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Tunisia, Egypt, Libya... Arab Countries in Revolt

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‘The Saudis couldn’t do it without us’: the UK’s true role in Yemen’s deadly war

For more than four years, a brutal Saudi air campaign has bombarded Yemen, killing tens of thousands, injuring hundreds of thousands and displacing millions – creating the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. And British weapons are doing much of the killing. Every day Yemen is hit by British bombs – dropped by British planes that are flown by British-trained pilots and maintained and prepared inside Saudi Arabia by thousands of British contractors.

The Saudi-led military coalition, which includes the UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait, has “targeted civilians … in a widespread and systematic manner”, according to the UN – dropping bombs on hospitals, schools, weddings, funerals and even camps for displaced people fleeing the bombing.

Saudi Arabia has in effect contracted out vital parts of its war against Yemen’s Houthi movement to the US and the UK. Britain does not merely supply weapons for this war: it provides the personnel and expertise required to keep the war going. The British government has deployed RAF personnel to work as engineers, and to train Saudi pilots and targeteers – while an even larger role is played by BAE Systems, Britain’s biggest arms company, which the government has subcontracted to provide weapons, maintenance and engineers inside Saudi Arabia.

“The Saudi bosses absolutely depend on BAE Systems,” John Deverell, a former MoD mandarin and defence attache to Saudi Arabia and Yemen, told me. “They couldn’t do it without us.” A BAE employee recently put it more plainly to Channel 4’s Dispatches: “If we weren’t there, in seven to 14 days there wouldn’t be a jet in the sky.”

Grauniad

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Ex Egypt president Mahammad Mursi collapsed in court and died from a hearth attack a few days back.

He was suffering from a benign tumor but there are reports that he was denied medical care in prison and that he was tortured.

 

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UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia declared unlawful by court of appeal

Exports contributed to indiscriminate civilian deaths in Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen, court rules

The court of appeal was ruling on a challenge brought by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) over the UK government’s decision to continue sales of military equipment to Saudi Arabia. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA

British arms sales to Saudi Arabia that were used in Yemen have been declared unlawful by the court of appeal because they contributed to indiscriminate civilian casualties in the bombing campaign from forces led by the Gulf kingdom.

The ruling from three senior judges follows a challenge brought by Campaign Against Arms Trade, which had accused the UK government of licensing arms sales when there was a clear risk that their use could breach international humanitarian law.

In its judgment in London on Thursday, the court of appeal ruled that “the process of decision-making by the government was wrong in law in one significant respect”.

Announcing the court’s decision the master of the rolls, Sir Terence Etherton, sitting with Lord Justice Irwin and Lord Justice Singh, said the government “made no concluded assessments of whether the Saudi-led coalition had committed violations of international humanitarian law in the past, during the Yemen conflict, and made no attempt to do so”.

However, he added: “The decision of the court today does not mean that licences to export arms to Saudi Arabia must immediately be suspended.” He said the government “must reconsider the matter” and estimate any future risks in light of its conclusions about the past.

The UK has licensed at least £4.7bn worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since the start of the civil war in Yemen in March 2015, with most of the recorded sales taking place before 2018.

Sales are signed off by the foreign, defence and international trade secretaries, and ministers and former ministers including the Tory leadership candidates Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt have defended the UK’s arms relationship with Riyadh.

 

Grauniad

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A United Nations panel of experts has uncovered fragments of British-made laser guidance missile systems at an air raid site in Yemen in a strike that it concluded breached international humanitarian law.

The attacks took place in September 2016, a month after the then foreign secretary Boris Johnson said he was content to allow the export of weapons systems to Saudi Arabia in the expectation they would be used in Yemen.

A guidance unit for a “high explosive” bomb – stamped with the name of a Brighton based company, EDO MBM Technology Ltd – were found at the site in the Yemen capital Sana’a after four bombs were dropped on the site at 12.45am on 13 September.

Missile parts from the same British factory – ultimately owned by the US arms supplier L3 Harris – were also found by the UN experts at the Alsonidar complex following a second air strike nine days later, where a water pump factory and a former tube maker were located.

Though the UK has licensed at least £4.7bn of exports to Saudi Arabia since the country became embroiled in the war in Yemen, the UN documentation demonstrates that British technology has been deployed in a conflict where the Saudi-led coalition has been repeatedly accused of indiscriminate bombing.

British arms sales to Saudi Arabia of equipment that could be deployed in Yemen were held to be unlawful in June by the court of appeal in London, because ministers had failed to conduct a proper impact assessment of the bombing on civilians.

 

Grauniad

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More interesting reporting, with a massive protest against US occupation of Iraq being reported as hundreds of people.

To be fair, there must have been a point in time at which the protest consisted only of hundreds of people, and another point in time at which it consisted of 17 people, or 49 people.  But it's not how any objective report would cover it.

 

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They’ve shot themselves in the foot there.

Friendly Fire

 

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Nineteen sailors have been killed and 15 others injured in an accident involving Iranian naval vessels in the Gulf of Oman, Iran's navy has said.

Iranian media reported that the support ship Konarak was hit by a new anti-ship missile being tested by the frigate Jamaran during an exercise on Sunday.

.

 

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Just now, LondonLax said:

So I guess it works though?

I think it’s what our own PM would call a ‘comparative success’.

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