Category: migration

Liberal journalism feeds from the trough of intolerance, racism & hate

By Daniel Margrain

 

Those who have been following the career of the flamboyant political showman and president-elect Donald Trump, whose heavy-handed approach to demonstrators at his rallies and outrageously racist remarks many are familiar with, might be surprised to learn that similar comments, albeit hidden under the cover of liberal respectability, have gone largely unnoticed within media circles.

Nine years before the widespread condemnation of Trump’s remarks, Douglas Murray, associate director of the Henry Jackson Society, a neoconservative organisation financed by CIA money laundered through U.S supported private foundations and which has links to U.S and European far-right groups, echoed Trump when, in an admittedly less demagogic fashion, he argDouglasmurray.jpgued for the banning of Muslim immigration into Europe. Murray has also defended the use of torture by Western intelligence agencies.

The role call of pro-war Blairites within the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) who sit on the Political Council of the Henry Jackson Society, include Margaret Beckett, Hazel Blears, Ben Bradshaw, Chris Bryant and Gisela Stuart, while the BBC regularly give air time to Murray and fellow liberal-left commentators like pro-war David Aaranovitch and Alistair Campbell on mainstream political discussion and debating programmes such as Question Time, This Week, Today and Daily Politics.

Another commentator the BBC likes to do business with on a regular basis, is columnist Melanie Phillips. An avowed Zionist who writes for immigrant baiting the Mail and Murdoch’s Times, Phillips, claimed in a recent article for the latter, that activists opposed to a man who appointed an antisemite, white supremacist and misogynist as one of his senior advisers, were the real racists.

Phillips has form in relation to her attempts to whip-up fears and divisions. After the previous U.S election, for example, former UK diplomat, Craig Murray quoted Phillip’s’ incitement to religious hatred:

“Romney lost”, Phillips said, “because, like Britain’s Conservative party, the Republicans just don’t understand that America and the west are being consumed by a culture war.”

Phillips continued:

“In their cowardice and moral confusion, they all attempt to appease the enemies within. And from without, the Islamic enemies of civilisation stand poised to occupy the void…With the re-election of Obama, American now threatens to lead the west into a terrifying darkness.”

One might think that leading figures within the political and media corporate establishments – particularly on the liberal-left of the spectrum – would be keen to distance themselves from the likes of Phillips and the Henry Jackson Society who talk up the Jihadi threat. On the contrary, both the hierarchy within the PLP who sit on the Political Council of the HJS as well as ostensibly liberal-left political commentators, are not remain silent in relation to Phillip’s and Murray’s casual racism, but they regularly cite the Henry Jackson Society when commenting on Islamic affairs, even though the organization acts as a front for the security services via the Quilliam Foundation.

The fact that among the elite, it is not seen as a conflict of interest that a stated impartial news broadcaster like the BBC regularly cites a think tank whose role, in return for tax payers money, is to publicly denounce Muslim organisations, is extremely revealing. That the Quilliam Foundation operates in collaboration with Pegida UK whose head is the infamous former English Defence League street-fighting fascist, Tommy Robinson, further undermines the credibility of the nations state broadcaster.

It’s also revealing that establishment figures within the hierarchy of the PLP, their Blairite wing Progress, and Labour friends of Israel – all of whom complain about the alleged infiltration of left wing elements within the party – are willing to align themselves with fascists and Islamophobes. Le Pen, Marine-9586.jpgBut as the general public have become increasingly wise to the bogus modus operandi of the British state and it’s liberal media echo-chambers who promote fear and hatred of Muslims, new fears and hatreds are needed to replace them. Hence, the current fear is Russia.

Russophobia & the normalization of fascism

With the recent publication of their Manual of Russophobiathe aim of the Henry Jackson Society is once again to brainwash the British public – this time into believing a revamped cold war narrative predicated on the myth that Russia poses a threat to Western civilization as the justification to keep the industrial-military complex rolling along. The HJS-produced hate manual – which will be cited by pro-war groups of Conservative and New Labour Progress MPs as a way of ramping-up military confrontation with Russia – was released on the same day the head of MI5 gave an interview to the Guardian about the “Russian threat”.

The unsubstantiated claims made against Russia and the covert form of racism of the likes of Murray and Phillips et al are rarely, if ever, challenged in mainstream and corporate media circles. To my knowledge, apart from Craig Murray, not a single prominent commentator has alluded to Phillips’ and Douglas Murray’s Islamophobia and racism. This, I suspect, is because they are widely seen by the metropolitan elite, of which they are a part, as commentators who espouse liberal-democratic values. By contrast, the working class and openly racist Robinson, is widely regarded as the unacceptable face of fascism which explains why his much less frequent media appearances have mainly been limited to radio broadcasts.  .

