Britain’s Distant War

Britain’s Distant War

The latest attack in London is deeply connected to a hidden war Britain itself is waging

Battle of Mosul U.S. Army M109A6 Paladin at Q West

Britain is engaged in a major war, and has been for three years, yet very few people recognise this and there is little debate about the rationale or potential consequences.

It is mainly an air war fought with strike-aircraft and armed-drones and is at an intensity not seen since the Gulf war in early 1991. As then, this war is run by a United States-led coalition and has killed tens of thousands of people. What is difficult to explain, though, is that few make the connection between this new war and the many attacks of the past three years, including Paris, Brussels, San Bernardino, Nice, Berlin, Istanbul, Manchester and three attacks in London – Westminster Bridge, London Bridge and now Parsons Green.

That there is a direct connection should hardly be a surprise, since ISIS propagandists were calling for attacks on the “far enemy” as soon as the coalition’s air war started in August 2014. Nor should it be forgotten that this blowback has happened before. After the 7/7 bombings in London in 2005, prime minister Tony Blair insisted strongly that there was no connection between the Iraq war and those attacks; but this stance was quickly undermined with the release of suicide-videos by the bombers and by the deputy head of al-Qaida, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

The latter said: “this blessed battle has transferred – like its glorious predecessors in New York, Washington, and Madrid – the battle to the enemies’ land”, and that the attacks were a “slap” to the policies of Tony Blair.

For one of the bombers, Mohammad Siddique Khan, the matter was clear-cut:

“Until we feel security, you will be our targets. Until you stop the bombing, gassing, imprisonment and torture of my people we will not stop this fight. We are at war and I am a soldier. Now you too will taste the reality of this situation.”

A major commitment

An odd element about the current war with ISIS is that its extent and intensity are actually in the public domain, but are scarcely covered in the media outside of the specialist security and military publications. As a result, there is virtually no political debate, even after four attacks in Britain this year alone, and many more elsewhere, not least Barcelona.

A few indicators are illuminating. The independent monitoring group Airwars finds that in the 1,134 days of the campaign so far, there have been 26,739 coalition strikes in Iraq and Syria with 98,532 bombs and missiles dropped. The great majority of these have been precision-guided munitions; the Pentagon currently estimates that over 60,000 ISIS personnel have been killed.

The Pentagon does acknowledge that many hundreds of civilian have died, but Airwars has examined the evidence very closely and estimates the number of civilians killed at a minimum of 5,343. The great majority of all the attacks have been by the US airforce and navy: the USAF flying mainly from bases in Turkey, Kuwait and Qatar, and the navy from aircraft-carriers.

The Parsons Green attack on 15 September did not kill anyone, but left several people badly burned and scores more traumatised. On 15-16 September, Airwars reported sixty-six airstrikes in Iraq and Syria which, if the death-toll was average for the coalition, would have killed at least fifty-five people on each day.

Why should Britain, in particular, be a target and why is there so little discussion? The first relates to Britain’s substantial role. In the wider coalition involved in this war, Britain is the second-most significant country after the US, followed by France and a number of others (including Belgium, Denmark and Australia); still more, such as Spain, deploy troops to Iraq to train forces being used against ISIS.

Britain operates mainly out the RAF base at Akrotiri in Cyprus, but also deploys drones from elsewhere in the region, possibly including a base in Kuwait, with these operated remotely at RAF Waddington just south of Lincoln. Furthermore, many other RAF stations in Britain are indirectly if substantially involved.

The extent of what is officially known as Operation Shader is remarkable and was covered in a useful briefing from the House of Commons library in March 2017 and a much more recent summary in the ever-reliable Jane’s Defence Weekly (see Tim Ripley, “Heading for Brexit”, JDW 54, 36, 6 September 2017)

At the forefront of the UK contribution are Tornado and Typhoon strike-aircraft and Reaper armed-drones. The strike-aircraft number fourteen at any one time, which is likely to require at least thirty available overall, but the back-up from other aircraft adds greatly to this. They include Airseeker surveillance aircraft, Voyager tanker aircraft, C130 and C17 transport-aircraft, E3-D, Rivet Joint and Sentinel surveillance aircraft and, reportedly, the newest transport aircraft in RAF service, the Airbus A400.

The Commons report in March listed 3,000 missions flown including 1,200 airstrikes, with the RAF “conducting operations not seen since the first Gulf War” in 1991. Interestingly, Jane’s reports satellite data showing that RAF Akrotiri has also been host to heavy-lift Chinook twin-rotor helicopters, indicating, in its view, that they are there to support UK special forces.

The use of special forces, which governments consistently refuse to discuss in parliament, has figured in some newspapers with close links to the ministry of defence such as the Mail and Telegraph. In this case, the way the forces are organised will mean a fairly broad-based commitment.

While centred on personnel from an SAS squadron, there will also be units from the Special Forces Support Group which normally includes elements of 1 Para, the Royal Marines and the RAF regiment, as well as specialists from the Special Reconnaissance Regiment and the Special Signals Regiment, with the Chinooks and other aircraft operated by the Joint Special Forces Aviation Wing.

