Archive | February 1st, 2017

US soldiers shoot and kill 8-year-old girl in Yemen

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30_1_2017-1nawar-al-awlakiWhile the media attention has been focused on the death of one US serviceman who was killed during a raid in Yemen, one of the most tragic casualties of the assault ordered by President Donald Trump was an eight-year-old girl.

The raid took place over the weekend, as US forces attempted a “site exploitation” attack that attempted to gather intelligence on Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the extremist group behind several high-profile terror attacks, including the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in two years ago.

Though the United States hailed the operation as a success, reports from Yemen would seem to indicate that the price paid by Yemeni civilians and non-combatants was extraordinarily high.

‘Don’t cry mama, I’m fine’

According to medical sources on the ground cited by Reuters, 30 people were killed by US soldiers, at least ten of them women and children in what appeared to be a case of disproportionate force utilised by the American commando unit who were sent in to retrieve intelligence.

Amongst the casualties was eight-year-old Nawar Al-Awlaki. Nawar is the daughter of US-born preacher Anwar Al-Awlaki who was the first American citizen to be assassinated in a US drone strike in 2011, decried by civil rights groups as an extrajudicial execution that denied him his right to a fair trial.

Two weeks after Anwar’s assassination, his 16-year-old son Abdulrahman was killed in another US drone strike. Abdulrahman was a US citizen said to have been born in Denver, Colorado and was a child at the time he was killed on the authority of the Obama administration.

With Nawar’s murder, it appears that no relative of Anwar Al-Awlaki is safe, regardless of whether they are children or not, or even involved in terrorism or not.

In a Facebook post, Nawar’s uncle and former Yemeni Deputy Minister of the Environment and Water Resources, Ammar Al-Aulaqi said: “[Nawar] was shot several times, with one bullet piercing her neck. She was bleeding for two hours because it was not possible to get her medical attention.”

“As Nawar was always a personality and a mind far older than her years, she was reassuring her mother as she was bleeding out; ‘Don’t cry mama, I’m fine, I’m fine’,” Ammar’s emotional post continued.

“Then the call to the Dawn prayer came, and her soul departed from her tiny body.”

Trump’s fight against ‘Islamic terrorism’

 Nawar’s violent death came as a result of the Trump administration’s fight against so-called “radical Islamic terrorism”. In his inaugural speech, Trump vowed to wipe it off the face of the Earth. Trump made no similar vow against other forms of terror, including state terrorism.

“She was hit with a bullet in her neck and suffered for two hours,” Nasser Al-Awlaki, Nawar’s grandfather, told Reuters.

“Why kill children? This is the new [US] administration – it’s very sad, a big crime.”

In a statement, the Pentagon did not refer to any civilian casualties, although a US military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they could not be ruled out. Instead, the US was preoccupied with the death of one US serviceman who was killed during the operation that ended up with Nawar and many other children dead.

Hailing the operation as a success, Trump said: “Americans are saddened this morning with news that a life of a heroic service member has been taken in our fight against the evil of radical Islamic terrorism.”

Two more US servicemen were injured when an American V-22 Osprey military aircraft was sent to evacuate another wounded commando, but came under fire and had to be “intentionally destroyed in place,” the Pentagon said.

Social media reacts

Social media was awash with anger at the death of Nawar, blaming the US for “assassinating children”.

Mohammad Alrubaa, an Arab journalist and television show host, tweeted: “This is Nawar Al-Awlaki that the American marines came to Yemen to kill…#American_terrorism.”

Mousa Alomar, a Syrian journalist, tweeted “[US] marines killed Nawar Al-Awlaki and tens of women and children in Yemen. #US_terrorism_kills_Yemenis.”

Commenting on the fact that many civilian fatalities are justified as “collateral damage” by US military and political officials, Yemeni politician Ali Albukhaiti tweeted: “Nawar Al-Awlaki was not killed in an airstrike, but by a bullet fired by a marine and at close range. It is terrorism beyond terrorism, but it is defended and justified by a media that markets [such attacks].”

Though raids like this one in the rural Al-Bayda province in Yemen’s south are rare, the United States habitually utilises drone strikes to target individuals in what many deem to be extrajudicial killings, especially of its own citizens. Civilians are routinely killed in such drone strikes that are largely indiscriminate, but justified as a “legal act of war” by the US Justice Department.

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Deborah Lipstadt: Trump Administration Engaged In Softcore Holocaust Denial

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By Hunter Wallace 

You can never please these people. You really can’t.

“Holocaust denial is alive and well in the highest offices of the United States. It is being spread by those in President Trump’s innermost circle. It may have all started as a mistake by a new administration that is loath to admit it’s wrong. Conversely, it may be a conscious attempt by people with anti-Semitic sympathies to rewrite history. Either way it is deeply disturbing.

