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posted by janrinok on Thursday June 09 2016, @11:28PM   Printer-friendly
from the as-if-we-hadn't-guessed dept.

After repeated claims that Britain's reloading of the Saudi Arabian Royal Air Force's bomb bays does not mean Britain is at war with Yemen – where its ordnance are dropped – the government finally conceded that it is.

In a tense exchange with parliamentarians in a debate on the British sale of arms to Saudi Arabia, Alan Duncan, the government's Special Envoy to Yemen, said: "We are in conflict for a reason".

Duncan's admission officially confirms of what every sensible person has known since March 2015, when Saudi Arabia intervened in Yemen's civil war with an air campaign made possible by British planes and British bombs, and for which UK arms companies made £2.8bn in revenues in the first year alone.

To use the words of the UN envoy to Yemen, the "humanitarian catastrophe" precipitated by the Arab world's richest country bombing its poorest has been almost total.

[...] while NGOs and MPs in several parliamentary committees have been sharp in their criticism of the government for continuing to fuel this war, the government does nothing, meekly claiming over and over again there is no evidence of Saudi war crimes in Yemen and that Britain regularly "seeks assurances" from Saudi Arabia that it is not committing those crimes.

In March, the UK director of Human Rights Watch told the arms export control committee that he has personally handed evidence to the Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, complete with GPS coordinates, of Saudi air strikes on civilian targets. This month Amnesty International sent photographs of British-made BL-755 cluster bombs partially exploded in recent months discovered in farmland near the village of al-Khadhra in northern Yemen.

[...] The government is wriggling because, under Britain's own arms export laws, it is illegal for it to sell arms to a state that is at a "clear risk" of committing international humanitarian crimes. Acknowledging the chorus of evidence of Saudi war crimes in Yemen would be tantamount to admitting Britain's complicity in them.

The truth is that the arms trade of a handful of private arms companies with Saudi Arabia is simply off limits to our country's democratic apparatus as well as its civil society.

Source: The Independent


Original Submission

Related Stories

U.S. President to Visit Saudi Arabia; Arms Sales Expected 51 comments

Ahead of the US president's visit to Saudi Arabia, a series of multi-billion-dollar arms deals have been outlined. The previous US administration suspended some supplies because of human rights concerns.

Deutsche Welle

When President Trump arrives in Riyadh this week, he will lay out his vision for a new regional security architecture White House officials call an “Arab NATO,” to guide the fight against terrorism and push back against Iran. As a cornerstone of the plan, Trump will also announce one of the largest arms-sales deals in history.

Behind the scenes, the Trump administration and Saudi Arabia have been conducting extensive negotiations, led by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The discussions began shortly after the presidential election, when Mohammed, known in Washington as “MBS,” sent a delegation to meet with Kushner and other Trump officials at Trump Tower.

After years of disillusionment with the Obama administration, the Saudi leadership was eager to do business. “They were willing to make a bet on Trump and on America,” a senior White House official said.

[...] The most concrete part of the idea is a mammoth U.S. arms package for Saudi Arabia that Trump will also announce in Riyadh. Final details are still being worked out, but officials said the package will include between $98 billion and $128 billion in arms sales. Over 10 years, total sales could reach $350 billion.

The sales include huge upgrades for the Saudi army and navy to include Littoral Combat Ships, THAAD missile defense systems, armored personnel carriers, missiles, bombs and munitions, officials said. Some of the production and assembly could be located in Saudi Arabia, boosting MBS’s project to build a Saudi domestic defense industrial capability. But most of the items would be built by American defense contractors.

The Washington Post

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  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 09 2016, @11:40PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 09 2016, @11:40PM (#357555)

    The Party Has Finally Admitted We Have Always Been at War in Yemen

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Subsentient on Friday June 10 2016, @12:20AM

    This is all new to me as an American. I really hate this world, and most importantly, the cruelty of its inhabitants.

    --
    Instead of getting bogged down in the infuriating details, focus on the unquestionably terrible big picture. -The Onion
    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 10 2016, @12:42AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 10 2016, @12:42AM (#357575)

      as an American. I really hate this world, and most importantly, its inhabitants.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Mr Big in the Pants on Friday June 10 2016, @12:47AM

      by Mr Big in the Pants (4956) on Friday June 10 2016, @12:47AM (#357578)

      It shouldn't be. Your government has supported the Saudis for some time. And let's not get started on helicopters and missiles to Israel shall we....