A time to rethink

A clear conclusion follows from all this. Britain is at war; ISIS wants to bring that war home to its “far enemy”; the movement succeeds in Nice, Barcelona, Manchester, London Bridge and elsewhere. The second question above, of why there is so little discussion of how the two connect, remains to be answered.

There are several reasons. One is that it is a “remote war”, with very few boots on the ground, virtually no risk to military personnel and therefore no body-bags coming home and no funeral corteges through Royal Wootton Basset.

The Remote Control Project at Oxford Research Group chronicles how this kind of conflict is part of a much wider trend towards remote war, and is accentuated by the almost complete absence of western media reporters at the war’s receiving end. There is copious coverage of grim attacks like Parsons Green but no coverage whatsoever of the daily attacks in Iraq and Syria.

The political significance is considerable: for this situation is likely to continue unless ISIS gets lucky and succeeds in a major attack. At least until now, it has not been able to use chemical or radiological weapons in its targeting on the far enemy. Hopefully it never will, but if it does then that may be the circumstance when people wake up to the fact that we have been involved in a very dirty war for more than three years with no end in sight.

Furthermore, this is likely to be the model of conflict that states like Britain will repeatedly fight in the coming years – unless they consider radically different approaches to security. A week after the country entered the seventeenth year of the “war on terror”, there is so far little sign of that much needed rethink.

Source: openDemocracy


dispatches – inside Britain’s Israel Lobby

Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby


UK government must come clean about its secret wars, including helping Syrian terrorists

The government must come clean about its secret wars

How the British government is using a Special Forces loophole to wage war without democratic oversight.

British Army soldiers with the 1st Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, wait inside the belly of a Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron CH-53D Sea Stallion. Image, public domain.

When David Cameron made his case for airstrikes in Syria in 2015, he explicitly ruled out sending in UK ground forces to fight Islamic State. Yet the following year British soldiers were photographed on the ground, reportedly fighting alongside Syrian rebels. All without any disclosure to parliament.

How is this possible?

The answer comes through the use of special forces. As far as the government is concerned, the operations of any units that come under the command of the Director of Special Forces are exempt from public disclosure and scrutiny. In theory, this means British troops can operate anywhere in the world without the public or parliament ever knowing about it, let alone getting the chance to debate or vote.

This may not seem unreasonable at first glance. After all, aren’t we talking about a very small number of elite troops carrying out a similarly small number of ‘quick-in, quick out’ operations? We could hardly equate missions like ending the Iranian embassy siege in 1980 or the rescue of British soldiers captured by the ‘West Side Boys’ in Sierra Leone in 2000 with full-blown military interventions. And secrecy has arguably been understandable to avoid compromising these missions and endangering the personnel involved.

The problem is the scope of the operations is changing. Special forces are now being used to conduct sustained combat missions as well as quick, one-off operations. In June 2016, around the time UK special forces were photographed in Syria, they were reported to be frequently crossing the border to aid Syrian rebels on the frontline, and they also appear to have established a base in Al-Tanf from which to conduct sustained operations. Reports also suggest UK special forces are present in Libya on a sustained mission to advise, train, and assist Libyan allies. Thanks to a leaked memo from a briefing given to US lawmakers by the King of Jordan, we know they have been deployed there since January 2016, and they were also reported to have attacked Islamic State targets outside Misrata in May of the same year.

The numbers of special operations forces have also been increasing[i1]  with the emergence of dedicated support units such as the Special Reconnaissance Regiment in 2005 and the Special Forces Support Group (SFSG) in 2006, adding upwards of 500 and 800 personnel respectively and helping to take the total number of special operations forces up to around 3,000. The SFSG incorporates regular military forces, notably from the Parachute Regiment and the Royal Marines, and when I recently tabled a parliamentary question asking if these regular units within the SFSG would be subject to parliamentary scrutiny in the normal way, the answer that came back was a clear no.

There is also a concern that the same is true of drones and other aircraft when they’re involved in special forces operations. When Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee questioned Foreign Office Minister Tobias Ellwood on UK special forces activity in Libya last year, he said ‘I am not able to provide any comment whatever on any questions involving the role of special forces.’  However, when asked whether the RAF had flown over Libya in 2016, he stated ‘It has flown over Libya, yes.’ When the committee later sought details about the flights they were told the government does not comment on special forces, suggesting even RAF flights are being included under the non-disclosure umbrella.

This has dangerous implications for our democracy. The government could in theory assemble a quite substantial military force, comprising special forces soldiers, regular troops, support personnel, drones, and manned aircraft, and bring them all under the blanket of ‘no comment’. Instead of following the now well-established convention that parliament should authorise the use of military force, and risking a no vote as with the proposal for military intervention in Syria in 2013, the government can simply push military interventions under the radar by re-classifying them as special forces operations.

A Ministry of Defence document leaked in 2013 suggested that one way to continue conducting military operations despite the scepticism of the British public was “investing in greater numbers of SF [Special Forces].” And this is exactly what the government has done. In the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review, the government pledged to more than double investment in special forces equipment.

