The British government, while no paragon of civic virtue, is more protective of its role as it developed over the course of the last two years, and less disposed to or adept at looking at its own war crimes in the poorest country in the Arab world. Instead, it often brushes aside or whitewashes.
Take for example this latest news headline: Scotland Yard Is Examining Allegations of War Crimes by Saudi Arabia in Yemen. Before jumping into any conclusion, we need to know that this silly news headline is not going to trigger a possible diplomatic row with Britain during Prime Minister Theresa May’s visit to the Arab state. The reason is obvious. There is no diplomatic row between London and Riyadh over the ongoing war crimes committed by Saudi vassals in Yemen - just as there is naught over the Al Khalifa regime’s ongoing crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Bahrain.
Quite the reverse, Prime Minister May will once again underline Britain’s close relationship with the House of Saud, in which affecting regime change in Yemen is a key factor. She will herald a further intensification in the dirty war and deepen the true strategic partnership in the military campaign. She will confirm that Britain will continue to support the bombing campaign and will stand in the way of due process and the rule of law by granting the cabal of Saudi war criminals special immunity at the UN or in any inquiry into whether war crimes are being committed in Yemen.
None of that should be surprising:
1- It is because of the steadfast, aggressive support from the United States and Britain, including providing record-breaking amounts of arms, that the Saudi war criminals have been able to kill more than 10,000 civilians and displace more than 3 million people. Through the illegal blockade and by providing arms, military training, and extensive surveillance technology and intelligence, the US and Britain have been triggering a humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen, leaving almost 7 million close to famine.
2- The UK is not in a rush to reconsider its arms exports to Saudi Arabia in light of the bloody air campaign. It is worth billions of pounds and good for big business. This is while according to the Saudi foreign minister, “Although it is the Saudis who have ultimate authority to choose targets, British and American military officials are in the command and control center for Saudi airstrikes on Yemen and have access to lists of targets.”
3- According to the UN, Saudi Arabia has admitted to the use of banned British-made cluster bombs. The British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon has told the Commons that British sourced cluster bombs and munitions are being dropped by Saudi Arabia in Yemen. The controversial BL755 bombs have been used by Saudi Arabia, shortly after Riyadh formally admitted it had deployed the weapons in the conflict. An international treaty bans the use of cluster bombs, and Downing Street should stop defending Britain’s support for Saudi Arabia. It is in breach of International Law because the UN says “they are used against civilian targets.”
4- It has been known from the start that the US and UK-backed Saudis have indiscriminately and at times deliberately bombed civilians, killing thousands of innocent people. As the Saudis continue to recklessly and intentionally bomb civilians, the American and British weapons keep pouring into Riyadh, ensuring that the civilian massacres continue. Every once in a while, when a particularly gruesome mass killing makes its way into the news, American and British officials would issue cursory, obligatory statements expressing “concern”, then go right back to fueling the attacks.
Establishing the truth is important, because while this dirty war is invariably described in Western media outlets as “Saudi-led”, the US and UK are both central, indispensable participants. They are complicit in this carnage, and bear much responsibility for targeting civilians and civilian objects, in violation of International Humanitarian Law, including camps for internally displaced persons and refugees; civilian gatherings, including weddings; civilian vehicles, including buses; civilian residential areas; medical facilities; schools; mosques; markets; factories; food storage warehouses; and other essential civilian infrastructure.”
If still in doubt, they only need to read a letter from a detective inspector at SO15, in which Scotland Yard says, “I can confirm we have commenced a scoping exercise into the allegations you have raised regarding potential crimes in Yemen, committed by the international coalition who have intervened in the conflict between pro- and anti-government forces.”
This makes the British government complicit in both whitewashing its own war crimes and the failure to properly investigate war crimes committed by the Saudis in Yemen. Despite global condemnation, it is still escalating the crisis by standing firmly behind one of the planet’s most brutal and repressive regimes, and by arming it to the teeth with the full and undeniable knowledge that they are enabling massacres that recklessly, and in many cases, deliberately, target innocent civilians. The British government knows full well that the Saudi regime is not only committing war crimes, but that the UK itself could be legally regarded as complicit in them.