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Why is Britain now spending millions ‘training’ Palestinian security forces?

Patrick Henningsen
21st Century Wire

They were the inventors of the modern “protectorate” system of overseas colonial government. Now it seems that Britain is repositioning itself to play a more central role in the future of Middle East affairs – as the masters of ‘divide and rule’ are currently digging their heals into Israel’s occupied Palestinian territory. 

Even with austerity at home, there seems to be room for funding the British training of the Palestinian Security Forces – a job formerly taken on by the US – but to what end?

Political arguments are spinning on both sides of this story. Much is made in some media circles (see article posted below) of allegations that the Palestinian Security Forces (many of them unarmed, and all of them under-resourced compared to any normal police force) are torturing their rival Hamas detainees and other “pro-democracy activists” – an interesting scenario to note, but even if it is true, it would certainly pale in comparison to the state-run epidemic which we know exists on the other side of the wall.

The function of creating a Palestinian torture narrative is first to deflect from the fact that Palestine is still occupied by Israel (some American and European voters are still not aware of this fact) and then discredit the Palestinians as being unable to ever attain the necessary “international standards” worthy of a bid for statehood, and secondly, to provide a convenient smokescreen for Israel’s own every expanding wrap sheet of torturing political detainees, including child prisoner offenses outlined by Britain’s own fact-finding team as recently as last summer 2012.

By contrast, the US, Britain and of course, Israel – routinely employ torture as standard practice – all very well documented, as are standard torture by the UK allies in the region – starting with Bahrain. These sort of ethical breaches have proved to be meaningless however, in a 21st century where what is either moral and legal have become nibble concepts for the West and their strategic allies.

No one is asking whether or not the US, or British, have actually been training the Palestinian Security forces in torture techniques – this being more likely a realistic scenario because the US and UK have both the knowledge and the means to do so – and will do so if they can parlay this to theirs, or Israel’s own advantage. One can never be sure these days. It’s so hard to tell because torture by Western countries is now done offshore – and in secret.

Britain is now a player in the region

Britain’s role alongside the US in the Middle East is now on the increase – with troops currently stationed in Jordan, providing support for jihadist rebels in Syria, lucrative BAE Systems arms sales to the Gulf States monarchies, a permanent army barracks in Bahrain, another military outpost on the cards in the UAE – all alongside the UK army’s recent  announcement of plans to build up a strong “shadow presence” in the Gulf.

Why would the UK spend so much of its money on a project in Palestine – what do they expect to receive in return?

If millions are being invested in training any overseas force, the colonial objective will normally be to deliberately disconnect that foreign military force from its political leadership, thus making it easier to influence and control from the outside. Perhaps this is what Britain is doing, but like the efforts of the British fugitive Middle East envoy Tony Blair, all these millions of dollars have done very little to actually help the condition of the Palestinian people – especially those entrapped in Gaza. Despite all of the road maps and peace talks, illegal Israeli settlements are still on the increase and the Palestinian situation is as dire as ever.

Helped by the City’s supply of cheap money, and the Gulf states’ petrol and gas dollars, the UK’s arms suppliers are cashing in on the war-time economy once again – but why are they investing in the Palestinian Security forces? Will the remnants of Palestine be turned back over to British control in future – with Qatar as its chief operating partner for that project? Better yet, are the British planning to extract a new breed of jihadist fighters out of Palestine to fight in Syria and other locations, or facilitate the transfer of Palestinian suicide bombers to help the other British-supported foreign variety already in Syria – or even preparing for a coming border clash/crisis with Egypt?

Recent history should teach us that when it comes to western intervention in Middle Eastern geopolitics – anything is possible, and that no Western power intervenes for altruistic reasons. We can only guess what is Britain’s game at this point – and one can be sure that it’s not all about “helping those poor Palestinians’.

Britain are historically the brains of the geopolitical chessboard and employ others like the US to do the heavy lifting. Let’s wait and see what this is leading up to, but one thing is sure – things are already taking shape…

Britain spending millions to train Palestinian security forces despite rights concerns

World Tribune

LONDON — Britain, despite allegations of torture, has been playing a major role in training and financing Palestinian security forces in the West Bank.

Officials acknowledged that the government of British Prime Minister David Cameron was pumping tens of millions of euros to maintain PA intelligence and security agencies.

The officials said Britain has been training and advising virtually every major PA security force, often in coordination with the United States.

Officials said Britain’s MI6 foreign intelligence agency has repeatedly urged PA security commanders to stop torture. But they acknowledged that torture and abuse continued in PA detention facilities against Hamas suspects and pro-democracy activists.

The International Development Department said the government would spend 2.2 million pounds [$3.4 million] to increase oversight of PA security forces. A statement by the department said Britain was also seeking to develop a Palestinian judiciary in the West Bank. 

“Through DFID’s Supporting Stability and Promoting Democracy Program we will endeavor to help the Palestinian Authority to become more open and accountable,” International Development Minister Alan Duncan said. 

In an address on April 10 in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Duncan said the aid was meant to help the PA establish a Palestinian state. He said the PA has “proved its capability to deliver services and security.”

Officials said MI6 was helping PA intelligence and security agencies. They said MI6, with an office in Jerusalem, was overseeing the training of mid-level and senior officers from the General Intelligence Service and the Preventive Security Apparatus. 

The British Daily Mail said London’s aid to the PA security forces comes amid renewed testimony of widespread torture. On March 30, the Mail quoted a former PA security official who outlined the tools of torture used by investigators against Palestinians. “If you are not sure of the case, I assure you, torture is not going to be used,” the former official, who did not want to be identified, said. “But if you feel you’re not getting what you want — well, then the decision will depend on the investigator’s patience and the importance of the information he needs.” 

“Our funding is channeled through a World Bank Trust Fund and is linked to a program of government reforms,” Duncan, who did not discuss the torture issue, said. “This on-going commitment allows the PA to maintain autonomy over its finances which is a sign of our continuing trust in the Palestinian Authority.”



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