Documentaries, society

Britain’s Hidden War

YEAR: 2019 | LENGTH: 1 part (26 minutes)

DESCRIPTION:  Channel 4 Dispatches investigates the extent to which the war in Yemen is made in Britain.

• British technicians working for the UK’s biggest defence contractor are working on air bases in Saudi Arabia keeping Saudi jets in the sky. One former BAE Systems worker who left a few months ago reveals the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) would be unable to fly its fleet of Typhoon fighter jets without this support. He tells Dispatches: “With the amount of aircraft they’ve got and the operational demands, if we weren’t there in 7 to 14 days there wouldn’t be a jet in the sky.”

• British and American forces have military “liaison officers’ in the Saudi Air Operations Centre in Riyadh to help ensure the Saudis adhere to international humanitarian law. But we find they are mostly confined to a “cubby hole” away from the operations floor where key decisions are made.

• We find flaws in the Saudi targeting process: most air strikes are not directed by the Saudi Air Operations Centre, meaning targets are not always checked against “no strike lists” of schools, hospitals and other civilian targets.

• Former US Secretary of Defense and CIA Director Leon Panetta says the UK and US do not have clean hands in the Yemen conflict.

• Former International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell MP says the UK is “complicit” in strikes that have killed civilians.

• Former Director of Public Prosecutions Lord Ken Macdonald says BAE Systems could face criminal liability for their involvement if they are aware of any breaches of international humanitarian law – source