‘Grim Irony’: Saudi Strikes Uses British Intel to Destroy UK Aid Facilities in Yemen

Saudi Strikes Use British Intel to Destroy UK Aid Facilities in Yemen


A child at camp for displaced people in the Yemeni province of Amran.

A child at camp for displaced people in the Yemeni province of Amran. | Photo: Reuters

Published 4 November 2018 (13 hours 41 minutes ago)
A vital cholera treatment center in Abs, in the Hajjah province, was hit in June in airstrikes which are supported by British intelligence, reported by the Independent.

British-backed Saudi bombing destroyed Oxfam facilities in Yemen, said the United Kingdom charity. The information about the destruction of facilities of the humanitarian organization emerged during last week’s parliamentary debates in the House of Commons where U.K. ministres were evaluating the impact of the country’s arms sale to Riyadh.

A vital cholera treatment center in Abs, in the Hajjah province, was hit in June in airstrikes which are supported by British intelligence, according to British news outlet Independent.

The location of the treatment facility was notified 12 times. In April, coalition air raids damaged an Oxfam supported water supply system that provided water for 6,000 people.

“On the one hand, British aid is a vital lifeline, on the other, British bombs are helping to fuel an ongoing war that is leading to countless lives being lost each week to fighting, disease, and hunger,” said Oxfam’s head of advocacy, Toni Pearce.

“The UK continues to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, whose coalition bombing campaign in Yemen has cut off vital food supplies, destroyed hospitals, and homes, and hit aid programmes funded by British taxpayers.”

The U.K. has sold an estimate of US$5 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since its proxy war in Yemen to oust the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in 2015.

The U.K. government has recently come under pressure to halt arms sale to Riyadh, especially after the murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the kingdom. Germany and Switzerland already took the step.

U.K. government previously said that its intelligence support and training of the Saudi led-forces aims to help reduce civilian casualties but the latest report by Yemen Data Project showed that 48 percent of all known airstrikes had hit unarmed civilians and non-military targets.

The Saudi-led war in Yemen is witnessing worst famine as civilian casualties increase each passing day.

Britain’s Labour party had strongly called for a halt on arms sale. Emily Thornberry, the shadow secretary of state for foreign and Commonwealth affairs, from Labour party, wrote an article on Oct. 13 for The Guardian criticizing the government’s inaction against the Saudi kingdom despite concrete evidence of its crimes domestically and abroad.

“And yet this government apparently urges us to forget all of that because Bin Salman has committed himself to allowing women in Saudi Arabia to have the right to drive their own cars. And, more importantly, as far as it is concerned, he will give us a good trade deal after Brexit so we can continue exporting the arms he is using to prosecute his brutal war against the people of Yemen,” she said adding that a Labour government will not show same compromise while dealing with Saudi Arabia.

Lloyd Russell-Moyle, Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown, who sits on the International Development Committee and the Committee on Arms Export Controls, said bombing their own aid was a “grim irony”.

This week Doctors Without Borders said their health facilities have been hit five times by the Saudi-led coalition since the war erupted in 2015, killing 21 patients and staff, and injuring 33 others.

The U.N. secretary-general  Antonio Guterres appealed to end the war in Yemen Friday. On Wednesday the United States secretary Mike Pompeo said that the U.S. is urging Saudi Arabia to accept a ceasefire in Yemen and allow the country to rebuild itself.


israel (apartheid state) Stooges Freak Out over Baroness Jenny Tonge’s Remarks – Again

They plot to get her removed from the House of Lords

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“Absolutely appalling and a criminal act, but does it ever occur to Bibi and the present Israeli government that its actions against Palestinians may be reigniting anti-Semitism? I suppose someone will say that it is anti-Semitic to say so?”

What’s wrong with that?

Everything, according to the ‘usual suspects’ among the Inquisitors that makes up the Israel lobby.

Lord Pickles, in the House of Lords on 29 October responding to a Private Notice Question, said: “My Lords, will the Minister join me, along with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, in condemning the words of the noble Baroness, Lady Tonge, in suggesting that the murders in Pittsburgh were caused by the actions of the Israeli Government? That suggestion will clearly cause great pain in Pittsburgh, and falls foul of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism.”

