What the f*ck is going on in the Middle East?

First, let’s look at recent developments in Qatar.

Over the past week, after Trump visits the Saudis, they have made a hard border between themselves and Qatar. This is Qatar’s only land border, and places in effect an embargo on the country. Now embargos have been used for as long as humans have made war, to throttle and starve a country into compliance.

For Yemen, this will have a significant impact on tradable goods between the Gulf and Qatar and has already $8billion off markets in tiny Gulf state with big UK investments. Thousands of trucks filled with food were stuck at the Saudi-Qatari border and were unable to enter Qatar early on Monday. Saudi academic Hatoon Al-Fassi, who is based in Doha, said shops were full of people on Monday, but shelves soon emptied due to panic-buying. She said it resembled what people would do when on the verge of entering “a state of war.”

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This embargo is not only by land but also by air

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This is pant-wettingly scary and not a whisper of this is in the main news, and not a peep from Trump (who only just found out today that there were US troops in Qatar 🤔🙄 ) May, or Boris Johnson, the FOREIGN SECRETARY. He was too busy having a meltdown on TV instead– and this is not the first one he’s had one of thesehere he is being very odd on 29th MaySo instead of any cogent plan, we get this wild rant from Johnson instead today (06/06/17)

For 30 years he [Corbyn] has been soft and muddle-headed on terror, he has been soft and muddle-headed on defence, he has taken the side of just about every adversary this country has had in my lifetime. From the IRA to Hamas, from soviet communism to General Galtieri, for heaven’s sake. [Do you really want me to list the golden handshakes YOUR party has done, Boris? Corbyn gave no money, and only offered peaceful negotiations.]

A guy who pre-emptively informs any power that would threaten to engage in nuclear blackmail that as our prime minister he, Corbyn, would not under any circumstances deploy Trident, so making a making a nonsense of our nuclear deterrent … [pardon? He would threaten it but wouldn’t? Also- newsflash; deterrents are not meant to be fired.]

inigo keep using WORD

He is all over the place on our nuclear deterrent. We are spending £31bn on Trident. What’s the point of this thing if he wants to send it to sea with no nukes aboard, so the whole country is literally firing blanks. It would be a disaster. [Er Boris did you see the last time ‘we’ ‘fired a blank’? Then Fallon lied to PARLIAMENT about it!]

trident

This is a guy who actually voted against the formal establishment of MI5 in 1999, [lie] who boasts he voted against every piece of counter-terrorism legislation that has been brought before parliament [on human rights grounds. Not sure what May’s motivation was though, as she did the same].

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You have a putative future home secretary in Diane Abbott who does not think that al-Qaeda should be a prescribed organisation, and who voted against that. It beggars belief that these people should be running our country from Friday.

Jeremy Corbyn [is] at the very best weak and vacillating on terror. He says he’s now in favour of shoot-to-kill. He wasn’t until the events of the weekend. I do not see how we can trust him with the safety of our country.

Most of this is a lie. Yes Corbyn did voting against the 1989 Security Services Act, that put MI5 on a statutory footing, here is the vote; on public record – but the entire Labour party voted against the bill; not because they wanted to abolish MI5, but because the party had technical objections to the way the legislation was drafted. And Corbyn and Abbott did vote against banning al-Qaeda, but it was a blanket order banning 20 other organisations, some of which should not have been on the list.

It’s not just the safety and security of our country. I don’t think people in this room or around Britain realise quite how much other countries look to us and depend on us. We are one of the great nuclear powers of the world. We are the second biggest Nato contributor. We have a huge military presence around the world … They would be appalled if Britain was suddenly abstracted, taken away, from the defence of Europe and of the world. And that would be the real tragedy, in my view, of a Jeremy Corbyn premiership.