For me these developments are intensely personal—not because I have immediate family members who died in the Holocaust. I don’t. But I have spent a good number of years fighting something which the White House now seems to be fostering.

Last Friday, I was in Amsterdam attending a screening of the movie Denial. …

The de-Judaization of the Holocaust, as exemplified by the White House statement, is what I term softcore Holocaust denial …”

Who knew it was politically incorrect now to acknowledge the suffering of non-Jews during the Second World War? If there hadn’t been such an uproar about it, I would have never noticed.

Update: The US Holocaust Memorial Museum is condemning President Trump.

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The Hill Publishes Islamophobic Fake News on Venezuela

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By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim 

ta630rg24Love it or hate it, The Hill can be a pretty useful source of information on the goings on around DC, but its latest article on Venezuela comes from some disturbing places.

In a recent article, titled Meet Venezuela’s new VP, fan of Iran and Hezbollah, The Hill’s Emanuele Ottolenghi profiled the South American country’s new second in command, Tareck El Aissami.

Although El Aissami was appointed vice-president just a few weeks ago, he’s hardly a new face to anyone who has followed Venezuelan politics for a while. He previously served as Aragua’s governor, and also had a stint as interior minister a few years back.

So what’s so special about El Aissami? A lot, according to Ottolenghi, whose piece reads much like the biography of a minor goon from a Schwarzenegger flick, replete with semi-comical claims with the credibility, sophistication and nuance of Ninja Terminator.

Here’s a few highlights:

“Despite the Baathist family background — his father headed the Venezuelan branch of the Iraqi Baath Party — and his Lebanese Druze origins, El Aissami seems to prefer the Islamist Shiite revolutionary Hezbollah and Iran over the Baath’s supposedly secular pan-Arabism.

Like his Islamic revolutionary role models, he used violence to advance his politics.

Opposition figures have accused both El Aissami and Nassereddine of recruiting young Arab-Venezuelan members of the ruling party to undergo paramilitary training in South Lebanon with Hezbollah.

As if this were not enough, El Aissami reportedly facilitated drug trafficking, a crime for which he is being investigated in the U.S.”

In other words, El Aissami is every boogyman and right-wing scapegoat wrapped up in one nice little package, at least based on Ottolenghi’s depiction. He’s a mish-mash of Baathism, Sunni radicalism and Shiite extremism; plus he smuggles coke.

The obvious question is whether any of this is true. For one, El Aissami is indeed one of many suspects in a US investigation into Venezuela’s narcotics trade. We could discuss the politics of this investigation until the cows come home, but what about the juicier claims? For instance, the claim that El Aissami has been accused of sending young Venezuelans to Lebanon to train with Hezbollah, and that he has colluded with “guerrilla movements”?

If we follow the hyperlinks provided by Ottolenghi, we find that these claims were sourced from the Centre for Security Policy (CSP). It sounds credible, but has been widely dismissed by journalists as basically a joke. According to the Southern Poverty Law Centre, the Centre for Security Policy is “known for its accusations that a shadowy ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ has infiltrated all levels of government and warnings that ‘creeping Shariah,’ or Islamic religious law, is a threat to American democracy”.

“For the past decade, CSP’s main focus has been on demonising Islam and Muslims under the guise of national security,” the Southern Poverty Law Centre stated.

A cursory glance at the CSP’s homepage features ads for books with colourful titles like “CAIR is HAMAS”, “Civilisation Jihad”, “ObamaBomb” and “See No Sharia”. At the time of writing, some of their latest articles included one describing Islam as a “supremacist totalitarian ideology”, and another claiming Iran might already secretly have a “nuclear weapon” (which it doesn’t).

Well, that got weird fast.

So basically, Ottolenghi gets his best material from a website that is so far off the deep end, it has even been banned from the Conservative Political Action Conference.

As a side note, Donald Trump cited a report from the CSP back in 2015, when he falsely claimed one in four Muslims support violence against the US. At the time, the CSP’s claims were widely dismissed as junk.

But hey, that’s just one source – perhaps I’m not giving Ottolenghi’s narrative enough of a chance. Frustratingly though, Ottolenghi’s piece is very light on sources, and he provides no other references for his two most eyebrow raising claims.

Luckily, Ottolenghi is far from the first English language pundit to express this particular point of view on El Aissami. A few years ago, the Gatestone Institute published a piece that reads eerily similar to Ottolenghi’s more recent article. For example, the older piece details how El Aissami supposedly loved Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. Ignoring the fact these two political figures espoused totally different and utterly incompatible political ideologies, the Gatestone article did a somewhat better job than Ottolenghi in terms of providing sources for their claims.

