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Yemen war ‘unconstitutional’ says trio of US lawmakers

A Yemeni man walks past a destroyed school building on March 16, 2017, that was damaged in an air strike in the southern Yemeni city of Taez. © Ahmad Al-Basha
RT | October 11, 2017

A group of Congressmen from both major parties is hoping to force a vote over Washington’s involvement in Yemen, with a resolution invoking the War Powers Act to force the US to stop aiding the Saudi-led coalition in its bombing campaign.

Three members of the US House of Representatives tried to illustrate the horrors of the Yemen conflict by comparing it to a hypothetical war affecting the US state of Washington ‒ with a population of 7.3 million ‒ “on the brink of starvation, with the port city of Seattle under a naval and aerial blockade, leaving it unable to receive and distribute countless tons of food and aid that is waiting offshore.”

“This nightmare scenario is akin to the obscene reality occurring in the Middle East’s poorest country, Yemen, at the hand of the region’s richest, Saudi Arabia, with unyielding support from the US military that Congress has not authorized and therefore violates the Constitution,” wrote Representatives Ro Khanna (D-California), Mark Pocan (D-Wisconsin) and Walter Jones (R-North Carolina) in a New York Times op-ed Tuesday.

In March 2015, the Obama administration began aiding the coalition led by Saudi Arabia in its war against the Houthis, a rebel group that took control of Yemen’s capital Sanaa. Since then, Washington has supported the coalition’s military campaign in Yemen, by providing the Saudis with logistical support, intelligence and ammunition used in airstrikes.

This has led to the deaths of over 10,000 civilians and has plunged much of Yemen into a humanitarian crisis.

The three lawmakers teamed up with colleague Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky) to introduce House Resolution 81, invoking the War Powers Act to guarantee a full House vote to withdraw US armed forces from the unauthorized war.

“We believe that the American people, if presented with the facts of this conflict, will oppose the use of their tax dollars to bomb and starve civilians,” the three representatives wrote.

Several more lawmakers have expressed support for the proposal as well.

October 11, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

UNHRC Yemen Inquiry is Doomed to Fail Magnanimously

By Salman Rafi Sheikh | New Eastern Outlook | 09.10.2017 

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) seems to have finally awakened up to the brazen human rights violations that the Saudia led Arab coalition forces have been blamed to have committed in the conflict in Yemen that has been going on for more than two years now, and has consumed thousands of lives, and destroyed the country, its polity and economy alike. While UNHRC has resolved to find out the atrocities that have been committed, the question that remains unanswered is if this ‘fact-finding’ mission would lead to an end of the war, let alone punish the antagonists?A compromise has been achieved from the very beginning, which will allow the House of Saud to not only to manipulate or dispute the results, but also escape any consequences whatsoever. As a matter of fact, Saudi Arabia was able to steer things to a course of its own advantage by simply altering the original resolution adopted by the Council, making the UNHRC look like a meaningless and worthless house of cards.

Let’s consider what the original resolution had called for and what is actually going to happen now. The original resolution had called for the establishment of an independent inquiry commission. However, thanks to Saudi Arabia’s intense lobbying and coercive diplomacy, the amended version is now restricted only to sending some “eminent experts”. According to reports, Riyadh had threatened to restrict and even cut trade and diplomatic ties with the council members which had backed the much more robust version. The House of Saud also publicly appreciated the UK, US and France for their cooperation in securing a compromise on resolution. The three countries also support Saudi Arabia’s deadly military aggression against the impoverished Yemen. The UK and the US had no reason to criminalize Saudi Arabia not only because they are allies but also because the US is itself a party to destroying Yemen.

This is evident from the way the US president Donald Trump has almost doubled the number of covert US airstrikes in Yemen. According to the data compiled by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the US has carried out about 100 strikes in Yemen in 2017. While the official narrative is that these strikes target Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), there are evidences that suggest that the US has been equally targeting the Houthis as well. Nothing perhaps could illustrate this ‘US vs Houthis’ phenomenon more than the fact that a US drone was attacked and shot down by the Houthis in western Yemen as recently as October 2, 2017. While the US officials said that the matter was under investigation, the Houthi-controled Defense Ministry announced that it had downed an American drone in the outskirts of Yemen’s capital Sanaa, thus rejecting the US claim that it was mainly involved in non-combatant missions in the aid of the Arab coalition.

On the other hand, what really explains the reason for the Trump administration’s decision to increase drone attacks is the policy of isolating and defeating Iran that the US and Saudi Arabia are following. Interestingly enough, perusal of this policy has caused political tension in the UK as well, where the parliament’s joint committee on human rights has raised strong concerns about the UK’s involvement in the US targeted killing programme, noting that the UK’s intelligence agencies work “hand in glove” with the US.

Given the extent of co-operation between the West and its key ally in the Middle East, an independent inquiry into war atrocities committed by the self-declared regional hegemon is unlikely to take place ever, let alone punish the wrongdoers. Besides the current UNHRC debacle, this is also evident from the way the House of Saud was able, back in July 2016, to turn upside down a UN report that had blacklisted the country after it found out that the Kingdom was responsible for 60 percent of the 785 deaths of children in Yemen in 2015. A few days later, however, the world body announced that the Riyadh regime would be scratched off the list, pending a joint review with the Arab kingdom. Sounds like really independent and impartial!

Once again Riyadh has been able to manipulate inquiry into atrocities by radically altering the resolution that had called for an independent inquiry. Could there be a greater irony than the fact that the new resolution that decided to set up a committee of experts had been set up by Riyadh itself? How can an accused set up, or even influence, a committee to investigate into his own crimes? Can such a body be expected to be impartial and truly reveal what the Arab coalition has done in Yemen?

Answers to all of these questions have, unfortunately, to be in the negative. It is not that we are expressing pessimism, there are certainly concrete basis for what we have said. Besides the above given arguments with regard to the co-operation between the US, the UK and Saudi Arabia, the fact remains that not even the EU, the so-called champion of human rights, is able to leave a decisive impact on the situation and turn things against Saudia. For instance, the European human rights organisation had to face a lot of ridicule when, despite its earlier statement that had confirmed that airstrikes carried out by the Arab coalition in the past two months had killed 39 civilians, including 26 children, the resolution was amended and the bid for constituting an independent inquiry was replaced by a committee of “experts.” Not only were their reports and arguments not accepted, but their demand that the matter be brought before the International Criminal Court (ICC) was squarely rejected, thanks again to the Saudi lobbying and the help it received from its key allies in the West i.e., the US and UK and France and the way it coerced countries into backing down on this demand.

According to a Reuters report, in a letter seen by one of the diplomats, Saudi Arabia – the world’s biggest oil exporter – had warned some states of possible consequences should they support the Dutch resolution, submitted jointly with Canada, calling for a full commission. This lobbying was the perfectly echoed by French diplomatic source who was reported to have said that “there is room to satisfy everybody.”

It appears that no other party is more satisfied now than the House of Saud, the principal accused in the scene. The accused stands vindicated as it is well “satisfied” with the way things have ended in the UNHRC session and the way things will proceed in the future. It is possible that by the time the committee of experts is constituted, does its investigation and submits its report in a year from now on, the Arab coalition, which believes that airstrikes killing civilians are legally justifiable, might end up killing thousands of innocent people. Who will then the UNHRC blame for the loss?

October 9, 2017 Posted by | War Crimes, Corruption, Deception | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Americans Can Stop America’s War on Yemen

By Shireen Al-Adeimi | CounterPunch | October 5, 2017

Yemen continues to suffer in silence as the world turns away from its ongoing misery. Despite two and a half years of brutal war, the average American remains oblivious to the inconvenient truth that the United States has been helping Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates destroy a sovereign country that posed a threat to no one. While rich Arab states bombard the Middle East’s poorest country, creating the world’s largest humanitarian crisis and an unprecedented cholera outbreak, our government (starting with the Obama administration and continuing with Trump’s) has continued to support them not only through the sale of weapons, but also through mid-air refueling, targeting intelligence, and other logistical support.

The international community has betrayed Yemenis over and over again – examples include the United Nation’s capitulation to Saudi pressure by removing it from the list of child killers and allowing the Saudi-led Coalition to investigate (and clear) itself from any wrongdoing. Even as an inquiry into Yemen war crimes was finally agreed upon this week, the word “investigation” was dropped, and it remains to be seen which “regional experts” will comprise the committee.

But have we, the American people, turned our backs to our government’s involvement in Yemen’s destruction? Yemenis are not seeking refuge in Europe or America because of a land, air, and sea blockade that has kept food and medicines out, while trapping people in. Unlike those fleeing the war in Syria, Yemenis may be ‘out of sight, of mind.’ But those of us who do know about the plight of Yemenis may feel helpless or unclear about what can be done to help. The truth is, we have to act, and we have to act fast.

We can no longer stand by and watch as Yemeni children die of curable diseases like cholera (with 750,000 cases and counting) because they can’t access clean water. Nor can we stand by and watch them die of hunger in a time of immense global wealth because their parents can’t afford what little food is available. We can no longer watch as Yemeni children, women, and men are killed by US-supported, Saudi and Emirati airstrikes that target homes, schools, funeral gatherings, and hospitals alike. We must confront our government’s role in creating this “man-made catastrophe” that has pushed this already-impoverished nation to its utmost limit.

