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Scotland to push for second independence referendum post-election

By Johanna Ross | December 18, 2019

The Scottish independence movement has come a long way since I was a child. A few decades ago the Scottish National Party was on the fringes of politics and even when the Scottish parliament was founded, it was a Labour government at the helm. Independence was a distant dream, untouchable. It was even more intangible a prospect when my parents were young – back in the 1950s the SNP was as ostracised as the BNP currently is, with its members considered to be rather unhinged!

Gradually, over the decades, this has changed, with Alex Salmond presiding over the first ever SNP government and Nicola Sturgeon winning the largest number of seats ever for her party. Scotland’s party of independence has now been ruling the country for 12 years, and continues to dominate the political scene. On Thursday’s general election it won 47 out of 59 seats on a mandate of stopping Brexit and calling a second referendum on Scottish independence. Nicola Sturgeon has been labelled the UK’s second most powerful politician. Her party has never been as popular, and independence has never been so close. Now it seems the question is not if, but when.

Boris Johnson, having slaughtered Jeremy Corbyn in the election, is jubilant. He is currently coasting along on cloud nine, feeling vindicated after months of accusations hurled at himself and his ‘untrustworthy’ leadership. The man who just a short time ago, it was said, could face jail for deceiving the Queen and illegally proroguing parliament, took a gamble which paid off. He defiantly won the general election and now has a parliament behind him to pass his beloved Brexit bill.

And yet it’s not clear that he fully understands the implications of Thursday’s vote for the future of the Union. In fact it seems he is in denial. In a phone call with Nicola Sturgeon on Friday night Johnson reportedly emphasised that ‘he remained opposed to a second independence referendum’. But his words are not accepting the reality of the situation: that the majority of Scots have just voted decisively for the party which stands on an independence platform. And Sturgeon is not going to back down. In an interview on Sunday she said: “If he thinks – and I said this to him on Friday night on the telephone – that saying no is the end of the matter, he is going to find himself completely and utterly wrong.”

Sturgeon, usually mild mannered and reserved in her rhetoric on independence, has unequivocally turned up the volume in the debate, declaring that Scotland could not be “imprisoned” in the UK against its will. She accused the Tories of ignoring the will of the Scottish people and that they will have to ‘face up to and confront reality’ about what the election result means. In an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday the Scottish First Minister expressed frustration that she was being forced to explain her position: “It really is such a subversion of democracy that you’re talking to the leader of the party that overwhelmingly won the election, and I’m under pressure to say what I’m doing because the mandate that I won is not going to be honoured by the party that got roundly defeated in Scotland”.

The independence campaign of course, narrowly lost in the 2014 referendum 45% to 55%. But so much has changed since then. At that time, the campaign for remaining in the Union was even using EU membership as an argument against independence, saying that Scotland would be jeopardising its future in the EU by leaving the United Kingdom. A few years later, the sad irony of this cannot be missed. Brexit has completely altered the political landscape in Britain, stirring up nationalism both north and south of the border. England has put Brexit before the United Kingdom, and Scotland has equally decided that its future remains with Europe, but not with England.

The Johnson government has a policy on Brexit, but its strategy on Scotland is less certain. Since the Prime Minister took office, his presence north of the border has been lacking, as has his interaction with Scottish politicians. Even his relationship with Scottish Tory leader, Ruth Davidson, was poor, as they had opposite views on Brexit. Johnson has deepened the hatred for the Conservative party in Scotland, estranging apathetic voters even further. By denying a second referendum he will only foster more bad feeling towards him and the Westminster government and boost the Nationalists’ campaign. If he doesn’t turn his attention to Scotland soon, he’ll have a Catalonia situation on his doorstep before he knows it…

Johanna Ross is a journalist based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

December 18, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , | 1 Comment

‘Corbyn would be mad not to get rid of nukes’: SNP would back Labour govt if they dump Trident

RT | October 5, 2018

The SNP has told Jeremy Corbyn it would back a Labour government if support for the Trident nuclear program was dropped, claiming he’d be “mad” not to take the chance to rid Britain of nukes for the first time in its history.

Stewart McDonald, the SNP’s defence spokesman at Westminster, has enticed Corbyn, the Labour leader and lifelong opponent of nuclear weapons, with the prospect of an SNP/Labour pact which would enable him to become Britain’s PM – if his party dumped its policy to renew Trident.

McDonald gave an interview to The House magazine in which he said that the prospect of a Corbyn-led government would present a historic opportunity – one the SNP must grab with both hands. He claims it would be “the first opportunity that would have presented itself in British history, for Britain to get rid of nuclear weapons.”

According to McDonald, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who he says joined CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) before the SNP, would make dumping Trident a key part of any post-election negotiations, insisting Corbyn would be “mad” not to grab the opportunity to both become PM and rid Britain of nuclear weapons.

He said: “I hope that if Jeremy’s in the position to form a government, perhaps with an arrangement with the Scottish National Party, then that [scrapping Trident] should be one of the key planks of any discussion that we have.

“We’d ultimately have an opportunity, the first opportunity that would have presented itself in British history, for Britain to get rid of nuclear weapons. We would be mad, and Jeremy Corbyn would be mad, not to grab that opportunity.”

The issue of Trident has been a thorny one for Labour. Despite it being official party policy to back the renewal of Britain’s nuclear deterrent, a large section of the grassroots membership want Labour to shift its policy to one of unilateral disarmament.

