Tag Archives: Saudi Arabia

Yemen’s Houthis declare war on Israel; is the Middle East about to explode?

Distance: Yemeni missiles have to travel more than 1,000 miles to get to Israel – over Saudi Arabian airspace, possibly triggering a re-ignition of other hostilities.

The conflict between Israel and Gaza has widened with a declaration of war against the Israelis from the Houthi movement in Yemen.

Considering the fragile state of that country – it exists in a condition of civil war in which the Houthis are just one of several participants, with others including a coalition of Muslim states led by Saudi Arabia and backed by the US, UK and France – this decision seems to be another act of lunacy.

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Yemen is the poorest of the Muslim states. The ongoing conflict has led to a severe humanitarian crisis. It ranks highest on the Fragile State Index and second-worst on the Global Hunger Index, and has the lowest Human Development Index out of all non-African countries.

Still, Reuters tells us this:

Houthi military spokesperson Yahya Saree said in a televised statement the group had launched a “large number” of ballistic missiles and drones towards Israel, and there would be more such attacks to come “to help the Palestinians to victory”.

Saree said it was the Houthis’ third attack on Israel since the start of the conflict, appearing to confirm they were behind a drone attack on Oct. 28 that resulted in blasts in Egypt and was blamed by Israel on the Houthis, and an Oct. 19 incident in which the U.S. navy intercepted three cruise missiles.

Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said the Houthi attacks were intolerable, but declined to elaborate when asked how Israel might respond.

So it seems Israel intends to retaliate – but is that wise?

The strongest military power in the Middle East would be attacking the weakest country there; the optics (as they’re described) would be appalling.

And Yemen is part of a so-called ‘Axis of Resistance’ backed by Iran – so Israel attacking that country could expand what is currently a very limited confrontation to engulf the whole of the Middle East.

Let’s remember also that Saudi Arabia, after enjoying around a year of relative peace with Yemen, has recently re-opened diplomatic ties with Iran; with Yemen launching missiles over its territory, hostilities may be renewed and that country may end up being dragged into conflict with both the Houthis and their backer.

Benjamin Netanyahu had better be very careful. If he makes the wrong decision now, he could set the whole of the Middle East alight.

Source: Yemen’s Houthis enter Mideast fray, hardening spillover fears | Reuters


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Defence secretary phoned Saudi Arabia to apologise for human rights sanctions – claim

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace: he even looks shifty, doesn’t he?

Typical two-faced Tories – they say one thing to us and a completely different thing to their warmongering buddies abroad.

In this case, it seems UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace phoned up a Saudi defence minister to renew the UK’s support for the regime there and its work – which we must take as including its genocidal war against Yemen.

This happened just one day after the UK announced sanctions on individuals from Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.

Here’s The Independent:

The UK government privately showered Saudi Arabia’s government with praise a day after publicly criticising its human rights abuses and targeting it for sanctions.

The government was accused of “calling to apologise” to the regime after some Saudi individuals were included on the foreign secretary’s new “Magnitsky Act” sanctions list on Monday.

Defence minister Ben Wallace is understood to have discreetly telephoned his Saudi counterpart on Wednesday to reiterate the UK’s support for the regime and its work.

The call was not publicised by the British government in the UK, but Saudi Arabia’s state-run news agency used the opportunity to boast about it in a press statement issued on Wednesday.

“His Royal Highness Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Minister of Defense, received yesterday a phone call from His Excellency British Defence Secretary [sic], Mr Ben Wallace, during which the partnership between the two countries was discussed, especially in the defence field, and the efforts made by the two countries to enhance regional and international security,” according to a statement on the Saudi Press Agency.

Source: UK government accused of phoning Saudi Arabia to apologise after imposing human rights sanctions | The Independent

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The sale of military equipment to Saudi Arabia was no accident. Truss should end it

Dimwit: Liz Truss.

Liz Truss’s claim to have “inadvertently” approved the sale of military hardware to Saudi Arabia should be enough to have her sacked for incompetence – but there is a better use for her.

The decision has put the International Trade Secretary in contempt of the Court of Appeal, which ordered the Tory government not to approve any new licences to Saudi for use in Yemen and to retake all the decisions on existing licences in a legally compliant manner.

It seems clear that these orders have been ignored by a government department that has a “longstanding and shameful” policy of maximising arms sales regardless of the consequences.