Jenny Tonge, a tireless champion of Palestinians’ rights, has fought long and hard in the struggle for their freedom. So what came as a surprise (for some) was the knife in the back from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), who issued this statement on 30 October: “In the aftermath of the massacre of 11 Jewish worshipers at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Baroness Tonge posted a comment on Facebook that suggested Israel’s policies and its treatment of the Palestinians could be contributing to a rise in anti-Semitism generally. Baroness Tonge subsequently removed the post.

“PSC regards the original post to be deeply troubling. Whilst the post acknowledged that the killings were appalling and a criminal act, it risked being read as implying that anti-Semitism can only be understood in the context of a response to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Such a view risks justifying or minimising antisemitism.”

The PSC told Jewish News it had “contacted Jenny Tonge to express our deep concerns at her post and is in the process of considering any further steps.”

Jewish News also reported that Conservative Friends of Israel Parliamentary Chairman Lord Pickles and Conservative Friends of Israel Honorary President Lord Polak had condemned her “callous inflammatory” remarks. They said the post “is in clear violation of the IHRA definition of Anti-Semitism adopted by the UK Government. For a Member of the House of Lords to publish such hateful thoughts brings Parliament into disrepute.”

Never mind that Jenny’s remark was accurate. The Israeli regime strains every sinew to ensure its behaviour is so appalling as to invite detestation and loathing, not because they are Jews but because they are the ‘amoral thugs’ that the late Jewish MP Sir Gerald Kaufman once called them.

Remember the warning from one of their own, former Israeli Director of Military Intelligence Yehoshafat Harkabi, who wrote: “Israelis must be aware that the price of their misconduct is paid not only by them but also Jews throughout the world.”

Bibi and his adoring supporters, not Jenny Tonge, need to think about that. It remains to be seen what motivated the atrocity at Pittsburgh. But whatever the IHRA definition says, the European Convention on Human Rights  and our Human Rights Act provide for freedom of expression which applies not only to information or ideas that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive, but also to those that “offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population”. Unless, of course, they call for violence, hatred or intolerance, which is not the case here.

Nothing to apologise for

Of course the Zionists, even within her own party, have been gunning for Jenny for a very long time. A doctor by training and profession, she is used to being stabbed in the back by scaredy-cat leaders. In 2012 she was sacked after suggesting that Israel would not last for ever. She rejected an ultimatum from party leader Nick Clegg to apologise and said she stood by her remarks.

The row blew up when Jenny allegedly told a meeting at Middlesex University: “Beware Israel. Israel is not going to be there for ever in its present form… Israel will lose support and then they will reap what they have sown.”   She said America would one day get sick of funding what she called America’s aircraft carrier in the Middle East. “One day, the American people are going to say to the Israel lobby in the USA: Enough is enough.”

Israel’s admirers were soon queuing up to spit their venom. The Board of Deputies of British Jews condemned Tonge’s remarks as “sinister and abhorrent”. Chief executive Jon Benjamin said: “There is no place for someone like Jenny Tonge in mainstream political parties in this country.”

The then chief rabbi, Lord Sacks, said: “I am appalled at Baroness Tonge’s remarks. They are dangerous, inflammatory and unacceptable… Views such as those expressed by Baroness Tonge have no place in civil public discourse.”

The Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel applauded Clegg’s “decisive action” and hoped the sacking would “draw a line under the continual smearing of Lib Dem party policy on Israel and the Middle East”. And according to The Guardian an unnamed Lib Dem spokesman said: “Jenny Tonge does not speak for the party on Israel and Palestine. Her presence and comments at this event were extremely ill-advised and ill-judged… The Liberal Democrats are wholehearted supporters of a peaceful two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine issue.”

Clegg, who was also Deputy Prime Minister in the coalition government at the time, said: “These remarks were wrong and offensive and do not reflect the values of the Liberal Democrats. I asked Baroness Tonge to withdraw her remarks and apologise for the offence she has caused. She has refused to do so and will now be leaving the party. The Liberal Democrats have a proud record of campaigning for the rights of Palestinians, and that will continue, but we are crystal clear in our support for a two-state solution.”

