How #Brexit Was Engineered by Foreign Billionaires to Bring About Economic Chaos – for Profit

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By Graham Vanbergen,

This article first appeared on GR in October 2017.

In this truly alarming story I connect three significant articles to show that Brexit, far from being the result of representative democracy, is in fact a campaign of covert intervention by foreign billionaires to bring about economic chaos in Britain in order create the circumstances for making huge profits. This is not the stuff of mere conspiracy theories. Clear evidence has emerged that Brexit was engineered and is already proving to be a catastrophe, as confirmed by the mainstream media frenzy over Theresa May’s political mis-management of the greatest post-war challenge of our time. In part-one (by left leaning, The Guardian newspaper) we see how Brexit really came about and who influenced it. In part-two (by centre newspaper The Independent) we see how opaque and deceptive think tanks have heavily influenced Brexit and in part-three (by right leaning EUReferendum) we see that economic chaos is being planned in a post-Brexit era, who is involved and why. These articles identify the actors behind the current attack on Britain and what has happened to date so far. At the end, the reader should get a sense of the impending disaster being constructed by the super-rich against the people of Britain purely for profit. Just as oil speculators pushed up global energy prices to $145 a barrel just prior to the financial crash in what was termed the London Loophole, and then profited from short bets on the way down – Britain is being set up for a fall where those with big money will ultimately clean up.

PART ONE: Carole Cadwalladr from The Guardian wrote a searing piece last May on what really happened in Britain’s EU referendum vote. Her first sentence led the reader into a 7,000 word setting of foreign actors and corporations intent on usurping democracy in Britain. “A shadowy global operation involving big data, billionaire friends of Trump and the disparate forces of the Leave campaign influenced the result of the EU referendum.” The article entitled “The Great British Brexit Robbery: How Our Democracy Was Highjacked” is now the subject of a bitter legal battle between the accused; Cambridge Analytica LLC and SCL Elections Limited and The Guardian newspaper. Several amendments to the article have been made since the original publication in a climate of legal threats. The stakes are very high just for reporting it.

Source: The Guardian

The article went deeply into how technology and data was illegally used in Britain’s EU referendum voting process. One former employee of the main company involved, Cambridge Analytica, confirmed that they were using psychological operations – the same methods the military use to effect mass sentiment change. It’s what they mean by winning ‘hearts and minds’. “We were just doing it to win elections in the kind of developing countries that don’t have many rules.” Except they were doing it in Britain, and at a historical moment for its future.

As the reader continues, names like Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal, Facebook, Google, MI5 and other vested interests such as hedge funds and banks litter the story.

It is clear from Cadwalladr’s investigation that British democracy was subverted through a covert, far-reaching plan of coordination enabled by US billionaires and she shows how Britain is in the midst of a massive land grab for power by them. These determined individuals bypassed Britain’s electoral laws and swung the margins in favour to Brexit. She also highlights some political activities much closer to home – note the involvement of the DUP, now the balance of power in Theresa May’s government.

Vote Leave (the official Leave campaign) chose to spend £3.9m, more than half its official £7m campaign budget. As did three other affiliated Leave campaigns: BeLeave, Veterans for Britain and the Democratic Unionist party (DUP), spending a further £757,750. “Coordination” between campaigns is prohibited under UK electoral law, unless campaign expenditure is declared, jointly. It wasn’t”.

The story gets darker as it accuses the British military-industrial complex, old-school Tories, a former parliamentary under-secretary of State for Defence procurement, director of Marconi Defence Systems, and David Cameron’s pro-Brexit former trade envoy – of involvement. Allegations are made that the head of psychological operations for British forces in Afghanistan are in on the game. One alarmingly frank quote says: “SCL/Cambridge Analytica was not some startup created by a couple of guys with a MacBook. It’s effectively part of the British defence establishment” using “military strategies on a civilian population.

Data, algorithms, micro-ads, emotional manipulation, voter engagement/disengagement, and psyops strategies are just some of the buzz words in use to ensure enough votes go the right way. These strategies are all connected to names such as the aforementioned Cambridge Analytica, but also Robert Mercer, Steve Bannon, AggregateIQ, Leave.EU, Vote Leave, Nigel Farage, the DUP and big financial donors.

We are in an information war and billionaires are buying up these companies, which are then employed to go to work in the heart of government. That’s a very worrying situation.”

David Miller, a professor of sociology at Bath University and an authority in psyops and propaganda, says it is “an extraordinary scandal that this should be anywhere near a democracy. It should be clear to voters where information is coming from, and if it’s not transparent or open where it’s coming from, it raises the question of whether we are actually living in a democracy or not.”

