UK’s Iraq war probe designed to ‘avoid blame,’ Whitehall memos reveal 

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RT 

The injury into UK’s involvement in the 2003 invasion of Iraq was designed by the government to avoid allocating blame to individuals and departments, memos obtained under the Freedom of Information Act have reportedly revealed.

The papers were made public thanks to Chris Lamb, an FOI campaigner from Bristol, who had won a two-year court battle for the right to access classified memos by government officials relating to the creation of the Chilcot Inquiry. The memos were penned in the four-week period in May and June 2009, the Observer reported.

The documents revealed that high-level politicians in Britain sought to ensure that the probe would not result in branches of the government or individuals being held legally liable for the Iraq war. Some officials opposed a public inquiry due to the amount of daily publicity, cost and, ironically, long time such a procedure would take.

The Chilcot Report, released in July, was the culmination of seven years of investigation, started by Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2009, and chaired by Sir John Chilcot. Although the investigation had found that Saddam Hussein had not posed any credible threat to the West – nor were there any WMD in his possession – it stopped short of assigning any blame to Tony Blair, who was UK prime minister at the time of the invasion, or any officials in his government.

Now it has been reportedly revealed that officials at the highest levels were involved in driving the inquiry to that outcome.

“The inquiry was hobbled before it even started, with tight restrictions on what it could do that were not fully made public,” Lamb told the newspaper.

The Observer reports that according to the memos, former cabinet secretary under Brown, Sir (now Lord) Gus O’Donnell ignored Whitehall protocol when he made Margaret Aldred the secretary on the inquiry – one of the most senior roles with the investigation.

Aldred had chaired the Iraq senior officials group during the period Chilcot was investigating and her appointment ran against the advice by Cabinet Office official Ben Lyon, who said in one memo that the secretariat should not draw from civil servants, and specifically that they “should not have been involved in Iraq policy since 2002.”

Other people involved in the 2003 war helped set up the inquiry, including Sir Jeremy Heywood, who served as Blair’s parliamentary private secretary until 2003, and former spy chief Sir John Scarlett, who was the central figure in trumpeting up the so-called Iraq dossier on Saddam Hussein’s non-existant arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.

In another memo, O’Donnell advised to avoid a legal focus, and recommended that the investigation be structured so as to prevent “any conclusion on questions of law or fact, which create circumstances which expose organizations, departments and/or individuals to criminal or civil proceedings or judicial review.” Part of this approach was not to have any judges or lawyers among the inquiry appointees.

Another big point for the investigation was to keep it secret rather than public. Lyon warned that a public inquiry would “attract a daily running commentary,” like the 2003 Hutton inquiry into the death of Iraq weapons inspector David Kelly. O’Donnell used the same reasoning and warned that a public inquiry would “threaten legal liability for individuals” and “take a long time.”

Brown initially wanted the injury to be carried by the Privy Council and announced this procedure in June 2009. But after a public outcry he agreed to make some of the hearing public.

Posted in Iraq, UK0 Comments

The Brits Have Their War Dead, We Have Bobby Sands

NOVANEWS
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By Aidan O’Brien 

Dublin – Last Sunday Britain remembered yet again its soldiers which were “killed in past and present” wars. This annual British event – Remembrance Sunday – is their annual “fuck you” to the world. It basically is a defence of the British Empire and the willing executioners it sent out to the four corners of the world. It’s insensitivity towards the peoples Britain conquered and condemned is so breathtaking that it begs a bloody response.

And when Britain’s role in the 21st century Arab slaughter is taken into account – the sight of Britain’s military shamelessly looking for respect is nothing less than the sabotage of morality. It makes a mockery of international solidarity and international equality. It is not a nation remembering but a nation defecating – defecating on the universal rights of men and women everywhere. It is a pure crime parading as pure innocence.

Britain’s ruling class was profoundly embarrassed by Brexit. Ever since the vote to “leave” Europe – this establishment has been at pains to express its love for Europe and the globe. Yet every year this social class recalls with pride the British rape of the world. Indeed this ruling class has steadfastly refused to apologise for its historical and contemporary acts – choosing instead to institutionalise its rapaciousness. Brexit may be an embarrassment for this class – but not war. On the contrary – war is policy – a perennial policy.

