Over the past several days, the news story that has dominated British news headlines, and consequently, the news headlines of the rest of the Western world, is controversy over a leaked email confirming Boris Johnson’s attendance at a Downing Street garden party in May 2020 – a time when the Summer weather is usually at its peak in Britain, and incidentally, the same time when the entire country was under stringent lockdown measures.
In spite of offering an almost immediate apology in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Johnson has faced intense calls to resign from his position.
Not only from the opposition of Keir Starmer’s Labour, Ed Davey’s Liberal Democrats and Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP, but also from prominent members of his own Conservative Party such as Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross. With the main point of contention being that members of the British public were prohibited from seeing gravely ill loved ones at the same time as Johnson’s attendance of said garden party due to the restrictions put in place.
The ongoing controversy over ‘partygate’ however is in stark contrast to the minuscule Western media coverage of Boris Johnson’s key role in what is currently the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, the now seven-year long Saudi Arabia-led war on Yemen.
A conflict that has resulted in the worst Cholera outbreak of all time, the deaths of 10,000 children directly through the ensuing violence, and the further deaths of more than 85,000 children through the mass-starvation the conflict has triggered.
In July 2016, following his appointment as Foreign Secretary under the then-government of Theresa May, Johnson approved the sale of more than £1.2bn worth of British made-weaponry to Downing Street-ally Saudi Arabia – the Gulf Kingdom immediately putting it to use on Yemen’s agricultural, health and sanitation infrastructure.
This lead directly to the aforementioned Cholera outbreak and famine in what is already the most impoverished nation on the Arabian Peninsula, a situation exacerbated even further by a Saudi blockade preventing food and medical supplies from entering the country.
British support for the Saudi-led conflict goes far beyond lucrative arms sales to Riyadh however, with British military advisors on hand alongside their US counterparts in the Saudi command room to assist in the selection of targets for the Royal Saudi Air Force – more than 100 Saudi pilots have also been trained at RAF airbases in Britain over the past decade alone.
With both policies remaining in place since Johnson became Prime Minister in July 2019, alongside the aforementioned arms sales which have resulted in significant profit for British defence contractors such as BAE Systems.
Perhaps the most crucial role in Britain’s decision to support the Yemen war however, is a geopolitical ambition that Downing Street shares with the United States and Israel – the containment of Iran within the region.
The Islamic Republic, a long-time Western foe since the 1979 Islamic Revolution saw the US-UK aligned Shah deposed and replaced with the anti-Western and anti-Zionist Ayatollah Khomeini, is widely accused of backing the Ansar Allah rebel movement, more commonly known as the Houthis. Whose seizure of the Yemeni capital Sana’a and overthrow of the then pro-Saudi President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi in early 2015 would result in Riyadh launching its US-UK backed air campaign in March of that year in a bid to restore the government of its favoured candidate.
It is also the reason why, in addition to multi-billion pound arms deals between London and Riyadh, that what has now amounted to a seven-year long US and UK backed genocide of the Yemeni people, has received scarce media coverage in the West – in stark contrast to a Summer garden party held by a British Prime Minister who has himself played a key role in the slaughter.