As Andrew Smith of the Campaign Against the Arms Trade points out in his Independent article:

This surely discredits the government’s tired old mantra that the UK supposedly has some of the most “rigorous” and “robust” arms export controls in the world.

Since the bombing of Yemen began in March 2015 the UK has licensed £5.3bn worth of arms to the Saudi regime, including fighter jets, bombs and missiles. These weapons have played a central role in the brutal war, which has created the worst humanitarian disaster in the world.

The extent of the UK government’s support was on display last week when a Saudi military delegation was invited to London by Truss’s department for Defence & Security Equipment International 2019 (DSEI), the biggest arms fair in the world.

While at DSEI, Saudi representatives will have been welcomed by UK civil servants and lobbied for further sales by the world’s biggest arms companies. Nobody will have dared to utter a word about the abysmal state of human rights in Saudi Arabia or the human cost of its bombardment of Yemen.

At the heart of discussions will have been the prospect of further fighter jet sales. Since 2016, the government has been in negotiations with the Saudi Royal Family and the UK’s largest arms company, BAE Systems, to secure the sale of 48 Eurofighter jets.

The deal, which appears to have been put on hold following the court verdict and the international condemnation of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, is thought to be worth £10bn. With that kind of money on the table, government ministers have been prepared to act as cheerleaders for the arms industry.

Mr Smith says 60,000 Yemeni people have already died. If this £10 billion deal goes through, many thousands more are also likely to perish.

Because Tories believe money is more important than lives.

That is the only explanation that allows us to understand why the Conservatives are willing to put themselves in contempt of the UK courts (and consider what this portends for the Supreme Court’s decision on Boris Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament, next week).

I don’t want to be complicit in the murder of thousands more innocent people, encouraged by my government.

The only way to stop it, it seems, is to ensure that the dimwit who has been allowing it is made to do what she should have been doing in the first place.

Let’s see Liz Truss stay in post, for now – but only to show us how she is putting the Court of Appeal’s order into practise, and the concrete results arising from it.

Source: How is it possible for the government to claim it sold military equipment to Saudi Arabia ‘accidentally’? | The Independent

Why isn’t Liz Truss in jail for illegally selling arms to a foreign country?

Liz Truss: She used to be Justice Secretary – does she now believe herself to be above the law?

Tory ‘big cheese’ Liz Truss has apologised to the Court of Appeal for “inadvertently” selling hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of military equipment to Saudi Arabia. Why isn’t she in jail?

The courts have ruled that it is illegal to sell equipment of this kind to Saudi Arabia, as it could be used to help murder innocent people in Yemen.

But Ms Truss did it anyway.

And she seems to think saying “sorry!” will get her off the hook for it.

That is not good enough.

If she is saying she did it by accident, then she is admitting that she is incompetent, and should resign her position as a government minister at once.

But we all know that ignorance of the law is no excuse, so Ms Truss should also submit herself – and all evidence relating to this matter – to the courts so her crime – because that’s what it is – may be judged and she can be ordered to serve the sentence required by the law.

Or is this merely further evidence that this Boris Johnson government considers itself to be above the law and that it only applies to plebs like the rest of us?

Source: Tory minister apologises for ‘accidentally’ approving illegal sale of military equipment to Saudi Arabia | The Independent

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Trigger warning: If you’re not angry about UK support for Saudi Arabia, you will be

Grim pairing: Theresa May welcomed Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince to the UK in March.

What will it take for people to get the message that the United Kingdom is supporting a murderous regime – and revealing the corruption at the top of our politics – by arming Saudi Arabia?

How about the fact that 29 top Tories have enjoyed all-expenses-paid trips to the Middle Eastern state? Doesn’t that show the Saudis are able to exert influence that is too great to be tolerated?

Read:

“Since 2015, the government of Saudi Arabia has spent at least £222,000 jetting UK MPs out to the oil rich middle eastern country.

“Details of these trips are listed on the website of The Register of Members Financial Interests. The purpose of the register is to provide information of any financial interests or benefits an MP receives which could be seen as influential on their work as a Member of Parliament.

“A staggering 34 MPs have taken all expenses paid trips to Saudi Arabia courtesy of MBS since March 2015. Of these 34, 29 are Conservative MPs, whilst 3 are from the Labour Party, and 1 now sits as an Independent MP.