This is where things take a turn for the outright bizarre.

So, where did the Gatestone’s critical intelligence on El Aissami originate? According to the reference list they provided, the answer to that question is: Wikipedia and this obscure blog. Following the breadcrumbs, the blogger also provided a reference list for their sources. This list is extremely short for supposedly groundbreaking investigative reporting, and only features four different names: Al Arabiya, MEMRI, Jihad Watch and another blogspot blog called The Jungle Hut.

…. Okey-dokey then.

The trail runs dry over at The Jungle Hut, where there’s nothing more than a dead link and a nice photo of a waterfall. It’s not quite what I was expecting to find, so let’s look at the other two sources. Al Arabiya is Saudi Arabia’s state media outlet, though don’t let that bother you too much; they’ve actually produced some decent stuff in the past. Unfortunately, there’s no links to specific articles, so again, the trail runs dry. The same problem arises when we head to MERMI. Finally, we get to the El Dorado of anti-Islam trash: Jihad Watch, a blog created by the notorious Islamophobe Robert Spencer. For anyone who doesn’t know, Spencer is perhaps best known for co-founding two prominent anti-Muslim lobby groups, Stop Islamisation of America (SIOA) and the American Freedom Defence Initiative (AFDI). Both have been listed as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Centre. Spencer also garnered media attention in the wake of the 2011 Norwegian white supremacist terrorist attack carried out by Anders Behring Breivik. In his sprawling anti-Muslim manifesto, Breivik cited Spencer dozens of times.

This is where our journey down the rabbit hole ends; with an Islamophobe beloved by one of the worst white supremacist terrorists in recent years. I guess this is what I get for checking people’s sources: a browser history full of links to hate groups, anti-Islam garbage and one nice picture of a waterfall. I didn’t find much credible reporting, but I did learn that El Aissami is hated for one reason above all: he’s got a Muslim-ish sounding name.

That’s it.

You might think I’m being harsh on Ottolenghi.

And you’d be wrong.

Ottolenghi is a long time anti-Iran hardliner, and has authored books with names like “Under a Mushroom Cloud: Europe, Iran and the Bomb”. According to a review of this book over at The Jewish Chronicle, “Ottolenghi’s view that Iran, as an exceptional case, merits exceptional treatment, is perhaps unrealistically rigid. His argument is not helped by the absence from his text of source references by which the reader could cross-check the many, selective quotes he adduces in support of it.”

In other words, making far fetched claims based on no real evidence is something of a modus operandi for Ottolenghi.

Along with having an obvious disdain for the notion of providing sources, Ottolenghi seems like just another pundit with a bone to pick with Islam, and anyone who sounds like they might be Arab, Persian or any other ethnic group he doesn’t like. Ottolenghi’s writings seem better suited to publishers like Jihad Watch, and his presence at The Hill is surprising to say the least.

Unfortunately though, this whole saga is symptomatic of a deeper problem in the media. The fact that an article for The Hill can get away with featuring links to the Islamophobic fake news CSP is emblematic of the dismal state of international corporate media. Islamophobic rants are treated like credible political analysis, and conspiracy crackpots are put on pedestals. It’s a grim state of affairs, but the real question is: how much further will we slide?

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#Match the fine for Palestine: Celtic fans crowdfund £176K to pay UEFA fine

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RT | January 31, 2017

Supporters of Celtic FC, known as the Green Brigade, have donated £176,000 (US$220,000) to two Palestinian charities. The donation was crowdfunded in reaction to a UEFA fine over Celtic fans flying Palestinian flags at a match.

Posted in ZIO-NAZI, UK0 Comments

Venezuelan Supreme Court: The President Has Not Abandoned His Post

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By Rachael Boothroyd-Rojas 

Caracas – Venezuela’s Supreme Court (TSJ) has blocked an attempt by Congress to oust President Nicolas Maduro over the allegation that he has “abandoned his post”.

Earlier in January, the opposition-controlled National Assembly (AN) approved an agreement stating that the president should be dismissed, accusing him of being responsible for a “serious rupture of the constitutional and democratic order,” the “devastation” of the country’s economy, and human rights abuses.

Opposition lawmakers argued that the declaration was based on Article 233 of the Bolivarian Constitution, which outlines the circumstances under which the president can be considered to have permanently vacated the position.

However, on Monday, Venezuela’s highest court released a statement confirming that there were no constitutional grounds for President Maduro’s removal from office, and criticised the AN’s interpretation of the article as “fraudulent and insurrectional”.

“The President of the Republic, citizen Nicolas Maduro Moros, has not been absent, nor separated in any moment, from the exercise of his post, nor has he ceased to exercise his constitutional responsibilities since the beginning of his mandate, which is a public, well-known and communicable indisputable fact,” reads the declaration.