And this isn’t the only loophole the government could exploit. Operating outside of UK command structures, embedded British troops can fight alongside their host nation’s forces in wars the UK is not officially a party to. I also recently asked a parliamentary question asking for up to date information on the deployment of British military personnel within the armed forces of other states. As of March 2016, there were 176 UK personnel ‘embedded’ with other nations’ armies. For example, in July 2015 it was revealed that UK personnel embedded with allied forces operating in Syria were involved in carrying out airstrikes against Islamic State, without prior authorisation of parliament…

The truth is, the government knows the public are rightly sceptical of military intervention after the terrible legacy of failure in Iraq and Afghanistan. Indeed, in a 2013 poll, about 60 per cent of respondents said recent military action in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya made them less likely to back future military interventions. In another poll in the same year, 69 per cent of respondents said the role of the UK military should be to defend British territory and provide humanitarian assistance in emergencies. Instead of exploiting loopholes to make military intervention more secretive, the government should think about listening to the public who they’re accountable to.

The answer, for me, is clear. If British troops – any kind of British troops, whether special forces, regular, or embedded – are committed to comprehensive, long term combat operations, there should be open disclosure and a debate and vote in parliament. There should also be parliamentary committee oversight of special forces (no committee of parliament currently has the formal power to scrutinise them) so that they’re accountable for secret operations. The government must come clean about its secret wars. Only then can the public have confidence that our military is being used as they would want it to be

US and UK Supplied Chemical Weapons to Terrorists in Syria

US and UK Supplied Chemical Weapons to Terrorists in Syria

By Stephen Lendman,

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at

Numerous accusations by Washington and its rogue allies about Syria using chemical weapons were fabricated.

Earlier, Saudi Arabia was caught red-handed supplying terrorists in Syria with Chemical Weapons (CWs). So was Turkey, discovered shipping toxic sarin gas cross-border. Perhaps Jordan and Israel supplied CWs. Both countries support ISIS and other terrorist groups.

Syrian forces never used them at any time throughout years of war. No credible evidence suggests it. Claims made were phony.

On August 6, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said US and UK-made CWs were found in liberated Syrian areas, noting:

“The consequences of the war that has been raging in Syria for many years are now being analyzed and material evidence has started to emerge. It has been mentioned many times at various levels.”

“The fact is that the western states and regional countries have directly or indirectly supplied banned poisonous substances to militants, terrorists and extremists active in Syria” – along with Western weapons and other material support.

Clear evidence shows ISIS, al-Nusra and other terrorist groups were aided by nations:

“claim(ing) their commitment to democratic principles and international law, but in fact, they supply militants with things necessary to continue military activities on the territory of an independent state.”

Information was “handed over to the United Nations and even made public during bilateral talks, particularly between Russia and the United States,” Zakharova explained.

Separately on Facebook, she said

“(h)ere you can see all their commitment to international law and the triumph of democracy. Supplying chemical agents to terrorists and using photos of killed children as a pretext is beyond one’s comprehension.”

On Wednesday, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad accused Washington and Britain of supplying terrorists in Syria with CWs, explaining evidence was found in liberated areas by government forces.

Munitions filled with toxic agents were discovered – produced by the US Federal Laboratories and NonLethal Technologies, as well as Britain’s Cherming Defence.

Russian lower house State Duma International Affairs Committee Chairman Leonid Slutsky responded to the evidence, saying:

“Syria now has all the reasons and the right to address the United Nations over western-produced chemical weapons found on the territories liberated from terrorists.”

“The information released by the Syrian Foreign Ministry once more demonstrates in full the hypocrisy of the members of the western US-led coalition, and proves that the entire goal of the entire operation is to remove the regime of President Bashar Assad.”

They support the terrorist scourge they claim to oppose, what’s been well known all along, something I stress repeatedly in my articles on Syria.

Washington, NATO, Israel and their rogue allies want endless war and regime change, not peace and stability, notions anathema to their diabolical agenda

Theresa May suppresses report into the role of Saudi Arabia in funding Islamist extremism in the UK

May Rejects Appeal From 9/11 Survivors to Release Saudi Terror Report

Theresa May has rejected an appeal from survivors of the 9/11 attacks to make public a suppressed report into the role of Saudi Arabia in funding Islamist extremism in the UK.

Earlier this summer, the British government announced it had decided not to publish the information, citing national security reasons and the “vast amount of personal information” it contained.

Among those calling for Ms May to make public the report, which was commissioned by her predecessor, David Cameron, was a US group of survivors of the 9/11 attacks and relatives of some of the almost 3,000 people who were killed.

May denies suppressing report into Saudi Arabia’s funding of extremism to protect arms deals

“The UK now has the unique historic opportunity to stop the killing spree of Wahhabism-inspired terrorists by releasing the UK government’s report on terrorism financing in the UK which, according to media reports, places Saudi Arabia at its centre of culpability,” said the letter, signed by 15 people.

But the British government has rejected their request in a letter that the group has described as “shameful”.