“Whilst visiting other nations may simply be part of being an MP, the rise in visits since the start of the Saudi-led military action in Yemen is a major cause for concern.”

The rise in visits since the start of the Saudi-led military action in Yemen is a major cause for concern.

Also a major cause for concern is the fact that Tory ministers have ordered the training of more than 100 Saudi air force pilots in the UK, at a time when we are hearing allegations of serious human rights breaches in the conflict in Yemen.

Now read this:

“Tory ministers have been accused of having “blood on their hands” after admitting the RAF has trained more than 100 Saudi pilots in the UK.

“Royal Saudi Air Force chiefs enjoyed the honour despite allegations their regime is breaching human rights in Yemen’s brutal civil war.

“The government has confirmed 102 Saudi pilots were trained at RAF bases over the last decade.

“Amnesty International UK arms expert Oliver Sprague said: “Thousands of Yemeni civilians have already been killed by the Saudi coalition’s disastrously mistargeted bombing campaign.

“”So you have to ask – what has this training been achieving?””

What has this training been achieving?

I’ll show you what it has been achieving.

This:

Her name was Amal Hussain and she was just seven years old when she died – in Yemen – on November 4.

Do you realise how this information fits together? Can you see the full picture?

Are you angry now?

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Theresa and the terrorists: She supports them in the Middle East but what did she think of Mandela?

Theresa May in Nelson Mandela’s cell: She should have been locked in and left there.

Tories and terrorism – they’ve got a real problem, haven’t they?

On one hand, they firmly – and wrongly – denounced the late Nelson Mandela as a terrorist for many years.

On the other, they have merrily provided weapons to those inflicting terror on others in the Middle East – in Israel, and to Saudi Arabia for its war on the Yemen, for example.

Theresa May is currently in South Africa, and visited the Robben Island prison cell in which Mr Mandela was incarcerated for decades.

Interviewed before the visit, she refused point-blank to deny that she had supported Margaret Thatcher’s claim that Mr Mandela was a terrorist and deserved to be in prison:

Notice that Mr Crick asked if she had been arrested outside the South African embassy for protesting against apartheid. We know somebody who was, don’t we?

Contrast this with the Conservative government’s support for suffering in the Middle East.

Consider Israel. Earlier this year, I wrote:

In the same month the Israel Defence Force killed dozens of people and injured thousands more, it turns out the UK has increased its sales of arms to that country by more than £140 million.

Our exports of deadly weapons to the country that has terrorised, mutilated and killed weaponless people… nearly tripled.

Consider Saudi Arabia and its war on Yemen.

Arms sales to Saudi Arabia from the UK totalled around £1.1 billion in 2017, and Theresa May laid on a lavish welcome for Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman when he visited this country in March.

But Labour pointed out that these arms were being used to kill civilians in Yemen – and the government was even providing military personnel who were offering advice on targeting:

Corbyn urged the prime minister to stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia over its intervention in Yemen, which has killed thousands of civilians and worsened a humanitarian catastrope, and take the crown prince to task on human rights.

Speaking after PMQs, Corbyn’s spokesman expanded on Labour’s position, saying arms sales and the involvement of British military personnel provided a level of complicity over the situation in Yemen.

“Britain has not only increased arms supplies to Saudi Arabia dramatically since the start of the war, not only supports the war, as Theresa May said in the chamber just now, but British military personnel advise the Saudi air force and military on targeting – and so there is a direct involvement in the conduct of the war,” he said.

“Which as we know has led to very large numbers of civilian casualties and very clear evidence of the targeting of schools and hospitals. Very large numbers of children have been killed.”

We know Theresa May is a racist – we have her “hostile environment” policy and the resulting Windrush scandal as evidence of that. And her government has not condemned the “Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people” law which confirms that country as an apartheid state. So her refusal to deny believing that a black man who opposed apartheid was a terrorist is understandable.

And before anyone tries to suggest that she can’t be a racist because of her relationship with the Arabs of Saudi Arabia, I offer just one word in explanation:

Money.

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Once we were a ‘nation of shopkeepers’ – now Michael Fallon is adding ‘warmongering’ to the accusation

Laughing at the Tory: Former shadow defence secretary Emily Thornberry once made a fool of current defence secretary Michael Fallon on Andrew Marr’s TV show.