Just how long has war been British policy? Since it’s unification in 1707 Britain has been at war more or less nonstop somewhere in the world. From the War of the Spanish Succession (1702-13) to the destruction of Libya and Syria (2011-16) the British have been in the business of killing foreigners. In a light hearted book All the Countries We’ve Ever Invaded: And the Few We Never Got Around To (2013) the writer Stuart Laycock concludes that Britain has invaded 90% of the world’s countries. That is: out of nearly 200 countries – only 22 have escaped British terror. However being light hearted about this will not stop the killing machine.

In contrast the writer Richard Gott in his book Britain’s Empire (2011) looks very closely at this trail of blood and guts. For him it is not a joke for Brits to laugh at. But is a problem to deal with. And overcome. He looks for the victims of British terror and their resistance to British rule so as to gain a liberating view of the past and therefore of the present. Once the revolt and resistance is included and embraced – an alternative to Empire becomes possible. By seeing Britain clearly and by rising up against it – Britain’s victims gave and give birth to a better world. This is one of the great stories – if not the greatest story – of the modern world. One that we cling to today in the face of a resurgent Empire.

In a revealing remark Gott claims that this global struggle against British violence can be summed up in one story – that of Ireland.

“No colony in their Empire gave the British more trouble than the island of Ireland. No subject people proved more rebellious than the Irish. From misty start to unending finish, Irish revolt against colonial rule has been the leitmotif that runs through the entire history of Empire, causing problems in Ireland, in England itself, and in the most distant corners of the British globe.”

And if this is so – we contend that this Gaelic/Global rebellion against Britain is embodied in the life of one Irishman: Bobby Sands. If Ireland is the cutting edge of freedom from Britain everywhere – then Bobby Sands is the diamond that cuts deeply into the rock of British rule everywhere.

Born in Belfast in 1954 and dead 27 years later – Sands lit up the world from inside a British dungeon. He died because he refused to be broken by Britain. He died because he had more integrity and courage than Britain’s entire military history. He died because he rejected the criminalisation of resistance – resistance to Empire. He died with nine other Irish men on hunger strike. Sands was not only the leader of the striking prisoners – he was the leader at that moment of the entire global fight against injustice. From inside a prison cell he touched the four corners of the world.

Not only was Bobby Sands a leader in the political revolution – he was also a leader in the cultural revolution. His lust for freedom was not just a material thing. It was also a mental thought. One he put into words: words that fit perfectly into the art of Che and Mao. In his Writings from Prison (1997) he sings to us as he deconstructs the British gulag. Without needing to break down the walls that imprisoned him – he walked free. And in that cultural sense (indeed in every sense) he was freer than and greater than any of the mercenaries and sepoys that have died for Britain. Fidel Castro said Bobby Sands was more valuable than Jesus Christ. And he was right.

We remember the working class hero from Belfast – the IRA volunteer – who will always be an example for the world. In Bobby’s words:

“I was a skeleton compared to what I used to be but it didn’t matter. Nothing really mattered except remaining unbroken. I rolled over once again, the cold biting at me. They have nothing in their entire imperial arsenal to break the spirit of one single Republican political prisoner-of-war who refuses to be broken, I thought, and that was very true. They can not or never will break our spirit. I rolled over again freezing and the snow came in the window on top of my blankets.

“Tiocfaidh ár lá,” I said to myself. “Tiocfaidh ár lá.”

“Tiocfaidh ár lá” means in English “Our day will come”.

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Chagossians Have No Right of Self-Determination

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By Craig Murray 

“We do not agree the right of self-determination applies to the Chagossians”, says Foreign Office minister Alan Duncan, who later clarifies that they are not “a people”. If you can stand it, you can watch the urgent question in the Commons today which forced the government to defend the decision they had sneaked out via a written answer.

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The debate starts at 10.34 – if you put the cursor to the bottom of the picture a slider appears. It is excruciating to watch. In an unusually full House of Commons (not a high bar) there is indignation and real anger on all sides, with even Tories describing the decision to continue the eviction of the Chagos islanders as “dishonourable”.

The government argues that the Chagossians are not “a people” distinct from the Mauritians, therefore they do not have a right of self-determination. This piece of sophistry is designed to answer the obvious question of why the Chagossians have less rights than the Falkland Islanders or Gibraltarians. The actual answer – that the Chagossians are not white – is not one the government wishes to give. It also begs the question, if the Chagossians are Mauritians, why are the islands not a part of Mauritius?

The government produced a paper on prospective resettlement, imposing arbitrary conditions on where and how the Chagossians could live designed to make life as difficult as possible. Those conditions included that there could be no civilian use of the airstrip – which I am glad to see Alex Salmond challenged in the Commons. Chagossians could work at the US airbase, but only on condition their partners and children would not be permitted to be with them. Fishing – their traditional activity – will be banned by the UK government’s marine reserve.