      I doubt anything will happen. The UK government has been accelerating rapidly towards a police state for some time. I imagine the Saudi way of doing things appeals greatly to the current Tory party in power. I would feel sorry for the UK but they sort of voted for them and you get what you vote for (undemocratic first past the post system helped though).

      But I agree. The shaved ape experiment that is humankind seems hell bent on making itself extinct as per usual.

      I bet Earth will barely notice....

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by butthurt on Friday June 10 2016, @01:01AM

      by butthurt (6141) on Friday June 10 2016, @01:01AM (#357583) Journal

      a couple of titbits I found on the Web:

      Britain sold more weapons to Saudi Arabia than to any other country. Saudi Arabia is also the biggest US arms market and buys more American arms than British [...]

      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/22/saudi-arabia-surge-arms-imports-middle-east [theguardian.com]

      On October 20, 2010, the U.S. State Department notified Congress of its intention to make the biggest arms sale in American history - an estimated $60.5 billion purchase by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

      https://web.archive.org/web/20110814154242/http://www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/ShowPage.asp?DRIT=1&DBID=1&LNGID=1&TMID=111&FID=376&PID=0&IID=5177&TTL=Arms_for_the_King_and_His_Family:_The_U.S._Arms_Sale_to_Saudi_Arabia [archive.org]

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by purple_cobra on Friday June 10 2016, @11:03AM

        by purple_cobra (1435) on Friday June 10 2016, @11:03AM (#357738)

        Unfortunately because we're dependent on oil, we can't just cut off all ties with Saudi Arabia; we're also dependent on cheap trinkets so we can't cut off all ties with China, either. I think it's far, far too late to be looking for solutions to this now. We should have been throwing money at developing alternatives to oil since the 70s but oil has served us well and while we know it'll run out, that won't be for aaaaaaaaaaaaaaages yet. I wouldn't mind betting that no big, nation-state kind of money will be put into developing alternatives to oil until 10 minutes before we're due to slurp the last gallon out of the earth.
        We also have pretty strong indications that Daesh are funded, at least in part, by Saudi Arabia, in an effort to spread Wahabist Islam throughout the region and the world by force. Cut off funding to SA, which in turn would cut funding to Daesh, may leave them at each others' throats instead of butchering their way across the middle-east, though it would undoubtedly result in yet more civilian casualties. There's been far too much death already.

        • (Score: 2) by butthurt on Friday June 10 2016, @07:25PM

          by butthurt (6141) on Friday June 10 2016, @07:25PM (#357981) Journal

          Unfortunately because we're dependent on oil, we can't just cut off all ties with Saudi Arabia [...]

          Well, the North Sea hasn't entirely [scotsman.com] run dry yet. Also, if it's all right to purchase from Iran [wikipedia.org], Iraq [wikipedia.org] and Libya [nytimes.com] again [reuters.com], perhaps we can. Or perhaps Saudi Arabia will decide [wikipedia.org] to close the spigot and see what happens. [theislamicworkplace.com]

          I wouldn't mind betting that no big, nation-state kind of money will be put into developing alternatives to oil until 10 minutes before we're due to slurp the last gallon out of the earth.

          You may be right; no one's doing "hurry production" on ITER.

      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 10 2016, @07:11PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 10 2016, @07:11PM (#357969)

        Which is why:
        https://theintercept.com/2015/10/26/bbc-protects-uks-close-ally-saudi-arabia-with-incredibly-dishonest-and-biased-editing/ [theintercept.com]

        And back to Yemen:
        http://www.thecanary.co/2016/06/10/west-fake-entire-attack-al-qaeda-oil-pipeline/ [thecanary.co]

        Independent on-the-ground sources have denied there was any such attack.

        Veteran BBC journalist Iona Craig, who has reported extensively from Yemen, said that the coalition statement was “ridiculous”, as AQAP had already deserted the city before the alleged military ‘rout’:

        There weren’t even 800 fighters left there. There was no fighting inside the city because al-Qaeda had already left.

        She described the 800 figure as “a lie that’s not even plausible.”

        Craig had been in Mukalla a month before the military operation. She said that Saudi-led forces had been secretly negotiating with AQAP for the previous two weeks “to let fighters leave”. Far from being ‘routed’, al-Qaeda “had been given free passage out of the city” by their Saudi benefactors.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by edIII on Friday June 10 2016, @12:22AM

    by edIII (791) Subscriber Badge on Friday June 10 2016, @12:22AM (#357566)

    Advanced societies do not involve themselves with the trade, for profit, of military ordnance and equipment.

