Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 27, 2018

Arms Research "Watchdog Group" Lobbies For War On Yemen And Iran

This Associated Press story has quite a slant.


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Looking into the AP report we find that the "watchdog group" is actually a for-profit company with an anti-Iran agenda and paid by the United Arab Emirates. The UAE, together with Saudi Arabia, the U.S. and Britain, is waging war on Yemen and sees Iran as an enemy:

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Roadside bombs disguised as rocks in Yemen bear similarities to others used by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and by insurgents in Iraq and Bahrain, suggesting at the least an Iranian influence in their manufacture, a watchdog group said on Monday.

The report by Conflict Armament Research comes as the West and United Nations researchers accuse Iran of supplying arms to Yemen’s Shiite rebels known as Houthis, who have held the country’s capital since September 2014.
...
What we’re hoping this does is make plausible deniability not very plausible,” said Tim Michetti, head of regional operations for Conflict Armament Research. “You can’t really deny this anymore once the components these things are made with are traced to Iranian distributors.”

Michetti’s organization, an independent watchdog group that receives funding from the United Arab Emirates, Germany and the European Union to research weaponry recovered in Yemen, said it examined a fake rock bomb in January near Mokha, some 250 kilometers (150 miles) southwest of the capital, Sanaa.

Conflict Armament Research is not an "independent watchdog group" but a dully established British for-profit company registered at the British government's Companies House under company number 07762809. The sole owner is James Bevan, a British national born in 1977.

In 2002 James Bevan started to work for the well regarded Swiss NGO Small Arms Survey. He then worked for the UN and in other publicly financed arms research projects.

His own company started to grow around 2015, right when the war on Yemen started. It runs some arms research under public grants but is also a for-profit consultancy. In the business year ending March 31 2017 the company had a turnover of £1.4 million from grant funded projects and £710,000 from consultancy projects. Seven people were working for the company including the owner, James Bevan. That year Bevan, besides his unknown salary as director, took out £177,593 in dividends.

The CAR researcher Tim Michetti, quoted by AP, is also a co-author of the "Pushback - Exposing and countering Iran" report by the Atlantic Council. The United Arab Emirates is at the top of the Atlantic Council's Honor Roll of Contributors with more than $1,000,000 in yearly donations.

The UAE is at war in Yemen and is regularly accusing Iran of supporting the Houthi resistance against the invaders. Yemen is under blockade and there is little evidence that any Iranian help reaches the Houthis.

The actual CAR report is titled Radio controlled, Passive Infrared-inititiated IEDs - Iran’s latest technological contributions to the war in Yemen (pdf):

This report presents comparative findings on explosively formed projectiles (EFPs) documented by Conflict Armament Research (CAR) in Yemen and similar devices documented by CAR field investigation teams elsewhere in the Middle East.

The IEDs recovered in Yemen feature EFPs, which have been camouflaged to resemble natural rocks. These devices are armed by radio control (RC) and initiated using passive infrared (PIR) switches. They can be classed as radio-controlled IEDs (RCIEDs).

Garage door openers and light-barrier triggers are obviously sophisticated high-tech that no Yemeni could use for bomb building without intensive Iranian help. (Not!)

The easiest way to learn how to build improvised explosive devices with EFPs and various arming and triggering devices is to read declassified CIA manuals. I recommend to start with "Explosives For Sabotage" available at archive.org.

 


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To find the inspiration for hiding stuff in 'rocks' made out of fiberglass and foam one can read British newspapers:

Britain was behind a plot to spy on Russians with a device hidden in a fake plastic rock, a former key UK government official has admitted.
...
A diplomatic row was sparked six years ago after Russian state television broadcast a film claiming British agents had hidden a sophisticated transmitter inside a fake rock left on a Moscow street.

The CAR report shows some similarities between the trigger of an IEDs found in Yemen and another one allegedly found in Bahrain. But how does that lead back to Iran? Why not reasonably assume that various groups simply work from the same set of ideas and use the same manuals?

The report never investigates that thesis. Instead we get this claptrap:

The electronics kits used in the RCIEDs feature heatshrink wire coverings, which are manufactured by the Chinese company WOER. WOER-brand heatshrink wire covering is a constant feature of Iranian origin materiel recovered in Yemen and Bahrain, including RCIEDs, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and dual-use equipment suspected to be used in the production of rocket propellant.