This is Conservative policy on the international stage: Never mind human lives, never mind international law – we’ll sell anything, to anyone, and damn the consequences.

That’s the reason Michael Fallon doesn’t want any inconvenient facts raised in Parliament (or, one is to suppose, the media) about the uses to which UK-built weapons are being put by Saudi Arabia.

He doesn’t want you to know that British jet fighters are being used to kill innocent citizens of Yemen because the bad publicity it would create for the customer – Saudi Arabia – would create what This Writer believes is termed “consumer resistance”, and they’ll cancel any deal.

Good.

I know there would be an immediate effect on the UK’s balance of trade deficit, and on the future of contractor BAe Systems, if this multi-billion-pound trade deal were to be cancelled but the effect on our international reputation is even more chilling.

BAe is already in trouble and it would be better if the company re-tooled itself to pursue peaceful commercial enterprises instead of weapon-building, as This Site has already reported.

And the UK would be in a better position to market such products across the world if ministers like Mr Fallon weren’t intent on staining our reputation with concerns that we are breaking international law to make a fast buck.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has told MPs to stop criticising Saudi Arabia so we can sell them more weapons.

He told MPs criticism of the regime’s brutal bombardment of Yemen is “unhelpful” while Britain is trying to finalise a deal with BAE Systems to sell the Kingdom a further batch of Eurofighter jets.

Both the UN and Human Rights Watch have said the intervention is in breach of international law.

[Mr Fallon] told the Defence Select Committee: “We’ve been working extremely hard on the batch two deal. I’ve travelled to Saudi Arabia back in September and discussed progress on the deal with my opposite number, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia – and we continued to press for a signature or at least a statement of intent as we’ve done with Qatar.

“I have to repeat sadly, to this committee, that obviously other criticism of Saudi Arabia, in this Parliament, is not helpful and …I’ll leave it there, but we need to do everything possible to encourage Saudi Arabia towards batch two. I believe they will commit to batch two and we need to work away on the timing.”

Labour’s Emily Thornberry has voiced the concerns we should all feel:

“These comments are extremely concerning. The sale of arms should never be prioritised over human rights, the Rule of Law and the lives of innocent children in Yemen.”

All quotes from: Michael Fallon tells MPs to stop criticising Saudi Arabia so we can sell them more weapons

But these are falling on deaf ears. Warmonger Fallon once tried to claim that the UK had a moral responsibility to bomb people in the Middle East and wants the UK to become the world’s biggest armaments marketplace after Brexit.

Not only are the Conservatives determined to destroy the UK’s economy – they are ruining our good name abroad so that it will be even harder to claw our way out of their mess after they are removed from office.


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Even during the Tory conference, Labour is stealing the limelight

Culture of secrecy: Theresa May.

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott has published an article on the PoliticsHome website, showing how Labour would reverse the “culture of secrecy” created in the Home Office by the Tories.

And who, exactly, has been in charge of the Home Office for most of the seven long years we’ve had a Conservative-led government?

Who is responsible for the

Leaked documents, misconceived policies, suppressed reports, judicial condemnations, false statistics and ‘accidental’ deportations

mentioned by Ms Abbott?

Why, that would be the current prime minister, Theresa May.

Grenfell survivors are still living with the threat of deportation, deaths in police custody continue, police stations are being closed and the fire service continues to be run down.

The Home Office is the government department primarily responsible for the safety and security of our citizens. Yet under the Tory government, the failure to exercise this duty is exposed across all fronts.

Each of these failings must be addressed thoroughly and urgently. But they also appear to be symptomatic of a deeper malaise, which must be rooted out to prevent a recurrence of this chaos.

This malaise would be the culture of secrecy, which Ms Abbott asserts is the product of Tory ministers – like Mrs May – attempting to “escape all scrutiny and accountability”.

She writes:

This culture of secrecy infects all other areas. So, reports into deaths in police custody, on the international funding of terrorism which may aggravate the Saudi royal family, into the effects of racism and on the impact of international students are all suppressed.

Labour in government will end this chaos. We will not set arbitrary and unworkable immigration targets. We recognise the invaluable contribution that migrants make to our society, to all areas of our public and social life, and to our economy. We will introduce a new immigration system to reflect those very different values.