    It is impossible , with the presence of money and profit, to make any claims of impartiality and unaccountability. It's one thing for an arms manufacturer to sell a handgun, or even semi-automatic rifle, to a citizen, and quite another to be selling military equipment on a large scale with foreign nations. The former can easily be explained as not being primarily for the purposes of violence, but security, while the latter can only be explained as mass violence against others for corporate profits. Even equipping our allies is problematic, as we tend to choose exceedingly poor allies (at least lately). Either that, or every major government is involved in this trend of "humanitarian catastrophes".

    On on another note, nations should not be trading military equipment and ordnance under any circumstances, as that relates to national security. I for one, think all the arms manufacturers are traitorous duplicitous lying pieces of shit that only care about profit, and certainly not our own national security. I'm also a strange bird, in that I think profit in the military industrial complex can only be seen as traitorous to their nation. I'm not interested in fighting wars, or defending my country, just to make some rich fuck richer. That rich bastard wants so much from the rest of us while we are at war? How is that suffering with their brothers and sisters, and not profiting from the suffering of their brothers and sisters? I say we send all the largest shareholders of our war machine to the actual battlefields to demonstrate their equipment. Asking them to fight for their nation, for free, just like the rest of us do, isn't anti-Capitalism, but actual patriotism.

    The £2.8bn being received by UK arms companies is blood money, and they're absolutely complicit in the actions of their foreign customer. I cannot blame any Middle Eastern citizen for wanting to blow people up in the UK at this point. After all, the UK is selling the bombs that are killing them in their fields around civilian targets. Shit, if I lived in those fields I would probably wish death upon those sitting sipping tea and making money off my misery too.

    Britain can claim they are not at war with Yemen, but that reminds me of a saying I'll paraphrase:

    Just because you don't believe in the government of the UK, doesn't mean it doesn't believe in you.

    Ask any Yemen citizen that has been bombed if they feel that they are at war with the UK. Gee, I wonder what they'll say.....

    Ohhhhh, and I just love how EU pharmaceutical corps refuse to sell the US drugs used in carrying out death sentences, but are perfectly okay with killing thousands by selling weapons of war instead. Talk about an astronomical level of hypocrisy.

    • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Friday June 10 2016, @12:55AM

      by bob_super (1357) on Friday June 10 2016, @12:55AM (#357580)

      > all the arms manufacturers are traitorous duplicitous lying pieces of shit that only care about profit

      Gotta quote Tom Lehrer:

      Once the rockets go up,
      Who cares where they come down?
      It's not my department,
      Says Wernher Von Braun

    • (Score: 1) by Wodan on Friday June 10 2016, @10:21AM

      by Wodan (517) on Friday June 10 2016, @10:21AM (#357717)

      EU pharmaceutical corps sell weapons now? That's news to me!

  • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by jmorris on Friday June 10 2016, @12:33AM

    by jmorris (4844) <{jmorris} {at} {beau.org}> on Friday June 10 2016, @12:33AM (#357569)

    The people in Yemen being killed need killing. Saudi Arabia is willing to do the killing so we should allow them to get on with it. They want to buy weapons to kill bad people with and are willing to pay good money for them. Still not seeing a problem here.

    Saudi Arabia isn't a pussyfied western country that has stupid notions about playing fair in a war. Good for them if they believe their enemies should die and they shouldn't and if the locals want remain near combatants some will die, and that too is better than their own people dying. Still don't see a problem. This is how war has been waged since the first human picked up a thighbone and whacked somebody from a neighboring tribe. Some pussies say we should 'evolve' beyond that but we have seen what that sort of conflict looks like, screw that noise. Kill people, break their things, then once they are dead or have submitted you go home. Repeat as needed.

    • (Score: 2) by n1 on Friday June 10 2016, @12:46AM

      by n1 (993) Subscriber Badge on Friday June 10 2016, @12:46AM (#357577) Journal

      and the cosmic ballet goes on...

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 10 2016, @12:50AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 10 2016, @12:50AM (#357579)

      Hello there, human. I am Zzzlort, an alien researcher visiting your world. As a social experiment, I will now teleport you to Yemen to determine whether your change of location will cause you to "need killing." My overseer requires me to inform you beforehand for ethical reasons. Ok here you go....! If you die, I wish you a nice death.