“[The] response did not convey that much would change in the future for one simple reason: the US and the UK continue to protect Saudi Arabia, allowing them to operate freely, with impunity, even supplying them with lethal weapons, as they go about their usual business of inspiring intolerance, committing genocide and human rights violations,” said Sharon Premoli, who was on the 80th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Centre when the first Al-Qaeda plane hit. 

Brett Eagleson, whose son John perished on the 17th floor of the South Tower, said the British government was withholding potentially crucial information.


Ground Zero in New York City (Rex)

“When the UK government had the opportunity to shed light on the funding of terrorism and had the opportunity to make real inroads on the global fight against terror, they have chosen to take the path of least resistance by putting the cozy relationship with Saudi Arabia before the safety of its owns citizens,” he said. “It’s a shameful day for democracy.”

Ellen Sarancini, the widow of a pilot on United Airlines Flight 175 which was hijacked after taking off from Boston and flown into the South Tower, said the UK response was the latest in a series of rejections.

“For 15 years, we have been blocked by our own government who, along with the UK, continue to protect Saudi Arabia at the expense of their citizens,” she said. “The UK report has the potential for ending terrorism by outing those at the centre of its funding but refuses to do so.”

Although 15 of the 19 hijackers who attacked New York and Washington were citizens of Saudi Arabia, the authorities in Riyadh have long denied having any official role in the attack. They have also rejected legal actions seeking compensations.

EU funding for israeli military

EU funding for Israeli military

Some of the information is contained in tables which have proved too time-consuming to reproduce and in jargon which only an expert can translate have been omitted. Such information is not produced for the benefit of the public.

This posting has these items:

1) Electronic Intifada: EU funds firm supplying Israel with banned cluster weapons, an innocent, or cynical, Ali Abuminah remonstrates against the EU’s collegiate, sugar-Daddy relationship with Israel;
2) FT: Elbit Systems on hunt for acquisitions, the incomparable John Reed (right questions, right time) looks at why Britain is a target market for acquisitions – it thinks it can do more with British companies than their British owners do;
3) FT: Armed for expansion in the face of global uncertainty, a disaster for many, an opportunity for Elbit systems reports John Reed in this extract;
4) Euro Parliament: The French united left MEP Patrick Le Hyaric raises direct questions about Horizon 2020, the EU Framework for Research and Innovation , and its funding of Elbit Systems. And Britain’s MEPs? They’re not bothered and on the verge of being pulled out anyway;
5) Europarl: Horizon 2020, the EU Framework for Research and Innovation ;
6) Vrede.Be: European Commission confirms: Millions of EU research money flows to Israeli Arms Industry, Dutch NGO does its homework;

Protests on the roof of Elbit’s factory in Staffordshire. July 2015

EU funds firm supplying Israel with banned cluster weapons

Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada
August 10, 2017

A boy disabled by a cluster bomb pictured in August 2007 outside his house in Rashidiya Palestinian refugee camp, near Tyre. A year earlier Israel fired more than a million cluster munitions in Lebanon. Guillermo Valle Sipa Press

The European Union is giving millions of dollars of “research” funding to a company that is helping Israel evade an international ban on cluster weapons.

Israel has specifically chosen the company, Elbit Systems, to supply new artillery cannons because a European manufacturer would restrict Israel from using cluster munitions.

Yet the European Commission, the EU’s executive bureaucracy, is shrugging its shoulders, insisting to The Electronic Intifada that the funding follows ethical guidelines.

The EC says it strongly supports international bans on cluster weapons and landmines. In response to a query from The Electronic Intifada, a European Commission spokesperson hailed the bans as “major diplomatic achievements” that the 28-member bloc wanted to see fully implemented.

But the EC is planning no action to hold Israel or Elbit accountable.

“Insane and monstrous”

Cluster munitions spread small bomblets over a wide area, posing an immediate, indiscriminate threat to civilians. Many of the bomblets do not explode on impact but continue to cause death and injury long after they are fired, becoming, in the words of Human Rights Watch, “de facto landmines.”

During its 2006 invasion of Lebanon, Israel fired more than a million cluster munitions into the country. “What we did was insane and monstrous, we covered entire towns in cluster bombs,” an Israeli army officer told the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz.

Those weapons continue to pose a danger to people in Lebanon. Since the 2006 Israeli invasion, according to the US embassy in Beirut, more than 40 people have been killed and 300 injured by unexploded ordnance.

Israeli leaders regularly threaten to unleash even greater firepower targeting civilians in a future war on Lebanon.

American, British and Brazilian cluster bombs have also been used by Saudi Arabia, killing, injuring and endangering civilians in its ongoing war on Yemen.

International ban

The 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions prohibits their use, production, transfer and stockpiling.

More than one hundred countries are fully signed up to the convention.

The European Parliament has also given strong backing to the treaty with a resolution urging the European Commission “to include the ban on cluster munitions as a standard clause in agreements with third countries” and “to make the fight against cluster munitions an integral part of [EU] external assistance programs.”

Yet Israel has not signed the cluster munitions ban and far from moving in that direction, it is looking for ways to evade its restrictions.

