Letter from  Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT)

Dear friend,

Last Thursday, while most of us were voting, Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) joined other human rights groups in the Hague to present a 350-page dossier to the International Criminal Court – starting a process which could lead to BAE executives being charged with war crimes (1).

Working with the European Center for Constitutional Human Rights, Yemeni organisation Mwatana for Human Rights and others, we aim to persuade prosecutors to investigate whether BAE and other arms companies “purposely intended” to supply weapons to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen, after it became clear that war crimes were being reported.

Next year CAAT will also be in the Supreme Court to defend our Appeal Court victory which declared the licensing of arms sales to Saudi Arabia to be “irrational and therefore unlawful.” And we’ll be working with MPs of all parties to ensure that the government complies with the Court’s ruling.

Will you help us hold the government and the arms companies to account in 2020?

Your donation will mean that we can continue to shine a light on ministers and arms company executives who would love to keep these deadly deals far from public view. 

Please give a gift to CAAT today.

In peace

Campaign Against Arms Trade

PS With a new Prime Minister who has a track record of supporting arms exports to countries like Saudi Arabia, our campaign is more important than ever. Please support us today if you can.

On June 19 the Court of Appeal has ruled that UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen are UNLAWFUL

The Court found that the government had failed to properly assess whether there have been breaches of International Humanitarian Law.

This historic judgment means that the government must now stop issuing new arms exports licences and suspend existing licences to export arms to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen, and retake all decisions in accordance with the law.

These sales should never have been licensed in the first place. Even as schools, hospitals, weddings, and funerals have been bombed, the government has licensed the sale of billions of pounds of weapons for use in the conflict.

We have now shown that these arms sales were not just immoral, but also unlawful.

But even now the government is likely to resist. Every step of the way it has done all it can to keep the weapons flowing.
We need MPs to know about this ruling, to keep building the pressure to stop these sales once and for all.

Please email your MP today and help us make this count: caat.org.uk/unlawful
Campaign Against Arms Trade

In solidarity,

Campaign Against Arms Trade

Hands Off Venezuela!

Aggression against Venezuela is mounting from a handfull of right-wing governments across the globe. This weekend Jair Bolsonaro's government in Brazil remarkably called for the 'international community' "to join in the liberation effort of Venezuela", while Colombia's President was more explicit in his language regarding today's Lima Group of nations summit which he said aims “to tighten the diplomatic siege" on Venezuela.

That is exactly what we are witnessing in Venezuela - a diplomatic siege with the aim of regime change. The possibility that it may escalate into the use of military force remains and the appointment of Elliot Abrams is a worrying sign for anyone who stands against intervention.

This weekend US planes flew aid to Venezuela's borders with Brazil and Colombia in a move that appears to be a deliberate provocation. There are major concerns, including from the Red Cross and UN, that the delivery of humanitarian aid is being used as cover through which to launch military aggression. Meanwhile heavily punitive sanctions continue to damage the livelihoods of ordinary people. In her article, Stop the War Officer, Fiona Edwards sets out 5 reasons why we should oppose the US offer of aid to Venezuela.

But as aggression ramps up, so does resistance. On Saturday in London, hundreds of people joined a global day of solidarity with Venezuela in a protest against the Bank of England's refusal to release $1.2 billion worth of Venezuelan gold to its government. The lively Venezuela Solidarity Campaign protest, co-organised by Stop the War, was one of many across the globe from Berlin to Boston and a clear statement against Trump’s push for intervention.
That same evening in LA, Sorry To Bother You director, Boots Riley said in his acceptance speech
for Best First Picture at the Independent Spirit Awards that: "we should all be putting our voices out to stop the U.S. from having regime change for oil in Venezuela". Let's do exactly that.

British Military Activities in the Region

Source: TML http://cpcml.ca/Tmlw2019/W49006.HTM#1

RFA Mounts Bay docked in Curaçao, February 5, 2019.

The British naval vessel RFA Mounts Bay, a giant Royal Fleet Auxiliary landing ship, spent New Year in Miami, embarking a U.S. coastguard helicopter for the first time. It then sailed south and docked in Caracas Baii on Curaçao, by January 21. The Royal Navy asserted it was working with the U.S. Coast Guard's Helicopter Interdiction Tactical squadron and its counter-narcotics boarding team, which comes under SOUTHCOM. The "war on drugs" is among other things a smokescreen precisely to legitimate the naval presence of the European states, who have enslaving colonial and neo-colonial interests in the Caribbean and Latin America, on a regular basis.

In addition to "its regular complement of soldiers who operate her mexeflote powered barges," Naval Today informs that "the Bay-class ship has a dedicated 20-strong team from 24 Commando Royal Engineers -- self-styled 'Commandos of the Caribbean' -- and a Wildcat helicopter flight from 815 Naval Air Squadron." These forces have the means to occupy and control the shoreline of any country, and use it to launch air and ground attacks against targets located in those countries, land their troops and support their advance.