And a fat lot of good adopting that position has done. Even in 2012 it was obvious the two-state solution was stone dead.

However John McHugo, chair of the LibDem Friends of Palestine, said: “Jenny’s motivation in speaking up for the rights of the oppressed is anger at injustice when others, who have the duty to speak out, pass by silently on the other side of the street.”

In 2004 she said about Palestinian suicide bombers: “If I had to live in that situation – and I say that advisedly – I might just consider becoming one myself.” Everyone went mad. A senior Conservative said her comments would “sicken those across the world who have lost loved ones to suicide bombers”. The ignoramus didn’t mention the thousands of Palestinian families who had lost loved ones, their homes and their livelihoods – everything – to Israeli terrorists and occupation forces.

Charles Kennedy, the then LibDem party leader, dismissed Jenny as children’s spokesperson, saying: “Her recent remarks… are completely unacceptable. They are not compatible with Liberal Democrat party policies and principles. There can be no justification, under any circumstances, for taking innocent lives through terrorism.”

But Kennedy too couldn’t bring himself to mention the casualties inflicted by Israel’s acts of terror and frequent high-tech military strikes on an occupied and defenceless civilian population.

Then, in 2006, Jenny told a fringe meeting at her party’s conference: “The pro-Israeli lobby has got its grips on the western world, its financial grips. I think they have probably got a certain grip on our party.” As if to prove her point the LibDem Friends of Israel immediately issued a press release saying: “In the coming days and weeks we will work closely with colleagues inside the Party to ensure every avenue is explored towards removing Baroness Tonge from the Liberal Democrat benches in the House of Lords.”

The party’s leader at the time, Menzies Campbell, dissociated himself from her “offensive remarks” and “their clear anti-Semitic connotations”. Offensive? The pro-Israel lobby’s infiltration of Parliament and public life was there for all to see. That’s what was offensive. And the threat to national security was blazingly obvious. For example, our most important security bodies – the Intelligence & Security Committee, Foreign Affairs Committee and Defence Committee – were all headed by senior Friends of Israel. How could that be in our national interest?

Clegg and Co would do well to re-read the Preamble to their own party’s Constitution, a very fine document indeed especially where it says: “We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience… We reject all prejudice and discrimination… Our responsibility for justice and liberty cannot be confined by national boundaries; we are committed to fight poverty, oppression, hunger, ignorance, disease and aggression wherever they occur and to promote the free movement of ideas, people, goods and services.”

Those principles are as good as any for guiding a person through political life. But where are they reflected in our political elite’s dealings with the scandalous injustice in the Holy Land?

And just how principled was Clegg’s sacking of one of the country’s most committed campaigners for human rights, Jenny Tonge?

Jenny’s goodbye to the Liberal Democrat party and its sanctimonious hypocrites was a long time coming. She’s well rid of them.

PSC too timid to put down a marker for upholding international law?

And what of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign? I had suspicions in 2007 that the PSC was infiltrated at headquarters level when they refused to review or give any space at all to my book “Radio Free Palestine” (Foreword by Jeff Halper) even after I’d sent them two complimentary copies which they claimed had gone astray. They refused again when the book was published on the web for all to read. How’s that for “Solidarity”? Although I have every admiration for the hardworking campaigners in PSC’s local branches the leadership has done nothing to inspire or give me confidence. Of course, it is to be expected that such a high-profile campaign group would be targeted.

At its Annual General Meeting in 2016 the PSC even threw out a proposal to seek Israel’s expulsion from the United Nations. Chairman Hugh Lanning was reported to have started proceedings on a positive note saying: “Let us recommit to Palestine to make sure that we make a difference in the coming year.”

But a motion put for the PSC’s Executive Committee to “request the Government of the United Kingdom, enforced by a petition and lobbying, to submit a motion to the Security Council recommending that the General Assembly expel Israel from the UN in compliance with the UN Charter, Article 6” failed — 76 for, 116 against. A statement by its main sponsor, Blake Alcott, said that an identical motion to the AGM a year previously was likewise opposed by the PSC leadership who felt “the time is not yet right”. He said: “Pro-Palestinians must wonder how much worse Israel’s crimes must be before the international community takes disciplinary action.”

