Dutch army helps UAE war on Yemen

This November 2017 video says about itself:

150 children die every day in Yemen as Saudi Arabia has implemented a vicious bombing campaign and has blockaded the country from land, air, and sea. 7 million people are threatened by famine leading many organizations to say that what is happening in Yemen has the makings of a ‘genocide’.

From Stop wapenhandel (Stop the arms trade) in the Netherlands (translated):

UAE army elite unit involved in war in Yemen comes to train in the Netherlands

June 26, 2018 – The Presidential Guard of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a military elite unit that plays an important role in the war in Yemen, will participate next week in the Non-Conventional Threat (NCT) Europe event in Vught.(1) This event is organized in collaboration with the Dutch armed forces and takes place at its National CBRN Training Center.(2)

Stop Wapenhandel finds it incomprehensible that an army unit which participates in a war in which human rights are brutally violated is welcome in the Netherlands for military training.

The UAE‘s Presidential Guard is not just any army unit: it is the leading unit in the war that the Emirates are waging in Yemen as part of the coalition led by Saudi Arabia. According to the United Nations and human rights organizations, this coalition is committing war crimes on a large scale, eg, by bombing hospitals.

The humanitarian situation for the citizens of Yemen is disastrous, partly due to a sea blockade that leads to the first necessities of life and relief goods being unable to reach the country. Oxfam Novib warned earlier this month that millions of people in Yemen are threatened by food shortages and contagious diseases. The war cost the lives of more than 10,000 people, mainly ordinary citizens. For this reason, the Dutch government pursues a cautious arms export policy for countries involved in the war in Yemen.(3) A seriously cautious policy should also apply to training of soldiers who play an important role in this war.


(1) The NCT Europe event focuses on training for reactions and protections against the use of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons. The event will be opened by Inspector-General of the Armed Forces (IGK) Lieutenant General Hans van Griensven. In addition to training and lectures, there is a trade fair with various military and security companies. The organization of NCT Europe is in the hands of the Leiden IB Consultancy, which collaborates with the Ministry of Defense.

(2) It is not the first time that Defense has gone wrong in this way. In 2016, the Commander of the Naval Forces invited Saudi Arabia, the driving force behind the war in Yemen, to participate in the MAST arms fair in Amsterdam. In response to parliamentary questions, then Minister Hennis merely said that “bilateral contacts with the Saudi Arabian Navy” are independent of a restrictive arms export policy. The Dutch Socialist Party last week discussed the participation of the Presidential Guard in the Vught training in a parliamentary debate. Minister Blok would reply to this by letter.

(3) The Dutch government pursues a cautious arms export policy for countries involved in the war in Yemen, but refuses to proceed to a full arms embargo. For example, the export of SOTAS military communication systems for tanks to Saudi Arabia produced by Thales Netherlands is not completely stopped. The Abrams tanks in question are frequently used in Yemen. The government also issued a new permit last month for the export of radar equipment for a frigate for the Egyptian navy, despite the participation of this navy in the sea blockade of Yemen.

UAE ‘SUPPLYING ARMS’ TO MILITIAS IN YEMEN The United Arab Emirates is “recklessly” supplying militias waging war in Yemen with an array of advanced weaponry, according to an investigation published by Amnesty International. [CNN]

African turacos’ fossil ancestor in North America

This video from South Africa says about itself:

Knysna Loeries, Friday 2nd October 2015

Adult Knysna Loerie (Knysna Turaco) feeding with 2 juvenile birds in Paradise, Knysna. Notice the plumage difference between the adult & the youngsters.

From the University of Bath in England:

Tropical ‘banana eater’ birds lived in North America 52 million years ago

Unique fossil suggests these birds once lived outside the tropics

June 26, 2018

A fossil of an ancestor of modern tropical birds has been found in North America, proving they also used to live in the Northern Hemisphere, say scientists at the Milner Centre for Evolution at the University of Bath.

As many birdwatchers know, the largest number of bird species are found in the Southern Hemisphere, with many bird groups restricted to South America, Africa and Australasia — land masses that made up the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana.

However, Dr Daniel Field at the Milner Centre for Evolution, and Dr Allison Hsiang from The Swedish Museum of Natural History have shown that an early representative of a modern group of African birds called turacos called North America home 52 million years ago. The Latin name for turacos translates to “banana eaters” — a nod to their fruit-eating lifestyles.

Banana eaters are a group of around 24 species of brightly coloured medium-sized fruit-eating birds, found exclusively in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The fossil was first discovered in 1982 and studied ten years later. However, only now has the fossil been firmly placed in its evolutionary context.

The fossil skeleton not only shows that banana eaters formerly resided well outside of their present geographic range, but also that early banana eaters had long legs, suggesting they may have been ground dwelling.

Dr Daniel Field explained: “All the modern turacos live in trees and have relatively short legs suited for perching on branches.

“The fact that their ancestors had long legs indicates they most likely lived on the ground, suggesting that turacos may have moved into the trees much later.”

This finding ties in with Dr Field’s recent research into how birds transitioned to tree dwelling following the asteroid strike that killed the giant dinosaurs 66 million years ago.

Field and Hsiang, publishing their findings in the journal BMC Evolutionary Biology, used the fossil record and genetic data of modern birds to trace the evolutionary tree of life for these birds.

Dr Field added: “It’s a really exciting time to be studying bird evolution. Modern techniques allow us to study 3D scans of fossils in great detail, and sequence large amounts of genetic data.

“This fossil raises almost as many questions as it’s answered — why are the modern descendants of these birds now restricted to the tropics when they were previously found in the Northern Hemisphere too?

“We think changes in climate might be partly responsible for fluctuations in the distributions of these birds, but need to study this further.”