WOER is one of the bigger global producers of heatshrink wire coverings. According to its website it has 3,000 dealers and 40 official sales offices including in:

Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Lebanon, Israel, Syria, Palestine, Qatar

Some WOER products are available on Amazon. This brand is well known and so widely available in the Middle East that it is outright laughable to attribute WOER material to Iran.

The report lists some similarities between IEDs found in Lebanon, Iraq, Bahrain, Yemen and elsewhere. But the IED types it describes have also differences. Hizbullah is the only group using aiming devices in its IEDs. At a first glance the trigger electronics from Bahrain, pictured in the report, look similar to those in Yemen but they use slightly different components and wiring.

By empathizing the similarities CAR makes it look as if the bombs come from the same source. It is more plausible that they were locally build from widely available materials by following the same manual or instruction set. A search in Arabic language forums will probably turn up an equivalent of the old CIA manual with blueprints for the such bombs and their trigger electronics.

An earlier report by CAR about Maritime Interdiction of Weapon Supplies to Somalia and Yemen (pdf) was likewise slanted. It insinuated that Iran was smuggling arms to Yemen but did not analyze alternative explanations. It provided that some private dhows were smuggling small arms from maybe(!) Iran to Somalia. There is some murky evidence to support that conclusion. But the report then went on to claim that those weapons were transported further and shipped from Somalia to Yemen. No evidence was provided for that claim. There are several ongoing wars in Somalia. Many parties there will purchase any weapon they can get. The Houthi in Yemen though have all the small arms they need. They simply capture or buy from the large stashes the Saudis and the UAE provide to their own local proxy forces.

But aside from all those details is it really newsworthy that a UAE lobbyist harps about some IEDs and AK machine guns used by the Yemeni people when Saudi Arabia and the UAE invade the country with heavily armed forces and for three long years bomb the s*** out of its starving people?

The [Yemeni Data Project]’s data shows the Saudi-led coalition carried out an average of 15 air raids* per day. A total of 16,749 air raids were recorded from 26 March 2015 to 25 March 2018. Nearly one third of all air raids (31%) targeted non-military sites.

The vital Yemeni port of Hodeida is still not functioning:

Fuel deliveries amounted to only 24 percent of Yemen's needs in February, while food met 51 percent, causing sharp price rises of both.

"For whatever reason, the amount of food and fuel required to meet needs in Yemen is not coming in through Hodeida and it is likely there are some deliberate actions being taken to cause it," said van Meegen, [an adviser with the Norwegian Refugee Council.]

"We can't say the blockade is in place. The de facto blockade is still in place." and people are starving because ships with aid can not be unloaded.

I for one would not mind if Iran would provide the Yeminis with everything they need to shoot down the attacking Saudi bombers and to kick the invaders out of their country. Unfortunately Yemen is under a tight blockade and Iran seems unable to break it.

To then point the fingers to Iran with little evidence and slanted reports, as the UAE paid CAR and other lobby shops do, has only one purpose: to widen the war and to prepare the peoples' minds for illegal aggression against yet another nation.


---
h/t: Sam Tamiz

Posted by b on March 27, 2018 at 03:10 PM | Permalink

Comments

Absurd! These type of IED are also used by ISIS in Syria and Irak.

Posted by: murgen | Mar 27, 2018 3:41:02 PM | 1

The problem is determining the extent to which the war in Yemen is real. I see no evidence it is, except insofar as people are murdered for no apparent reason. I see no evidence Iran is participating, nor do I see evidence Hezbollah ever made an appearance in theatre, which is just laughable propaganda meant to justify whatever project the Pentagon and Deep State are pursuing together in Yemen.

Dmitry Peskov spells out "the system of brainwash" in an interview with RT's Sophie Shevardnadze.

No rules count for those willing to bring Russia down – Kremlin spokesman (FULL INTERVIEW)

“…size doesn’t matter here. You can be small, but you can do much more influential things. That is what you [RT] are doing. And that what makes them nervous because you are [RT] pretending to be a rival for them and this rivalry can ruin the system of brainwash. This is the reality what we see.”