October 5, 2018 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Trident nuclear submarine replacement plans ‘unachievable’ – spending watchdog

RT | July 25, 2017

Multi-billion pound projects to upgrade and renew Britain’s nuclear arsenal have been branded “unachievable” by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) in its report to the Treasury and Cabinet Office.

The watchdog’s report, which was picked up by the Ferret investigative website, found that major projects relating to the nuclear deterrent are poorly managed, over budget, and subject to technical difficulties.

Those projects are the £1.7 billion (US$2.2bn) nuclear reactor manufacturing program and the program to build four nuclear-armed and seven nuclear-powered submarines at a cost of £31 billion and £9 billion respectively.

The reactor manufacturing project, based at Rolls Royce in Derby, picked up the worst possible IPA rating after being marked as “red,” with the author’s warning that “successful delivery of the project appears to be unachievable.”

“There are major issues with project definition, schedule, budget, quality and/or benefits delivery, which at this stage do not appear to be manageable or resolvable.

“The project may need re-scoping and/or its overall viability reassessed,” the investigators added, warning that reactor building was £250,000 million ($325mn) over budget.

The submarine building project, which has so far delivered three nuclear-powered Astute–class warships, has been rated “amber/red” for the third successive year.

The IPA report said: “Successful delivery of the project is in doubt, with major risks or issues apparent in a number of key areas.

“Urgent action is needed to address these problems and/or assess whether resolution is feasible.”

The study found that “overall affordability” was the main impediment to the submarine building program.

As the submarines are bound for the UK’s nuclear base near Faslane, Scotland, the findings quickly attracted comment from the Scottish National Party (SNP) and anti-nuclear campaigners north of the border.

“A billion here – a billion there – to add to the bill for these weapons of mass destruction,” SNP defense spokesperson Stewart McDonald MP told the Ferret.

“The Westminster obsession with Trident is already squeezing conventional defense expenditure as everything else is sacrificed for these redundant, eye-wateringly expensive weapons. The Tories need to get a grip on costs if they insist on Trident renewal.”

Arthur West, the chairman of the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, told the website: “The Trident program in particular continues to be a shambles from a cost point of view.”

The Ministry of Defense defended the poor ratings, saying they “reflect the complexity and scale of delivering the most advanced submarines ever commissioned by the Royal Navy, the ultimate guarantee of our national security.”

July 25, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

London mayor backtracks after sparking row by likening Scottish nationalism to racism

RT | February 26, 2017

London Mayor Sadiq Khan sparked a row in tweets preceding his latest speech by implying Scottish nationalism is akin to racism. He was forced to backpedal after Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, slammed his remarks as “spectacularly ill-judged.”

“The last thing we need now is to pit different parts of our country or sections of our society against each other – or to further fuel division or seek separation.”

“There’s no difference between those who try to divide us on the basis of whether we’re English or Scottish, and those who try to divide us on the basis of our background, race, or religion,” Khan said in tweeted remarks preceding his speech to the Scottish Labour conference in Perth on Saturday. He also implied that a new Scottish independence referendum would be destabilizing.

“The world is an increasingly divided place – with Brexit, the election of President Trump and the rise of populist and narrow nationalist parties around the world,” he said.

He then went on to stress the need to find an “antidote to Brexit and the rise of right-wing populist parties” that does not “break away or push our neighbors away,” but is based on unity.

SNP [Scottish National Party] leader Nicola Sturgeon branded Khan’s statements as “spectacularly ill-judged,” tweeting that Khan’s “intervention… is an insult to all those Scots who support independence for reasons of inclusion & social justice.”

Sturgeon was not the only one who found his words insulting. People posted angry remarks on Twitter, saying London mayor’s own policies are more akin to racism, while warning that Khan’s Labour party now has little chance of success in Scotland.

However, shortly before delivering his speech to the Labor conference, Khan clarified his statements with the BBC, insisting that he was “not saying that nationalists are somehow racist or bigoted.”

“Of course, I am not saying that the SNP are racists or bigots.”

“What I am saying is that the world is increasingly divided by Brexit result and the election of President Trump, with the rise of populist and narrow nationalist parties across the world, now is the time to come together, now is the time for unity, not a time for division or isolation,” Khan told a BBC reporter.

While he followed his initial script during his speech, Khan also attempted to make his points more clearly.

“With the world becoming an increasingly divided place. Brexit. President Trump. And the rise of populist and narrow nationalist parties around the world. Now’s not the time to play on people’s fears. Or to pit one part of our country – or one section of our society – against each other.”

“In that respect, there’s no difference between those who try to divide us on the basis of whether we’re English or Scottish, and those who try to divide us on the basis of our background, race, or religion. Now, of course, I’m not saying that nationalists are somehow racist or bigoted – but now, more than ever – what we don’t need is more division and separation,” he specified.

Scotland voted 55 to 45 percent in favor of remaining in the UK in a tightly contested September 2014 referendum, but then largely opposed the UK’s decision to leave the European Union known as Brexit last year, with 62 percent of the Scottish population voting for Britain to remain in the EU. As the British government is increasingly leaning toward a “hard Brexit,” which would entail totally withdrawing from the European single market and customs union, the ruling Scottish National Party (SNP) has intensified calls for a second independence referendum lately, publishing a draft bill for the vote last October. However, the British government could block the second referendum, according to Defense Secretary Michael Fallon, who said earlier this month that London would not allow a repeat of the 2014 plebiscite.

