Tag Archives: Yemen

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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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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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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Yes, Nusrat Ghani, let’s have that debate about MPs abusing power – we can look at your fellow Tories [STRONG LANGUAGE]

How can Tories complain about anybody’s attitude to women or minorities when Boris Johnson is Foreign Secretary?

Tory MP Nusrat Ghani reckons she will demand an urgent debate in the House of Commons about the incident in which Clive Lewis used the word “bitch” during a social event connected to the Labour Party, a month ago.

Some of us may find it worth comment that she wants an “urgent” debate about an incident that is a month old and is only being discussed now in order to distract the public from the growing list of the minority Conservative government’s failures. Where’s her demand for an urgent debate on her own government’s failure to support the will of Parliament and suspend the Universal Credit rollout?

Here are her tweets:

Oh, right. Using the word “bitch” implies a lack of respect for women. This Writer can certainly get on board with that – but not with the hypocrisy of saying it after reading an article about Mr Lewis on the Guido Fawkes blog, which has a record of abusing that word:

And what about the misogynistic abuse Guido‘s followers heap on women after they’ve been targeted on that website? Here’s an example:

Here’s another:

And there’s this one as well:

The event at which Mr Lewis misspoke was run, presented and owned by women – and no objection was raised at the time. Some have tried to raise indignation because a female voice was heard saying, “This is supposed to be a safe space”. Here’s the owner of that voice:

On top of all the foregoing is the fact that Mr Lewis himself has apologised for his words, which he accepts were completely inappropriate (even though the way they were said ran counter to the misogynistic use that is correctly vilified).

So we’ve established that the fake outrage over Mr Lewis is a storm in a teacup. But a debate could still be useful – to point out the many similar outrages caused by Conservative MPs.

I mean, opponents of the government could raise the obvious policy points:

But let’s admit it – the time would be far better-used discussing the transgressions of individual Tories. Aaron Bastani, whose social media organisation Novara hosted the event at which Mr Lewis said his offending words, listed a few possibles – including, for the sake of fairness, one example concerning a Labour MP:

Boris Johnson is worth an article in his own right – and the Metro has obligingly provided one. In it, Yvette Caster comments on his claim that women go to university because “they’ve got to find men to marry”, that female graduates are responsible for rising house prices – and are making it difficult for other families to get housing, that working women should get back to the home because they are responsible for young people’s antisocial behaviour.

There’s this: “Voting Tory will cause your wife to have bigger breasts and increase your chances of owning a BMW M3.”

I strongly recommend that you visit the article to experience the full horror.

But Mr Johnson isn’t the only Tory transgressor. What about James Heappey?

I wrote an article on Vox Political about this – ahem – “gentleman”, along with Tory Nick Harrington who said Ireland could “keep its f’king gypsies”. What charming men!

Moving back to the Cabinet, what about Michael Fallon, who called a journalist a “slut”, although it seems he would be more accurate if he applied the term to himself:

Fallon’s people have denied that he used the word but they would, wouldn’t they (to paraphrase Mandy Rice-Davies’s words about another Tory defence minister, in another scandal)?

And then there’s the deputy chairman of Bermondsey and Southwark Conservative Association, Rupert Myers QC. Journalist Kate Leaver has alleged that he “forced himself” on her – and I hope everybody reading this knows what that means. If it is true, then not only should he be imprisoned but he should be stripped of his Tory membership and dismissed from the bar (of the court – although it seems he should also be banned from reputable drinking establishments):

Finally, let’s all remember that the inappropriate misuse of language is not restricted to men speaking about women. Let us consider Anna Soubry:

This incident happened in the House of Commons itself, during a Parliamentary debate. Ms Soubry’s words were not picked up by any of the many microphones in the chamber, but she certainly appears to be using those words.

These are just a few examples of incidents in which, mainly, Conservatives have used their “position of power and establishment” abominably and it could easily be argued that they have undermined Parliament by doing so.

So, yes, Nusrat Ghani – let’s have that debate – and let us use it to expose your Tory colleagues as sexist, misogynist, and criminal vermin.


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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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UK’s most advanced warship secretly deployed to Yemen coast – to break down again?

British Royal Navy destroyer HMS Daring. The boat next to it is probably on its way to tug it into the shipyard for more repairs [Image: Glyn Kirk/AFP].