      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 10 2016, @01:20AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 10 2016, @01:20AM (#357590)

        Don't forget that you are dropping him off in the middle of a desert with no food or water, which means if he wants to just "leave the area with combatants" (you know, where food, water, and shelter is) he will die of exposure. LOGIC IS FUN! \o/

      • (Score: 0, Troll) by khallow on Friday June 10 2016, @01:34AM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday June 10 2016, @01:34AM (#357595) Journal
        Because bullshit fantasizing about putting someone into a contrived and phony situation wins arguments.
        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Tork on Friday June 10 2016, @04:52AM

          by Tork (3914) on Friday June 10 2016, @04:52AM (#357632)
          Yeah, it did actually. Personally I would have modded it Insightful instead of funny.
          --
          Slashdolt Logic: "19 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
          • (Score: 0, Offtopic) by khallow on Friday June 10 2016, @05:14AM

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday June 10 2016, @05:14AM (#357639) Journal
            Ok, how did it do that? As the AC replier gleefully noted, if this were to actually happen, it just means that jmorris either survives and gets out of Yemen (what the AC mislabels as "leave the area with combatants") or dies of dehydration. Neither outcome is relevant to the argument made by jmorris. And jmorris isn't going to start acting "weird" and wave flags which say "Death to America, death to Israel, curse on the Jews" as remarked on by KiloByte just because he temporarily ended up in Yemen.
            • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Tork on Friday June 10 2016, @05:23AM

              by Tork (3914) on Friday June 10 2016, @05:23AM (#357642)
              He used sarcasm to point out how shallow that person's judgement was.
              --
              Slashdolt Logic: "19 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
              • (Score: 0, Redundant) by khallow on Friday June 10 2016, @05:40AM

                by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday June 10 2016, @05:40AM (#357652) Journal
                And I just used reason to show how poorly aimed that sarcasm was. This was noise. It didn't contribute anything to the argument.
                • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Tork on Friday June 10 2016, @05:50AM

                  by Tork (3914) on Friday June 10 2016, @05:50AM (#357657)
                  You're the only one that feels that way. Your 'reason' didn't actually address the meat of his post.
                  --
                  Slashdolt Logic: "19 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
                  • (Score: 0, Troll) by khallow on Friday June 10 2016, @06:03AM

                    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday June 10 2016, @06:03AM (#357661) Journal
                    There is no meat to his post just like there hasn't been any meat to your posts. To summarize my side. If we actually were to somehow go through with this exercise for real, there would be no relevant outcome to it. jmorris would not be in a situation where he would be shown to be inconsistent. Nor would he be transformed into one of the murderous "weird" foes who just happen to be the targets of Saudi Arabian and UK military attacks. Sure, it is a sarcastic post, but it is also an irrelevant one.
                    • (Score: 2) by Tork on Friday June 10 2016, @07:20AM

                      by Tork (3914) on Friday June 10 2016, @07:20AM (#357674)
                      The meat is there, for some reason you can't see it. I really don't know what to tell you.
                      --
                      Slashdolt Logic: "19 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
                      • (Score: 0, Troll) by khallow on Friday June 10 2016, @10:38AM

                        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday June 10 2016, @10:38AM (#357724) Journal
                        I guess you can continue to say the nothing you've said so far.
                        • (Score: 2) by Tork on Friday June 10 2016, @03:39PM

                          by Tork (3914) on Friday June 10 2016, @03:39PM (#357855)
                          I pointed you right at it and you said it's not there when clearly several other people see it. We're basically at a point right now where you either need to own up to the mistake you're making or come up with a plausible conspiracy theory about how a bunch of SN posters got together to play a surreal prank on you.
                          --
                          Slashdolt Logic: "19 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
                          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday June 10 2016, @06:01PM

                            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday June 10 2016, @06:01PM (#357932) Journal

                            I pointed you right at it and you said it's not there when clearly several other people see it. We're basically at a point right now where you either need to own up to the mistake you're making or come up with a plausible conspiracy theory about how a bunch of SN posters got together to play a surreal prank on you.

                            Because now the only possible explanation for your continued zero information posts is some strange paranoia on my part? I think I have an alternate explanation here. Namely, that there are idiots on the internets and you are one of the idiots at the moment. Let's hope it's just a temporary thing and not something that can only be cured by having aliens dump you in Yemen.

                            I'm still trying to work in the lizaroids and the Bank of England. I need more tacks to hold the yarn on the wall.

                            • (Score: 2) by Tork on Friday June 10 2016, @06:23PM

                              by Tork (3914) on Friday June 10 2016, @06:23PM (#357942)
                              Well, for starters, there wasn't zero information in any of my posts. Secondly... yeah, it must be a hallucination shared by several people, it couldn't possibly be that you had yet another lapse in reading comprehension.
                              --
                              Slashdolt Logic: "19 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
                              • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday June 10 2016, @06:57PM

                                by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday June 10 2016, @06:57PM (#357963) Journal
                                I note yet again, absolutely no contribution to this thread. We already had the impression that you agreed with Zzzlort, that some sort of sarcasm was involved, that there were other people replying who for some reason agreed with Zzzlort, and that somewhere at the dawn of time you actually posted something with information in it. That was already known. Your post does nothing to inform us any further. Thus, it remains zero information.

