“Arms sales above flesh and blood, terror, heartbreak and humanity, every time”
These words of journalist Felicity Arbuthnot reverberated as the writer belatedly discovered Josie Ensor’s report from Istanbul that a US air strike killed nearly 60 civilians, including children, in Syria after the coalition mistook them for Islamic State fighters. Some eight families were hit as they tried to flee in one of the single deadliest strikes on civilians by the alliance since the start of its operations in the war-torn country.
The US-led coalition has carried out more than 450 air strikes around the city since the operation to take the town began in May.
“This heartbreak, fear and destruction has been rained down in commensurate devastation near every twenty-four hours since March 2015, Saudi Arabia is the lead culprit, but in the “coalition” are also Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait”; we note elsewhere news of Britain’s covert assistance in air surveillance of targets and – it is feared – other ‘special operations’, unsanctioned by and undisclosed to parliament.
Felicity quotes Richard Bennett, head of Amnesty International’s UN Office saying: “The strong evidence of the commission of war crimes by the Saudi Arabian-led coalition in Yemen should have been investigated by the Human Rights Council. Instead, Saudi Arabia cynically used its membership of the Council to derail a resolution to establish an international investigation … As a member of the Human Rights Council Saudi Arabia is required to uphold the highest standards of human rights. In reality, it has led a military coalition (carrying out) unlawful and deadly airstrikes on markets, hospitals and schools in Yemen. The coalition has also repeatedly used internationally banned weapons in civilian areas…”
Then comes a link from a Moseley reader about a draft report to be presented to the Committees on Arms Export Controls:
“It is deeply concerning that since the military intervention in Yemen, the UK government has approved substantial increases in arm licences to Saudi Arabia on the very items which could be used in an aerial campaign.”
The draft also points out that the government has been giving contradictory assurances about the degree of UK involvement in providing military advice to the Saudis, including in the joint combined planning cell and the Saudi Air Operations Centre.
A Newsnight programme reported that the Committees were going to ‘call a halt’ to weapon supplies to Saudi Arabia
This would be followed by an investigation of the accusations of human rights breaches against Riyadh in Yemen, one being “that it seemed “inevitable” that violations of international humanitarian laws had involved arms supplied by the UK . . . The weight of evidence of violations of international humanitarian law by the Saudi-led coalition is now so great, that it is very difficult to continue to support Saudi Arabia”.
Politics Home – managing the news? Concern about the leak to Newsnight presented as being the only matter of importance
Politics Home totally failed to report that the arms export committee was reproved by the chair of the foreign affairs select committee, Crispin Blunt, as an apparent effort was made to prevent a quorum by MPs leaving the committee meeting. He asked: “Is it in order for MPs to withdraw from the proceedings at a crucial moment in those proceedings to frustrate the moving on to formal consideration of matters in that committee, and declaring they were doing so with the express intent of withdrawing to prevent those proceedings from going forward with the knock-on effect that other members from their constituent committees were not able then to speak, take part, or vote in the proceedings of the committee?”
In effect these MPs added their political ‘strike’ to the ongoing barbaric and criminal aerial bombardment putting “Arms sales above flesh and blood, terror, heartbreak and humanity, every time”.