“Jeremy Corbyn is perfectly right to relate this week’s Manchester terrorist atrocity to British foreign policy in the Middle East.”
A Moseley reader draws attention to the thoughts of Simon Jenkins in the Guardian today. A summary:
Jenkins asserted that Jeremy Corbyn is perfectly right to relate this week’s Manchester terrorist atrocity to British foreign policy in the Middle East.
He reminded all that Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron clearly stated that they were spending soldiers’ lives toppling regimes in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya at enormous expense in order to “to prevent terrorism in the streets of Britain”.
In the Andrew Neil programme this evening Corbyn added that Boris Johnson, the Foreign Affairs Select Committee – and MI5 had also expressed these views ‘on record’!
Their aim was to suppress militant Islam but Jenkins points out that when their intervention clearly led to an increase in Islamist terrorism, we are entitled to agree with Corbyn that it has “simply failed”.
We committed armed aggression against sovereign peoples who had not attacked us
Regimes were indeed toppled. Tens of thousands died, many of them civilians every bit as innocent as Manchester’s victims. Terrorism has not stopped.
Militant Islamists are indeed seeking to subvert the west’s sense of security and its liberal values. But the west used the language of “shock and awe” in bombing Baghdad in 2003, giving the current era of Islamist terrorism a cause, a reason, an excuse, however perverted.
Jenkins ends: “Islamist terrorism is related to foreign policy. However hateful it may seem to us, it is a means to a political end. Sometimes it is as well to call a spade a spade”.
Media 45: BBC did NOT report US judgement that Ahmad was not ‘interested in or involved with what is commonly known as terrorism’
It has been announced (very quietly) that Babar Ahmad has been released. No reference to the eleven years of solitary confinement and isolation in ten different prisons – or Judge Hall’s favourable assessment of Ahmad’s character and motivation.
In a 2012 press release, campaigners seeking the release of Babar Ahmad recorded that nine years ago , officers from the Metropolitan Police broke down the door of Babar Ahmad’s house in a pre-dawn anti-terror raid.
Despite the Commissioner for the Metropolitan Police admitting in the High Court that his officers also carried out “a serious, gratuitous and prolonged attack” on Babar in the manner he described, a jury found all four officers charged with the assault ‘not guilty’.
He was then extradited to the US which claimed Ahmad’s alleged crimes fell under their jurisdiction because a website he ran in support of the Afghan Taliban used a server based in the US.
From the 171 page transcript of the judgment – making several other points – well worth reading:
Judge Janet Hall said in her ruling “There was never any aid given by these defendants to effectuate a plot. By plot, I mean a terrorist plot …neither of these two defendants were interested in what is commonly known as terrorism . . .
“This is not an operational case. I believe the government agrees that there were never any plots even discussed by these defendants. There was never any aid given by these defendants to effectuate a plot. By plot, I mean a terrorist plot. A plot to go out and purposely harm civilians.
What these defendants did is that they gave material support, or they sought to raise and get material support, they wanted material support to flow to the Taliban at a time when the Taliban was protecting Osama bin Laden”.
Her investigation was hampered, as she said in her ruling:
“There either are no transcripts or the transcripts were not turned over for various security reasons, or because the UK government wouldn’t turn them over to the United States, and they, therefore, could not turn them over to the defense.
“What we do have, and which the government properly turned over given they finally got access to them, are the summaries by law enforcement of what was said by this witness in various debriefings”.
In Judge Hall’s summing up:
“I should find first that Mr. Ahmad has no criminal history personally. He has never been convicted of a crime. But the guidelines call for him to be treated as if he’s in a Category VI, which typically is a person who has committed, at a minimum, three and up, could be more, serious felonies . . .
“I don’t think it’s right to act on what I would call an unfounded fear that a defendant might do something, like a terrorist act, and therefore we should just lock that person up forever . . .
“Maybe I’m influenced by the fact that I believe that at various times, the U.S. supported the rebels against the Russians in Chechnya, that we spoke about how the Chechens were not terrorists at the time they were trying to expel the Russians, which is the time that Mr. Ahmad was doing what he was doing on the web with respect to Chechnya.
“There’s nothing on the web to extol the terrorist acts that the splinter group engaged in in ’03. And I don’t find that Al-Qaida was any part of the Chechen rebels”.
Several posts on this site about Britain’s ‘special friend’ have referred to the United States of America. Today seeing a barrage of news accumulating about another special friend, Saudi Arabia, aka Britain’s biggest arms market last year, an overview of the last quarter follows.
