The Al-Khalifa monarchy in Bahrain recently stripped over 70 exiled activists of their citizenship, eight of whom live in Britain. In 2012, they did something similar, stripping 31 human rights and pro-democracy activists of Bahraini citizenship, 11 of them living in the UK. These new exiles are testing Britain’s policy on statelessness.
Bahrain’s move is particularly ironic because much of its state security apparatus is made up of mercenary enforcers and interrogators from Pakistan, Yemen, Syria and Jordan. All have been given Bahraini citizenship, housing and salaries by the regime in return for their role in the torture, humiliation and shooting of peaceful pro-democracy protesters.
The Al-Khalifas use citizenship as a weapon. It is offered to those who take part in callous oppression, but removed from citizens who call for democracy.
This latest move was choreographed carefully to coincide with the confiscation of passports from preachers and fighters associated with ISIS. Thus the authorities have conflated the two movements in a clumsy smear.
The British charity Asylum Aid has been conducting wide-ranging research into the negative impacts of statelessness, interviewing stateless persons in Britain who have been destitute for months. They have been detained by the UK immigration authorities despite evidence that they have no prospect of returning to their home country, or that they have been separated for years from their families overseas. Some have been forced to sleep on the streets. Many have seen their accommodation and support cancelled repeatedly and then reinstated. In the absence of a dedicated and accessible procedure to identify people who are stateless, they have been left in a legal limbo for years.
In a rare moment of progressive policy making, Britain has taken steps recently to address the problem of statelessness. Across the European Union, approximately 600,000 quasi-citizens are estimated to be stateless. The UK is so far the only EU member to implement substantive measures to assimilate stateless refugees, implementing a specialised asylum procedure from April 2013. Thousands of refugees are currently applying through the official mechanism, with immigration officials deciding each case carefully; it is not a straightforward process.
The British authorities must act to treat the Bahraini exiles stripped of their citizenship on the same basis as other refugees. However, as the repression in Bahrain grows worse, it is becoming increasingly clear that the British government is sticking to its commitment to support the Al-Khalifa regime. As I have reported previously elsewhere, Britain has been accused of harassing, rather than helping, such exiles, often in collusion with the Bahraini government.
In January, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond praised improvements in Bahrain’s human rights record, shortly before the Gulf state jailed its most prominent human rights activist, Nabeel Rajab, for six months. His “crime” was to send an “insulting tweet”. He is currently on bail pending an appeal scheduled for later this week. In July 2014, the Guardian revealed that Hammond had sat next to the Earl of Clanwilliam, a lobbyist for the Bahraini government, at a fundraising dinner for the Conservative Party.
The parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee also lamented the government’s decision not to “bite the bullet” – its own words – by designating Bahrain as a human rights “country of concern” for 2014. “We see little or no evidence that Bahrain has made enough progress in implementing political reform and safeguarding human rights,” the committee judged. Civil society organisations described the British government’s reluctance as a whitewash.
The FCO response was short, disdainful and factually inaccurate. “On the human rights front Bahrain is by no means perfect,” it insisted, “but it is a country that is making progress and its leadership has shown a willingness to engage with the human rights challenges that it faces.”
Research by Bahrain Watch, an NGO which has been tracking progress on the Al-Khalifa government’s alleged reforms, shows that if British officials believe Bahrain to be “making progress”, they are wilfully and obstinately ignorant.
Of the 25 recommendations made to improve human rights in Bahrain after the 2011 uprising, 11 have been violated openly, six have seen no action at all, five have had no details about their progress released by the government, and three have been implemented “partially”. Not a single reform is judged to have been implemented in full.
The leader of the main opposition Al-Wefaq Party, Ali Salman, was arrested recently on what are claimed to be trumped-up charges. He was also slapped with a travel ban just as he was about to embark on “a major European tour, meeting officials, think tanks, civil society leaders, academics and media professionals.”
Despite this, Britain announced recently a significant expansion to its military assets in Manama harbour, with plans for a full-scale naval base. The Royal Navy has deployed small minesweepers out of Bahrain for some years, but when larger vessels visit the port the crews sleep on board; there are limited facilities for such ships. With a naval base, British warships will be able to deploy regularly from Bahrain. The expansion of the base will resume a long term British military presence in the area and mark the end of a 40-year Middle East policy by the government. Controversially, the Bahrain government will foot the bill for building the Royal Navy facilities, effectively buying Britain’s silence over its ongoing human rights abuses.
Britain has a patchy record on human rights, but addressing statelessness has been a more positive example of what can be done. In applying this new policy rigorously and fairly, they must include Bahraini exiles, as they would any other refugee.