Read that again.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ATdRpvQKvI

See John Helmer article below for more regarding Peskov, who looks evermore desperate to save his job and in the interview below is apparently appealing to his 'partners' for assistance.

Kremlin Purge or Purgative -- Dmitry Peskov Advertises the Skirpal Accident

https://johnhelmer.net/kremlin-purge-or-purgative-dmitry-peskov-advertises-the-skripal-accident/#respond

Posted by: C I eh? | Mar 27, 2018 3:56:49 PM | 2

"Israel" also uses such disguises for various devices. AP must keep up the namesake of its brand: All Propaganda.

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 27, 2018 4:01:51 PM | 3

These are BIG LIES from the folks that bring you cluster bombs and just recently in Israel, drone warfare on civilians.

And in the interim the war crimes by empire against other countries just trying to defend themselves keep piling up

I want to see folks tried for war crimes

Posted by: psychohistorian | Mar 27, 2018 4:14:30 PM | 4

Nice report, b.

I was quite surprised to read in the Oliver Stone/Peter Kuznick book, "Untold History of the US" that our Congress seriously debated nationalizing the arms industry in the 1920s.

Apparently, the masses were very angry at the "Daddy Warbucks" profiteering during WWW I, and some Congress Critters picked up the torch, arguing that taking the profits out of the MIC could lead to more world peace.

Can't have that though, now can we?

Posted by: Daniel | Mar 27, 2018 4:14:50 PM | 5

Blame it all on the British. The Long Range Patrol Group of the British Army used to hide IEDs in camel turds during WW2 to blow up German army trucks in North Africa. Most of the nasty stuff the CIA does came from the SOE in WW2 via the OSS.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Mar 27, 2018 4:34:40 PM | 6

If the U$A's foreign policies were something other than uni-polar dominance and global hegemony, there might be a lot fewer wars to discuss.

But, there's more money to be made in wars..

Profits uber alles...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Is_a_Racket

Posted by: ben | Mar 27, 2018 4:36:09 PM | 7

The official name of the Houthi Movement is the Ansar Allah Movement. It's roots were in a Shia resurgence, but the movement has morphed into one demanding sectarian, democratic rule in Yemen and opposing corrupt, Saudi-backed Yemeni puppets as autocratic rulers and preventing any other moneyed foreigners from meddling in Yemeni affairs. For that reason, Sunnis have readily joined the movement, too.

Ansar Allah is most certainly not about making Yemen a Shia theocracy like Iran. It IS about Yemenis refusing to live on their knees for foreign masters. "Average Yemenis resisting foreign occupation and foreign-backed oppressive rule" isn't going to sell a Coalition of Evil war against them. "Iranian-backed Shia terrorists" is the preferred way the MSM likes to describe them. And for whatever reason, the MSM seems very guarded about the fact that the Saudis have been pretty-much elbowed out of the fight by the UAE on the ground. The UAE wants to own the Yemeni coastline, the Bab el-Mandeb Straits to the Red Sea and Socotra Island. They were just getting tired of waiting on the Saudis.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Mar 27, 2018 4:40:20 PM | 8

@ B I find it increasingly hard to stomach the hypocrisy of empire. Thanks for the latest installment of the theater of the absurd.


@2 C I eh. Last thread you asked.... wonder why Russia had left Yemen.... I was thinking it's because they can't project force there in same way as Syria atm? What say you? I will check out your links later. Thanks

@4PH, I went and looked for the drone gas link couldn't find it, care to re share?

Posted by: Tannenhouser | Mar 27, 2018 4:47:08 PM | 9

A lot of people must think that their SWIFT connected bank accounts will be accessible in hell to be so shameless in supporting this genocide.


Whey no expose's on all of the weaponry flooding Syria from the Gulf States, the U.S, EU, and Turkey to the tune of Billions of $ that we are flabbergasted at the thought of a few small components that might be traceable to Iran, let alone the billions of $ of hi tech murder weapons we sell to the KSA.

In all fairness, the Iranians must be helping the Houthis to some extent, at least in terms of technical support. If they did not then they would lose all credibility as the protector of the non-Sunnis. But the amount of aid they give is the bare minimum they need to give in order to preserve their street cred. If they really unleashed themselves, the KSA would be in real trouble. The Iranians could greatly assist the Houthis air defense capabilities.

