Tony Blair Queried, Again, Over Nature of Burma Dealings

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Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair meets with National League for Democracy chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi in Naypyidaw on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2015. (Photo: NLD Chairperson Office / Facebook)

Former British prime minister Tony Blair was back in Burma earlier this month for at least his fifth visit since a quasi-civilian government assumed power under President Thein Sein.

Blair, who has staked out a lucrative niche in various advisory and entrepreneurial roles since leaving office, met with outgoing Union Parliament Speaker Shwe Mann and National League for Democracy chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi in Naypyidaw on Jan. 7.

However, as in previous years, the purpose of his visit was less than clear.

A UK-based rights group, Burma Campaign UK, has consistently called on Blair to reveal the precise nature of his dealings in Burma. The group reiterated this stance in an email to The Irrawaddy on Thursday.

“Tony Blair should be transparent about what who he is working for and why he keeps visiting Burma,” said Mark Farmaner, Burma Campaign UK director.

“In other countries Tony Blair has been known to combine work with his foundations with his business interests.”

Farmaner said the advocacy group had repeatedly written to Blair’s office to seek details of his dealings in Burma, without receiving adequate clarification.

Burma Campaign UK has previously stated that Blair was believed to be advising Thein Sein in some capacity.

Blair’s former chief of staff from 1997-2007, Jonathan Powell, also has interests in Burma through his charity Inter Mediate, which works in conflict resolution.

According to informed sources, Powell helped broker a trip to Columbia in December for a delegation comprised of representatives from the Burma Army, three ethnic Karen armed groups including the Karen National Union, and the government-affiliated Myanmar Peace Center, to study the country’s peace process.

Farmaner said he wouldn’t be surprised if Blair’s recent visit was linked to Powell’s work in Burma.

“Jonathan Powell and Tony Blair are old friends from their time when Tony Blair was Prime Minister, and they have both been involved in Burma in recent years,” he said.

“The problem is that their involvement seems to have been more in support of President Thein Sein’s government than being neutral or supporting civil society and the democracy movement.”

The Irrawaddy wrote to Inter Mediate for comment but was yet to receive a reply at time of publication.

Bertil Lintner, a veteran Swedish journalist and the author of several books on Burma, said there were numerous foreign organizations jockeying for involvement in Burma’s ongoing peace process.

“It is just a waste of time and money in the ‘peace-industrial complex,’” Lintner said. “There is lots of money to be made there.”

Posted in Far East, UK0 Comments

UK PM calls for limiting war legal claims

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Press TV

British Prime Minister David Cameron says he wants to stamp out what he called spurious legal claims against war veterans.

He said ministers had been asked to draw up plans to restrict claims, including by curbing financial incentives for “no win, no fee” cases.

The statements come as about 280 UK veterans are currently being investigated over alleged abuse by soldiers during the Iraq War.

Lawyers said no-one was above the law, and many abuse cases had been proven.

The Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) was established to investigate allegations of murder, abuse and torture against Iraqi civilians by UK military personnel between 2003 and 2009.

According to media reports, IHAT has considered at least 1,515 possible victims – of whom 280 are alleged to have been unlawfully killed – and lawyers are continuing to refer cases of alleged abuse. The head of the inquiry, Mark Warwick, has said there are “lots of significant cases” and that discussions would be held over whether they met a war crimes threshold.

Earlier, Cameron said he feared people were being “solicited by lawyers” enticing them into making accusations, and was concerned many of them were fabricated.

“Our armed forces are rightly held to the highest standards – but I want our troops to know that when they get home from action overseas this government will protect them from being hounded by lawyers over claims that are totally without foundation,” Cameron said, adding he had ordered the National Security Council to produce “a comprehensive plan to stamp out this industry.

“It is very important that all forces should be responsible within the law,” a London-based political analyst Rodney Shakespeare told Press TV.

He said the UK society needs to uphold the principals of decent behavior adding this is disgraceful that the government is now putting heavy efforts into stopping the trend.

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Litvinenko’s father: ‘The British duped me – Putin did NOT kill my son’

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Valter Litvinenko (right) now realizes he was completely duped by the British government and the Russian mafia

The father of late Russian security officer Aleksandr Litvinenko says he pursued a smear campaign against the Russian government out of grief, but changed his mind after Aleksandr’s widow revealed his son had been working for British intelligence.

After his son died in London from radioactive polonium poisoning in November 2006, Walter Litvinenko was among those who accused Russia of assassinating Aleksandr.