This all conjures up the characteristics of a great novel, a story that helped to bring about the biggest constitutional change to Britain in a century. In the end, the article concludes that  “we, the British people, were played.”

This conclusion is best described by Cadwalladre’s final words.

This is Britain in 2017. A Britain that increasingly looks like a “managed” democracy. Paid for by US billionaires. Using military-style technology. Delivered by Facebook. And enabled by us. If we let this referendum result stand, we are giving it our implicit consent. This isn’t about Remain or Leave. It goes far beyond party politics. It’s about the first step into a brave, new, increasingly undemocratic world.”

Unfortunately, Cadwalladr’s article is not a work of fiction or theory. And if you think that is depressing – that foreign billionaires can usurp Britain’s democracy at will, then it does in fact, get much worse, because obviously there must be reasons why so much time, effort and money has gone into such a dangerous high stakes game in the first place.

PART-TWO – In February 2016, The Independent newspaper published an article about the role of think tanks and Brexit entitled: “EU referendum: Think-tanks conducting ‘independent’ research to support Brexit have close links to Vote Leave.”

Matthew Elliott, political strategist, lobbyists, one time director of right-wing TaxPayers’ Alliance, CEO of Vote Leave organisations

Their conclusions revealed that there was a network of right-wing organisations whose staff, board members and even offices were linked to one of the main Leave campaigns, in fact, Vote Leave.

Dr David Green, the chief executive of think tank Civitas, and Ryan Bourne, head of public policy at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), are both listed as supporters of Economists for Britain, a group that was run by Matthew Elliott, who was chief executive of the Leave Campaign (all names you will read about in Part-Three).

Elliot is described as a ‘political strategist and lobbyist’ who was also co-founder of right-wing The Taxpayers Alliance, was campaign director for the successful NOtoAV campaign in the 2011, which left the UK as one of very few modern democracies left with its archaic First-Past-The-Post electoral systems. Elliot was the subject of a lengthy Guardian investigation who described TPA as a right-wing lobby group with close links to the Conservative party. Vote Leave ultimately garnered the support of Boris Johnson and Michael Gove for the Brexit campaign.

Mark Littlewood, the director general of the IEA, was on the editorial board of “Change or Go” – Business for Britain’s 1,000-page “bible” on the case for Brexit.

The multimillionaire hedge fund boss Sir Michael Hintze is a trustee of IEA, and is also on the advisory council of Business for Britain. He has also been linked to Vote Leave.

Vote Leave used reports generated by these think tanks to heavily promote the case for Brexit.

Both Civitas and the IEA insisted that their work was entirely independent of the Brexit campaigns and their organisation reflected a wide range of views.

Daniel Bentley, editorial director at Civitas, said:

Civitas is an independent think-tank which conducts its research without fear or favour. We have no formal links with either Vote Leave or Business for Britain. There is absolutely no evidence, nor can it be reasonably deduced, that Civitas’s work is anything less than robust and accurate. Those claiming otherwise are committed pro-EU campaigners, who self-evidently have an agenda to undermine evidence which conflicts with their position.”

At his point it should be noted that both Civitas and the IEA have been identified by Transparify (who rate the financial transparency of major think tanks), as being ‘highly opaque’ about how they are funded and who by. Transparify went on say the following:

A closer look at the highly opaque institutions on our list confirmed our hypothesis that think tanks that hide their donors usually have something to hide. For example, according to research compiled by TobaccoTactics, the Adam Smith Institute, the Centre for Policy Studies, and the Institute for Economic Affairs have all previously received undisclosed funding from tobacco companies, and all have produced research that was then used to lobby against stronger anti-smoking regulations. We found that the Adam Smith Institute has created a structure so opaque that it concealed not only who gave money, but also who took it, leaving us unable to determine where close to one million pounds given by American donors had ended up. Meanwhile, Policy Exchange has previously used evidence that appears to have been fabricated; the resulting report led to fake news headlines in several media outlets that had naively trusted “research” conducted by an opaque think tank.”

All of these names you will read about in part three.

The Rise of Disaster Capitalism is a 2007 book by the Canadian author and social activist Naomi Klein. In the book, Klein argues that neoliberal free market policies (as advocated by the economist Milton Friedman) have risen to prominence in some developed countries because of a deliberate strategy of “shock therapy”. This centers on the exploitation of national crises to push through controversial policies while citizens are too emotionally and physically distracted by disasters or upheavals to mount an effective resistance.