Photo given out by activists shows protest on the roof of Elite KL, the Elbit-owned factory in Staffordshire, UK.

“Complete independence”

Shopping for new artillery cannons, Israel was interested in guns made by the German firm KMW.

But according to a report in Haaretz this week, Israel is instead buying cannons from Elbit Systems because of concerns that the manufacturer in Germany, which is a signatory to the ban, “would restrict the cannons from firing cluster bombs.”

A retired Israeli military officer familiar with the matter told Haaretz that Israel was worried the Germans would not give Israel “complete independence” over the use of the weapons.

“We would have been more than happy to have opened bidding because that brings down prices,” the officer said, “but we wanted a cannon that would be operated without conditions.”

According to Haaretz, Israel continues to manufacture and stockpile cluster munitions, though supposedly ones which leave a very low rate of unexploded bombs.

Although Israel is not party to the cluster munitions convention, Human Rights Watch says it would be preferable for Elbit to stop manufacturing such systems.

“Companies in other countries that are not party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions have taken that step,” Mary Wareham, advocacy director for Human Rights Watch’s arms division, told The Electronic Intifada.

She noted that last August, US-based Textron Systems announced it was halting production of cluster munitions, while Singapore Technologies Engineering disclosed in November 2015 that it no longer manufactures anti-personnel landmines or cluster munitions.

War Against the People, Israel, the Palestinians and Global Pacification, Jeff Halper, U of Chicago Press, distrbtd by Pluto Press  Oct. 2015

“Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest arms company, boasts that its weapons are ‘combat-proven,’ meaning tried and tested in Israeli military attacks on Palestinians,” Ryvka Barnard, senior campaigns officer with the human rights group War on Want, told The Electronic Intifada.

“Elbit has produced white phosphorous, cannons that shoot cluster munitions and countless other weapons that cause devastating civilian casualties, some of which are banned by international treaties signed by EU countries.”

EU defends funding to arms maker
Elbit is also the beneficiary of EU largesse. It is receiving almost $6 million in European taxpayer money as part of Horizon 2020 and other EU research funding streams.

But the EU is defending the funding even after the revelation that Elbit is supplying the cluster munition cannons to Israel.

“EU research funding under Horizon 2020 specifically excludes research for military purposes,” the European Commission spokesperson told The Electronic Intifada in an email on Thursday.

The spokesperson added that “several mechanisms have been put in place to prevent EU funds from being used for activities that could be contrary to international law,” including elaborate review panels and “ethical evaluations.”

However, a group of prominent international legal experts recently criticized the Horizon 2020 evaluation process, noting that it ignores EU regulations barring funding to individuals or entities responsible for or complicit in grave misconduct, such as torture, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“Incentivizing” Israeli crimes

Campaigners do not buy the distinction the EU makes between the military and non-military activities of a company like Elbit, seeing all funding to Israel’s arms makers as bolstering Israeli impunity.

Protest 2014 at the Instro Precision factory in Broadstairs, Kent. Photo from Block the Factory

“The EU, and member countries like the UK, admit that Israel systematically violates international law through its military occupation and attacks on Palestinians,” War on Want’s Barnard stated.

“And yet, they continue to reward the Israeli government and arms companies with research money, contracts and trade deals that feed its war machine.”

Barnard added that the EU is “incentivizing Israel’s abuses of Palestinian rights and war crimes by continuing its arms trade with Israel.”

“It’s time for the EU and all of its member countries to take international law seriously, and implement an immediate two-way arms embargo on Israel,” Barnard said, noting that grassroots pressure would continue.

Campaigners in Europe have regularly protested against Elbit and its affiliates over their role in Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians.

“Where governments fail to implement their own policies, and hold Israel to account, ordinary people have taken up the Palestinian call to take up campaigns of boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel,” Barnard said.

In a column describing the horrors perpetrated with cluster weapons, Haaretz’s Gideon Levy writes that Israel’s determination to ignore the international ban indicates that it “wants to kill as many innocent people as possible.”

The European Union, it would appear, is just as determined to help.

Elbit Systems on hunt for acquisitions

By John Reed in Tel Aviv, Financial Times
July 11, 2016

Elbit Systems, the Israeli aerospace and defence company, says it is on the hunt for acquisitions and is prepared to spend “hundreds of millions of dollars”, including in the UK, where it is undeterred by Brexit.

The ‘Watchkeeper’, bought by Britain’s armed forces from Thales UK/Elbit Systems. The Royal Navy’s publicity shot, above, is a an oxymoron – an instrument designed to get information on, and suppress, dissident activity, here floats almost soundlessly over England’s Green and Pleasant land populated only by Old Maids biking to Holy Communion (tho’ never underestimate them).

Bezhalel Machlis, Elbit’s chief executive, told the Financial Times that the group — which already employs about 500 people at five UK companies — was prepared to add jobs as part of its acquisition drive. “I am looking to enhance and expand our activities in the UK,” said Mr Machlis. “We are looking for acquisitions. I think we can do more in the UK: we can create more jobs, bring new technologies.” Elbit makes surveillance drones, among other things, and produces the Watchkeeper unmanned aerial vehicle in Britain in a joint venture led by France’s Thales.