But he changed his attitude after his son’s widow Marina revealed that he had been working for British intelligence.

“If I knew back then that my son worked for the MI6, I would not speculate about his death. It would be none of my business. Although I am not 100 per cent sure he did work for them,” he said in an interview with RT.

He added that if it was true and Aleksandr, once a security officer with the Russian special service FSB, had defected to British intelligence, the Russians may have had a right to kill him as a traitor.

“He might as well have been killed by Russian secret services. They had a right to do it because traitors are to be killed,”
 he said. “Back then I was convinced he was not a traitor but I am not so sure now, so I won’t draw any conclusions.”

He calls his son a victim of a grand spy game. But he doubts that Andrey Lugovoy, who British police have named their chief suspect, had a hand in his death or acted as a government agent.

“The FSB wouldn’t send some dumbhead to spill polonium on himself, to leave traces all over my son. It appears that someone left traces of polonium on Lugovoy intentionally. Polonium traces were found at the stadium, on the road and even on a plane. It’s strange to think that Lugovoy would be such an idiot.”

Comment: Indeed, the British version is idiotic. A reasonable explanation for the polonium turning up everywhere is that it followed Litvinenko after he was poisoned… by someone else.

Walter Litvinenko authored a number of articles and gave several interviews in which he accused the Kremlin of many crimes, including killing his son.

“I was guided only by anger over my son’s death at the time. I was sure the Russian special services did it,” he explained.

He says he regrets his participation in the smear campaign against Russia in general and Prime Minister Putin in particular.

“I have cured of this disease. It was a disease. I am a psychiatric doctor myself and I know it was, this blunt hate,” he explained.

The grizzly death of Aleksandr Litvinenko became a major scandal which soured relations between Russia and Britain for several years. Russia refused to extradite Lugovoy for a trial in London and Britain refused to accept a trial on Russian soil.

Some Western media accused Moscow of assassinating Litvinenko for his anti-Putin publications.

British justice so far confirmed that the cause of Litvinenko’s death was polonium poisoning, but seems no nearer to uncovering how it happened or who, if anyone, is to blame.

After the death of his son, Walter Litvinenko moved to Italy together with his wife and children. The 73-year-old is now a widower with no savings or income, living in poverty in a country he says is utterly alien to him, and desperately nostalgic for his Russian home.

He says he used to think that he and his loved ones would be risking their lives if they returned to Russia. Now he hopes otherwise.

Andrey Lugovoy, the businessman Scotland Yard accuses of killing the Russian turncoat, told RT about Litvinenko’s father’s change of heart.

“Litvinenko’s father’s comments reflect what I’ve been saying for more than five years – that Britain’s accusations won’t stand up in court.”

Lugovoy reiterated sentiments that the British secret services had embarked on a slander campaign in an attempt to ”discredit Russia.” Further, he says Litvinenko’s father’s statements have dealt a significant blow to the UK intelligence community, showing how “they have embarrassed themselves.”

He also questioned whether a fair resolution would be reached on the matter, doubting the “impartiality of British courts.”

Guardian contributor Neil Clark told RT that Russophobia was fanning the Litvinenko story in the West.

“It seems that the British media – I’m talking about serious newspapers – they do not want to cover stories when they do not fit the narrative,” Clark explained. “And the dominant narrative back in 2006 was that the ‘evil tyrant Putin had ordered the FSB to come to London and kill Litvinenko,’ without any evidence.”

There was a real Russophobic campaign in the Western media,” he added.

Comment: Litvinenko did work for the Brits, and the reason they let that information come out was because they wanted to bolster their case for Putin being behind his murder.But to understand the real British spy mentality, and not the James Bond one, you have to understand that that actually makes it more likely that Litvinenko was killed by the Brits in order to make it look like Putin did it.

Remember folks, this case goes back to 2006. Even then, at least some among the Western oligarchs knew that Putin was a serious threat to their plans, and that the only way they could get to him was via asymmetric warfare…

Posted in Russia, UK0 Comments

UK doctors call for Zionist removal from World Medical Association

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British doctors have called for the removal of Zionist regime from the World Medical Association (WMA) over claims of “medical torture” on Palestinians seeking treatment.

Some 71 UK doctors have started to pressure the WMA to revoke the membership of the Zionist regime Medical Association over claims that “our doctors perform medical torture on Palestinian patients,” said Zionist Ze’ev Feldman, the representative of the Zionist doctors, during a Knesset meeting held on the subject of boycotts against Israeli academic institutions on Wednesday.