Given these conditions, Duncan kept reiterating, only 223 Chagossians actually wanted to return. And that was not a viable population (which will be news to many inhabited islands).

Support for the government was very thin. The most notable contribution was from the Rt Hon Sir Desmond Swayne MP, who oozing contempt for dusky foreigners intervened solely to state that it would be impossible to return the islanders because the government would be put to the expense of building a prison for them. (He really did say this, I am not making it up, you can see it on the link.)

It takes New Labour however to win the lying through your teeth prize, which the unctuous Chris Bryant duly did. He deplored the deportation of the islanders, ignoring the fact that he had served as a minister in the 13 year Blair/Brown governments which did nothing to right the wrong and indeed fought against the islanders as hard as the Tories. But Bryant wished it to be known that the Labour government’s introduction of the marine reserve had no connection at all to denying the islanders the right of return, as was frequently wrongly claimed. Having said that the lying little bastard sat down.

The most amusing moment was when Kate Hoey stated that she knew Alan Duncan personally and he was a decent chap whose heart was secretly not in this despicable decision. Duncan felt the need to deny this vehemently, knowing that being less than totally heartless, particularly in matters relating to Imperial treatment of foreigners, was career death in the May government. I must say, from Duncan’s demeanour I saw no sign he has ever been troubled by humanitarianism.

I was proud that no less than five SNP MPs intervened and many more bothered to turn up, while another Scottish MP. Alistair Carmichael made a very good and principled point on the absolute right of the islanders to live on their islands. It was the SNP who made the most obvious point of all, that it made no sense for the government to claim that a population which had sustained itself on the islands in the 1960’s quite happily could not do so again. Indeed modern technology will make it rather easier.

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UK rejects MPs’ calls to stop arms sales to Saudis Zio-Wahhabi regime

NOVANEWS

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The UK government has rejected calls by lawmakers to temporarily stop arms sales to Saudi Zio-Wahhabi family over the Kingdom’s war crimes in Yemen.

Britain has signed off £3.3 billion in arms sales to Saudi Zio-Wahhabi regime since March 26, 2015, when it launched a war in Yemen in order to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement and restore power to Saudi Zio-Wahhabi backed C.I.A puppet Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

Two committees of MPs recently released a joint report, urging the government to suspend arms sales until the United Nations conducts an investigation into the Saudi Zio-Wahhabi atrocities, The Independent reported Monday.

The committees include the International Development and Business Committee, which both sit on a parliamentary ‘super committee’ known as the Committee on Arms Export Control (CAEC).

The Foreign Affairs Committee, a third constituent committee of CAEC, did not endorse the report, but suggested that British courts should decide the legality of the sales.

Meanwhile, a legal challenge has been launched by Campaign Against the Arms Trade, which is set to be heard in the coming months.

The UK government has rejected the calls by the two committees, saying it “is confident in its robust case-by-case assessment and is satisfied that extant licenses for Saudi are compliant with the UK’s export licensing criteria.”

“We continue to assess export license applications for Saudi Arabia on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria, taking account of all relevant factors at the time of the application,” The Independent quoted the government as saying in an official response.

The government said that it would continue its arms sales to any country, unless its assessments show that the items are being used in violation of UN human rights laws.

“The key test for our continued arms exports is whether there is a clear risk that those exports might be used in a commission of a serious violation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL),” it added.

The response was issued by British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Defense Secretary Sir Michael Fallon, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and International Development Secretary Priti Patel.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against the Arms Trade told The Independent that “the government is in denial about the devastating impact of the Saudi-led bombardment and its own complicity in it.”

Smith called the response “very weak,” saying that it is indicative of the fact that “arms company profits are still being prioritized over the human rights and lives of Yemeni people.”

He noted that those who issued the response “could stop the arms sales right now” instead of “offering uncritical military and political support” to Saudi Arabia.

The UK government is “helping arms companies like BAE to sell even more weapons” to the Saudis, he added.

Since the beginning of the aggression, almost 10,000 people, including over 2,000 children, have been killed.

London has been one of the biggest suppliers of weapons to Riyadh for 40 years.

Posted in Saudi Arabia, UK0 Comments

UK: A brief history of establishment hysteria

NOVANEWS

RT 

The NatWest account closure is only the latest entry in the channel’s saga in the UK.