Britain systematically destroyed documents in colonies that were about to gain independence, declassified Foreign Office files reveal. ‘Operation Legacy’ saw sensitive documents secretly burnt or dumped to cover up traces of British activities.
The latest National Archives publication made from a collection of 8,800 colonial-era files held by the Foreign Office for decades revealed deliberate document elimination by British authorities in former colonies.
The secret program dubbed ‘Operation Legacy’ was in force throughout the 1950s and 1960s, in at least 23 countries and territories under British rule that eventually gained independence after WWII. Among others these countries included: Belize, British Guiana, Jamaica, Kenya, Malaysia and Singapore, Northern Rhodesia (today Zambia and Zimbabwe), Tanzania, and Uganda.
In a telegram from the UK Colonial Office dispatched to British embassies on May 3, 1961, colonial secretary Iain Macleod instructed diplomats to withhold official documents from newly elected independent governments in those countries, and presented general guidance on what to do.
British diplomats were briefed on how exactly they were supposed to get rid of documents that “might embarrass members of the police, military forces, public servants (such as police agents or informers)” or “might compromise sources of intelligence”, or could be put to ‘wrong’ use by incoming national authorities.
‘Operation Legacy’ also called for the destruction or removal of “all papers which are likely to be interpreted, either reasonably or by malice, as indicating racial prejudice or bias”.
The newly declassified files revealed that the Royal Navy base in Singapore was turned into the Asian region’s primary document destruction center. A special facility called a “splendid incinerator” was used to burn “lorry loads of files”, Agence France-Presse reported.
The “central incinerator” in Singapore was necessary to avoid a situation similar to that in India in 1947, when a “pall of smoke” from British officials burning their papers in Delhi, ahead of India proclaiming independence, filled the local press with critical reports. That diplomatic oversight was taken into account, as ‘Operation Legacy’ operatives were strictly instructed not to burn documents openly.
But not all the doomed archives could be shipped to Singapore. In some cases documents were eliminated on site, sometimes being dumped in the sea “at the maximum practicable distance from shore” and in deep, current-free areas, the National Archives publication claims.
The newly published collection of documents reveals that the British cleared out Kenyan intelligence files that contained information about abuse and torture of Kenyans during the Mau Mau uprising against British colonial rule in the 1950s. A special committee formed in 1961 coordinated document elimination in Kenya. Yet some files were spared simply when an estimated 307 boxes of documents were evacuated to Britain, just months ahead of the country gaining independence in December 1963.
The existence of some remaining Mau Mau legal case documents was revealed in January 2011.
Even after eliminating important evidence half a century ago, earlier in 2013 the British government was forced to pay 23 million dollars in compensation to over 5,200 elderly Kenyans, who had suffered from Britain’s punitive measures during the Mau Mau uprising.
In another documented occasion, in April 1957, five lorries delivered tons of documents from the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur to the Royal Navy base in Singapore. Files were incinerated there; these contained details about British rule in Malaya, such as a massacre of 24 rubber plantation workers at the Malayan village of Batang Kali in 1948, who had allegedly been murdered by British soldiers.
Despite the mass document elimination, Britain’s Foreign Office still has some 1.2 million unpublished documents on British colonial policy, David Anderson, professor of African history at the University of Warwick, told AFP.
So Her Majesty’s government might still publish more valuable material that can shed more light on how one of the biggest empires in human history used to be governed. Overall, Britain had total control over 50 colonies including Canada, India, Australia, Nigeria, and Jamaica. Currently, there are 14 British Overseas Territories that remain under British rule, though most of them are self-governing and all have leaderships of their own.
Scottish anti-nukes campaigners are gearing up for a three-day showdown with the British government leading to the blockade of Faslane Naval Base, which is the Royal Navy’s Scottish headquarters and home of Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons.
The Scrap Trident campaigners have planned the blockade for April 15 that will follow two days of demonstration and anti-nukes workshops in the Scottish capital of Glasgow.
Scrap Trident is now calling for elimination of nuclear weapons in Scotland, Britain and around the world saying the social priorities in Britain should be “redefined” so that the huge cost of Trident goes into protecting the disabled in a “nuclear-free society”.
“Scotland and the UK have had nuclear weapons for 50 years. With spending on health, education, pensions and disability benefits being slashed, the government is replacing Trident at a cost of £100 Billion,” the campaign group said.
“We want Scotland and the world free of immoral nuclear weapons and call for Trident to be scrapped and human needs funded,” it added.
The Scrap Trident demonstration has been supported by 22 members of the Scottish Parliament.
The British government has announced annual welfare cuts of £18 billion until 2015 with a £10 billion-cutback also planned from 2017.