If the British physicians succeed, the Tel Aviv regime will be banned from taking part in international medical conferences and publishing in journals.

The move follows similar measures launched by scholars around the world over the past few months.

In December, over 200 South African scholars released a statement announcing their support of an academic boycott of the Nazi regime of I$raHell.

In November, the American Anthropological Association, the largest professional organization of anthropologists in the world, approved a resolution to boycott Zionist academic institutions.

Moreover, the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against the Nazi regime, known as BDS, is gaining momentum in US college campuses and churches as well as in many places in Europe. The BDS movement seeks to end the Nazi occupation and colonization of Palestinian lands.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, UK, ZIO-NAZI0 Comments

Nationalise the steel industry as a first step on the road to socialism

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    Image result for steel industry photos
    Nationalise the steel industry as a first step on the road to socialism
    Thousands of steel workers’ jobs are being axed across the country. First,
    the liquidation of Sahaviriya Steel Industries (SSI) UK led to the closure of
    the company’s site in Redcar, Teeside, with the devastating loss of 2,200
    jobs. The Redcar plant had been operating for 98 years. Soon after, Caparo
    went into administration, announcing over 300 job losses in the West
    Midlands in addition to more cuts in Hartlepool and at its Welsh sites.
    Then Tata Steel announced 1,200 job cuts in Scunthorpe and Lanarkshire,
    followed by another 750 Tata jobs at Port Talbot. With a further 100 jobs
    now on the line at Sheffield Forgemasters, more than a sixth of Britain’s
    remaining steel industry workers have lost their jobs in recent months,
    with no sign of any slowing in the decay of the industry. Indeed, it shows
    every sign of being in terminal decline. The current prospect of the
    complete demise of steel production in Britain threatens the livelihood of
    some 30,000 families, most of whom live in areas of already high
    unemployment.
    Yet the products of that industry have never been more necessary to the
    development of the modern world, whose infrastructure, transport and
    machine tool requirements are urgent. The mainspring of capitalist
    production is not the needs of society, however, but the needs of the
    capitalist to make the maximum profit. Since the late 1970s, when the re-
    emergence of a crisis of overproduction began to choke the market for
    many commodities, including steel, sharpening competition between rival
    producers has resulted in the widespread plant closures and lay offs we
    now see unfolding.
    The Labour party and the trade-union misleaders, along with the
    imperialist mass media, are seeking to pin the blame for this on China,
    citing the low cost of Chinese steel exports. A Daily Mirror petition, which
    Unite is urging its members to sign, demands that the government should
    “buy British” and “block China from dumping cheap steel on the UK
    market”. Advising workers to cheer on British imperialism in its global
    trade-war battle for markets will do nothing to “save our steel”, and
    everything to mislead workers into lining up behind the union jack just as
    crisis-ridden imperialism slips deeper into slump and war. Let it not be
    forgotten how social democracy led the working classes of Europe into the
    charnel houses of the trenches under the deceptive slogan of “defence of
  • the fatherland”.
    Labour’s misleadership
    The real cause of the collapse of Britain’s steel industry, along with mining
    and other former economic mainstays, lies in the policies pursued by
    successive British governments, both Conservative and Labour, over
    decades, policies dictated by the long-ripening crisis of overproduction. In
    1965, the number of workers in the plants of the then British Steel
    Corporation (BSC) stood at 817,000. In January 1980, steelworkers began
    a bitter 13-week strike as the privatisation and wage-cutting agenda of the
    Thatcher government, elected the previous year, started to kick in. This
    strike was betrayed by the Labour and trade-union leaderships. Mass steel
    production in Scotland effectively ended with the closure of the
    Ravenscraig plant in 1992, despite a protracted struggle by the workers
    and their local communities. So vital had the plant been to local life that
    the town of Motherwell had been popularly nicknamed Steelopolis.
    This wilful destruction of a once-thriving steel industry by a parasitic
    imperialist ruling class occurred long before China, or any other
    developing country, was a significant steel exporter. When the likes of
    Jeremy Corbyn attempt to outflank the Tories from the right, demanding
    that the government “stand up to China” on the steel issue, they not only
    fuel reactionary and social-chauvinist attacks on a developing socialist
    country that was once the plaything of British imperialism; they also
    prevent the class struggle of the British working class from even getting
    off the ground by presenting friends (the socialist countries and workers in
    other countries generally) as enemies and enemies (the British ruling class,
    the EU and imperialism generally) as friends.
    Workers are told by Unite that “together we can save our steel”. But what
    does this mean? If it means that by putting pressure on our capitalist
    government we can reverse the half century of decline, then it is just
    whistling in the dark. Worse, it is encouraging workers to identify their
    class interests with those of the capitalist at the very moment when the
    state is making its preparations to crush working class resistance to
    deepening austerity.
    In hard reality there is only one way to save the steel industry in Britain,
    and that is to fight class against class with the strategic objective of
  • establishing the rule of working people. Only then can we create a planned
    socialist economy geared to serving the interests of all workers – not only
    in this country, but throughout the world.
    By all means let us demand the nationalisation of what remains of the steel
    industry, and let us demand for those laid off full compensation and
    retraining. But let us be sure that we demand these things, not as “left”
    camouflage for the pernicious slogan of “British jobs for British workers”,
    but as a first step in the direction of ending capitalist class rule for good