The format of debate and discussion programmes are such that hateful views are not properly debated or challenged by journalists and broadcasters. This was the case for example, when the  far-right fascist French MEP, Marine Le Pen appeared on the November 13 edition of the BBCs Marr programme, a decision that was presumably sanctioned by the BBCs incumbent Director General, Tony Hall.

Another example was the sympathetic treatment the BBC afforded to the former BNP president, Nick Griffin. In 2009, Griffin appeared on the BBC’s flagship political discussion programme, Question Time even though a) the Standards Board for England’s description in 2005 that the BNP is Nazi was “within the normal and acceptable limits of political debate”, and b) that the European Parliament’s Committee on racism and xenophobia described the BNP as an “openly Nazi party”. When asked in 1993 if the party was racist, its then deputy leader Richard Edmonds, who has been convicted for racist violence, said, “We are one-hundred per cent racist, yes.”

Prior to his appearance on the programme, Griffin expressed delight with the decision of the BBC to have granted him a major political platform with which to air his party’s views. These views went largely unchallenged by the other guests on the show that included Labour’s Jack Straw. It’s worth remembering that Straw insisted that female Muslim constituents visiting his constituency office in Blackburn remove their veils. He also claimed that Pakistani men saw white girls as “easy meat”.

At the time of Griffin’s appearance on Question Time, the BBC attracted an audience of almost 8 million viewers, three times its average. Following the publicity generated by Griffin’s appearance, the Daily Telegraph revealed the resultsNick griffin bnp from flickr user britishnationalism (cropped).jpg of a UK Gov opinion poll which indicated that 22 percent of British people would “seriously consider” voting for the BNP and that 9,000 people applied to join the party after the programme aired. Two years before the Question Time appearance, Griffin had generated a significant amount of publicity following the controversy surrounding Oxford universities decision to allow him a public platform to address students at the universities campus.

These examples counter the notion that it’s a legitimate course of action for racists and fascists to be given a media platform to air their views on the spurious grounds that not to do so would impinge on their right to free speech. By allowing these kinds of views to go unchallenged in the manner described, effectively gives confidence to racists and fascists everywhere. As one commentator on Twitter succinctly put it in relation to Andrew Marr’s approach to Le Pen:

You let a racist say they’re not racist without a proper challenge, you let a million racists watching think they are also not racist

The appearance on the BBC of Oxbridge-educated Griffin was presumably sanctioned by the then BBC Director General, Mark Thompson who was himself educated at one of two of Britain’s elite educational establishments – Oxford and Cambridge. Griffin, who graduated in law, told the Guardian that he admired Thompson’s “personal courage” by inviting him. Nicholas Kroll, then director of the BBC Trust – an organization that supposedly represents the interests of the viewing public – was also educated at Oxford. At the time of writing, at least three of the 12 members of the government-appointed trustees, were educated at either Oxford or Cambridge and the majority have corporate, banking and finance backgrounds.

Despite the unrepresentative nature of the BBC and the media and the political elites attempts at normalizing fascism, the notion that fascist sympathies are rooted within the British establishment has not been widely recognized by the general public, even though last July, British royalty were shown giving Nazi salutes as part of a home movie, or that Prince Harry dressed up as a Nazi two weeks before Holocaust Memorial Day. The problem for the elites is not that these relationships exist, rather the concern is the possibility that dissidents within the media will shine a light on them. As Craig Murray put it:

“It says a huge amount about the confidence of the royal family, that they feel able to respond to their Nazi home movie with nothing other than outrage that anybody should see it…. The royal family is of course only the tip of the iceberg of whitewashed fascist support.”

Fascist political-media culture

Fascist ideology is the bedrock on which our political and media culture is based. The reality is liberal-establishment organisations and think-tanks like the Henry Jackson Society, Quilliam Foundation and MigrationWatch UK in alliance with the media, give political expression to the largest established political parties. It’s the right-wing elements within these parties who use neoliberalism as a cover for racist-based justifications for arguing either for British withdrawal from the EU on the one hand, or on the other, for the implementation of greater neoliberal reforms dekas a precondition for maintaining the countries continued membership within it.

These factors explain why the establishment give far-right groups and their intellectual liberal mouthpieces of the likes of David Aaranovitch, Melanie Phillips and Douglas Murray the oxygen of publicity they need to promulgate war and racism and thereby to perpetuate and legitimize the agendas of the British security services and, by extension, the military arm of the state.