In the official ruling, the high court describes opposition lawmakers’ actions as an attempt to set in motion a “coup d’etat” against the president of the Republic and to “subvert the established constitutional order”.

“(This) responds to their interest in destabilisation, with the only intention of changing the legitimately constituted government through an unconstitutional procedure,” continues the top judicial body.

TSJ judges also went on to reprimand the opposition coalition, the Democratic Unity Roundtable, for having continuously flouted the court’s previous orders demanding that congress remove three opposition legislators pending investigations into voter fraud. The court has released several statements declaring the National Assembly to be in contempt of court and consequently void, as well as warning the legislative body not to overstep its constitutional boundaries.

According to the Constitution, the Venezuelan president can be considered to have “abandoned his post” through his death, resignation, destitution by the TSJ or his “physical or mental incapacity” as corroborated by a medical committee.

Nonetheless, opposition legislators have prioritised removing Maduro from office through a variety of initiatives since winning a congressional majority in the legislative elections of December 2015.

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Western MSM complicit in fueling ‘artificially’ ignited Syrian war – Bolivian filmmaker

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RT 

The Syrian war was an artificial, deliberately planned and meticulously staged conflict from the very beginning, Carla Ortiz, a Bolivian documentary filmmaker told RT. She believes western MSM played a decisive role: repeating a stereotypical narrative while twisting the reality.

Ortiz, the director of the “The Voice of Syria” documentary, recently returned from the war-torn country, where she visited regions which suffered most from the conflict. She talked to the Syrian people struggling to save their country while rebuilding their shattered lives.

The real situation in Syria she witnessed is very different from the common narrative peddled by the western MSM. The entire idea of the Middle East being a “territory of a constant conflict” plagued by “dictators,” and Westerners being the “saviors” of the local people, is so customary you “almost stop questioning what you hear,” Ortiz told RT Spanish.

“Only when I’ve started to get into it, I realized that the reality, which exists on the other side, is completely different. It drastically contradicts what I supposedly ‘knew’ about it,” Ortiz said.

The Syrian conflict is portrayed by the western MSM as something “natural” and “organic” but she left with the feeling that it’s an artificially created campaign orchestrated from the outside.

“The war was deliberately and meticulously staged,” Ortiz told RT. Locals told the filmmaker, that not only was the initial unrest organized and fuelled by foreigners, who infiltrated the country, but even now, the majority of militants fighting against the Syrian army are of foreign origins.

“After having traveled three fourths of the country, I realized that my dialogue with Syria’s people always repeats itself. Regardless of a place, social rank and even religion, I got the same answer everywhere – this war was created artificially,” Ortiz added.

The religious component of the conflict also proved to be greatly exaggerated, as Syrian people of different religious denominations have lived in harmony for ages.

“I made a mistake once, I asked one man – ‘Are you a Muslim?’ And he told me – ‘I’m Syrian, we don’t ask about religion in Syria,” Ortiz said.

The Syrian people distrust western media and the West as a whole, and hold them largely responsible for the destruction of their country. The West made ousting the Syrian president a priority, instead of fighting terrorism.

Western media consume information from dubious sources and present it as “reporting.” Even those few journalists, who were in Syria while Ortiz was filming her documentary, preferred to “report” from the safety of their hotel rooms.

“I can confirm, that at the critical moment of the Aleppo battle, I travelled all six fronts and there was nobody from international media,” Ortiz said.

Ortiz witnessed and filmed the Aleppo liberation, and can state with authority that many videos, which emerged during these hard times depicting “Assad atrocities” or “Russian atrocities” were fake. Such videos have little to no gunfire, bombing and shelling sounds, while the fighting in the days before Aleppo’s liberation was really intense.

“In all my videos you can hear gunfire. I don’t know where such footage was filmed, if it doesn’t have such sounds, especially if it was allegedly filmed in East Aleppo,” Ortiz said.

Various shady groups, portrayed by the western media as brave warriors and “heroes,” such as the infamous White Helmets, are perceived quite differently by the Syrians. Rather, they are viewed as militants and terrorists who have and continue to rip their nation apart.

Syrian soldiers, young men and women, majority of whom are volunteers, struggle daily to save their country from terrorists, who grew strong on the “free advertising” provided by western MSM.

It’s the Syrian army, which fights for its country, not some “Assad army” or “regime forces” as the MSM portrays them, Ortiz said.

Posted in USA, Europe, Syria0 Comments

Where’s the Outrage over US Imperial Wars?

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By Stephen Lendman 

Days of protests in America against Trump’s entry into America order smack of dark forces manipulating and agitating against him no matter what he does or doesn’t do.