Posted by: Christian Chuba | Mar 27, 2018 5:01:49 PM | 10

Conflict Armaments Research's claim that because radio-controlled improvised bombs use heatshrink wire coverings made by a Chinese company, these coverings must have come from Iran (and ergo Iran is supplying aid to the Yemenis), against WOER's own information that it sells to a variety of Middle Eastern clients including the KSA, reveals a similar mendacious mind-set as the one that claims Russia is behind the Skripal poisoning incident on the basis that a nerve gas agent first developed in the Soviet Union decades ago (and of which details of its chemical formula and component agents were made available on the Internet) had to have been used, with no evidence offered to support such a claim.

Is this all that British culture and society have now come to - a lying bunch of self-serving scoundrels pursuing money and influence?

Posted by: Jen | Mar 27, 2018 6:08:39 PM | 11

@11 A few thoughts...

a) Your post is way off topic.

b) Corbyn seems to be the only politician in Britain with doubts about the Salisbury affair.

c) I've seen it suggested that he may be courting the muslim vote.

Posted by: dh | Mar 27, 2018 6:15:55 PM | 12

Paveway IV @ 8:

"... [Ansar Allah's] roots were in a Shia resurgence, but the movement has morphed into one demanding sectarian, democratic rule in Yemen and opposing corrupt, Saudi-backed Yemeni puppets as autocratic rulers and preventing any other moneyed foreigners from meddling in Yemeni affairs. For that reason, Sunnis have readily joined the movement, too ..."

Don't you mean "non-sectarian" rather than "sectarian"?

Also while the issue raised is of that tiresome Shi'a-versus-Sunni divide (which I hope most of us MoA barflies by now recognise is a particular branch of the divide-n-conquer identity-politics strategy used by the Powers That Be to divide people), I thought I'd post a link to this article on how the Houthis came to be regarded as "Shi'a"

Anna Gordon, Sarah E. Parkinson (Middle East Research and Information Project) 'How the Houthis Became “Shi‘a”'
https://www.merip.org/mero/mero012718

Posted by: Jen | Mar 27, 2018 6:27:14 PM | 13

@ Tannenhouser with the request for a link to the latest perfidy by Israel

I was inaccurate in writing gas when it should have been chemical instead...my bad

SEND IN THE DRONES

Posted by: psychohistorian | Mar 27, 2018 6:36:57 PM | 14

From Putin spokesman Peskov with Sophie S.:

"...just imagine: Moscow city, a car accident, there’s a victim in the car accident. And we see what was the car. The car was a British-made car. Let’s say, a Range Rover. And just imagine, that myself or the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman makes a statement that a man was killed by a British-made car in a car accident in the centre of Moscow and highly likely Prime Minister of Great Britain may be responsible for that murder. Is it crazy? It is crazy."

Posted by: Bart Hansen | Mar 27, 2018 6:37:39 PM | 15

Dear God - Medvedev is coming back?!!

Posted by: paul | Mar 27, 2018 6:39:16 PM | 16

thanks b... this info on iran's responsibility is 110% paid for propaganda... summed up well in jen @12 comment "Is this all that British culture and society have now come to - a lying bunch of self-serving scoundrels pursuing money and influence?" - it appears so jen... it would seem the western societies, including canada, usa and etc. etc. - are all much the same... i wish it was different..


@8 paveway... "The UAE wants to own the Yemeni coastline, the Bab el-Mandeb Straits to the Red Sea and Socotra Island. They were just getting tired of waiting on the Saudis." that is my understanding too... the uae is as pathetic as saudi arabia in their goals... both of them are a couple of sick cultures - readily supported by the west due the same reason - obsession with money... the planet will be better off when everyone stops serving the god of mammon as psychohistorian regularly mentions..

Posted by: james | Mar 27, 2018 7:38:25 PM | 17

The rules have changed in the anglo-zionist-wahabi world. Now accusation = evidence.

Posted by: Du | Mar 27, 2018 8:15:13 PM | 18

Yes OT, but very important.

At MoA's Twitter, b has posted a video related to Siberian Mall Fire: "Limping young man deposes time fused incendiary device at indoor children playground. 64 people, the majority children, die." Damning!!