The role played by the liberal commentariate is an essential part of the functioning of the modern liberal democratic state which transcends party political lines. Both the ‘left’ and ‘right’ are prepared to use false and contradictory racist-based arguments in order to whip up divisions within society for crude, opportunistic short-term electoral gain. Under the New Labour government of Tony Blair, for example, Gordon Brown opened up the UK labour market to potentially millions of workers from the Accession 8 (A8) countries that comprised the former Soviet Bloc as the basis for restoring Britain’s economic status against a backdrop of sustained industrial decline.

British jobs for British workers

Brown did this to address Britain’s demographic problems in terms of its ageing population as well as to fill existing skills gaps. However, by the time he had taken over the reigns of power from Blair, he began using the racist language of division by emphasizing the need to secure “British jobs for British workers”. This was after oil refinery workers in 2009 protested against their replacement by foreign workers that he – Brown – encouraged. Short-term electoral interests encourage politician’s to play the race card which does not necessarily correspond with those of their paymasters in the boardrooms of the corporations whose primary concern is to secure the most plentiful, skilled and cheap workers possible.

In pure economic terms, immigrants make a positive contribution, not least because the state has been spared the considerable expense of educating and training them. Political leaders know this and that is precisely why the shrill talk deployed at elections is invariably at odds with the policies they actually implement when in office. That, in turn, is why it is so easy for the bigots within racist parties like UKIP and the BNP to expose the hypocrisy of the mainstream parties while also providing organisations like the Henry Jackson Society and MigrationWatch UK with the cover for pursuing a racist agenda of their own.

Exploiting voters concerns

Too readily, those at the top are quick to exploit voters concerns about the supposed threat that immigration poses in terms of undermining ‘social cohesion’. But they do this so as to engender a sense of division to make it easier for them to rule over everybody. When tensions arise from time to time, it’s those at the bottom who are routinely condemned by the media for their prejudice and bigotry, whereas the more significant racism which emanates from the policies of those at the top who foment it, goes virtually unnoticed.

It’s not my intention to absolve working class racists of their actions, but rather to point out that the more significant forms of racism is formed in the corporate and media boardrooms, think-tanks and elite political sphere indicative of ruling class power. Although this racism is given political expression in the form of scare stories almost daily in the gutter press of the Sun, Daily Mail and Daily Express that perpetuate them, it’s not restricted to these tabloids. The Chair of MigrationWatch UK, Sir Andrew Green, for example, is regularly granted a media platform in order to push an anti-immigrant agenda, albeit a subtle one.

Similarly, the likes of Douglas Murray, David Aaranovitch, Melanie Phillips and Toby Young who newspaper proprietors and TV executives consistently employ to espouse their views, do a great deal to distill the more overt expressions of racist scare stories so as to appeal to the realms of their middle and upper middle class viewers and readers. It’s deemed irrelevant by corporate executives that the ‘journalists’ they employ proffer spurious and deliberately misleading information, simply that they give their demographic what they think they want to hear and read to increase their customer base and so boost their profits in order to satisfy the demands placed on them by their advertisers.

And that, I submit, is hardly the foundation on which to build a civilized, multi-cultural and inclusive society. The liberal media and political Guardian commentariate who claim to be in favour of this kind of society and who were in a state of incredulous denial following Trump’s election victory, continue to blame the result on everybody and everything but their own complicity.

Whether it’s the perceived stupidity of white racists, misogynists, misguided women, or any other form of identity politics, the notion that the success of Trump was a symptom of the metropolitan elites inability to report honestly on the relevant issues the electorate faced, is simply regarded by the liberal media herd as inconceivable. Donald Trump may be an oaf and a racist, but fundamentally are his values really much different to a corporate-media-political elite that attempts to shape how we think and act on a daily basis resulting from a systematic culture of false propaganda, misrepresentations and lies?

 

The hidden hands that feed racism

By Daniel Margrain

Those who have been following the flamboyant political showman, Donald Trump, whose heavy-handed approach to demonstrators at his rallies and outrageously racist remarks many are familiar with, might be surprised to learn that similar comments, albeit hidden ostensibly under the cover of liberal respectability, have gone largely unnoticed within media circles. Nine years before the widespread condemnation of Trump’s remarks, Douglas Murray, Associate Director of the Henry Jackson Society, echoed Trump when, in an admittedly less demagogic fashion, he argued for the banning of Muslim immigration into Europe.

Murray, who heads the avowedly neoconservative and CIA-funded organization that has links to the US and European far right, has also defended the use of torture by Western intelligence agencies. One might think that leading figures within the political and corporate media establishments – particularly on the liberal-left of the spectrum – would be keen to distance themselves from such a right-wing organization. On the contrary, both the hierarchy within the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) and political commentators not only cite the Henry Jackson Society when commenting on Islamic affairs, but actually embrace it as well.