Now, 30 months into this aimless war, there’s an opportunity for the United States to finally withdraw from Yemen. Congress will soon debate and vote on House Concurrent Resolution 81, a bipartisan bill introduced by Representatives Ro Khanna (D-CA), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Mark Pocan (D-WI), and Walter Jones (R-NC), that aims to end the United States’ support for the Saudi-led Coalition in Yemen.

If we don’t act now, we may find ourselves looking back and wondering what could have been done to save millions of people from certain death. We have an opportunity to end this destructive war by urging our political leaders to stop supporting the Saudi-led Coalition. And we have a moral and legal obligation to extricate ourselves from aiding an ally that has worked with terrorists to achieve its goals, and has continued to commit what may amount to several and ongoing war crimes in Yemen.

Let’s email and call our representatives and urge them to vote in favor of H.Con.Res.81 and put an end to the atrocities committed in our name. For the sake of Yemen’s tiniest victims, whose little bodies gave up fighting hunger and disease in the time it took you to read this piece, let’s end the war on Yemen.

October 5, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Iran checkmates US, Israel

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | September 24, 2017

The announcement in Tehran on Saturday regarding the successful test of a ballistic missile with a range of 2000 kilometers and capable of carrying multiple warheads to hit different targets phenomenally shifts the military balance in the Middle East.

Israel and the roughly 45,000 US troops deployed to the Middle East – Jordan (1500 troops), Iraq (5200), Kuwait (15000), Bahrain (7000), Qatar (10000), UAE (5000), Oman (200) – fall within the range of the latest Iranian missile. Iran has demonstrated a deterrent capability that deprives the US and Israel of a military option.

The missile test signals Tehran’s strategic defiance of the US, after President Donald Trump’s outrageous remarks against Iran in his address to the UN GA. From this point, Trump has to be very careful about tearing up the Iran nuclear deal. Any such rash act by Trump or the lawmakers in the Congress (imposing new sanctions) can be seized by Tehran to resume its previous nuclear program, which would have far-reaching implications, given its missile capabilities.

President Hassan Rouhani took a tough line after returning to Tehran from New York. He warned that if Trump violated the nuclear deal, “we will be firm and all options will be before us.” Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif told New York Times tauntingly that if the US wanted to re-negotiate the nuclear deal, Tehran too will insist on re-negotiating every single concession it made – “Are you prepared to return to us 10 tons of enriched uranium?”

Rouhani made a strident speech at a military parade on Friday in Tehran underscoring that Iran did not need any country’s permission to bolster its missile capability. He added, “The Iranian nation has always been after peace and security in the region and the world and we will defend the oppressed Yemeni, Syrian and Palestinian people whether you like it or not.”

“As long as some speak in the language of threats, the strengthening of the country’s defense capabilities will continue and Iran will not seek permission from any country for producing various kinds of missile,” Defence Minister Amir Hatami said in a statement Saturday.

What emerges is Iran’s determination to consolidate its influence in Syria. The US will have to carefully weigh the repercussions before making any intervention (which Israel is pressing for.) Again, Iran may establish a long-term presence in Syria. The Iran-supported battle-hardened Shiite militia fighting in Iraq and Syria is a veritable 100,000-strong army and Iran is in a position to force the eviction of US forces from Iraq and Syria.

The Trump administration must take with the utmost seriousness the thinly veiled threat by the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari on Wednesday (while reacting to Trump’s UN speech) – “The time has come for correcting the US’ miscalculations. Now that the US has fully displayed its nature, the government should use all its options to defend the Iranian nation’s interests. Taking a decisive position against Trump is just the start and what is strategically important is that the US should witness more painful responses in the actions, behavior and decisions that Iran will take in the next few months.”

The ballistic missile test followed within 3 days of Gen. Jafari’s threat. Equally, the timing of the missile test can be seen against the backdrop of the referendum being planned for September 25 by the Kurds of northern Iraq, seeking an independent Kurdistan. Tehran is in no doubt that the Kurdistan project is a US-Israeli enterprise to create a permanent base in the highly strategic region with the objective of destabilizing Iran and undermining its regional surge in Syria and Iraq.

Unsurprisingly, Israel is furious about Iran’s missile test. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman called it a “a provocation and a slap in the face for the United States and its allies — and an attempt to test them.” Clearly, Israel is in panic that Iran is steadily, inexorably outstripping it as the number one regional power in the Middle East. However, beyond rhetoric, Israel cannot do much about Iran’s surge.

Israel foolishly instigated Trump to provoke Tehran just at this juncture when he is barely coping with the crisis in Northeast Asia. A containment strategy against Iran is no longer feasible. Wisdom lies in the Trump administration engaging Iran in a constructive spirit to influence its regional policies. Threats never worked against Iran. Time and again they’ve proved to be counterproductive.

September 24, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Protests against UK arms sales to UAE at arms expo

MEMO | September 8, 2017

Campaign groups are teaming up tomorrow to protest against UK arms sales to the UAE in front of one of the largest arms expos in the world at the London ExCel Centre.

Activists and campaigners from the International Campaign for Freedom in the UAE (ICFUAE) will be joining a host of other campaigning organisations such as the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) at the Defence and Security Equipment International exhibition (DSEI) arms fair to protest against millions of dollars of arms trade with a regime, activists describe as being a notorious human rights violator.

The week of campaigning, which began with a protest against Israeli arms sales, will see crowds of people calling on the UK government to end arms sales to the UAE. The trade deals with Britain are said to involve highly sophisticated and invasive cyber surveillance technology which the UAE government uses to spy on its own citizens, and weaponry used to commit war crimes in Yemen.

Campaign groups say that between 2012 and 2016 the UAE was listed as the world’s third largest importer of weaponary; during this period, the UK licensed around £350 million worth of arms for export to the UAE. At the same time the UAE has become increasingly dismissive towards international treaties, human rights laws and UN conventions.

The UAE’s war in Yemen, which has caused untold death and destruction, is a major focal point for protestors. The Gulf alliance has been charged with committing war crimes in Yemen, where they hold a significant naval, ground and air presence. It was also recently revealed that UAE forces have been running clandestine prisons where there have been numerous reports of extreme torture.

Campaigners also claim that within their own borders, the Emirati authorities have committed numerous human rights violations against their own citizens and foreign nationals. Human rights organisations have documented numerous cases of torture, arbitrary detention, lack of freedom of speech and repression of political dissidents in the UAE.

The UK-registered BAE systems, who will be vying for new trade deals at the ExCel Centre is thought to have provided the cyber surveillance technology which was used in connection with the enforced disappearance of human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor.

Campaigners are calling on the British government to revise their close trading relationship with the UAE. They say that by providing arms and weaponry to this authoritarian regime, the UK is being complicit in war crimes and human rights violation. Furthermore they say that the trade deal between the two nations is set to increase as the UK leaves the EU and having set itself an ambitious target of doubling bilateral trade to up to £25 billion by 2020.

September 8, 2017 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

How Media Obscure US/Saudi Responsibility for Killing Yemeni Civilians

By Ben Norton | FAIR | August 31, 2107

A coalition of Saudi Arabia, the United States, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates, with minor support from several other Middle Eastern nations, has relentlessly bombed Yemen since March 2015. This August, the coalition ramped up the ferocity of its airstrikes, killing dozens of civilians.

On August 23, the US/Saudi coalition bombed a hotel near Yemen’s capital Sanaa, killing 41 people, 33 of whom—80 percent—were civilians, according to the United Nations.

Then on August 25, the coalition bombed homes in Sanaa, massacring a dozen civilians, including eight members of the same family.

Major Western media outlets have, however, obscured the responsibility Saudi Arabia, and its US and European supporters, bear for launching these airstrikes.

There are no other parties presently bombing Yemen, so media cannot feign ignorance as to who is responsible for the attacks. But reports on the bloody US/Saudi coalition airstrikes were nonetheless rife with ambiguous and downright misleading language.

NPR: Dozens Of People Killed As Airstrike Hits Hotel Near Yemen's Capital

It seems worth mentioning that the airstrike was
supported by the same government that supports NPR.

“Dozens of People Killed as Airstrike Hits Hotel Near Yemen’s Capital,” wrote NPR (8/23/17), in a masterwork of euphemism. Apparently dozens of Yemenis mysteriously died of unknown causes at the exact moment a generic, unaffiliated airstrike hit the hotel. NPR only indirectly mentioned, in the story’s fifth paragraph, that the “Saudi-led coalition” was “blamed” for the attack.

AFP‘s news wire (8/23/17), which was republished by Yahoo, the Daily Mail and Breitbart, used the headline “Air Raids on Outskirts of Yemen Capital Kill ‘at least 30,’” again obscuring who was responsible for those air raids. France 24 (8/23/17) ran the wire with the headline “Air Raids on Yemen Capital Kill Dozens.”

