Syrian Waterpipegate: US-Syrian Center for Tobacco Studies [“Our Man in Aleppo”]

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READ ALSO (UPDATE): Open Letter to Wasim Maziak, Syrian Political Opponent and Head of the US-Syrian «Research» Centre in Aleppo (US-SCTS). 7 Sep 2013
Our Man in Aleppo, Head of US Masterminded Screen “Syrian Center for Tobacco Studies“
“Throughout history, whenever an ideology is given a political machine, it becomes a vehicle for cruelty and destruction. Ideologies do not recognize individuals, gray areas, self-criticism or anything outside their narrow boundaries. For in service of the ultimate truth, all means and sacrifices are justified. Corporate interest, on the other hand, is a driving force in many conflicts and wars as well as global health and environmental problems. We see political ideologies or aggressive economic interests—or worse, both—at the heart of every current human or natural conflict. Our world today, alas, is shaped by greed and politics. (Wasim Maziak, 2006)[1]Ahmad Chalabi, Iraq’s master manipulator, another US man in the region, who sold the CIA the “secret” that Iraq would have been developing “weapons of mass destruction”.One decade ago, in the wake of September 11, 2001, Wasim Maziak, Head of the US funded “Syrian Center for Tobacco Studies”(US-SCTS) -located in Aleppo although masterminded from the US territory- actually pushed America (the USA) to war against an “unacceptable” Middle Eastern social custom which, for many complex reasons, has been growing in popularity in the US territory and adopted by crowds of young people in particular: narghile (hookah, shisha) smoking [2]. We can say that Maziak has been trying to reach his objective the same way Ahmad Chalabi, Iraq’s master manipulator, another US man in the region, did by selling the CIA the “secret” that Iraq would have been developing “weapons of mass destruction” (WMD)[3].How research on tobacco smoking is broadly done (credit: smokersclub)Through a complex network of wealthy groups (funded by big pharmaceutical companies) lobbying in the name of ““public health”” and constantly launching new scares in the media, he has been selling the US prohibitionist funding agencies, the “secret” that ««waterpipe»» (the war code (though totally unscientific) name for the above artifacts) smoking, i.e. the «Arab Way of Smoking», a Weapon of Mass Entertainment (and not a WMD…, actually represents a world threat and not less than a “global epidemic” [4][5]

According to the United Nations, narghile (shisha, hookah) smoking represents a threat to “Human Security in Arab States”

This kind of pseudo-scientific literature full of serious (obviously meant) errors is recycled in as many outlets as possible. For instance, a report from the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) views narghile (shisha, hookah) smoking as a challenge to “Human Security in Arab States [6]… The scheme is clear as, thanks to the projection of such a fear, this offers a new argument for US interventionism. Certainly, the growing popularity of hookah smoking in the USA is now considered as a threat to US National Security…

The Syrian Baath ideology, targeted by both US warmongers and their man in Aleppo…

In the above quotation about “ideology”, why does not the director of the million dollar US-“Syrian Centre for Tobacco Studies” (US-SCTS) frankly mention which ideology he refers to?  Obviously it is the Baath one in power in Syria. And the Syrian officials do not know this yet although he has tried to “follow the wind” by giving more hints in a more recent paper (2011): “As the winds of democratic change sweeps the Arab world, let us hope that they bring with them the seeds of free scientific inquiry and greater investment and support for science and development”[7]

Another aspect of post-modern totalitarianism: the nightmare of “”public health”” (not a single spot on Earth left for smoking)

The question we asked in a first critique was: what about the prohibitionist US-backed antismoking ideology (essentially based on twisted and antiscientific facts) he decided one day to champion [8]? Why has he been selling -since 2002 (the official birth date, according to him, of research on shisha smoking…; see Myth 2 in Ten Post-11/9 Great Myths… [2]) the pseudo-scientific alert on the “global epidemic” of ““waterpipe”” smoking to US ““public health”” agencies  [4][5]? Most recently and interestingly, he did that again from Florida where Miami Cuban dissidents have joined hands with Syrian “Opposition”[9][10]…

In the most up to date comprehensive analysis of this issue [2], we reviewed one decade of a strange war waged in the biomedical field and in the name of ““public health”” (led by the goodies of the “West” against Middle Eastern “baddies”, to put things in a nutshell…) against a dead-still artefact used, for many centuries, by peoples of Asia and Africa (see example of recent hysteria here: Utah Clean Air Act ; response; ABC: Government Crack Down on Hookah Lounges) [2]. Not only has the practice surrounding this material object always displayed positive complex anthropological features (social cohesion, for instance) but its use has also been scientifically confirmed as being the Pre-Columbian tobacco harm reduction technique by excellence; both on the clinical and toxicological levels [2][11] [12][13].

“Changing paradigms” or exposed impostors?

The entrance of the Aleppo US-SCTS, in the Shihan district (according to its own sources)

After a ten-year war in which it has been common to read in the mainstream media that one shisha (hookah, narghile) equals 200 cigarettes [14], based on frequent one-sided interviews (with Maziak himself among others), the sudden new conclusion (after the antismoking teams ran their own biased series of tests) is that sitting for a one hour hookah session would be equivalent to 1 cigarette only (from nicotine to the most hazardous nitrosamines found in tar…)[2]. May we leave the readers appreciate the consequences of such results, keeping in mind that another frequent methodological bias still in action (as a fig leaf) is to compare the amounts of given toxic chemicals produced during a one hour shisha smoking session with those delivered by a 5 minute cigarette one; as if the average shisha user sat for 10 to 20 pipes a day and the average cigarette user smoked only one fag a day. In fact, a shisha is used on average 1 to 3 times a week while a cigarette is commonly smoked 20 or more times a day as everybody knows…

A first example of the world huge scientific confusion fuelled over one decade by the US-SCTS -and rewarded by Gulf States (by coincidence…, those also backing the armed ««revolution»» in Syria) with “Quality” “Awards”…- is given by the WHO flawed report which was prepared by its very staff [15].

A second example is given by their direct colleagues of the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung)(BfR). Using the same methods (among others a same biased smoking machine set up with a periodic 17s interpuff interval for one full hour), they reported (taking only two examples…) levels of toxic chemicals such as acrolein and benzo[a]pyrene 66 times and 20 times lower, respectively, than in the widely advertised studies of the US-American University in Beirut (US-AUB). The latter is directly connected with the US-SCTS through reciprocal ““peer-reviewing”” and selective citing of each other’s bibliographical references. One chief member of the US-SCTS (Thomas Eissenberg from Virginia Commonwealth University) has been serving as the funding channel (ca. 3 million dollars) for the above US-AUB team (headed by Alan Shihadeh). Both are co-authors of the WHO flawed report [15]. Notably, the US-AUB has produced the above mentioned “toxicity” studies sold to the world as Biblical Truth for one decade (see Myth 3 in Ten Post-11/9 Great Myths…)[2].

Questions to be asked

US-Funded «Syrian Center for Tobacco Studies» in Aleppo: “Best Science” or “Best War”?

Against such a background, and now that the “winds of democratic change sweep[ing] the Arab world” are welcome in Syria, according to Maziak [7], and now that “ideologies [which] do not recognize individuals, gray areas, self-criticism” (idem)[1] like the Baath one Maziak has obviously in mind, are frontally threatened by violent NATO strikes, a series of questions can be asked:

Wasim Maziak, Head of US-SCTS, handling his Awards from a Gulf State

1-What value may have the “Quality” “Awards” granted by Gulf countries to the Aleppo centre, responsible for the greatest confusion ever produced in the biomedical field (dozens of erroneous biased “studies” falsely comparing narghile hookah shisha with cigarettes, and selling fallacies such as the great hazards of environmental tobacco smoke or “nicotine addiction”[2][11][12][13]?

Traditional coffee-house in Syria (credit: Middle East Online, 12 Oct 2009).

2-How has the Syrian government fallen in the trap of the pseudo-science stuff the US-SCTS produced in order to tout a decree banning narghile smoking from cafes, including traditional Damascus coffee houses [8]?

Given the US-SCTS antiscientific inspired smoking ban on smoking in cafes, this man could be fined… Interestingly, he is reading a quite official newspaper named “Ath-Thawra” (“The Revolution”)… (credit: Hugh Mcleod)

These places are actually the ones everybody can watch these days on Syrian TV channels (particularly in this holy period of Ramadan), pointing out here that the latter medias are continuously targeted by the US-backed««revolutionaries»».

Traidtional coffee-house in Damascus (credit: P. Martin. The Globe and Mail 2009, 12 Dec)

Because the scheme is very complex, even Iranians once fell in such a trap by responding positively to such junk alerts as the image shows… Later on, the ban was lifted.

Iranians under US pressure a few years ago…

3-The graphic symbol of the US-SCTS is a narghile (hookah, shisha) bowl and not the burning tip of a cigarette. Yet, in Syria, the prevalence of cigarette smoking reaches about 60% of the population.  In these conditions, why is the overwhelming majority of Maziak’s publications on smoking about narghile and not cigarettes?

4-Against the background of the unprecedented 17-month long psychological war against Syria, would it possible that the US-SCTS, masterminded from abroad by US investigators, would be nothing more than a mere pocket of US intelligence (spies)?


Maziak has actually acted out of personal reasons: not only to get a higher salary than in Syria. This would not be a sin. He knew that if he could hype the ««waterpipe»» threat among US funding bodies (making it “sexy” as he said one day), not only could he win a “prestigious” position in a US university but could he also develop his “curriculum vitae” thanks to a series of publications (no matter if the corresponding papers contain huge serious errors or are repeating themselves…). Today, he can only but hope that the collapse of the Syrian government will allow him to freely implement the Great/New Middle East project in the biomedical field: putting forward his person and the US-SCTS as a model for the Arab world [7]. Researchers in Asia and Africa should be warned against this great fraud (see Ten Post-11/9 Great Myths…)[2]. As for the others in the “West”, they are invited to take the time to critically evaluate the purported scientific value of the US-SCTS production. Indeed, what did Maziak and his colleagues bring to the field except unprecedented world confusion and a waste of millions of dollars?

Syrian officials seem unaware that Maziak has been covertly calling for the toppling of the Syrian government and its ideology he abhors. This is likely due to the fact that his related scientific literature, as we saw, is published exclusively in English and not in Arabic. What happens is that the great majority of researchers -in Syria to start with and not only in Africa and Asia but also in such “developed” European countries as France-, cannot participate in any criticism of his pseudo-science because they have not got a sufficient command of English. The latter is actually the “international language of science”(sic) as Maziak’s hubris put it one day. This reveals another aspect of totalitarianism: how an arbitrary language (English) has been imposed to the world as that of global “information” and “science”…

Cherished memories. Damascus, Syria, with love…

Independent Syrian experts are likely right to say that the ongoing pseudo-revolution there (17 months now) is meant, not only to achieve macro objectives in the region but, also, in the end, a certain lifestyle (all independent travellers knowing Syria will understand): the simplicity of daily life, its low cost, Middle East sociability best expressed by Syrian coffee-houses and patios with their gurgling narghiles [16], etc… What is at stake is the repeated intent, begun in Iraq, to implement the US Great/New Middle East Project at all levels: from the political hyper-structure to the socio-cultural aspects. In the view of their designers and their men in the region, the “Arab way of life” must be shattered thanks to the emergence of a consumerist society essentially based on competition.

Post scriptum (about cowboys’, not scientists’, methods)

Thanks to heavy funding, the US, US-Syrian & US-Lebanese ««waterpipe»» prohibitionist group and the lobbies they work with has been monopolising research in this field. Among other ethical scandals, let us mention the most recent one which involves a harm reduction project in which the author is involved. In a second round of evaluation (the first one, carried out by independent experts, was very positive), the Decision Board of a Saudi university requested the opinion of the above group on the submitted project. Unfortunately, it appears that they arbitrarily chose the names of ««peer-reviewers»» “found on the internet” and were unaware of their total lack of professionalism, ethics, not to mention their numerous publications full of serious scientific errors. Expectedly, the group (from the US) adopted its usual imperialistic style, intending to block the project (from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia). Interestingly, the main “scientific” argument, this time, was that the author of this article is a key researcher in the project… A memorandum exposing this new scandal was sent to the Board [17].

 Bibliographical References

[1] Maziak W. On the verge of avalanche. Leonardo 2006; 39(2): 95.

[2] Chaouachi K. Ten Post-11/9 Great Myths about Hookah (Shisha, Narghile) Smoking & Public Health. Mathaba, the independent news agency, 12 May 2012

[3] Roston, Aram. Ahmad Chalabi, Iraq’s Master Manipulator… The Man Who Pushed America to War. NBC News (Note (linguistic): Amazingly, “Chalabi” means “native of Halab (Aleppo), pronounced “Chalab” in local Middle East Bedouin speak…)

[4] Chaouachi K. Human Health, ““Waterpipe”” (Hookah, Narghile, Shisha) Smoking and the Global Epidemic of Misrepresentations and Errors. SciTopics 2010 (10 Nov).…

[5] Maziak W. The global epidemic of waterpipe smoking. Addictive Behaviors 2010 (Aug)

[6] UNDP. Arab Human Development Report published by your organisation. Challenges to Human Security in

Arab States. UNDP [Regional Bureau for Arab States] 2009: 288 pages. In particular: pp 154, 164, 217). ;

[7] Maziak W. Boosting biomedical research in the Arab world. Avicenna Journal of Medicine 2011;1(1):2-3;year=2011;volume=1;issue=1;spage=2;epage=3;aulast=Maziak

[8] Chaouachi K. The Syrian Ban on Smoking in Hospitality Venues (Cafes, etc.): The Challenge of Scientific Integrity. Ex-Knol 2009 (20 Oct).

[9] Allard, Jean Guy. CIA Sabotage of Syria Peace Plan: Miami Cuban Dissidents Join Hands with Syrian “Opposition”. 31 May 2012

[10] WSVN. Hookah use may cause health issues [interview with Wasim Maziak, (recycling, here, the “100-cigarette equivalent” hoax…)]. 12 June 2012 June /21007930798565/hookah-use-may-cause-health-issues/

[11] Chaouachi K. Hookah (Shisha, Narghile) Smoking and Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS). A Critical Review of the Relevant Literature and the Public Health Consequences. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2009; 6(2):798-843.

[12] Sajid KM, Chaouachi K, Mahmood R. Hookah smoking and cancer. Carcinoembryonic Antigen (CEA) levels in exclusive/ever hookah smokers. Harm Reduct J 2008 24 May;5(19). Doi:10.1186/1477-7517-5-19

[13] Chaouachi K, Sajid KM. A critique of recent hypotheses on oral (and lung) cancer induced by water pipe (hookah, shisha, narghile) tobacco smoking. Med Hypotheses 2009 (online: 24 Dec).

[14] ASH (Action on Smoking and Health). ““Shisha 200 times worse than a cigarette” say Middle East experts””. 27 March 2007 (prepared by Martin Dockrell)(accessed 13 June, 2008)[based, among others, on an interview with Wasim Maziak and Alan Shihadeh, respectively heads of the US-“Syrian Centre for Tobacco Studies” and US-American University of Beirut centre. Sub-heading: “Three leading experts from across the Middle East have warned that excluding “shisha bars” when England goes smokefree on July 1 could worsen the grave inequalities in health that already affect ethnic minorities”] [Note: Compare such media “alerts” with the official hoaxes widely disseminated about Iraq’ invented ““Weapons of Mass Destruction”” (2003),  Libya’s Revolution Guide ““strafing his own people”” with ««6,000 dead»» in the very few days of the fake uprising (2011), etc…].

[15] Chaouachi K. A Critique of the WHO’s TobReg “Advisory Note” entitled: “Waterpipe Tobacco Smoking: Health Effects, Research Needs and Recommended Actions by Regulators. Journal of Negative Results in Biomedicine 2006 (17 Nov); 5:17. Doi:10.1186/1477-5751-5-17 [The WHO report was prepared by Alan Shihadeh (US-American University of Beirut), Thomas Eissenberg (US-“Syrian Centre for Tobacco Studies”) and Wasim Maziak (idem) and requested and peer-reviewed by (chiefly): Jack Henningfield (senior leader at Pinney Associates, pharmaceutical company) and Ghazi Zaatari (US-American University of Beirut)]

[16] Chaouachi K : Tout savoir sur le narguilé. Société, culture, histoire et santé [Eng.: Everything about Hookahs. Society, Culture, Origins and Health Aspects]. Paris, L’Harmattan, mai 2012, 256 pages, colour. ISBN : 978-2-296-96620-8. New edition; inlcudes Includes the full critique of the WHO flawed report.

[17] Chaouachi K. Memorandum to Chairman of the Evaluation Board of “King Abdulaziz City for Science  and  Technology 2011”.  Subject: URGENT / Rebuttal of a Major Fraud & Manipulation of the Evaluation Board through Biased Unethical “Review” of “Harm Reduction of Shisha Smoking using an Innovative Biopolymer Filter” project (Environmental Technology: 11-ENV1849-02). 31 May 2012

The “Arab Way of Smoking” behind US politicos’ and doctors’ hysteria for one decade now…


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