Denigration of Muslims is longstanding in America, taken to a fever pitch post-9/11, wrongfully portraying them as gun-toting terrorists, using them as a pretext to smash one country after another, responsible for appalling levels of carnage and human misery?

Where’s the outrage over an issue dwarfing all others? Why aren’t people furious about imperial madness, possible nuclear war if not curbed?

Why aren’t they protesting against bloated military spending and America’s empire of bases – used as launching pads for more wars?

Where’s the outrage over mega-corporations ruling the world, exploiting it for profits, harming millions, despoiling the environment?

Why aren’t people protesting against repressive laws, breaching international law, spurning constitutional rights, turning America into a police state – perhaps one more major 9/11-type false flag attack away from full-blown tyranny!

True enough, restricting or banning free travel to America by Muslims from designated countries is disgraceful. But the issue pales in importance compared to others the public largely ignores.

Why aren’t people protesting against what matters most? Where’s the outrage over bipartisan neocon lunatics infesting Washington?

Why is there mass silence over fantasy democracy masquerading as the real thing? What about deep poverty affecting millions, mass unemployment and underemployment, governance serving the privileged few at the expense of most others?

Where’s the outrage over the world’s richest country using its resources irresponsibly – for imperial wars, handouts to Wall Street and other corporate favorites, militarizing America against its own people, turning its inner cities into battlegrounds, enriching the few at the expense of so many?

Why aren’t people directing their anger against what most harms their rights, welfare and futures?

The main issue isn’t what Trump does or doesn’t do. It’s the appalling way America is run by its privileged class for its own self-interest exclusively – causing so much harm to so many at home and abroad.

Now that’s just cause for endless protests to change things!

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UK, allies hold military drills in Persian Gulf amid Iran warning

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Britain, the US, France and Australia are holding maritime military exercises in the Persian Gulf as Iran warns that it will not allow any intrusion into its territorial waters.

The three-day war games, dubbed the Unified Trident, started on Tuesday.

They involve British Royal Navy flagship HMS Ocean and Type-45 destroyer HMS Daring, US warships USS Hopper and USS Mahan as well as French anti-aircraft frigate FS Forbin.

Additionally, targeting Iranian combat jets, ships and coastal missile launching facilities will be simulated during the exercises, reports say.

“The exercise is intended to enhance mutual capabilities, improve tactical proficiency and strengthen partnerships” among the allies, a US Navy press release said.

Asked about the drills, Iran’s Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari (seen below) told the Mehr news agency on Tuesday that the Islamic Republic would not allow anybody to encroach on its territorial waters, which he described as the country’s “red line.”

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Touching on the simulation of hitting Iranian targets, Sayyari said that Iran “does not care about who’s doing what,” adding, “For us, it is important to boost our defense capabilities to such a level that we can withstand any threats [posed against us from] anywhere,” he added.

The Iranian commander also noted that any exercises in high seas should comply with international law.

The Unified Trident drills come after a string of incidents, in which US vessels that sailed close to Iranian territorial waters were met with Iran’s befitting response.

Iran has repeatedly warned that any act of transgression into Iran’s territorial waters would be met with an immediate and befitting response.

In January last year, Iran’s Navy arrested the crews of two US patrol boats that had trespassed on Iranian territorial waters. Iran released them after establishing that they had done so by mistake.

Iran has invariably asserted that it only uses its naval might for defensive purposes and to send across the Islamic Republic’s message of peace and security to other nations.

Posted in Europe, Iran, UK0 Comments

Britain and the ‘Yemeni threat’

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By Dan Glazebrook 

Britain is backing a Saudi invasion of Yemen that has cost thousands of innocent lives. It is providing advanced weaponry to the Saudis, training their military, and has soldiers embedded with the Saudis helping with targeting; and there is suspicion that British soldiers may even be involved in flying sorties themselves.

This is true of today. But it also describes exactly what was happening in the 1960s, in a shameful episode which Britain has, like so much of its colonial past, effectively whitewashed out of history.

In 1962, following the death of Yemeni King Ahmad, Arab nationalist army officers led by Colonel Abdullah Al-Sallal seized power and declared a Republic. The Royalists launched an insurgency to reclaim power, backed by Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel and Britain, whilst Nasser’s Egypt sent troops to support the fledgling republican government.

In his book ‘Unpeople’, historian Mark Curtis pieces together Britain’s ‘dirty war’ in Yemen between 1962 and 1969 using declassified files which – despite their public availability and the incendiary nature of their revelations – have only ever been examined by one other British historian. British involvement spanned both Conservative and Labour governments, and implicated leading members of the British government in war crimes.