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Zionist Cameron to mark Balfour Declaration centenary with UK Jewish community

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Prime Minister Zionist David Cameron has told representatives of the UK’s Jewish community that he intends to “mark” with them the centenary of the Balfour Declaration next year.

david-cameron-12

Zionist Cameron met members of the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) on January 13, in what has become an annual meeting.

According to a Downing Street spokesperson, the PM “recognised how next year is a special year for the Jewish community with the centenary of the Balfour Declaration.”

In remarks quoted in the Jewish News, Cameron said of the anniversary: “I want to make sure we mark it together in most appropriate way.”

A statement issued by the JLC after the meeting said that topics covered also included “glorification of terrorists on campuses and student unions’ adoption of BDS policies”, and “the government’s approach to the Middle East conflict and the need to prepare people for peace rather than conflict.”

The JLC is an umbrella body made up of over 30 Jewish communal organisations.

Posted in UK, ZIO-NAZI0 Comments

Drone Strike Assassinates Prime Minister Cameron’s “Transparency” Mandate

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By Felicity Arbuthnot 

One of the tasks that we clearly have is to rebuild trust in our political system … it’s about making sure people are in control and that the politicians are always their servants and never their masters.

— David Cameron, First speech as Prime Minister, May 11, 2010

David Cameron has made “transparency” a mantra. In May 2010 he vowed to rip off the: “cloak of secrecy” around government, extending transparency and stating:

Greater transparency is at the heart of our shared commitment to enable the public to hold politicians and public bodies to account.

He was specific, adamant even:

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed since doing this job, it’s how all the information about government – the money it spends, where it spends it, the results it achieves – how so much of it is locked away in a vault marked sort of ‘private for the eyes of Ministers and officials only … By bringing information out into the open you’ll be able to hold government and public services to account.

In early July 2011 he declared: “We are creating a new era of transparency …” Later that month in a speech in Singapore he talked of “accountable and transparent institutions …”

In January 2013 he said one of the main priorities of the UK’s Presidency of the G8 was “transparency.” In November that year at the Open Government Partnership he again delivered a speech stressing the importance of the “transparency agenda.”

In fact, the only transparency is Cameron — you can see right through him.

Holding “government and public services to account?” In your dreams. For example, the UK illegally invading the air space of other countries, murdering people in extra-judicial executions, a pretty massive government undertaking. Questions should surely be asked and have been. “Transparency” and accountability have not only been unforthcoming, they have left the planet.

In August last year two British nationals fighting in Syria were killed in British drone strikes, they were Reyaad Khan and Ruhul Amin, the latter not a “formal” target but killed anyway. Whilst many may be tempted to think “terrorists, serves them right”, this is the thin end of a very dodgy legal wedge. An illegal strike on a sovereign country, killings with no recourse to law – and only the government’s word on who they killed anyway, there will surely never be absolute proof.

Moreover, for all the word juggling, it seems Cameron’s government has followed in the footsteps of their Master, Barack Obama, and had the UK National Security Council draw up a “kill” list.

Defence Minister Michael Fallon denied there was such a list but confirmed in an impressive sleight of words:

… our job is to  … identify the terrorists and where we can forestall them. But if you’re asking me would we hesitate to take similar action again today, tomorrow, next week – absolutely not, we would not hesitate.

Assassination whilst illegally in or over another country is now renamed “forestalling.”