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 27, 2018 8:31:33 PM | 19

@CC 10
Why no exposes on all of the weaponry flooding Syria
Why not an expose on the US building military bases in Syria?
Now that's a first. Not an "invasion" just a slip-in and a base-building, into a weak adversary.
But hey, why worry -- Iran has a plastic rock strategy.
Meanwhile they'll start WWIII over a couple of sick people in London . . .go figure.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Mar 27, 2018 9:03:45 PM | 20

25

He was sent home. Trying to skip out on a police investigation?

Posted by: Ian | Mar 27, 2018 9:22:24 PM | 21

Could someone have a doctor check on #13. His statements are way off base. Baseless accusations are no proof of anything. Jeremy Corbyn was right on the money on his deduction of Theresa May's paranoia of the Russian threat. No dead people, no Russians poisoners, No poisoning. Most likely an episode of Tomaine food poisoning. Still no pictures or video of the victims. #13 seems to have racist leanings with his comment of the Muslim vote. There are definitely medications that could be prescribed for Paranoid Schizophrenia which is a malady that obviously #13 has to deal with daily.

Posted by: bob | Mar 27, 2018 11:09:52 PM | 22

From Ian's link on Nutty Yahoo:

"A meeting of the high-level security cabinet scheduled for Wednesday for Wednesday was not canceled. If Netanyahu cannot attend, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman will run the meeting"

Well, that's just as comforting as hearing that Trump will miss a Security Council meeting, so Bolton will be in charge... no doubt until the end of days.

Posted by: Daniel | Mar 27, 2018 11:10:49 PM | 23

@28 That would be me I guess. No doctor needed thanks bob I'm fine. But you seem to have missed my point.
I'll rephrase it for you...

Corbyn seems to be the only British politician courageous enough to show any doubt about the Salisbury affair. But even he is cracking under pressure. He is being charged with anti-semitism and courting the muslim vote. Better?

Posted by: dh | Mar 27, 2018 11:38:24 PM | 24

@22 karlof1.. thanks..

Posted by: james | Mar 27, 2018 11:45:16 PM | 25

@14 Jen yes most MoAites would be but txs for the link for others who needed clarification about Zaydis..

Posted by: Lozion | Mar 27, 2018 11:53:39 PM | 26

The basic premise we come down to is, darker you are the stupider you are.. Although this is not considered PC so it is hidden in ways. Now it is more of we are richer and we got here by being smarter. Nothing about reality. Although I am beginning to wonder how people with access to upto date data are fooled by such childish stores are considered smart. Wren you can easily find out a dozen alternative scenarios that makes more sense.

Posted by: igybundy | Mar 28, 2018 1:13:45 AM | 27

Interesting post from the Craig Murray site.

March 28, 2018 at 03:28

I can give an interesting fact. This don’t mean anything but, Julia has visit her vKontakt profile, (Russian Facebook), three day after she was poisoned. Maybe the police went thru her phone or maybe she did.
https://vk.com/y.skripal

Posted by: Emily | Mar 28, 2018 2:53:00 AM | 28

"The basic premise we come down to is, darker you are the stupider you are.. Although this is not considered PC so it is hidden in ways. Now it is more of we are richer and we got here by being smarter. Nothing about reality. Although I am beginning to wonder how people with access to up to date data are fooled by such childish stores are considered smart..."

All the data updates are useless unless your basic knowledge of a topic or an area is well founded.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Mar 28, 2018 3:50:46 AM | 29

Meanwhile the racist US dept. keep spreading racism against Russia:

‘US dept: Russia has lots of tentacles - a beast for the deep sea'
https://www.rt.com/usa/422527-nauert-russia-diplomats-tentacles/

Posted by: Anonymous | Mar 28, 2018 4:29:24 AM | 30

This seems to be the UK government briefing outlining the case against Russia in their eyes - no proof just accusation ...

https://www.kommersant.ru/docs/2018/UK_Briefing.pdf

Posted by: Jim | Mar 28, 2018 5:22:40 AM | 31

Off topic:

President Xi and Premier Li both sent their condolences to their counterpart Putin and Medvedev on 26th immediately after the horrific Kemerovo fire.Xi sends condolences to Putin over fatal shopping mall fire

It is really rather weird that RT Foreign leaders send condolences amid outpour of support for mall blaze victims mentioned every Western leaders, who announced their decision to expel Russian diplomats, even including Saudi MbS, sent their condolences, but NO mention of China.