Over the last couple of years, certain voices in the UK media – and the wider establishment –  have been feeding a wave of hysteria over the channel’s presence in the British market. Here are the highlights:

October 2014 – Posters for RT’s Second Opinion” ad campaign are rejected for outdoor posting by several London platforms for having what they called “political undertones.” Instead, RT puts up a “redacted version of the posters, which use the example of the Iraq War to draw attention to the importance of diversity in the news media.

November 2014 – The network officially launches RT UK, a dedicated channel broadcasting from its own studios in London. The British mainstream media, predictably, freaks out.

December 2014 – John Whittingdale, chair of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, lamented “It is frightening, the extent to which we are losing the information war,” with Peter Horrocks, a former top executive of the BBC’s global news operation, explaining to The Guardian that the Beeb was losing ground to RT because it is “financially outgunned.”  The problem with Horrock’s contention is that it simply isn’t true. That year, the BBC World Service ALONE was allocated a 2014 budget of £245 million ($382 million at that time), primarily for radio and online services.  RT, with its much costlier TV signal distribution, received 15.38 billion rubles ($271 million then).

January 2015 – The British Army announces it is creating a special force of “Facebook warriors” – a 1,500-strong brigade of professional soldiers to promote UK narratives on social media platforms. According to the Guardian, part of the justification for the move was that Russia’s point of view is resonating with the UK audience.

February 2015 – The Economist’s senior editor, Ed Lucas, pays a lot of attention to RT – especially in his other gig as a lobbyist for American weapons manufacturers. In this instance, he calls for KGB methods to be used against RT’s staff. “I think we could do a bit more ostracism,” Lucas said at a Munich security conference,” just as RT journalists were coming under fire near Donetsk. “Far too many people see a job at RT as the first stage on a career ladder. It’s not. It’s the last stage on a career ladder,” he said.

November 2015 – Larry King comes to London to promote his two shows “Larry King Now” and “Politicking,” which have been coming out on RT America and are about to start airing on RT UK. He grants an interview to BBC’s Evan Davis, who tries to give the legendary King of Chat a very hard time about working with RT. But BBC’s own viewers are not impressed.

Eventually, even Newsnight’s own Editor, Ian Katz, throws in the towel, writing “in case you missed… Larry King schooling our Evan Davis on the art of the interview.”

February 2016 – The BBC submits written testimony (made public over the summer) to Westminster’s Foreign Affairs Committee to justify demands for more funding, despite having just received £289 million for four years from the UK’s defense budget. The report outlines the reasons why RT’s success should create panic among the UK establishment: “Viewing figures for RT, Russia’s international news channel, have seen a sharp increase… It also operates very successfully on social media.”  The Russians are coming! The British government nods along in response.

August 2016 – The Times’ UK publishes seven pieces on the dangers of Russian media, mostly RT, over a single weekend. Obsessing much?

October 2016 – NatWest Bank, a subsidiary of Britain’s majority state-controlled Royal Bank of Scotland, gives notice that it is closing RT’s accounts – without explanation. Hundreds of messages and statements of support pour in from RT’s audience, NatWest/RBS customers, and UK public figures, who criticize the move as an affront to the UK’s principles of freedom of speech.

Stay tuned!

READ MORE: 
RT responds to ‘ostracism’ calls by Economist editor at Munich conference

Posted in Russia, UK0 Comments

Confirmation: British Pegida leader is an Israeli op

NOVANEWS

Calls for Tommy Robinson to be investigated by police over photo showing him holding gun in Israeli-occupied Golan Heights

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The groups Robinson leads are too dumb to realise they are being exploited by Israel to sow tensions and undermine British society

[Editor’s note: Tommy Robinson is scum, a piece of foetid fecal matter in human form, a man who loves nothing more than beating women and indulging in a bit of casual violence against anyone less white than himself. He’s also a career criminal and a leading figure in the far-right racist fringe of British politics, a former leading figure in both the British National Party and the English Defence League, both far-right, facist, racist groups.

Of course, good old Tommy claims he’s not racist, just anti-Islam and all he is doing is sticking up for good, honest white working class people.

Bullshit. I’m white and working class, as are the great majority of people I know and the only people any of us know that buys into the sort of hatred and racism that Robinson promotes are the sort of men who still live with their mother, have never had a job nor a girlfriend, were bullied at school and have an IQ in double digits. I’ve encountered a few of them over the years, fought them more than once and bear the scars to prove it, they are simply moronic thugs looking for something at which to vent their anger caused by their own deep feeling of inadequacy.

