Three days before the Saudi led air force began its bombing of the Republic of Yemen on Thursday 26th March, the British Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond was in the Saudi capital, Riyadh meeting with his host’s foreign secretary, Prince Saud al-Faisal on Monday 23rd March 2015.
In their joint press conference after their meeting, the British foreign Secretary declared that “no one wanted to see military action in Yemen.” This was echoed by his Saudi counterpart who stressed the need for a “peaceful solution” to the situation in Yemen.
The situation in Yemen changed dramatically when a Northern militia group, Ansar Allah (“Houthis”), had taken control of the Yemeni capital, Sana’a in September 2014. After four months of intermittent agreements, resignations and re-appointments the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) approved President of Yemen, Abd ar-Rubbuh Mansour Hadi eventually fled the capital and sought refuge in Yemen’s second city, Aden. Hitherto, the Houthis seemed content with their presence in the Northern areas of the country, but suicide bombings in two mosques in Sana’a on Friday 20th March seemed to have triggered a change in the equation. Furthermore, with Hadi in Aden, the GCC countries had led the move to close their embassies in Sana’a and operate out of their consulates in Aden. This move was clearly aimed at isolating the Houthis. Caught in the middle of all this, is the Southern Yemeni movement for independence, the Hirak, which has been active since 2007.
Although Yemen has been united since 1990 Continue reading
In the first decade of this century, amidst the flames of the “War on Terror” which had hitherto taken in the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the late president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez made a private visit to London to meet Ken Livingstone, the mayor. Two days earlier British Prime Minister, Tony Blair had lectured and rebuked Chavez and Evo Morales, Bolivian President on the need to use the resources of his oil rich country ‘responsibly’.
According to the Guardian, Blair “called on the Bolivian president, Evo Morales, and his Venezuelan counterpart, Hugo Chavez, to show some responsibility in the use of their energy resources.”
Responsibility is the act of being responsible and the Oxford English Dictionary defines “responsible” as “having an obligation to do something, or having control over or care for someone.”[i] On the other hand, what Blair actually meant by “responsibility” was not qualified or spelt out. If by chiding Chavez and Morales, Blair is arguing that the two South American leaders are using their respective countries wealth incorrectly, inappropriately and unwisely, what exactly was Blair’s prognosis? Continue reading
One of the reasons generally given for the rise of extreme Islamism is the Arab defeat at the hands of Israel in 1967 in the six day war.
It is theorised that, from this defeat (or Naksa as the Arabs refer to it), loomed the beginning of the end of Arab Nationalism and other, largely secular ideologies, which had hitherto led the struggle to liberate the Middle East from western domination and zionist colonialism. This defeat created the vacuum political Islamism has supposedly filled since.
This theory tends to be strongly insinuated at and espoused by British writers such as Seamus Milne, Jason Burke and the late Chris Harman.
The theory overlooks one very important British initiated strategy played out in the Middle East and South East Asia during the Cold War. Continue reading