c3po wtf

But it’s worse than that. A Corbyn-led negotiating team would not just consist of the Labour party, or rather that group of ex London loony left, Corbyn, McDonnell, Abbott and so forth, that have piratically capture the Labour party. We know that Corbyn could not possibly govern by himself. [No he wouldn’t, he’d have a Cabinet.] He would be forced to govern by himself. [No he wouldn’t, he’d have a Cabinet.] He would be forced to go into coalition with the Scots Nats and the Liberals, [maybe so, but your party did the same with the Lib Dems] and he would appear in Brussels as a sort of Tricephalous monster, Zaphod Beeblebrox, if you can remember him, with an extra head, with Nicola Sturgeon jabbering in one ear, Tim Farron in the other, both of them telling him to do exactly what Brussels wants because both of those parties are 100% committed to reversing that decision of June 23 and staying in the EU. [There’s been an ACT, Labour would be the dominant party, and they have said at the end of A50 the process approval would be put to a vote. If Boris is not on some kind of Class A drug, I’ll eat my hat] How on earth would Corbyn be able to construct a logical negotiating position with that pair on his back? How could he get it done? The answer is that he couldn’t, and he wouldn’t. His position on Brexit would dissolve into a puddle of incoherence, [takes one to know one] and Brexit would flounder on Thursday. There is only one potential prime minister who has a plan for Brexit.

  1. This too is a lie. Labour’s team is Keir Starmer, Emily Thornberry andBarry Gardiner – two human rights/EU law lawyers and a Harvard MBA with years of experience in international trade. This team was announced last week, most likely in anticipation of such an attack.
  2. Zaphod, who I remember well, had TWO heads only. God’s sake Boris, you’re a Classicist, could you not even think of a SINGLE three-headed beast? How about Cerberus, one of the most well-known mythical creatures of the classical age? You are an absolute -ing embarrassment to Classicists everywhere.

Cerberus

I feel great shame having done a similar degree to you in all honesty. Seems you recall little from your ‘studies’, but instead you choose to mangle a Douglas Adams character, a ‘lefty’ who, if still alive, would loudly protest your misappropriation.

The trouble is young people these days – I’m 52 – do not remember nationalisation. They don’t remember soviet communism. They don’t even remember socialism. [Er they are not the same thing.] We don’t want it back in this country. It would be an absolute disaster. [We don’t want the far-right back here either, but we’ve bloody well got it!]

[All italics are mine.]

Then he cast doubt on the existence of a secret Home Office report about Saudi Arabia funding extremism. When asked why it had not been published, at first he said it was confidential (even though Tim Farron promised David Cameron it would be published) then suggested it might not even exist. Excuse me?

Do we really want this f*ckknuckle in charge of foreign affairs?

I guess it’s safe to assume, as FOREIGN SECRETARY, that he does not KNOW, or if he knows, does not care about the embargo. He’s far more interested in smearing Corbyn, the Labour Party, Farron and Sturgeon.

What a clusterf**k.

Is Qatar going to end up like Yemen?

If Saudi isn’t moving into the next phase of some kind of powergrab in the Middle East then I am the father’s brother of Gary the gorilla from Uganda.

It’s not just Qatar, it’s Yemen too.

What’s been happening in Yemen?

Essentially systematic destruction, made possible by British arms deals to Saudi Arabia, something many MPs including Corbyn, Abbott and McDonnell are very much against. Here’s one Early Day Motion  (79) protesting in dismay at

the ongoing conflict in Yemen, where the Houthi rebel group continues to fight forces loyal to the legitimate government and President Hadi; notes that a coalition of Gulf states, led by Saudi Arabia, continues to launch air strikes against the rebels; further notes that over 1,000 people have died in the conflict since the beginning of 2015, including over 100 children; supports international efforts to forge a negotiated political solution, and to allow aid agencies to provide vital humanitarian aid into the country; and calls on the Government to take all possible action to support the international efforts to stabilise Yemen and bring all parties to the negotiating table.

This is just one of SIX HUNDRED AND SIXTY THREE motions and protests against the conflict and killing in Yemen, stretching back decades. But vested interests and fear of looking weak have stopped any of these motions being approved, and yes sometimes by MPs from the Labour party too.

Post election, if Labour wins, that will stop. One of their main manifesto pledges is to stop selling arms to oppressive regimes.

 

I am sure many of you have seen the photo of the Yemeni girl with her face melted off by chemical bombs the UK have provided the Saudis-one of thousands. (If not, I’m not putting it here.)