British Royal Navy destroyer HMS Daring. The boat next to it is probably on its way to tug it into the shipyard for more repairs [Image: Glyn Kirk/AFP].

Gosh. Are we to take it, then, that the refit is over and the UK’s most advanced warship is no longer breaking down every five minutes?

This Writer was reporting on the disastrous condition of our hugely costly Type 45 cruisers as recently as January.

Back then, we were being told electrical failures on the £1 billion warships were common and would cost tens of millions of pounds to fix.

If HMS Daring has to go into combat, it will probably need to be towed away.

Britain’s most advanced warship has reportedly been quietly deployed to the coast of Yemen in what experts claim is a bid to protect the vital Bab al-Mandeb strait – a key oil route.

While the move has not yet been publicly confirmed, the Times newspaper reported Type 45 destroyer HMS Daring had been diverted to the area, which feeds into the Suez Canal.

Source: Oil wars? UK’s most advanced warship secretly deployed to Yemen coast — RT UK

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Skilful work is needed to cut the slaughter-supporting rebels out of Labour

The Labour MPs who rebelled against Jeremy Corbyn over Yemen are desperate to provoke him into expelling them - so they can retain their seats in the House of Commons. What if he made it impossible for their constituency parties to continue supporting them?

The Labour MPs who rebelled against Jeremy Corbyn over Yemen are desperate to provoke him into expelling them – so they can retain their seats in the House of Commons. What if he made it impossible for their constituency parties to continue supporting them?

It is nauseating to hear that Labour MPs – who rebelled against a three-line whip in order to support the killing of innocents in Yemen – did it for no better reason than to undermine their leader.

But it seems right-wing Labour has failed to think its actions through (yet again) and should suffer the consequences of its actions.

In refusing to support the motion against supplying arms to Saudi Arabia, these MPs defied a three-line whip. Normally, this should trigger a certain course of action – withdrawal of the party whip from the MPs concerned, who must sit as independents until the whip is restored.

This would suit the rebels, because they could use any such action against them to justify splitting away from the Labour Party – and claim that Mr Corbyn was responsible.

But nobody can support a decision to continue allowing innocent people to be killed – especially members of the Constituency Labour Parties, on whom these MPs rely to campaign for them in the run-up to elections.

The rebelling MPs cannot say they are following Jeremy Corbyn’s example, defying the party whip on a matter of principle, because his rebellions were always against wars and harm to ordinary people – and never in support of the Conservative Party.

So This Writer tends to agree with the Skwawkbox blog. Mr Corbyn should select a few of the more prominent rebels – those who have repeatedly tried to undermine him – and make an example of them.

If he publicly explains that they are losing the whip because they have shown de facto support for the Conservative Party, and for the killing of innocents, then it will be impossible for them to argue that they were making any kind of principled stand.

The line could be that, if they don’t want to support Labour values, perhaps they should resign their seats and stand for another party, or as independents.

How well do you think they would manage on their own?

Almost 100 Labour MPs (not 100 or 102 as you may have read, since a handful of those who didn’t vote were absent because of serious illness or family situations, including Corbyn loyalists on the front bench) rebelled against their party to vote against a Labour parliamentary motion put forward by Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry for the withdrawal of support for the Saudi-led coalition that has been targeting schools, hospitals and rescue services in Yemen, costing thousands of civilian lives.

The vote was lost by fewer than 100 votes.

Those Labour MPs have made themselves responsible for further deaths of innocents – according to the papers, simply in order to undermine Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. But it goes further than that.

I believe that these Labour MPs are attempting to provoke Corbyn into taking action against them so they can use it as justification for splitting from the party.

Here’s what parliament.uk says about the consequences of defying a 3-line whip: “Defying a three-line whip is very serious, and has occasionally resulted in the whip being withdrawn from an MP or Lord. This means that the Member is effectively expelled from their party (but keeps their seat) and must sit as an independent until the whip is restored.”

Even the braver of the rebels is too cowardly to be known forever as the ones who broke up the Labour party, so they’re trying to provoke Corbyn into expelling them. They keep their seats and can set up their own Parliamentary grouping

The key is to expose what they’re up to and why – before they do it – and establish control of the narrative, so they’re simply exposed as dishonourable and ridiculous.