There is ample reason to call for Israel’s expulsion from the UN. That racist endeavour clearly isn’t the ‘peace-loving state’ required by the UN Charter’s Article 4. Nor has it fulfilled the four conditions to its acceptance as a member back in May 1949. As the record shows, Israel has wilfully breached conditions of membership for decades. Many have argued it automatically disqualifies itself by failing to fulfill membership requirements in the first place. Furthermore it continues to show contempt for numerous UN resolution despite frequent reminders.

When considering what sort of response civil society should make, suspension sounds ‘softer’ than expulsion as membership can be speedily restored if and when Israel satisfies the other member states that it now conforms. And in the circumstances suspension would surely be more difficult to veto. But under the rules expulsion is also an option. This is what the relevant part of the UN Charter says:

(Article 5) A Member of the United Nations against which preventive or enforcement action has been taken by the Security Council may be suspended from the exercise of the rights and privileges of membership by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council. The exercise of these rights and privileges may be restored by the Security Council.

(Article 6) A Member of the United Nations which has persistently violated the Principles contained in the present Charter may be expelled from the Organization by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.

It might be argued that the passing of numerous UN Security Council resolutions amounts to ‘preventive action’ (although still awaiting enforcement). But Article 6, which stipulates expulsion, is more clear-cut. Israel has certainly violated every norm, every rule of decency, every principle of humanity. And it continues to do so without showing a shred of remorse.

Of course Mr Alcott’s motion, if passed, would have been brushed aside by the British Government which is pledged by successive prime ministers to protect and reward Israel right or wrong. But that is not the point. The aim of the motion was to put down a marker and provide a focus around which other campaign groups across the world could mobilise, bringing similar pressure to bear on their own governments and creating an irresistible swell of global opinion to ensure international law is eventually upheld.

The PSC failed that simple test. So how will it ever “make a difference” on behalf of the long-suffering Palestinians?

This week Jenny wrote on her Facebook page: “PSC are very worried about the furore surrounding my remarks following Pittsburgh and I have resigned to save them embarrassment!!! Sad day.”

She was a patron and had been a member for 10 years. I’d say she’s well shot of them and the LibDems, both.

*( Baroness Jenny Tonge, Stop the War Coalition Rally outside the Iraq Inquiry, London, Blair inside. Image credit: Chris Beckett/ flickr)

Saudi-led Yemen strikes destroy UK aid with British bombs – Oxfam slams London’s ‘incoherent’ policy


Saudi-led Yemen strikes destroy UK aid with British bombs – Oxfam slams London’s ‘incoherent’ policy

Only 49% of Britons have an unfavourable view of israel (apartheid state)

49% of Britons have an unfavourable view of Israel

Crowds build in front of the Royal Liver Building for a rally to be attended by Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in Liverpool on September 22, 2018, the eve of the official opening of the annual Labour Party Conference. (AFP photo)Crowds build in front of the Royal Liver Building for a rally to be attended by Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in Liverpool on September 22, 2018, the eve of the official opening of the annual Labour Party Conference. (AFP photo)

A study of attitudes towards Israel in the UK has found that 49 percent of Britons have an unfavourable view of Israel.

The annual poll of UK attitudes about Israel was conducted by the Populus polling company and was commissioned by an Israel lobby group, the British Israel Communications and Research Center (BICOM).

But despite the pro-Israel bias of the commissioners, the poll found that only 20 percent of the British public feels “warm” towards Israel and 23 percent feels warm towards Israelis.

Meanwhile, 49 percent said they felt “cold” towards Israel and 45 percent said they felt cold towards Israelis.

When asked if they consider Israel to be “an important trading partner of Britain post-Brexit,” only 38 percent said yes.

When asked if they agreed with boycotts against Israel only 14 percent supported this.

And when asked if they believe Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is an anti-Semite, 38 percent said yes while 25 percent said he is “a committed campaigner against racism of all kinds including anti-Semitism.”

The poll was conducted with a nationally-representative sample of 2,035 adults from 5-7 October.

The UK authorities continue to maintain a strong military, political and business relationship with Israel, and British mainstream media is heavily pro Tel Aviv and anti Jeremy Corbyn.