This is what their capital, Sanna, currently looks like

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We know the Saudis would be more than happy to absorb Yemen entirely, ensuring they are no longer landlocked to the south.

And it’s not just Qatar and Yemen. The Saudis are funding terror attacks in Afghanistan too.

Afghanistan.

President Ashraf Ghani confirms the bombing in Kabul on May 31st was the deadliest single attack in Afghanistan in 16 years.

Three days of deadly violence began in Kabul on May 31 when a powerful truck bomb ripped through the city's diplomatic zone, killing at least 150 people [Reuters]
Three days of deadly Taliban violence began in Kabul on May 31 when a powerful truck bomb ripped through the city’s diplomatic zone, killing at least 150 people [photo from Reuters].

NO mention of this from Boris. Yet only last month, NATO requested extra support in the area, for more troops in Afghanistan to help in the fight against the Taliban. British combat troops left Afghanistan in 2014 but there are still about 500 on the ground training local military forces. The UK KNEW there was tension building in the area. NATO’s secretary general spoke to May about it on the 9th May.

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Jeremy Corbyn has suggested he could turn down any NATO request for Britain to send more soldiers to Afghanistan if he was prime minister. He said “at the end of the day wars are not solved by the presence of foreign troops” as he called for a political solution to the violence in the war-torn nation, while vowing to “look at” any request.

But nothing was done, political or otherwise. And now 150 people are dead.

And it’s not just Qatar, Yemen and Afghanistan either. 

Iran

Look at the map above. Look at where all these countries are in comparison to Saudi Arabia. This area is called the Persian Gulf. And it is not looking good for any of them, except Saudi of course.

The violence around the Persian Gulf is stepping up further with an attack, allegedly by IS/Daesh on Tehran today (07/06/17). The attacks were twofold:

  1. on the Iranian parliament by gunmen armed with Kalashnikovs (Russian rifles) and
  2. Ayatollah Khomeini’s (long time leader of Iran) mausoleum in the capital, Tehran

And a third attack was foiled before it could come to fruition.

At least 12 people are dead and many more have been injured, maybe as many as 40. It took some time for the violence to subside too; hours of intermittent gunfire could be heard by the Tehranis. A suicide bomber, possibly a woman, was responsible for the explosion at the mausoleum.

If this is IS, and they have claimed they carried out these attacks, this is their first targeting Iran. Iran is mostly Shia Muslim and IS are Sunni Muslim (two different sects), so they get little support here. But as in any country with these sects, they do not always rub along well together and there has been an increase in IS VT, aimed at the Sunni minority, to try and inflame tensions.

However, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said Saudi Arabia was behind the attacks. And they may not be wrong. It seems obvious to a historian like me that this is most likely to be Saudi expansionism and power grabbing. If we look at the map above, we can see a pattern in the targetting; like an inward spiral- attempting to destabilise the periphery of the Gulf states first then working inwards.

“This terrorist attack happened only a week after the meeting between the US President [Donald Trump] and the [Saudi] backward leaders who support terrorists,” a statement [from the IRG] said.
Iran’s ally Russia condemned the attacks.
“The continuation of a series of terror attacks again underlines the need for co-ordinated actions in the fight against terror and IS,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

France also condemned the attacks, but some Western countries have appeared slow to react. There has been no word from Mr Trump, a fierce critic of Iran and its nuclear programme.

What is the likely effect of the attacks?

Middle East analyst Dina Esfandiary says one possible consequence will be increased calls by hardliners for tougher action against IS in Iraq and Syria.

And it’s not just Qatar, Yemen, Afghanistan and Iran.

Libya, Iraq and Syria

Anyone who’s not been under a rock since 2011 knows that in both Libya and Syria have been subject to bloody and grinding civil war, and Iraq has been destabilised since at least 2003. And in Libya we also saw, partly thanks to UK and US intervention (seeing the pattern yet?) a power vacuum caused by the removal of the leader Gaddafi.

 

This is what parts of Libya currently look like:

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Assad wears a pleasant face but under that mask it is likely he is happy to watch as some of his people, who detest him, break themselves on the rocks as they rebel.

And this is what parts of Syria currently look like.

