Archive | Yemen

Zio-Wahhabi regime: Investigations into War Crimes in Yemen “Prohibited”



Saudi Zio-Wahhabi regime rejected a request by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Bin Al-Hussein to form an international commission of inquiry into war crimes committed in Yemen.

“Riyadh does not support the call of the High Commissioner to form an international investigation committee,”  Zio-Wahhabi Minister of Culture and Information of Adel Tarifi said in a statement, stressing that “the work of the Yemeni National Commission of Inquiry is generally agreed”, according to reports by German Press Agency.

The Human Rights Council of the United Nations had refused on Thursday to open an independent investigation into war crimes in Yemen, and demanded instead a national commission of inquiry to investigate attacks on hospitals and killing of civilians.

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The American-Made Catastrophe in Yemen


While US officials condemn Russian war crimes in Syria, the US-Saudi coalition in Yemen is committing the same – but the media is silent

An eight-year-old malnourished boy lies on a bed in the emergency ward of a hospital in Sanaa, Yemen on September 27, 2016. (Photo: Reuters)

For a generation of Americans old enough to remember, the Korean conflict is often dubbed the “forgotten war”. Where Hollywood has lionised or contextualised those who fought in the Second World War and Vietnam, the nearly 2 million Americans who fought on the Korean peninsula in the early 1950s have largely been airbrushed from history.

Fast forward 60 odd years, and Americans find themselves participating in yet another forgotten war: Yemen.

Where the unfolding tragedy in Syria has grabbed media attention in the US over the course of the past five years, at least intermittingly, America’s participation and contribution towards alleged war crimes and the unmitigated humanitarian crisis in Yemen is yet to have even grabbed the attention of CNN’s scrolling news ticker.

Effectively what this means is this: the US mainstream media is choosing to broadcast to US viewers news stories that reflect only the geopolitical positions of the US administration. While this is hardly breaking news or some kind of deep revelation, given how US media behaved as cheerleader-in-chief for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, it’s still worth noting.

Double standards

For instance, when Russia bombs an aid convoy, attacks a hospital or a school in Syria, a spokesperson for the US administration will come forward to denounce Russia’s intervention, and the media will cover it. But when US taxpayer bombs, using US military guidance systems, blow up wedding parties, schools, anything, you can cut the silence with the proverbial knife.

Where John Kerry condemned Russia’s attack on the aid convoy, and was reported by most major media outlets, the US-led attack against civilians in Yemen went widely unnoticed

On the same weekend The New York Times ran a full-page article on how Russia attacked 31 humanitarian aid trucks, killing 18 civilians, on the outskirts of Aleppo, Syria, US fighter jets fired missiles into five residential homes in Hudaida province, Yemen, killing 26 civilians.

Where US Secretary of State John Kerry condemned Russia’s attack on the aid convoy, calling for an immediate grounding of all Russian warplanes so that aid deliveries could continue, which was reported by most major media outlets, the US-led attack against civilians in Yemen went widely unnoticed.

Sorry – my bad – the US government did make an announcement on Yemen that very same day: “Senate clears way for $1.5 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia.” Which now means Obama has shipped more weapons to Saudi Arabia than any previous US president, taking the kingdom’s haul to an eye-popping $115 billion since 2009.

Human catastrophe

These weapons have inflicted an almost unimaginable human catastrophe on the people of Yemen. That is, unimaginable only if you hadn’t heard of the parallel catastrophe in Syria. Since the start of 2015, the Saudi-US intervention in Yemen has resulted in the deaths of more than 10,000 people, most of them civilians, alongside another three million who have been displaced from their homes, and another 21 million in urgent need of humanitarian aid.

It’s also interesting to note that, at the same time senior US officials call for the enforcement of a no-fly zone in Syria in order to protect civilians, the US-Saudi coalition is also carrying out air strikes in Yemen that are killing civilians.

At the same time senior US officials call for the enforcement of a no-fly zone in Syria in order to protect civilians, the US-Saudi coalition is also carrying out air strikes in Yemen that are killing civilians

If Saudi Arabia’s relentless attack on Yemen was underwritten by Russia, instead of the US, it’s likely Americans would know more about the human suffering taking place in this country. But it’s not, and thus they know less, not more.

In September, a report compiled by the Yemen Data Project found that more than third of US-Saudi airstrikes have struck civilian sites – including hospitals, schools, mosques, and government buildings.

The report noted that of 8,600 air strikes carried out between March 2015 and August 2016, 3,577 hit military sites, while 3,158 struck non-military targets. While the report says some of these attacks on civilian targets can be attributed to “mistakes,” the fact repeated air strikes have struck schools, hospitals and mosques points to a more sinister conclusion.

Media silence on arms bonanza

Where US complicity in alleged war crimes have been met with total media silence in the United States, there is growing pressure on the European Union and the United Nations, led by The Netherlands, to investigate Britain’s contribution in the conflict.

Britain has sold nearly $5bn worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since the conflict began, and in the meantime the UK government has blocked a UN inquiry into the claim of war crimes in Yemen.

Britain has sold nearly $5bn worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since the conflict began, and in the meantime the UK government has blocked a UN inquiry into the claim of war crimes in Yemen

A number of human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, recently penned an open letter to the UN Commissioner on Human Rights that demands an international inquiry to “establish facts, collect and preserve information related to violations and abuses with a view to ensuring that those responsible for crimes are brought to justice in fair trials”.

