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YEMEN: ‘UK Government No Mere Bystander in the War, It’s an Active Player’


Amid the current wave of mainstream righteous indignation and virtue-signalling over the Jamal Khashoggi affair, politicians in the US and UK have had to perform some crafty moves in order to protect their financial interests, whilst still appearing to be moral to their constituents. Of course, this dance is nothing new, but the problem has become increasingly chronic ever since Tony Blair mounted his Fabian revolution of deception (and turned the art of lying into a viable career path), and with time and ‘corruption fatigue’ the public have become acclimated to hypocrisy in high places. There are tremors though, and fissures to follow, and it’s taken the bombast of Donald Trump to cajole the public our of their post-Obama, liberal interventionist hangover. 

Back in 2016, the British public got their first glimpse of their country’s sordid role in Saudi Arabia’s illegal war of aggression against its neighbor Yemen when it was revealed how UK military advisers were heading the control rooms for Saudi-led bombing raids in Yemen – killing thousands of innocent civilians, and displacing hundreds of thousands more. This fact was confirmed at the time by the Saudi foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir. It was then that people realized that Britain more than a mere weapons supplier to the Saudis – they were integral in the mass murder of Arabs in Yemen. But nothing came of it. Like their corporate counterparts in the US, the vaunted UK press habitually ignored the atrocities in Yemen, preferring instead to obsess over Bashar al-Assad in Syria. And besides, the arms business was just swell, so why ruin a good thing?

Now here comes the tremor. This week, the press have roundly attacked Donald Trump for his ridiculous and fanciful statement on US-Saudi relations. Trump was honest: he admitted what all of his predecessors practiced but never preached – that arms profits trump morals and principles. While the liberal gatekeepers in media decry Trump’s apparent acquiescence to the Oil Kingdom over the supposed violent death of one man, Khashoggi, they couldn’t find it in their outrage arsenal to scream about the other 57,000 dead in Yemen. Not surprisingly, they are also reluctant to mention the fact that the Yemen debacle was planned and prosecuted under President Barack Hussein Obama, preferring instead to blame Trump for Obama’s war. The UK will also have a hard time ignoring recent revelations regarding Saudi war crimes and the British Ministry of Defense are becoming problematic as political elites are realizing they can’t have their cake and eat it too. In other words, you can’t rule over your subjects under a phony pretense of moral superiority while concurrently cashing fat arms cheques. For British audiences, this is perhaps the most harrowing passage of the report:

“The UK government is not a mere bystander in the war, it is an active player. Despite the mounting evidence of breaches in international law, the UK government is still content on looking the other way, whilst simultaneously supplying arms and military advice to the Saudi government.”

While MPs and ministers scurry around the halls of Parliament, performing all manner of mental gymnastics, constantly deflecting any inquiry into its close military partnership with the Saudi Arabia – the dirty war continues unabated, behind an air of pretense and respectability. ‘We haven’t done anything wrong. We have come to the aid of a trusted ally.’ How convincing.

The jig is up now. Soon, political elites will have to decide between morals and personal fortunes, because they can’t have both. It’s unsustainable in the current ‘democracy’ framework, unless of course, that framework is permanently altered – whereby fascism (aka corporatism) becomes more formalized (and normalized) in the West. This seems to be the direction the West is heading in, particularly in the US and Britain, and that should worry anyone who values accountability in government.

Government will do what governments do. They always have. The political corruption is now openly on display, and there is nothing to hold it in check. Clearly, this rampant institutional corruption is being facilitated by an alleged Fourth Estate which has become a kind of Fifth Column – working directly against the public interest and international law.

Billy Briggs at The Ferret reports…

‘Hundreds of alleged war crimes but only 79 investigations’

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There have been 366 alleged war crimes in Yemen but only 79 investigations by the Saudi-led coalition and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has conducted no inquiries of its own, we can reveal.

A reply by the MoD to questions submitted under freedom of information law also revealed the UK government does not know how many investigations are ongoing, or whether any incidents involved smart bombs using laser guided missiles made in Scotland.

The UK government has faced criticism and legal challenges over its arms sales to Saudi Arabia but ministers have defended lucrative contracts with the Saudis by insisting it has “one of the most robust export control regimes in the world”.

The Department for International Trade, which sanctions export licences for arms sales, has repeatedly said that “risks around human rights abuses are a key part of its licensing assessment”.

SEE ALSO: Arms sales to Yemen slammed as report claims war crimes cover-up

But our revelations have called this into question and prompted fierce criticism of the UK government by politicians, human rights groups, and charities working on the ground in Yemen who are trying to cope with a humanitarian catastrophe.

The SNP said the number of alleged war crimes was “incredibly concerning” and called for end to arms sales while Amnesty International said the figures “make an absolute mockery of the government’s claim it has a ‘robust’ system for exporting arms”.

The MoD said the number of alleged violations of international humanitarian law listed on a “tracker” database was 381. Of these, 15 were duplicate entries, which means some alleged incidents were recorded on more than one occasion.

The MoD also said it does not have access to all the information required to assess whether war crimes have been committed, pointing out that investigations are conducted by the Saudi-led coalition’s Joint Incident Assessment Team (JIAT).

(…) Since Yemen’s war escalated in 2015, the Saudi-led coalition has been accused of targeting schools, hospitals and civilian areas with airstrikes, prompting widespread criticism.

Meanwhile, a new report said that air raids have intensified this month. Of 42 air raids monitored by the Yemen Data Project, 62 per cent hit civilian targets.

The SNP’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford MP, said the Saudi-led coalition’s JIAT “does not carry any legitimacy”. He described the revelations of hundreds of alleged violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen as “incredibly concerning”.

He added: “It is even more worrying that the MoD is unaware of how many have been have been investigated. There must be a full and independent UN-led investigation into all violations in the conflict to ensure that all sides are held to account.

“The UK government is not a mere bystander in the war, it is an active player. Despite the mounting evidence of breaches in international law, the UK government is still content on looking the other way, whilst simultaneously supplying arms and military advice to the Saudi government. The sale of arms to the Saudi government must end now.

“If the UK aims to be a serious partner for peace, it must stop fuelling the conflict with billions of pounds worth of arms, and instead hold the Saudi regime to account.”

View the full report at The Ferret

READ MORE YEMEN NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Yemen Files

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