It should also be noted that it was not until December 2nd that the UK Parliament voted on Air Force intervention in Syria, a vote and actions anyway in murky legal territory, but the killings were undertaken under Führer Cameron’s auspices without MPs even being consulted, with, it transpires, the “kill” list drawn up “some months” prior to the August action with “a list of targets who would be subject to extra-judicial killing.”

“The Government” has also “refused to publish the advice it received from the Attorney General to justify the attacks.”

Further according to The Independent:

David Cameron said that Khan was involved in “actively recruiting (Isis) sympathisers and seeking to orchestrate specific and barbaric attacks against the West including directing a number of planned terrorist attacks right here in Britain …

However, no further evidence has been provided to substantiate these claims. Downing Street has said it cannot provide this information as it might compromise ongoing operations and legal cases …

Cameron seemingly morphs ever more into his hero Tony Blair – even down to seemingly having a compliant Attorney General in Jeremy Wright, QC. Few will have forgotten Blair’s, Lord Goldsmith, who changed the advice on the Iraq invasion from illegal to legal at a gentle tap on, not even a twist of, the arm.

Wright:  “… appearing before the Justice Select Committee said he acknowledged it was important in such exceptional circumstances that MPs should know that legal advice had been given, but insisted that its precise content could not be revealed. Asked why not, Wright said: “In part, it’s an obligation to ensure that legal advice taken by the government is as full and frank as it can be … It’s also important to take collective responsibility under cabinet government.”

So much for holding “government and public services to account.”

That was in September. On January 12th:

Members of the UK’s Parliamentary intelligence watchdog will not be allowed access to all intelligence or defence information relating to the new British practice of targeted killing by drone, the Prime Minister has said.

David Cameron was asked today by Andrew Tyrie MP whether the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) would be allowed to examine the military aspect of the targeted killing programme, and whether he would commit to the Committee’s security-cleared members being able to see all the relevant intelligence.

Mr Cameron refused on both points, stating that the ISC’s job was to examine intelligence, not military affairs, and that he could not give the commitment Mr Tyrie asked for regarding the Committee’s access to intelligence.  Mr Tyrie pointed out that what the Committee is allowed to see remains under the control of the Secretary of State, and that its work on targeted killing ‘could be rendered meaningless’ if it were barred from looking at the military operation.

Harriet Harman MP, chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) is currently carrying out an inquiry into the issue. She asked whether he would publish the UK Government’s policy on drone strikes – Mr Cameron responded that he had already set out his position to the Commons, but that publishing a written policy might ‘get us into more difficulties.’

You bet!

In response, Kate Craig legal Director at the international human rights organization Reprieve stated:

In fact, the Government is under a legal obligation to formulate and publish a clear and unambiguous policy, especially when we’re talking about state killing.

Moreover, the Prime Minister’s refusals to share vital information with the ISC raises the disturbing possibility that – much like the controversial US drone programme – UK targeted killing may be beyond accountability and oversight.

Law, national and international, is clearly fast becoming a redundant irritant. Britain and America’s acts of terrorism seem ever more blatant and unaccountable. “Why do they hate us?” bleated George W. Bush.  Work it out.

As for Cameron’s “transparency” mantra, having been in mortal danger from the day of its unveiling it is now consigned to that great political cemetery of Prime Ministerial and Ministers’ towering falsehoods and humbug.

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Yemen: A very British war

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By Dan Glazebrook | RT 

Britain is at the heart of a humanitarian disaster of epic proportions unfolding in the Yemen.

At least 10,000 people have been killed since the Saudi bombing campaign against Yemen began in March 2015, including over 630 children. There has been a massive escalation in human rights violations to a level of around 43 per day and up to ten children per day are being killed, according to UNICEF. Seventy-three percent of child casualties are the direct result of airstrikes, say the UN.

Civilian targets have been hit again and again. Within days of the commencement of airstrikes, a refugee camp was bombed, killing 40 and maiming over 200, and in October a Medicins San Frontier [Doctors Without Borders] hospital was hit. Schools, markets, grain warehouses, ports and a ceramics factory have all been hit. Needless to say, all of these are war crimes under international law – as is the entire bombing campaign, lacking, as it does, any UN mandate.

