Posts Tagged ‘Riyadh’

Vanessa Beeley: Britain Doesn’t Have Any Good Intentions in the Middle East

December 15, 2017

In this clip from RT, Going Underground’s host Afshin Rattansi speaks to Vanessa Beeley, a British journalist, who has covered the war in Syria. He asks her about Theresa May’s condemnation of the blockade against Yemen, which is resulting in a terrible famine that is starving about half of the population or so. Surely this shows that Britain has good intentions in the Middle East.

In reply, Beeley states very clearly that she cannot agree that Britain has any good intentions in the Middle East. Britain tried to undermine the UN Resolution 2216, which condemned the blockade. Britain’s military industrial complex has profited immensely from arms sales to Saudi Barbaria, and British specialists were in the command and control centre in Riyadh helping select targets. She openly describes May’s gesture as ‘faux humanitarianism’.

I think this is part of a rather longer interview, which I intend to put up, in which she talks about how the British and western media is deliberately presenting a false image of the corruption in the NGOs operating in Syria. One of them, the Adam Smith something-or-other, was the subject of a Panorama documentary. This revealed that massive sums of money were being taken out of the organisation by Islamist terrorist groups, through the use of payments to fictional people on the payroll, and even people, who’d died.

Beeley described this as ‘a controlled explosion’. The media and political establishment couldn’t keep it secret, and so did a limited expose of what was going on in order to divert attention from corruption and atrocities committed elsewhere. Like in the White Helmets, who are lauded as non-partisan heroes, but in fact are as partisan as everyone else. They have saved people, who aren’t members of their organisation, but this is just occasional, if they happen to be there. They don’t put themselves out of the way to do it, as is claimed on mainstream TV. Moreover, a number of their members put up posts and Tweets praising the Islamists. So definitely not the whiter-than-the-driven-snow heroes we’ve all been told. Beely made the case in that longer video that this cover up is because the White Helmets are becoming a global brand. They’re branching out in South America, Brazil and the Hispanic nations.

As for the Adam Smith whatever, I’ve had suspicions of any organisation that puts up his name ever since the Adam Smith Institute emerged under the Thatcher. These were manic privatisers, who wanted the health service sold off and the welfare state destroyed. This Adam Smith organisation isn’t connected with them, but still, I’m suspicious. It looks far too much like another wretched free enterprise group come to implement western privatisation under the guise of humanitarianism. In which case, you can expect the same results free enterprise has had on Iraq, Libya, Algeria and the rest of the Arab world. And indeed the world as a whole. I think the government of Algeria, or one of the Arab states in the Maghreb had been pursuing a socialist economy, before the recession of the 70s/80. They then followed the trend and started privatising industry. This made matters even worse, poverty grew, and people started looking to the Islamists for aid. The American-mandated free enterprise policy in Iraq after the invasion resulted in 60 per cent unemployment. This is in a poor country. Ordinary Iraqis were actually better off materially under Saddam Hussein. Hussein was a monster, without question. But they had access to free healthcare, free education, and relatively secular society in which women enjoyed a high status. They could go out to work, and felt safe going home at night.

The invasion destroyed all that. Instead you had sectarian violence, which did not exist in Baghdad previously, or if it did, it was at a much lower level than under the western occupation. You had General MacChrystal running death squads against the Sunnis. Valuable state assets were privatised and sold to American multinationals, and tariff barriers torn down so that the world and especially the Chinese dumped all the stuff they couldn’t sell on the country, driving native Iraqi firms out of business.

You can find the same wretch story in Libya. Gaddafi was a monster, but as I’ve pointed out ad nauseam he did some good things for his country. They were the most prosperous country in Africa. Gaddafi gave his people free education and healthcare. Women had high status. He was not racist, and supported Black Africans from further south. He saw himself as an African leader, and did was he thought was best for the continent. This involved using the Islamists to knock off his rivals, both in Africa and the Arab world. But they were never allowed to recruit or attack his own country.

Now there are something like two parliaments in the country, the free education and healthcare is gone, and the Islamists are running riot. The women connected with his party have been raped, and Black Africans are savagely persecuted by the Islamists. Slavery has returned, with these barbarians selling them at auctions. And this is partly motivated by hatred of Blacks for benefiting from Gaddafi’s rule.

All the claims that these military interventions are for humanitarian reasons are a lie. They’re so western industry can get its grubby, blood-stained mitts on these countries’ precious industries and natural resources. Oh yes, and they’re to help the Saudis spread their own, viciously intolerant version of Islam, and Israel to destroy possible Arab rivals and threats in the region. Plus the fact that the American military-industrial complex loathes Arab nationalism, secularism and socialism with a passion as the next worst thing to Communism. And our European leaders, Cameron, Blair, Sarko and now Theresa May have been enthusiastic accomplices, even the ringleaders, of these assaults on independent, sovereign states.

For the sake of global peace, we need to kick May out and put Corbyn in. His work for disarmament and peace was recognised last week when the International Peace Bureau in Geneva awarded him the Sean McBride Peace Prize, along with Noam Chomsky and the All-Okinawa Committee against Henoko New Bridge. But this received almost zero coverage in the lamestream media.