The UK government’s attempt to block an international inquiry into Saudi-US coalition war crimes in Yemen has been derided by human rights groups. “It’s shocking. The UK ought to be standing up for justice and accountability, not acting as a cheerleader for arms companies,” said Polly Truscott of Amnesty International. While Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade observes: “For 18 months now, UK arms have been central to the destruction of Yemen.”

Dog days of the Obama doctrine

Muted criticism of the United States’ role in Yemen, however, is centred less on the plight of Yemen’s internationally forsaken citizens, and fixated more on what Yemen means for the endurance of the Obama Doctrine. In other words, Yemen is seen merely through the prism of a political football, and not a moral balance.

Where the Bush Doctrine urged preemption and direct military involvement, the Obama Doctrine favours the outsourcing of war to regional allies, but outsourcing to Saudi in Yemen has left many US administration officials wondering whether a lack of US due diligence in mitigating against civilian casualties is exacerbating casualties in a conflict already mired in a stalemate.

It’s disturbing to learn that Obama has determined Yemen to be a problem unworthy of a solution, dismissing the country as a ‘complete shit show’

“Obama has said little about the war in Yemen. With mere months left in his presidency, there is scarce indication that he will,” notes The Atlantic. “Increasingly skeptical of America’s ability to shape events on the ground in the Middle East, Obama sees little incentive to overturn the status quo, even if that means supporting the apparently reckless military forays of a government he disdains.”

Not only is it extraordinary that Obama has been forced to say very little about a conflict in which US involvement has led to an almost unrivalled human catastrophe, but it’s equally disturbing to learn that Obama has determined Yemen to be a problem unworthy of a solution, dismissing the country as a “complete shit show,” according to one US official who briefs the president on national security matters.

Yes, Yemen is a “shit show” but it is a “shit show” that is exacerbated by a US-backed coalition, and it’s a only a US-backed coalition that can bring an end to a “shit show” that has led to the deaths of 10,000 Yemenis and the pending doom of tens of millions more.

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Yemen, Saudi Arabia expected to start real peace talks



The formation of a new government in Yemen is expected to be a proper move to uphold the Yemenis’ stance in bargaining for peace with militants loyal to resigned president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, Veterans Today’s senior editor Gordon Duff told Press TV’s ‘Top 5.’

Yemen’s ruling Houthi Ansarullah movement and allies have agreed to task Abdulaziz bin Habtoor, former governor of the province of Aden, with forming a new government.

Duff said that Habtoor is “an excellent leader” and he will be able to unite the impoverished country. The development inside Yemen may help the new government to begin a real negotiation with the Saudi-backed militants, he added.

The Yemeni government has recognized that there is no military balance between Yemen on the one side, and the Saudi-led coalition including the United States, Israel, Morocco, Spain and even Denmark on the other, the analyst said.

He further noted that Saudi Arabia refused to hold real negotiations with Yemen because the Saudis wanted to continue their airstrikes to reinstate Hadi, adding however that the Saudi kingdom is now running out of money and is falling short of its objectives in Yemen.

Duff also hoped that the US allegations of Saudi complicity in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks had shown to the Saudis that the US was not a good partner for them. He predicted that Washington’s change of policy towards Riyadh after the 2016 US presidential election will push the Al Saud to hold real negotiations with the Yemeni government.

Ruling out a “false narrative” that claims the Saudi war on Yemen derives from a longtime “animosity” between Riyadh and Tehran, he argued that Saudi Arabia and Iran are going to redress their relationship.

Yemen has been under almost incessant Saudi airstrikes and ground operations since March last year. The attacks, which have killed nearly 10,000 people and lack any international mandate, are meant to undermine the Ansarullah movement and its allies.

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Civilian targets hit in fresh Zio-Wahhabi airstrikes in Yemen

A man inspects the damage in a house after a Saudi air strike in the Old City of Sana'a, Yemen, on September 24, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)
A man inspects the damage in a house after a Saudi Zio-Wahhabi air strike in the Old City of Sana’a, Yemen, on September 24, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)

Saudi Zio-Wahhabi warplanes have carried out a series of fresh airstrikes against residential areas across Yemen, leaving a number of people dead and causing more material damage in the impoverished Arab country.

Two fishermen lost their lives and more than 10 others suffered injuries on Sunday morning, when Saudi Zio-Wahhabi fighter jets struck an area in the Red City of Mokha, situated 346 kilo meters south of the capital, Sana’a, Arabic-language al-Masirah television network reported.

Zio-Wahhabi military aircraft also bombarded an area in the city of Sirwah, which lies about 120 kilometers east of the capital, as well as Nihm district in the capital province of Sana’a, but there were no immediate reports on possible casualties and extent of damage.

Also on Sunday, Yemeni army soldiers launched several missiles at a gathering of Saudi Zio-Wahhabi backed militants loyal to C.I.A puppet Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi in Sirwah, leaving an unspecified number of them killed and injured.

The developments came a day after two people were killed and five others injured in a Saudi Zio-Wahhabi aerial attack against a district in Sana’a.