Posted by: mali | Mar 28, 2018 6:47:16 AM | 32

40

Indirectly.   "The UK, Germany, Saudi Arabia and scores of other countries..."

Posted by: Ian | Mar 28, 2018 8:55:00 AM | 33

A (fake rock) covered, shape charge / EFP type IED found in Afrin, Syria. This type appears to look more advanced than most devices seen from that area.
video

I'd say that this "IED" is an old military device. Looks professionally manufactured.

But CAR will probably soon find that Iranians are in Afrin and are making "IEDs" in support of the YPG which is allied with the U.S. against Syria.


Posted by: b | Mar 28, 2018 10:34:50 AM | 34

A 'perfect' article from the ever venerable and trustworthy AP. I suppose the minds of its editors grind something like this:

US Humvees, TOW missiles, mortars, rifles end up with al-Qaeda in Syria and Iraq = nothin' to see here folks, move it along!

Bomb hidden in rock = IRAN, IRAN, IRAN!

Don't forget AP stands for Absolute Propaganda, AFP Absolute French Propaganda, Reuters Rank Euphanism Undermining The Exact Real Story

Posted by: Don Wiscacho | Mar 28, 2018 11:11:12 AM | 35

@36 b
Agreed, professionally manufactured. However, it does not tell the entire story. Irrespective of the looks of such a device what really matters is the inner workings of it. A charge may look very crude/homemade but if specifics as - to name a few - density, and vod of the explosive, proper plane wave generation, liner geometry, -thickness, -material, -density are optimized ,and stand off when fired is correct, it may be well superior to a mass manufactured item.

These so called think tanks / research facilities, in many cases are just a bunch of clueless propagandists. It's gut wrenching. This is all about physics of detonation and chemistry of energetic materials, there's a whole lot of publications out there, often available at your local department of physics/chemistry, that deal with this kind of applications in great detail. So, no Iranian 'collusion' required at all.

Posted by: Hmpf | Mar 28, 2018 11:12:08 AM | 36

Checked on that Tim Michetti guy from CAR.
The 'weapons expert' holds a MA in international policy - what could go wrong?

Posted by: Hmpf | Mar 28, 2018 12:06:24 PM | 37

dh @ 26

Sputnik has posted a hit piece on Corbyn, too. As you say, "Corbyn seems to be the only British politician courageous enough to show any doubt about the Salisbury affair". So why does Sputnik reinforce the anti-semitism smear? One might think a Russian news outlet would want to support the last remaining sane political leader in the UK.

Posted by: Perimetr | Mar 28, 2018 12:08:16 PM | 38

Sounds like a script written by a French sociologist "The area has been quieter in recent days as Jaish al-Islam has negotiated with Russian forces about Douma's fate. The rebel group said on Tuesday Russia had yet to give an answer to its proposals. It accused Damascus and Moscow of seeking to impose demographic change by forcing residents to leave."
https://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/293589/World/Region/Syrian-army-prepares-huge-operation-in-last-rebel-.aspx

Posted by: Mina | Mar 28, 2018 12:11:31 PM | 39

dh @ 12 said:

"c) I've seen it suggested that he may be courting the muslim vote."

could be (d) Maybe he has the gift of introspection, and can connect available data to have that belief. :)

Posted by: ben | Mar 28, 2018 12:13:16 PM | 40

@40 Dunno. I am not privy to the inner workings of Sputnik. They could have said nothing I suppose. If they had defended Corbyn they would face the same charges.

Posted by: dh | Mar 28, 2018 12:17:23 PM | 41

@40/43 perimetr /dh..

"The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik."

Jon Gaunt has been working in Broadcasting for over 25 years and has worked on a variety of platforms and won many awards including Three Sony Awards.

He has worked for BBC London and had over a million listeners when he was the mid morning presenter on talkSport for three years.

Jon had his own full page column in the Sun newspaper for over five years with a readership of 8 million.

He is often called upon by TV and Radio stations to act as a Newspaper reviewer or Political/Social Commentator. He has appeared on BBC Question Time many times and was a main newspaper reviewer on Sky News for ten years.

