British Prime Minister opposes Foreign Secretary telling truth on Saudi Arabia

This video says about itself:

17 January 2017

An air strike on a funeral, the deadliest attack in the war in Yemen and carried out with Western-made bombs, raises concerns about the conduct of the coalition-supported Saudi bombing campaign.

Another video from Britain which used to be on YouTube used to say about itself:

Yemen: Britain’s Unseen War

30 September 2016

Krishnan Guru-Murthy reveals the catastrophic effect of a Saudi-led coalition’s bombing campaign in Yemen – which uses British-supplied weapons – with millions of people consequently facing starvation.

By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:

Sketch: At least there was some truth to Bojo‘s latest gaffe

Friday 9th December 2016

BUMPTIOUS Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has once again shown that he only opens his mouth to change feet by inadvertently exposing the shameful relationship between Britain and Saudi Arabia.

Ironically his latest gaffe, at an international conference in Rome, was caused by the most unlikely of occurrences — him actually telling the truth.

Something of a novel departure for the Cabinet’s clown in chief and not one he will be likely to repeat, one would imagine.

It also explains why the civil servants at the Foreign Office rushed to deny everything. You can’t go around telling the truth if you’re in government for God’s sake.

You see Johnson used his conference address to lament politicians “twisting and abusing religion” to further their political aims before (accurately) accusing that Saudi Arabia and Iran in particular of “puppeteering” and “playing proxy wars” in the Middle East.

Something of a bold gambit for a British Foreign Secretary. I mean we practically invented the concept and have been gleefully employing it for centuries. Not least in the Middle East.

His comments must have gone down like a lead balloon at No 10 emerging as they did at almost the precise moment Prime Minister Theresa May arrived back from a visit to the Gulf where she had been wined and dined by the leaders of Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and, er, Saudi Arabia.

A shindig where she had just assured the Saudi ruler King Salman of “her commitment and that of her government to enhancing and strengthening this relationship.”

May’s official spokeswoman told reporters that Johnson’s comments “were his own personal view and did not reflect government policy.”

No, government policy is to flog weapons of mass destruction to any despotic regime with enough cash, oil and disregard for human rights to want to buy them.

The blatant hypocrisy was succinctly summed up by Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade, who said: “Boris Johnson’s comments are a clear contrast from his public position, which has been to consistently praise the Saudi regime, despite it being one of the most abusive dictatorships in the world.

“If he believes them to be puppeteers for proxy wars, then why is he continuing to arm and support them?”

Probably because even Boris doesn’t believe a word he says and is probably mildly surprised if anyone else does.

This September 2016 video is called Britain blocks independent UN investigation into ‘war crimes’ in Yemen.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Hypocrisy over Saudi Arabia

Friday 9th December 2016

THE government has acted swiftly to distance itself from Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s comments about Saudi Arabia’s role in the world, which were rather too close to the truth for comfort.

The Foreign Secretary had noted that “there are politicians who are twisting and abusing religion … in order to further their own political objectives.

“That’s why you have these proxy wars being fought the whole time in [the Middle East] … the Saudis, Iran, everybody moving in, and puppeteering and playing proxy wars.”

One could add Britain and many other Western powers to that list, although by that point the analysis of the Foreign Secretary and this paper will have well and truly diverged.

Because while officials were quick to make clear that Johnson was not expressing the official view of Saudi Arabia — although one presumes they have no such qualms over his claim about Iran — the shadow of the British government looms large over the whole state of affairs.

There are the obvious and immediate cases: Yemen and Syria.

The British government has sold literally boatloads of weapons and war machinery to Saudi Arabia while it pulverises its southern neighbour Yemen, blowing up homes and hospitals and leaving nearly the entire population on the edge of starvation.

It’s perhaps a rational course of action for a despotic Sunni royal family concerned that its own oppressed Shi’ite minority might take heart from the actions of co-religionists in Yemen’s Houthi movement.

