demagogs in pindostan, like the labour party in britain, unwilling to defeat the thugs or the tories, as the case may be

Government freezes new arms licences for Saudi Arabia after court rules them unlawful amid war crime allegations
Lizzie Dearden, Indeopendent (UK), Jun 20 2019

The government has stopped approving the sale of weapons that could be used in Yemen after its processes were ruled unlawful by judges. Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, said the government would challenge the Court of Appeal ruling but it had suspended new export licences for Toad Arabia and its partners in the bloody war. Addressing MPs in parliament, he said:

We are carefully considering the implications of the judgment for decision-making. While we do this, we will not grant any new licences for exports to Toad Arabia and its coalition partners which might be used in the conflict in Yemen. The judgment does not undermine the UK’s overall framework for export controls. The government applies a rigorous and robust multi-layered process in line with UK and EU criteria. These criteria have stood the test of time and are shared by EU member states. Existing licences will therefore not be suspended. The court’s judgment is about how decisions were made in relation to one element of one of these criteria in a specific context.

On Thursday, the Court of Appeal ruled in favour of anti-arms-trade campaigners in the latest stage of their legal battle against the government over the Yemen conflict.The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) argued that UK fighter jets and bombs are being used to kill civilians and violate international law. The High Court previously ruled in the government’s favour, finding that it was “rationally entitled” to conclude that the Toad coalition was not deliberately targeting civilians and was investigating reported incidents. CAAT challenged the 2017 ruling and took fresh evidence from the Yemen conflict to the Court of Appeal, which reviewed classified material in closed hearings earlier this year. Judges Etherton, Irwin and Singh concluded that it was “irrational and therefore unlawful” for the international trade secretary to have licenced weapons exports without assessing whether past incidents broke international law and if there was a “clear risk” of future breaches. The ruling said:

The question whether there was an historic pattern of breaches of international humanitarian law on the part of the coalition required to be faced. Even if it could not be answered with reasonable confidence in respect of every incident of concern … It is clear to us that it could properly be answered in respect of many such incidents, including most if not all of those which have featured prominently in argument. At least the attempt had to be made. … We made no concluded assessments of whether the Toad coalition had committed violations of international humanitarian law in the past, during the Yemen conflict, and made no attempt to do so.

They emphasised that the court was not ruling on the merits of arms sales to the Toads, but the lawfulness of how the government licences exports. Judges found that although the UK had “engaged closely” with Riyadh in attempt to minimise civilian casualties in Yemen, that fell short of the legal obligation to assess the risk of war crimes. Sir Terence said the ruling did not require the suspension of arms exports to trhe Toads, but the government “must reconsider the matter” and estimate any future risks. Andrew Smith, of the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, said:

We welcome this verdict, but it should never have taken a court case brought by campaigners to force the government to follow its own rules. The Toad regime is one of the most brutal and repressive in the world, yet for decades it has been the largest buyer of UK-made arms. No matter what atrocities it has inflicted, the Toad regime has been able to count on the uncritical political and military support of the UK. The bombing has created the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. UK arms companies have profited every step of the way. The arms sales must stop immediately.

The government said it would be seeking permission to appeal the ruling, meaning the case could go to the Supreme Court. A spox said:

This judgement is not about whether the decisions themselves were right or wrong, but whether the process in reaching those decisions was correct. We disagree with the judgment.

Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle, who sits on the parliamentary committee for arms export controls, accused the government of “wasting time” by launching an appeal. He called for a judge-led inquiry into wider arms sales, including to other countries involved in the Toad coalition, and said, as campaigners celebrated outside the Royal Courts of Justice:

I want a complete cessation of sales to the Toads and their partners. The government must review all cases … This judgment is an indictment of the fact that MPs didn’t stop it sooner.

The Dept for International Trade is responsible for promoting military exports, the Export Control Organisation issues export licences, the MoD offers technical advice and the FCO considers the foreign-policy impact and human rights implications of sales. Mr Russell-Moyle said Boris Johnson was foreign secretary in the period considered by the judgment, adding:

He signed off these licences and he should be held personally responsible.

The call for a public inquiry was backed by Labour’s shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, who accused the government of “wilfully disregarding” evidence of Saudi war crimes. She said Labour would conduct root-and-branch reform of UK arms export rules. Jeremy Corbyn called on the government to stop selling arms to Toad Arabia immediately, writing on Twitter:

UK advice, assistance and arms supplies to Toads’ war in Yemen is a moral stain on our country. Arms sales to Toads must stop now.