Scottish independence campaigners claim that an independent Scotland would continue to work closely with the rest of the UK, insisting that their civic nationalism is inclusive and non-sectarian.

February 26, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

Theresa May must explain Trident malfunction ‘cover up,’ say opponents

RT | January 23, 2017

Labour and the Scottish National Party (SNP) say Prime Minister Theresa May must explain why Parliament was not told about a failed Trident missile test before a crucial vote on whether to renew Britain’s aging nuclear weapons program.

Downing Street confirmed on Monday morning that May knew about the malfunction before MPs voted on the system’s renewal.

A spokesperson said the incident occurred on former PM David Cameron’s watch, but admitted May had known about it.

The incident, in which a test fired missile veered towards the United States, was not reported until Sunday, but occurred only weeks before a key Commons vote on Trident renewal.

The spokesperson confirmed the crew of the nuclear submarine involved, HMS Vengeance, were “certified” to continue operating.

The vote went overwhelmingly in favor of renewal after May lobbied hard for the UK’s nuclear deterrent.

Almost immediately after Downing Street’s confession, a statement on behalf of David Cameron’s former media team denied any cover up had taken place.

A spokesman claimed it was “entirely false to suggest David Cameron’s media team covered up or tried to cover up the Trident missile test,” according to the Huffington Post.

The Cameron team also criticized claims of a cover-up made by defense committee chair Julian Lewis earlier on Monday.

“We are disappointed that Julian Lewis would make these claims with no evidence.”

Leading figures in both parties are set to use the incident, which occurred in June 2016 just weeks before a House of Commons vote on renewal, to attack the government. News of the missile malfunction only emerged on Sunday.

The SNP is committed to opposing it on the basis of safety and security, as the nuclear submarine fleet is based in Scotland.

The Labour leadership is opposed to nuclear weapons, but the majority of its parliamentary party is in favor of renewal.

SNP defense spokesman Brendan O’Hara told the BBC there are political and operational issues which must be addressed, but warned “this is not a national security issue.”

“The government can’t, as they love to do, hide behind the national security smokescreen. The public, who are paying over two hundred thousand million pounds [US$249 billion] for this renewal, have a right to know if it works or not,” O’Hara said.

Labour’s Shadow Defense Secretary Nia Griffiths said a full explanation is due, while Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said it is “extremely worrying” that parliament had not been informed of the incident.

Likewise former Labour Defense Minister Kevan Jones told Labour List, “If there are problems, they should not have been covered up in this ham-fisted way. Ministers should come clean if there are problems and there should an urgent inquiry into what happened.”

In a car-crash interview on Sunday with the BBC, May refused to disclose whether she knew about the incident ahead of the vote on Trident. MPs ruled in favor of renewal by 472 votes to 117.

Instead she opted to say she had complete faith in Trident and that she thought “we should defend our country,” with repeated references to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s opposition to Trident.

Senior military figures have also weighed in, with former head of the Royal Navy Lord West of Spithead writing in the Daily Mail that this had been a cover-up “worthy of North Korea.”

“The decision to withhold news last summer that a Trident missile test experienced some kind of problem – ironically, almost certainly minor – is both bizarre and spectacularly stupid,” West said in an opinion piece, urging Defense Secretary Michael Fallon to step up and explain.

Senior Tories have been attempting a fightback on the issue, with Business Minister Greg Clark telling Sky News “It’s been the long-standing policy not to comment on tests of weapons systems and, if that’s the approach that you take, I think we have to abide by that approach.”

This argument somewhat falls down on the fact that successful tests are regularly reported, including with video of the launches.

Tory head of the Defense Committee Julian Lewis said as much in his intervention early on Monday.

“This sort of event is one that you can’t play both ways … whenever they work, which is 99 percent of the time, films are released of them working,” he said.

Lewis said someone should be held to account for the decision.

“I always think with something like this it is better to lay it on the line … In the end you have always got to assume that something like this will come out,” Lewis said.

Read more:

UK announces £500mn injection into costly, controversial Trident base in Scotland

January 23, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Exposed: Over 100 potentially deadly nuclear convoy incidents on mainland UK since 2000

RT | September 21, 2016

Military reports show a list of potentially explosive errors including brake failures, fuel leaks and overheated engines have occurred during operations to move nuclear materials by road through Scotland.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) reports were published by the Ferret investigative journalism team and add a further 43 incidents to the list of known failures and near misses since 2000, bringing the total to 180.

The new releases cover incidents during road moves of nuclear convoys between January 2013 and July 2016.

One incident, according to the MoD, involved a “minor road traffic collision involving two convoy vehicles” which resulted in “marks to [the] bumper on one vehicle.”

Another happened as a vehicle left an unidentified military base. It describes how the vehicle made “contact with a parked civilian vehicle.”

In November 2014 a warhead carrier broke down due to a “defective interlock,” stopping the convoy.

A second carrier lost power as it was leaving a military installation and had to be returned to base in September 2015.

A convoy had to be delayed in January 2016 because its departure route had mistakenly been planned to coincide with “the end of a local football match with fans leaving ground.”

Scottish National Party (SNP) defense spokesman Brendan O’Hara was particularly scathing about the revelations, telling the Ferret: “This is utterly chilling.”

“One incident involving these deadly cargoes is one more than is acceptable – but 43 in three years is plain shocking,” he said.

“These figures illustrate very starkly that communities are potentially being put at risk because of breakdowns and safety concerns. People are being kept in the dark, and it’s imperative that communities know that they are safe.”

