Yemen’s calamity – blood on Britain’s hands

a-shameful-relationshipThe Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) has published a new report, A Shameful Relationship: UK Complicity in Saudi State Violence by David Wearing. It exposes how the UK’s supply of weapons to Saudi Arabia for its devastating bombing of Yemen systematically violates international law.

UK-made aircraft, bombs and missiles have been used in the bombing and our Government continues to offer training and support to the Saudi regime. The report states

One year into the intervention in the civil conflict in Yemen by a Saudi-led military coalition, 6,400 people have been killed, half of them civilians, including 900 children, and more than 30,000 people have been injured…. The large majority of these casualties have been caused by Coalition air strikes in a campaign where combat aircraft supplied by the United Kingdom have played a significant role.”

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The epicentre of the Arab spring isn’t Libya or Syria; it’s Palestine

Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, Syria, rumblings in Morocco and Algeria (and eventually Saudi?) even spreading south into sub-Saharan Africa such as Uganda, but the centre of this upturning of the old despotic order is Palestine. The tectonic shift in the latter has been little noticed, but is more momentous than any of the others. Palestine for half a century has been in thrall to US-Israeli domination, but without riots in the streets or even a new intafada that is now changing dramatically. Even hardened cynics were shocked at how far the Palestinian negotiators accommodated the ever-increasing and ever more humiuliating Israeli demands. But a new page is now opening, the most hopeful for decades. Continue reading

Libya: regret and reservations

crowds in Benghazi holding a giant libyan flagThe mood in the Commons was sober, worried, passive and resigned – not welcoming the dawn of a new era in the Middle East, but fearful that this could be the start of a third, long Western war against a Muslim state.  A bloodbath in Benghazi had been avoided in the nick of time, a strong UN resolution had been obtained, and the Arab League of 23 Member States was on side. But the nagging anxieties kept showing through – uncertainty about the outcome, fears about mission creep, concerns that the support of the Arab League was wobbling, and complaints about selectivity in the application of moral principles. Continue reading

Above all, Labour should refuse bipartisan support for Tories on Libya (UPDATED)

Libya posed a real dilemma for Labour and the Left. On one hand, we want to support the Libyan revolution, to offer any possible protection to the civilian population and are bound therefore to be sympathetic to much if not all of the UN Security Council resolution, as Darrell Goodliffe argued here. On the other, with the on-going disastrous Western presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are keen not to embark on a third disaster, and, as Owen Jones argues, there were many good reasons to keep out. The speed with which the Arab League’s support seems to have evaporated (especially in light of its importance to the UN resolution) adds significantly to the case for the opposition. Continue reading