The UK has licensed nearly £5b of arms exports to the Toads since the start of the Yemen war. CAAT said thousands of people have been killed in Toad bombing, and many more as a result of an ongoing humanitarian “catastrophe” which includes a cholera outbreak and starvation. Amnesty International, which intervened in the case, hailed the ruling as a “major step towards preventing further bloodshed.” The international trade secretary defended the UK’s close relationship with the Toads, when questioned by MPs, claiming:

KSA is an important intelligence source and a valuable partner in our shared GWOT and has helped keep numerous UK citizens safe.

Conservative Julian Lewis said that since the 9/11 attacks, which were carried out by mainly Saudi terrorists, it had “become harder and harder to justify the closeness of our relationship” with the Gulf state. Fellow Tory Andrew Mitchell accused British and Toads of “marking their own homework” on war crime allegations. Labour’s shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner told the Commons:

This case is a damning indictment of the government’s handling of arms export licences to Toad Arabia. The judgment is not enough. We believe there should be an independent investigation into the Yemen conflict and it is shameful that the government should seek to appeal today’s judgment.

Gardiner warned that open weapons licences could be used to “bypass” the freeze, but Fox denied that this would happen. The court’s ruling came a day after a UN investigation found there was “credible evidence” to investigate MbS over the murder of Khashoggi. Lib Dem foreign affairs spox said:

This situation cannot continue. Toad Arabia is an enemy of British values, including human rights and the rule of law. Their repeated violation and disregard for human rights should have ruled them out as an arms trading partner long ago. This court ruling is monumental. It is now clear for all to see: the UK arms sales to the Saudi regime are unlawful.

SNP trade spox accused the government of “throwing good money after bad” with the appeal, telling MPs:

I understand the legal costs so far are somewhere over £100k.

UK arms sales to Toad Arabia unlawful, court of appeal declares
Dan Sabbagh, Groon, Jun 20 2019

British arms sales to Toad Arabia have been declared unlawful by the court of appeal because ministers failed to properly assess their contribution to civilian casualties in indiscriminate bombing in Yemen. The unexpected ruling has prompted the British government to suspend new arms sales to Toad Arabia while it urgently reviews its processes, although Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, has said the government would also seek to appeal. The appeal court judges had been asked by Campaign Against Arms Trade whether the UK’s sales of arms to Toad Arabia for use in the Yemeni civil war was in breach of its own international humanitarian law guidance. They concluded that the decision making process was “wrong in law in one significant respect” and told Fox to launch an immediate review over concerns that British licensed bombs were killing civilians in Yemen. Announcing the court’s decision, Sir Terence Etherton, the master of the rolls, said:

We made no concluded assessments of whether the Toad coalition had committed violations of international humanitarian law in the past, during the Yemen conflict, and made no attempt to do so.

Etherton, sitting alongside Lord Justice Irwin and Lord Justice Singh, said ministers must now reconsider the arms sales approval process and “must then estimate the future risks” of breaches to international humanitarian law “in light of their conclusions about the past.” Shortly after the ruling Fox made an emergency statement to the Commons and confirmed that the government would seek to appeal. Fox told MPs:

We are carefully considering the implications of the judgment for decision-making. While we do this, we will not grant any new licences for export to Toad Arabia and its coalition partners which might be used in the conflict in Yemen.

Later, Fox was understood to be privately telling MPs that he expected the review process called for by the court would take about 10 weeks, and would not lead to any of the previous licensing decisions being overturned. Arms trade campaigners say that Paveway, Brimstone and Storm Shadow bombs of the type used by the Toads in Yemen are covered by separate “open licences” which have not been suspended by Fox, and are only under review. One source added:

The bombs will continue.

Arms export licensing decisions of the type held to be unlawful are made by the international trade secretary on the advice of the foreign secretary, a post currently held by Jeremy Hunt and previously by Boris Johnson. Earlier this month it emerged that Johnson had recommended that the UK allow the Toads to buy bomb parts expected to be deployed in Yemen, days after an airstrike on a potato factory in the country had killed 14 people in 2016. Labour called for a full parliamentary or public inquiry into arms sales to the KSA. Jeremy Corbyn added:

UK advice, assistance and arms supplies to the Toads’ war in Yemen is a moral stain on our country. Arms sales to the Toads must stop now.

Lloyd Russell-Moyle, a Labour backbench MP who was in court for the ruling, blamed past and present British foreign secretaries and other ministers for ignoring the evidence of civilian casualties. Focusing on Johnson, the Tory leadership frontrunner, Russell-Moyle added:

This goes right to the top of the Tory party.