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In January of this year the Conservatives have decided (well Boris announced) that Assad will not longer be seen as the ‘bad guy’ in foreign policy, and the Guardian on 26/01/17 wrote this:

The UK accepts that Bashar al-Assad should be allowed to run for re-election in the event of a peace settlement in Syria, Boris Johnson has said, in a dramatic reversal of the British policy stretching back to the early days of the civil war that the president must go.

Speaking on the eve of Theresa May’s meeting with Donald Trump in Washington, the UK’s foreign secretary acknowledged that the inauguration of the new US president meant all sides needed to rethink their approach to Syria. [my italics]

So Trump in the White House has equivalence to shifting policy in the Middle East? I wonder why that would be? 🤔 This does not fit with Boris’ assertion during the election campaign that basically, if Trump asked, the UK would bomb Syria with or without a Parliamentary vote, unless that means ‘we’d’ be bombing rebels.

And here is a map of countries that will be affected by Trump’s ‘travel ban’. Something he used the attack in London last week as an excuse to publicly push as well as bash Muslim Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Seeing any correlation yet?

The seven countries in red are the ones who would be actively banned, and the ones in white are those who would be affected by the ban.

7-nation-visa-ban

We know the Manchester killer was a Libyan dissident and the son of Libyan dissidents that the UK gave free travel to and from the UK and Libya.

We know that IS/Daesh consider two of their main battlegrounds to be Syria and Iraq.

This is what parts of Iraq still look like, this, after a recent suicide bombing in Baghdad, their capital:

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We know that IS/Daesh grew out of what was al-Qaeda in Iraq, which was formed by Sunni militants after the US-led invasion in 2003 and became a major force in the country’s sectarian insurgency.
In 2011, the group joined the rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, where it found a safe haven and easy access to weapons.

We know that the US and the UK are the main ‘anti IS’ forces in the region, with intermittent airstrikes by Russia.

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We know IS/Daesh activity in Syria is at a high. This live interactive map and commentary shows attacks in detail; you can use this map to see detail going back years in the Middle East. And we know that according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, that more than 300,000 people, including 86,000 civilians, had been killed since March 2011.

We know that despite increased military activity, nothing like a peace is near. Is it not time to say, as Corbyn has, that the ‘war on terror’ has not worked and is not working?

Or we could go with what May is proposing, just like the Middle East hardliners. To confirm that she will essentially tear up the Human Rights Act in the name of security as well as make noises about further stepping up a military presence.

Yeah, as that’s been working so well, hasn’t it?

And she wants to put the detention of suspects back to 28 days as it was under New Labour as part of the Terrorism Act 2006– on her watch it had been put down to 14. (To be fair I was ambivalent in the first place about it being 28 days too. And so was for now-B*exit Secretary, Conservative David Davis- in 2008 his protest about it going up to 28 days resulted in a by-election in his constituency! If he keeps quiet now, he’s a hypocrite angling for power. After all, he’d just lost a leadership contest back in ’08…)

Keir Starmer, Labour Shadow Secretary for B*exit and twenty years a barrister and QC, spoke up today (07/06/17)- saying what we all thought and knew. That there is NOTHING in the HRA that prevents the apprehension of terrorists or hinders the prevention of terrorism. 

We cannot allow May to destroy the freedom of the UK. 

She had seven years, as head of the Home Office and now as PM to do something but she didn’t- in fact she made it worse with police and armed forces cuts.

The very people on the frontline who are trying to fight for law and order.

 

And who is sitting pretty in the middle of it all, arming Wahhabis for two centuries, watching as the Middle East crumbles and extremist attacks all over Europe escalate?

Saudi Arabia.

And who are Saudi Arabia’s main allies? America and the UK.

And many other countries have good relations with them- Thailand, Ukraine, Russia, Romania, Germany, Finland and more… for trade, technology sharing and a foothold in the Middle East.

If we were not so reliant on oil and lucrative arms sales– “it’s just business,” Amber Rudd declared on the televised Leader’s Debate, would we have not put them under embargo ourselves by now? You betcha…

Never in recent times has a speech in a science fiction show, where they are on the brink of war, sounded so bloody pertinent, urgent and necessary.

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