An MoD spokesman defended the military’s record on nuclear convoys.

“All operational and engineering incidents are reported, however minor,” he said.

“In over 50 years of transporting defense nuclear material in the UK, there has never been an incident that has posed any radiation hazard to the public or to the environment.”

September 21, 2016 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Scottish Nationalism & the Yinon Plan

By Barbara McKenzie | July 13, 2016

The Scottish National Party, under Alex Salmond, has long been associated with opposition to illegal and immoral wars. Salmond was one of the few MPs who opposed the bombing of Serbia, and campaigned actively against the invasion of Iraq, subsequently supporting Plaid Cymru’s Adam Price in his attempt to impeach Tony Blair. Like Jeremy Corbyn he has been responding to the publication of the Chilcot report; like Jeremy Corbyn he is calling for Blair to be charged with war crimes.

What exactly is the position of the Scottish National Party with regard to global peace and justice?

The foremost objective of the Scottish National Party is Scottish independence. Beyond that, it has been  obliged to position itself as the centre-left party of Scotland, there being scarcely room on the right along with Labour and the Tories, and espouses certain left-wing causes such as the question of upgrading Britain’s nuclear missile system, Trident. However a commitment to Scottish independence and opposition to nuclear weapons do not in themselves add up to an ethical view on global affairs.

Despite Salmond’s stance on Iraq, the SNP, with Salmond as party leader, voted with the Government and Labour Opposition to bomb Libya in 2011. It should be noted that both Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell voted against the motion, along with 11 other MPs. The reasons given for their No vote are varied and convincing.  That of Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, went : ’Given the West’s colonial past, its history of adventurism and support for dictatorship in the region, its failure to enforce UN resolutions in Palestine and the legacy of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, I think its motives in Libya will always be in doubt.’ Quite so.

The SNP clearly did not see it that way. As Steve James puts it:

Since coming to power in Edinburgh in 2007, the [SNP] has repeatedly made clear it is willing to support British military actions, particularly if a UN flag is flying over the slaughter of the day—including in Libya. […] The SNP has repeatedly made clear that they support NATO, the European Union, a struggle against Russia, and increased spending on frigates, fast jets and long-range reconnaissance aircraft.

The SNP’s line on Syria could be seen as being consistent with its position on Iraq, in that it opposed the overt bombing of the country (ostensibly ISIS in Syria) in December, 2015.  When talking to the press after the vote was passed Salmond made a lot of sense (as he usually does), pointing out the lack of a proper strategy to deal with Islamic State.

However the elephant present in the chamber when the bombing of Syria was debated was the UK government’s known support for the extremist militants fighting the legitimate government in Syria, see here and here. Neither Salmond’s statement on the ‘bomb Syria’ vote nor Nicola Sturgeon’s contain any proposal for the obvious moral alternative, to stop supporting armed extremists, mostly imported, and instead help the Syrian people fight these terrorists. There is nothing said by either politician to suggest that the SNP does not support in principle the proxy war on Syria and enforced regime change.

It is obvious to all and sundry that there is a gross contradiction between the West’s claims to see terrorism and the growth of ISIS as a major threat, while in real terms prioritising the overthrow of the Syrian government who is actually fighting them on the ground. By not pressing the UK government and the EU to actually help the Syrian people fight jihadi extremists, instead of providing those same extremists with moral and material support, the SNP has shown itself to be just as compromised as the Labor and Conservative parties.

The Yinon Plan

Many active users of social media who follow global events will be familiar with General Wesley Clark’s  revelation in 2007 about the US plan, after having already invaded Afghanistan, to take out 7 further countries in 5 years.  It was made known to Wesley Clark a couple of weeks after 9/11 that the US planned to invade Iraq,  Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and finally Iran.

Likewise, many people will be familiar with Oded Yinon’s ‘Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties’, a proposal to further Israel’s interests by destabilising the whole of the Middle East. The plan operates on two essential premises. To survive, Israel must 1) become an imperial regional power, and 2) must effect the division of the whole area into small states by the dissolution of all existing Arab states.

The objectives of the proposal articulated by Wesley Clark clearly further those of the second premise of the Yinon Plan. Furthermore, leaked documents (such as Clinton’s emails) confirm that Israel’s interests are paramount for US foreign policy. The same documents show that the decision to take out Syria had been made at least by 2006, but probably much earlier.

Given the catastrophic progression of wars from Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya to Syria, all strongly promoted and either actively waged or heavily sponsored by the West, Israel and their ally Saudi Arabia, there is no moral or intellectual justification for seeing these wars as anything but a cold-blooded plan to destabilise the greater Middle East and fulfill the Yinon plan.

There is little in the actions of the SNP (and many of their supporters) to suggest that they do not support in principle this path of destruction. Nicola Sturgeon declared her unequivocal support for the Israel lobby by putting on a blue nose to celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut, which translates as something like ‘Destroy Palestine Day’.

nicolasturgeonyomhaatzmaut

Support for Israel, and for the Israel-backed programme of regime change in the Middle East, is a thread that runs through the Scottish independence movement.