Britain has approved arms sales to Israel worth $445 million since the 2014 Gaza war and it is believed that at least some of this equipment has been used to oppress people in the Occupied Territories.

UK Was Aware of Saudi Plot Against Khashoggi Weeks in Advance

Jamal Khashoggi was about to disclose details of Saudi Arabia’s use of chemical weapons in Yemen when he was killed.

An activist dressed as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman holds a prop bonesaw during a demonstration calling for sanctions against Saudi Arabia outside the White House in Washington, U.S., Oct. 19, 2018.

UK Was Aware of Saudi Plot Against Khashoggi Weeks in Advance: Report
By TeleSur

Saudi Arabia told the U.K. about their plan of abducting Khashoggi three weeks before the incident took place. The MI6 warned them against carrying out the said operation.

The murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi was about to disclose details of Saudi Arabia’s use of chemical weapons in Yemen when he was killed, as reported by the Sunday Express, a source close to him told the media outlet Friday.

This revelation was made as different intelligence sources disclosed that the U.K. was made aware of the entire plot by Saudi Arabia three weeks before the incident took place on Oct. 2.

Intercepts by GCHQ of internal communications by the kingdom’s General Intelligence Directorate revealed orders by a “member of the royal circle” to abduct the troublesome journalist and take him back to Saudi Arabia. The report does not confirm or deny whether the order came from the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

They were supposed to abduct Khashoggi and take him back to Riyadh but could take other actions, if the journalist created problems.

“We were initially made aware that something was going in the first week of September, around three weeks before Mr. Khashoggi walked into the consulate on October 2, though it took more time for other details to emerge,” the intelligence source told the Sunday Express Friday.

“These details included primary orders to capture Mr. Khashoggi and bring him back to Saudi Arabia for questioning. However, the door seemed to be left open for alternative remedies to what was seen as a big problem. We know the orders came from a member of the royal circle but have no direct information to link them to Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. Whether this meant he was not the original issuer we cannot say.”

The MI6 had warned their Saudi counterparts to cancel the mission. “On October 1 we became aware of the movement of a group, which included members of Ri’āsat Al-Istikhbārāt Al-‘Āmah (GID) to Istanbul, and it was pretty clear what their aim was.

“Through channels, we warned that this was not a good idea. Subsequent events show that our warning was ignored.”

Sunday Express also obtained an anonymous interview from a close friend of Khashoggi’s who revealed that the journalist was about to obtain “documentary evidence” of Saudi Arabia’s use of chemical weapon in its proxy war in Yemen.

Iran has previously claimed that the kingdom had been supplying ingredients that can be used to make the nerve agent Sarin in Yemen but Khashoggi was possibly referring to phosphorus which can be used to burn bones. Last month it was claimed that Saudi Arabia had been using U.S.-supplied white phosphorus munitions against troops and even civilians in Yemen.

Jamal Khashoggi was a Washington Post columnist who left Saudi Arabia a year ago due to the widespread crackdown on dissent by the crown prince which saw imprisoning of a large number of dissenters and activists in Saudi Arabia.

The journalist went to Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 .to get papers for his marriage and never seen after that. Turkey maintained that he was killed inside the consulate by Saudi authorities but the latter denied any allegations against them for almost three weeks before finally accepting that he indeed was murdered but alleged it to be a rogue operation about which the crown prince had no knowledge.

The case of Khashoggi created an international uproar and diplomatic scandals where many countries are deciding to impose sanctions on the country and many companies severed their ties with Saudi Arabia.

According to the latest updates, the European Union is considering a ban on arms sale to Saudi Arabia and other sanctions. The EU will make a joint decision on how to punish the kingdom, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday in Istanbul after Russia-Turkey-France-Germany summit on Syria. A similar sentiment was expressed by France’s Emmanuel Macron.