After Brexit, the UK market remains a strategically important market for Elbit Systems

In February, the Israeli company won a £500m UK government contract in partnership with KBR of the US to train British fighter pilots over an 18-year period. Mr Machlis said Britain’s vote to leave the EU in a referendum last month would not affect Elbit’s plans. “After the Brexit, the UK market remains a strategically important market for Elbit Systems, and we will continue to invest in it,” he added. In March, Elbit named Martin Fausset, who previously held senior jobs at Leonardo’s AgustaWestland, Rolls-Royce and Ricardo, as head of its UK subsidiary. Mr Machlis did not specify the countries other than the UK where Elbit was seeking to buy companies, but said the group was looking in “complementary areas” to ones where it was already active in Israel, including commercial cyber security and defence electronics.

In Israel, Elbit is bidding for Israel Military Industries, the state-owned armaments maker whose best-known product is the Uzi submachine gun. Elbit reported an order backlog worth $6.8bn at the end of the first quarter, bolstered by rising defence budgets in Europe, the US and elsewhere, amid increasing concerns about migration, terrorism, and the military threat from Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Outside Israel and Europe, Elbit also has companies in the US — where it is producing a new fighter pilot helmet for the military together with Rockwell Collins — and Latin America, South Korea, India, and Australia. Last year Elbit pushed into new activities by buying the cyber and intelligence division of Israel’s Nice Systems for $158m.

Like some other big Israeli companies, Elbit has been targeted by campaigners from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement that protests against Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands. Pro-Palestinian activists have on several occasions temporarily disrupted work at Elbit’s UK factories. However, Mr Machlis played down the threat to the company from such campaigners. “I’m not saying it’s not a threat, but I think that altogether we can handle it,” he said.

Armed for expansion in the face of global uncertainty

By John Reed, Financial Times, FT
July 11, 2016


In relaxed, dressed-down Tel Aviv, Bezhalel (“Butzi”) Machlis stands out. He is wearing a dark suit and tie on a Sunday, the first day of the Israeli working week, despite the sweltering heat of summer.

The formal business attire is apt for a man about to deliver bad news. Mr Machlis uses the word “unfortunately” twice in an interview to describe why Elbit Systems — his listed, vertically integrated defence company — has such a strong order list: worth $6.8bn at the end of March.

Elbit is profiting because of worldwide trends, from uncontrolled refugee flows to jihadi terrorism and the military expansionism of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, all of which have prompted the US and many European countries to review military budgets.

“There is a decision to increase defence spending,” Mr Machlis says. “We are well positioned for that: we have operational systems which are available immediately, because, unfortunately, we face a similar situation in Israel.”

At a time when many industrial companies are wary because of global uncertainties, including the Brexit vote in the UK and the rise of populist politicians such as Donald Trump, the Israeli group is looking to expand. It is looking to make acquisitions, including in Britain, and Mr Machlis tells the Financial Times that the group is ready to spend “hundreds of millions of dollars”. He says the UK remains “strategically important” for Elbit, and that the vote to leave the EU will not deter it from investing there.

Many larger defence groups focus on just one niche. But Elbit, because of Israel’s small size (8.5m people) and the demands of the Israel Defence Forces, offers a full range of security products, from drones to intelligence and surveillance systems. It bought into the latter when it acquired the cyber division of Israel’s Nice Systems last year for $158m.

Like many of Israel’s successful exporters — most notably a clutch of cyber security start-ups that arose out of military intelligence units — Elbit is parlaying products developed for the country’s security apparatus into internationally competitive products. Much of what it sells is trialled by the IDF before being tailored to the needs of armies and law enforcement agencies worldwide.

Using what Mr Machlis calls a “multidomestic” strategy, Elbit works via a network of local companies around the world, from the US and Brazil to Australia and the UK, where it makes Watchkeeper drones in a joint venture with Thales of France. Its customers range from Latin American governments fighting guerrillas and trafficking to Germany’s air force, which last year contracted to buy, through local supplier Diehl Defence, a system mounted on aircraft that can deflect “manpads”, or shoulder-fired missiles, which are proliferating among militant groups in the Arab world.


Question for written answer to the Commission
Parliamentary questions, Rule 130, E-002757-15

Asked by Patrick Le Hyaric (GUE/NGL)
24 February 2015

Subject: Horizon 2020 and Israel

Israel is a partner country in Horizon 2020, the Commission’s publicly funded framework programme for research and technological development.

On 9 February 2015, ISERD, the Israeli R&D Directorate for the European Research Area, announced that, under the Horizon 2020 research cycle, the EU had approved 205 projects to a total value of EUR 452.3 million.

One of the undertakings to receive funding is the military industrial corporation Elbit Systems, which tests its deadly systems on the ground through their use against Palestinians. Elbit Systems is also the company involved in building and maintaining the apartheid Wall. It is one of the highest-profile accomplices in Israel’s breaches of international law.

Meantime, the Commission has published guidelines on the eligibility of Israeli entities for grants, prizes and financial instruments funded by the EU.