At the closing session of a two-day Arab League summit held in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt’s president el-Sisi announced that some Arab leaders had agreed to form a united military force to combat the “challenges” the region is facing. A high-level panel would work under the supervision of Arab chiefs of staff to work out the structure and mechanism of the force: roughly 40,000 elite troops, backed by jets, warships and light armour.
At the time, a Saudi-led coalition was already pressing ahead with air strikes against positions of Houthi fighters and their allies in Yemen. The United States voiced support for the intervention and sent two warships to assist with the naval blockade, but it was criticised by the European Union, Russia, and the United Nations. Saudi Arabia had been moving heavy equipment and artillery near its border with Yemen, following the Houthis seizure of the central city of Taiz.
A month later FT View described this ongoing military action as ‘an increasingly aggressive proxy war with Iran in the Middle East, backing Sunni regimes and trying to counter Iranian influence in Syria, Iraq and Bahrain. Several months of war in Yemen have already claimed more than 2,000 lives. The FT writer’s advice:
“[T]he Saudi leadership should think again. In Yemen, Riyadh has given a brutal demonstration of its air power and marshalled a range of Arab nations to back its effort. But air strikes have not weakened the Houthis and a political settlement remains beyond reach. Nor has Saudi Arabia much cause for celebration in its fight against Iran across the region. The kingdom can claim some victories, notably the return of a military-backed government in Cairo. But its lavish funding of proxies has not yielded stability in Syria, Iraq or Libya”.
On May 10th the FT Review reported that the UN’s humanitarian co-ordinator for Yemen said that “indiscriminate bombing” contravened international humanitarian law, but Riyadh says the naval blockade was ordered by the legitimate Yemeni government of President Abd Rabbu Hadi — in exile in Riyadh — and cited a UN Security Council resolution calling for an arms embargo against the Houthis.
The humanitarian crisis in Yemen has been described as “catastrophic” by the UN with 20 million civilians – 80% of the population – in need of aid. In May and June there were accounts of the suffering caused by the Saudi-led blockade of the country in place since late March, which has nearly exhausted:
- dwindling supplies of fuel, staples such as rice, medicines and other basic goods are so scarce in north Yemen that prices have risen as much as tenfold, according to Oxfam
- fuel shortages, which pose a grave threat to Yemen’s water and electricity supplies, as well as to its transport network.
On June 7th the BBC reported that peace talks between Yemen’s Houthi rebels and the government will take place in Geneva on 14 June. UN chief Ban Ki-moon called on all parties to enter the talks in good faith and without pre-conditions. Its Middle East Editor, Sebastian Usher, says that the government – now mostly in exile in Saudi Arabia – and the rebels have confirmed that they will attend the peace negotiations.
But as Owen Jones says, after giving a devastating account of brutality and injustice, such allies “are up to their necks in complicity with terrorism, but as long as there is money to be made and weapons to sell, our rulers’ lips will remain stubbornly sealed”.
Note to new readers: this article was written in an ironical spirit, using the terms that the less admirable media use. However in one case at least it has been taken seriously and caused some concern . . .
Prime ministers and presidents from across Europe and the Middle East joined more than a million French people to march in the streets of Paris, grieving for the 17 people killed in terrorist attacks by Muslims this month..
A concerted and effective collective stance such as this could do more – eventually – to bring social, environmental and economic benfits to their peoples than all their parliamentary manouevrings. .
The UK Missile Defence Centre (MDC) was established by the Ministry of Defence in 2003 following signature of a Memorandum of Understanding with the US for the conduct of collaborative ballistic defence studies.
Largely funded by the Chief Scientific Adviser’s S&T research programme (Defence Science and Technology Laboratory), the MDC – in collaboration with its industry partners – announced a programme to explore the potential of the Royal Navy’s destroyers to conduct Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence missions.
Six months later, building on the Ministry of Defence’s relationship with the US Missile Defense Agency, the MDC also agreed to take part in a trial which will test the Sampson radar, part of the Sea Viper missile system, in detecting and tracking ballistic targets.
In September Sea Ceptor missiles were ordered to complement the longer range Sea Viper system (left) on the Type 45 destroyers, providing the Royal Navy with a full range of missile systems to defeat current and future threats.
As no other states appear to be interested in attacking Britain and the current UK threat level for international terrorism is ‘SUBSTANTIAL’, according to MI5 – is taxpayers’ money being completely wasted on expensive missile systems?