PART THREE: By adding part one of this story to part two, you will start to gather that all these actors are connected one way or another. Part three identifies yet more actors whose end game is to bring about economic chaos in Britain, one which has been described as “disaster capitalism“, designed to significantly profit from a hard Brexit. “Here, a comparison could be made with Hong Kong, where a similar situation might arise in a UK under the stress of a hard Brexit, where many traditional firms have run for cover, or relocated in the EU, leaving many assets under-priced.

In other words – Brexit has been engineered to bring about economic chaos for no other reason than making huge profits. Read on…

EUReferendum writes: Currently making something of an impact in the Brexit debate is an operation calling itself the Legatum Institute, based in fashionable W1 with the address of 11 Charles Street.

The Foundation is registered with Company House as a company limited by guarantee. But, according to the 2015 accounts (submitted to the Charity Commissioners in October 2016), the bulk of its income comes from the Legatum Foundation Limited, a company registered in Bermuda.

The Bermuda company in turn is controlled by the Institute’s parent undertakings. The ultimate parent undertaking is the Legatum Partnership LLP, a limited liability partnership registered in Jersey., all of which are offshore tax havens.

The Institute itself is part of the Legatum Group, set up in 2006 by the multi-billionaire New Zealand born Christopher Chandler, formerly president of Sovereign Asset Management.

In the 2015 report to the Charity Commissioners, senior management personnel of the Legatum Institute were listed as Anne Applebaum, Giles Dilnot, Alexandra Mousavizadeh, former newspaper columnist Christina Odone and Shanker Singham, the latter acting as chairman of the Institute’s Special Trade Commission, fronting most of the Brexit propaganda.

Applebaum is firmly on the political right, having been an adjunct fellow of the American Enterprise Institute. She has an extensive career as a journalist, working for the Washington Post, the Daily and Sunday Telegraph and the Economist. She was deputy editor of the Spectator and political editor for the Evening Standard. However, she resigned from the Legatum Institute in 2016, having disagreed with the director over the Institute’s support for Brexit. She now works for the LSE. If Applebaum was described as ‘politically right’ – one can only imagine where Legatum stands.

Currently top of the hierarchy is Philippa Stroud, CEO of the Institute. Previously. She used to be Chief Executive of the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), a right-wing think tank that she co-founded with Iain Duncan Smith in 2004. Prior to the CSJ, she was also Special Adviser to Iain Duncan Smith MP (then Secretary of State for Work and Pensions) from 2010-15. Another of the Legatum Institute directors is Toby Baxendale. He is also on its board of trustees. As to other interests, he was director, alongside co-director Steve Baker, of the now defunct Leadsom4Leader, a limited company set up to support Andrea Leadsom’s Conservative Party leadership bid.

Baxendale is also co-founder, again with Steve Baker, of the Cobden Centre, a free market libertarian think tank that influenced Margaret Thatcher). He also set up the Hayek Visiting Fellowship at the London School of Economics and has been a significant donor to the Conservative Party.

A senior fellow of the Cobden Centre is Professor Kevin Dowd, who is also an honorary fellow of the Institute of Economic Affairs. Dowd is a professor of finance and economics at Durham University and a member of the lobby group, Economists for Free Trade and an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute – an American right-wing think located just down the road to the Whitehouse in Washington DC that is funded by the billionaire Koch brothers. The brothers allegedly spent nearly $900 million dollars trying to influence the outcome of the last presidential race that saw Donald Trump move into the Whitehouse.

The links with the Cobden Centre bring us to Matthew Elliott, who just happens to be a senior fellow of the Legatum Institute (and you thought he was chief executive of the Leave Campaign!). Elliott, founder of the aforementioned Taxpayers Alliance and one-time director of Vote Leave, sits with another Legatum senior fellow Tim Montgomerie, founding editor of Conservative Home and former Times columnist. At the Cobden Centre, he sits on the Advisory Board with Sam Bowman, research director of the Adam Smith Institute (categorised by Transparify as almost the most ‘highly deceptive’ think tank in Britain), Ewen Stewart – a managing board member of the Freedom Association (right-wing pressure group) – and Douglas Carswell.

Yet another senior fellow Legatum Institute is Danny Kruger, former chief speechwriter to David Cameron, chief leader writer at The Daily Telegraph, and director of research at the Centre for Policy Studies (categorized as highly opaque/deceptive think tank by Transparify).

Listed as a Legatum fellow, along with many others, one also finds Graeme Leach, founder and chief economist of Macronomics, a macroeconomic, geopolitical and future megatrends research consultancy he launched in 2016. He is a visiting professor of economic policy, a member of the IEA Shadow Monetary Policy Committee and has a weekly column in the City AM newspaper. Between 1997 and 2013 he worked as Chief Economist and Director of Policy at the Institute of Directors (IoD), where he was also a main board director.