The BBC (8/23/17) wrote, “Yemen War: Air Strike on Hotel Outside Sanaa ‘Leaves 30 Dead.’”  “Dozens Killed in Airstrike on Yemeni Hotel,” the Guardian headline (8/23/17) read.

The London-based Middle East Eye (8/23/17) was just as ambiguous, with “Yemen Air Attack Destroys Hotel, Killing at Least 35 People,” as was Qatar-owned Al Jazeera (8/23/17), with “Air Raid in Yemen Kills at Least 35 people”  and the Turkish TRT World (8/24/17), which wrote, “At Least 60 people Killed in Airstrikes on Hotel in Yemen.”

Whose airstrike was it? What party was responsible? This remains unknown to those who only glanced at the headlines—that is to say, to most readers.

The 29-month war has killed thousands of Yemeni civilians, with tens of thousands more injured and millions facing famine. And the United Nations has repeatedly reported that the US/Saudi coalition is responsible for a majority of the civilian casualties.

Even when Saudi Arabia’s guilt is acknowledged by media, the crucial role of the US is typically ignored (FAIR.org, 8/31/15, 10/14/16, 2/27/17). Readers miss out on crucial context that is needed to understand the war, and their governments’ contributions to it: Saudi Arabia is flying US-made planes, full of fuel provided by the US Air Force, dropping US- and UK-made bombs, with intelligence and assistance from American and British military officials.

Non-Yemeni ‘Yemeni Airstrikes’

Reuters: Yemen air strike kills 12, including six children: rescuers

Neither the headline nor the accompanying story mention who conducted
the airstrike—though the photo caption refers to the “Saudi-led airstrike.”

Two days later, reports were just as obfuscatory, and even used the term “Yemeni airstrike,” to refer to an airstrike that was carried out by non-Yemenis.

“Yemen Airstrike Kills 12, Including Six Children: Rescuers,” Reuters reported on August 25. This brief two-paragraph wire did not once mention the US/Saudi coalition was responsible.

“After Yemeni Airstrike, Little Girl Is Family’s Only Survivor,” the international news agency wrote the next day (8/26/17). This Reuters piece noted that the “Saudi-led coalition” was “blamed,” though even that language seems designed to deflect; blamers can be wrong, after all.

Major newspapers were similarly misleading. “Young Yemeni Girl Is Sole Survivor After Airstrike Topples Her Home,” the New York Times (8/26/17) reported. The lead provided no further information: “An airstrike toppled their apartment building.” In fact, it was not until the seventh paragraph, after three large photos, that the Times finally conceded, “A Saudi Arabia–led coalition took responsibility for the airstrike a day after the attack, citing a ‘technical mistake.’” The Times did not once mention American or British support for the coalition.

Al Jazeera (8/25/17) likewise used the headline “Children Among Dead in Latest Attack on Yemen Civilians.” And TRT World (8/26/17) reported, “Yemen Airstrike Kills 12, Including Six Children.”

Even when Saudi Arabia admitted responsibility for killing Yemeni civilians, media watered down the language. “Saudi-Led Force Admits Strike in Yemen’s Capital Hit Civilians,” Reuters (8/26/17) headlined its news wire. Note the airstrike hit civilians, not killed them.

The attack was also reduced to a mere “mistake.” Larger context was not provided: namely that more than one-third of US/Saudi coalition airstrikes have hit civilian areas, and that there is a growing body of evidence that the coalition has intentionally targeted civilian infrastructure in Yemen.

Not all media were equally misleading; some were more forthright. AP‘s news wire (8/23/17), which was republished by the Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News, Houston Chronicle and San Francisco Chronicle, used a headline that told readers who was responsible for the deadly attack: “Saudi-Led Airstrikes Hit Yemen Hotel, Killing at Least 41.”

The Washington Post was similarly direct, with its reports “Saudi-Led Coalition Airstrike Kills Dozens in Yemen Ahead of Major Rally” (8/23/17) and “Saudi-Led Airstrikes Kill 14 Civilians in Yemen’s Capital” (8/25/17).

The Art of Obfuscation

To justify this ambiguity in reporting, media might claim it is sometimes not immediately clear who launched the airstrikes. But, again, there are no other parties flying warplanes in Yemen.

Yemeni Houthi-Saleh forces, who govern the north of the country and roughly 80 percent of the population, have not been bombing their country. Moreover, the US/Saudi coalition has imposed an air blockade on the impoverished country since March 2015 (another significant fact that is rarely reported by corporate media).

In Syria, where numerous rival countries have been launching airstrikes, it is understandable that media may sometimes have to exercise caution before apportioning blame. But this is not the case with Yemen.

In the 29-month war in Yemen, there is one party that has been responsible for thousands of air raids: the Saudi air force, as part of a coalition with the US, the UK and the UAE.

Yet Yemen is not an isolated case of this ambiguity. Media frequently obfuscate and downplay the culpability for bombing when the US and its allies are responsible.

New York Times headline corrected

NYT headline (10/3/15) improved by Twitter user @OneKade

When the US bombed a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, in October 2015, killing dozens of civilians, media scrambled to craft almost laughable euphemisms. FAIR (10/5/15) documented at the time  how news outlets used circuitous headlines like “US Is Blamed After Bombs Hit Afghan Hospital.” Also seen in the August 23 NPR report cited above, this brand of misleading, ambiguous rhetoric is the “officer-involved shooting” of war reporting.

On the other hand, the responsibility of US enemies for killing civilians is rarely if ever obscured.

It is instructive to compare Western media coverage of Yemen to that of Syria, where attacks are “Assad bombing” (Fox News, 2/15/17), “Assad airstrikes” (Breitbart, 4/28/16), “Assad regime airstrikes” (Times of Israel, 10/16/12;  Australian, 8/18/15), “regime airstrikes” (NBC, 8/19/16) or “regime bombing” (Daily Caller, 8/17/15).

Media have even written of a “pro-Assad drone” that was “displaying hostile intent,” and thus just had to be shot down by the US (Guardian, 6/20/17; Independent, 6/20/17; The Hill, 6/20/17), as if the robot were personally a fan of the Syrian leader.

The phrases “Salman bombing,” “Salman airstrikes” or “Saudi regime airstrikes” are, however, nowhere to be found in reports on Yemen.

Downplaying the Key US Role

Media calling US/Saudi coalition attacks “Yemeni airstrikes” is at best misleading, and at worst flat-out false. Yet this language also has a political effect: It obscures the character of the war. This framing is part of the “civil war” trope media have propagated for two-and-a-half years.

When Yemen is discussed, it is virtually always through the lens of a “civil war.” As FAIR (7/25/17) has detailed before, this exceedingly widespread myth, which has permeated media discourse, denies the extent to which the conflict is actually a foreign war on Yemen, led by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and their US and European sponsors.

Even the term “Saudi-led” coalition is misleading. The New York Times editorial board (8/17/16) acknowledged, in a little-noted editorial on Yemen, “Experts say the coalition would be grounded if Washington withheld its support.”

That is to say, if the US wanted the war in Yemen to end, it would end overnight. The “Saudi-led” coalition is only led by Saudi Arabia in name.

Surprisingly, in the midst of intensified coalition attacks, the New York Times published another rare editorial on Yemen on August 25. In the piece, dramatically titled “The Slaughter of Children in Yemen,” the editorial board forcefully warned of exactly what critics have been saying for 29 months:

The Saudi coalition—and its American enablers, who provide military equipment, aerial refueling and targeting—simply cannot be allowed to continue killing civilians and destroying what little is left of Yemen. That is why it is imperative to publicly identify the unconscionable slaughter of innocents for what it is, and to hope that this will shame Saudi Arabia and its American backers to search for a humane end to Yemen’s hell.

Reporters at the Times and elsewhere should heed this call to demonstrate journalistic responsibility by clearly conveying their governments’ responsibility for the slaughter in Yemen—not just in editorials, but in news articles, every time.

September 1, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Israel’s Alarm over Syrian Debacle

By Daniel Lazare | Consortium News | August 22, 2017

There’s a rumor going around that the Syrian civil war is finally winding down and that the Baathist government is nearing its goal of driving out thousands of ISIS-Al Qaeda head-choppers financed and supplied – directly or indirectly – by the U.S., Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the other Persian Gulf oil monarchies.

 (Screenshot from White House video)

It would be good news if true. But most likely it’s not. While one stage in the Syrian conflict is coming to an end, another is beginning, and this time the results could be even worse.

The reason is Israel, until now the odd man in the latest Mideast wars. Despite intervening sporadically on the rebel side in Syria, the Jewish state generally held itself aloof from the conflict in the belief that events were breaking its way regardless of whether it stepped in or not. After all, why go to war when your enemies are doing a fine job of tearing each other apart on their own?

With President Bashar al-Assad expected to step down eventually, Israel figured that it only had to wait and watch as a hostile regime collapsed under its own weight as it thrashed about unable to restore order to Syria. Never in the Arab-Israeli hundred years’ war had Israel seemed stronger and the Arabs weaker and in greater disarray.