                                The original post was in my opinion a heavy-handed, infantile, and very unfunny bit of fantasy (sure, sarcasm was involved in its unholy birth) which had nothing to do with jmorris's post. There is this bizarre implication that if somehow this were to happen, then jmorris would become a military target of Saudi or UK bombing and no doubt learn the error of his ways in the final few seconds of his life. It's a stupid fantasy and completely ignorant of the situation in Yemen. Sorry, that's all there is to it.

                                Meanwhile we're up to six posts by you where you assert things (which after the first couple, just consist of asserting what you've already asserted). You have yet to even bother to defend it. Sorry, that's stupid as well.

                                Apparently, it's too much to ask you to come up with an argument that doesn't suck.
                                • (Score: 2) by Tork on Friday June 10 2016, @07:22PM

                                  by Tork (3914) on Friday June 10 2016, @07:22PM (#357979)
                                  I love how you throw around the phrase 'for some reason' when your unwillingness to see that reason after it has been pointed out to you is the reason you are frustrated with this discussion. You clearly have a reading comprehension issue, here.
                                  --
                                  Slashdolt Logic: "19 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
                                  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday June 10 2016, @08:02PM

                                    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday June 10 2016, @08:02PM (#358002) Journal
                                    We're up to seven posts now. Why don't you spell it out for me?
                                    • (Score: 2) by Tork on Saturday June 11 2016, @01:20AM

                                      by Tork (3914) on Saturday June 11 2016, @01:20AM (#358139)
                                      Scroll up.
                                      --
                                      Slashdolt Logic: "19 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
                                      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Saturday June 11 2016, @03:30PM

                                        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday June 11 2016, @03:30PM (#358342) Journal
                                        Now, we're up to eight.
                                        • (Score: 2) by Tork on Sunday June 12 2016, @05:05AM

                                          by Tork (3914) on Sunday June 12 2016, @05:05AM (#358534)
                                          Have a good weekend, man.
                                          --
                                          Slashdolt Logic: "19 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
    • (Score: 5, Informative) by KiloByte on Friday June 10 2016, @01:25AM

      by KiloByte (375) on Friday June 10 2016, @01:25AM (#357592)

      Except that in this case it's Saudis who are the bad guys. The Houthis are moderates. Yeah, it's weird when a group whose flag says "Death to America, death to Israel, curse on the Jews" are the less evil side, far less oppressive than those whom the US supports.

      So how do you like shipping arms to an ally of ISIS?

      --
      Ceterum censeo systemd esse delendam.
      • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Friday June 10 2016, @03:10AM

        by Grishnakh (2831) Subscriber Badge on Friday June 10 2016, @03:10AM (#357618)

        This is why we Americans need to stop voting for those warmongering Republicans and instead vote for Democrats like Hillary... oh [motherjones.com] wait. [huffingtonpost.com]

    • (Score: 1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 10 2016, @05:19AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 10 2016, @05:19AM (#357641)

      Why are you so angry and hateful?

      Your cries for attention are so extreme that we all pitty you at the same time as we are disgusted by you. You should seek help rather than pollute adult conversation with your vitriole.

  • (Score: 2) by butthurt on Friday June 10 2016, @03:12AM

    by butthurt (6141) on Friday June 10 2016, @03:12AM (#357619) Journal

    According to a VICE News article [vice.com], there have also been British personnel assisting in the war in Yemen, including two

    operators from the Special Reconnaissance Regiment (a special forces unit), who had been seconded to SIS. This made their presence deniable by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), which said in a 2014 statement to human rights NGO Reprieve: "The UK does not provide any military support to the US campaign of Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) strikes on Yemen."

    The secondment allowed British military personnel to assist with the drone program, but under the aegis of intelligence operations managed by the FCO [Foreign and Commonwealth Office].

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 10 2016, @05:49AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 10 2016, @05:49AM (#357655)

    Because someone has to Trump thinks the US spends too much. Not that he believes they shouldn't get involved. Just that they are getting poor value for money.

    I guess they might need to spend less if they stopped arming the people shooting at them? All the stupid "don't sell to Cuba" laws, just introduce middle men anyway.