Or in Syria, where Saudi Arabia has provided the material support for the various death cults, head-choppers and mass murderers that our government claims to be appalled by while pursuing a path that has served to strengthen them. The most graphic example is perhaps the 85 British soldiers who trained Syrian rebels in the Saudi deserts.

But while these two account for much current bloodshed, the entire Saudi project has British fingerprints all over it.

It was 100 years ago during the first world war that British officials decided to fund and arm competing Arab factions fighting against the Ottoman empire, finally settling on Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud.

Ibn Saud, from whom the country takes its name, was a Wahhabi fundamentalist whose conquest of the peninsula cost 400,000 lives and forced a million to flee.

That alliance has continued down the decades, with Britain and later the US keen to maintain their grip on strategically important oil supplies and have a “cop on the beat” in the region.

It has seen the Saudis convinced to recycle their vast amounts of oil money through London and New York, and British support for the Saudis’ exportation of their fundamentalist creed — which has produced bands of jihadists frequently useful as proxy forces against governments that proved troublesome for Whitehall no matter the — clearly recognised — long-term consequences.

It’s in that vein that PM Theresa May announced this week closer ties with the repressive Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, telling the world’s leading supporters of jihadist terror that they have no greater partner in “counter-terror” than Britain.

It’s all there for those who care to look and laid out in detail most notably by Mark Curtis, whose work informs John Ellison’s excellent three-part review of the topic which concludes in the Star today.

Yes, Saudi Arabia is involved in proxy wars, but with Britain’s hand on its shoulder it’s perhaps not acceptable to admit that in polite company.

18 thoughts on “British Prime Minister opposes Foreign Secretary telling truth on Saudi Arabia

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  3. Saturday 10th
    posted by Lamiat Sabin in Britain

    Proxy wars accusation causes diplomatic upset

    BORIS JOHNSON was criticised by his own party yesterday after he accused Saudi Arabia of abusing Islam to further its position in “proxy wars” — shortly before starting a diplomatic tour of the Middle East.

    Mr Johnson’s predecessor Sir Malcolm Rifkind scathingly claimed that the “jury is out” on whether Mr Johnson would remain in his position after coming too close to the truth for comfort.

    He also chastised him for being “completely in conflict” with official foreign policy, and No 10 chimed in to say that Mr Johnson’s statement does not represent the official government stance.

    Saudi Arabia is the world’s most prolific buyer of British-made weaponry and war vehicles, according to Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT).

    MPs have long called on the suspension of British arms sales to the oil-rich power, which are being used in its war against poorer neighbouring country Yemen.

    Tory grandee Mr Rifkind added that PM Theresa May’s appointment of Mr Johnson had been a “gamble” and he might be more “comfortable” in another role.

    He said: “As a foreign secretary you can’t be a celebrity.”

    Labour shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said: “If that is his genuine view, he needs to explain why he ordered his MPs to vote against Labour’s calls in October to suspend support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, until a lasting ceasefire has been brokered and until alleged violations of international humanitarian law have been properly investigated.

    “The government cannot complain about Saudi Arabia’s military actions one minute, then continue selling it the arms to prosecute those actions the next.”

    Some Tory colleagues have leapt to the defence of Mr Johnson, even after his Downing Street drubbing.

    Housing Minister Gavin Barwell said: “It’s his job to set out the concerns that we have.”

    Tory backbencher Sarah Wollaston tweeted: “Boris was speaking the truth on proxy wars and it’s time for all parties in the region to end the sectarian bloodbath.

    “To proxy wars charge I’d add beheadings, judicial mutilations, torture, violation of women’s human rights through male guardianship, unfair trials, gross restrictions on free speech, rights of assembly and association, bombing civilians in Yemen.”

    Mr Johnson delivered a keynote speech at a major regional conference in Bahrain on Friday and will head to Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

    During her own visit to the Persian Gulf this week Ms May assured Saudi King Salman of “her commitment and that of her government to enhancing and strengthening this relationship,” a spokeswoman said.


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