The main Scottish ‘leftist’ pro-independence blogs, while they probably opposed the Iraq war, have abandoned any pretense at a moral perspective when it comes to global affairs. Rev. Stuart Campbell, the editor of Wings over Scotland and a strong supporter of the SNP, has wisely avoided commenting on issues such as the Syria conflict, focusing on what he knows best, i.e. Scottish affairs. However Campbell forms a mutual admiration society with one Stephen Daisley, a journalist with STV News who has been termed a ‘hate-filled and crazed right-winger’ by ex-UK ambassador Craig Murray. Daisley authored a quite extraordinary article attacking those who criticise Israel, which fully justifies Murray’s categorisation, offering such objective analysis as, ‘Why deny the Holocaust when you can throw it back in the Jews’ faces by fictionalising Gaza as a concentration camp? Why hurl rocks at a Jew in the street when you can hurl endless vexatious UN resolutions at Israel?’

Daisley’s article was published 24 August 2015. On the same day Wings over Scotland tweeted (not, I hasten to add, in reference to Daisley’s article, but also not for the first time)

WingslovesDaisley2

Daisley promoted Wings over Scotland’s crowd fundraiser in February 2015, while until late last year his blog was listed among the suggested links on Wings over Scotland’s Home Page.

The other major pro-indy blog, Bella Caledonia, which has been praised by such notable Scots as Irvine Welsh, has come out strongly in support for enforced regime change in Syria, posting, for example, an article What is to be Done about Syria by determined propagandist for the ‘revolution’, Mohammed Idrees Ahmed. To be fair to Scotland, the article attracted a number of negative (or appalled) comments, but editor Mike Small responded to criticism by digging himself into an ever deeper hole, and disappointed readers were left in no doubt of his support for illicit regime change in Syria.

Who’s next?

It is widely assumed that the next country in the sights of the NATO/Israel alliance will be Iran (although with all the recent sabre-rattling about Russia, one could be forgiven for thinking that country may be next in the firing line). It has also been widely assumed that the progression to war on Iran, either through direct military intervention or via a bogus revolution on the Syria model, is impeded by the failure so far to achieve a resolution in Syria that satisfies the NATO/Israel alliance, and that the ‘West’ will not move its attentions to Syria until the Syrian situation is resolved.

Quite how long Iran is safe from the predatory NATO/Israel alliance is hard to say. But those wanting to move against Iran sooner rather than later met in Paris on 9-10 July 2016, at a rally called Free Iran: Our Pledge Regime Change. This is an annual event convened by the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran (PMOI), more commonly known as the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq or MEK, which was until 2012 on the US prescribed terrorist list. Daniel Larison in the hardly left-wing American Conservative described MEK in less than glowing terms.

… the MEK is probably best-known for its role fighting on the side of Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq war against their own country. That is one of the chief reasons why the group is still loathed by almost all Iranians in Iran and around the world. The idea that this group speaks for dissident Iranians is nonsensical and insulting to the latter, and the fantasy that such an abusive, totalitarian cult has any interest in the freedom of Iranians is laughable even by Washington’s low standards.

The touted 100,000 participants included a number of politicians and other dignitaries such Prince Turki al-Faisal, ex-intelligence chief from Saudi Arabia, who talked of the importance of overthrowing an oppressive regime, but obviously could not go too deeply into the question of human rights, and Newt Gingrich, a potential running mate for Donald Trump.

It is well known that the MEK has close ties with pro-Israel lobby groups, so perhaps it should not surprise that convenor Maryam Rajavi paid a special tribute to Elie Wiesel, who won a Nobel Prize for his book on his holocaust experience. Now Elie Wiesel is considered by all except the most hardened Zionists as a fraud and a hypocrite, and certainly nothing like the great messenger for humanity described by Rajavi. Again, it is difficult to see such concern for the priorities of the Israel lobby resonating with the people of Iran.

The sentiments of the conference are also supported by a number of Anglican bishops. This episcopal empathy with Iranian Christians might inspire more conviction if the same had been shown for Syrian Christians. However a Google search for such an outpouring of compassion found only an article in the very unlikely Spectator, asking that Cameron Should Listen to Syrian Bishops Not the Anglican Ones. My search for “UK Bishops grateful to Hezbollah for protecting Syrian Christians” was no more successful.

Very proud to be sharing a platform with such august company as Prince Turki al-Faisal and Newt Gingrich were three MPs from the Scottish National Party:

iranparismonagh

Despite all these years of bloody war in the greater Middle East, the implications of attending a conference dedicated to regime change were clearly lost on the SNP representatives.

paulmonaghanliked-your-tweet

The PMOI/MEK have an unsavoury reputation as terrorists and manipulators. The rally itself was a blatant display of hypocrisy of the highest order, with participants giving standing ovations to Turki al-Faisal of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as he lectured on oppressive regimes. His hostess Maryam Rajavi, who aspired to ‘win the hearts and minds of the Iranian diaspora’, stood on the same platform as al-Faisal and spoke of Iran as the source of terrorism and extremism, completely disregarding the fact that Iran (unlike Saudi Arabia) support no terrorist groups, but the legitimate government of Syria. Participation in such an event does the organisations that the delegates represent no favours.

Anyone who puts too much trust in the integrity and consistency of politicians is headed for disappointment. But for the Scottish National Party to allow three of its MPS to be associated with an organisation and event of such ill repute is an exceptional display of poor judgement, quite apart from what this says about the party’s values.

It is likely that when the decision is made to go for Iran, the NATO/Israel alliance will go for the more deniable ‘revolution’ option, though they will be hoping for more credible partners than the MEK. The chances of such an organisation ever managing to acquire credibility as an Iranian opposition within Iran are minimal. However the case of Syria has shown that as long as their governments are not actually invading or bombing, the British and American publics are quite happy to put up with blatant hypocrisy and hardly less blatant support for murderous extremists.