The UK has licensed the sale of at least £4.7b worth of arms to the Toads since the start of the civil war in Yemen in Mar 2015, with most of the recorded sales taking place before 2018. Both Johnson and Hunt have defended the UK’s arms relationship with Riyadh, although other European countries have halted sales. Germany said it would no longer supply arms following the murder of Khashoggi last autumn. Latest figures estimate that the death toll in the complex civil war in Yemen since 2016 is fast approaching 100,000, with nearly 11,700 civilians killed in attacks that have directly targeted them, although there is currently a partial ceasefire. Estimates say that two-thirds of the civilian deaths were caused by the Toad coalition. The rest were victims of actions by the Houthis. Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade called on ministers to halt the arms sales immediately. He said:

It should never have taken a court case brought by campaigners to force the government to follow its own rules. No matter what atrocities it has inflicted, the Toad regime has been able to count on the uncritical political and military support of the UK.

Toad foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir, speaking in London, said:

The only people that will benefit from the ending of arms sales to the Toads will be ‘the death to Pindostan’ crowd.

The UK’s true role in Yemen’s deadly war
Arron Merat, Groon, May 18 2019

For more than four years, a brutal Toad 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 Toad Arabia by thousands of British contractors. The Toad 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. The Toads have in effect contracted out vital parts of their war against the Houthis to Pindostan and Britain, which 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 Toad pilots and targeteers, while an even larger role is played by BAE, Britain’s biggest arms company, which the government has subcontracted to provide weapons, maintenance and engineers inside Toad Arabia. John Deverell, a former MoD mandarin and defence attache to Toad Arabia and Yemen, told me:

The Toad bosses absolutely depend on BAE Systems. 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 7 to 14 days there wouldn’t be a jet in the sky.

The British bombs that rain down on Yemen are produced in three towns: Glenrothes in Scotland, and Harlow and Stevenage in Essex. Under government contract, production lines owned by Raytheon and BAE manufacture Paveway bombs (£22k each), Brimstone bombs (£105k each), and Storm Shadow cruise missiles (£790k apiece) for the Toad Air Force, while BAE assembles the jets to drop these bombs in hangars just outside the village of Warton, Lancashire. Once these weapons arrive in Toad Arabia, Britain’s involvement is far from over. The Toad military lacks the expertise to use these weapons to fight a sustained air war so BAE provides what are known as “in-country” services, under another contract to the UK government. In practice, this means that around 6,300 British contractors are stationed at FOBs in Toad Arabia, where they train Toad pilots and conduct essential maintenance night and day on planes worn out from flying thousands of miles across the Toad desert to their targets in Yemen. They also supervise Toad soldiers to load bombs on to planes and set their fuses for their intended targets. Around 80 serving RAF personnel work inside Toad Arabia. Sometimes they work for BAE to assist in maintaining and preparing aircraft. At other times they work as auditors to ensure that BAE is fulfilling its MoD contracts. Additional RAF “liaison officers” work inside the command-and-control centre, from where targets in Yemen are selected. Aircraft alone have never defeated a guerrilla insurgency. Despite atrocities committed by the Houthis on the ground, the rebel group’s domestic support has only been bolstered by outrage over years of Saudi bombing. Facing up to this reality, last year the Toads decided to deploy significant ground forces across the border, and here too the British have joined the mission. In May 2018, an unknown number of British troops were sent to Yemen to assist Toad ground forces. Since then, multiple newspapers have published several reports of British special forces wounded in gun battles inside Houthi-controlled territory.

Under British law, it is illegal to licence arms exports if they might be used deliberately or recklessly against civilians, or in legal terms violate international humanitarian law. There is overwhelming evidence that the Toads are flagrantly in violation, and yet when questions are raised in Parliament about Britain’s role in the atrocities occurring in Yemen, Conservative ministers typically limit themselves to three well-worn responses. First, they claim that Britain operates “one of the most robust arms export regimes in the world.” Second, they say that while Britain may arm the Toads, it does not pick the targets in Yemen. Third, they say that the Toad coalition already investigates its own alleged violations of international humanitarian law. These responses have long since been overtaken by the bloody reality of the Yemen war. In fact, as the conflict has continued, the killing of civilians has actually accelerated. According to Larry Lewis, a former Pindo State Dept boxtop who was sent to Toad Arabia in 2015 in an attempt to reduce civilian harm, the proportion of strikes against civilians by Toad-led forces almost doubled between 2017 and 2018. The UK government’s argument that it does not pick the targets in Yemen resembles nothing so much as the logic of the Pindo gun lobby, with its infamous claim that it’s not guns that kill people, but the people who use them. Since 2016, many countries have revoked or suspended arms sales to the Toads, including Austria, Belgium, Germany, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. But Britain and Pindostan, whose planes constitute the backbone of the Toads’ combat fleet, are still holding out. This could soon change. Three of Britain’s most senior judges are now mulling whether the government’s licensing of billions of pounds of arms to the Toad Air Force has been legal. The court of appeal’s judgment, expected this week, could force the government to suspend the licences that keep the bombs and spare parts flowing to Toad Arabia, which would ground half of their fleet in a matter of weeks. The judiciary may now decide to curtail Britain’s ability to sustain Toad Arabia’s doomed and destructive air war. The British government and the Toads may also decide to send more aid to help the 24 million Yemenis now dependent on an underfunded UN relief fund. But a generation of Yemenis who have lost their families, their homes, educations and livelihoods will not get them back. On a 2016 trip to Yemen, the Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell visited a school in the capital. It had been built, he said, with British aid, only to be destroyed in all likelihood by a British bomb. he recalled to me in his Westminster office asking his host what the children were chanting. His host translated for him:

‘Death to the Sauds,’ ‘Death to the Pindos,’ and in respect for your visit today, they have cut out the third stanza.

On Mar 27 2015, one day after the first bombs fell on Yemen, foreign secretary Philip Hammond told reporters that Britain would “support the Toads in every practical way short of engaging in combat.” This would prove to be an understatement. BAE and Raytheon production lines in Britain sped up to keep up with Toad bombing. It is impossible to say how many bombs the UK has sent to Yemen, because the government in 2013 and 2014 granted BAE three special arms-export licences that permit the sale of an unlimited number of bombs to Toad Arabia without requiring disclosure of how many have been sold. As a result, the full scale of the UK’s rearmament programme has remained hidden. But even discounting this secret trade, British military exports to Riyadh multiplied almost 35-fold in one year, from £83m in 2014 to £2.9b in 2015. The Toads are the world’s biggest oil exporters, and they can afford to buy these weapons, but they traditionally lack the skills and manpower to deploy them. A retired Pentagon boxtop joked:

In the past, all the KSA’s pilots were selected from the king’s immediate family, because only they could be trusted not to drop a bomb on his palace.

British personnel have played a major role in picking up the slack. Government contractors carry out around 95% of the tasks necessary to fight the air war, one former BAE employee told Channel 4 Dispatches, an estimate confirmed to me by a former senior British boxtop who worked in Toad Arabia during the air war. Inside the Toad FOBs, there are thousands of British contractors working to keep the war machine moving. British contractors coordinate the distribution of bombs and aircraft parts. They manage climate-controlled armories and work in shifts to ensure bombs are dispatched in a timely manner for fresh raids. Alongside RAF personnel, British contractors train Toad pilots to conduct hazardous bombing raids in Yemen’s rugged northern mountains and over its cities. They also manage avionics and radar systems to ensure the Toad planes can get to and from their targets, and conduct the deep aircraft maintenance necessary to keep them circling over Yemen. The British government is keen to stress that it has no role in targeting, and insists that only the Toads choose what to hit in Yemen. But there is no disputing the fact that British contractors enable the Toads to hit their targets ,and that Britain is well aware of the nature of these targets. Michael Knights of WINEP has made two visits to the Toad airbase at Khamis Mushayt, near the border with Yemen, since the war began. Planes from this base, he told me, had waged an “out-and-out coercive air campaign” of “terror bombing” over the city of Saada in 2015 and 2016. He said:

You couldn’t have hit more civilian targets, The Toads worked their way down a list of all the national infrastructure targets, like we did in 1991. That meant everything: cranes, bridges, ministries … water treatment plants.

Human rights groups have criticised the Toad coalition for its use of so-called “double-tap” attacks, in which a second bomb is dropped a few minutes after the first, targeting civilians and emergency responders who have rushed to the site of the first explosion. One such staggered attack on Oct 8 2016 hit a funeral in Sana’a, killing 155 mourners and wounding at least 525. Another double-tap strike hit a wedding party in the remote village of Al-Wahijah on Sep 28 2015, killing 131 civilians. The father of the groom, Mohammed Busaibis, told the Yemeni human rights group Mwatana:

The corpses were scattered among the trees. I realised my mother had died when I recognized a scar on her severed leg. Why did they attack us? There is nothing around here. No military camps, not even a police station.

The former senior British official told me he was aghast at the recklessness of Toad targeting. he told me:

This is what would happen regularly. We’d be sitting down for lunch and a Yemeni would get a WhatsApp message with a pin on Google Maps saying that there will be Houthis here. On that basis, an awful lot of the targeting was conducted without any verification whatsoever.