But then the unthinkable happened. Assad not only survived but prevailed. Backed by Russia, Iran and the Lebanese Shi‘ite militia Hezbollah, he has bottled up Al Qaeda in East Ghouta and Idlib province in the extreme northwest and is racing to lift ISIS’s siege on Deir-Ezzor along the Euphrates. If successful, the effect will be to clear a path straight through to the Iraqi border some 30 miles to the east.

U.S. military enclaves may remain in the northeast and in the southern border town of Al-Tanf. But it’s hard to see how they’ll have much of an impact as the Damascus regime tightens its grip on the country as a whole.

Israeli Outrage

But rather than making a wider war less likely, the upshot is to make it even more. Having bet on the wrong horse, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu now finds himself facing a nightmare scenario in which Iran takes advantage of Assad’s winning streak to extend its reach from Iraq and Syria into Lebanon beyond. It’s not just a question of political influence, but of the emergence of a powerful Iranian-led military bloc.

Eleven years after fighting a vicious 34-day war in southern Lebanon, Israel thus finds itself facing not only Hezbollah but the Syrian Arab Army, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards, and Iraqi Shi‘ite militias – all backed by Russian military might – in a front extending across its entire northern border. All are battle-hardened after years of combat, better armed, better led, and more self-confident to boot. Israel finds itself confronting a new threat that is many times more powerful than Hezbollah (or Syria) alone.

Israeli consternation is not to be underestimated. One news outlet says the official attitude is one of “grave concern” while an anonymous government minister heaped blame on the U.S. for sacrificing Israeli interests:

“The United States threw Israel under the bus for the second time in a row. The first time was the nuclear agreement with Iran, the second time is now that the United States ignores the fact that Iran is obtaining territorial continuity to the Mediterranean Sea and Israel’s northern border. What is most worrisome is that this time, it was President Donald Trump who threw us to the four winds – though viewed as Israel’s great friend. It turns out that when it comes to actions and not just talk, he didn’t deliver the goods.”

Netanyahu is meanwhile off to the Black Sea resort of Sochi to confer with Russian President Vladimir Putin while, in Washington, Israeli military and intelligence officials are meeting with top Trump officials such as National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and special Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt.

Israel has also engaged in saber-rattling with regard to a missile factory that it says Iran is building in the Syrian port city of Baniyas. Gadi Eisenkot, the Israeli military’s chief of staff, said that stopping efforts by Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah to equip themselves with accurate missiles capable of striking deep inside the Jewish state “is our top priority.”

Adds Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s hard-right defense minister: “We know what needs to be done….  We won’t ignore the establishment of Iranian weapons factories in Lebanon.”

Neocon Chorus

Words like that should not be taken lightly. Meanwhile, influential neoconservatives are joining the me-too chorus. At the Atlantic Council – the hawkish Washington think tank partly funded by the United Arab Emirates and pro-Saudi interests that functioned as an arm of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign – former Obama administration official Frederic C. Hof recently argued that the U.S. wouldn’t be in such a pickle if it had invaded Syria years ago:

“A Syrian opposition recognized by Washington in December 2012 as the ‘legitimate representative of the Syrian people’ should have been tasked with preparing for post-ISIS governance, and assisted to that end by an American-organized, multi-national effort. An all-Syrian stabilization force should have been built in a protected eastern Syria to pacify the area, facilitate humanitarian aid, and spur reconstruction.”

But now the U.S. is seemingly “indifferent” to what comes next once Islamic State is gone. As a consequence, Hof said, the Trump administration is effectively “install[ing] Iran as Syria’s suzerain, with the Assad entourage sifting through the country’s ruins for spoils and setting the stage for successive waves and varieties of extremism arising in response.” The only solution, according to Hof, is a radical strategic change “to prevent Iran and Assad doing their worst for the security of the United States, its allies, and its partners.”

With the Zionists and their neocon yes-men agreeing that something must be done, it seems that something WILL be done sooner rather than later.

Of course, a few complications could get in the way. One involves Russian President Vladimir Putin who, despite his close alliance with Assad, enjoys a solid working relationship with Israel and is none too eager to see war break out between the two countries. Another is the Syrian government in Damascus, which, under the leadership of the careful and cautious Assad, is none too eager to rush into a conflict that could conceivably prove even more ruinous than the one it is trying to finish up.

A Sick Kingdom 

But even sober politicians like Putin and Assad may be unable to cope with the forces raging across the Middle East. The sectarian war that the Saudis unleashed more than a decade ago with U.S, help shows no signs of letting up. The kingdom is mired in an anti-Shi‘ite crusade in Yemen that it is desperate to escape, but doesn’t know how. It has suppressed a Shi‘ite uprising in Awamiyah, a city of 25,000 people in its own oil-rich Eastern Province, killing dozens according to Iranian sources and flattening an entire neighborhood, but dissent continues to bubble up ominously.

Saudi Arabia also has imposed an economic blockade on Qatar, and it is backing a repressive regime in Bahrain that has imposed a reign of terror on the country’s 70-percent Shi‘ite majority. Riyadh continues to engage in a dangerous war of words with Iran, which the royal family believes is engaged in an Elders of Zion-like Shi‘ite conspiracy to dismember the kingdom and wrest away control of Mecca and Medina.

The more paranoid Saudi leaders become, the more threatening Saudi Arabia grows – and the more resolved Iran becomes to make the most of its victory in Syria by fulfilling the ancient Persian goal of opening a corridor to the Mediterranean Sea. Aggression on one side leads to counter-aggression on the other, a process of mutual escalation that seems impossible to reverse.

Finally, there is the question of political stability – or, rather, an increasing lack thereof. In Iran, newly re-elected President Hassan Rouhani is locked in a growing confrontation with hardline Shi‘ite Islamists with little appetite for compromise.

In Saudi Arabia, power is in the hands of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, a rambunctious 31-year-old who launched the disastrous war in Yemen in March 2015 – and then disappeared on a vacation in the Maldives as U.S. officials tried desperately to reach him by phone – and who more recently unveiled an ambitious economic reform program that so far has done nothing to stem the kingdom’s alarming decline. Despite vows to diversify the economy, non-oil revenue actually shrank by 17 percent this spring while foreign reserves have fallen by nearly a third since 2014. But that didn’t stop MbS, as he’s known, from committing himself to $110 billion in U.S. arms purchases in May or his father, King Salman, from spending a reported $100 million on a summer vacation in Morocco.

Saudi Arabia is thus becoming the sick man of the Middle East, one whose collapse could trigger a “geopolitical tsunami” sweeping across much of the region.

Trump’s Imbalance

Then there is the United States, where politics are even more unsettled. As President Trump careens from one disaster to another, foreign policy has grown both unpredictable and bellicose. One day, America’s second popular-vote-losing president in 16 years is calling for regime change in Tehran, the next he’s threatening Pyongyang with “fire and fury,” and then he’s blustering about some unspecified “military option” with regard to Venezuela.

The fact that Trump has so far demonstrated little follow-through is hardly reassuring. Sooner or later, rash rhetoric can only lead to rash actions, if not on America’s part then someone else’s. The shakier Trump grows, the greater the likelihood that he will engage in some risky adventure in order to strengthen his grip.

A number of forces are thus converging: political instability in Tehran, Riyadh and Washington, a growing thirst for more war on the part of Israel and the U.S. foreign-policy establishment, and a growing defensiveness on the part of a “Shi‘ite crescent” stretching from Yemen to southern Tehran. The United States, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and others have already plunged Syria into death and destruction by sponsoring a murderous Sunni Salafist assault on one of the most diverse populations in the Middle East. The big question now is whether, with Israeli help, they are about to impose another.

Given the vicious cycle of violence in the Middle East, one that the U.S. has done its level best to worsen at every step of the way, it’s hard not to believe that even worse may be ahead.


Daniel Lazare is the author of several books including The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Is Paralyzing Democracy (Harcourt Brace).

August 22, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

House GOP Seeks to Curb Yemen War

By Dennis J Bernstein | Consortium News | July 26, 2017

Republicans are taking the lead in blocking U.S. participation in the Saudi slaughter in Yemen, which has plunged that country to the brink of starvation and sparked a cholera epidemic. Surprising to many, there was a vote by the Republican-led House of Representatives to block U.S. participation in the Saudi-led war.

The key amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act — prohibiting U.S. military support for the Saudi-led coalition’s bombing of Yemen — was sponsored by Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio. Though the amendment gained bipartisan support — and another restrictive amendment was sponsored by Rep. Dick Nolan, D-Minnesota — the Republican leadership on this issue reflects the changing places in which Democrats have become the more hawkish party in Congress.

I spoke to Kate Gould, Legislative Representative for Middle East Policy for the Friends Committee on National Legislation about this pressing issue of life and death in Yemen. We spoke on July 17.

Dennis Bernstein: Well, this is a terrible situation and getting worse by the day. Could you please remind everyone what it looks like in Yemen on the ground?