He started his own podcast three years ago and built it into a live radio station with over 60,000 weekly listeners and millions of downloads.

He is a published author with two books with Virgin/Random books.

He is also a successful TV and Theatre writer who won a Fringe First for his play Hooligans and was a member of The Emmerdale writing team.

Jon has a very active social media base with over 40 thousand Twitter followers and over 20,000 on Facebook.

Posted by: james | Mar 28, 2018 12:25:40 PM | 42

Jen@13 - "Don't you mean "non-sectarian" rather than "sectarian"?"

Yes, non-sectarian of course. Thanks for the correction.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Mar 28, 2018 12:28:39 PM | 43

only slightly OT, but a decided parallel:

march 23, Amnesty International: Trumpeting for War… Again
by Paul de Rooij, counterpunch

One must marvel at the first few paragraphs of Amnesty International’s recent press release:
“The international community’s catastrophic failure to take concrete action to protect the people of Syria has allowed parties to the conflict, most notably the Syrian government, to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity with complete impunity, often with assistance of outside powers, particularly Russia. Every year we think it is just not possible for parties to the conflict to inflict more suffering on civilians, and yet, every year, they prove us wrong…” and so on.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/03/23/100699/

also: BEIRUT, Lebanon – An Amnesty International Campaigns manager has admitted on his Twitter account that the organization are training Syria’s political opposition.
“Good to be back in Beirut with this superb Syrian human rights project which helps former political prisoners get their lives (and activism) back on track. More on them soon,” Kristyan Benedict, the Amnesty International UK Campaigns Manager said on his Twitter.”

https://www.fort-russ.com/2018/03/amnesty-international-admits-to-training-syrian-opposition/

and no, i don't seem to be able to learn how to hyperlink anything in text; old dog, new tricks, and all that.

'shamnesty int'l indeed.

Posted by: wendy davis | Mar 28, 2018 12:42:02 PM | 44

Concerning Shia-Sunni divide in Yemen.

The division of southern and northern Arabs in the Peninsula dates to times before Christ and it exists till now. One reason is relative isolation because "Empty Quarter" is a barrier for human movements, another an "ecological boundary" between mostly agricultural Yemen and northern Arabia dominated by nomads. While separate languages of southern Arabs are mostly extinct, sectarian differences persists, in part because southern Arabs do not want to emulate their northern neighbors. Shia are different than Iraqi/Iranian Shia, Sunni are different from Sunnis of other places, Oman is dominated by a quite "irregular" sect that does not follow Sunni-Shia paradigm.

Huthi movement emerged as a reaction to proselitic Wahhabi groups that were generously supported by KSA. Those groups may be important in some locations, e.g. giving support to AQAP, but they are a small minority of Yemenis. There were no news of north Yemen Sunnis fighting with Houthis, it seems that they do not like the rule of Saudi/UAE puppets either. Southern Yemenis do fight with Houthis but they are mostly separatists, not supporters of "the legitimate government of President Hadi". Hadi himself is a former Marxist/Communist and a serial turncoat, thus selected as a compromise candidate but he promptly sold himself to KSA/UAE, with scant domestic support.

To summarize, Yemenis are not particularly divided by sect, instead there is a regional division, former subjects of BE, ruled by Communists for a while, and former subjects of Ottomans who followed Naserism/Pan-Arabism for a while. Clan warfare in Afghan style does not seem to be important either, locals are pretty good at making deals with each other. I guess that KSA/UAE are perceived as northern barbarians who got too full of themselves on the account of oil revenue that did not improve their mentality at all.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Mar 28, 2018 12:54:50 PM | 45

@47 Piotr

Your comments on the Houthi are a well-balanced background summary IMO.

thanks

Posted by: les7 | Mar 28, 2018 2:06:07 PM | 46

The Washington "think tanks" have been pushing for war on Iran for a long time now, it is their default setting.


"altogether one has all the makings of a robust cottage industry spanning institutions and the political spectrum built around confronting Iran, which the media often shows little desire for combating."
https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/john-bolton-washington-iran-policy-industry-180325071153445.html

Posted by: Cyrus | Mar 28, 2018 2:44:45 PM | 47

@ james | 44

Ah, John Gaunt! I didn't recognize the name at first.

