A Parliamentary debate on the war in Yemen Thursday resulted in ridiculous scenes. A Tory minister with the Foreign Office claimed of a vital UN report that he “hadn’t received it officially” even as he waved a copy in his hand. This resulted in mocking laughter from the opposition benches.
But of course the report is no laughing matter. A UN panel of experts, in a report leaked Wednesday, has found that the Saudi-led bombing campaign against Yemen has involved “widespread and systematic” attacks on civilian targets.
Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest buyers of British-made weapons, and successive Labour and Conservative governments have considered it as a top ally. So it’s no surprise to find a government minister defending alleged Saudi war crimes in this way.
Read the rest over at MEMO.
On the continuation of the Israeli-Saudi counter-revolutionary alliance:
The alliance is become so open, that other commentators have started to take notice.
Last year, in the midst of the brutal Israeli war against Gaza the editor of Middle East EyeDavid Hearst called it an “alliance forged in blood”. He pointed to reports that Israel had specified a “role for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the demilitarisation of Hamas” – that is that Saudi and Emirati funds would be “used to rebuild Gaza after Hamas had been defanged”.
Taking the Saudi lead, other Gulf tyrants too have forged ahead with commercial, intelligence and diplomatic links with Israel. Investigative reporter Rori Donaghy in December revealed regular semi-covert flights on private jets between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv. And in February he detailed how an Israeli company had been contracted to install a huge spy system in the Gulf emirate.
In April, Robert Parry, the reporter who broke much of the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s, claimed that, drawing on an anonymous US source, the Saudis have given the Israelis $16 billion over the last two and a half years in order to cement this anti-Iranian alliance.
Read the rest over at MEMO.
My latest piece for Jacobin Magazine; on Yemen.
So if Iranian influence isn’t the overriding factor, what is really behind the Saudi war on Yemen? The former United Nations envoy to Yemen, who was responsible for negotiations in the country until recently, revealed that the warring factions were on the brink of a power-sharing deal just before the war began. The Saudi-led war on the country aborted those talks.
As Jamal Benomar told the Wall Street Journal, “When this campaign started, one thing that was significant but went unnoticed is that the Yemenis were close to a deal that would institute power-sharing with all sides, including the Houthis.”
According to an anonymous diplomat speaking to the Wall Street Journal, “the Saudis also intervened to prevent a power-sharing deal that would include the Houthis and that would give 30% of the cabinet and parliament to women.”
Hadi, on the other hand, came to power in an election in which he was the only candidate.
Read the whole thing here.
On recent events in Syria:
A March offensive led to the armed opposition capturing the city of Idlib, a north-western provincial capital. Although only a small city, this victory, and the subsequent occupation of Jisr al-Shughour on Saturday are significant, since they bring al-Qaeda closer to Lataqia, the coastal heartland of support for the regime.
Although supporters of the Syrian opposition have lauded this as a “liberation” of Idlib, it is clear that the assault was spearheaded by Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria. To say the least, this is a group in no way interested in democracy and human rights.
Read the rest over at MEMO.
On the Saudi war against Yemen:
Saudi Arabia is an absolutist monarchy which does not even have the pretence of fixed elections. The two regimes are very different in many ways, but similar in some key respects. Both are systematic human rights abusers. Although in rather different ways, both have religious fundamentalism at the heart of their state institutions. Both did their level best to destroy and hijack the democratic uprisings that broke out in the Arab world in 2011.
Both are fêted in Western capitals. And both invade surrounding countries and start wars of aggression – although Israel does this far more.
And so to Yemen, which Saudi Arabia, backed by other regional despots has just launched a murderous war against.
Read the whole thing over at MEMO.
I wrote about my take on Abdel Bari Atwan’s latest book on al-Qaida and discuss some of its themes:
The horrific doctrine and practices of bin Laden and his followers ensures that the popular appeal of al-Qaeda in the Middle East is always going to be limited at best. Add to that the defeat that al-Qaeda “central” (bin Laden and his small group did not originally name themselves “al-Qaeda,” but soon adopted the western-invented moniker when it because a byword for fear after September 2001) suffered in 2001 when America and its military allies invaded and bombed Afghanistan, destroying its bases, toppling its Taliban allies and forcing its leadership to flee to Pakistan.
Read the whole column over at MEMO.
My latest MEMO column. The permanent counter-revolution continues:
This is the same man who boasts to the western press about Jordan, Palestine and Yemen being “under our hegemony,” with the rule of his chequebook. Put aside that hypocrisy, as well as the open sectarian agitation for the moment and note how brazen this alliance now is.
The Israeli and and Saudi regimes find themselves in the same trench across the region.