The role call of pro-Syria bombing Blairites within the PLP who sit on the Political Council of the Henry Jackson Society include Margaret Beckett, Hazel Blears, Ben Bradshaw, Chris Bryant and Gisela Stuart, while the BBC regularly give air time to Murray on mainstream political discussion and debating programmes like Question Time, This Week, Today and Daily Politics. The organization also acts as a front for the security services via the Quilliam Foundation think tank whose role, in return for tax payers money, is to publicly denounce Muslim organisations and, with the collaboration of the neo-fascist, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (AKA Tommy Robinson who heads Pegida UK and was formerly the head of the racist and fascist English Defence League), talk up the Jihadi threat. It’s extremely revealing that establishment figures within the hierarchy of the Labour Party who have in the recent past complained about the alleged infiltration of left wing elements within the party, are willing to align themselves with racists and fascists.

The racist outlook of Murray et al and the means to promote it within media circles are far from unique and rarely, if ever, challenged. Former UK diplomat, Craig Murray quoted the “darling of the Mail and the BBC”, Melanie Phillips’ incitement to religious hatred:

“Romney lost because, like Britain’s Conservative Party, the Republicans just don’t understand that America and the west are being consumed by a culture war. In their cowardice and moral confusion, they all attempt to appease the enemies within. And from without, the Islamic enemies of civilisation stand poised to occupy the void…With the re-election of Obama, America now threatens to lead the west into a terrifying darkness.”

To my knowledge, apart from Murray, not a single prominent commentator alluded to Phillips’ Islamophobia and racism.

Another example was the sympathetic treatment the BBC afforded to the ‘doyen of British fascism’, the BNPs Nick Griffin. In 2009, Griffin appeared on the BBC’s flagship political discussion programme, Question Time despite the fact that the Standards Board for England’s 2005 description of the BNP as Nazi was “within the normal and acceptable limits of political debate”. The European Parliament’s Committee on racism and xenophobia described the BNP as an “openly Nazi party”. When asked in 1993 if the party was racist, its then deputy leader Richard Edmonds, who has been convicted for racist violence, said“We are 100 percent racist, yes.”

Prior to his appearance on the programme, Griffin expressed delight with the decision of the BBC to have granted him a major political platform with which to air his party’s views. These views went unchallenged by the other guests on the show that included Labour’s Jack Straw, who had subsequently insisted that female Muslim constituents visiting his constituency office in Blackburn remove their veils and claimed that Pakistani men saw white girls as “easy meat”. At the time of Griffin’s appearance on Question Time, the BBC attracted an audience of almost 8 million viewers, three times its average. Following the publicity generated by Griffin’s appearance, the Daily Telegraph newspaper revealed the results of a UK Gov opinion poll which indicated that 22 percent of British people would “seriously consider” voting for the BNP and that 9,000 people applied to join them after the programme aired.

Many of the individuals who were directly responsible for overseeing Oxbridge-educated Griffin’s appearance – including BBC director-general, Mark Thompson – had themselves been educated at one of two of Britain’s elite educational establishments – Oxford and Cambridge. Griffin, who graduated in law, told the Guardian newspaper that he admired Thompson’s “personal courage” by inviting him. Nicholas Kroll, then director of the BBC Trust – an organization that supposedly represents the interests of the viewing public – was also educated at Oxford. At the time of writing, at least three of the 12 members of the government-appointed trustees, were educated at either Oxford or Cambridge, while the remainder have a background in either law, business or economics. Two years before the Question Time appearance, Griffin had generated a significant amount of publicity following the controversy surrounding Oxford universities decision to allow him a public platform to address students at the universities campus.

Despite the links the establishment has to fascism, the notion that fascist sympathies are rooted within the high echelons of the former has not been widely recognized within public discourse, even though last July, the British royal family were shown giving Nazi salutes as part of a home movie. The problem for the elites is not that these links exist, rather the concern is the possibility that the media will shine a light on these relationships.

As Craig Murray put it:

“It says a huge amount about the confidence of the royal family, that they feel able to respond to their Nazi home movie with nothing other than outrage that anybody should see it…. The royal family is of course only the tip of the iceberg of whitewashed fascist support.”

Fascist ideology is the bedrock on which our political and media culture is deeply embedded. The reality is right-wing establishment think-tanks like the Henry Jackson Society and MigrationWatch UK use racist based arguments around the issue of immigration as as their justification for arguing either for, on the one hand, British withdrawal from the EU or, on the other, for the implementation of greater neoliberal reforms as a precondition for maintaining the countries continued membership within it. This, in turn, provides the intellectual echo chamber for the racist UKIP and BNP as well as the ultra right-wing factions within both of the main political parties.

