Saudi war on Yemen, and Britain

This video says about itself:

27 June 2017

At least nine civilians, including two women, have been killed and a number of others wounded in Saudi Arabia’s airstrikes on residential buildings in Yemen’s central province of Ma’rib.

According to Yemen’s Arabic-language al-Masirah television network, the aerial aggression occurred on Sunday, when Saudi warplanes bombed homes in Ale-Massad neighborhood in Sirwah district. Earlier in the day, Saudi jets had bombed Sirwah eight more times.

The airstrikes and the killing of Yemeni civilians took place as Yemenis were celebrating Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

Separately, the Yemeni navy has announced that its forces managed to target a warship belonging to the Saudi-led coalition waging war on Yemen off the coast of Mukha port city in Ta’izz Province.

A military source told the Arabic-language al-Masirah television network that the warship was targeted on Sunday night with an appropriate weapon, without elaborating.

The source noted that the warship was carrying out hostile acts in the territorial waters of Yemen when it was targeted.

The warship is the eleventh vessel hit by the Yemeni army and popular committees since the start of the operations conducted in reaction to the Saudi aggression. More than 10 war boats were also targeted during the period.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Saudi arms ruling: Britain’s arms export controls are worthless

Tuesday 11th July 2017

Oh, do pull the other one, m’learned lords. What kind of a sick joke do you call this?

For all the legal niceties and nuances, the court judgement yesterday on Britain’s billions of arms sales to Saudi Arabia is a green light to the blood-soaked Gulf despotism to continue its murderous assault on the people of Yemen.

Over 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen since March 2015 when the Saudis began their brutal bombing campaign, using British warplanes, British bombs, British training, British military advice and British diplomatic cover.

The majority have been killed in Saudi air strikes. Yet more suffer from the other effects of that bombing and the other military actions taken by the Saudis and their craven cronies.

Almost the whole population of the country, 24 million people, are at risk of starvation and are reliant on food aid from under-resourced foreign agencies.

To make things worse, that food is going to run out. That’s because the Saudis have been targeting clean water facilities leading to 300,000 reported cases of cholera since the end of April.

Over 1,700 people have died from the disease, which should be easily preventable but given the absolute desperation in Yemen and the lack of basic resources is not.

Aid workers say that the extra food needed to keep cholera victims alive could exhaust their supply by September.

So those merely hungry will be pushed to the brink of starvation, those already starving will die.

The situation is so dire because the Saudis and their murderous coalition have imposed a blockade on the country, strictly controlling what goes in.

Add in the tight-fisted nature of the so-called “international community” and humanitarian agencies have little to work with.

This is what yesterday’s judgement means. It is not a bland legal point; it is the lives of literally millions of starving people.

Millions who over the past few years have had their lives upended. Their homes, hospitals, schools, markets, mosques, workplaces destroyed. Their children literally blown to bits.

The judgement however reinforces some crucial points about this country, its relations with the Saudi kingdom and its willingness to flog arms to all and sundry.

At a very basic level it shows again that our arms export controls are not fit for purpose, unless that purpose is to fuel wars around the world.

And it shows that the Establishment cares nothing for the lives of innocents when it can get into bed with some oil-rich despots.

Not least when those despots are Saudi Arabian despots, ruling over a country formed with the vital assistance of — surprise! – British arms exports to a murderous thug, Ibn Saud, whose conquest of the peninsula cost the lives of 400,000 people. It’s been 100 years, why spoil a good thing?

As shown in sickening and comprehensive detail by the historian Mark Curtis, British foreign policy has been and remains a malign influence in the world, stirring up conflict and great bloodshed in order to achieve cynical aims.

Only a radical transformation can end this and begin to repair the extensive damage caused by our rules.

That radical transformation cannot include quibbling about selling arms to a blatantly murderous regime, but must centre on achieving real peace throughout the world.

MOST AMERICANS ARE OBLIVIOUS TO STARVATION CRISES OVERSEAS “Twenty million people are at risk of starving to death in the crisis-afflicted countries of NigeriaSouth SudanSomalia and Yemen. A staggering 85 percent of Americans don’t know that, or are only dimly aware.” [HuffPost]

8 thoughts on “Saudi war on Yemen, and Britain

  1. Monday 17th
    posted by Morning Star in Features

    Campaign Against Arms Trade will continue to oppose the arms trade in the courts and in the streets, writes JOE LO

    LAST Monday morning, Lord Chief Justice Burnett and Mr Justice Haddon-Cave handed down their judgement, ruling that the government’s decision to continue selling arms to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen is “lawful.”