Yemen has been under Saudi Zio-Wahhabi military strikes since late March 2015. The war was launched in a bid to reinstate C.I.A puppet Hadi, who has stepped down as Yemen’s president but is now seeking to grab power by force.

The United Nations puts the death toll from the military aggression at about 10,000.

Yemeni army forces together with fighters from the allied Popular Committees are fighting back the Zio-Wahhabi invaders and occasionally launch retaliatory attacks on the kingdom’s soil.

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Yemen’s: Sammad Proposes Border Truce



Head of Ansarullah politburo Saleh al-Sammad

Head of the new Yemeni council, Salah al-Sammad, proposed on Sunday a truce on the country’s border with Saudi Zio-Wahhabi regime in an exchange for a halt in Saudi Zio-Wahhabi led strikes on his country.

The proposal coincided with a surge in fighting after peace talks were suspended last month.

Sammad called on Saudi Zio-Wahhabi regime to “stop naval, air and land aggression, cease air raids and lift the blockade of our country, in exchange for an end to combat operations on the border and to missile launches into Saudi territory,” he said, in a speech published on the sabanews website.

Sammad also urged the UN and “peace-loving states” to exert pressure on the attacking Saudi regime to accept the offer.

He also suggested an amnesty for “combatants who have sided with the aggression,” a reference to fighters who back the Saudi Zio-Wahhabi-US assault on Yemen.

The Huthis are allied with soldiers loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Saudi Zio-Wahhabi regime in March 2015 formed Zionist Arab coalition to begin air strikes on Yemen. More than 6,600 people have been killed since the Zionist coalition launched its intervention, most of them civilians, and at least three million people have been displaced, according to the United Nations.

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Saudi Zio-Wahhabi using US-supplied white phosphorus in its war in Yemen

Image result for yemen war photos

Saudi Zio-Wahhabi appears to be using U.S.-supplied white phosphorous munitions in its war in Yemen, based on images and videos posted to social media, raising concerns among human rights groups that the highly incendiary material could be used against civilians.

Under U.S. regulations, white phosphorous sold to other countries is to be used only for signaling to other troops and creating smoke screens. When the munition explodes, it releases white phosphorous that automatically ignites in the air and creates a thick white smoke. When used against soldiers or civilians, it can maim and kill by burning to the bone.

It is unclear exactly how the Saudis Zio-Wahhabi are using the munitions, but the government has already received widespread condemnation for its indiscriminate bombing in civilian areas since its campaign against rebel forces in Yemen began in 2015…

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Britain’s Complicity In Saudi Arabia’s Terror Campaign Against Yemen

Crimes against Humanity: Britain’s Complicity In Saudi Arabia’s Terror Campaign Against Yemen

The ‘mainstream’ Western media is, almost by definition, the last place to consult for honest reporting of Western crimes. Consider the appalling case of Yemen which is consumed by war and an ongoing humanitarian catastrophe.

Since March 2015, a ‘coalition’ of Sunni Arab states led by Saudi Arabia, and supported by the US, Britain and France, has been dropping bombs on neighbouring Yemen. The scale of the bombing is indicated in a recent article by Felicity Arbuthnot – in one year, 330,000 homes, 648 mosques, 630 schools and institutes, and 250 health facilities were destroyed or damaged. The stated aim of Saudi Arabia’s devastating assault on Yemen is to reinstate the Yemeni president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, and to hold back Houthi rebels who are allied with the former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh. The Saudis assert that the Houthis, who control Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, are ‘proxies’ for Iran: always a convenient propaganda claim to elicit Western backing and ‘justify’ intervention.

Philip Hammond, who was UK defence secretary when the Saudi bombing began in 2015, promised:

‘We’ll support the Saudis in every practical way short of engaging in combat.’

The British government has been true to its word; in this respect at least. Campaign Against Arms Trade says that UK sales to Saudi Arabia since the start of the attacks on Yemen include £2.2 billion of aircraft, helicopters and drones, £1.1 billion of missiles, bombs and grenades, and nearly half a million pounds of armoured vehicles and tanks. Just days ago, it was revealed that Britain is now the second biggest dealer of arms in the world. Is there any clearer sign of the corrupt nature of UK foreign policy?

Perhaps there is. Last month, Oxfam reported that in excess of 21 million people in Yemen, out of a total population of around 27 million, are in need of humanitarian aid, more than in any other country. Over 6,000 people have been killed, more than 3 million displaced and more than 14 million are suffering hunger and malnutrition.

Amnesty International reports that British-made cluster bombs have been used in deadly attacks on civilians. Children are among those who have been killed and maimed. The human rights organisation says that the UK should stop all arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Amnesty has also called for Saudi Arabia to be dropped from the United Nations Human Rights Council because of ‘gross and systematic violations of human rights’, both at home and abroad.

‘They Call It Natural Death. But It’s Not.’

In a two-part piece for BBC Newsnight last year, Gabriel Gatehouse commendably reported from Yemen on the plight of civilians there, including the Saudi targeting of civilian infrastructure. The BBC journalist also alluded to ‘the British dimension’ in which the Saudi ‘coalition’s efforts are supported by Britain and the United States’, with British-supplied weaponry being used by the Saudis. Although a welcome deviation from the norm, his criticism of UK foreign policy was muted and not subsequently maintained by BBC News, as far as we could see (with limited recent exceptions as we will discuss later).