A trustee of Legatum is Richard Briance, the Chairman of PMB Capital Limited, a newly formed merchant banking business and former Chief Executive of Edmond de Rothschild Ltd. Before that, he had been Managing Director of Credit Suisse First Boston Ltd, Vice-Chairman at UBS Ltd and Chief Executive of West Merchant Bank Ltd.

In terms of his other political activities, Briance was a Non-Executive Director at Oxford Analytica from 1999-2010 and he has been a trustee of Policy Exchange, the think tank (categorised as ‘opaque’ by Transparify) created in 2002 by Michael Gove, now environment minister, Nicholas Boles and Francis Maude.

One of the key figures in the Policy Exchange was Lord (James) O’Shaughnessy, formerly Deputy Director. He then worked for the Prime Minister, David Cameron, as his Director of Policy between 2010 and 2011 and for three years (2007-2010) worked in the Conservative Party as Director of Policy and Research. He has now become a senior fellow at the Legatum Institute.

Another network is created with the use of Sian Hansen as chair the Institute’s development committee. Formerly managing director of the Policy Exchange, she went on to become executive director of the Legatum Institute”.

She is also also holds non-executive directorships with JP Morgan Income and Capital Trust PLC, Pacific Assets Trust and EBF International (Shanghai) Ltd.

In October 2016, The Legatum Institute sponsored a report called The Road to Brexit. The foreword was by Iain Duncan Smith, Philippa Stroud’s former boss. Also writing for the report were the MPs John Redwood, Peter Lilley, Owen Paterson and Bernard Jenkin – leading members of the “Ultras”.

As well as Shanker Singham, there were two other authors, Sheila Lawlor and James Arnell. Lawlor directs the economic, education, constitutional and social policy programmes of think tank Politeia  who advocates the abolition of the NHS –  while Arnell is a partner as Charterhouse, displaying ultra right-wing views on Brexit.

The picture one gets of Legatum, therefore, is of an exceptionally well-endowed think-tank with fingers in many pies and strongly networked with other think-tanks and the media. With offshore finance, though, this is redolent of foreign interference in UK politics.

The greatest concern, though, comes from reading the Legatum website. Having invested heavily in Russia and developing countries, the business speciality is moving into markets at times of crisis where assets are mispriced.

EUReferendum continues: With an eye for emerging trends and undervalued assets, it invested heavily in the telecommunications sector in Brazil, just after the country emerged from hyperinflation. It describes its own “investment heritage” in navigating through choppy markets, following the great financial crisis.

The company takes great pride in its investments in Hong Kong real estate, a market which investors had fled after the signing of the Sino-British Accord, an agreement that promised to give Hong Kong back to the Chinese government. It saw assets mispriced, and noted that “opportunities arise in times of crisis”.

This is a business style which has been described as “disaster capitalism“, which would benefit significantly from a hard Brexit. Here, a comparison could be made with Hong Kong, where a similar situation might arise in a UK under the stress of a hard Brexit, where many traditional firms have run for cover, or relocated in the EU, leaving many assets under-priced.

Looking also for opportunities arising from deregulation and further privatisation – especially in the NHS, with Legatum having considerable healthcare interests – hard Brexit presents multiple opportunities. This, after all, is a business that openly states that it “finds value where disruptive transitions create unique opportunities“.

In this, the Legatum Institute seems to be paving the way for its “parent undertakings”, engineering a “disruptive transition” for Brexit, then to reap the profits from chaos. Its task is assisted by useful fools and fellow travellers on the Tory right. What we have often characterised as incompetence, therefore, may be more sinister. There is money to be made out of a hard Brexit.

Finally, there are others who agree that Brexit on its own is one thing but what is actually happening is something quite different.

Tax Justice Network, (one of the most transparent think tanks in Britain) are very concerned:

It was never quite made clear who would be the major beneficiaries of Brexit. One thing was certain at the time: it wouldn’t be ordinary people. Instead, power is being consolidated by the same old political and economic elites and the state is becoming more, not less, beholden to big business and its demands. These are the real consequences of Brexit.”

It is also becoming clear with this strategy, that a right-wing Tory Brexit will end with huge deregulation. This will be sold to the general public as freedom from the red tape of an EU bureaucracy that Britain escaped, not the public protections put in place over decades to ensure civil society thrives. But as George Monbiot opines;  

Ripping down such public protections means freedom for billionaires and corporations from the constraints of democracy. This is what Brexit is all about. The freedom we were promised is the freedom of the very rich to exploit us.”

