From The Independent: British Conservative MEPs were branded “disgraceful” after they abstained in a European Parliament vote on whether to impose an EU-wide arms embargo on Saudi Arabia. The UK has licensed almost £5 billion worth of arms to Saudi since the Yemen war began.
From Morning Star: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman may project himself to simpering allies in Washington, London and Tel Aviv as the face of change, but domestic repression and war crimes in Yemen persist.
The Saudi military coalition, engaged in erasing all resistance in its southern neighbour, obliterated a bus in Saada province today, killing up to 39 people – the majority infants – and wounding another 43.
This massacre is merely the latest in a long list by the Saudi coalition, seeking to impose its will by terror bombing since its ground troops have failed so far to achieve its aim.
To improve its chances, Saudi Arabia and its coalition of corrupt Gulf kingdoms spend freely on weapons of mass destruction from Western powers, especially the US and Britain.
Britain’s Campaign Against the Arms Trade estimates that our Tory government has licensed £4.7 billion of arms to Saudi forces since the bombing campaign began in 2015, during which period 10,000 people have been killed.
From Morning Star: An all-party parliamentary group on drones has said the Tory government lacks a “clear policy and sound legal basis” for the use of unmanned weapons.
Britain’s involvement in the US-led bombing campaign directed at Isis in Syria and Iraq since 2014 had “raised some serious questions about the legality, efficacy and strategic coherence” of its drone programme, the MPs said.
The inquiry called on the government to immediately publish its “targeted killing” policy and establish an independent scrutiny mechanism that is answerable to Parliament whenever someone is killed by a drone — as such assassinations currently take place without any transparency or accountability.
Parliamentary concerns about the issue were raised in August 2015 when two British citizens accused of fighting for Isis, Junaid Hussain and Reyaad Khan, were killed by British drone strikes in Syria.
Theresa May’s husband’s Capital Group is largest shareholder in BAE, shares soar since Syrian airstrikes
From RT: Philip May, husband of the UK prime minister, works for a company that is the largest shareholder in arms manufacturer, BAE Systems, whose share price has soared since airstrikes in Syria.
The company, Capital Group, is also the second-largest shareholder in Lockheed Martin – a US military arms firm that supplies weapons systems, aircraft and logistical support. Its shares have also rocketed since the missile strikes last week.
The fact has not gone unnoticed by some on Twitter, who agree that BAE Systems has done very well out of the UK-US-France allied airstrikes on Syria, which were sanctioned by Theresa May. It has been reported that the UK’s contribution to military strikes was to fire eight ‘Storm-Shadow’ missiles at an alleged chemical weapons facility, each of which cost £790,000 ($1.13 million) – totaling £6.32 million ($9 million). The missiles were manufactured by BAE Systems.
Theresa May’s husband has worked as a relationship manager for the research investment company Capital Group since 2005. The Tory-BAE links go even deeper, however. The former chancellor of the exchequer and present editor-in-chief at the Evening Standard, George Osborne’s other employer Black Rock is the fifth-largest shareholder in BAE Systems.
The latest news comes on the back of a recent deal agreed by BAE Systems and the Saudi government for the provisional sale of 48 Typhoon jets to the kingdom. The deal was welcomed by the relevant government officials from the UK and Saudi Arabia, who say it would help safeguard jobs. However, it was criticized by arms campaigners worried about the ongoing war in Yemen.
From The Guardian: Tory defence secretary Michael Fallon urged MPs to stop criticising Saudi Arabia in the interests of securing a fighter jet deal, provoking sharp criticism from human rights and arms trade campaigners.
Michael Fallon told the defence committee: “I have to repeat, sadly, to this committee that obviously other criticism of Saudi Arabia in this parliament is not helpful and … I’ll leave it there,” he said. “But we need to do everything possible to encourage Saudi Arabia towards batch two. I believe they will commit to batch two.” Read more
From iNews: The Tory Government has been accused of inviting a “who’s who of human rights abusers” to the world’s largest defence and security fair opening in London next week.
From Middle East Eye: Britain’s ruling Conservative Party came under fire for the 2011 intervention in Libya, while its own minister criticised Britain’s failures in Syria, during a foreign policy debate a week before the UK’s snap general election.
At a debate at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London, Emily Thornberry, Labour’s shadow foreign secretary, said she had not voted for the Nato intervention in 2011 that went on to “fundamentally destabilise Libya”.
She said the intervention had led to “a large amount of ungoverned space and that directly leads to us being less safe”.
Theresa May would fire UK’s nuclear weapons as a ‘first strike’, says Defence Secretary Michael Fallon
From The Independent: Theresa May would fire Britain’s nuclear weapons as a ‘first strike’ if necessary, the Defence Secretary has said.
From The Guardian: Theresa May would be prepared to go to war to protect Gibraltar as Margaret Thatcher once did for the Falklands, former Conservative leader Michael Howard has suggested, in comments that were immediately criticised as inflammatory.
Lord Howard’s suggestion that the prime minister would be ready to follow in the footsteps of her predecessor 35 years ago came alongside a government pledge to protect the sovereignty of Britain’s overseas territory.
“Thirty-five years ago this week, another woman prime minister sent a taskforce halfway across the world to defend the freedom of another small group of British people against another Spanish-speaking country, and I’m absolutely certain that our current prime minister will show the same resolve in standing by the people of Gibraltar,” Howard told Sophy Ridge on Sunday on Sky News.
From The Independent: Britain is now the second biggest arms dealer in the world, official government figures show – with most of the weapons fuelling deadly conflicts in the Middle East. Instability there has fed into increased risk of terror threats to Britain and across the West.
From The Guardian: Theresa May has said she would be willing to authorise a nuclear strike that could kill 100,000 people. The prime minister confirmed she would be prepared to press the nuclear button if necessary as she opened a debate about whether the UK should spend up to £40bn replacing four submarines that carry nuclear warheads.
May attracted gasps during the debate when she made clear she would be willing to authorise a nuclear strike killing 100,000 people, when challenged by the Scottish National party about whether she would ever approve a nuclear hit causing mass loss of life.
Intervening in her opening speech, the SNP MP George Kerevan, asked: “Is she personally prepared to authorise a nuclear strike that can kill a hundred thousand innocent men, women and children?”
May responded: “Yes. And I have to say to the honourable gentleman the whole point of a deterrent is that our enemies need to know that we would be prepared to use it, unlike some suggestions that we could have a deterrent but not actually be willing to use it, which seem to come from the Labour party frontbench.”