Peter Oborne is a rare example of a Western journalist reporting from Yemen, also pointing unequivocally to British complicity in the country’s nightmare. Together with his colleague Nawal Al-Maghafi, Oborne notes in a recent article that:

‘We discovered indisputable evidence that the coalition, backed by the UK as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, is targeting Yemeni civilians in blatant breach of the rules of war.’

At the same time, Saudi Arabia has imposed a brutal blockade on Yemen preventing vital commodities from getting into the country. One doctor at the Republic teaching hospital in Sanaa told Oborne:

‘We are unable to get medical supplies. Anaesthetics. Medicines for kidneys. There are babies dying in incubators because we can’t get supplies to treat them.’

The doctor estimated that 25 people were dying every day at the Republic hospital because of the blockade. He continued:

‘They call it natural death. But it’s not. If we had the medicines they wouldn’t be dead.

‘I consider them killed as if they were killed by an air strike, because if we had the medicines they would still be alive.’

This is shocking enough. But Oborne adds that there is:

‘powerful evidence that the Saudi-led coalition has deliberately targeted hospitals across the country. Four MSF [Médecins Sans Frontières] hospitals had been hit by Saudi air strikes prior to the organisation’s withdrawal from the country, even though MSF were careful to give the Saudi authorities their GPS positions.’

Oborne, who resigned as political commentator from the Telegraph last year, places Western complicity in Yemen’s nightmare at the front and centre of his reporting. He points out that Britain has continued to sell arms to Saudi Arabia and its partners, despite copious evidence of breaches of international humanitarian law presented by human rights organisations.

This is an echo of Britain’s shameful role in arming Indonesia while it crushed tiny independence-seeking East Timor, killing around 200,000 people – about one-third of its population. Noam Chomsky described it as a ‘slaughter’ of ‘near-genocidal’ levels. He noted that:

‘By 1998, Britain had become the leading supplier of arms to Indonesia…over the strong protests of Amnesty International, Indonesian dissidents, and Timorese victims. Arms sales are reported to make up at least a fifth of Britain’s exports to Indonesia (estimated at one billion pounds), led by British Aerospace’.

(Noam Chomsky, ‘Rogue States’, Pluto Books, 2000, p. 232)

In the present case of Yemen, the British Foreign Office has repeatedly denied that Saudi Arabia had broken humanitarian law, asserting until a couple of months ago that the FO’s own ‘assessment’ had cleared the Saudis of any wrong-doing. As Oborne notes, however, on July 21 this year, the last day of parliament before the long summer recess:

‘the British government was forced to admit that it had repeatedly misled parliament over the war in Yemen.’

It turns out that no such ‘assessment’ had taken place; a grudging and potentially damaging admission that ministers had clearly hoped to slip out quietly without proper scrutiny. Oborne describes it as ‘a dark moment of official embarrassment.’ You have to dig deep in the BBC News website to find scant mentionof this shameful episode.

Moreover, Britain has supported the UN Security Council resolution backing a Saudi blockade, and the UK has also provided the Saudis with intelligence and logistical support.

‘Perhaps most crucially of all, Britain and the United States have provided Saudi Arabia with diplomatic cover. Last year, Britain and the United States helped to block a Dutch initiative at the UN Human Rights Council for an independent investigation into violations of international humanitarian law.’

In a powerful accompanying filmed report on the destruction of Yemen’s capital Sanaa, Oborne concludes:

‘This city of old Sanaa is as extraordinary, as priceless, as unique as any of the masterpieces of Western civilisation – like Florence or Venice. Just imagine the outcry if bombs were falling on Florence or Venice. But because this is old Sanaa, in forgotten Yemen, nobody cares a damn.’

And least of all Britain’s new Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, who callously waved away copious evidence of Saudi breaches of international humanitarian law. The Guardian’s diplomatic editor Patrick Wintour writes of Johnson’s assertion that the Saudis are not ‘in clear breach’ of humanitarian law:

‘His judgment is based largely on a Saudi-led inquiry into eight controversial incidents, including the bombing of hospitals.’

To his credit, Wintour notes that Johnson was ‘defending the credibility of a Saudi-led inquiry exonerating Saudi targeting’. Comment seems superfluous. He then adds Johnson’s own unwittingly self-damning statement:

‘They [the Saudis] have the best insight into their own procedures and will be able to conduct the most thorough and conclusive investigations. It will also allow the coalition forces to work out what went wrong and apply the lessons learned in the best possible way. This is the standard we set ourselves and our allies.’

Indeed, this is the same standard that the world saw with horror last year when the US investigated, and largely exonerated itself, over its dreadful bombing of an MSF hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan.

Boris Johnson is sweeping aside compelling evidence of serious breaches of international law in a cynical move to maintain lucrative UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and to protect close strategic ties with a brutal kingdom of state beheaders and torturers. All this belies his carefully-crafted media image as an amiably bumbling and largely harmless P.G. Wodehouse-like character. In reality, he is a dangerous, extreme right-wing politician with too much power. Sadly, even the often admirable Peter Oborne’s judgement went awry on his return from Yemen when he appealed to Johnson to ‘act boldly to reset Riyadh [i.e. Saudi Arabia] relations’:

‘Boris Johnson has the potential to be one of the great British foreign secretaries of the modern era.’