What this illustrates is the contradictory nature immigration plays as part of the function of the liberal democratic state within capitalism which transcends party political lines. Both the official ‘left’ and ‘right’ are prepared to use false and contradictory arguments around the issue of immigration in order to whip up divisions within society for naked opportunistic short-term electoral gain. Under the New Labour government of Tony Blair, for example, Gordon Brown opened up the UK labour market to potentially millions of workers from the Accession 8 (A8) countries that comprised the former Soviet Bloc as the basis for restoring Britain’s economic status against a backdrop of sustained industrial decline.

Brown did this as the means of addressing Britain’s demographic problems in terms of its ageing population as well as to fill existing skills gaps. However, by the time he had taken over the reigns of power from Blair, he began using the racist language of division by emphasizing the need to secure “British jobs for British workers”. This was after oil refinery workers in 2009 protested against their replacement by foreign workers that he – Brown – encouraged. Short-term electoral interests encourage politician’s to play the race card which does not necessarily correspond with those of their paymasters in the boardrooms of the corporations whose primary concern is to secure the most plentiful, skilled and cheap workers possible.

In pure economic terms, immigrants make a positive contribution, not least because the state has been spared the considerable expense of educating and training them. Political leaders know this and that is precisely why the shrill talk deployed at elections is invariably at odds with the policies they actually implement when in office. That, in turn, is why it is so easy for the bigots within racist parties like UKIP and the BNP to expose the hypocrisy of the mainstream parties while also providing organisations like the Henry Jackson Society and MigrationWatch UK the ammunition they need as their cover for pursuing a racist agenda of their own.

Too readily, those at the top are quick to exploit voters’ concerns about the supposed threat that immigration poses in terms of undermining ‘social cohesion’. But they do this so as to engender a sense of division to make it easier for them to rule over everybody. When tensions arise from time to time, it’s those at the bottom who are routinely condemned for their prejudice and bigotry in the media, whereas the more significant racism which emanates from the policies of those at the top who foment it, goes virtually unnoticed.

It’s not my intention to absolve working class racists of their actions, but rather to point out that the more significant forms of racism is formed in the corporate and media boardrooms, think-tanks and elite political sphere indicative of ruling class power. Although this racism is given political expression in the form of scare stories almost daily in the gutter press of the Sun, Daily Mail and Daily Express that perpetuate them, it’s not restricted to these tabloids. The Chair of MigrationWatch UK, Sir Andrew Green, for example, is regularly granted a media platform in order to push an anti-immigrant agenda, albeit a subtle one.

Similarly the likes of Douglas Murray and Toby Young who newspaper proprietors and TV executives consistently employ to espouse their right-wing views, do a great deal to distill the more overt expressions of racist scare stories so as to appeal to the realms of their middle and upper middle class viewers and readers. It’s deemed irrelevant by corporate executives that the ‘journalists’ they employ proffer spurious and deliberately misleading information, simply that they give their demographic what they think that want to hear and read to increase their customer base and so boost their profits in order to satisfy the demands placed on them by their advertisers.

And that, I submit, is hardly the foundation on which to build a civilized, multi-cultural and inclusive society. Donald Trump may be an oaf and a racist, but is he really much different to the elite that rule us?

 

The slow strangulation of Yemen

By Daniel Margrain

Often overshadowed by the proxy war being fought in Syria, is the nine month old regional conflict in Yemen which ostensibly pits Sunni Saudi Arabia against Shia Iran. British-made ‘smart’ bombs dropped from British-built aircraft both of which continue to be sold in vast numbers to the Saudi’s have contributed to thousands of civilian deaths in Yemen.

Jeremy Corbyn’s peace narrative predicated on his public denunciations of the governments’ shady dealings with the Saudi Arabian regime have helped expose British involvement in Yemen even though the UK Government insists that it is not taking an active part in the military campaign in the country. However, it has issued more than 100 licences for arms exports to Saudi Arabia since the State began bombing Yemen in March 2015.

Meanwhile, a Freedom of Information request revealed that a so-called ‘memorandum of understanding’ (MOU) between Home Secretary Theresa May and her Saudi counterpart Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef was signed secretly during the former’s visit to the Kingdom last year. The purpose of the MOU is to ensure that, among other secret deals, the precise details of the arms sales between the two countries is kept under wraps.