Beyond their immediate victims, the airstrikes and accompanying blockade – a horrendous crime against a population which imports 90 percent of its basic needs – are creating a tragedy of epic proportions. In August 2015, Oxfam warned that around 13 million people were struggling to find enough to eat, the highest number of people living in hunger it had ever recorded. “Yemen after five months looks like Syria after five years,” the head of the International Red Cross commented in October. The following month, the UN reported that 14 million now lacked access to healthcare and 80 percent of the country’s 21 million population are dependent on humanitarian aid. “We estimate that over 19 million people lack access to safe water and sanitation; over 14 million people are food insecure, including 7.6 million who are severely food insecure; and nearly 320,000 children are acutely malnourished,” the UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator told reporters in November. He estimated that around 2.5 million have been made refugees by the war. In December, the UN warned that the country was on the brink of famine, with millions at risk of starvation.

Statements from British government ministers are crafted to give the impression of sympathy for the victims of this war, and opprobrium for those responsible. “We should be clear” said Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond in September 2014, “the use of violence to make political gains, and the pointless loss of life it entails, are completely unacceptable. Not only does the recent violence damage Yemen’s political transition process, it could fuel new tensions and strengthen the hand of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula – threatening the security of all of us…Those who threaten the peace, security or stability of Yemen, or violate human rights, need to pay the price for their actions.”

Indeed. So presumably, one might have thought, when the Saudis began their massive escalation of the war six months after Hammond made this statement, the British government must have been outraged?

Not quite. The day after the Saudis began ‘Operation Decisive Storm’, David Cameron phoned the Saudi king personally to emphasize “the UK’s firm political support for the Saudi action in Yemen.”

Over the months that followed, Britain, a long-term arms dealer to the Saudi monarchy, stepped up its delivery of war materiel to achieve the dubious honor of beating the US to become its number one weapons supplier. Over a hundred new arms export licenses have been granted by the British government since the bombing began, and over the first six months of 2015 alone, Britain sold more than £1.75 billion worth of weapons to the Saudis – more than triple Cameron’s usual, already obscene, bi-annual average. The vast majority of this equipment seems to be for combat aircraft and air-delivered missiles, including more than 1000 bombs, and British-made jets now make up over half the Saudi air force. As the Independent has noted, “British supplied planes and British made missiles have been part of near-daily raids in Yemen carried out by [the] nine-country, Saudi Arabian led coalition.”

Charities and campaign groups are unanimous in their view that, without a shadow of a doubt, British patronage has greatly facilitated the carnage in the Yemen. “The [British] government is fuelling the conflict that is causing unbearable human suffering. It is time the government stopped supporting this war,” said chief executive of Oxfam GB, Mark Goldring. The director of Amnesty International UK, Kate Allen, said: “The UK has fuelled this appalling conflict through reckless arms sales which break its own laws and the global arms trade treaty it once championed…. legal opinion confirms our long-held view that the continued sale of arms from the UK to Saudi Arabia is illegal, immoral and indefensible.”

For Edward Santiago, Save the Children’s country director in Yemen, the UK’s “reluctance to publicly condemn the human cost of conflict in Yemen gives the impression that diplomatic relations and arms sales trump the lives of Yemen’s children,” whilst Andrew Smith from Campaign Against the Arms Trade, has written that “UK fighter jets and UK bombs have been central to the humanitarian catastrophe that is being unleashed on the people of Yemen.” Leading lawyers including Philippe Sands have argued that Britain is in clear breach of international law for selling weapons which it knows are being used to commit war crimes.

Now it has emerged that it is not only British weapons being used in this war, but British personnel as well. According to Sky News, six British military advisors are embedded with the Saudi air force to help with targeting. In addition, there are 94 members of the UK armed forces serving abroad “carrying out duties for unknown forces, believed to be the Saudi led coalition,” according to The Week – although the government refuses to state exactly where they are.

Indeed, even British airstrikes in Syria may have been motivated in part by a desire to prop up the flagging war effort in Yemen. Questioning of Philip Hammond in parliament recently led him to admit that there had been a “decrease in air sorties by Arab allies” in Syria since Britain’s entry into the air campaign there due to the “challenges” of the Yemen conflict.

For Scottish Nationalist MP Stephen Gethins this suggests that, by stepping up bombing in Syria, Western countries were effectively “cutting them [Arab states] a bit of slack to allow them to focus on the Yemen conflict,” especially needed given that support for the Yemen campaign has been flagging from states such as Jordan, Morocco and Egypt. It is particularly ironic that British MPs’ supposed commitment to destroying ISIS in Syria is actually facilitating a war in Yemen in which ISIS is the direct beneficiary.