Whatever method is chosen to wipe out Iran, we needn’t look to the Scottish National Party to stand in the way.

July 13, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Scotland’s Anti-Colonial Struggle

By Craig Murray | February 22, 2016

I have a meeting today in London with the Ambassadors of Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Ecuador to brief them on Scotland’s continuing struggle for Independence. These nations have been at the forefront of the international movement against colonialism, and know all about the sharp end of neo-Imperialism and the evil-doing of the CIA and other western security agencies.

The test of the Independence of a state is nothing to do with domestic or regional government, or even with bilateral arrangements with the state from which it secedes. The test of Independence is, purely and simply, whether or not you are recognised by other states as independent. That is the very clear cut position in international law. For this reason, it is essential that Scotland reaches out, not just within the EU but to the entire international community. Ultimately we need these people to vote and lobby for us in the United Nations and other international institutions.

Frankly, the SNP is rubbish at this. I am doing this meeting because the hierarchy of the SNP spurned the approach from the Ambassadors, as previously detailed on this blog. This reluctance seems part of the hierarchy’s effort to be NATO friendly and thus CIA friendly. The Ambassadors would far rather be meeting with an official SNP representative than a nobody like me. Unfortunately the SNP won’t do it. That is a disgrace.

I can increasingly foresee, as Westminster governments move ever further to the right and encroach more and more on civil liberties, a situation arising where Scotland wishes to claim its independence without the consent of Westminster. In that situation, we will need all the international support we can get, just as the Palestinians have been making headway in UN institutions. Work needs to be put now into laying the foundations for that support. Personally I would characterise Scottish Independence as an anti-colonial struggle; use of Scots as British cannon fodder and integration of the Scots elite into the Metropolitan elite does not make Scotland any less a colony. Rome had an African Emperor, but still her African possessions were colonies.

But even for those who do not accept that analysis, there is no doubt that Scottish Independence would have a highly beneficial impact on the global balance of power. The weakening of the USA’s most powerful sidekick; the lessening of the UK’s ability to participate in illegal neo-imperial invasions and to host weapons of mass destruction; the re-opening of the question of the undemocratic Security Council structure at the UN.

Then there is also the positive role Scotland can play as a major contributor to UN Peacekeeping Forces, and a voice for sanity, reason, human rights and the pre-eminence of international law. An independent Scotland as a state party will be able to request the International Criminal Court to lay war crime charges against Blair and Straw for the illegal invasion of Iraq, which would be a powerful deterrent to future aggressive war.

I am but one man and a private individual. Everything I can do, I shall.

February 23, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , , | Leave a comment

Britain’s ‘proxy war’ in Yemen condemned by critics

RT | January 28, 2016

Britain is at war in Yemen and is arming and facilitating a brutal Saudi dictatorship that is bombing innocent civilians, a growing chorus of critics has warned.

The allegation that Britain is engaged in covert warfare in Yemen was first made by Scottish National Party (SNP) Westminster leader Angus Robertson during a heated discussion in Parliament on Monday. However, it has since been echoed by political commentators and human rights campaigners, who are demanding the government come clean on the role of UK forces in the Saudi-led campaign.

The conflict in Yemen consists of a range of regional, local and international power struggles emanating from historical and recent events. As scrutiny of Britain’s involvement in the war intensifies, campaigners and commentators insist that the UK is intervening in the conflict. They argue that Britain’s arming of the Saudi-led coalition and provision of advice to Saudi military personnel amounts to proxy warfare.

‘Reckless conduct’

Britain’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia totaled £2.95 billion (US$4.23 billion) for the first nine months of 2015, and roughly £7 billion since Prime Minister David Cameron took office in 2010. Amid mounting concerns that UK-made weapons have been used to bomb schools, hospitals, markets and other civilian targets in Yemen, Cameron has been urged to suspend all arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn sent a letter to the PM on Wednesday demanding transparency on Britain’s involvement, after a leaked version of a UN panel’s report concluded attacks on Yemeni civilians had been “widespread and systemic.”

The 51-page report, which was obtained by the Guardian, examined 199 missions conducted by the Saudi-led coalition that violated international law.

Many of the attacks involved repeated airstrikes on civilian objects, including refugee camps; civilian gatherings such as weddings; civilian vehicles such as buses; residential areas; medical facilities; schools; mosques; markets, factories and essential civilian infrastructure. Three cases of civilians being pursued and shot at by aircraft as they fled residential bombings were also recorded.

UK director of Human Rights Watch said the findings of the UN report “flatly contradict” UK ministers’ rhetoric about the Saudi-led coalition’s actions in Yemen.

“For almost a year, [Foreign Secretary] Philip Hammond has made the false and misleading claim that there is no evidence of law or war violations by the UK’s Saudi ally and other members of the coalition,” he told the Guardian.

Amnesty International UK’s head of policy and government affairs Allan Hogarth expressed disgust at the government’s attempt to downplay concerns over Saudi Arabia’s conduct in Yemen.

“Thousands of civilians have already died and it’s been utterly dismaying to see Downing Street brushing aside extremely serious concerns about the reckless conduct of Saudi Arabia in this devastating conflict,” he said.

Conflict in Yemen

Saudi Arabia revealed earlier this month that British and American forces are stationed in the control center from which military operations against Yemen are being directed. However, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has refused to disclose how many British personnel are involved.