    The reaction of those of us in the court, and those outside with “Stop Arming Saudi” banners, was one of disappointment but also of determination.

    In the days since, messages of support and of anger from all around the world have flooded in. Our sense of determination has only grown.

    We, the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), are already pursuing an appeal and will fight this dangerous verdict every step of the way.

    In this, we know we have the support of the British public. Opinion polling shows that 62 per cent oppose arms sales to Saudi Arabia and 66 per cent have an unfavourable view of the Saudi regime.

    In contrast, just 11 per cent agree with the government that arms sales to the Saudis are acceptable and just 14 per cent have a favourable view of Saudi Arabia.

    In Parliament too, support for our campaign is widespread, as every party with MPs opposes arms exports to Saudi Arabia except the Conservatives and the DUP (although individual DUP MPs have opposed the exports).

    So when International Trade secretary Liam Fox stepped up to defend the court’s decision in Parliament on Monday, he was faced with a critical crowd.

    To start off, Labour’s shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner argued that the indiscriminate use of air strikes, the destruction of a country’s means of food production and the targeting of civilians are all classed as war crimes.

    He then pointed out that the civil servant at the head of the government’s own arms export control body recommended that arms sales to Saudi Arabia be suspended.

    The SNP’s Alison Thewlis followed, highlighting that despite the cholera crisis engulfing the country, Yemenis are scared to go and stay in Abs cholera treatment centre as it was bombed in August 2016 by the Saudi-led coalition, killing 19 people, and they are scared it will be attacked again.

    “How many hospitals protected by international humanitarian law will the Secretary of State allow be hit by Saudi Arabia before he stops selling it bombs?” she asked.

    Finally, after Plaid Cymru and Lib Dem MPs took their turns to lambaste Fox, Labour’s Andy Slaughter asked why the government is continuing to promote arms sales to a country where 157 people, including children, were executed last year and where four young men remain at imminent risk of execution by crucifixion.

    Fox replied that the government had raised its human rights reservations with the Saudis. However, almost as he spoke news came out from Saudi Arabia. Six more people had been executed that very day.

    The overwhelming evidence of Saudi brutality may even be starting to melt the government’s resolve if anonymous sources quoted by Rachel Sylvester in The Times are to be believed.

    According to her column: “A growing number of senior Conservatives and Foreign Office staff are wondering whether the UK has been naive in its relationship with the kingdom.”

    Tories such as Ruth Davidson, Michael Gove and Boris Johnson have all criticised Saudi Arabia in the past, although Johnson has continued to cosy up to them regardless, and many more must privately recognise the immorality of arms sales to the regime.

    Any softening of the government’s position will be fought tooth-and-nail by the arms industry’s well-resourced and well-connected lobbyists.

    If Fox’s conscience ever kicks in, who better to bring him round than Oliver Waghorn, the man who was his special adviser until Fox resigned in disgrace in 2011, and is now BAE Systems’s “head of government relations” (lobbyist-in-chief)?

    And in a party which still reveres Margaret Thatcher, what better influencer could there be than Charles Powell, who was Thatcher’s parliamentary secretary and is now a BAE Systems adviser?

    CAAT will not just be fighting the arms trade in the courts and Parliament but also on the streets, peacefully disrupting the arms dealers that ply their terrible trade.

    In September, the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) is coming to London’s Excel Centre and we will be joining activists from across the country at daily protests.

    The DSEI arms fair is organised by the Department for International Trade’s arms export promotion branch (the Defence and Security Organisation) which has so far declined to release the guest list for 2017. However, the last time DSEI took place in 2015, the militaries of 61 nations were invited.

    Of these, 14 (including Saudi Arabia) were on the Democracy Index’s list of authoritarian regimes; four (including Saudi Arabia) were identified by the British government as having wide-ranging human rights concerns and six were currently at war.

    We expect a similar guest list at this year’s fair. The enforcers of brutal and destructive regimes will be ferried around London by British government officials.

    They will drink champagne at luxury receptions and spend their citizens’ taxes on weapons bought to repress them and possibly to attack their neighbours.

    We will be there to show those living under these regimes that resistance is global and that arms fairs can be shut down.

    We hope Morning Star readers will join us.

    Joe Lo is a researcher for Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT). You can follow CAAT on Twitter on @CAATuk.


  2. Pingback: Stop British-Saudi war crimes in Yemen | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Saudi royal air force butchering Yemeni farmers | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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