Finally, it is worth considering British support for the Saudi bid for membership of the UN Human Rights Council. The Council’s reports can be highly influential; indeed, it was this Council’s damning (and, we now know, fraudulent) condemnation of Gaddafi that provided the ‘humanitarian’ pretext for the 2011 NATO war against the Libyan Jamahiriya. And the Yemeni government’s recent expulsion of the UN Human Rights envoy shows just how sensitive the prosecutors of the Yemeni war are to criticism. It would, therefore, be particularly useful for those unleashing hell on Yemen to have the UN Council stacked with supporters in order to dampen any criticism from this quarter.

Britain, then, is the major external force facilitating the Saudi-fronted war against the people of Yemen. Britain, like the Saudis, is keen to isolate Iran and sees destroying the Houthis as a key means of achieving this. At the same time, Britain seems perfectly happy to see Al-Qaeda and ISIS take over from the Houthi rebels they are bombing – presumably regarding a new base for terrorist destabilization operations across the region as an outcome serving British interests.

 

Posted in UK, Yemen0 Comments

Government must clarify whether UK personnel are under Saudi orders

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Reprieve

UK personnel are working in a Saudi Arabian “control centre” assisting with targeting as part of a bombing campaign in Yemen, which has been accused of attacks which “may amount to a war crime” by the UN Secretary General.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister told journalists today that “British officers were working alongside Saudi and other coalition colleagues in the campaign’s operations rooms,” according to media reports. The campaign has reportedly hit several Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) facilities, as well as a centre for the blind and a wedding hall.

The Saudi minister’s revelations go further than previous British Government statements, which have said that nearly 100 UK personnel are embedded in ‘Coalition HQs’ but have failed to specify which coalitions those are. It now appears that the Written Statement published by the Defence Secretary in December last year may have been referring to UK personnel embedded with the Saudi coalition, but did not make this clear at the time.

Whether or not the British personnel in the Saudi centre are ‘embedded’ is significant because the UK Government has previously stated that such personnel fall under the control of the ‘host nation’ – in this case, the Saudis. In a July 2015 statement to Parliament, Michael Fallon said that “Embedded UK personnel operate as if they were the host nation’s personnel, under that nation’s chain of command, but remain subject to UK domestic, international and Host Nation law.” Therefore, there are concerns that the UK personnel in the centre could be under the command of the Saudi authorities.

Commenting, Jennifer Gibson, staff attorney at international human rights organization Reprieve said:

“The Saudi bombing campaign in Yemen has killed thousands of civilians, hitting Medicins Sans Frontieres clinics, a school for the blind and a wedding hall.’

“It is shocking to discover that our Government has embroiled British personnel in the targeting process that is creating this mayhem. More disturbingly, we’re learning about the UK’s involvement not from the our Government, but from the Saudi authorities who now appear to be more transparent than their British counterparts.

“Crucial questions remain unanswered: whose command are British personnel in the Saudi operations centre under – British or Saudi? Are they ‘embedded’ personnel referred to in the Defence Secretary’s vague December statement, which stated that 94 British personnel were embedded in ‘Coalition HQs?’ And what part have ministers played in signing off their activities? The British public has a right to know.”

Posted in Saudi Arabia, UK0 Comments

Junior doctors’ strike in England disrupts care for thousands

NOVANEWS
By Stephen Castle
Junior doctors and their supporters protested outside a hospital Tuesday during the 24-hour work stoppage.

CHRISTOPHER FURLONG/GETTY IMAGES

Junior doctors and their supporters protested outside a hospital Tuesday during the 24-hour work stoppage.

LONDON — Hospital doctors in England staged their first strike in four decades Tuesday, disrupting treatment for thousands of patients in the National Health Service and escalating political tensions over a publicly funded health care system so revered that it was once likened to a national religion.

Operations were postponed and appointments canceled in a bitter dispute over pay and working hours between employers and junior doctors, a term that covers medical professionals with as much as a decade of experience.

With the junior doctors offering only emergency care, about 3,500 operations had been affected by Tuesday afternoon, including routine procedures for knee and hip replacements — prompting a warning from Prime Minister David Cameron that the labor action would create “real difficulties for patients, and potentially worse.”Yet the dispute over the health system carries risks for the government. The National Health Service, which is funded by taxes and payroll deductions but has faced years of financial strain, delivers most treatment without charge. Despite regular funding crises, there has been no similar strike since 1975.

Posted in UK0 Comments

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