This article was originally published by TeleSur” –

Baroness Tonge suggests israeli (apartheid state) actions to blame for ‘reigniting’ hatred against Jewish people

Fmr Lib Dem peer faces calls to be removed from Lords over ‘antisemitic’ post on Pittsburgh shooting

Adam Forrest
The Independent

Baroness Jenny Tonge

© Presse Association
Baroness Jenny Tonge quit the party in 2016

Baroness Tonge suggests Israeli actions to blame for ‘reigniting’ hatred against Jewish people

Baroness Tonge has been accused of antisemitism over a social media post in which she blamed the Israeli government for the hatred behind the mass shooting in Pittsburgh that claimed the lives of 11 people.

The independent peer – who resigned from the Liberal Democrats in 2016 – criticised the country on Facebook in the immediate aftermath of the attack on the Tree of Life synagogue.

She wrote: “Absolutely appalling and a criminal act, but does it ever occur to Bibi and the present Israeli government that it’s actions against Palestinians may be reigniting antisemitism?”

“I suppose someone will say that it is antisemitic to say so?”

Plenty of people on social media did say so, condemning her remarks and urging fellow peers to remove her from the House of Lords.

More than 3,000 people have signed a change.org petition demanding her expulsion from the chamber.

The politicians was a Liberal Democrat MP between 1997 and 2005. After losing her seat in Richmond Park, the party made her a life peer.

But in 2016 she was suspended over allegations of antisemitism, leading her to quit the party.

The charity Campaign Against Antisemitism said the Liberal Democrats, having secured her seat in the Lords, should now “actively campaign for her removal”.

James Cox, the Lib Dems’ parliamentary candidate for Bristol West, also tweeted: “If there is a way to remove her from the Lords it should be pursued immediately.”

The historian and screenwriter Alex von Tunzelmann said her remarks following the Pittsburgh tragedy were “outrageous, antisemitic and deeply stupid”.

Michael Dickson, executive director of educational organisation Stand With Us, told The Jewish Chronicle: “The rock cold heart of Baroness Jenny Tonge was on display for all see. Following the slaying of Jews in synagogue at prayer, she excuses the motivation of the murder, never missing an opportunity to defame the world’s only Jewish country.”

Labour MP Jess Phillips said she was “appalled by the blatant propaganda and antisemitism on display”.

In 2016 Baroness Tonge chaired an event in parliament at which speakers reportedly compared Israel to Isis, and suggested Jewish people were to blame for the Holocaust.

The same year the independent peer claimed Israel’s treatment of Palestinians was a “major cause” behind the rise of Isis.

She said Israel was “creating a generation of terrorists”.

Adam Forrest is a freelance journalist who writes regularly for The Big Issue UK, covering current affairs and human interest stories

Comment: Is the Baroness wrong? Not only does Israel’s action vis a vis the Palestinians breed hatred within for the “sh*tty little country”, it actively supports terrorist groups who oppose their geopolitical enemies.

Will the US and UK Seek a Palace Coup Against Mohammed bin Salman?

As pressure continues to mount over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Washington and London are weighing their next moves

By Mark Curtis

October 26, 2018 Information Clearing House   As Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) comes under increasing pressure over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, policymakers in Washington and London have one overriding priority: to preserve the House of Saud, a military and economic ally in which they have invested so much. Yet, if Mohammed bin Salman cannot be retained, the UK and US will likely work to ensure some face-saving transfer of power to one of his relatives.

It has already been reported that members of the ruling family have begun discussing the possibility of replacing the crown prince. But there is also a little-known precedent for a Western role in the removal of a Saudi leader.

Promoting a palace coup

Declassified British files show that Britain previously covertly supported a palace coup in Saudi Arabia involving Mohammed bin Salman’s forebears in the House of Saud. The coup occurred as long ago as 1964, but has eerie echoes to the present. It helped then Crown Prince Faisal oust his older brother King Saud, who had ruled since 1953 and was backed by the British to preserve the House of Saud.

Faisal, like bin Salman now, had by the late 1950s become the real force in Saudi Arabia and was running the government. But in December 1963, King Saud attempted to reassert his power by deploying troops and guns outside his palace in Riyadh. A tense standoff with forces loyal to Faisal continued into 1964, when Saud demanded that Faisal dismiss two of his ministers and replace them with the king’s sons.

