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Westminster meeting hears call for
war crimes trial

Saudi Prince analyses problems of UN

Civilians killed by US forces in Ishaqi
Some of the civilian casualties of a US raid in Iraq

HRH Prince Turki Al-Faisal, former Saudi Ambassador to the UK and US, who for almost a quarter of a century was in charge of his country's intelligence service, spoke in London on October 18th to the United Nations Association. Lady Renouf and the JailingOpinions.com webmaster attended at the invitation of Prince Turki's friend, Prince Mohsin Ali Khan.

Prince Turki gave a forthright analysis of the problems facing the United Nations, suggesting that none of the proposals to extend the membership of the Security Council would have any practical effect for as long as self-interested powers were prepared to use their veto.

He warned that the UN's founding principles are contradicted by the tendency to regard the rights of some nations as greater than others. The rights of Palestinians in particular are routinely ignored, while the illegal seizure of land by Israel has been overlooked for decades. This historic injustice is no basis for a "new world order".

Prince Turki Al-Faisal
Prince Turki Al-Faisal

Prince Turki noted that the state of Israel had in the first place been carved out of Palestine by a "guilty West" following World War II. He said that Saudi Arabia and other Arab states had now accepted the presence of this Zionist "cuckoo in the nest" in the Middle East, but the response to these concessions has been further illegal aggression by Israel, which has not even replied to Saudi peace proposals.

Among Israel's many flagrant affronts to UN authority has been its persistent refusal to respond to UN Resolution 242 of November 22nd 1967, which calls on Israel to withdraw from the territories seized during the Six Day War.

Prince Turki's grandfather Ibn Saud saw the danger of the initial Jewish immigration into Palestine which led to the founding of Israel and its inexorable expansion. When asked by President Roosevelt to assist in resettling the "oppressed" Jews of Europe, he rightly questioned why this should be an Arab problem, ironically suggesting that the victorious Allies should Give them and their descendants the choicest lands of the Germans who had oppressed them.

Sixty years ago, in a conversation with British diplomat Col. H.R.P. Dickson, Ibn Saud accurately predicted the misery which would follow any Zionist-inspired partition of Palestine:
It were far preferable form every point of view if Great Britain were to make Palestine a British Possession and rule it for the next 100 years, rather than to partition it in the way they propose: such partition cannot possibly solve the difficulty but must only perpetuate it and lead to war and misery.

The main thing at all costs is to prevent the Jews from having an independent state of their own sliced out of Arab territory with no one to guide their future acts and policy. For from such will come a perpetual struggle with the Arabs living round them. Firstly because the Jews are determined to expand, will intrigue from the very beginning, and not rest until they have created discord between Great Britain and us Arabs, out of which they will hope to benefit. Secondly, they, having the money, will create a highly effective though perhaps small mechanized Army and Air Force, which they will assuredly use one day for aggressive purposes against the Arabs...

Ibn Saud
Prince Turki's grandfather Ibn Saud, who later became
the first King of Saudi Arabia

Prince Turki was especially keen to stress that the UN should not allow the partition of Iraq - and that ideally a resolution should be passed supporting Iraq's territorial integrity.

Perhaps the most hopeful prospect for positive action came when Dr James Thring asked Prince Turki whether United Nations auspices could be used to begin war crimes investigations against those involved in the blatantly illegal invasion of Iraq - and whether in the final analysis individuals could be encouraged to institute proceedings against the governments concerned, using the International Criminal Court and the Geneva Convention.

Prince Turki replied that the veto powers held by the permanent members of the Security Council would prove a serious obstacle to any UN action on this (as on anything else!).

However, he agreed that it could be helpful for Ambassadors of Arab states to pursue this question of war crimes charges. Since the meeting was attended by the Ambassadors of Kuwait, Qatar, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Egypt, we look foward to their response to this challenge!

On the same evening as Prince Turki's Westminster address, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair demonstrated yet again why he is unfit for the role of Middle East "peace" envoy. In a speech to New York's political elite Mr Blair indulged in further bellicose rhetoric against Iran.

If we are to avoid a new tragedy in Iran - and if global justice is to mean anything - the civilized world must stand together against the war criminals who perpetrated the current tragedy in Iraq. The principles outlined by Prince Turki can only be the basis for lasting peace if the war conspirators (whether in Washington, London or Jerusalem) are brought to trial.

Thousands march on Parliament

Video from the Stop the War march

George Galloway denounces
Iran invasion plans

Tony Benn confirms 'illegal' march
will go ahead

Lindsey German warns that withdrawal of British troops
could merely lead to stage two against Iran

(also read Lindsey German's blog on 'The Blame Game' against Iran)

Thousands march on Parliament

Foreign Office adviser warned against illegal war

Elizabeth Wilmshurst

Among those listed as attending Prince Turki's Westminster address on October 18th was Elizabeth Wilmshurst, former deputy legal adviser to the British Foreign Office. She resigned from this position in March 2003, having concluded that the forthcoming war on Iraq would be illegal.

Her resignation letter read as follows:

minute dated 18 March 2003 from Elizabeth Wilmshurst (Deputy Legal Adviser) to Michael Wood (The Legal Adviser), copied to the Private Secretary, the Private Secretary to the Permanent Under-Secretary, Alan Charlton (Director Personnel) and Andrew Patrick (Press Office):

1. I regret that I cannot agree that it is lawful to use force against Iraq without a second Security Council resolution to revive the authorisation given in SCR 678. I do not need to set out my reasoning; you are aware of it.

My views accord with the advice that has been given consistently in this office before and after the adoption of UN security council resolution 1441 and with what the attorney general gave us to understand was his view prior to his letter of 7 March. (The view expressed in that letter has of course changed again into what is now the official line.)

I cannot in conscience go along with advice - within the Office or to the public or Parliament - which asserts the legitimacy of military action without such a resolution, particularly since an unlawful use of force on such a scale amounts to the crime of aggression; nor can I agree with such action in circumstances which are so detrimental to the international order and the rule of law.

2. I therefore need to leave the Office: my views on the legitimacy of the action in Iraq would not make it possible for me to continue my role as a Deputy Legal Adviser or my work more generally.

For example in the context of the International Criminal Court, negotiations on the crime of aggression begin again this year.

I am therefore discussing with Alan Charlton whether I may take approved early retirement. In case that is not possible this letter should be taken as constituting notice of my resignation.

3. I joined the Office in 1974. It has been a privilege to work here. I leave with very great sadness.

In January 2004 Michael Mansfield QC and Dr James Thring wrote to the Guardian repeating a call for the International Criminal Court to take up the question of whether the Iraq invasion constituted a war crime. Their letter can be read here.

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