General Smedley Butler was right was right: War is a racket. Or to put it another way, was is business, and under neoliberalism, business is good.

I’m sick of it. Brits of all faiths and none, of all races and varieties thereof are sick of it. Americans are sick of it. But it means big bucks to the arms manufacturers and the military-industrial complex. And so Obama, who now describes himself as a ‘moderate Republican’, increased the wars in the Middle East to seven. Trump, following the demands of AIPAC and the Christian Zionist lobby, wants to start a war with Iran, if Killary and the Democrats don’t push him into a military confrontation with Putin and the Chinese first.

The people fighting and dying in these wars are working and lower-middle class young men and women. Service people of immense courage and professionalism, whose lives should not be squandered for such squalid profiteering. Old-school Conservatives in the American armed forces despised the neocons around George Dubya as Chickenhawks. They were more than happy to send American forces into countries that had never directly threatened the US. But when it came to fighting themselves, they lacked the courage they expected in others. Bush and the others had all scarpered abroad during the Vietnam War. Generalissimo Trumpo had three exemption from national service during the Vietnam War. He claimed that he had growth in one of his feet that made walking difficult. Still didn’t stop him playing college basketball though.

During the Middle Ages, kings led their armies from the front. In ancient Germanic society, that was the prime function of kings. The Romans noted there were two types of kings in the barbarian tribes that later overran them. There were hereditary religious leaders, who acted as judges. And then there were elected kings, who took charge of the tribe’s armies. They were often elected only for a single campaign. And the Roman Empire itself basically arose through the seizure of supreme power by military dictators, like Julius Caesar and then Augustus. I think the last British general, who physically led his army into battle was in the 19th century.

Would our leaders be so keen on sending good, brave men and women to their deaths and mutilation, if they had to stand there and personally lead them into battle. Shouting like Henry IV, ‘Once more unto the breach, dear friends!’ If they personally had to put on the heavy, cumbersome battle armour, or wear hot and unpleasant chem suits in case of a gas attack. If they themselves had to feel some of the squaddies’ natural fear of suffering a hit, of seeing their friends and comrades die, or lose limbs and other organs. If they personally saw the civilian casualties, the ordinary men, women and children driven out of their homes, or killed as ‘collateral damage’. Dying and suffering from wounds, famine, disease. If they had to face the horrors that have scarred decent, strong women and men, leaving them mental wrecks. Sights no civilised person, whether in Britain, Damascus, Cairo, New York or wherever, should ever see.

No, of course they wouldn’t. They’d run screaming to their offices to get their spin doctors to find some bullsh*t excuse why they were too valuable to fight, er, things need doing back home, terribly sorry and so forth.

Saint Augustine said in his City of God that kingdoms without justice are giant robberies. It was true when he wrote in the 5th century AD, and it’s true now. Whatever the gloss put on it by the corporatists and the religious right.

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Counterpunch on Saudi Arabia’s Influence on British Foreign Affairs

June 6, 2017

Binoy Kampmark, one of the contributors to Counterpunch, has put up a very interesting piece on how the Saudis have managed to influence British foreign policy through a mixture of bribery, business connections and threats. He describes the very extensive gifts and consulting fees given to various Tory MPs, and notes the close connections Blair’s New Labour also cultivated with the head-choppers in Riyadh. May’s government has also profited massively from selling arms to Saudi Arabia to use in their war in Yemen. It’s why Philip Hammond, the Tory foreign secretary, decided to accuse the Iranians of being the principle sponsors of global terror.

But the regime has also used threats. When Blair threatened to investigate the corruption scandal surrounding BAE, the head of the Saudi national security council turned up in London to threaten another 7/7.

The situation is very different under Corbyn. Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry says she wants to conduct an international inquiry into Saudi atrocities in Yemen. This would mean suspending arms sales to the theocratic absolute monarchy. He makes the point that Thornberry is very much following Robin Cook’s stated intention of establishing an ethical foreign policy. Despite that, New Labour abandoned any sign of actually doing this once they got into power. Just as the abandoned the talk about stopping the privatisation of the NHS and the erosion of the welfare state.

But Thornberry means what she says, and this will terrify the Saudis, who will hope for a Tory victory.

Kampmark writes

‘The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia always knows when it’s onto a good thing. That particular “thing”, in the few days left before the UK elections, is the May government. That same government that has done so much to make a distinction between policy and values, notably when it comes to dealing with Riyadh.

The United Kingdom has been a firm, even obsequious backer of Saudi Arabia’s war against Yemen. In the traditional spoiling nature of British foreign policy, what is good for the UK wallet can also be good in keeping Middle Eastern politics brutal and divided. The obscurantist despots of the House of Saud have profited, as a result.

The Saudi bribery machine tends to function all hours, a measure of its gratitude and its tenacity. According to the register of financial interests disclosed by the UK Parliament, conservative members of the government received almost £100 thousand pounds in terms of travel expenses, gifts, and consulting fees since the Yemen conflict began.