What is the extent of Britain’s role in Yemen? In September, Saudi Arabia bombed a ceramics factory in Sana’a close to the Yemeni capital which Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch confirmed was a civilian target. Fragments of a British made missile that had been built by Marconi in the 1990s had been recovered from the scene.

With the British providing technical and other support staff to the Saudi led coalition, and UK export licenses to Saudi Arabia said to be worth more than £1.7 bn up to the first six months of 2015, the UK government’s role in the conflict appears to be to augment the support the U.S is giving to the Saudi-led coalition.

The United States, alongside the UK, has bolstered the Saudi-led coalition’s airstrikes in Yemen through arms sales and direct military support. For example, last month, the State Department approved a billion-dollar deal to restock Saudi Arabia’s air force arsenal. The sale included thousands of air-to-ground munitions and “general purpose” bombs of the kind that, in October, the Saudi’s used to target an MSF hospital.

On the 15 December, 19 civilians were killed by a Saudi-led coalition raid in Sana’a. According to analysis by eminent international law experts commissioned by Amnesty International UK and Saferworld, by continuing to trade with Saudi Arabia in arms in the context of its military intervention and bombing campaign in Yemen, the British government is breaking national, EU and international law.

The lawyers, Professor Philippe Sands QC, Professor Andrew Clapham and Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh of Matrix Chambers, conclude in their comprehensive legal opinion that, on the basis of the information available, the UK Government is acting in breach of its obligations arising under the Arms Trade Treaty, the EU Common Position on Arms Exports and the UK’s Consolidated Criteria on arms exports by continuing to authorise transfers of weapons and related items to Saudi Arabia within the scope of those instruments, capable of being used in Yemen.

They conclude that:

“Any authorisation by the UK of the transfer of weapons and related items to Saudi Arabia… in circumstances where such weapons are capable of being used in the conflict in Yemen, including to support its blockade of Yemeni territory, and in circumstances where their end-use is not restricted, would constitute a breach by the UK of its obligations under domestic, European and international law….The UK should halt with immediate effect all authorisations and transfers of relevant weapons pending an inquiry” (emphasis added).

According to Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK:

“This legal opinion confirms our long-held view that the continued sale of arms from the UK to Saudi Arabia is illegal, immoral and indefensible. Thousands of civilians have been killed in Saudi Arabia-led airstrikes, and there’s a real risk that misery was ‘made in Britain’.”

With a seven day ceasefire in Yemen broken on December 16, Saudi-led airstrikes have continued throughout the Christmas period as have British and American arms exports to Saudi Arabia that give rise to them. In a standard response to accusations of British complicity, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office blandly stated:

“The UK is satisfied that we are not in breach of our international obligations. We operate one of the most vigorous and transparent arms export control regimes in the world…

…We regularly raise with the Saudi Arabian-led coalition and the Houthis the need to comply with international humanitarian law…we monitor the situation carefully and have offered the Saudi authorities advice and training in this area.”

Oliver Sprague, Amnesty International’s arms trade director, added:

“There is a blatant rewriting of the rules inside the (Foreign Office). We are not supposed to supply weapons if there is a risk they could be used to violate humanitarian laws and the international arms trade treaty – which we championed. It is illogical for (Foreign Secretary) Philip Hammond to say there is no evidence of weapons supplied by the UK being misused, so we’ll keep selling them to the point where we learn they are being used.”

Journalist Iona Craig has investigated 20 Saudi-led airstrike sites in Yemen in which a total of around 150 civilians have been killed. In an interview on the December 16 edition of Channel 4 News, Craig asserted that during these strikes, which she said are a regular occurrence, the Saudi’s targeted public buses and a farmers market.

Remnants from a bomb that Craig pulled from a civilian home that killed an eighteen month old baby as well as a 4 year old and their uncle, were American made. Although Craig stated that she had not personally uncovered evidence of British made weapons, Amnesty International is nevertheless unequivocal in its damning assessment of the illegality of Britain’s role.

The fact that, as Craig stated, there are twice as many British made aircraft in the Saudi Royal air force then there are in the British Royal air force, and that the British train the Saudi air force as well as supplying it with its weapons, is by itself, tantamount to Britain being complicit in the deaths of innocent Yemeni civilians.

Craig emphasized that she has seen evidence which suggests that civilian casualties in Yemen were the result of deliberate targeting rather than “collateral damage”. Among the numerous cases the journalist has examined there have been no Houthi positions or military targets in the vicinity – a contention which she claims is supported by the pro-coalition side. The consequences of this policy for the civilian population within the poorest country in the region, has been catastrophic with an estimated 2 million people having been displaced from a nation that’s on the brink of completely falling apart.