However, crucial support for Faisal was provided by the National Guard, the then 20,000-strong body responsible for protecting the royal family. The commander of the National Guard at the time was Prince Abdullah, who would later become king until his death in 2015, when he was succeeded by his half-brother, King Salman – the father of Mohammed bin Salman.

Who was the force then behind the Saudi Arabian National Guard? Then, as now, it was Britain, which had a military mission in the country following a Saudi request in 1963. The declassified files show that two British advisers to the National Guard, Brigadier Kenneth Timbrell and Colonel Nigel Bromage, drew up plans on Abdullah’s express wish for the “protection of Faisal”, “defence of the regime”, “occupation of certain points” and “denial of the radio station to all but those supported by the National Guard”.

These British plans ensured Faisal’s personal protection, with the aim of ensuring that full power would be transferred to him, which duly occurred when Saud was forced to abdicate.

Preserving the House of Saud

Britain backed the 1964 palace coup for a particular reason: It viewed King Saud as incompetent and opposed to introducing the political reforms necessary to keep the House of Saud from being overthrown. Frank Brenchley, the charge d’affaires in the British embassy in Jeddah, wrote that “the sands of time have steadily been running out for the Saudi regime”, the major factor then being the nationalist revolution in neighbouring Yemen and the intervention of Egyptian troops there, which challenged Saudi authority in Arabia.

Brenchley noted that, in contrast to Saud, “Faisal knows that he must bring about reforms quickly if the regime is to survive. Hampered everywhere by a lack of trained administrators, he is struggling to speed evolution in order to avert revolution”.

British training of the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG), including arms exports to it, was greatly expanded after 1964. Today, Britain has dozens of military personnel advising the SANG and a major project helping it with “communications”. The SANG’s role remains overwhelmingly focused on promoting “internal security” – that is, preserving the House of Saud.

The US has an even bigger training and “modernisation” programme for the SANG – worth $4bn – and is now more likely to play a similar role to that of Britain in 1964.

Echoes in Yemen

What also has echoes from the past is that in the mid-1960s, Britain was conniving with the Saudis in a war in Yemen that was as brutal as the present one. A popular coup in September 1962 by republican forces deposed the imam, Muhammad al-Badr, who had been in power for a week after the death of his father, a feudal autocrat who had ruled since 1948. The imam’s forces took to the hills and declared an insurgency, while Britain and Saudi Arabia soon began a covert war to support them that lasted throughout the 1960s.

The British establishment’s fear was that the popular republican government in Yemen, backed by Nasser’s Egypt, would threaten the House of Saud and spread to the other British-controlled feudal sheikhdoms in Arabia. By the time the war fizzled out in 1969, the death toll might have been up to 200,000. Then, as now, human lives were seen as insignificant to London and Riyadh when compared with high policy.

The British-backed palace coup in 1964 also reinforced the role of Wahhabist ideology in the country. In March 1964, the Saudi religious leadership (the ulema) issued a fatwa sanctioning the transfer of power to Faisal as being based on sharia law; two days later, King Saud abdicated.

Reflecting on the coup, then British Ambassador Colin Crowe noted that “what may also be seriousin the long-term” about the transfer of power to Faisal, “is the bringing of the ulema into the picture, and they may exact a price for their support”. His comments proved prescient as the alliance between Wahhabism and the House of Saud would go on to promote extremism, involving the backing of terrorist forces, in various places around the world.

The friend and ally

The British government has condemned Khashoggi’s killing and supports an investigation. But it is still referring to Riyadh as a “friend and ally” and emphasising its “important strategic partnership” involving the military and trade. But how likely is it that a Saudi leader with blood on his hands can really keep up the pretence to the Western public that things are improving in the region?

London and Washington may end up preferring a repeat of 1964: to put another “Saudi” in power. Yet, much better for Saudis and the world would be something altogether different, as recently argued by Madawi Al-Rasheed: allowing people the experience of participating in government and decision-making, including freedom of speech, in a gradual transformation of Saudi Arabia into a democratic system.

In this, London and Washington will need a revolution in their thinking to become part of the solution rather than remaining part of the problem.

Mark Curtis is a historian and analyst of UK foreign policy and international development and the author of six books, the latest being an updated edition of Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam.

This article was originally published by MEE” –

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