EUReferedum states in its overall aims for a post-Brexit Britain that:

Within the United Kingdom, our vision is for a government respectful of its people who will take on greater participation and control of their affairs at local and national level. Our vision fosters the responsibility of a sovereign people as the core of true democracy.

On its current trajectory, Brexit is not going to deliver any of those noble outcomes, unless of course, you happen to be a foreign billionaire with significant interests in the game.

All images in this article are from the author unless otherwise stated.

 

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Now the consequences of BREXIT are clearer we should be allowed a second referendum

Reverse Brexit with second referendum to save your economy OECD tells UK

‘The positive impact on growth would be significant,’ influential thinktank says of reversing Brexit – as it forecasts £40bn cost of ploughing on

Economic experts have made an explosive suggestion of a further referendum to reverse Brexit, to avoid the crippling of the British economy.

The influential Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said the deadlock in the exit talks now threatened a “disorderly Brexit”, with severe consequences.

Its report controversially puts the case for a dramatic rethink on the agenda – suggesting halting EU withdrawal is a route to avoiding that fate

May must stand up to Johnson to unlock Brexit talks, says

“In case Brexit gets reversed by political decision (change of majority, new referendum, etc), the positive impact on growth would be significant,” the report said.

The suggestion is certain to infuriate Brexiteers, but will bolster campaigners calling for the British public to be given a second vote, when the “facts of Brexit” are known.

The report was immediately seized on by one pro-EU group as the “final nail in the coffin for the already long-buried notion that Brexit will benefit our economy”.

The OECD analysis suggests a “no-deal” Brexit would wipe up to a staggering £40bn off UK economic growth by 2019.

The UK economy will grow 1.5 per cent slower in 2019 if the country crashes out of the EU without a trade deal or a transition deal with the bloc in March 2019, it said.

Crucially, it makes the assumption that trade talks will break down – triggering a hard Brexit and slapping tariffs on imports and exports between the EU and UK.

Wes Streeting, a Labour MP and supporter of the Open Britain group, said: “Today’s OECD analysis should be the final nail in the coffin for the already long-buried notion that Brexit will benefit our economy.

“A hard Brexit or walking away without a deal would wreak even more punishment on the UK economy.

“The Government can avoid this if they drop their ideological and self-imposed red lines and start negotiating for continued membership of both the single market and the customs union.”

The OECD admitted that Brexit negotiations were difficult to forecast, and could “prove more favourable” than assumed in its report – boosting trade, investment and growth.

But it warned the very real threat of no deal would spark a sharp reaction by financial markets, sending the exchange rate to new lows and leading to a downgrade in the UK’s sovereign rating.

“Business investment would seize up, and heightened price pressures would choke off private consumption,” the report said.

“The current account deficit could be harder to finance, although its size would likely be reduced.

There are also risks that Scotland and Northern Ireland could vote to stay in the EU, in a second referendum, which would have a “major” impact on the national economy

Half of UK Citizens Support Idea of Holding Second Referendum on Brexit, including Nigel Farage

Half of UK Citizens Support Idea of Holding Second Referendum on Brexit

in favour of a 2nd referendum

Brexit negotiations turned out to be harder than expected as no progress yet has been made on major issues. The recent poll proves that British citizens could occasionally change their minds on the issue of UK withdrawal from the European Union.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Just over half of surveyed UK citizens, or 51 percent, support a second referendum on Brexit in some form, while 39 percent oppose the idea, a poll by Politico newspaper and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research company showed on Monday.

The number of people, who feel “hopeful” about the outcome of the country’s future after Brexit has decreased and now stands at 46 percent, according to the poll.

A large-scale UK divorce settlement with the European Union proved unpopular with the nation as 60 percent oppose the idea of paying Brussels 50 billion pounds ($56.6 billion), while only 23 percent said it would accept it. The lower settlement of 30 billion pounds is considered unacceptable by 54 percent and backed by 29 percent, the poll indicated.

Majority of the surveyed also expressed their discontent with the direction “that things in this country are going” as 52 percent think that the direction is “wrong” and only 30 percent consider that the direction is “right.”The poll was conducted on September 11-13 with some 1,200 taking part in the survey.

The United Kingdom voted to leave the bloc in a referendum in 2016. Brexit negotiations between London and Brussels officially kicked off on June 19, and are due to be completed by the end of March 2019

Britain’s Distant War

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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: stephenlendman.org (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

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

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