At least 5,600 civilians have been killed in the war torn country since March. A UN study in September found that 60 per cent have died from Saudi-led aerial bombardments in the Houthi-controlled north of the country. Journalist Sharif Abdel Kouddous who was based in this region commented:

“Everything has been hit, from homes to schools, restaurants, bridges, roads, a lot of civilian infrastructure. And with that, of course, comes a lot of the suffering.”

What is unfolding alongside the death and destruction in Yemen is a massive humanitarian crisis, exacerbated by the complicity of the U.S and UK, in which 21 million people – nearly double the number of people who need aid in Syria – are in need of humanitarian assistance. Consequently, levels of malnutrition have skyrocketed in the country with more than 60 per cent of Yemeni’s, according to the UN, close to starvation.

Sharif Abdel Kouddos describes the humanitarian situation unfolding in Yemen as a consequence of the imposition of a blockade on Yemen by Saudi Arabia and the coalition on a country, which:

“… comes under the rubric of a Security Council resolution—an arms embargo on the Houthi leadership….In September, 1 percent of Yemen’s fuel needs entered the country. Fuel affects everything—access for food delivery, electricity. So, Yemenis are slowly being strangled to death.”

The wider implications for British and U.S tacit support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen and the region in general is one of huge instability. Apart from the Yemeni context alone in which millions are being displaced and suffering from the onset of famine, is the broader question relating to how this situation is likely to bleed into the already ongoing refugee crisis in Europe.

But also, the conflict in Yemen involves a variety of regional players with opposing economic and geo-strategic interests – many of whom are using smaller factions to fight their battles on their behalf. These include mercenary groups from places as far away as Colombia and Panama as well as the involvement of Moroccan and Sudanese troops, all of whom are operating within one country as a part of a regional conflict that has all the makings of a much bigger one.

 

The Foundations For War In Syria Have Already Been Laid

By Daniel Margrain

In my previous post (September 7), I highlighted how the West, with the support of the mass media, is softening the public up for yet another illegal military intervention in a sovereign state, this time in Syria. The propaganda was ramped up following the recent repugnant Sun front page and middle spread.

Although the war hasn’t official started, the flames that are fanning it certainly have. Professor Michel Chossudovsky has argued that the foundations and pretext for war were laid over four years ago on 17-18 March, 2011 following demonstrations in a small border town of 75,000 inhabitants, on the Syrian Jordanian border called Daraa.  Chossudovsky highlights Israeli and Lebanese news reports that outline the same version of events which is as follows:

Seven police officers and at least four demonstrators in Syria have been killed in continuing violent clashes that erupted in the southern town of Daraa last Thursday.

…. On Friday police opened fire on armed protesters killing four and injuring as many as 100 others. According to one witness, who spoke to the press on condition of anonymity, “They used live ammunition immediately — no tear gas or anything else.”

…. In an uncharacteristic gesture intended to ease tensions the government offered to release the detained students, but seven police officers were killed, and the Baath Party Headquarters and courthouse were torched, in renewed violence on Sunday.(Gavriel Queenann, Syria: Seven Police Killed, Buildings Torched in Protests, Israel National News, Arutz Sheva, March 21, 2011, emphasis added)

The Lebanese news report, quoting various sources, also acknowledges the killings of seven policemen in Daraa: They were killed  “during clashes between the security forces and protesters… They got killed trying to drive away protesters during demonstration in Dara’a” 

The Lebanese Ya Libnan report quoting Al Jazeera also acknowledged that protesters had “burned the headquarters of the Baath Party and the court house in Dara’a”  (emphasis added)

These news reports of the events in Daraa confirm the following:

1. This was not a “peaceful protest” as claimed by the Western media. Several of the “demonstrators” had fire arms and were using them against the police:  “The police opened fire on armed protesters killing four”.

2. From the initial casualty figures (Israel News), there were more policemen than demonstrators who were killed:  7 policemen killed versus 4 demonstrators. This is significant because it suggests that the police force might have been initially outnumbered by a well organized armed gang. According to Syrian media sources, there were also snipers on rooftops which were shooting at both the police and the protesters.

Chossudovsky asserts:

“What is clear from these initial reports is that many of the demonstrators were not demonstrators but terrorists involved in premeditated acts of killing and arson….The Daraa “protest movement” on March 18 had all the appearances of a staged event involving, in all likelihood, covert support to Islamic terrorists by Mossad and/or Western intelligence. Government sources point to the role of radical Salafist groups (supported by Israel).Other reports have pointed to the role of Saudi Arabia in financing the protest movement.