The department also insists Britain’s involvement is confined to advice and training geared at ensuring Saudi Arabia complies with international law.

Yemen’s civil war kicked off in 2014, after Zaidi Shiite-led Houthi rebels overran the capital, Sanaa. The rebels, who had been targeted in six separate wars by Yemen’s central government, were loyal to Yemen’s former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

During the Arab spring in 2011, the Houthis had gained control of Yemen’s Saada province. However, it wasn’t until September 2014 that they conquered Sanaa. The Shiite-led rebels subsequently forced President Hadi to resign in January 2015, and seized control of swaths of southern Yemen.

The following March, a Saudi-led coalition of states launched airstrikes against the Houthis in a bid to retake Yemen. Sometime later, a Saudi-led ground operation also began. By August 2015, the Houthis had been pushed back by resistance fighters supported by the Saudi-led coalition.

As the conflict rolls onward and civilian fatalities continue to mount, criticism of Britain’s role in the Saudi-led military campaign is growing ever stronger.

January 28, 2016 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Yemen’s Plight and Britain’s “Creative Clout”

Arms Sales and Advice on Killing

By Felicity Arbuthnot | Dissident Voice | January 23, 2016

Today, I want to speak about the once-in-a-generation chance we have, together, to improve the way we enhance the cause of human rights, freedom and dignity.

— David Cameron. Speech on the European Court of Human Rights, January 25. 2012

In June of 2014, speaking in his official residence,10 Downing Street, Prime Minister David Cameron gave a speech on business:

“Britain has huge creative clout around the world … From Asia to America, they’re dancing to our music, watching our films and wearing our designers’ latest creations”, he trilled.

He omitted to say “and dying under our bombs.”

In December, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein warned, regarding the Saudi-led bombing of Yemen:

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 …

Yemen’s Ministry of Education’s data shows more than 1,000 schools inoperable, 254 completely destroyed, 608 partially damaged and 421 being used as shelter by those displaced by the Saudi-led, UK-assisted onslaught. Some destroyed schools were attacked repeatedly. Thus they were not errors, or that obscene US dreamt up whitewash for atrocities: “collateral damage.” The US also supplies “intelligence” for air strikes.

Three Medecines Sans Frontier medical facilities have also been destroyed and this month the Noor Center for the Blind was hit – twice. Abdullah Ahmed Banyan, a patient, said:

People with disabilities are being struck in their residence. Around 1.30 am, two missiles hit the live-in quarters of a home for the blind. Can you imagine they are striking the blind? What is this criminality? Why? Is it the blind that are fighting the war?

As in Afghanistan and Iraq, those other favourite targets of the US, UK and their allies, wedding parties, have again become victims. One gathering in two large tents bombed last September, killed thirty eight people. Another wedding celebration attack reportedly killed one hundred and thirty. In the country’s capitol, Sanaa a wedding party hall was also destroyed – what is this criminal obsession about weddings? The Chamber of Commerce was also destroyed.

Definition of war crimes include “intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals and places where the sick and wounded are collected …” and “attacking or bombarding, by whatever means, towns, villages, dwellings or buildings which are undefended and which are not military objectives.”

None of which deters the UK from joining in. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has confirmed to Parliament that UK troops are helping the Saudi military identify targets. He said there had been “no evidence of deliberate breach of international humanitarian law.” He clearly has not bothered to do the research.

There is worse. Apart from aiding and abetting potential war crimes, the British government is profiting in eye watering sums from the human misery, deaths and destruction with arms sales to Saudi Arabia increasing by 11,000 percent in one three month period alone.

In spite of the United Nations stating that civilians are being disproportionately killed in Yemen, in just one three month period last year arms sales rose to over one Billion £s, up from a mere nine million £s from the previous three months.

The exact figure for British arms export licences from July to September 2015 was £1,066,216,510 in so-called “ML4” export licences, which relate to bombs, missiles, rockets, and components of those items.

Angus Robertson, Leader of the Scottish National Party in Parliament, is outraged, accusing during Prime Minister’s Questions this week, that:

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.

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? (Independent, January 20th, 2016. Emphasis added.)

Allan Hogarth for Amnesty International again confirmed that British advisors are “… actually located in the Saudi control room.”

David Cameron waffled inadequately with dismissive arrogance and supreme economy with the truth, that Britain was insuring that “… the norms of humanitarian law” were obeyed. Comments redundant.

Two days ago at Yemen’s Ras Isa port on the Red Sea, an oil storage facility was hit killing five people. The attack destroyed the part of the compound used to load tanker trucks with refined products for domestic distribution. So now a people, many of whom the UN has warned are facing near starvation, will face further shortages to cook what little they have and to heat

So much for Cameron’s vow to “improve the way we enhance the cause of human rights, freedom and dignity.”


MSF paramedic, civilian first responders killed in Saudi double-tap airstrike in Yemen

RT | January 22, 2016

Almost two dozen people, including civilian rescuers and an ambulance driver from an MSF-affiliated hospital, have reportedly been killed after Saudi-led coalition planes carried out repeated airstrikes on the same target in Sa’ada province, Yemen.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) confirmed the fatal air raids in Sa’ada, saying the “planes went back to bomb areas already hit.”

“An ambulance driver from an MSF hospital [was] killed,” the NGO wrote, explaining that the first responders at the scene had been trying to help those wounded in the first round of strikes.

The ambulance had just picked up the victims when a direct strike killed everyone inside it, said the director of the Jumhuriya Hospital in Sa’ada province, according to the New York Times.