A research published in The Guardian on Wednesday revealed that British disabled people will lose an estimated £28 billion due to the welfare cuts by 2017-2018, with some people losing up to £23,000 each over five years.
- Nuclear Weapons Uncertain as Scots Weigh U.K. Exit (bloomberg.com)
Press TV – December 10, 2012
The British Ministry of Defense (MoD) has signed a £1.2 billion contract with the arms-producer BAE Systems to build the navy a new nuclear submarine.
The submarine dubbed HMS Audacious is the fourth of seven Astute Class vessels that the MoD has ordered for the Royal Navy.
The ministry has also allocated another £1.5 billion for the rest of the Astute-class submarines.
The Royal Navy has touted the submarines as the most advanced at their service yet recent tests have raised serious questions about their applicability.
The first of the seven submarines named HMS Astute failed its sea trials last month after it was forced to resurface due to flooding problems that let tens of liters of water in.
The submarine also faced problems with its electrical instruments while its nuclear reactor monitoring systems also raised accuracy concerns.
- Troubled Astute submarine programme to get another £2.7bn (guardian.co.uk)
An alliance of private contractors will take over the role of looking after UK’s nuclear weapons in Scotland, local media report.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced the agreements, saying that a 15-year contract has been clinched with ABL Alliance to look after the Trident weapons system at HM Naval Base Clyde.
Almost 190 jobs in the civilian and military sectors will be transferred to the alliance as part of the contract, the Daily Telegraph reported.
ABL Alliance will provide support to the Trident Strategic Weapon System at the Royal Naval Armament Depot (RNAD) Coulport and the Strategic Weapon Support Building (SWSB) Faslane.
“HM Naval Base Clyde has an excellent safety record and we are determined to maintain the highest standards of safety”, the MoD said.
“The MoD will continue to own the Naval Base sites, including Coulport, and Naval Base Commander Clyde will retain overall responsibility for security and for the activities carried out at Coulport and the SWSB.
“The site will also continue to be a MoD nuclear authorised site, so will be subject to regulation by the Defence Nuclear Safety Regulator, the Office of Nuclear Regulation and other regulatory bodies”, it added.
- Scotland against London’s plan to upgrade nuclear weapons (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Nuclear weapon safety hindered by cuts, says MoD report (guardian.co.uk)
- Scottish independence: Dilemma over future of Faslane (scotsman.com)
- SNP anger over ‘obscenity’ of new £1bn nuclear submarine order (scotsman.com)
- Plan to privatise equipment agency could endanger troops, report warns (guardian.co.uk)
The almost unknown subject of False Flag events is slowly creeping into people’s conscious awareness; and about time too.
The term comes from a tactic that was commonly employed many centuries ago by all the navies of fledgling empires. Although these navies very occasionally engaged in heroic battles with each other in order to protect the citizens of their countries from invading hoards, as our history books suggest, the far more common use of mighty battleships was for theft. Sinking an enemy ship was never the intention of these engagements, and would have been seen as something of a failure. The purpose was to capture the ship, preferably undamaged, and steal anything and everything from the personal possessions of the crew to the very ship itself, which would then be recycled by the victors. After all, what could possibly be the point of sinking an expensive ship, laden to the gunnels with the riches of plundered foreign colonies, when its capture would serve exactly the same political purpose, as well as providing vast wealth?
The Royal Navy, for example, routinely operated a “prize” system right up until quite recent times; and although acts of piracy don’t form quite the same staple diet in the senior service as they used to do, prize legislation remains on British statute books to this day. Right up until the nineteenth century “prize courts” would routinely assess and divvy-up the wealth of ships that had been attacked and seized by the jolly Jack Tars. Some of the plunder was apportioned to the ship’s crew. Of course, it wasn’t an equal distribution of wealth, where the loblolly boy, say, received as much of a cut as the captain; nor was the cut in any way equal to the share gifted to the high and mighty Lords of the Admiralty, who weren’t required to do anything more dangerous for their cut than over-indulge themselves in London society. However, some small portion of the “prize” would find its way to even the lowliest cabin boy – the original “trickle-down” effect perhaps. In short, the routine day-job of the glorious Royal Navy was plunder. In fact, the only way the great sailors of Nelson’s day differed from common pirates was that the piracy of Nelson’s navy was simply deemed to be legal. It’s a similar principle to the one that’s alive and well to this day, and helping to keep investment bankers out of jail.