Just as today, the side under attack from Britain clearly had popular support – as British officials were well aware. Christopher Gandy – Britain’s top official in Yemen’s cultural capital, Taiz – noted that the previous regime was “unpopular with large elements and those in many ways the best”, describing it as “an arbitrary autocracy”. Another British official, in the Prime Minister’s office, wrote that Nasser had been “able to capture most of the dynamic and modern forces in the area whilst we have been left, by our own choice, backing the forces which are not merely reactionary (that would not matter so much) but shifty, unreliable and treacherous” Even Prime Minister Harold Macmillan admitted it was “repugnant to political equality and prudence alike that we should so often appear to be supporting out of date and despotic regimes and to be opposing the growth of modern and more democratic forms of government”. Thus, wrote Curtis, “Britain decided to engage in a covert campaign to promote those forces recognised [by Britain itself] as ‘shifty’, ‘treacherous’ and ‘despotic’ to undermine those recognised as ‘popular’ and ‘democratic’”.

At the request of Mossad, MI6 appointed Conservative MP Neil MacLean to run a guerrilla war against the new Republican government. At first Britain’s role was primarily to support and equip Jordan’s involvement in the war; just as today, it was British fighter jets carrying out airstrikes on Yemen, with British military advisors embedded with their allies at the most senior level. This involvement stepped up a gear in March 1963, however, when Britain began covertly supplying weapons to the Royalist forces themselves via their Gulf allies. The following month, says MI6 biographer Stephen Dorrill, millions of pounds worth of light weapons were shipped from an RAF station in Wilstshire to the insurgents, including 50,000 rifles. At the same time, a decision was taken by Britain’s foreign minister (shortly to become Prime Minister) Alec Douglas-Home, MI6 chief Dick White and SAS founder David Stirling to send a British force to work directly with the insurgents. But to avoid parliamentary scrutiny and public accountability, this force would be comprised of mercenaries, rather than serving soldiers. SAS soldiers and paratroopers were given temporary leave to join this new force on a salary of £10,000 per year, paid by the Saudi Prince Sultan. An MI6 task force was also set up, to facilitate weapons and personnel supplies, and authorisation was given for British mercenaries to lay mines. The same time as these decisions were taken, Douglas-Home told parliament “our policy in Yemen is one of non-intervention in the affairs of that country. It is not therefore our policy to supply arms to the Royalists in the Yemen”. Foreign minister Rab Butler was more uneasy with such barefaced lying, especially when evidence began circulating of exactly what Britain was up to; a memo he sent to the PM in 1964 complained that his job of rebuffing UN claims that Britain was supplying the Royalists was made slightly more difficult “since we know that this is in fact true”.

British officials also knew that their insurgency had no chance of winning. But this was not the point. As Prime Minister Macmillan told President Kennedy at the time, “I quite realise that the Loyalists will probably not win in Yemen in the end but it would not suit us too badly if the new Yemeni regime were occupied with their own internal affairs during the next few years”. What Britain wanted, he added, was “a weak government in Yemen not able to make trouble”. Nor was this only Macmillan’s personal opinion; his foreign policy advisor Philip de Zulueta wrote that “All departments appear to be agreed that the present stalemate in the Yemen, with the Republicans and Royalists fighting each other and therefore having no time or energy left over to make trouble for us in Aden, suits our own interests very well…our interest is surely to have the maximum confusion in the tribal areas on the Aden frontier” with Yemen.

Labour came to power in the autumn of 1964, but the policy stayed the same; indeed, direct (but covert) RAF bombing of Yemen began soon after. In addition, another private British military company Airwork Services, signed a $26million contract to provide personnel for training Saudi pilots and ground crew involved in the war. This agreement later evolved into British pilots actually carrying out bombing missions themselves, with a foreign office memo dated March 1967 noting that “we have raised no objection to their being employed in operations, though we made it clear to the Saudis that we could not publicly acquiesce in any such arrangements”. By the time the war ended – with its inevitable Republican victory – an estimated 200,000 people had been killed.