Sadly, this line by Oborne does not appear to be satire.

Meanwhile, on September 5, the foreign office minister, Tobias Ellwood, addressed the Commons after being requested to do so by the Speaker, John Bercow, because of previously misleading statements on Yemen given by ministers to parliament. Wintour claims in his Guardian report that Ellwood ‘apologised’ for these ‘inaccurate answers’. But the quoted wording is far from a proper apology. Indeed, the foreign minister obfuscated further in support of Saudi Arabia. Ellwood:

‘said it was not for the UK government to conclude whether individual bombing incidents by the Saudis represented breaches of international humanitarian law (IHL), but instead to “take an overall view of the approach and attitude by Saudi Arabia to international humanitarian law”.’

In effect, the UK would continue to rely on Saudi Arabia’s assessments on whether the latter had breached international humanitarian law. Worse, while Yemenis continued to die under US/UK-supported bombing, Ellwood went on to support the Saudis:

‘Defending the Saudi response to criticisms of its campaign, Ellwood said: “It was new territory for Saudi Arabia and a conservative nation was not used to such exposure.”‘

This was sophistry of the worst order. ‘New territory’ entails a murderous bombing campaign and a crippling blockade. And describing Saudi Arabia – a brutal and repressive regime which ranks amongst the world’s worst offenders of human rights – as merely ‘a conservative nation’, speaks volumes about the mental and ethical contortions required to defend British foreign policy.

But there is even more to say about the UK’s shameful complicity in Yemen’s destruction. And, from what we have seen so far, it has had zero coverage in the ‘mainstream’ media.

Media Silence Over UK Role In ‘Targeted Killing’

Last week, the online investigative journal The Intercept published an in-depth piece on revelations about spying based on top-secret documents provided to them by Edward Snowden, the US National Security Agency whistle-blower. Titled ‘Inside Menwith Hill. The NSA’s British Base at the Heart of U.S. Targeted Killing’, the article was written by Ryan Gallagher, a UK-based journalist specialising in government surveillance, technology and civil liberties.

The RAF Menwith Hill base lies a few miles from Harrogate in North Yorkshire and is the largest electronic monitoring station in the world. As Gallagher notes: ‘it is a vital part of the NSA’s sprawling global surveillance network’. Consequently, its activities are shrouded in secrecy, despite the best efforts of human rights groups and a few British politicians demanding greater transparency. These efforts have been continually rebuffed by the UK government ‘citing a longstanding policy not to discuss matters related to national security.’

Now, however, the NSA files released by Snowden:

‘reveal for the first time how the NSA has used the British base to aid “a significant number of capture-kill operations” across the Middle East and North Africa, fueled by powerful eavesdropping technology that can harvest data from more than 300 million emails and phone calls a day.’

Over the past decade, advanced surveillance programmes at Menwith Hill have located ‘suspected terrorists accessing the internet in remote parts of the world’ and ‘provided support for conventional British and American military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.’

But, adds Gallagher, ‘they have also aided covert missions in countries where the U.S. has not declared war’, including Yemen. These disclosures ‘raise new questions about the extent of British complicity in U.S. drone strikes and other so-called targeted killing missions, which may in some cases have violated international laws or constituted war crimes.’

Kat Craig, legal director of London-based human rights group Reprieve, told Gallagher that Snowden’s revelations are:

‘yet another example of the unacceptable level of secrecy that surrounds U.K. involvement in the U.S. “targeted killing” program. It is now imperative that the prime minister comes clean about U.K. involvement in targeted killing’.

Gallagher describes a number of surveillance programmes, including one called GHOSTWOLF used to monitor ‘terrorist’ activity in internet cafes in the Middle East. This information is being used to ‘capture or eliminate key nodes in terrorist networks’.

As Gallagher observes:

‘GHOSTWOLF ties Menwith Hill to lethal operations in Yemen, providing the first documentary evidence that directly implicates the U.K. in covert actions in the country.

‘Menwith Hill’s previously undisclosed role aiding the so-called targeted killing of terror suspects highlights the extent of the British government’s apparent complicity in controversial U.S. attacks — and raises questions about the legality of the secret operations carried out from the base.’

The British government has consistently asserted that operations at Menwith ‘have always been, and continue to be’ carried out with its ‘knowledge and consent.’ In the context of the commission of war crimes, this is a damning admission.

Gallagher expands:

‘For several years, British human rights campaigners and lawmakers have been pressuring the government to provide information about whether it has had any role aiding U.S. targeted killing operations, yet they have been met with silence. In particular, there has been an attempt to establish whether the U.K. has aided U.S. drone bombings outside of declared war zones — in countries including Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia — which have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of civilians and are in some cases considered by United Nations officials to possibly constitute war crimes and violations of international law.’

These new, deeply damaging revelations by Snowden appear to have been completely blanked by the ‘mainstream’ media. Searches of the Lexis-Nexis newspaper database yield zero hits on Snowden’s Menwith revelations, and there appears to have been nothing published on the BBC News website. Indeed, this dearth of coverage by UK media, including BBC News, had been anticipated by US investigative reporter Glenn Greenwald, who previously worked with Snowden.

