Micro frustration & macro annihilation

Today has been one of those days. I woke up and decided to wear my favourite watch, but its battery was dead. I went downstairs to top up the mobile phone online, but the server was down. All internet chores being therefore unavailable for action, I vowed to crack open the residue of last year’s walnuts. But it was stuffy in the house, and so I decided to effect the operation outside. It was a cool morning, but after ten minutes the wind got up. Dealing with the separation of Walnut shell from flesh is tricky in a high wind. So I took the strimmer down to the Grange in order to clear the main exterior wall’s base of detritus before Momo the Moroccan Magician plasters it tomorrow. The fuel tank was empty. As was the can optimistically labelled ‘Strimmer fuel’.

So much for micro frustrations. I can put these into well-deserved perspective by pointing out that this week has been a triumph for injustice like few that came before it. Apart from the rise of Becky Kemp-Wade from the hastily extinguished ashes of Rebekah Brooks, a cavalcade of bigoted or greedy illegality and privilege has vomited upon every sense of decency across the globe.

In North Dakota, it’s become ‘legal’ for police officers to use drones armed with tasers and teargas against the population. The police paid a prominent lobbyist to get this result, but in reality it’s just another stage in the distinguished American tradition of the Right to bear Arms: the People have the right to bear Arms, so in order to enforce laws about fracking, we the Government must therefore have better and more powerful arms. What I’d like to see is a spectacular, glitzy new Coliseum in North Dakota, built as a tribute to this outcome, in which gladiators engage in a three-cornered fight to the death between members of the National Rifle Association, senior Oil executives and Congressional lobbyists. A great day out for all the family would be guaranteed.

In India, Gujarat politician and social rights campaigner Hardik Patel was detained by local police in Ahmedabad last Tuesday. Things got a little out of hand on the rioting dimension, and so the government turned off the mobile internet services to everyone in a State with roughly the same population as the UK. The reason given was that mobiles were being used to coordinate opposition to the summary detention, and we can’t have that otherwise God knows, the world will soon be covered in Jeremy Corbyn clones. One of the few things that tie Conservatives Theresa May, David Cameron and Boris Johnson together in England is the desire for this ‘right’ to become law in these, our Septic Isles. Borisconi goes one further in his love affair with water-cannon, with which he plans to spray every notebook and tablet in London because, as we all know, just one droplet of humidity on a pc renders it forever useless.

Since last Wednesday, crude oil prices have been rising until the global median reached $45.Tanks need oil, and now that the Saudis have invaded North Yemen – seizing control of two areas in the Saada province – demand may go up. Really? Enough to evoke a 5-bucks rise? The rationale for the invasion is the Saudi need to counter growing retaliatory attacks by Yemeni forces on Saudi soil. Um, just run that past me again: ‘to counter growing retaliatory attacks’? Always get your retaliation in first, that’s what I say.

But what exactly is going on here? Sadly, it all seems rather same-old-same-old. The ‘Yemeni’ forces are in fact Houthi tribesmen – supposedly moderate Islamics who object strongly to the Government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. Hadi ‘requested’ help from the Saudis, whose crushing of every last sign of equality in their country has naturally made them a close ally of the Americans and British. Just so we remain even-handed, The Houthi have been radicalised religiously in the last decade; but equally, Mansur Hadi was chosen as President for a two-year transitional period on February 21, 2012, in an election in which he was the, um, as it were, only candidate. Many experts in this area see him as a Saudi/US puppet: I can’t comment for certain, but let’s look more closely at the facts.

On 22 January 2015, Hadi resigned, and – being fine democracy-loving Arab Springers – the Houthis seized the presidential palace and placed him under virtual house arrest. But he escaped to his hometown of Aden, did a Farage on his resignation, and denounced the Houthi takeover as an unconstitutional coup d’état. Which, to be fair here, it was. In the same way as his election was somewhat Soviet in the model used.

Words like houses, plague and both come to mind, but we need to focus on the human suffering and repression involved: the Saudi-led invasion of Yemen is in fact a ‘coalition’ that includes the Persian Gulf monarchies of Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, as well as Jordan and Egypt. It would be kind, I think, to describe every one of these régimes as States where freedom of speech is routinely suppressed. The Yemen invasion has been described across the political spectrum as a “humanitarian disaster” and a “catastrophe”: the imposed aerial and naval blockade has left some 78% of the Yemeni population in urgent need of food, water, and medical aid. Yet on one occasion, Coalition jets prevented an allegedly Iranian Red Crescent plane from landing by bombing the Sana’a International Airport’s runway – thus discouraging all aerial aid deliveries to the capital city.

All is spin and cover story these days, so events are increasingly hard to verify. But perhaps what follow are the three best clues relating to these shifting sands of complexity:
1. Thanks to this war, an excuse has been given to manipulate the price of oil up and out of the risk-zone for US fiscality.
2. The Houthi rebels were originally armed by…..er, the United States – although a March 2012 article in The New York Times cited claims by unnamed US military and intelligence officials that the Quds Force,  the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IGRC) was smuggling significant quantities of arms to the Houthis. There is little these days upon which one can rely, but the NYT’s serial US State Dept toadying is one of them.
3. On July 25th this year, the US Defense Department awarded major weapons maker Raytheon to provide the Saudis  with 355 air-to-ground missiles to support its campaign of aerial strikes against civilian and economic targets in Yemen. The missiles are state-of-the-art AGM154 infra-red guided killing machines.
Waydergo! We godda drum up some business here guys, so let’s arm everyone and keep that gdp figure rising. “YES SIR SERGEANT MAJOR SIR!” replied the unfortunate grunt.
* Major hat tips to kf, cs, and ew for these verified gems.