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Typical racist hate speech from the scumbag

But back to Robinson, he is often a talking head on British TV screens, always spouting the same tired old racist rhetoric, pretending to be some kind of white knight protector of the people; in reality, he is, and always has been, a bought and paid for operator for the intelligence services who exists in order to stir up inter-racial hatred in order to further the divide and conquer strategy that is all too clear today from the manufactured immigrant crisis.

Now we see that Robinson has turned up in Israel, hanging out with IDF in the Golan Heights and West Bank, trying to act the hardman as usual, hardly the itinerary of a tourist.

We can take this as confirmation of who Robinson works for and by extension, who is behind the Pegida movement that has been promoting anti-immigrant violence all across Europe, especially in Germany.

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Robinson’s real identity, the man is a complete fraud and a traitor to Britain

Yes, Israel is behind it all, as Tommy kindly showed us with his pathetic poseur antics. Ian]

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Middle East Eye
Gun-toting British anti-Muslim activist poses on Israeli tank

A prominent British far-right activist and anti-Muslim campaigner has posted photos of himself posing with a gun on an Israeli tank in the occupied Golan Heights.

Tommy Robinson, who leads Pegida UK, the British branch of the German-founded Pegida movement, posted the photo on Wednesday and wrote: “All those people telling me to be careful in Israel, I think I’ll be ok.”

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The founder and former leader of the anti-Muslim English Defence League (EDL), whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, arrived in Israel on Monday, posting the message “The Eagle has landed” on Twitter.

On Tuesday he posted a photo of himself posing by a road sign in the illegally occupied West Bank.

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In a response to this article on Twitter, Robinson told MEE he was “deep in the Jordan valley which is ground zero of the West Bank”.

Some on social media called for British police to investigate Robinson, with the Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPACUK) calling him a ” fully fledged armed radical extremist”.

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As a consequence of Syria’s war, the police have warned that Britons who travel to Syrian territory and take up arms will face likely questioning and possible prosecution for terrorism offences on their return to the UK.

Robinson has been vocal in support of Israel, telling the Jewish Chronicle newspaper in an interview in 2015 that the country was the frontline in the “battle for freedom, liberty and democracy”.

“The media would have us believe that everyone in this country hates Israel, that Israel is this big monster,” he told the newspaper.

“That comes from this whole left-wing mindset, this whole victim thing with Palestine which is inbred into students at university. It’s not inbred into anyone I know – white working-class people.”

Robinson also revealed in that interview that he planned to holiday in Israel once he was no longer restricted under licence from leaving the UK because of a conviction for mortgage fraud.

Robinson made headlines in 2013 when he publicly split from the EDL in a move orchestrated by the Quilliam Foundation, a counter-extremism organisation.

Robinson subsequently revealed in an autobiography that Quilliam, which in the past was funded by the British government, had paid him thousands of pounds as part of the deal.

Launching Pegida UK, a German acronym which stands for the Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West, Robinson said: “I’m not far-right… I’m just opposed to Islam. I believe it’s backward and it’s fascist. The current refugee crisis is nothing to do with refugees. It’s a Muslim invasion of Europe.”

The Golan Heights is Syrian territory which has been occupied by Israel since the 1967 Six-Day War. Israel annexed the area in 1981 but the move has never been internationally recognised.

Middle East Eye has reached out to the Israeli military and Pegida UK for comment.

Posted in UK, ZIO-NAZI0 Comments

UK bases used for targeting in secret US drone war, documents indicate

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Reprieve

Personnel on military bases in the UK have been involved in choosing targets for a secret US drone campaign which has killed hundreds of civilians in violation of international law, documents obtained by human rights charity Reprieve indicate.

Job adverts and CVs identified from publicly-available sources show that the US Air Force has employed a “MQ-9 REAPER [drone] ISR Mission Intelligence Coordinator” at RAF Molesworth in Cambridgeshire; while a Private Military Contractor (PMC) has advertised for an “All Source Analyst – Targeting” to work at the same base.

RAF Molesworth is leased to the US, but the UK Government has refused to answer questions on whether it plays a role in the covert drone campaign – which carries out missile strikes outside of warzones with minimal accountability.

British Ministers have said that “the US does not operate RPAS [drones] from the UK,” but have refused to answer questions on whether bases in the UK play a role in choosing targets and drawing up the US ‘kill list.’

A third job advert from contractor Leidos for someone to provide “FMV [full motion video] intelligence analysis in support of USAFRICOM… and Special Operations Command Africa,” also at Molesworth, indicates that the base may be involved in supporting illegal covert drone strikes in countries such as Somalia, where neither the US nor the UK is publicly at war. Along with the CIA, US Special Operations Command is the main player in the drone programme.

Concerns have been raised over the legality of the US covert drone programme, its lack of transparency, and reports that it has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of civilians. The UN has warned that it may violate international law, and British ministers have refused to be drawn on their view of its legality. President Obama has to date refused even to formally acknowledge that the CIA is carrying out drone strikes, because of the programme’s covert status. A 2014 study by Reprieve found that covert drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan had killed as many as 1,147 unknown people in failed attempts to kill 41 named individuals.

The revelations come on top of documents published recently by The Intercept on the role played by Menwith Hill – another UK/US intelligence base – in identifying targets in Yemen, one of the main theatres in which the covert drone programme operates. One document states that targets at Yemeni internet cafes are “tasked by several target offices at NSA and GCHQ.” The document’s header shows it was copied to the UK, meaning that the British Government must have already been aware of the role its intelligence and bases were playing.

Commenting, Jennifer Gibson, staff attorney at Reprieve said:

“These documents are the strongest evidence yet that the US may be conducting its illegal, secret drone war from bases on British soil. Simply to say that drones are not flown from the UK is missing the point, if it is personnel on British soil that are at the top of the so-called ‘kill chain’ and British agencies who are feeding targets into those lists.

“The US drone programme, conducted in the shadows, has killed hundreds of civilians without any accountability. The British Government has questions to answer over its own involvement in this secret war and how much responsibility it bears for those deaths.”

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Corbyn’s Second Mandate

NOVANEWS

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By: Ananya Wilson-Bhattacharya

After another summer of intensive campaigning by his supporters, Jeremy Corbyn swept to victory in a second Labour leadership election on September 24th, with an even larger mandate of 62% of the votes, despite tens of thousands being denied a vote in systematic ‘purges’ by the Labour Party establishment.

To fully understand the implications of this second victory, it is useful to cast our minds back a year, to when Corbyn first became leader of the Labour Party in September 2015, indicating a major victory for the left and a shift away from the neoliberal Conservative policies which had pervaded British politics over the previous five years.

It was clear from the moment Corbyn was successfully allowed on to the nominations list that many of the MPs to the right of the party didn’t believe he stood a chance at winning, let alone by such a decided mandate. This was the first significant victory for the British left in decades, following a long stretch of Conservative and ‘Blairite’ neoliberalism.

From the outset, this (first) landslide victory was tantalisingly fragile. It came as no surprise to many on the left when, within days of Corbyn’s election, he was met from the mainstream media with petty, personal taunts – perhaps because they were threatened by the logic and evident popularity of his politics, they resorted to the buttoning of his shirt and whether or not he chose to sing the National Anthem before the Queen. As the months went on, Corbyn succeeded in preventing the passage of significant Conservative austerity legislation targeting the poor and people with disabilities whilst reducing taxes on the rich, and forcing the government to cancel its contract to build prisons for its ally Saudi Arabia, whilst simultaneously developing his own policies for the Labour Party. However, the right of the party too was beginning to develop more seemingly serious arguments. Corbyn was unelectable; he was incompetent in leading the party, much less the country – and, of course, the very real issues of sexism and anti-Semitism were as usual manipulated for no purpose other than to attack the left, with no regard for women’s and Jewish voices of the left protesting against their experiences being trivialised in this way. Opposition from the left to Zionism and the State of Israel was shamelessly equated with anti-Semitism – despite many Jewish people on the left asserting that this in itself amounts to a demonisation of all followers of the faith.

But what really set the ball rolling for these ‘Blairite’ MPs to actually take action and attempt to get rid of Corbyn was probably the outcome of the referendum in late June, on whether the UK should remain in the European Union. Predictably enough, the outcome of ‘Brexit’ – which disappointed millions across the political spectrum – was used by the MPs to suggest that Corbyn was somehow responsible, despite his relentless campaigning and the fact that 63% of Labour voters voted to remain in the EU. Of course, it is no coincidence that the days following Brexit, when Blairite MPs were plotting frantically to overturn Corbyn’s leadership and find an opponent (anyone would do for them – the eventual candidate, Owen Smith, was so little known that even his supporters often referred to him as ‘the other guy’), were also the days leading up to the Chilcot Report, which was to expose the war crimes of former Prime Minister Tony Blair during the Iraq war. Needless to say, his followers were clearly threatened by this, and hoped to destabilise Corbyn within days to try and prevent the report from being released. They failed to do this, however, and in fact it wasn’t until late July that Owen Smith, who is now likely to go down in history as the unsuccessful opponent of Jeremy Corbyn, appeared on the scene.

And so it was: despite winning last year with a decided – and large – mandate from the membership, Corbyn’s supporters were obliged to spend another summer campaigning to get him re-elected as leader of the Labour party. Time which could have been spent drawing up and developing policies, or reaching out to the wider public, had to instead be invested in persuading existing members to vote for Corbyn once again.

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UK to open permanent military base in Bahrain

NOVANEWS

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Britain’s then Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond boards a UK military ship docked in Manama, Bahrain, in November 2015.
Press TV 

The United Kingdom will open a massive permanent military base in Bahrain and deploy warships in the Persian Gulf, a new report has revealed.

The military base, which is the first such facility being opened by Britain in 40 years in the Persian Gulf region, will be launched next month, Britain’s Express newspaper reported on Saturday.

Britain will station around 600 military forces at the Royal Navy Facility and will deploy its warships to patrol the surrounding waters and guard oil and gas shipments in the waters.

The base located in Bahrain’s Mina Salman Port, will also be used by Special forces, Navy destroyers and frigates to launch operations against the Daesh takfiri terrorist group in the region, according to the report.

“The project could save the Ministry of Defense millions because they won’t have to travel back to the UK,” the newspaper quoted unnamed diplomatic sources as saying.

The base, which will be used as a weapons store, will allow Britain to take part in any possible emergency operation if any country tries to block UK commercial ships from passing through the Strait of Hormuz, said a navy source.

“If we miss out on too much oil and gas then the lights will start to go out,” the source added.

When Britain kicked off the project in 2014, Defense Secretary Michael Fallon described it as “a permanent expansion of the Royal Navy’s footprint” in the Persian Gulf.

“It will enable Britain to send more and larger ships to reinforce stability in the [Persian] Gulf,” he said.

Critics, however, raised concerns over the legality of the base, saying the project had not been discussed in Bahrain’s parliament.

Human rights campaigners criticized the plan at the time, arguing that the Royal Navy named HMS Juffair, is reminiscent of the colonial era because it’s named after a previous naval base, Britain maintained in the country during colonial times.

Opposition activists also said Britain’s move strengthens the ruling al Khalifa family which, has long been carrying out crackdown on human rights activists in the kingdom.

Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others injured or arrested in the Bahraini crackdown on the anti-regime activists, who have been holding protests on an almost daily basis since February 14, 2011.

Posted in Bahrain, UK0 Comments

How Britain’s “Party of War” Gave the Green Light to the Saudi Attack on Yemen

British Labor Leader Corbyn: “ISIS Created by UK and US”

This week’s Yemen vote demonstrates something apparent since the vote to invade Iraq: the party of war holds a majority in the Commons

Last month, Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected as Labour leader. It was his second victory by an overwhelming majority in a year, and it should have given Corbyn uncontested authority.

Yet he is still regarded with mutinous contempt by a significant proportion of his own side. They flatly refuse to accept Corbyn’s leadership.

I have reported politics from Westminster for almost 25 years and can recall few more shocking parliamentary events

This became clear on Wednesday night, when more than 100 Labour MPs failed to support a three-line whip on British policy towards the Yemen. It was disloyalty on an epic scale.

Corbyn cannot be faulted for calling a debate on Yemen. For the past 18 months, Britain has been complicit with mass murder as our Saudi allies have bombarded Yemen from the air, slaughtering thousands of innocent people as well as helping fuel a humanitarian calamity.

Corbyn clearly felt that it was his duty as leader of a responsible and moral opposition to challenge this policy. He nevertheless bent over backwards to make sure that the Yemen vote was uncontroversial. The Labour motion therefore stopped short of calling for the suspension of arms sales to Saudi Arabia which has been demanded by many charities and campaign groups.

This is because Corbyn and his foreign affairs spokeswoman Emily Thornberry were mindful that some Labour MPs represented constituencies where local jobs depended on the arms industry. So they contented themselves with demanding an independent United Nations inquiry into crimes committed by all sides – not just the Saudis – in this terrible and bloody conflict. They reasonably suggested that Britain should suspend support for the Saudis until this investigation was completed.