Kate Gould: It is a catastrophic situation. According to the United Nations, it is the largest humanitarian crisis in the world right now. And despite the fact that this humanitarian crisis has been a direct result of the Saudi/United Arab Emirate-led war in Yemen, backed by the United States, most Americans have no idea that we are so deeply involved in this war.

A conservative estimate is that seven million people are on the verge of starvation, half a million being children. The people in Yemen are experiencing the world’s largest cholera outbreak. A child under the age of five is dying every ten minutes of preventable causes. Every 35 seconds a child is infected.

This is all preventable with access to clean water and basic sanitation. This war has destroyed the civilian infrastructure in Yemen. We’re talking about air strikes that have targeted warehouses of food, sanitation systems, water infiltration systems. The World Health Organization points out that cholera is not difficult to prevent. The problem is that so many Yemenis lack access to clean water as a result of the infrastructure being in ruins.

DB: What about the medical infrastructure, what about the ability to deal with this kind of epidemic, or is it just going to get worse?

KG: Well, unless we do something to change the situation, it is definitely going to get worse. In Yemen, 90% of food is imported and the Saudis have made this much more difficult. They imposed more restraints on one of the major ports and have refused to allow Yemen to repair the damage caused by air strikes. Often it is difficult for ships to get permission to berth. All these complications have driven up the price of food so that even when food manages to be imported it is too expensive, even for those earning decent incomes. So what we are seeing is a de facto blockade as well as a war.

DB: Could you say a few words about the campaign of the Saudi military and what kind of weaponry they are using? Later I would like to discuss US support for all of this.

KG: The Saudi-led war began about two and a half years ago in March, 2015. At that time they asked for US support and got it from the Obama administration. The air campaign has resulted in the carpet bombing of Yemen. It is the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates who have been driving this massive bombardment. There has been an all-out assault on civilians and civilian infrastructure.

And, of course, as Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) has pointed out, the Saudis would not have been able to carry out this bombing without full US support. Their planes cannot fly without US refueling capacity. In fact, since October the US has actually doubled the amount of fuel it provides to Saudi and Emirati bombers. Last October is significant because at that time there was a major bombing of mourners coming out of a funeral hall which killed about 140 civilians and wounded another six hundred. Since that atrocity, the US has doubled its refueling support.

DB: How does the US justify its support for the Saudis, from a human rights perspective?

KG: We’ve heard very little discussion of the human rights angle from the Trump administration. The Obama administration claimed to be pressuring the Saudis to take precautions to prevent civilian casualties, that this is why the US has provided precision-guided smart bombs, to limit civilian casualties. There has never been an official US response to the fact that the Saudis and Emiratis are deliberately pushing millions to the verge of starvation. They are using hunger as a political tool to get better leverage on the battlefield and at the negotiating table. This is really what is driving the humanitarian nightmare.

DB: We know that Trump was just in Saudi Arabia and signed a massive weapons contract. Will this weaponry contribute to the coming famine and cholera epidemic?

KG: Certainly. It is providing the Saudis a blank check for this devastating war in which direct casualties from airstrikes are conservatively estimated at around 10,000 and millions of people have been displaced. It sends the message that the United States is willing to support the Saudis despite massive human rights violations.

DB: There is no way the US or the Saudis can deny the tragedy. This has been thoroughly documented by US and international rights groups.

KG: But what they will often say is that a lot of the fault lies with the Houthi rebel groups. And it is certainly true that the Houthi rebels have committed massive human rights violations. But as far as the mass devastation of public infrastructure is concerned, which is leading to the humanitarian crisis, the majority of the blame can be assigned to the Saudi-led war and the US backing.

Repeatedly, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, responding to the scene of unlawful airstrikes against civilian targets, have found either unexploded US-made bombs or identifiable fragments of US bombs. This was the case with the bombing of the funeral procession last October. Still, the US government claims that it is trying to limit civilian casualties.

DB: It is interesting that the Republican-led House has voted to block US participation in the war in Yemen. It seems somewhat counter-intuitive.

KG: It is definitely surprising. Although I’ve been working around the clock on this recently, even I was surprised. What happened is that last week [week of July 9] the House of Representatives voted on the major military policy bill for fiscal year 2018. This is a major piece of national security legislation which authorizes funding for the Pentagon. It has to get passed every year and it provides an opportunity for members to vote on amendments that have to do with national security.

Two of these amendments were particularly consequential for Yemen. One was introduced by a Republican, Warren Davidson of Ohio, and the other by Rick Nolan, a Democrat from Minnesota. They added language that would require the Trump administration to stop providing refueling for Saudi and Emirati bombers, as well as to stop intelligence sharing and other forms of military support. It wouldn’t stop the weapons sales, which is another process, but it would stop military support for this indiscriminate war.

The Davidson amendment would prohibit US military action in Yemen that is not authorized by the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force. Given that US participation in the Saudi-led war in Yemen is not targeting Al-Qaeda, it is not authorized by the 2001 AUMF and is prohibited by this amendment. The Nolan amendment prohibits the deployment of US troops for any participation in Yemen’s civil war.

This means that the House just voted to end US funding of our military for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. This is really unprecedented and it builds on the wave of congressional momentum that we saw last month when 47 senators voted against sending more of what we call “weapons of mass starvation” to Yemen. So we have clear signals from both the House and the Senate that there is no support for Trump’s blank check to Saudi Arabia for this devastating war.

DB: So now this goes to the Senate?

KG: Yes, and there we are going to face a more difficult fight. We’re preparing for that now. We definitely will see some important Yemen votes in the Senate. It could come up right after a health care vote in early August or it might not be voted on until the fall. But we will see votes on Yemen. It is unclear whether a Senate member will offer amendments similar to the Davidson or Nolan amendments.

Yemeni capital of Sanaa, Oct. 9, 2015 (Wikipedia)

After the Senate votes on the various amendments, they will both have versions of this and they will have to come back and conference a final version to send to the president. This is definitely a time to push our senators to follow suit with the House and oppose US involvement in this devastating war in Yemen.

DB: Finally, who are some of these Republican Congressional members who stood up in this effort to restrain this oncoming famine? Who were some of the surprise votes?

KG: Actually, this was added in a whole block of legislation so we can’t point to exactly who supported and who opposed it. It was good to see Warren Davidson taking a leadership role on this issue. He is relatively new in the Senate, having taken [Former House Speaker John] Boehner’s seat. It is noteworthy also that the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Mac Thornberry from Texas, allowed this amendment to go forward. Just that the House Republican leadership allowed this to move forward is really interesting in itself.

DB: Yes, it is. It seems to me that the Democrats have really become out-of-control Cold Warriors, either lost in Russia-gate or dropping the ball on this very important foreign policy issue. We thank you, Kate Gould, Legislative Representative for Middle East Policy with the Friends Committee on National Legislation.

KG: And I just want to say that we can win on this one and we need everybody to get involved. You can go to our website, fcnl.org, to get more information. Again, 47 Senators voted last month to block these bomb sales and we only need 51 votes. And with Trump’s massive arms deal with Saudi Arabia, I’m sure we will have more votes on this. But it is really important to stay engaged and we need everybody to get involved and contact your members of Congress.

Dennis J Bernstein is a host of “Flashpoints” on the Pacifica radio network and the author of Special Ed: Voices from a Hidden Classroom. You can access the audio archives at www.flashpoints.net.

July 26, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Made in the West: New era of global famine thanks to war and chaos

By Dan Glazebrook | RT | July 16, 2017

The famines threatening many parts of the world today have one thing in common: Western aggression and destabilization.

In February of this year, the world’s first famine in six years was officially declared in South Sudan. A month later, the UN’s humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien warned the Security Council that three other countries – Yemen, Somalia, and Nigeria – also stood on the brink of famine, with 20 million at risk of starving to death within months.

The world, he said, was now “facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the United Nations.” Unless $4.4billion in emergency funds was raised by the end of March, warned UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, 20 million would likely starve to death. When the deadline was reached, he had received less than a tenth of that, a paltry $423 million.

The amount raised has increased since then but stands at little above one-third of the target. It is almost certain not to be met, with donations dropping sharply since mid-May.

For context, the New York Times helpfully pointed out that $4.4 billion is almost the same amount Britain has made selling weapons to Saudi Arabia in the past two years – most of which have been used against the famine-stricken Yemenis, and less than 10 percent of the $54 billion in additional spending Donald Trump pledged for the US military.

Yemen was in the news again this week, twice. First the announcement by the Red Cross that cholera cases in Yemen have now reached 300,000. Then came the ruling by Britain’s High Court – choosing to believe private government assurances over volumes of first-hand eyewitness accounts – that the UK government’s arming of the vicious Saudi war against the Yemeni people is perfectly above board. These two declarations are not unrelated. For it is precisely Britain’s proxy war against Yemen that has led to the medieval levels of famine and disease now sweeping the country.

In October 2015, the head of the International Red Cross wrote that “Yemen after five months looks Syria after five years.” Today, according to Save the Children, one Yemeni child is infected with cholera every 35 seconds. This epidemic comes hot on the heels of a dengue fever outbreak, which the World Health Organization struggled to control due to the “near collapse of the health system,” and “disruption of water supplies” resulting from the Western-supplied bombing campaign. Hospitals have regularly been bombed. Following Philip Hammond’s justification of bombing raids on three Yemeni hospitals in as many months, the MSF warned that targeting hospitals was now becoming the “new normal.”