Clearly, the violence was not part of the Arab Spring in Egypt and Tunisia depicted by the media because, unlike those two countries,’ Assad garners considerable popular support among his people illustrated by the large rally in Damascus on March 29, which, according to Reuters, was attended by “tens of thousands of supporters”.Even the The New York Times in June 2011 and USA Today in October 2011 respectively, conceded that Assad commands wide popular support in his country.

But there are other indications that the hawks are pushing for an all out war in Syria..According to a report in the Washington Post, the US has been “intervening” in the Syrian civil war, in measurable and significant ways, since at least 2012—most notably by arming, funding and training anti-Assad forces::

At $1 billion, Syria-related operations account for about $1 of every $15 in the CIA’s overall budget, judging by spending levels revealed in documents obtained from former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

US officials said the CIA has trained and equipped nearly 10,000 fighters sent into Syria over the past several years — meaning that the agency is spending roughly $100,000 per year for every anti-Assad rebel who has gone through the program.

In addition to this, the Obama administration has engaged in crippling sanctions against the Assad government, provided air support for those looking to depose him, incidentally funneled arms to ISIS, and not incidentally aligned the CIA-backed Free Syrian Army with Al Qaeda.

All this must be seen against a backdrop in which Rupert Murdoch is pushing hard for war as former UK Ambassador, Craig Murray’s article, initially outlined in February 2013 and reiterated again yesterday (September 7), makes clear. According to sources Murray has unearthed, “Israel has granted oil exploration rights inside Syria, in the occupied Golan Heights, to Genie Energy. Major shareholders of Genie Energy – which also has interests in shale gas in the United States and shale oil in Israel – include Rupert Murdoch and Lord Jacob Rothschild. This from a 2010 Genie Energy press release:

Claude Pupkin, CEO of Genie Oil and Gas, commented, “Genie’s success will ultimately depend, in part, on access to the expertise of the oil and gas industry and to the financial markets. Jacob Rothschild and Rupert Murdoch are extremely well regarded by and connected to leaders in these sectors. Their guidance and participation will prove invaluable.”

“I am grateful to Howard Jonas and IDT for the opportunity to invest in this important initiative,” Lord Rothschild said. “Rupert Murdoch’s extraordinary achievements speak for themselves and we are very pleased he has agreed to be our partner. Genie Energy is making good technological progress to tap the world’s substantial oil shale deposits which could transform the future prospects of Israel, the Middle East and our allies around the world.”

So it would appear that the real reason why the hawks seem determined to rain bombs down on the Syrian people is because Israel wants (illegally) to seek to exploit mineral reserves in the occupied Golan Heights for which Rothschild and Murdoch have major controlling interests.

Political Commentator and “raving Zionist looney”, Charlie Wolf when asked by the host of a BBC Radio 5 programme how he would solve the refugee crisis, said: “We should get in there now and Bomb them! Kill them all! Kill them all!” At least he’s honest and transparent. The unmanned drone strikes that killed two British citizens, is a portent of what’s to come.

Equality And Social Justice – Cameron Style

The mainstream media today confirmed the Tories commitment to equality and social justice with their announcement of their plans to ensure that UK citizens aged 18-22 are (in line with anti-EU discrimination law), to be exempt from the same rights to tax credits, child benefit and housing benefit as their immigrant counterparts.

Government lawyers have stated: “Imposing additional requirements on EU workers that do not apply to a member state’s own workers constitutes direct discrimination which is prohibited under current EU law” (1).

So, apparently, in order to be compliant with EU law, UK citizens within the 18-22 age group must forgo these benefits on the basis that it’s discriminatory because immigrants are not entitled to them.

But instead of raising the bar by insisting that both UK citizens and immigrants within this age range be entitled to benefits on an equal basis, the Tories have decided to lower it by insisting that neither group are entitled to anything. In other words, equality in the gutter as opposed to equality at the dinner table.

The reason so many immigrants – many of whom risk their lives –  want to come here is because of the perception that the UK is a relative economic powerhouse. However, any cuts to benefits will not deter people who are primarily motivated by the need to improve the lives of themselves and their families as a result of perceived greater work opportunities this country allegedly offers.

The government have done nothing to dispel myths that the UK is a land of milk and honey. This would suggest that their plan to cut welfare across the board in order to adhere to EU law was planned. As blogger Mike Sivier put it: “The migrant situation is a crisis of the Tories’ own making and they are using it to hammer their own fellow citizens” (2).

So what next do the government have in the pipeline you might reasonably ask?

The Tories are ideologically opposed to the welfare state. This latest move is, I would suggest, part and parcel of their intention to get rid of it altogether by stealth. It’s a remarkable state of affairs when our only hope out of this morass appears to be Jeremy Corbyn.