Larry Lewis, the State Dept advisor for civilian protection, described  He explained:

Toad targeting is incredibly loose. In Pindostan and the UK, we have very formal processes … This coalition is not using them … And when you mess up, bad things happen. In Sep 2016, a few weeks before the funeral strike, I took my concerns to the chairman of the Toad armed forces. I laid out all of the very actionable things he could do to reduce civilian harm. The chairman didn’t really seem very interested … he just didn’t respond.

Last July, MbS, the architect of the air war, issued a royal decree “pardoning all military personnel who have taken part in Operation Restoring Hope of their respective military and disciplinary penalties.” After the Toads realised they could not defeat the Houthis with airstrikes alone, they launched a ground operation in northern Yemen, which includes thousands of Toad troops, a wide assortment of Yemeni and foreign fighters, and British special forces, whose presence in Yemen has not been officially acknowledged but has become an open secret in defence circles. A senior British diplomatic source told me that the decision to approve military assistance to the Toads emerged from a meeting in London between British ministers and MbS during his state visit to the UK in Mar 2018, when he met the Queen and signed a memorandum of intent to buy 48 more jets worth £10b to upgrade his war-ravaged fleet. Two months later, on May 23 2018, then-Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson released a carefully worded statement committing an undisclosed number of UK troops to provide “information, advice and assistance” to “mitigate” the threat to the Toads from Houthi missiles. The UK government refuses to confirm or deny whether it has deployed troops inside Yemen. In April, when asked in parliament about allegations published in the Mail on Sunday that British special forces were fighting in Yemen alongside Saudi-backed child soldiers, foreign minister Mark Field called for an investigation, while refusing to confirm whether British troops were in the country at all. In March this year, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt marked the fourth anniversary of the Toads’ intervention in Yemen with an audacious defence of Britain’s role in the conflict. In an opinion piece for Politico, Hunt insisted it would be “morally bankrupt” to cut off the Toads, with the counter-intuitive argument that Britain’s pursuit of peace in Yemen requires the government to continue selling weapons to one of the combatants:

To withdraw would be surrender our influence and make ourselves irrelevant to the course of events in Yemen.

In short, UK arms sales buy Britain influence with Saudi Arabia; influence that it can use to sue for peace. Hunt refers obliquely to “frank conversations” about human rights with his Saudi counterparts, while the government has defended its arms sales in court by citing “extensive UK training” provided to Saudi pilots and targeteers in order to reduce civilian harm, along with the presence of RAF liaison officers who work inside the Saudi air operations centre to “support Saudi compliance with International Humanitarian Law.” But the notion that Britain is a benign influence on the air war is betrayed by the stark fact that the rate of civilian attacks has risen throughout the war, according to a report analysing air-strike data authored by Larry Lewis for a Pindo-backed think-tank and published in May. Other British boxtops with first-hand experience of Toad military operations dismiss suggestions that our role on the ground in Toad Arabia makes any difference. “Bollocks” is how the former senior British official who worked in Toad Arabia put it. He said:

With MbS, our influence was gone. He was in a hurry, and surrounded himself by people who are not prepared to question his judgment. Militaries are like onions. At the very centre is where the final decisions are made on targeting … but we only had access to the fourth or fifth layer. We had no access at all to the Toads who selected the targets. Not even the Yemenis did. Engagement at senior levels amounted to reminding the Toads that Britain had “concerns” about civilian deaths. You’d say: ‘My government wants me to stress how important it is that you comply with international humanitarian law, and if you haven’t got it, here it is printed out in Arabic.’ That’ll be it.

John Deverell, the former director of defence diplomacy at the MoD, who was defence attache to Toad Arabia and Yemen between 2001 and 2003, told me:

We Brits tend to pussyfoot around, despite having considerable leverage on the Toads. Unless we are prepared to use the threat of pulling arms sales and personnel linked to the war in Yemen, any gestures of concern will be ineffectual. We are worried that if we do speak truth to power, we will endanger the commercial relationship.

It is this commercial relationship that is keeping Britain firmly ensnared in the Yemen war. Its foundation is an multi-billion pound, government-to-government arms deal signed in 1985 called al-Yamamah. This guarantees British maintenance, training and rearmament of any British aircraft sold to Saudi Arabia, in war and peacetime. The deal is open-ended, which means that its terms, which in the 1980s applied to Tornado aircraft, now cover the export of BAE’s newer Typhoon jets. In response to a recent parliamentary question, the government refused to disclose the total income from the al-Yamamah contract, saying:

Revealing this information would, or would be likely to, prejudice relations with another State.

