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‘One of the Great Hoaxes’: Skripal Poisoning Evokes ‘Deja Vu’ of Iraq War Run-up

© REUTERS / Peter NichollsLa Policía británica cerca de la casa de exespía Serguéi Skripal
La Policía británica cerca de la casa de exespía Serguéi Skripal - Sputnik International
Prominent anti-war activist and former UK parliamentarian for both the Labour and Respect parties George Galloway warned Radio Sputnik that the UK’s response to the poisoning of a former Russian double agent on its territory is similar to its headlong rush to war with Iraq in 2003.

Earlier in March, former British spy in the Russian military Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in Salisbury, England. The case abounds with mysteries and contradictions — and the British government is pointing the finger at Moscow.


​"I think this will go down with the Gulf of Tonkin incident as one of the great hoaxes, with the most serious implications in all of history," Galloway told Brian Becker and John Kiriakou of Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear. "The Russian president is facing reelection, the people of the world are headed to Russia in the summertime for the World Cup."

"These two people were clearly of no consequence — if the Russian state wanted to kill them, they could have killed them entirely inexpensively at any time. [Yulia Skripal] actually lives in Moscow, so if they wanted her dead, she could have been murdered in an alley with her scarf. [Sergei Skripal] could have been murdered in prison when he was jailed as a traitor to the Russian Federation — and he got a very light sentence, which seems to suggest they didn't take him seriously even back then."

Russian Foreign Ministry - Sputnik International
Moscow Warns UK Against Delivering Ultimatums to Russia Over Skripal Case

"In broad daylight, in public, this mastermind, capable of rigging the American elections, rigging Brexit, rigging the Catalan independence struggle and God knows what else, is stupid enough to attack with a nerve agent invented by Russia with Russia's signature on it. In my opinion, you'd have to be crazy to believe that — but a large number of people, certainly in the media and even more depressingly in the Parliament, do," Galloway said.

Galloway compared the UK Parliament's reaction to the Skripal poisoning to the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. In 2016, a Parliament-commissioned report known as the Chilcot Inquiry argued that the UK rushed into war with Iraq, that the evidence presented that Iraq was a threat to the UK was insufficient and that British intelligence misled the government and people of the UK with false reports that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

And yet, he said, despite the Chilcot Inquiry, parliamentarians are still treating "intelligence briefings given to the prime minister… as if they were carved in stone and just brought down from Mount Sinai. It's deja vu."

Police officers stand outside a pub near to where former Russian inteligence officer Sergei Skripal, and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious after they had been exposed to an unknown substance, in Salisbury, Britain, March 7, 2018 - Sputnik International
Lavrov: UK Rejects Russia's Demand on Granting Access to Skripal Case Docs

"The only person in Parliament who tried to stand up against this was Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and he was barracked and rubbished mainly by his own side, the remaining Tony Blair supporters. He's being assailed as unpatriotic, as a Putin stooge, and so on. It is profoundly dispiriting that journalists by the hundreds are accepting at face value that Russia would do such a self-harming thing for no purpose that anyone has even yet speculated upon."

Becker and Galloway discussed the bizarre circumstances of the case: Skripal and his daughter were found unconscious in public and the UK claimed that they were poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok, originally engineered in the Soviet Union in the 1970s. The toxin was also found in Skripal's house and a British police officer who searched the house is gravely ill as a result.

But no Novichok remnants were found at the restaurant where the Skripals ate or the pub where they drank. It didn't infect the paramedic who tried to give Sergei mouth-to-mouth resuscitation for half an hour. And, while it means little on its own, the site of the poisoning is just seven miles away from Porton Down, the British government's chemical weapons research lab.

Officials in protective suits check their equipment before repositioning the forensic tent, covering the bench where Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found, in the centre of Salisbury, Britain, March 8, 2018 - Sputnik International
'Every Laboratory in the West Has Samples of 'Novichok' Nerve Agent' - Analyst

"These are big unexplained mysteries," said Galloway. "If I just give you a hypothesis, only a hypothesis, I'm not saying it's true, but it would be entirely possible that the nerve agent was being kept in the house of Skripal and it was somehow released. It affected the couple and the police officer, all three of whom became gravely ill in the ensuing hours — but that, too, is a mystery."

"This agent is supposed to act within seconds, that's what it says on the tin, that's how they sell it. Within seconds, it will wipe you out completely — and yet didn't it didn't wipe out any of the people affected. Some of the people who got closest to the victims are unaffected entirely."

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