The bombing of hospitals and grain distribution centers, however, is just part of the story of the West’s genocide against the Yemeni people. Yemen is dependent on imports for more than 80 percent of its fuel, food, and medicine, and 70 percent of these imports come through the Huydadeh port. This port was bombed in August 2015 by the Saudi-led coalition and has been blockaded ever since, directly creating the current situation in which 21 million suffer food shortages, including seven million facing famine. As the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and international sanctions has noted, this blockade is “one of the main causes of the humanitarian catastrophe,” helping to lead to what he called “this man-made famine.” Needless to say, this blockade – along with every aspect of the Saudi genocide in the Yemen – is fully supported by the US and Britain.

Yemen is not the only place where Western policy is leading to famine.

This week marks the sixth anniversary of the independence of South Sudan. For the second year in a row, the planned celebrations have been canceled because, in the midst of starvation and civil war, there is nothing to celebrate.

The country’s descent into famine was officially announced on 20th February this year, with 100,000 starving and a further one million on the brink of starvation. The established criteria for a famine are that 20 percent of a population must be suffering “extreme food shortages,” 30 percent suffering acute malnutrition, and at least one per 5,000 dying each day. While those criteria are no longer being met; acute hunger has now reached six million, up from five million in February – over half the population. As in Yemen, this is a crisis of biblical proportions. As in Yemen, it is man-made. And, as in Yemen, it is the thoroughly predictable outcome of Western militarism.The US and Britain were instrumental in the partition of Sudan in 2011, and it is precisely this partition which has bequeathed the country’s current tragedy. Just as in Libya, in the same year, a loose coalition of rebels with no unified program was effectively placed in power by Western largesse. And just as in Libya, the inevitable collapse of this coalition has brought total devastation to the country.

The Southern People’s Liberation Movement was formed by rebel army colonel John Garang in 1983, and in the 1990s, under Clinton, the US began pouring millions of dollars into the insurgent movement. Although formally an uprising against the government in Khartoum, it has often relied on an appeal to ethnic chauvanism to galvanize support. According to former national committee member Dr. Peter Nyaba, for example, the movement’s very first mobilization “that took more than ten thousand Bor youth to SPLA training camps in 1983 was not for the national agenda of liberation but to settle local scores with their neighbors, the Murles or the Nuers.” Similarly, Riek Machar’s faction of the SPLM, based mainly within the Nuer community, conducted a massacre of thousands of Dinka civilians in 1991. Dr. Nyaba argues that political training was neglected in favor of, often very brutal, military training, leading to often horrific excesses against the population under their control. After liberating a particular area, said Nyaba, the movement should have instituted “democratic reforms: a popular justice system, a new system of education, health and veterinary services.” Such a move, he says, “would have given the SPLM the opportunity to prove itself to the people and the world and, therefore, to build a solid popular power base making the SPLM/A the authentic representative of the people…the ‘New Sudan’ would have been born in the physical and objective reality of the people, allowing the SPLM/A to acquire political sovereignty and diplomatic recognition.” These, indeed, are the normal steps taken by genuinely successful revolutionary movements the world over. But this is not what happened. Rather, says Nyaba, the SPLM “denigrated into an agent of plunder, pillage and destructive conquest.” It was at precisely this point that the US began funding the movement, with the initial $20 million provided by Clinton soon expanding to $100 million per year under Bush’s satirically-named “Sudan Peace Act” of 2002.

Just as in Libya, the impact of such US largesse has been to enable insurgent groups to achieve their aims without providing the visionary leadership or mass organizational skills necessary to galvanize genuine mass support. Put simply; US support has rendered mass support unnecessary. Genuine revolutions – that is, revolutions attained primarily through the efforts of the masses themselves, rather than through pressure applied by external patrons – can only succeed with a visionary program capable of winning the total commitment of the masses. In South Sudan, the SPLM, thanks to US support, were able to come to power without this. The long-term impact of this lack of popular, inspirational leadership has been an ideological vacuum into which have poured power struggles over patronage and resource networks.

Confident of external support, the SPLM – and its leader since Garang’s death in 2005, Salva Kiir – had no pressing need to win the support of all the tribes of the South. Without Western funding, Kiir would have to have reached out to the Nuer and the Murle and the other non-Dinka groups to secure enough support to force concessions from Sudan’s government. Had he done so, on the basis of a genuine mass program capable of galvanizing all the peoples of southern Sudan on a non-ethnic basis, this very program would have formed the basis of a viable unity government following independence. However, confident of US backing, Kiir had no need to develop any of this. Instead, his clear patronage from the US enabled him to impose a false unity on his Nuer and Shilik rivals, in which his proximity to the US alone was enough to force them to fall in line if they did not want to be completely excluded from the power and the money coming his way. Political struggles for mass support were to be eclipsed by factional rivalries over who would control the flow of resources.The same pattern has continued after independence. Assuming, correctly, US support would continue to flow, President Kiir has had no particular need to endear himself to those outside his primary Dinka constituency, even going so far as to sack his Nuer deputy Riek Machar in 2013, triggering the latest round of civil war. This latest round of war has taken on particularly nasty ethnic dimensions, as the SPLM’s rival factions, for years bound together by US dollars rather than by a genuine program of unity, unravels.

While Yemen’s near-famine was caused by the Western-directed bombing and blockade of that country, then, South Sudan’s actual famine is the result of years of proxy war funded by the West and the disastrous partition it produced. The situation in Nigeria is also a result of war, in this case, the Boko Haram insurgency – an insurgency which owes its massive spread in recent years directly to the NATO destruction of Libya, which opened up the country’s weapons dumps to Boko Haram and its partners. Have no doubt, the latest wave of famine is thus a direct by-product of Western aggression – creating another 20 million victims for whom US and British governments must be brought to justice.

Dan Glazebrook is a freelance political writer who has written for RT, Counterpunch, Z magazine, the Morning Star, the Guardian, the New Statesman, the Independent and Middle East Eye, amongst others. His first book “Divide and Ruin: The West’s Imperial Strategy in an Age of Crisis” was published by Liberation Media in October 2013. It featured a collection of articles written from 2009 onwards examining the links between economic collapse, the rise of the BRICS, war on Libya and Syria and ‘austerity’. He is currently researching a book on US-British use of sectarian death squads against independent states and movements from Northern Ireland and Central America in the 1970s and 80s to the Middle East and Africa today.

July 16, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Most Britons oppose UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia: Poll

Press TV – July 16, 2017

A majority of the British public believes the UK must end arms sales to Saudi Arabia over its large-scale slaughter of civilians in Yemen, according to a new poll.

An exclusive poll conducted by BMG Research for The Independent has found that 58 percent of people say it is wrong for Britain to supply billions of pounds of weapons to Saudi Arabia.

The poll also shows that 64 percent of the public want the government of Prime Minister Theresa May to release a suppressed report into Saudi Arabia’s funding of extremism in Britain, even if it damages relations with Riyadh.

On Wednesday, UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd cited national security reasons for not publishing a report commissioned by former Prime Minister David Cameron that shows the majority of foreign funding for extremism in the UK came from Saudi Arabia.

The survey underscores the public’s deep concern about the UK’s close relationship with an autocracy embroiled in a devastating war in Yemen.

The UK has licensed 3.3 billion pounds worth of weapons since the beginning of Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen in March 2015.

The United Nations and other international organizations have accused the Saudi-led coalition of bombing hospitals, schools and wedding parties in Yemen.

The UN has declared Yemen a “humanitarian catastrophe,” with sanitation systems destroyed and at least 300,000 people infected with cholera.

The opposition to weapons sales has extended into the government, with key Conservative lawmakers thought to be debating privately for arms sales to be halted.

“This just shows how fast the Conservatives are moving away from public opinion,” said Tom Brake, a Liberal Democrat lawmaker. “Instead of giving the Saudis a stern talking to, ministers are flogging them arms.”

Last week, the UK High Court ruled that London’s weapons sales to Riyadh are not against the law.

The ruling came despite the judges conclusion that there was “a substantial body of evidence suggesting that the [Saudi-led] coalition committed serious breaches of international humanitarian law in the course of its engagement in the Yemen conflict”.

Saudi Arabia has been bombing Yemen since March 2015 in a bid to restore Yemen’s former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a Riyadh ally, to power. Yemen’s crisis began after Hadi stepped down as president and refused to negotiate power-sharing with the country’s Houthi Ansarullah movement.

July 16, 2017 Posted by | War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Yemen: Court Battle Exposes UK-Saudi Arms Deals And Humanitarian Tragedy

By Felicity Arbuthnot | Dissident Voice | July 14, 2017

On Monday 10th July, a ruling was handed down by London’s High Court, which should, in a sane world, exclude the UK government ever again judging other nations’ leaders human rights records or passing judgment on their possession or use of weapons.

The Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) lost their case to halt the UK selling arms to Saudi Arabia, the case based on the claim that they may have been used to kill civilians in Yemen.

Anyone following the cataclysmic devastation of Yemen would think it was a million to one that the £3.3 Billion worth of arms sold by the UK to Saudi in just two years, had not been used to kill civilians, bomb hospitals, schools, markets, mosques, decimate vital and economic infrastructure and all necessary to sustain life.

In context, a survey released by the Yemen Data Project in September last year found that between March 2015 and August 2016 in more than 8,600 air attacks, 3,158 hit non-military targets.

How casual the slaughter is, Saudi pilots (as their British and US counterparts) apparently do not even know what they are aiming at. So much for “surgical strikes” – as ever:

Where it could not be established whether a location attacked was civilian or military, the strikes were classified as unknown, of which there are 1,882 incidents.

All those “unknown” killed had a name, plans, dreams, but as in all Western backed, funded or armed ruinations “it is not productive” to count the dead, as an American General memorably stated of fellow human beings.

In context, the survey found that:

One school building in Dhubab, Taiz governorate, has been hit nine times … A market in Sirwah, Marib governorate, has been struck 24 times.

Commenting on the survey, the UK’s shadow Defence Secretary, Clive Lewis, said:

It’s sickening to think of British-built weapons being used against civilians and the government has an absolute responsibility to do everything in its power to stop that from happening. But as Ministers turn a blind eye to the conflict … evidence that Humanitarian Law has been violated is becoming harder to ignore by the day.

Forty six percent of Yemen’s 26.83 million population are under fifteen years old. The trauma they are undergoing cannot be imagined.

The original CAAT Court hearing which took place was a Judicial Review in to the legality of the UK government’s arms sales to Saudi, held on 7th, 8th and 10th of February in the High Court.

CAAT stated, relating to the case:

For more than two years the government has refused to stop its immoral and illegal arms sales to Saudi Arabia – despite overwhelming evidence that UK weapons are being used in violations of International Humanitarian Law in Yemen.

They also quoted Parliament’s International Development and Business, Innovation and Skills Committees, who opined in October 2016:

Given the evidence we have heard and the volume of UK-manufactured arms exported to Saudi Arabia, it seems inevitable that any violations of International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law by the coalition have involved arms supplied from the UK. This constitutes a breach of our own export licensing criteria. (Emphasis added.)

UK supplied arms since the onset of the assault on Yemen are:

£2.2 billion worth of ML10 licences (Aircraft, helicopters, drones)

£1.1 billion worth of ML4 licences (Grenades, bombs, missiles,

countermeasures)

£430,000 worth of ML6 licences (Armoured vehicles, tanks.)

Contacting CAAT spokesman Andrew Smith I queried what “countermeasures” might be (point two.) He said technically, protective items.  However:

CAAT feels that the overwhelming majority will be bombs and missiles including those being used on Yemen.

On 5th June CAAT had pointed out some further glaring anomalies:

The last two months have seen three terrible terrorist attacks carried out in the UK. The attacks were the responsibility of those that have carried them out, and they have been rightly condemned.

However:

Last week it was revealed by the Guardian that the Home Office may not publish a Report into the funding of terrorism in the UK. It is believed that the Report will be particularly critical of Saudi Arabia.

Andrew Smith commented:

Only two months ago the Prime Minster was in Riyadh trying to sell weapons to the Saudi regime, which has some of the most abusive laws in the world. This toxic relationship is not making anyone safer, whether in the UK or in Yemen, where UK arms are being used with devastating results.

Nevertheless:

Delivering an open judgment in the High Court in London, Lord Justice Burnett, who heard the case with Mr. Justice Haddon-Cave, said: “We have concluded that the material decisions of the Secretary of State were lawful. We therefore dismiss the claim”.

CAAT called the ruling a “green light” for the UK government to sell arms to “brutal dictatorships and human rights abusers”.

Interestingly, in increasingly fantasy-democracy-land UK:

The Court (also handed down) a closed judgment, following a case in which half of the evidence was heard in secret on national security grounds.

What a wonderful catch-all is “national security.”

Moreover:

UK and EU arms sales rules state that export licences cannot be granted if there is a ‘clear risk’ that the equipment could be used to break International Humanitarian Law. Licences are signed off by the Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox. (Emphasis added.)

Mind stretching!

So the oversight of what constitutes a “clear risk” of mass murder and humanitarian tragedy, goes to the Minister whose Ministry stands to make £ Billions from the arms sales. Another from that bulging: “You could not make this up” file.

‘The case … included uncomfortable disclosures for the government, including documents in which the Export Policy Chief told the Business Secretary, Sajid Javid, then in charge of licensing: “my gut tells me we should suspend (weapons exports to the country).”

‘Documents obtained by the Guardian showed that the UK was preparing to suspend exports after the bombing of a funeral in Yemen in October 2016 killed 140 civilians. But even after that mass murder, the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, advised Fox that sales should continue, adding: “The ‘clear risk’ threshold for refusal … has not yet been reached.”

For anyone asleep at the wheel, Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, is supposed to be the UK’s chief diplomat. Definition: “a person who can deal with others in a sensitive and tactful way. Synonyms: Tactful person, conciliator, reconciler, peacemaker.” Comment redundant.

‘CAAT presented “many hundreds of pages” of reports from the UN, European Parliament, Red Cross, Médecins Sans Frontières, Amnesty International and others documenting airstrikes on schools, hospitals and a water well in Yemen, as well as incidents of mass civilian casualties.’

However, to further batter the mind:

The reports “represent a substantial body of evidence suggesting that the coalition has committed serious breaches of International Humanitarian Law in the course of its engagement in the Yemen conflict”, the Judges wrote. “However, this open source material is only part of the picture”.

In two eye-watering fox guarding hen house observations:

The Saudi government had conducted its own investigations into allegations of concern, the judges noted, dismissing CAAT’s concern that the Saudi civilian casualty tracking unit was working too slowly and had only reported on 5% of the incidents. The Kingdom’s “growing efforts” were “of significance and a matter which the Secretary of State was entitled to take into account” when deciding whether British weapons might be used to violate international humanitarian law.

So Saudi investigates itself and the Secretary of State overviews his own actions in the State profiting in £ Billions from seemingly indiscriminate mass murder and destruction.

There was “anxious scrutiny – indeed what seems like anguished scrutiny at some stages” within government of the decision to continue granting licences, wrote the Judges. But the Secretary of State was “rationally entitled” to decide that the Saudi-led coalition was not deliberately targeting civilians and was making efforts to improve its targeting processes, and so to continue granting licences.

Pinch yourselves, Dear Readers, it would seem we live in times of the oversight in the land of the seriously deranged.

CAAT’s Andrew Smith, said:

This is a very disappointing verdict and we are pursuing an appeal. If this verdict is upheld then it will be seen as a green light for government to continue arming and supporting brutal dictatorships and human rights abusers like Saudi Arabia that have shown a blatant disregard for international humanitarian law.

Every day we are hearing new and horrifying stories about the humanitarian crisis that has been inflicted on the people of Yemen. Thousands have been killed while vital and lifesaving infrastructure has been destroyed.

The case had exposed the UK’s “toxic relationship” with Saudi Arabia.

On Wednesday 12th July, UK Home Secretary, Amber Rudd again invoked “national security” (something Yemenis can only dream of in any context) and presented Parliament with a paltry four hundred and thirty word “summary” of the Report on the funding of terrorism, origins of which go back to December 2015.

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott encapsulated the thoughts of many, telling Parliament:

 … there is a strong suspicion this Report is being suppressed to protect this government’s trade and diplomatic priorities, including in relation to Saudi Arabia. The only way to allay those suspicions is to publish the report in full.

Caroline Lucas, co-Leader of the Green Party said:

The statement gives absolutely no clue as to which countries foreign funding for extremism originates from – leaving the government open to further allegations of refusing to expose the role of Saudi Arabian money in terrorism in the UK.

Liberal Democrat Leader, Tim Fallon condemned the refusal of the government to publish the Report as: “utterly shameful.”

Amber Rudd concentrated on pointing to individuals and organisations which might be donating, often unknowingly to: “ … inadvertently supporting extremist individuals or organisations.”

Peanuts compared to UK arms to Saudi Arabia.

CAAT’s appeal is to go back to the High Court and “If it fails, will go to the Court of Appeal” states Andrew Smith.

It also transpires that Saudi has dropped British made cluster bombs in Yemen, despite the UK being signatory to the 2008 Ottawa Convention on Cluster Munitions, banning their use, or assistance with their use. The Scottish National Party said it was a: “shameful stain on the UK’s foreign policy and its relationship with Saudi Arabia, as well as a failure by this government to uphold its legal treaty obligations”.

Final confirmation that the British government’s relations with Saudi over Arms and Yemen lies somewhere between duplicity and fantasy would seem to be confirmed in an interview with Crispin Blunt, MP., former army officer and Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee.

In spite of the legal anomalies and humanitarian devastation, he assured the BBC’s Gabriel Gatehouse that the Saudis were “rigorous” in making sure there were no breaches of international law and adopted the sort of high standard of the British army.

