Johnson defends Saudi trip as pursuit of broad anti-Putin bloc: IT, 160322

Johnson defends Saudi trip as pursuit of broad anti-Putin bloc: Opposition parties criticise visit given prince’s role in journalist’s murder

Boris Johnson has defended his decision to visit Saudi Arabia, saying it was important to have as broad a coalition as possible to confront Vladimir Putin over his invasion of Ukraine.

Opposition parties have criticised the British prime minister's visit to the kingdom despite Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's role in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the execution of 81 people last weekend.

"I think what the world is seeing is the return in Ukraine to the kind of brutality, the kind of absolutely indiscriminate bombing of civilian centres, of great cities that we last saw in the European continent 80 years ago, this is quite unbelievable what is happening now in our continent.

"We need to make sure we build the strongest, widest possible coalition to ensure that Vladimir Putin does not succeed, that we wean ourselves off Russian hydrocarbons and that is what the UK is helping to do," Mr Johnson said.

Britain hopes to use its close ties to Saudi Arabia to persuade the oil-rich kingdom to increase output to make up for reduced Russian supplies. But the prime minister suggested a thaw in relations with Iran, another major oil producer, could be on the way after imprisoned dual Iranian-British citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe had her British passport returned to her.

"I think that it's very important when you have got quite delicate discussions going on, negotiations going on in Tehran about some of our most difficult consular cases - particularly Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe - you should say as little as possible unless and until the thing is actually concluded," he said. "Everybody wants Nazanin home ... I do not want to do anything to interrupt the conversations right now."

'Exploring options' The prime minister's official spokesman refused to confirm
a British negotiating team was in Tehran but affirmed Britain's willingness to repay the Iranian government for Chieftain 1500 tanks ordered and paid for in the 1970s which were not delivered after the overthrow of the Shah.

"There is no change on our position to that. We are committed to paying the debt. We're exploring options to resolve it; it has not been resolved," the spokesman said.

Former prime minister Tony Blair yesterday called on Nato to stop ruling out getting involved in the war. Mr Blair, who led Britain into an illegal war in Iraq, said Mr Putin was using Nato's desire to avoid escalation as a bargaining chip.

"I accept the reasoning behind our stance. But suppose he uses chemical weapons or a tactical nuclear weapon, or tries to destroy Kyiv as he did Aleppo in Syria, without any regard to the loss of civilian life - is it sensible to tell him in advance that whatever he does militarily, we will rule out any form of military response? Maybe that is our position and maybe that is the right position, but continually signalling it, and removing doubt in his mind, is a strange tactic," he said.

Amnesty Intrernational Free Ibrahim: Join us outside the Egyptian Embassy on 13/12/2014 - 16:00

Ibrahim Halawa is an 18 year old Dubliner and an Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience. He and his sisters were arrested in Egypt for nothing more than a peaceful protest while on their annual family holiday in August 2013. His sisters have been released on bail but Ibrahim has been in prison for over 15 months. ACT NOW! He celebrates his 19th birthday on the 13 of December. Amnesty International has conducted a thorough investigation of the case and determined that Ibrahim is innocent. He could not possibly have committed the crimes he has been charged with. A mass trial has been scheduled for early January. If convicted he could face the death penalty. Amnesty International believes Ibrahim should be released immediately and all charges against him dropped unconditionally. Lets show him that he is not forgotten!

Amnesty International Free Ibrahim Halawa

Ibrahim Halawa, an 18 year old Irish-Egyptian citizen has been in prison in Egypt for over 14 months, for a peaceful protest. He is an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience. 


Take urgent action! 

He was arrested for his alleged role in violence during protests that took place in August 2013 in the Ramsis area of Cairo. Amnesty International has established that he is innocent of the charges and designated Ibrahim a prisoner of conscience.  A new trial has been scheduled to start on 1 December. If convicted he could face the death penalty.

Download an information sheet here, if you would like to write a letter to the Egyptian authorities


John Pilger: "Islamic terrorism" is the invented excuse for theft of Africa's riches

John Pilger -
30 January 2013

A full-scale invasion of Africa is under way. The United States is deploying troops in 35 African countries, beginning with Libya, Sudan, Algeria and Niger. Reported by Associated Press on Christmas Day, this was missing from most Anglo-American media.

The invasion has almost nothing to do with "Islamism", and almost everything to do with the acquisition of resources, notably minerals, and an accelerating rivalry with China. Unlike China, the US and its allies are prepared to use a degree of violence demonstrated in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Palestine. As in the cold war, a division of labour requires that western journalism and popular culture provide the cover of a holy war against a "menacing arc" of Islamic extremism, no different from the bogus "red menace" of a worldwide communist conspiracy.

Reminiscent of the Scramble for Africa in the late 19th century, the US African Command (Africom) has built a network of supplicants among collaborative African regimes eager for American bribes and armaments.
Last year, Africom staged Operation African Endeavor, with the armed forces of 34 African nations taking part, commanded by the US military. Africom's "soldier to soldier" doctrine embeds US officers at every level of command from general to warrant officer. Only pith helmets are missing.

It is as if Africa's proud history of liberation, from Patrice Lumumba to Nelson Mandela, is consigned to oblivion by a new master's black colonial elite whose "historic mission", warned Frantz Fanon half a century ago, is the promotion of "a capitalism rampant though camouflaged".

A striking example is the eastern Congo, a treasure trove of strategic minerals, controlled by an atrocious rebel group known as the M23, which in turn is run by Uganda and Rwanda, the proxies of Washington.