Yemen’s Health Ministry has strongly condemned the coalition’s actions as a “heinous massacre” that first targeted a residential building in Sa’ada, Saba news agency reports, citing ministry spokesperson Dr. Nashwan Attab.

According to reports, at least 20 people were killed and another 35 wounded, in what the medics claim was a deliberate attack. Following the initial air raid in the Dhahyan district of Sa’ada, first responders rushed to the scene to care for the wounded. But the planes soon returned to strike again in an attempt to “completely eliminate the few remaining medical staff in the province,” Dr. Attab said.

WARNING! DISTURBING VIDEO, VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED!

“There are still people under the rubble and it is difficult to get them as a result of targeting by Saudi aggression of paramedics and medical personnel in the region,” he added.

Earlier this week, MSF said that the Saudi coalition continues to engage civilian targets on the ground, in particular medical treatment facilities, noting that over 100 hospitals have witnessed attacks since the Saudi-led intervention began last March.

The constant bombing of health clinics in Yemen has created conditions in which locals fear for their lives and try to avoid hospitals at all costs, MSF said. The United Nations has criticized the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen for the disproportionate number of civilian deaths and the destruction of infrastructure.

The UN estimates that the violence has resulted in a dramatic increase in civilian casualties, with more than 5,800 people killed in Yemen since March.

READ MORE:

Yemeni hospitals seen as targets, people ‘avoid them as much as possible’ – MSF

January 24, 2016 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cameron in Crisis Over Syria After Labour Leader Splits Party

Sputnik – 27.11.2015

UK Prime Minister David Cameron is facing a political crisis after calling for support for airstrikes against ISIL in Syria, but failing to gain the support of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who has now caused a major rift in the opposition.

Cameron told lawmakers in London Thursday that Britain should join a coalition of forces in airstrikes against ISIL in Syria. The country is already bombing ISIL in neighboring Iraq, but Cameron needs a mandate from parliament to extend the operations into Syria.

The issue is politically sensitive as Cameron lost a vote to launch airstrikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2013, with cost him political value. This time around — in a vote on bombing Assad’s enemies — he cannot afford to lose political face again.

However, the Scottish National Party (SNP) has indicated that it will vote against action in Syria and Cameron needs the support of the Labour opposition to confirm his policy. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn — who has long been an anti-war campaigner — has written to his party lawmakers telling them he cannot support airstrikes in Syria.

The move has caused chaos within his party, with many members supporting airstrikes against ISIL. If Corbyn exercises his leadership right to demand all his lawmakers follow his lead — in what is known as a three-line whip — he stands to face a mass revolt in his party, which could force a leadership challenge, which would throw the party into chaos.

If — on the other hand — he allows his lawmakers a free vote, then he would remain leader of his party, and lawmakers would be allowed to vote whichever way they wish. Either way, Corbyn’s leadership will have been damaged.

Lesson Not Learned From Iraq

Cameron has other headaches too. Public opinion was strongly against the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and there are many who believe the decision to go to war against Saddam Hussein was based on flawed intelligence, with some — including Corbyn — believing the invasion was illegal.

The Chilcot Inquiry into the reasons for going to war, and its aftermath, has yet to be published and there are many lawmakers who believe its findings will be critical of the invasion because it lacked any exit strategy for Iraq, which has been plunged into civil war ever since. Few want to repeat the mistakes in Syria and are calling for an exit strategy and a strong commitment to support a rebuilding of the country following any invasion to erase ISIL.

If Cameron fails to gain a parliamentary majority on a vote — due next week — over bombing in Syria, he will be politically damaged among his NATO allies, leaving him out in the cold on the global stage. He is also facing calls for the UK not to put itself further at risk than it already is from reprisal terrorist attacks.

Others believe bombing in Syria will play into the hands of ISIL. Jürgen Todenhöfer, the German politician and journalist who, in 2014, spent time with ISIL in both Iraq and Syria, wrote in the Guardian :

“A bombing strategy will above all hit Syria’s population. This will fill ISIL fighters with joy.”

With Corbyn’s party in disarray, the SNP set to vote against bombing and his political worth on the line, Cameron is facing a difficult time in the week ahead and can only hope public opinion in the wake of the Paris attacks on November 13 can save him.

November 27, 2015 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Pro-Palestinian Scottish lawmaker strip-searched on Israel trip

Press TV – November 14, 2015

028f8090-a41b-4e9e-9c6e-c0e027b4313cA pro-Palestinian Scottish lawmaker travelling to the occupied Palestinian territories on a parliamentary fact-finding mission has been strip-searched by Israeli forces upon arrival and refused entry.

Andrew Murray, the head of the Friends of Palestine group in the Scottish National Party (SNP), was detained at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport on Monday and held in custody for over 24 hours, he told AFP on Friday.

“They strip-searched me, scanned me, swabbed me everywhere,” Murray said, adding, “Twice I asked for representation from the British embassy, twice I was told no.”

He was later deported and banned from entering the occupied territories for 10 years, apparently over his campaign for Palestinian rights.

Carol Monaghan, a member of the SNP, said that she “absolutely condemned” the Israelis’ behavior, adding, “Andy was there on a peaceful, fact-finding trip.”

Sabine Haddad, a spokesperson for Israel’s interior ministry, claimed that Murray lied about the reason of his trip by saying he was a tourist.

Murray, however, responded that he did not lie about any of the questions asked.

November 14, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , | 1 Comment