The Saudi sponsors certainly know which side their bread is buttered on. Those involved in debates on Middle Eastern policy have been the specific targets of such largesse. Tory MP Charlotte Leslie was one, and received a food basket totalling £500.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond is another keen target of the Kingdom’s deep pockets, having shown a willingness to defend mass executions in the past. “Let us be clear, first of all,” he insisted after consuming the Kingdom’s gruel on why 47 people were executed in January 2016, “that these people are convicted terrorists.” Four of them, including Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, were political protesters as well, but terrorists come in all shades.’

‘Attempts to shine a strong, searing spotlight on corrupt practices, notably those linked to BAE, have been scotched, blocked or stalled. One such example, a chilling one given the recent spate of attacks on civilians in the UK, involved a disgruntled Prince Bandar, head of Saudi Arabia’s national security council, threaten Prime Minister Tony Blair with “another 7/7” should a fraud investigation into BAE-Riyadh transactions continue.

High Court documents in February 2008 hearings insisted that the Prince had flown to London in December 2006 to give Blair a personal savaging laced with ominous promise: stop the Serious Fraud Office investigation, or expect London to witness a terrorist inflicted bloodbath.’

‘The picture is not a pretty one when shoved into the electoral process. But then again, the May wobble and turn may well justify such a relationship on terms that Saudi security and power is preferable to other authoritarian regimes. These big bad Sunnis are the good Muslims of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Such splitting of hairs doesn’t tend to fly well from the stump and the Tories might well attempt to keep things as quiet as possible. The Saudis, on the other hand, will be wishing for business as usual, praying that the threat of a Corbyn government passes into the shadows of back slapping Realpolitik.’

The message here is that the Saudis are not our friends. They are ruthless, self-interested butchers and despots. They have corrupted our politics, and have no qualms of sending terrorists to kill and maim innocents when it serves their purpose. Just like they did on 9/11.

It’s time their malign influence was firmly brought to heel. Saudi terrorism must be stopped. And a very good start is Jeremy Corbyn’s stated policy of stopping British arms sales to them.

Vote Labour on June 8. They’ll be tough on terrorism, and tough on the causes of terrorism.

The Young Turks on the Destabilisation of Syria and Treason by American Generals

January 5, 2016

This is another fascinating and chilling report by The Young Turks on origins of the war in Syria. The veteran American journalist, Seymour Hersh, has had an article published in the London Review of Books discussing the origins of the conflict. He has revealed that it began back in 2006, when Bush’s government decided that they were going to destabilise Assad’s government by creating sectarian divisions and fomenting rebellion amongst the disaffected and dissident groups in Syria, such as the Kurds and Sunnis. They also backed the government in exile of a previous Syrian vice-president, then resident in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, and supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. They also began funnelling guns and money to these groups via the CIA, through Britain, Turkey and Libya. The centre for the shipments in Libya was Benghazi, where the American embassy was attacked and the ambassador murdered by Islamist terrorists.

In 2013 the Joint Chiefs of Staff had changed their views about the desirability of supporting the Syrian rebels. They found out that the main groups benefiting from the arms shipments were Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS. The al-Nusra front are al-Qaeda. These groups were also being funded by the Saudis. They were also concerned that the Turks had also co-opted the scheme, and were no longer funding moderate opponents of the Assad regime, but also turning a blind eye to the funding and training within Turkey of the radical Islamists. As for the moderates themselves, increasingly they didn’t exist. The rebels, who were trained and armed by the Americans and their allies, overwhelmingly defected to the radicals once they were in Syria. As for the Free Syrian Army, a German journalist, Jurgen Todenhofer, who toured ISIS held territory, states that they were regarded by Daesh as a joke.

The American generals took these concerns to Obama, and recommended that the attempts to overthrow Assad should be stopped. Obama disagreed and ordered them to carry on with the existing policy. So they attempted to undermine and circumvent it by giving outmoded and second-rate weaponry to the rebels, including arms that hadn’t been used since the Korean War and soviet military equipment. They also shared intelligence about the extremists with countries, known to be sympathetic to Syria, whom they knew would share it with Assad. The Turks’ presenter, Cenk Uygur, forthrightly calls this policy treason. It’s direct disobedience by the American generals of their commander-in-chief, the US President. He states that it runs against American democracy. It might be the right decision, but to act against the decision of the elected head of state is wrong. As for Obama’s Syrian policy, this has the bi-partisan support of the Republicans as well as the Democrats. There is a very revealing quote from one of the generals involved in these machinations, where he states that if the American people could see the intelligence they were receiving daily on Syria, ‘they’d go ballistic’.

This adds more information on why Syria is the mess it is, and whose decision it was to destabilise the regime in the first place. And Britain shares some of that responsibility through aiding the Americans in the funding and equipping of these rebel groups.

Uygur also shows how hypocritical the Republican rhetoric about Obama’s supposed ‘Muslim’ sympathies are. A large number of Americans really do think Obama is a Muslim, as well as a Socialist, Communist and Nazi. But it was Bush who started the policy of funding the radical Islamic Muslim Brotherhood.