1. Will the Commission ensure that these guidelines are applied in respect of grant aid to military undertakings?

2. Will the Commission end the policy of awarding research funding to Israeli military undertakings?

3. What steps will be taken to make the Horizon 2020 programme subject to ethical criteria so that arms manufacturers from countries which fail to observe international law will not be able to work jointly on projects with EU partners?


Answer given by Mr Moedas on behalf of the Commission

All actions under Horizon 2020(1) must comply with Article 19 (2) of Regulation 1291/2013, which requires that research and innovation activities carried out under Horizon 2020 shall have an exclusive focus on civil applications.

Several mechanisms have been put in place to ensure that EU funds are not used for activities other than those with an exclusive focus on civil application or that could be contrary to international law. All projects, most of which are of a collaborative nature involving participants from a number of different countries, are selected on the basis of excellence.

Eligible proposals are evaluated by a panel of external independent experts. If a project raises ethical questions, it also undergoes an additional ethical review(2). The ethical evaluation of these projects includes an assessment of the possible dual-use of the proposed research and compliance with applicable EU, national and international legislation, including the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. Proposals involving security issues can also be subject to additional review. The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) may carry out investigations to verify the use of EU funds in case of sufficiently serious suspicions of fraud or irregularity.

In July 2013, the EU adopted the ‘Guidelines on the eligibility of Israeli entities and their activities in the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967 for grants, prizes and financial instruments funded by the EU from 2014 onwards’(3). The participation of Israeli entities under EU funded projects is checked in accordance with these Guidelines.

Horizon 2020, the EU Framework for Research and Innovation (2014-2020).

Document from Europarl, EU, thinktank

The Ethics Appraisal Procedure concerns all activities funded in Horizon 2020 and includes the Ethics Review Procedure, conducted before the start of the project, as well as the Ethics Checks and Audits.(3)


Commission notice concerning the date of application of the Regional Convention on pan-Euro-Mediterranean preferential rules of origin or the protocols on rules of origin providing for diagonal cumulation between the European Union, Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Egypt, Faeroe Islands, Iceland, Israel, Jordan, Kosovo, Lebanon, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Morocco, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland (including Liechtenstein), Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and West Bank and Gaza Strip


2013/C 205/04

Commission notice concerning the date of application of the protocols on rules of origin providing for diagonal cumulation of origin between the European Union, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey

from Guidelines on the eligibility of Israeli entities

2013/C 205/05

Guidelines on the eligibility of Israeli entities and their activities in the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967 for grants, prizes and financial instruments funded by the EU from 2014 onwards

1. These guidelines set out the conditions under which the Commission will implement key requirements for the award of EU support to Israeli entities or to their activities in the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967. Their aim is to ensure the respect of EU positions and commitments in conformity with international law on the non-recognition by the EU of Israel’s sovereignty over the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967. These guidelines are without prejudice to other requirements established by EU legislation.

2. The territories occupied by Israel since June 1967 comprise the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

3. The EU does not recognise Israel’s sovereignty over any of the territories referred to in point 2 and does not consider them to be part of Israel’s territory (1), irrespective of their legal status under domestic Israeli law (2). The EU has made it clear that it will not recognise any changes to pre-1967 borders, other than those agreed by the parties to the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP) (3). The EU’s Foreign Affairs Council has underlined the importance of limiting the application of agreements with Israel to the territory of Israel as recognised by the EU (4).

4. These guidelines do not cover EU support in the form of grants, prizes or financial instruments awarded to Palestinian entities or to their activities in the territories referred to in point 2, nor any eligibility conditions set up for this purpose. In particular, they do not cover any agreements between the EU, on the one hand, and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation or the Palestinian Authority, on the other hand.


[see original]

European Commission confirms: Millions of EU-Research Money flows to Israeli Arms Industry

[The Dutch report comes from vrede-be/nieuws which means something like ‘Pray for Peace’/news]

The European Union provides generous research and development funds to Israeli companies and institutions in the military sector.

The European Union provides generous research and development funds to Israeli companies and institutions in the military sector. We know this through the answer of the European Commission to a question (1) (2) from MEP Bart Staes (Groen) (3). “With the expanding military conflict in Syria and the possible involvement of Israel, it becomes clear again that investing European tax money in military goals is scandalous. Not worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize winner.”

European Commission confirms: Millions of EU research money

Press Release, Vrede.Be, Brussels
June 03, 2013

According to the European Commission 943 million euros worth of research money was assigned to Israeli ‘legal entities’ for their participation in European research projects between 2000 and 2013. The majority of the European subsidies (around 600 million euros) came from the European science programs, more specifically from the current FP7 Program for Research and Technology, which ends this summer.

“If the EU is serious about the Nobel Peace Prize it should invest every available euro in projects that promote peace and not one euro into military projects anywhere in the world and certainly not in the powder keg that is the Middle East.”

