Britain could be breaking the law in its support of Riyadh against Yemen

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SHAFAQNA – British Prime Minister David Cameron continues to face mounting criticism over his involvement with Saudi Arabia, as more reports have surfaced that London’s military entanglement with Riyadh  could potentially constitute a war crime, notwithstanding the damages it carries to both the nation’s credibility and standing in the world.

A self-proclaimed advocate for civil liberties and political self-determination  champion, Britain has entertained paradoxical friendships – often favoring autocracies and other violent regimes over aspiring democracies, all in the name of profits and financial largess.

While one can easily understand that the world of politics require for a certain degree of pragmatism, and a pinch of cynicism – we do live in the real world after all, and reality is more often than not, ugly, messy and conflicted, there are limits to what officials should be willing to do: i.e. political ethics.

I will grant you that political ethics sounds a lot like an oxymoron.

Still, if nations are so keen on fronting civil liberties and democratic freedom they should at least have the courtesy of abiding by such principles, and if not perfectly, at least actively.

I recall with which passion PM David Cameron declared Britain’s attachment to such values as human rights and right to self governance. Speaking at the European Court of Human Rights on January, 25, 2012, PM Cameron said: “Human rights is a cause that runs deep in the British heart and long in British history.(Britain is) Driven by a belief in fundamental human rights and a passion to advance them.”

Here I have to say that words fail me, and so I will borrow journalist, Felicity Arbuthnot’s own: “The British government under Prime Minister David Cameron’s leadership can claim absolute consistency in just one policy: towering, jaw dropping hypocrisy.”

Bearing in mind David Cameron filled those shoes left by PM Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, the remark does in fact carries a deeper meaning still.

Very much like his predecessors, Mr. Cameron appears to be more interested in running wars and dropping bombs, than actually promoting peace. Libya in this particular case should stand a perfect cautionary tale, as it the destruction of a nation’s infrastructures the NATO provisioned for when it intervened, and not so much its reconstruction – hence the arrival of the Black Flag army into the vacuum western powers so perfectly engineered in North Africa.

But back to Britain and Saudi Arabia

David Cameron has now been accused of silently dragging Britain into another conflict in the Middle East without parliamentary approval or oversight. Where Tony Blair had to generate a war narrative out of thin air; promoting a non-existential national threat to garner support, David Cameron has instead chosen to hide behind political and legal semantics, acting still the neocons, only covertly.

Why risk another national debate, when you can just as easily run covert military operations under nebulous security agreements with Oil mighty Saudi Arabia, the grand kingdom of all things reactionary and totalitarian?

But if David Cameron most likely would have loved to fly under the radar when it comes to his office’s involvement with Riyadh, Yemen’s Resistance movement’s resilience more or less ruined such plans. 10 months of war have a way of allowing for the dark and ugly to creep back to the surface.

Angus Robertson, the Scottish National Party’s leader at Westminster, led the political witch-hunt this January when he demanded that the Prime Minister admit to British involvement in Saudi Arabia’s invasion of Yemen. According to new figures released by the Government show that, Britain’s military export to the kingdom exploded in the last quarter of 2015 (an increase of 11,00 percent) from £9 million to a whooping £1 billion.

The running argument is that London helped replenish Riyadh’s war arsenal to better powers its aggression on impoverished Yemen. Bearing in mind that Saudi Arabia has been accused of war crimes by a litany of rights groups: Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Reprieve, Britain could be held complicit.

“Thousands of civilians have been killed in Yemen, including a large number by the Saudi air force and they’ve done that using British-built planes, with pilots who are trained by British instructors, dropping British-made bombs, who are coordinated by the Saudis in the presence of British military advisors,” Mr. Robertson said during Prime Minister’s Questions.

“Isn’t it time for the Prime Minister to admit that Britain is effectively taking part in a war in Yemen that is costing thousands of civilians lives and he has not sought parliamentary approval to do this?”

Of course PM Cameron virulently rejected any and all allegations, arguing instead that his administration acted within the perimeter of the law, in keeping with international law, and in all good conscious. Only we all know that good conscious does not weigh much when millions of dollars worth of military contracts stand in the balance.

Britain is not taking part in the conflict which has seen Yemen ravaged, burnt and obliterated says Mr Cameron … yet he admits that it is indeed British weapons which are being dropped on civilians, British experts who have helped in the training of Saudi troops, and British officers who have “consulted” in al-Saud’s war rooms  – de facto enabling al-Saud’s genocidal campaign against Yemen.

Semantics, semantics, semantics

“British weapons companies have sold more than £5.6bn worth of arms, fighter jets and other military equipment to Riyadh under David Cameron, according to the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT). British “people on the ground” are also working with the Saudi military on targeting strikes in Yemen,” commented Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond.

The situation in Yemen has reached such a catastrophic low that even the United Nations had to admit to Saudi Arabia’s gruesome taste for civilian blood. “I have observed with extreme concern the continuation of heavy shelling from the ground and the air in areas with high a concentration of civilians as well as the perpetuation of the destruction of civilian infrastructure – in particular hospitals and schools – carried out by Coalition Forces,” UN human rights chief UN human rights chief Zeid Raad al-Hussein said in a statement.

To remedy the situation Hilary Benn, the shadow foreign secretary has called for the re-establishment of a parliament’s watchdog on arms exports to establish whether or not Britain did in fact violated international law.

While officials and lawyers will most certainly spend many long hours debating, Yemenis will continue to pay war capitalists with their blood.

By Catherine Shakdam – This article appeared first in the American Herald Tribune

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