A decisive move against the ringleaders would test the nerve of those who are less entrenched – and a strong PR offensive could make clear why those expelled were selected, tied with hammering home the baseness of the moves they’ve co-ordinated this week and the fact that they were elected as Labour MPs, would put pressure on them and any who follow them to ‘do the decent thing’ –to resign their seats and fight as independents.

After all, even the two Tories who jumped ship to UKIP felt honour-bound to resign and fight by-elections – and who wants to be lower than UKIP?

Source: Labour Yemen rebels support slaughter to provoke Corbyn – and he has to take the bait | The SKWAWKBOX Blog

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Are we really stupid enough to believe Israel is spending £7.8bn on CRYPTOGRAPHY?

[Image: International Herald Tribune. America has been debating government surveillance for a while now.]

[Image: International Herald Tribune. America has been debating government surveillance for a while now.]

After yesterday’s article on Gaza was written, Yr Obdt Srvt opened the new edition of Private Eye and read the following on page 29:

“Downing Street’s promise on Monday to review all the UK’s arms export licences to Israel will come as no surprise to anyone who has perused a recent report from MPs… The report revealed the continuing mystery of licences for £7.8bn worth of equipment, mainly ‘cryptographic equipment, software and technology’.”

Really?

But page 5 of the same magazine states: “Many of the countries the UK supplies are flagged up by the Foreign Office as being ‘countries of human rights concern’. They account for £11.9bn of UK arms sales and include China, Iran, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, who have been sold ‘cryptography’ equipment – essentially kit to disguise communications, infiltrate external websites and protect their own from surveillance.”

Really.

That costs £7.8 billion in Israel but only £3.1 billion to all these other countries, does it? And it’s before taking out sales of any shoot-bang-kill weapons, too.

Arms exports to Saudi Arabia total more than £1.5 billion, and to China another £600 million or so. That leaves £1 billion between Yemen, Iran (!) and anyone else not mentioned in the article.

It’s not believable. Even if the software licence was the most expensive ever, it beggars belief that Israel would be willing to pay 16 times as much as – for example – Iran, for the same equipment.

Meanwhile, an article in today’s Guardian clarifies how this kit will be used. The country’s right-wing government is intent on suppressing dissent against its military operations in Palestinian areas and has worked hard to ensure that around 95 per cent of the public support it.

This leaves five per cent of the population, who are afraid to voice their opinion openly for fear of being attacked in the street. Left-wing commentator Gideon Levy, who has written in opposition to the assaults, has suffered epistolary attacks from (among others) Eldad Yaniv, former political adviser to ex-prime minister Ehud Barack. Yaniv wrote on his Facebook page: “The late Gideon Levy. Get used to it.”

It does not seem far from the realms of possibility that a government that has generated this kind of support would buy surveillance equipment to snoop on its detractors in search of any evidence that could bring them down.

“What is different this time is the anti-democratic spirit,” Levy states in the Guardian article. “Zero tolerance of any kind of criticism, opposition to any kind of sympathy with the Palestinians,” says Levy. “You shouldn’t be surprised that the 95 per cent [are in favour of the war], you should be surprised at the 5 per cent. This is almost a miracle. The media has an enormous role. Given the decades of demonisation of the Palestinians, the incitement and hatred, don’t be surprised the Israeli people are where they are.”

Is this not exactly what the Nazis did to the Jews in Germany, back in the 1930s? Isn’t it exactly what Roger Waters was protesting against, as mentioned in yesterday’s VP article? And did the Nazis not use surveillance techniques via their secret police, the Gestapo, to ensure dissent was suppressed and propaganda in support of their policies held sway over public opinion?

(It should be noted that none of this should be used to suggest that the Palestinian organisation Hamas was right to launch attacks on Israel. The plight of the people of Gaza is real but must be settled by peaceful means; violence can only ever make matters worse in the long run.)

Now come back to the UK, where we have a right-wing government that has worked extremely hard to ensure that the mass media put forward only stories supporting its policies and point of view. Is it not possible that a government in possession of the kind of surveillance equipment it is exporting to ‘countries of human rights concern’ – a government that is known to have extremely unsound beliefs about human rights – might turn that equipment on its own people?

These are dangerous times for all of us.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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