Since the launch of the specific component ‘security research’ within FP7, the EU-money flows straight to Israeli defence and national security sectors – 26 million euros in 49 projects. There are 23 Israëli companies that are involved in one or several European security research projects. Five of them are arms companies: Israeli Airocraft Industries (IAI), Elbit Systems, Elbit Security Systems, Aeronautics Defence Systems and Opgal Optronics Industries. There are dozens of EU-sponsored drone projects. Previous research revealed that IAI, the biggest Israeli arms company and one of the world market leaders in the production of drones, managed to obtain at least 69 research funds since Israel joined the European research area. Verint Systems, one of the biggest security companies in the world is managing a project to export ‘the total security of airports’ to Europe. The consortium Verint Systems comprises ‘Elbit Systems’, another gigantic defence company that helped build the Israëli apartheid wall and that maintains it today.

On the 15th of May Vrede vzw, intal and Vredesactie campaigned in front of the European Directory General Research and Innovation to demand a halt to the European scientific cooperation with these companies.

Staes supports the demand of Vrede vzw, intal en Vredesactie to include restrictive ‘ethical critera’ in the coming EU framework program for Research and Technology, Horizon 2020, that will enter into force in 2014. These criteria should prevent that European research money goes to entities that contribute to the violation of international law, through their nature, the place they were established or their practices.

Staes: “If the EU is serious about the Nobel Peace Prize it should invest every available euro in projects that promote peace and not one euro into military projects anywhere in the world and certainly not in the powder keg that is the Middle East.”

Horizon 2020 will be launched early next year. The current funding of Israeli arms companies shows the need of clear ethical criteria. Ludo De Brabander, spokesperson of Vrede vzw: “European research budgets shouldn’t be allocated to companies that are invloved in preserving the illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories and the systematic violation of human rights.”

More information:
(1)… [on TTIP]
(3) Summary table attached [see original]

#Brexit :The proposed Trump-Tory trade deal is absolutely nothing to celebrate


The disgraced Liam Fox has been in America begging the United States for a trade deal to save face over the absolute shambles his Tory colleagues are making over Brexit, but be warned, any such Trump-Tory trade deal will be a disaster for Britain and the British people.

Donald Trump has scrawled a lunatic Twitter rant to talk up a trade deal and deride the EU as “protectionist”. It’s as if Trump sees EU nations protecting their own economies, workers and environments from monstrosities like chlorine-washed chicken products, US deregulation demands, the rapacious US private health sector, and the opaque and anti-democratic US-based ISDS legal industry as terrible “crimes” that he’s confident that the Tory government won’t dare to commit when grovelling for the trade deal they need so very much more than he does.

Trump may a bigoted loudmouth, but he’s not too thick to see a dupe to be taken for every penny they’ve got when he sees one. And a nation that’s backed itself into a diplomatic corner by turning its back on its main allies (8 of Britain’s 10 biggest trading partners are in the Single Market) is just such a dupe as far as Trump is concerned.

Especially since it’s a nation led by a bunch of inept self-serving charlatans with a long history of gleefully selling off their nation’s assets and selling out their fellow citizens for a few pieces of corporate silver.

Brexiteer-in-chief Nigel Farage was quick to retweet Donald Trump’s deranged raving as if it represented some kind of proof that Brexit Britain has a glorious future, rather than being proof that Mr “America First” is a total hypocrite when it comes to protectionism.

What Trump seems to be referring to with his accusation that the EU is “protectionist” is the breakdown of the of the proposed TTIP trade deal between the EU and the US, which is dead in the water because several EU27 nations have sworn to veto it.

Aside from the astounding hypocrisy of an accusation of protectionism from a President who keeps on espousing protectionist policies and blabbering on about “America First”, there’s also the fact that Brexiters like Nigel Farage who cynically used legitimate concerns about the TTIP corporate power grab to fearmonger about the EU are now wildly celebrating the idea of a Trump-Tory corporate power grab that would make TTIP look almost acceptable in comparison.

Nigel Farage and the Brexiters have manoeuvred the UK in this desperate position where we have to go begging Trump for a fanatically right-wing corporate feeding frenzy of a trade deal when the Americans know we’re in such a diplomatically weak position that we’ll have to cave in to all of their pro-corporate demands.

When it comes to your common Brexiter they’re likely to be way too ill-informed to even acknowledge that we’ve put ourselves in such a desperate position of diplomatic weakness where we need a trade deal with the US a hell of a lot more than they need one with us.

But when it comes to the likes of Nigel Farage, the disgraced Liam Fox, and US-born Boris Johnson, you really wouldn’t put it beyond them to have deliberately manoeuvred the UK into this position of subservience to US corporations because their loyalty to their corporate paymasters far exceeds their loyalty to Britain and the British people.

When the Americans begin demanding that we allow their chlorinated chicken and other abominations onto our supermarket shelves, that we trash our environmental standards and our workers’ rights, that we carve open our NHS for the benefit of US health companies, and that we abandon our national sovereignty to allow secretive US based corporate tribunals to override our democratic and judicial systems, just remember Nigel Farage’s smug face, and remember who was to blame for manipulating the UK into such a position of weakness that such a TTIP on steroids Trump-Tory corporate power grab could even be possible.

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