Former BAE CEO Mike Turner put it at more than £40b in 2005. Nick Gilby, a researcher who has written a book on the deal, estimates the current sales figure to be “conservatively £60b” based on BAE statements and annual reports. Under the terms of the deal, the Toads reimburse the British MoD for the costs the latter incur by paying BAE to arm and maintain the Toad air force, plus 2%. BAE depends on this state contract for its survival, but it also wields enormous sway with the government as the principal executor of this multi-billion dollar deal. Former foreign secretary Robin Cook once said:

They have the key to the garden door to No 10.

Although al-Yamamah does not generate any income for the British Treasury per se, it is the bedrock of a deeper financial relationship between London and Riyadh. The Toads use their oil revenues to buy British stocks, bonds and luxury property. In 2017, they spent £93b in Britain. David Wearing, a specialist on UK-Toad relations at Royal Holloway University, estimates that a fifth of the UK current account deficit is financed by Toad cash, which “stabilises an increasingly vulnerable pound.” A former Conservative minister told me that just beforethe Toads started bombing Yemen in 2015, Riyadh privately communicated that it would squeeze Britain financially if the government wavered in its military cooperation. The minister recalled:

At the outset, the imperative was conveyed that they saw British support of its war as a key test. If you fail you’re out, as far as commercial opportunities and influence in the future.

The groundwork for the al-Yamamah deal was laid during Britain’s imperial era. In the 1960s, the Toads financed an off-the-books war against Nasser’s troops in Yemen. David Stirling, the founder of the SAS, used his sway with the Toad King to broker a deal for the kingdom to buy British Lightning jets, radar systems and in-country services. A decade later, events swung Britain and the Toads even closer together. In 1979, religious zealots seized Mecca’s Grand Mosque to demand the overthrow of the Toads, months after the Iranian revolution deposed the Shah and ushered in an Islamic Republic that openly challenged them. Britain was in financial disarray. It could not afford to buy the Tornado combat jet it had developed in a consortium with Italy and Germany. If Britain wanted an independent air deterrent, it would need a rich foreign buyer to subsidise the cost of its fleet. The Toads wanted the best aircraft money could buy, the Pindo F-16. Iran had the next model down, the F-14. Israel was vehemently opposed to any Arab country getting planes that could challenge its own F-16s. Pindostan found a workaround. Under a NATO framework, it would back the export of British Tornados to the Toads. This would keep the Soviets out of the Gulf and bring down the cost to Britain of upgrading its own fleet. Al-Yamamah was the result. It was the biggest arms deal in the world, and one that would save arms manufacturing in Britain. In a “secret and personal” letter to Reagan in 1988 whose contents have not been previously reported, Thatcher confided that the Toads had given her assurances that they would not use British weapons aggressively against other states. According to a report by Mike Lewis, a former UN weapons inspector, FCO boxtops advised against committing Britain to a clause that explicitly obliged Britain to rearm the Toads in the event it went to war because it would expose the country to accusations of involvement in “unlawful military adventures.” Thatcher’s government overruled them. This March I attended a government-organised convention in Farnborough for arms companies that want to break into lucrative export markets. Executives talked shop with government officials in the Export Growth Zone over chicken paprika sandwiches. We watched an “SAS motivational speaker” extol the importance of positive mental attitude. The convention featured a slide presentation on the details of arms control law by a senior official from the UK government’s export-licensing agency, who told the attendees:

Ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law.

Afterwards, I asked the official how it was possible that his own department, the Export Control Joint Unit, had issued blanket approvals for arms exports used in Yemen. he answered:

I don’t know. It just is. I’m doing what I’m told and doing my job, but I’m uncomfortably aware that Adolf Eichmann said the same thing.

The head of the ECJU, Edward Bell, has also expressed discomfort with re-arming the Saudi air campaign. he wrote in a 2016 email to Sajid Javid, who was then the minister responsible for arms licensing:

My gut tells me we should suspend them.

Javid ignored Bell’s advice. In 2015, Vince Cable, Javid’s predecessor, delayed the export of a shipment of Saudi-bound Paveway bombs in the wake of reports alleging that the air campaign had targeted hospitals in Yemen. But Cable told me that he quickly came under pressure from then-DM Fallon and PM Cameron to release the shipment. During the early phases of the air war, the British government replied to critics of its involvement by explaining that it conducted investigations into allegations of Toad attacks on civilians in Yemen. But in 2016, citing “infelicities of expression,” the government reversed itself, and revised earlier ministerial statements that said it did investigate. Instead, when pushed on the use of British weapons in alleged war crimes in Yemen, the government pointed out that the Toad coalition investigates itself. This work is done by the Joint Incident Assessment Team (JIAT), a body composed of around 20 military officers from Toad Arabia and the UAE which is charged with investigating reports of civilian deaths in Yemen. Larry Lewis, the Pindo boxtop who urged the Toads to establish the JIAT, told me that the team does not have researchers on the ground inside Yemen, so it must rely on the Toad Air Force to provide it with information. He said:

Occasionally they will take trips to Yemen to investigate high-visibility incidents.

