A Morning Star Editorial | 10 October, 2016
THE VICIOUS slaughter of more than 140 mourners and the maiming and mutilation of hundreds more in Yemen’s capital Sanaa by the Saudi-led military coalition demands an immediate response. And it has been clear for a very long time what sort of response would be best from Britain.
The British government has approved the sale of billions of pounds of weaponry, munitions and war machines to Saudi Arabia — the very weapons deployed against the people of Yemen.
Britain maintains a delegation of military personnel to the Saudis and offers training and support. The relationship stretches back not just decades, as Britain has sought to maintain its position in the strategically vital, oil-rich Middle East, but fully 100 years.
It extends from the Saudis’ present-day bloodbath in Yemen to the state’s founder Ibn Saud and the 400,000 people killed to establish his family’s sordid supremacy over the peninsula.
And throughout, it encompasses tacit British support for the Saudis and their fanatical Wahhabi creed which has brought so much destruction to the region, backing the country’s royals as a bulwark against the threat that people of the Middle East might determine their own future — free of outside interference and reactionary rule at home.
The work of Mark Curtis to expose this hidden history, and Britain’s historical and present support for other Gulf despotisms, means there is no room for doubt. The unceasing material and diplomatic support provided by our rulers to the Saudis must be read as deliberate. There is no “failure” to act here — it is a positive choice to allow the Saudis to do what they wish. The targeting of a funeral, too, shows that Saudi Arabia is following in the footsteps of its Western patrons — the US particularly is notorious in Pakistan for using drones to murder mourners at funerals and butcher brides at weddings.
As the experts at the Campaign Against Arms Trade will tell you, on paper Britain has tough rules on arms sales. But in practice they may as well not exist.
And the report by War on Want published last week — reviewed by Ross Hemingway in our weekend edition — neatly shows that this is not an oversight or a mistake but part of a package of policies to prop up repressive Gulf states.
Thankfully in Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn we have a politician who has spelled it out explicitly: Britain must not arm countries that slaughter their own people or those elsewhere.
Arms sales to Saudi Arabia must end, and so must the diplomatic and military support that acts as a cover for its crimes.
MARKING the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street yesterday brings up mixed feelings.
We should be rightly proud of the actions of our ancestors to confront and stop the fascist scourge. Serious threats deserve a serious response.
The many people who marked the anniversary and who marched yesterday, who met at the Stand Up to Racism conference on Saturday, who held events in their own communities, should reassure us of our strength in this struggle.
Yet, that we must continue this struggle directs our attention to another: the fight against the system that not only allows but fuels racism. The Tories’ most recent plans should cement in our minds the connection between racism and capitalism — the division of the working class to strengthen the hand of the bosses.
As we recommit ourselves to the fight against racism, we must recommit ourselves to the fight for socialism as the guarantor of equality for all peoples.