Not unusually, one has to go to media such as RT or PressTV to find any coverage; another reason why these outlets are so often bitterly denigrated as ‘propaganda’ operations by corporate journalists who haven’t done their job of holding Western power to account.

The Post-Brexit, $2 Trillion Saudi Carrot

On September 7, BBC Newsnight revealed how a draft report by MPs on the influential committee on arms export control was being watered down to remove the call for a suspension of arms sales to Saudi Arabia (clip available here). A statement in the draft report had said:

‘The weight of evidence of violations of international humanitarian law by the Saudi-led coalition is now so great, that it is very difficult to continue to support Saudi Arabia.’

But a number of ‘pro-defence’ MPs had then tabled more than 130 amendments, including a move to remove the call to suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia. The Guardian noted cautiously that this attempt:

‘underlines the sensitivity of the issue of UK-Saudi relations at Westminster, the importance of the Gulf to the UK defence industry and the concern that Britain, for a variety of security reasons, is too ready to take Saudi assurances about how it is conducting a difficult civil war in Yemen.’

That is putting it all too mildly; a point to which we return below.

The following evening (September 8), Tory MP Crispin Blunt refused to respond when pressed by Newsnight presenter Kirsty Wark about reportedly walking out of the committee meeting in order to stall a vote. It appears that Blunt had feared his amendments were about to be rejected, and by walking out of the meeting the quorum requirement would fail and no valid vote could take place.

But the sickness of government priorities at the intersection of foreign policy and economic imperatives was really highlighted when the Saudi foreign minister declared last week that it was ‘in Britain’s interest’ to continue supporting Saudi Arabia in its murderous assault on Yemen. Or, as the neocon Telegraph defence editor Con Coughlin put it:

‘to continue supporting the Saudis in the battle to prevent Yemen falling into the hands of Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.’

Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, then dangled a carrot in front of British ministers’ noses.

‘Apart from maintaining traditional links on military and intelligence cooperation, Mr Jubeir also said post-Brexit Britain could look forward to forging new trade links with the kingdom as Saudi Arabia embarks on its ambitious plan to restructure its economy under a plan called Saudi Vision 2030. “We are looking at more than $2 trillion worth of investment opportunities over the next decade, and this will take the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Britain to an entirely new level post-Brexit.”‘

Sometimes, you have to go to the extreme right-wing press to have the crude realpolitik spelled out so clearly.

Saudi pressure is considerable and difficult to resist. In June, it was reported that even the UN succumbed when it removed Saudi Arabia from a blacklist of countries responsible for child casualties in conflicts around the globe. Saudi Arabia had been placed on the list for killing and maiming children in Yemen bombing attacks. The country, along with other Arab and Muslim countries, had reportedly threatened to withdraw funding from vital UN humanitarian programmes. One anonymous diplomat spoke of ‘bullying, threats, pressure’, and summed it up as ‘real blackmail’.

The reports on Yemen cited in this media alert from the Guardian and BBC News show the permissible limits of occasional – very occasional – challenges to state power. What is routinely missing, and what would be prominent in coverage of British foreign policy in honest news media, has never been better highlighted than by historian Mark Curtis. For many years, he has extensively analysed formerly secret government records detailing internal discussions about state policies and priorities. In his book, ‘Web of Deceit’, which lays out ‘Britain’s real role in the world’, Curtis concludes that the primary function of the British state:

‘virtually its raison d’être for several centuries – is to aid British companies in getting their hands on other countries’ resources.’

(Mark Curtis, ‘Web of Deceit’, 2003, Vintage, p. 210)

To pursue such state policies means initiating war, military interventions, threats, bullying, and other aggressive actions, usually in support of the United States and/or Nato. This global imperialism is dressed up in propaganda garb as ‘countering terrorism’, ‘improving world security’, ‘working with our allies’ and similar pieties propagated by the ‘mainstream’ media. Curtis lays particular responsibility for such propaganda at the door of the ‘liberal’ media, notably the Guardian and BBC News:

‘The liberal intelligentsia in Britain is in my view guilty of helping to weave a collective web of deceit…. To read many mainstream commentators’ writings on Britain’s role in the world is to enter a surreal, Kafkaesque world where the reality is often the direct opposite of what is contended and where the startling assumptions are frighteningly supportive of state power.’

(Ibid., p. 4)

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US Activists Protest Arms Sales To Saudi Arabia


A prominent US human rights organization has organized an event in Washington DC to protest the sale of American weapons to Saudi Arabia.

Activists from Code Pink, a peace and social justice movement working to end US-funded wars, condemned the killing of civilians by Saudi Arabia, and expressed solidarity with the Yemeni people.

The protesters painted their hands with red paint to symbolize what they called Washington’s complicity in the killing of innocent Yemeni civilians.

The Code Pink activists also called on American lawmakers to stop spending their tax dollars on supporting the Saudi kingdom.

Arms sales by western governments to Saudi Arabia have come under scrutiny by several rights groups due to Riyadh’s bombing campaign in Yemen.

The administration of US President Barack Obama has offered Saudi Arabia $115 billion in arms sales, a report seen by Reuters has found.

The offer, including weapons, other military equipment and training, is the…

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Belated Pushback on Saudis’ War on Yemen


Exclusive: Saudi Arabia’s bombing campaign against Yemen’s Houthi rebels has created a humanitarian crisis, with opposition finally emerging in Congress to the U.S. assistance in the bloodbath, writes Jonathan Marshall.