In that case, the cynic might conclude, given the devastation caused by the British army in Afghanistan and Iraq, perhaps it is not only arms and money that are the ties that bind the two countries, but scant regard for humanity itself.

Felicity Arbuthnot is a journalist with special knowledge of Iraq. Author, with Nikki van der Gaag, of Baghdad in the Great City series for World Almanac books, she has also been Senior Researcher for two Award winning documentaries on Iraq, John Pilger’s Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq and Denis Halliday Returns for RTE (Ireland.)

July 14, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Message from the High Court: Carry on Arming The Saudis (And Never Mind the Slaughter in Yemen)

Campaign Against Arms Trade 8628d

Campaigners are furious with a High Court decision in London allowing the UK Government to carry on exporting arms to Saudi Arabia for use against Yemenis
By Stuart Littlewood | American Herald Tribune | July 13, 2017

The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) brought the legal action against the Secretary of State for International Trade for continuing to grant export licences for arms to Saudi Arabia, arguing that this was against UK policy, which states that the government must refuse such licences if there’s a clear risk that the arms might be used to commit serious violations of International Humanitarian Law.

It is undeniable that Saudi forces have used UK-supplied weaponry to violate International Humanitarian Law in their war on Yemen. According to the United Nations, well over 10,000 people have been killed, the majority by the Saudi-led bombing campaign which has also destroyed vital infrastructure such as schools and hospitals and contributed to the cholera crisis. 3 million Yemenis have been displaced from their homes and 7 million are on the brink of dying from famine. UNICEF reports that a child is dying in Yemen every ten minutes from preventable causes including starvation and malnourishment.

A crippling naval blockade of the country by the US has been key to the cruel onslaught. The European Parliament and numerous humanitarian NGOs have condemned the Saudi air strikes as unlawful. And 18 months ago a UN Panel of Experts accused Saudi forces of “widespread and systematic” targeting of civilians.

Yet the UK has licensed £3.3 billions worth of arms such as aircraft, helicopters, drones, missiles, grenades, bombs and armoured vehicles to the Saudi regime and refused to suspend the supply of  weaponry for use in Yemen in the face of the horrors perpetrated. It is claimed that the Government has even ignored warnings by senior civil servants and its own arms control experts, and that some records of expressed concern have gone missing.

So who is the UK’s helping hand behind that vile regime’s murderous adventure in the Yemen? Why, it’s none other that senior Israel stooge Dr Liam Fox, now Secretary of State for International Trade and the lead on trade and investment in the defence and security sector. He of course oversees export licensing.  He also has ‘form’ when it comes to thinking silly thoughts and doing stupid things in the foreign affairs arena, and he’s known as a crazed flag-waver for Israel and a sworn enemy of Iran.

While Secretary of State for Defence, Fox told us: “Israel’s enemies are our enemies and this is a battle in which we all stand together or we will all fall divided.”

Fox was forced to resign as Defence Secretary in 2011 following the scandal involving him, his ‘close friend’ Adam Werritty, the UK ambassador to Israel, and Israeli intelligence figures allegedly involved in plotting sanctions against Iran.

The reason for the British government’s hostility towards Iran was spelled out by David Cameron in a speech to the Knesset in 2014: “A nuclear armed Iran is a threat to the whole world not just Israel. And with Israel and all our allies, Britain will ensure that it is never allowed to happen.” That position carries forward into the present day.

And in June 2015 Fox declared: “It is logical to assume that Iran’s intentions are to develop a nuclear weapons capability and any claims that its intentions are exclusively peaceful should not be regarded as credible… Iran’s nuclear intentions cannot be seen outside the context of its support for terror proxies, arguably the defining feature of its foreign policy. The risks are clear.”

What he omitted to say was that Iran’s intentions must also be seen in the context of Israel’s foreign policy, its refusal to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the grave threat posed by the Zionist regime’s 200 (or is it 400?) nuclear warheads. Israel hasn’t signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention either, and has signed but not ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, likewise the Chemical Weapons Convention. Iran and all the other nations in the region have every right to feel nervous.

As is well known, Israel and Saudi Arabia have formed a cosy alliance. No entities deserve each other more. And Britain will do anything, it seems, to get at Iran through these repulsive ‘friends’.

Instead of dangling from a lamp-post on Tower Bridge, Fox was quickly rehabilitated and re-promoted to senior office by fellow stooges like Theresa May. Just lately prime minister May has accused Iran of working with Hezbollah, interfering in Iraq, sending fighters to Syria to help Assad, and supporting the Houthis in the conflict in Yemen. The British Government, of course, can meddle where it pleases and do dirty weapons deals with the Saudis which, Mrs May assures us, are for the sake of long-term security in the Gulf. “Gulf security is our security,” she says, arguing that the same extremists who plot terror in the Gulf states are also targeting the streets of Europe.

Toxic relationship with Saudi Arabia exposed

So how did Fox manage to defeat the campaigners in court? After all, as Rosa Curling of Leigh Day (acting for CAAT) said, “The law is clear: where there is a clear risk that UK arms might be used in the commission of serious violations of international law, arm sales cannot go ahead.

“Nothing in the open evidence presented by the UK government to the court suggests this risk does not exist in relation to arms to Saudi Arabia. Indeed, all the evidence we have seen from Yemen suggests the opposite: the risk is very real…. Our government should not be allowing itself to be complicit in the grave violations of law taking place by the Saudi coalition in Yemen.”

Andrew Smith of CAAT said: “If this verdict is upheld then it will be seen as a green light for government to continue arming and supporting brutal dictatorships and human rights abusers like Saudi Arabia that have shown a blatant disregard for international humanitarian law….

“This case has seen an increased scrutiny of the government’s toxic relationship with Saudi Arabia. It is a relationship that more than ever needs to be examined and exposed. For decades the UK has been complicit in the oppression of Saudi people, and now it is complicit in the destruction of Yemen.”

Rachel Sylvester in The Times noted that the judges concluded there was “a substantial body of evidence suggesting that the [Saudi-led] coalition committed serious breaches of international humanitarian law in the course of its engagement in the Yemen conflict”, but the ruling was based on a narrow legal point about whether ministers had followed proper procedures and acted rationally in assessing the risks.

“Whatever the result of the legal process,” she wrote, “it’s time for the government to reconsider Britain’s poisonous relationship with Saudi Arabia, starting with the suspension of arms sales to a country that stands accused of appalling human rights abuses within its own borders as well as the funding of extremism abroad. What is UK foreign policy for if not the promotion of this country’s values around the world?”

And, as she points out, last year the UK committed £85 million to the aid effort in Yemen, making the Department for International Development the fourth largest donor to the crisis.

So, just as we pour £millions of aid into the Palestinian Territories to subsidise the illegal Israeli occupation while at the same time supplying the regime in Tel Aviv with arms to sustain its occupation, we are spending all this taxpayers’ money in Yemen to clean up the mess we’re helping the Saudis to make.

Secret evidence favours the evil

Fox succeeded thanks to ‘closed sessions’. This meant that CAAT and their legal team weren’t allowed to see much of what was presented by the Government, which could only be examined by a security-cleared “special advocate”.

The secret evidence is said to have included Saudi Arabia’s “fast-jet operational reporting data”, “high-resolution MoD-sourced imagery” and “UK defence intelligence reports and battle damage assessments”. The MoD and Foreign Office analysis had “all the hallmarks of a rigorous and robust, multi-layered process of analysis” while the evidence presented by the campaigners was “only part of the picture”. The Court said the secret evidence could not be referred to in open court for reasons of “national security”.

But what has all the MoD’s high-faluting technical tosh to do with justice? Or the basic concept of right and wrong? An especially International Humanitarian Law?

And our national security? Yeah, yeah, yeah. So the slaughter must go on in that distant land…

Labour’s shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardenier suggested in the House of Commons that the “secret” evidence should be made available to MPs for scrutiny “on privy council terms” or handed to the Intelligence and Security Select Committee. Sounds reasonable enough.

But Fox is reported saying: “This idea that somehow, if we have closed sessions, that makes the judgment less valid, I simply don’t accept. Because I don’t accept this idea that we simply can’t have closed sessions that protect our national security or the personnel involved in our national security. Our sources need to be protected.”

Yeah, and so do Yemeni civilians…. from us.

He admitted that “Yemen is indeed a humanitarian disaster” but said it was right to keep selling arms to Saudi Arabia. He may have won the legal point – for now. But he has clearly lost his moral compass, if he ever had one.

As Rachel Sylvester remarks, “So craven is the Whitehall establishment that the government has refused to publish a report on the foreign funding of terrorism, for fear of annoying its Saudi friends.”

*(London, UK. 11th July, 2016. Human rights campaigners dressed as Grim Reapers protest against the Farnborough International arms fair, and in particular against arms sales to Saudi Arabia used in human rights abuses in Yemen, at Waterloo station. Image credit: Campaign Against Arms Trade/ flickr).

July 13, 2017 Posted by | Deception, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment