Tag Archives: Libya

David Cameron regularly broke international law when he was prime minister. Why the change of heart now?

 

Legacy: this spoof heritage plaque gives a very good summation of David Cameron’s role in the UK’s ongoing Brexit disaster. Why should we take any interest in his views now?

He’s saying the right thing – but for the wrong reasons, and it is still a grotesque act of hypocrisy.

I refer, of course, to former prime minister David Cameron, who regularly, during his time as prime minister of the UK, broke international law but is expressing concern at Boris Johnson doing the same now.

You don’t remember? Allow me to remind you that the United Nations ruled that Cameron’s government broke the law to deliberately harm people with disabilities.

And he broke international law to attack Libya too.

The UN launched its probe into “grave and systematic violations” of the human rights of people with disabilities in 2014, when Cameron was prime minister.

It reported in 2016 – after he had quit (and we’ll get into those details momentarily). The findings showed that austerity policies introduced by Cameron’s government had systematically violated the rights of people with disabilities.

That is an offence in national and international law. The Cameron government had already signalled an intent to repeal the Human Rights Act and withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights that the UK created, possibly in order to dodge this finding.

Boris Johnson’s renewed plan to cut human rights legislation out of the statute book signals that he intends to continue this illegal persecution of people with disabilities. Oh, did you think it was about nailing refugees who have been abusing the law to stay in the UK? Now you know better.

The attacks on Libya took place before Vox Political‘s time but I offer this as an example of commentary explaining why the Cameron government was breaking international law – and, indeed, human rights law – by participating.

So it seems out of character for Cameron to come back from the wilderness after four years and attack Boris Johnson for planning the same:

“Passing an Act of Parliament and then going on to break an international treaty obligation is the very, very last thing you should contemplate. It should be an absolute final resort, so I do have misgivings about what is being proposed,” he said.

It shouldn’t even be a last resort, as others have pointed out:

It is an entirely fabricated threat – indeed, it is one that Boris Johnson created himself. He came up with the EU Withdrawal Agreement that put a customs border in the middle of the Irish Sea. He campaigned for it in a general election and all his current Tory MPs did the same. And he signed it in January.

So it is nonsense for him to turn on us all now and say it is vital to change the terms of the agreement – and all his MPs should be opposing him, not just the few who have so far put their noses above the parapet.

And let’s not forget that Cameron is the man who is most directly responsible for the entire Brexit mess.

He launched the EU membership referendum – it was part of his election manifesto in 2015 – in an attempt to keep the Conservative Party from splitting.

He thought the vote would result in the UK remaining in the EU, silencing Eurosceptics in his party. He was wrong. The public narrowly voted to leave (admittedly on the basis of a stream of lies from Brexiteer campaigners including Boris Johnson). That has led us to where we are now.

And he didn’t even save his party from splitting. Some Tories quit voluntarily to join the ill-fated “Change UK – the Independent Group” or whatever it ended up calling itself. Others were forcibly thrown out by Boris Johnson when they refused to support his withdrawal agreement.

That’s the very agreement he is now saying is not acceptable, by the way.

So don’t let David Cameron’s words influence you.

He put the UK into this mess.

Source: Brexit: David Cameron joins all living former PMs in condemning Boris Johnson’s plan to break law | The Independent

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British Government admits it played a role in kidnap and torture of a man in Libya

Abdel Hakim Belhaj.

This is shameful and shocking, and reflects badly on the New Labour government of Tony Blair.

This Writer could not justify criticism of the current government’s diabolical human rights abuses without also condemning abuses exposed about a previous government.

The fact that I am no fan of Tony Blair’s foreign policy makes it easier, too.

But I will ask this: Would Theresa May have been so keen to admit government wrongdoing if it had been her own government, and not one run by a rival party?

I would suggest not. And I notice that the UK taxpayer is picking up the bill once again.

Still – she has apologised, and has accepted that it was wrong that the UK Government contributed to the detention, rendition and suffering of Abdel Hakim Belhaj and Fatima Bouchard; shared information about them with its international partners; and missed opportunities to relieve their plight.

The actions of her own government may be judged by the same standard.

The British Government has accepted it played a role in the rendition and torture of a Libyan man who was kidnapped and held by Colonal Gadaffi’s forces.

Abdel Hakim Belhaj, 52, and his wife Fatima Bouchard claimed they were returned to the brutal regime in 2004 through a joint M16-CIA operation following Tony Blair’s infamous “deal in the desert” with the Libyan dictator.

Source: The British Government has admitted it played a role in the kidnap and torture of a man in Libya – Mirror Online


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Theresa May’s failure to sack Boris Johnson is risking an international incident

She’ll be gone before the end of the year but in the meantime, Theresa May is covering herself in: Denial.

Mrs May must know she cannot go on like this.

Sure, the Tories can treat a country like Libya with contempt – as she is doing, by failing to offer restitution after Boris Johnson’s unforgivable remarks about Sirte – because Libya is weak and cannot cause immediate harm to the UK.

But the knock-on effect among the international community could be huge.

Other, more influential countries will see the UK behaving thuggishly like this, and draw their own conclusions about future relations with our country.

At a time when the UK is pulling out of the EU and seeking trade deals with other nations, this is the height of stupidity.

Mrs May must know this. Her advisors certainly should.

Yet she dithers. It seems her loyalty to her party is greater than to her country.

But she is a public servant and, in government, her loyalty to her country should weigh more heavily on her decisions.

This is yet another reason she should reason, and take her whole rotton government with her.

A key committee in Libya’s parliament has condemned Boris Johnson for joking about “dead bodies” preventing the country’s business growth.

The Foreign Secretary was widely criticised for controversially suggesting that the Libyan city of Sirte only had to “clear the dead bodies” before it could become the next Dubai.

He was speaking at a fringe event at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.

The Libyan House of Representatives’ foreign affairs committee demanded an apology from Theresa May over the “unacceptable” comments.

“The committee demands a clarification from the British Prime Minister and an apology to the Libyan people,” it said in a statement.

Mr Johnson’s comments about British businessmen investing in Libya were a “violation of Libyan sovereignty”, the committee added.

Source: Libyan parliament demands Theresa May formally apologise for Boris Johnson’s ‘dead bodies’ comment


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PM reporter’s litany of idiocy shows why Boris Johnson shouldn’t be in politics, let alone the Cabinet

Amber Rudd: Don’t have any sympathy for her just because she’s stuck between Theresa May and Boris Johnson.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd – the woman who had to prompt Boris Johnson to stand after Theresa May’s calamitous keynote speech at the Conservative Party conference – found herself forced to defend the indefensible in a BBC PM interview with Eddie Mair.

The reporter wanted to know why Mrs May still refuses to sack Mr Johnson after a quite staggering series of gaffes, culminating in his callous and ignorant comments about Sirte in Libya at the Tory conference.

Libyans are now lining up to have their say about it, as evidenced by this, from The Independent:

A Libyan politician has condemned Boris Johnson’s comments on a city overrun by Isis as “cruel and unacceptable” amid mounting calls for the Foreign Secretary to be sacked.

Salah Suhbi, a member of the House of Representatives, was among those calling for Mr Johnson to be dismissed after a controversial address to a fringe event at the Conservative Party conference.

When asked about a recent visit to Libya, where fighting continues six years after Britain’s intervention to oust Muammar Gaddafi, he praised the “incredible country” with “bone white sands”.

“There’s a group of UK business people, some wonderful guys who want to invest in Sirte on the coast, near where Gaddafi was captured and executed,” he added.

“They have got a brilliant vision to turn Sirte into the next Dubai. The only thing they have got to do is clear the dead bodies away.”

Mr Suhbi, a member of one of Libya’s two rival governments in the ongoing civil war, said: “It is cruel and unacceptable that the head of British diplomacy speaks and behaves in such a manner.

“Is this is a reflection of the British Government’s current views on Libya? Because this is not the UK that I know.”

Here’s Mr Mair’s relentless destruction of Mr Johnson – and Ms Rudd:

It isn’t very often that This Writer gets to praise anybody from the BBC these days, but this was a masterpiece.

In just three minutes, Mr Mair managed to demonstrate why Theresa May should not be prime minister, along with reasons Mr Johnson and Ms Rudd should also be ejected from government.

They are more concerned with their own miserable careers than with salvaging the reputation of the country they claim to represent.


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Boris Johnson has humiliated the UK internationally but weakling Theresa May won’t sack him

[Image: The Spectator.]

How can the UK, as a nation, put up with Boris Johnson any longer?

He is no statesman.

He is no representative of the people.

He is, quite simply, a thug with an expensive education.

Yesterday – October 3 – he managed to shame us all, not once, but twice.

At the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, he said the following:

Note the toadying laughter of the Tory faithful, proving beyond doubt that they are not worthy of high office.

Sirte was the Libyan city where the country’s former leader Muammar Gaddafi was killed.

Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry called for Mr Johnson to be sacked: “It is less than a year since Sirte was finally captured from Daesh by the Libyan government of national accord, a battle in which hundreds of government soldiers were killed and thousands of civilians were caught in the crossfire, the second time in five years that the city had seen massive loss of life as a result of the Libyan civil war.

“For Boris Johnson to treat those deaths as a joke – a mere inconvenience before UK business people can turn the city into a beach resort – is unbelievably crass, callous and cruel.

“If Boris Johnson thinks the bodies of those brave government soldiers and innocent civilians killed in Sirte are a suitable subject for throwaway humour, he does not belong in the office of foreign secretary.”

Quite correct.

Even Conservative MPs have called for his removal. Heidi Allen said it was “100 per cent unacceptable from anyone, let alone the foreign secretary”, adding: “Boris must be sacked for this. He does not represent my party.”

Astonishingly, Mr Johnson has not accepted that his behaviour was inappropriate:

They weren’t playing politics; they were seriously denouncing Mr Johnson for playing the fool about people’s lives.

This is not the first time the foreign secretary has behaved offensively to other nations – he had to be stopped from inappropriately quoting a colonial poem by Kipling in Myanmar recently.

Meanwhile, in the European Parliament, Mr Johnson was being discussed in the most disparaging way:

He was referring to Mr Johnson’s intervention in the Brexit process in which, adrift from his party and its leader, the foreign secretary announced four “red lines” – conditions without which he said the UK should not leave the EU. He was also speaking in support of a motion that was highly critical of the UK’s behaviour during the Brexit negotiations. It said the talks had not made sufficient progress to move on to the next stage of talks, and was upheld by 557 votes to 92 against, with 29 abstentions.

(So David Davis and his team are also shown up as inefficient, ineffectual and inconsequential.)

He has claimed that his £141,000+ per year salary is not enough to live on, in what many believe to be an out-and-out challenge to Theresa May’s leadership (and an insult to the vast majority of the UK’s population, who have to make do with much, much less).

Mrs May herself has proved too weak to tackle the issue. Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday (October 1), she ducked the question of whether Mr Johnson was “unsackable”, saying her cabinet was “united”.

Perhaps she was trying to redefine the meaning of the word. After all, Jeremy Hunt tried to rewrite the history of the National Health Service, to claim that it was a Tory idea (in fact the Conservatives voted against it 22 times). Tories will say anything if they think it will win them an advantage.

If so, then – as with Mr Hunt’s comment – her logic is twisted. She has not won an advantage.

She has turned herself, her party, her government and her nation into an international laughing-stock.

And she reckons she’ll turn it all around in her speech today (October 4).

Considering her performance since becoming prime minister – no, since becoming home secretary in 2010 – it seems such a feat will be beyond her abilities.


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Terrorism, Islam, and the need to keep the Western world in fear

Laughing at the law-abiding: IS militants at a captured checkpoint in northern Iraq [Image: AFP/Getty].

IS militants, doing exactly what the western powers want them to do, in order to maintain fear of terrorism among (for example) British citizens. [Image: AFP/Getty].

Does anybody else think the reaction to the terror attack on Charlie Hebdo – along with that against ISIS (or whatever they’re calling themselves these days), Al-Qaeda and, for that matter, Russia – has been, at the very least, off-colour?

Terrorists attack the staff of a magazine, claiming to be doing so in the name of Islam (we have no proof that this was their purpose and may never have it), so there’s a huge backlash against Muslims and the same magazine’s next issue – with a cover featuring a poor (yet still offensive) attempt at caricaturing Muhammad himself – sells five million copies; its normal circulation is 60,000.

Here in the UK, David Cameron does his best to use the attack as an excuse for even greater government intrusion into citizens’ privacy, on top of the incursions already enacted by his government.

Is it really about keeping us safe, or is it about keeping us down?

Some have argued that the western military-industrial complex has a vested interest in providing the public with a state-sponsored bogeyman to fear. During the Cold War it was the USSR. Immediately after Soviet Communism (which must not be confused with socialism) collapsed, the west went to war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq – a regime formerly supported by the USA. Since then we’ve had 911, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, 7/7, Libya, Syria and Islamic State. While this has been going on, the western media seem to be stirring up fear of Putin’s Russia.

Isn’t that only to be expected from a coalition of groups with vested psychological, moral and material interests in the continuous development and maintenance of high levels of weaponry, in preservation of colonial markets and in military-strategic conceptions of internal affairs*?

There is no doubt that the British people are kept safe by the efforts of our security services – it is important that this should not be misunderstood. Many of the threats mentioned a couple of paragraphs above have been real.

But they aren’t anywhere near as serious as certain extremely rich people and organisations want us to think they are. Look at Iraq – Saddam Hussein didn’t have any weapons of mass destruction at all! He was found in a hole, living on ‘fun-size’ Mars bars (if certain writers are to be believed**).

It seems clear that there is a system of control being exercised upon us here. You can see it for yourself, evidenced by the fact that we never seem to find ourselves clear of any threats; there’s always another one on the horizon and it’s always important for us to give up more of our civil liberties in order to fight it – and of course, we pay for all the weapons and ammunition used, with our taxes.

So, looking at this objectively, we should be asking ourselves: Who is the greater threat?