Lewis also said the JIAT was “designed to reduce common mistakes” such as hitting targets on the no-strike list, including wells, hospitals and schools. Similarly, it was supposed to reduce the chances of Toad forces “failing to deploy tactical patience,” for instance by bombing Houthi militiamen when they stop at a market, rather than waiting for them to leave, so as to minimise civilian casualties. Lewis now says the JIAT failed on its own terms, because it was simply ignored by the Toads. For the British government, the JIAT provides a convenient fig-leaf for the continued licensing of arms exports to Riyadh. Bellingcat have accused the coalition of dishonesty in “the vast majority of JIAT assessments.” Rawan Shaif, who heads the group’s Yemen project, told me:

You have been relying on information from a partner you have been directly supporting in a conflict, who is lying to you about the majority of strikes.

In the case of two particularly deadly attacks in May and Jul 2015, in which more than 100 people were killed by airstrikes on outdoor markets in the town of Zabid and Fayoush, a suburb of Aden, the JIAT assessment simply insisted that the coalition had not bombed either location, in spite of reports by the UN, the BBC, HRW and Amnesty, as well as camera-smartphone footage from the sites making it clear that an airstrike had taken place. Elsewhere the JIAT has justified strikes by flatly asserting that the targets were military ones. After reports of civilian deaths in an airstrike in al-Jawf governorate in Sep 2016, JIAT released a statement claiming that the coalition had hit “Houthi commanders” travelling in a pickup truck. But when the UN and the Yemeni human rights group Mwatana made independent visits to the site, they discovered that the victims were a woman driving with her two sisters-in-law and their 12 children. Parliamentary scrutiny of Britain’s compliance with arms export control laws is the responsibility of the Committees for Arms Export Controls (CAEC). This cross-party grouping, which includes 18 MPs, is chaired by Graham Jones, a Labour MP who has criticised the “dishonesty” of NGOs reporting on human-rights violations in Yemen, written in support of MbS and the Toad coalition, and touted BAE’s “vital role” for employment and the economy in his Lancashire constituency. Dr Anna Stavrianakis, an academic researching arms licensing at the University of Sussex, who has regularly given evidence to CAEC, accused Jones of keeping Yemen off the committee’s agenda. She told me:

The government deliberately mobilises doubt and ambiguity when it comes to international humanitarian law violations in Yemen. And the chair acts in support of government policy rather than acting impartially to scrutinise it.

In an email to the Guardian, Jones said of his critics:

These far-left Marxists back a violent, racist, Islamic fascist militia … I have been at the forefront of discussions on Yemeni issues.

The ruling from the court of appeal, expected this Thursday, will determine whether the government’s political will to arm the Toads has violated the law. The case, which was brought by Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT), was heard before three judges on Apr 9. The result hinges on the interpretation of two words: “clear risk.” British law bans the licensing of arms if there is a “clear risk” that they could be used in a “serious violation of IHL.” The three judges will decide if the government has broken this law. Rosa Curling of Leigh Day, the legal firm instructed by CAAT, said:

I struggle to think of a case where the evidence has been so overwhelming and compelling than this one. If arms can be exported legally in this scenario, then when could they not?

The government argued that it has information, shared with the judges in secret, that gives it confidence there is not “clear risk” of the Toads needlessly killing civilians. Lawyers for CAAT countered that there is more than enough evidence in the public domain to prove this risk is real. CAAT lost its first case in 2017, when the high court ruled in favour of the government after hearing parts of the government’s defence in secret. The QC Philippe Sands, who is not involved in this case, says that ministers should be personally concerned about the prospect of facing criminal charges for their role in arming the Toads. He said:

If the UK is supplying weapons that are being used to commit crimes, then the possibility cannot be excluded that a minister who signs off on the sales in that knowledge could in the future be hauled before a court of law, national or international.

British case law is clear that knowingly supplying a weapon that is used to commit a crime can mean that the supplier of the weapon is also liable for that crime. Dearbhla Minogue of the Global Legal Action Network, which is working with Bellingcat to investigate whether individual airstrikes in Yemen have violated international law, said:

The coalition claims that it only targets the Houthis and that it tries very hard to avoid civilian casualties, but the evidence suggests otherwise. UK nationals involved in the transfer of arms in such a situation should be concerned about that.