Green light to Saudi

This is the position taken by the bulk of the international community, by all reputable aid agencies and, as far as I can tell, by almost all ordinary Yemenis. In her excellent speech on Wednesday afternoon, Thornberry set out the reasons why the Saudis could no longer be trusted to investigate their own affairs.

But for Labour abstainers and absentees, Corbyn’s motion would have been carried and parliament would have voted for an independent investigation

Yet more than 100 Labour MPs – not far short of half the Labour Party – defied Corbyn. As a result, Labour’s call for an independent inquiry was defeated by 283 votes to just 193, a majority of 90. But for Labour abstainers and absentees, Corbyn’s motion would have been carried and parliament would have voted for an independent investigation.

The vote is bound to be interpreted by Saudi King Salman as a vote of confidence in his deeply controversial assault on the Yemen.

It will also lift pressure on the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson as he resists a growing international clamour for Britain to throw its weight behind an independent UN investigation.

To sum up, on Wednesday night, the British parliament sent the green light to Saudi Arabia and its allies to carry on bombing, maiming and killing. I have reported politics from Westminster for almost 25 years and can recall few more shocking parliamentary events.

Party of War

Shocking – but not surprising. The Yemen vote demonstrates something that has been apparent ever since the vote on 18  March 2003 to support the invasion of Iraq: the party of war holds a majority in the Commons.

It comprises virtually all of the Conservative Party and the Blairite wing of Labour. As Nafeez Ahmed wrote in July, there is a clear and demonstrable connection between the vote for war in Iraq, opposition to an Iraq inquiry, support for the calamitous intervention in Libya, and opposition to Jeremy Corbyn.

For the past 15 years, parliament has been governed by a cross-party consensus in favour of war

Ahmed showed the majority of those who tried to unseat Corbyn last summer were interventionist. Some 172 supported the motion of no confidence in Corbyn’s leadership. By coincidence or not, exactly the same number of MPs have supported Britain’s calamitous overseas wars.

Now let’s look at the Labour MPs who put a smile on the faces of King Salman and Boris Johnson by defying Corbyn’s three-line whip and abstaining in Wednesday night’s vote: once again we are at least partly talking about a confederacy of Blairites.

It turns out that Ann Clywd, who made such a sparkling speech in favour of war during the 2003 Iraq debate, has abstained over Corbyn’s call for an independent investigation of Yememi war crimes. So have John Spellar, Gloria de Piero, Fiona MacTaggart, Barry Sheerman, Angela Eagle, Liz Kendall, Luciana Berger, Lucy Powell, Mike Gapes, Stephen Kinnock, Tristram Hunt, Margaret Hodge etc etc.

Even Keith Vaz, who was born in Aden and makes a big deal of his Yemeni antecedents, defied Labour’s three-line whip and abstained.

It is important to highlight the fact that some of the most prominent opponents of Jeremy Corbyn did traipse through the division lobbies with their leader on Wednesday night. Alan Johnson, Hilary Benn and Yvette Cooper are just three examples. And, of course, the majority of those who abstained on Wednesday were not in parliament for the Iraq vote in 2003.

The Neocons and the unforgiven

Nevertheless there is a telling pattern here. For the past 15 years, parliament has been governed by a cross-party consensus in favour of war. During that period, Britain has undertaken three major foreign interventions, each one of them utterly disastrous. In each one, military success was swiftly followed by political and, ultimately, state failure.

Despite the hard-won experience of 15 years, there is still a parliamentary majority in favour of intervention.

There is an intimate connection between politicians who style themselves as moderate and neoconservative policies overseas

Very few parliamentarians opposed all these interventions. Jeremy Corbyn was among them and he has never been forgiven for it.

This brings me to the final paradox of Wednesday night’s vote: the intimate connection between politicians who style themselves as moderate or occupying the centre ground in Britain and neoconservative policies overseas.

For the past 20 years, the so-called “modernisers”, whether Blair’s Labour or Cameron’s Conservatives, have been in charge at Westminster. As has been well-documented (not least by Labour’s Jon Cruddas), they have hollowed out British politics through techniques of spin and electoral manipulation.

It is these same modernisers who have caused havoc in the Middle East, condemning the region to bloodshed and war. They were at it again on Wednesday by sending a signal to the Saudi dictatorship that it was acceptable to carry out its murderous policies in the Yemen. Thirteen years after Iraq, neoconservatism still rules.

Posted in UK, Yemen0 Comments

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