In January and into February, British marines have been conducting jungle warfare training in Belize. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) characteristically described their deployment as "routine." Their arrival in mid-January coincided with Britain's ratcheting up of its anti-Venezuela campaign.

Initially, the marines were based at British Army Training Support Unit Belize, a permanent base adjacent to the country's international airport, that was to be mothballed in 2010, but in 2015 became active again. The marines are from 40 Commando's A Company, a highly trained unit that specializes in close combat and is "held at very high readiness by UK MoD for crisis response."

British Marines in Belize, February 2, 2019. 

Photos show the marines carrying out battlefield drills, including casualty evacuation. Marines from 40 Commando were among the first British troops to land in Iraq during the 2003 invasion.

They are currently accompanied by sappers from the Royal Engineers' 59 Commando Squadron, who provide "close combat engineer support," as well as members of Condor Troop, a unit normally based in Scotland.

Britain's air force is also active in the region. Flight data shows an RAF transport aircraft from Brize Norton landed in Belize after dark on January 23. On February 2, the RAF released aerial photos of the Belize coastline, saying that its personnel were supporting "army exercises in Central America."

Belize itself is part of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) which is staunchly opposed to foreign interference in Venezuela.

Thus it appears a collective siege is underway, conducted by NATO allies of the U.S., The Netherlands, Britain and also France -- which has bases in French Guyana -- all looking for seats at the table from the imperialist redivision of Venezuela and the Americas. Experts consulted by Prensa Latina, in addition to highlighting the dangerousness of these movements, point out that in the first place they are aimed at intimidating the Venezuelan leadership, but if this objective is not achieved, they could be used in direct incursions against that South American nation.

In fact, such forces would not have to go much closer to the Venezuelan territory to develop attacks with their aerial means and missiles, because they are in a position to do so from relatively large distances, experts point out.


1. U.S. Southern Command's "Masterstroke" Plan

The plan states the U.S. aim of "continuing setting fire to the common frontier with Colombia. Multiplying the traffic of fuel and other goods. The movement of paramilitaries, armed raids and drug trafficking. Provoked armed incidents with the Venezuelan frontier security forces." The plan includes recruiting "paramilitaries mainly in the campsites of refugees in Cúcuta, La Guajira and the north of Santander, areas largely populated by Colombian citizens who emigrated to Venezuela and now return, run away from the regimen to intensify the destabilizing activities in the common frontier between both countries. Making use of the empty space left by the FARC, the belligerency of the EBN and the activities in the area of the Gulf cartel." It goes on to its conclusion, which is "to prepare the involvement of allied forces in support the Venezuelan army officers or to control the internal crisis in the event they delay too much in taking the initiative. Establishing a speedy time line that prevents the Dictator to continue winning control on the international scenario. If it is necessary, act before the elections stipulated for next April."

While this once secret plan was envisioned around last year's Venezuelan presidential election, it has been repurposed to achieve the present desperate attempt to takeover Venezuela.

2. In 2013, Helmin Wiels, the Afro-Curaçaoan leader of the Pueblo Soberano (Sovereign People) party was assassinated. Wiels demanded total independence, an end to legalized corruption, the closure of the U.S. military base and that the island not be used against Venezuela.

3. The Brazilian generals in charge of "humanitarian aid" for Venezuela have the blood of the Haitian people on their hands. The Brazilian general who is now the Defence Minister for Jair Bolsonaro, retired army general, Fernando Azevedo e Silva was Operations Chief of the UN Mission for the (de)Stabilization of Haiti (MINUSTAH) -- the UN so-called peacekeeping force -- under the command of General Augusto Heleno Ribeiro Pereira, also now retired, in 2004 to 2005.

Last autumn, Bolsonaro also named Heleno as the head of the presidential office for national security. He is described as "the real power behind" the former army captain and extremist congressman Bolsonaro, who formally assumed the presidency on January 1, 2019.

Statements from MINUSTAH to the public about the massacre (which have disappeared with its after-action report to the U.S. Embassy) described a firefight that "lasted over seven hours during which time their forces expended over 22,000 rounds of ammunition," and an operation that involved 1,440 troops: 1,000 who "secured the perimeter" and 440 who engaged in a raid.

4. All the countries that militarily occupied Haiti through MINUSTAH are today organized as the extra-legal Lima Group formed by Canada in 2017, who sanction and prettify military intervention in Venezuela as humanitarian engagement.

They included Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay, Peru and the United States. This United Nations "peacekeeping" force occupied the country after the U.S., Canada and France orchestrated the violent overthrow of Haiti's elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and sent in U.S. Marines in 2004 along with troops from the Royal Canadian Regiment.

(With files from Tony Seed's Blog, U.S. Navy press releases, Maritime Herald, Naval Today, Prensa Latina, news agencies.)

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