But even hardened cynics such as myself find it difficult not to admire the considerable skill that was often required for some of the encounters that took place between the mighty warships of Nelson’s day. In the days before modern communications these great behemoths, seventy metres long with a thousand souls on board, could only use the power of the wind to move around, so finding and engaging and defeating an enemy in thousands of square miles of empty ocean was no easy matter, and the seamanship required for these encounters was often truly amazing. Apart from some acts of genuine courage, with perhaps just a hint of insanity, these sailors also relied on a host of devious tricks and raw cunning to capture a “prize”. Apart from plenty of luck, you also needed a good brain to be an effective captain in Nelson’s day; and it’s hardly surprising, given hundreds of years of regular practice in the dark arts of subterfuge and deceit, that the roots of the British intelligence service were established in the Royal Navy.
One of the many tricks used in the days of sail was to make your ship appear friendly to the watchful telescopes of the prospective prize; and the easiest way to do this was to ensure the flags your ship were flying were not those of your own country but were either exactly the same as those of the prize, or the same as those of whichever country was friendly to the prize. This simple ruse would, of course, eventually be discovered as a trick; and, of course, every ship’s crew knew about the trick. However, it would invariably buy some invaluable time, making all the difference between success and failure, enabling the hunter to get close enough to his prey to capture him before the darkness of night might come to the hapless victim’s rescue.
This tactic is still very much alive and well, and survives in modern language usage as the “false flag” attack, to mean an attack by someone who isn’t quite who they seem to be. Variations of it include attacks perpetrated by people pretending to be enemies of the state. These attacks may be carried out by the state’s own armed forces, or by paid mercenaries, or by allies of the state. History is rich with evidence.
Take, for example, the infamous sinking of the Maine. In 1898, when the US was beginning to flex its expansionist muscles abroad, the battleship USS Maine was blown up in Havana harbour. Although there was no evidence to support it, the incident was blamed on Spain, who controlled Cuba at the time; and it had the desired effect of triggering the Spanish American war which eventually led to Spain’s eviction from the island and the installation of a US puppet regime – a model that would be successfully repeated time and again for many decades to come. Fifty-five years later something very similar happened again – this time without going to the extra expense of actually sinking any ships.
On August 4, 1964 the world was informed that another US warship, the USS Maddox, had come under sustained attack by North Vietnam. It was the event which directly led to ten years of total hell for tens of millions of people in South East Asia, and whose effects are still being felt to this day. Fifty years after the false flag event of the Maddox, declassified documents revealed that the US government was fully aware at the time that no such attack had taken place. But by then, of course, the false flag had long served its purpose.
Although the term “false flag” originated from these naval deceptions, false flag incidents have never been solely confined to the high seas. Armies have always used any number of devices to deceive their victims, and anyone who’s ever watched a Hollywood war movie is probably aware of it; for how many of these movies have included a scene where either the good guys or the bad guys dress up in the uniforms of their enemy in order to carry out some raid or another? Is that not a completely routine story-line? Although many of these movies are obviously fictitious, these deceptions, which might also be called “false flag” adventures, are based on normal military tactics which have been used by almost every army, probably since the beginning of civilisation.
However, Hollywood movies seldom reveal the true evil and cynicism of war. Therefore not many of the 99%, who obtain much of their understanding of the world in general and history in particular from the silver screen, know anything at all about the truly dark side of all armies in general, and their leaders in particular. For how many Hollywood movies tell the stories of how armies routinely slaughter defenceless people? Although they will sometimes depict the enemy of the day carrying out these atrocities, they never show the so-called “good guys” doing it – which creates in the mind of the viewer the impression that our armies never behave in such a beastly fashion. But they most certainly do.
Consider the vast number of movies that came out of Hollywood telling how the west was won – how handfuls of brave adventurers defeated marauding hoards of screaming bloodthirsty savages, which was, in fact, a complete inversion of the truth. And how many war movies told the truth about the bombing of Dresden, or of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? These completely needless events took place in the closing days of World War Two, when Germany and Japan were already crushed nations. They were events which deliberately targeted hundreds of thousands of defenceless civilians, and served absolutely no military purpose whatsoever. They were war crimes, already outlawed by the Geneva Convention. Not many Hollywood movies tell us that.
Although these mass slaughters of defenceless civilians are a different aspect of the cynicism of war, and cannot be considered as false flag adventures, it’s important to cite these as evidence of the psychotic ruthlessness of our own trusted leaders and the brainwashed youngsters who are routinely conditioned to obey an order, any order.
It’s important to grasp this principle of war that not even Hollywood can glamorise: that our trusted leaders can and do routinely issue orders to slaughter innocent defenceless civilians, and that brainwashed young people then carry out those orders, and that society is then brainwashed into considering these young people to be heroes. Not even Hollywood can glamorise the deep cynicism of that fact.