By Jonathan Marshall

If there were an Olympics for waging bloody wars, Saudi Arabia and its Arab coalition allies would surely win a medal for their relentless bombing of Yemen over the past year and a half to crush rebels who seized power in 2014.

One international NGO has called the ongoing war in Yemen “arguably the worst humanitarian crisis in the world,” which is saying a lot considering the competition from Syria, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan.

Saudi King Salman bids farewell to President Barack Obama at Erga Palace after a state visit to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 27, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Saudi King Salman bids farewell to President Barack Obama at Erga Palace after a state visit to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 27, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

When I first wrote about the Yemen conflict in April 2015, the death toll stood at several hundred, with more than a quarter million people displaced. Today the United Nation’s human rights office estimates that more than 10,000 people have been killed and three million displaced. The World Food Programme reports that seven million people — more than a quarter of Yemen’s population — are “on the brink of famine.”

In March, the U.N. human rights chief accused the Saudi-led coalition of causing “twice as many civilian casualties as all other forces put together, virtually all as a result of air strikes.” Given the regularity of bombing attacks on hospitals, clinics, schools, wedding parties and other civilian targets, he added, “we are possibly looking at the commission of international crimes by members of the coalition.”

The war is destroying Yemen’s cultural heritage as well. Last fall, the director of Yemen’s General Organization of Antiquities and Museums reported that Saudi-led bombing raids in his country had destroyed six ancient cities, six castles, three museums, two mosques, four palaces, and other priceless archeological sites throughout the country — including much of the ancient city of Sana’a, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Earlier this year the U.N. pulled back from condemning Saudi Arabia after the kingdom threatened to yank hundreds of millions of dollars from international programs. Private human rights organizations, on the other hand, have not hesitated to accuse the coalition of committing war crimes.

This week, Middle East Eye reported that “The humanitarian calamity in Yemen entered a terrifying new phase of horror” as Saudi Arabia resumed air strikes on the capital city of Sana’a following the failure of peace talks in Kuwait: “The assaults are destroying civilian infrastructure, and threaten to prevent food and desperately needed aid from reaching the capital.”

On Aug. 20, Saudi pilots bombed downtown Sana’a as hundreds of thousands of people gathered in the largest demonstration in the country’s history to protest the war. Other recent bombing raids have killed dozens of civilians at sites including a potato chip factory, a school, the main bridge used to transport food to the capital, and a medical center run by Doctors Without Borders. The latter attack — the fourth targeting its facilities in the past year — prompted the organization to evacuate all of its medical teams from north Yemen.

Pushing Back on Washington’s Support

In return for Riyadh’s agreement not to oppose the nuclear deal with Iran, Washington has backed Saudi Arabia’s bloody intervention with diplomatic support in the United Nations, military intelligence and aircraft refueling assistance, and an open-ended weapons pipeline. U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia during the Obama years have amounted to $48 billion, three times the total under George W. Bush.

In June, Secretary of State John Kerry dismissed international concerns about the carnage, telling an interviewer, “I think the Saudis have expressed in the last weeks their desire to make certain that they’re acting responsibly, and not endangering civilians.”

But the Obama administration’s support for Saudi Arabia’s criminal policies is at last beginning to trouble many legislators on Capitol Hill.

On Aug. 29, 64 members of Congress asked President Obama to postpone his latest plans to sell $1.2 billion of weapons to Saudi Arabia, including tanks and machine guns for use in Yemen. Their letter declares that documented attacks by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen against hospitals, schools, markets, and places of worship “may amount to war crimes.”

The bipartisan letter, co-led by Reps. John Conyers, D-Michigan, Ted Lieu, D-California, Mick Mulvaney, R-South Carolina, and Ted Yoho, R-Florida, takes Obama to task for notifying Congress of the latest planned arms sale on Aug. 8, during the usual congressional recess, giving legislators little time to consider the deal after they return within the 30-day review window established by law.

The letter also chides Obama for ignoring a vote last June by 204 members of the House, including 40 Republicans and all but 16 Democrats, “to block the sale of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia after reports of their use in civilian areas in Yemen.” (More than 108 nations, not including the United States, have signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions, pledging never to use or transfer such vicious weapons, which are notorious for killing and maiming civilians.)

Rep. Lieu, who represents Los Angeles County, said in a statement accompanying the letter, “The actions of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen are as reprehensible as they are illegal. . . . Hospitals, schools, and wedding parties are not legitimate military targets. Saudi Arabia is either intentionally targeting civilians or deliberately indifferent in executing its military operations – either case flies in the face of long-standing international standards of conduct.

“The United States of America should never support such atrocities in any way. They are not only immoral and unlawful, but they seriously harm our national security and moral standing around the world.”

The letter was endorsed by a host of NGOs, including Amnesty International USA, Human Rights Watch, Oxfam, Physicians for Human Rights, and the traditionally conservative Hudson Institute.

Hope for Challenging the Saudis

Robert Naiman, whose organization Just Foreign Policy also supported the congressional letter, told me “this is the first time we’ve had so many members of Congress signing such a letter and getting significant attention” for the Yemen war.