At the same time as Britain was running the insurgency in North Yemen, it was fighting a vicious counter-insurgency campaign in South Yemen – then a colonial protectorate known as the Federation of Southern Arabia. This federation comprised the port city of Aden, under the direct colonial rule of the UK, and a series of sheikhdoms in the pay of the UK in the neighbouring hinterland. Its inhabitants were desperately poor, with one British commander noting that “there is barely enough subsistence to support the population”. These were the conditions behind a major revolt against British rule that broke out in the district of Radfan in April 1964 and would not be quelled for 7 months. The methods used to do so were typically brutal, with the British High Commissioner of Aden, Sir Kennedy Trevaskis suggesting that soldiers be sent to “put the fear of death into the villages”. If this didn’t work, he said “it would be necessary to deliver some gun attacks on livestock or men outside the villages”, adding that “we might be able to claim that our aircraft were shooting back of [sic] men who had fired at us from the ground”. The British use of airstrikes against the risen peasants was massive: historian John Newsinger writes that in just 3 months in 1964, British jets fired 2508 rockets and 200,000 cannon rounds, whilst British bombers dropped 3504 20-pound bombs and 14 1000-pound bombs and fired 20,000 cannon rounds. The government took Trevaskis’ advice and targeted crops in what Newsinger correctly described as a “deliberate, calculated attempt to terrorise and starve them into surrender.” Although the Radfan rebellion was eventually crushed, the British lost control of the hinterland to the National Liberation forces less than three years later, swiftly followed by Aden itself.

The 1960s was not the first time Britain had aided and abetted a Saudi war against the Yemenis, however. In 1934, Ibn Saud invaded and annexed Asir – “a Yemeni province by all historical accounts” in the words of the academic and Yemen specialist Elham Manea – and forced Yemen to sign a treaty deferring their claims to the territory for 20 years. It has never been returned to Yemen and remains occupied by the Saudis to this day. Britain’s role in facilitating this carve up was significant. As Manea explains, “During this period, the real power was Great Britain. Its role was crucial in either exacerbating or containing regional conflicts….[and] in the Yemeni-Saudi war they intensified the conflict to the detriment of Yemen”. When Ibn Saud claimed sovereignty over Asir in 1930, the British, who had been neutral towards disputes between the Peninsula’s various rulers hitherto, “shifted their position, perceiving Asir as ‘part of Saudi Arabia’… This was a terrible setback for [Yemeni leader] Yihia and drove him into an agreement with the British in 1934 which ultimately sealed his total defeat.” The agreement forced Yihia to recognise British sovereignty of Aden – Yemen’s major port – for 40 years. Britain then provided military vehicles for the Saudi suppression of the Asiri revolt and subsequent occupation that followed.

So the current British-Saudi war against Yemen is in fact the third in a century. But why is Britain so seemingly determined to see the country dismembered and its development sabotaged? Strange as it may seem, the answer is that Britain is scared of Yemen. For Yemen is the sole country on the Arab peninsula with the potential power to challenge the colonial stitch-up reached between Britain and the Gulf monarchies it placed in power in the nineteenth century, and who continue to rule to this day. As Palestinian author Said Aburish has noted, the very “nature of the Yemen was a challenge to the Saudis: it was a populous country with more than half the population of the whole Arabian peninsula, had a solid urban history and was more advanced than its new neighbour. It also represented a thorn in the side of British colonialism, a possible springboard for action against their control of Saudi Arabia and all the makeshift tributary sheikhdoms and emirates of the Gulf. In particular, the Yemen represented a threat to the British colonisation of Aden, a territory which considered itself part of a greater Yemen which had been dismembered by colonialism”. The potential power of a united, peaceful, Yemen was also highlighted by Aden’s High Commissioner Kennedy Trevaskis, who noted that, if the Yemenis took Aden, “it would for the first time provide the Yemen with a large modern town and a port of international consequence” and “economically, it would offer the greatest advantages to so poor and ill developed a country”. A peaceful, united Yemen – with over half the peninsula’s population – would threaten Saudi-British-US hegemony of the entire region. That is why Britain has, for over 80 years, sought to keep it divided and warring.

Posted in UK, Yemen0 Comments

Ukraine’s offensive ‘aimed at preventing Russian sanctions being lifted’: provokes criticism instead

NOVANEWS

Image result for Ukraine’s offensive CARTOON

By Alexander Mercouris 

Just a few days ago on RT’s Crosstalk programme Peter Lavelle, myself and the two other guests, Dmitry Babich and Ed Lozansky, discussed the Ukrainian regime’s likely reaction to the new Trump administration.

We all agreed that the likely response of the Ukrainian regime to the steps the Trump administration is taking to try to patch up US relations with Russia would be to escalate military tensions in the Donbass with a view in part to bolstering its political support in the West as this appeared to slide.

Our discussion took place in the early stages of the latest Ukrainian military offensive near the village of Avdeevka in eastern Ukraine. Since we had our discussion the situation has escalated – exactly as we predicted – with the fighting becoming fiercer and more bitter.

There is as always dispute about the state of the fighting and who is winning.  The Ukrainians predictably claim to be advancing. More reliable reports suggest they have in fact made little headway, and that their losses are high.

The most important point about the fighting is not that it is happening, or that it is getting worse.  Despite the two Minsk agreements – agreed by Ukraine in September 2014 and February 2015 – fighting in the Donbass has never stopped, and bitter flare ups repeatedly happen, as the Ukrainian military repeatedly goes back onto the offensive.