My own personal first-hand experience of false flag adventures was obtained in the late seventies, in Rhodesia, where I was batting out my national service as an intelligence officer. Our army had a small unit of people called the Selous Scouts. They were considered the elite of the elite, and were supposedly originally created by a couple of junior officers serving in the Rhodesian SAS who thought the SAS wasn’t quite hard enough. I did some of my training with the Scouts. They were definitely different.
Later on, when I was operational, I was based in a small rural outpost called Rusape. For me it was a very comfortable posting and, I’m very glad to say, I managed to see out my time there without being injured and, I’m even more glad to say, without causing injury to anyone else.
Each morning, after a leisurely breakfast, I would saunter over to the operations room to see what was going on. Like almost every military operations room in the world, one wall of it was given over to a huge map of our area of responsibility. Most of the time it was just a map of rural Rhodesia, with little coloured stickers on it depicting some sort of recent “terrorist” incident – such as a landmine going off, or an attack on some isolated school or clinic. My job would be to go out to investigate these incidents and report on them. Sometimes it was very harrowing, but mostly it was a fairly pleasant way to sit out the war.
But every now and then I would turn up to the ops room in the morning and would be met with the sight of a sizeable chunk of the map covered over in hatched lines. Everyone understood that that area had been “frozen”. This meant that no army personnel or police were to go into that area. The Scouts had moved into it. For a few weeks after that life went on pretty much as normal everywhere else on the patch; but no information at all emerged from the area with the mysterious hatching; and then one morning I’d turn up for work and the hatching would have been removed from the map as mysteriously as it had first appeared.
Within a day or two of that happening the reports would start rolling in from where the Scouts had been, about “terrorist” murders at some isolated village or another, of a “terrorist” rocket attack on a small business centre perhaps, or a “terrorist” landmine blowing up a rural bus. These would all have been carried out by the Scouts, dressed up as “terrorists” and using “terrorist” weaponry.
The purpose of these attacks was a variation of that old favourite: the hard cop/soft cop routine. The Scouts’ role was to try to out-terrorise the forces working for the likes of Robert Mugabe, to try to alienate the local population from Mugabe’s men by pretending to be Mugabe’s men and committing such atrocities that the locals would be repulsed by them. Then when the soft cops turned up in the shape of government forces, the locals would feel like offering their help and support. It’s called winning hearts and minds, and was a tactic that had already been used by US special forces in Vietnam before that, and by British special forces all over the place before that: Malaya, Congo, Kenya, Aden…
Some would dismiss false flag adventures as conspiracy theory, which is, of course, a very convenient way to persuade the 99% that our trusted leaders couldn’t possibly stoop so low. But history is rich with proof that they most certainly do stoop so low, with amazing frequency. So the really important lesson to learn in all of this is that whenever a so-called “terrorist” outrage occurs, especially those outrages where the perpetrators haven’t been caught in action (and rounding up “suspects” after the event cannot be trusted either – as the “Guildford Four” and “Birmingham Six”, for example, could confirm)… always, always recall the very real world of false flag adventures.
John Andrews is a writer whose main work is Peace Talk.
- When False Flags Don’t Fly (corbettreport.com)
The UK is sending a nuclear submarine to the Malvinas Islands amid growing tensions between Britain and Argentina over the disputed territories.
According to media reports on Saturday, British Prime Minister David Cameron has personally approved the deployment of the Trafalgar-class vessel, believed to be either HMS Tireless or HMS Turbulent, in the South Atlantic.
However, a British Ministry of Defense (MoD) spokeswoman said, “We do not comment on submarine deployments.”
The heavily-armed submarine is set to be in the Malvinas waters in April for the 30th anniversary of the 1982 war which the two countries fought over the islands also known as the Falklands.
The Royal Navy has already revealed it is sending HMS Dauntless, a Type 45 destroyer, to the Falklands.
Britain’s Prince William arrived in the Malvinas on Thursday for a six-week training mission as a search and rescue pilot with the Royal Air Force (RAF).
Buenos Aires has strongly condemned Britain’s “provocative” move to post Prince William, likening it to that of a “conqueror.”
“The Argentinean people regret that the royal heir is coming to the soil of the homeland with the uniform of the conqueror and not with the wisdom of a statesman who works in the service of peace and dialogue between nations,” read an Argentine Foreign Ministry statement.
Situated about 250 nautical miles from Argentina, Malvinas has been a British colony for over 180 years.
Argentina claims sovereignty and the two countries fought a destructive 74-day war over the islands in 1982.
- UK flexes nuclear muscles against Argentina (alethonews.wordpress.com)