Alex Salmond calls on UK Government to ‘abandon military obsession’ in 2017

'The new year is not one of celebration for many people in countries like Syria and Yemen where the horrors of 2016 will continue into 2017' says the former SNP leader

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
@ashcowburn
Saturday 31 December 2016 01:08
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The former SNP leader said: 'For the UK Government, the new year should be one of recognising and correcting the errors in their foreign policy approach'
The former SNP leader said: 'For the UK Government, the new year should be one of recognising and correcting the errors in their foreign policy approach'

Alex Salmond has called on the Government to “correct the errors” in its foreign policy and “abandon military obsession” in his message for 2017.

In a new year message, the former SNP leader said Theresa May’s administration should adopt an "ethical and effective" approach in coming months instead of arms sales and "knee-jerk militarism".

"The new year is not one of celebration for many people in countries like Syria and Yemen where the horrors of 2016 will continue into 2017," he said.

"For the UK Government, the new year should be one of recognising and correcting the errors in their foreign policy approach, and one where they adopt a more ethical and effective approach that abandons military obsession and instead puts humanitarian and political efforts at its core.

"After all, we know that the Foreign Secretary actually personally believes that our allies are engaged in proxy wars."

He added: "You cannot arm regimes with stained military tactics with one hand and then raise the other to proclaim the need to uphold human rights. The lessons are clear for all in the last year, from the lessons of Libya to Yemen and Syria.

"The SNP have consistently called for a wider strategy rather than knee-jerk militarism and we will continue to hold the Tory government to account on these crucial issues."

Ms May’s administration has previously rejected calls by two parliamentary committees for it to stop the sale of British bombs to Saudi Arabia’s armed forces in Yemen.

Saudi forces have been widely accused of committing war crimes during the campaign in the country, where reports on the ground suggest they have blown up international hospitals, funerals, schools, and weddings.

But despite the reported incidents and the worsening humanitarian situation in the country since the bombardment began, the UK has signed off £3.3 billion in arms sales to the country since the start of the offensive.

Speaking in the Commons in December Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, confirmed that British-made cluster bombs – last delivered in 1989 and outlawed in 2010 – have been used by the Saudi forces in the current conflict in Yemen. Due to their extraordinary risk to civilians, cluster bombs, which release small bomblets over a wider area, were banned in an international treaty signed by Britain.

Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, said she was determined that Scotland’s vote to remain in the EU will be respected in her own message for 2017. The SNP leader added that a second vote on Scottish independence remains “highly likely”.

The First Minister said: "We are working to safeguard the opportunities that so many people in Scotland now take for granted.

"We are determined that Scotland's vote to remain in the European Union will be respected - and that people in Scotland retain as many of the benefits of EU membership as possible, including the freedom to work, travel and study in other member states.

"New year is inevitably a time when we look to the future. I'm determined to ensure that we give our children and young people - Scotland's future - the support and care they need to live happy, healthy, fulfilling lives.

"I'm confident that in 2017, we will make further progress towards that goal. That's something which is well worth looking forward to.

"So, wherever you are - whether you're here in Scotland or further afield; whether you're at work, spending time on your own or with your friends or family - I hope you have a wonderful Hogmanay and a great new year. I wish all of you all the best for 2017."

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