He added, “If there is enough discord, the administration may back off. This will put pressure on them to get a renewal of the ceasefire and the political process in Yemen.”

As evidence that human rights campaigns and congressional complaints can make a difference, Naiman cited the breaking news that Textron Systems, the last remaining U.S. manufacturer of the cluster bombs dropped by Saudi Arabia in Yemen, is ending production of the munitions. Explaining its decision, Textron said “The current political environment has made it difficult to obtain” approvals from Congress and the administration.

When Congress returns to session on Sept. 6, Senators Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, and Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, plan to introduce a resolution in their chamber to disapprove the pending arms sale.

Sen. Murphy told CNN on Aug. 16, after Saudi Arabia bombed a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders, “There’s an American imprint on every civilian life lost in Yemen. Why? Well it’s because although the Saudis are actually dropping the bombs from their planes, they couldn’t do it without the United States.”

The chances are small that the Republican-led Senate will turn down further arms sales to Saudi Arabia, but a recent close Senate committee vote on training funds for Saudi Arabia suggests that opposition is growing in that branch as well.

“The dynamic has changed,” says Naiman, crediting antiwar activists in Congress and private organizations. “Criticism of Saudi Arabia is not taboo anymore. We have changed perceptions, and we are on the playing field in a way we never were before.”

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‘Saudi Arabian forces never once targeted ISIS militants in Yemen’

Image result for KING SALMAN CARTOON

The latest car bombing is most likely a personal vendetta, probably more of a gang problem inside Aden over who is going to take control, the rebels or Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), political commentator Marwa Osman told RT.

Up to 60 people have been killed in a car bomb attack in the Yemeni city of Aden with dozens more injured. Most of the dead were pro-government troops.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack.

RT: What is ISIS trying to achieve in this attack?

Marwa Osman: First, let’s tell people where ISIS targeted. They targeted a school compound which consists of the Popular Committee Forces who are allied with Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who was the president who resigned twice before the war in Yemen. So, they targeted these people who are already in war with “Ansar Allah” also known as the Houthis in the mainstream media. So, they are now targeting supposedly their own allies. And that is because there is a personal vendetta, probably more of a gang problem inside Aden over who is going to take control now. Is it the rebels who are actually backed by Saudi Arabia, who is still bombing and killing people in Saada and Sana’a? Or is it going to be ISIS which is also backed by Saudi Arabia which has been funneling money and arms by Saudi Arabia for the past seven or eight years in Yemen. Who is going to take control? That is the fight that is going on there. It is not a fight of fighting ISIS or fighting people who are there to try and liberate Yemen. No, because the actual thing is that both groups, these popular movements which are Hadi’s supporters and ISIS – they are both fighting “Ansar Allah” which is also getting beaten by the Saudi-led coalition. So, this is more of who is going to control the area.

RT: With this Saudi Arabian involvement you mentioned, is it possible that Saudi Arabia is using ISIS as some sort of proxy army to achieve its desires in that part of the world?

MO: It is not only possible, it is the only fact on the ground because up until now, since March 25, 2015 when the US coalition led by the Saudis ran… all over Yemen, they have never – not even once – targeted all of the Al-Qaeda-ISIS wilayat. They have eight wilayat inside of Yemen and not once have they targeted them. Why? Because they are actually there to run the on-ground incursion for the Saudis. And up until now they have not been able to do that; they were not able to go to Sana’a or to Saada for that matter. They only have been targeting Aden as we just saw today. It is obviously very devastating: 60 people dead because of the explosion. But these two proxy warriors for the war of Al-Saud, both rebels that supposedly represent Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, the former president and also Al-Qaeda. It is the way it is going on in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and also Libya. So, when you talk about Saudi Arabia funding ISIS, it is the only way that it is going to gain any ground incursions on the Yemeni field. And yet this is not happening…

RT: Are you saying that ISIS is de facto a proxy army of mercenaries being used to achieve regime change?

MO: Yes, of course. And that what we have been saying since the beginning of 2010 and all 2011 when Al-Qaeda was changing into ISIS based on the ideology of Wahhabism, which is diffused and brought upon us by the monarchy of Al-Saud. Where they have got their weapons from, where they were funded from? It was obvious; we had all the reports and also the statements from both Qatar and Saudi Arabia. But then Qatar last year started to back off, but Saudi Arabia is still enraged by the incapability of their forces to take any control of Yemen. By God, Yemen is taking land inside of Saudi Arabia; it is that devastating for Al-Saud now. And when we talk about Iraq, Syria as well, it is also the same thing. They are still funding the same group that has the ideology of Al-Saud which is Wahhabism because they have no other choice. They are losing in Yemen; they obviously lost a lot in Syria and Iraq. There is no other place. The Iraqis are asking the Saudis to change their ambassador because he is the main person who is in contact with Al-Qaeda and ISIS inside of Iraq. So, when we talk about this, and talk about the role of Saudi Arabia, I don’t want to just demonize them. There are facts that demonize them. There are facts that Riyadh is still issuing a bloody campaign against Yemen. And there are US and UK so-called consultants inside of Riyadh in the control room of the war on Yemen. And we are still asking if they are funding ISIS or not. How did ISIS come to be if it were not for Al-Saud?

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At least 60 dead in Yemeni suicide bombing, ISIS takes responsibility

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