We will end the targeted harassment of EU and non-EU nationals alike and begin to treat them both fairly. We will also uphold the right to a family life, in contrast to current rules and practice, which denies UK citizens the right to reunite their families if they happen to be married to a non-UK citizen.

We are committed to begin reversing cuts made by the Tories in police numbers, in the fire service and in the Border Force personnel. We will also review the priorities of the security services to ensure the greatest possible resources are devoted to combatting terrorism here.

Finally, we will establish a new Home Office-led agency to coordinate the response to tragedies like Grenfell, and impose solutions on recalcitrant bodies where necessary.

This government’s priority is the scapegoating of others for their own failings. Labour’s priority is the security and wellbeing of the entire population.

That seems better than anything so far declared at the Tory conference!

Source: Diane Abbott: A culture of secrecy infects all areas of this government | PoliticsHome.com


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Theresa May just embarrassed the UK internationally – twice with one speech

Theresa May addressed the United Nations – and almost nobody bothered to turn up.

This is the result of seven years of Conservative-led government, along with 38 years of neoliberal political ideology: The UK’s international reputation is in tatters and nobody wants to hear what our representatives have to say.

That’s why Theresa May was speaking to a practically-empty hall at the United Nations, when she got to deliver her keynote speech.

What’s the point of telling the UN it needs to reform if hardly any of the UN’s members were listening?

While Mrs May was speaking, This Writer understands that she made a derogatory reference to countries that break international treaties.

It seems she should have checked one such treaty that the UK has signed, before opening her mouth.

The report by the Commons’ International Development Committee states that “the Arms Trade Treaty, along with UK national arms export criteria and the EU Common Position on arms exports, which regulate the UK trade in arms, say that licences cannot be granted ‘if there is a clear risk that the items might be used in the commission of a serious violation of international humanitarian law.’

The UK sells arms to Saudi Arabia, which is at war with Yemen, so the following is important: “We heard powerful evidence from representatives of humanitarian organisatinos who said that they had witnessed bombing and targeting of civilians and civilian objects on the ground in Yemen, which suggests that there is more than a clear risk of IHL violations by the Saudi-led coalition.”

The report goes on to say: “Several States Parties appear in direct violation of legally binding Treaty obligations by continuing to supply arms to Saudi Arabia where there is a clear risk that they will be used in breach of international law in Yemen.” The UK is among those states.

The fact is well-known so Mrs May was branding herself – and by extension, the whole of the UK – a hypocrite by attacking others for doing exactly what she has been doing: Breaking an international treaty.

Ah, but Mrs May is a Conservative, isn’t she? They don’t think they have to abide by any rules other than those they make up for themselves.


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Hilarity at the Tories’ expense as Labour MP calls for Boris Johnson to ‘FO’ from the FO

Boris Johnson [Image from The Canary].

Labour MP Peter Dowd earned himself a small place in Parliamentary history yesterday (December 14), when he destroyed the credibility of both Theresa May and Boris Johnson in just 15 seconds.

That is the amount of time it took him to ask this question:

Mr Speaker, in the light of the Foreign Secretary’s display of chronic foot-in-mouth disease, when deciding on Cabinet positions, does the Prime Minister now regret that pencilling FO against his name should have been an instruction not a job offer.

That was enough to send the occupants of the green benches into prolonged hysterics. A discomfited Mrs May had to wait for an interruption by the Speaker, John Bercow, before the laughter abated and she could respond. She said:

I have to say that the Foreign Secretary is doing an absolutely excellent job. He is in short an FFS, a fine foreign secretary.

How nice. But those of us who are familiar with Internet slang also know what “FFS” actually means, and in context it seems Mrs May was ill-advised to use it when referring to Mr Johnson.

You see, when referring to a man who embarrassed the Conservative Government by referring to its Middle East ally Saudi Arabia as “puppeteering and playing proxy wars”, and who – as London Mayor – wasted more than £300,000 on water cannons that cannot be used, the original meaning of the abbreviation “FFS” certainly comes to mind.

Perhaps that is why Canary writer Carlyn Harvey penned the following:

There’s one clear ‘instruction’ we should all give the prime minister: FFS, can you please tell the foreign secretary to FO? For all our sakes.

Source: A Labour MP just bulldozed Boris Johnson in 15 seconds flat, and sent PMQs into meltdown | The Canary

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