As far as the Islamic extremists are concerned, if we lived in a rational world there would be a strong argument for someone to go and speak to them (under a white flag or whatever it took to be heard) and point out a few important facts: The western military has enough firepower to turn the Middle East into a scorched crater if it wants to do so. The reason it doesn’t is it needs you to be the equivalent of a pantomime villain, to be defeated at regular intervals on the evening news. The West will never defeat you completely, because you’re too useful for making a profit for the arms dealers and for keeping western citizens under control. You are, therefore, nothing but toys. The only way to defeat this strategy is to disengage completely; stop the violence against the west that will never, ever succeed and find better solutions to your problems.

If we lived in a rational world, they would agree.

Wouldn’t you like to live in that world, instead of this?

*As described in Revolution, by Russell Brand. Cheers for looking it up, Russell.

**Cheers again, Russell.

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UK involvement in Ukraine is just a lot of gas

Battlefield: Independence Square in Kiev after clashes on February 20.

Battlefield: Independence Square in Kiev after clashes on February 20. [Image: AFP]

It isn’t often that Vox Political discusses foreign affairs; this would usually involve mentioning that national disaster, William Hague. But we’ll make an exception in the case of Ukraine.

If you don’t know that thinly-disguised Russian soldiers have occupied the Crimea, which is currently Ukrainian, you’d probably have to be living in a hole in the desert.

Russia says this is entirely justified, but the position is not clear-cut.

It seems this crisis started after a pro-Russian Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, decided to abandon plans for co-operation with Europe in favour of allying his country more closely with Russia.

At the time, Ukraine was deeply in debt and facing bankruptcy, with £21 billion needed to get through the current financial year and 2015. The country cannot call on the same financial levers as the UK, meaning this is a serious issue. How fortunate, then, that Russia was on hand to buy $15 billion of Ukrainian debt and reduce the price of Russian gas supplies by around one-third.

Gas. Ukraine produces around a quarter of its own supply and imports the rest from Russia and Asia, through pipelines that Russia controls. These pipelines continue into Europe, providing supplies to Western countries as well.

The alignment with Russia sparked huge popular protests which quickly escalated into violence. Even though Yanukovych gain office through an election that was judged free and fair by observers, it seems clear his pro-Russian policies do not have the support of the people. But Crimea used to be part of Russia until 1954, and most of its population are Russians.

Then on February 22, Yanukovych did a runner to Russia, from where – surprisingly – he has claimed he is still President of Ukraine. Politicians in Kiev thought differently and have named their own interim president until elections can take place in May. It is this action that sparked rival protests in Crimea, where people appear to support the previous, pro-Russian policies.

Troops, apparently in Russian uniforms, have appeared across the Crimea, besieging Ukrainian forces and effectively taking control. It has been suggested that Russian President Putin sent them in response to a request from Yanukovych, but Putin denies this. Crimea’s parliament has asked to join Russia.

There is also the matter of the Russian naval base on the Crimean Black Sea coast. This seems uncontroversial, though, as Ukraine had agreed to allow Russia to keep it.

To sum up:

It seems that most of Ukraine wants to keep Russia at arms’ length; but it must still find a way to pay back its debts.

It seems that most of Crimea wants to rejoin Russia. This will be tested in a referendum on March 16.

It seems that Western European countries like the UK are desperate to condemn Russia for interfering in Ukraine. Concerns were raised on the BBC’s Question Time last Thursday that the referendum will be rigged, but we have no evidence to suggest that will happen – independent observers have reported that previous exercises of democracy have been free and fair.

It seems hypocritical of us to condemn Russia’s intervention in a place where that country’s citizens are threatened by violence. What did we do when the Falkland Islands were invaded in 1982 – and have we not stood firm against threats to those islands ever since? Nor can we criticise Russia for invading a country on a flimsy pretext – Iraq springs to mind.

So what’s it all about?

Gas.

It seems most likely that, because most of Western Europe’s supply of Russian gas comes through Ukraine, we are far more concerned about our energy supply than about local democracy in an eastern European country. The UK, along with France and Germany and no doubt many others, wants to ensure that this supply is not interrupted as this could seriously jeopardise our ability to generate power.

… And if that isn’t a powerful reason for this country to invest massively in renewable energy generation, it’s hard to find one. What possible advantage is there in putting ourselves at the mercy of another country – especially one that has been less than friendly to us in the past?

It seems the only reason the UK has for outrage is the possibility of violence. We know that military intervention in the affairs of another country doesn’t work; nobody can parachute in, effect regime change, and leave a stable democracy running smoothly behind them. We should have learned our lessons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

Unfortunately, it seems that only a minority are willing to speak up and admit this – headed most visibly by Russia Today presenter Abby Martin, who delivered an impassioned denouncement of Russia’s involvement. “I will not sit here and apologise for or defend military action,” she said.

Nor should we.

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