Rather what is striking about the latest fighting is that for the first time Ukraine is coming under criticism from the West.

For the first time since it was created the OSCE monitoring mission is apparently blaming Ukraine for the fighting.

Meanwhile a statement released by the US State Department – whose press office is still headed by Obama’s appointee Mark Toner – not only failed to support Ukraine but also failed to blame Russia for the fighting.  Instead it merely expressed “deep concern” and support for the Minsk II agreement (which Ukraine is violating) whilst appearing to contradict Kiev’s casualty claims by speaking of “dozens of Ukrainian military casualties” as opposed to the dozen dead Ukraine has admitted to.

Of far greater concern to the Ukrainian regime must however be the reaction of the German government, which following the change of administration in the US is now the one important ally it has left.

According to a report in Süddeutsche Zeitung, not only is the German government blaming Ukraine for the fighting, but it is apparently worried that the Ukrainian regime will achieve the opposite of its intentions. Specifically it seems the Germans realise the purpose of the offensive is to prevent US President Trump from cancelling the sanctions US President Obama imposed on Russia. However the Germans are worried that Trump will cancel the sanctions anyway, despite the fighting, leaving Ukraine further exposed.

Here is how Süddeutsche Zeitung explains German thinking

According to Berlin, whose information is based, among other things, on reports from the OSCE mission in the Eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian military forces are currently trying to shift the front line in their favour…..

According to some members of the German government, this might be intended to increase tensions so as to block plans by US President Donald Trump to relax the sanctions. According to Berlin’s interpretation, Poroshenko wants to do just about anything to prevent an end to the sanctions against Russia.

The Federal [German] Government is however concerned that Kiev’s calculus could be counterproductive. Trump might ease the sanctions independently of the situation at the contact line. And then Kiev would be faced with double damage: an improvement in Russia’s position with a simultaneous intensification of the conflict in the Eastern Ukraine.

Whether it is possible to dissuade Kiev from its own provocations, no one in Berlin dares to predict.

If the Germans really are thinking in this way then it is understandable why Ukrainian President Poroshenko has just cut short his visit to Germany. Instead of getting the support from the Germans he might have been expecting, hearing this sort of thing would have been – to put it mildly – extremely unwelcome. It’s not surprising that Poroshenko preferred to return home rather than hear it.

How far Poroshenko and the Ukrainian regime are prepared to go in pursuing their latest offensive remains to be seen. The key point however is that even if some sort of ceasefire is patched up, it will not mean peace in Ukraine or the Donbass. Quite simply peace in Ukraine and the Donbass cannot happen so long as the current regime in Kiev remains in power.

In that respect the article in Süddeutsche Zeitung points to the key problem which has stood in the way of peace in Ukraine and the Donbass since the start of the conflict there.

Having trapped herself into a policy of open ended support for the current Ukrainian regime, German Chancellor Angela Merkel (the likely source of the story in Süddeutsche Zeitung ) is not really concerned with Ukrainian responsibility for the latest fighting in the Donbass, even though it breaches the Minsk agreement and a succession of ceasefires which she has herself negotiated. The report in Süddeutsche Zeitung contains no hint of moral censure by her of Poroshenko’s or the Ukrainian regime’s actions.

Instead Merkel’s concern is that because of Donald Trump’s policy of rapprochement with Russia the Ukrainian regime, by violating the Minsk agreement and the ceasefires by going on the military offensive, may be overreaching itself, threatening its own existence and by extension Merkel’s position in Germany and Europe.

Needless to say the converse of this is that if contrary to Merkel’s expectations the Ukrainian “calculus” turns out right, and the Ukrainians either achieve a military breakthrough or prevent the lifting of the sanctions, then Merkel will be delighted, in spite of the fact that the Ukrainians have violated the Minsk agreement and the ceasefires she has herself negotiated by going on the offensive.

So long as such cynical attitudes persist in Western capitals the Ukrainian conflict will continue because the Ukrainian regime will feel that it has a critical mass of Western support it can always rely upon however badly it behaves.

I would add that the cynicism behind Merkel’s thinking revealed by Süddeutsche Zeitung – which is so different from the moralising poses she likes to strike – is actually typical of her, and in large part explains the widespread mistrust and dislike of her there now is in Russia, in many European capitals, and quite possibly before long in the US.

It remains to be seen whether the new Trump administration in the US is able or willing to break with it, bringing a hope of peace finally to the Donbass and Ukraine, and securing the basis for a better relationship with Russia, which without a settlement of the conflict in Ukraine is in the end impossible.

Posted in Ukraine0 Comments


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