscat not only hosted a number of significant meetings, but also “played a critical role in getting these talks off the ground in the first place”.

Since 2018, in the context of the deal of the century Oman has yet again taken centre stage but this time its own test is on the line whether it would recognise Israel. If Oman moved with the recognition of Israel, its image as an honest broker in the regional conflicts would be completely marginalised and those nations who are not willing to recognise Israel would not trust Oman’s conduct in diplomacy anymore.

Sputnik: Was Haitham bin Tariq’s decision to reshuffle the Omani government and replace Foreign Affairs Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah who earlier put the solution of the Palestinian question above possible normalisation with the Jewish state a harbinger of changes in Omani-Israeli relations?

Sabtain Ahmed Dar: The reforms in Oman under Haitham bin Tariq are an attempt to uphold the pact that he made in February to “undertake necessary measures to restructure the state’s administrative apparatus.” Apparently, it is clear that the new Sultan has been doing just that. Oman’s Sultan is restructuring his administration through 28 royal decrees issued on 18 August.

The changes will have no effect on Oman-Israel relations rather it came as part and parcel of efforts to resolve the sultanate’s looming crisis, including increased unemployment, financial deficit, and maintaining a foreign policy of Ibadi neutrality amid regional conflicts based on sectarianism.

It is to be noted here that there is a possibility that the Sultan’s reshuffling of his government has directly to do with his “early castling” over the sultanate’s statecraft as the key royals are dropped from 28 to just 19.

Yusuf bin Alawi, who had served as the minister for foreign affairs since 1997 is a veteran diplomat since 1970s. He was replaced with Badr bin Hamad Al Busaidi. The new foreign minister Al Busaidi had served as the secretary-general of the ministry of foreign affairs since 2000. Moreover, Oman’s relations with its traditional ally in great power politics, the United States, and its national security policies are unlikely to change under the new Sultan. One of the foremost reasons for this is that foreign minister Al Busaidi has long-standing and powerful connections in Washington and throughout the United States as well as Europe, especially in the United Kingdom. Thus, Haitham bin Tariq will be more concerned to offset political and security pressure from the Gulf giants – Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE and continued strong American ties.


Sabtain Ahmed Dar is a Pakistani political analyst and a visiting fellow to several think tanks, an author of two theses: “The Clash of Islam and Zionism” and “Pakistan and Global Game for a New World Order”. He writes for several online journals covering Middle East and Asian geopolitics.


Originally published by Sputniknews