He's often featured on RT America News segments. He's an ebullient "John Bull" stereotype, with raging, reactionary xenophobia against Islamic influences, multiculturalism, etc.

When he's on the right side of an issue, e.g. decrying Theresa May and the Tories' obscene demonization of Russia and Putin, he's fun to watch-- he really is a natural "bulldog" type who growls, barks, seizes ankles and doesn't let go.

Gaunt has a gift for puncturing his opponents' cant and hypocrisy with blunt, commonsensical retorts-- when he's not spewing his own cant and hypocrisy, as in this anti-Corbyn screed.

His Islamophobia and reactionary rants against the so-called "hard Left" are not so rewarding. I can't think why Sputnik published this polemic, apart from the traditional journalistic, civil libertarian principle of giving diverse and unpopular views a platform.

Posted by: Ort | Mar 28, 2018 3:32:43 PM | 48

@50 ort... thanks for that.. i think the reason is probably in your last sentence!

Posted by: james | Mar 28, 2018 3:39:49 PM | 49

@ Tannenhouser

Re: why Russia left Yemen.

Yemen is a theatre of war where both sides are supported and controlled by the West, bothh Saudi coalition and Houthis 'rebels.' There is no Iranian participation whatsoever. It's a scam of the kind all of us should've grown wise to by now. Yemen is a Pentagon/NATO circle jerk through and through, and someone did not want the Russians observing their activities too closely. This is why the Russians left Yemen.

Russia must pick and choose it fights, no question. Here again, Yemen is of little import to them relative to other theatres including Syria, Central Asia, Europe and east Asia. They are also working to open a shorter and much more cost effective Arctic shipping corridor to avoid the Bab-el-Mandeb sraights altogether, and should they succeed, which is likely, the strategic importance of this area will diminish for everyone, including especially China, Japan and Korea.

Posted by: C I eh? | Mar 28, 2018 4:33:05 PM | 50

Perimetr, James, Ort, et al.

Great jobs clarifying this John Gaunt. I also came across this article he wrote wherein he DEFENDS a guy teaching his girlfriend's dog how to do a Nazi salute! I can't say I disagree that the outrage over what was apparently a joke was over the top, PC gone wild. But it shows how malleable are his morals.

https://sputniknews.com/columnists/201803221062808818-uk-scotland-mark-meechan-freedom-of-speech/

The mural clearly depicted both Jewish and Christian banksters as literally hoarding great wealth on the backs of the commoners. And it was 6 years ago that Corbyn made a single comment about it. It still looks like it was dredged up specifically because Corbyn's socialistic influence on the Labour Party is being welcomed by the British commoners, and his resistance to buy into the Russia demonizing mars the otherwise largely "united front" being sold.

Posted by: Daniel | Mar 28, 2018 10:36:20 PM | 51

I remember rocks as bombs.

March 2016. Can you tell which is a bomb? Daily Mirror

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/can-you-tell-rock-bomb-7511005

Posted by: Noirette | Mar 29, 2018 9:00:01 AM | 52

Watch Dog .... My a**. More like a bitch dog in heat, laying in the street with one leg hiked in the air ... take me please. The Syrian and Russian military have found warehouses and underground storage full of American, British and Israeli weapons including chemical warfare material. So, their 'watch dog' wants all to believe the Iranians have a monopoly on rocks! Strange how this 'watch dog' can sniff out rocks but cannot find warehouses full of
terrorist WMDs.

Posted by: ger | Mar 29, 2018 10:45:12 AM | 53

On a side note:

Russian spy: Yulia Skripal 'improving rapidly'

Yulia Skripal is "improving rapidly" and no longer in a critical condition, four weeks after the Salisbury poisoning, the hospital has said.
The daughter of ex-spy Sergei Skripal was admitted after they came into contact with a nerve agent. on 4 March.
"She has responded well to treatment but continues to receive expert clinical care 24 hours a day," the hospital said.
Mr Skripal remains in a critical but stable condition.

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-43588450

Posted by: arbetet | Mar 29, 2018 11:33:30 AM | 54

BBc running the recovering story. Great God, how stupid are people nobody focking recovers from VX, that would be a first. You either get antidote and might survive or you die.
tosh.

Posted by: Den Lille Abe | Mar 29, 2018 3:47:23 PM | 55

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