According to Wayne Jordash QC, government officials would face a higher risk of prosecution if Britain is a “party to the conflict,” an innocuous-sounding legal phrase that has exercised the civil service as evidence of civilian casualties has piled up. one Whitehall official remarked to me in April:

A lot of energy is spent on trying to keep us not a party.

Under international law, being a party to a conflict means providing military, financial or logistical support that directly degrades the military capacity of another belligerent and weakens their ability to conduct hostilities. A spox for the ICRC told me it had made a determination as to whether Britain is a party to the Yemen war, but could not publicly disclose the result because it was still mediating between belligerents of the war and did not want to risk prejudicing relations. Ministers regularly tell parliament that Britain is not a party to the conflict. the then foreign minister Alister Burt told parliament in January:

Let me make it very clear that we are not a party to the conflict … That is not the position of the UK.

He repeated this assertion to me in an interview in April. Foreign office minister Mark Field similarly told parliament in March:

We still hold to the firm view that we are not a party to the conflict.

But the senior British diplomatic source, citing internal FCO legal advice, told me:

Anybody who says that is is misspeaking. The cabinet decided to provide military assistance to the Toads last year, and by doing that we became a party to the conflict.

The contortions of the British government to obscure its involvement in the Yemen war are nothing short of acrobatic. The government has tethered Britain, its military and its economy to the richest nation in the Arab world as it brutalises the poorest. The Toads are  estimated to have spent $60b to $70b each year on their failing war, nearly four times the current GDP of Yemen, and enough money to have secured the livelihoods of a generation of Yemenis. Farea al-Muslimi, the son of a Yemeni farmer now at Chatham House, described to me the toll that war has taken on his country. He said:

Tomorrow you’re going to end up with a dead body called Yemen, and no-one will want to clean or bury it, and the Toads, the Houthis, the British will realise they are fighting for something that doesn’t exist.

Arron Merat was a Tehran correspondent for the Economist between 2011 and 2014. He tweets at @a_merat.

Senate Blocks Arms Sales To Toads In Bipartisan Trump Rebuke
Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge, Jun 20 2019

The Senate voted on Thursday to block billions of dollars of armaments to the Toads in what the NYT described as a “sharp and bipartisan rebuke of the Trump administration’s attempt to circumvent Congress” by declaring an emergency over Iran.

In the first of a series of three back-to-back votes, Thugs joined Demagogs to register their growing anger with the administration’s use of emergency power to cut Congress out of natsec decisions, as well as the White House’s unflagging support for the Toads despite congressional pressure to punish MbS after the killing of Khashoggi last October.

The vote marks the sharpest division between the White House and Congress to date, and is the second time in recent months that the administration has faced bipartisan pushback against foreign policy. In April, both the House and Senate voted to cut off military assistance to the Toads for use in Yemen under the 1973 War Powers Act, only for Trump to veto the measure (the second of his presidency). Trump will use his veto power to override Congress again this time:

While the Demagog-controlled House is also expected to block the sales, Trump has pledged to veto the legislation, and it is unlikely that either chamber could muster enough support to override the president’s veto.

Demagog Sen Menendez, lead sponsor of the resolutions of disapproval, said:

This vote is a vote for the powers of this institution to be able to continue to have a say on one of the most critical elements of Pindo foreign policy and natsec. To not let that be undermined by some false emergency and to preserve that institutional right, regardless of who sits in the White House.

22 pending arms sales to three Arab nations were announced in late May utilizing an emergency provision contained in the Arms Export Control Act. In total, $8.1b in munitions are part of the sales. Connecticut Democrat Sen. Christopher Murphy, another author of the resolution, said:

If we let this emergency declaration go without protest, without a vote, I don’t know that we’re ever getting the power to oversee arms sales back as a body.

According to the report, Pompeo has been pushing hard for the emergency designation despite objections by career FSOs and Congress critturs, who have argued that the sales would essentially help the Toads fight Iran and its partner Arab militias. Some Thugs have endorsed the deals, arguing that rejecting the arms sales would have unintended consequences at a time when Iran tensions have escalated. Lindsey Graham is not one of them. He said:

While I understand that the Toads are our strategic allies, the behavior of MbS cannot be ignored. Now is not the time to do business as usual with the Toads. I am also very concerned about the precedent these arms sales would set by having the administration go around legitimate concerns of the Congress.

Tulsi Gabbard was a bit more blunt in November:

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