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Year 2002 No. 62, April 2, 2002 ARCHIVE HOME SEARCH SUBSCRIBE

National Demonstration against War, March 30, 2002

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

National Demonstration against War, March 30, 2002

Escalation of Israeli State Terror
Palestinian President Stands His Ground
For Your Information: The Arab Peace Initiative
For Your Information: The Beirut Declaration
Who Put Gen. Idi Amin in Power?

Letter to the Editor:
On the Death of the Queen Mother

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National Demonstration against War, March 30, 2002

An estimated 8,000-10,000 people took part in the national CND demonstration, supported by Stop the War Coalition, on Saturday, March 30.

The demonstration was very militant, with very large contingents of Palestinian people, including one from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. They demonstrated against the occupation of their homeland on the occasion of March 30, Palestinian Land Day, and shouted "Victory to the Intifada!".

They, in common with the whole demonstration, vigorously denounced the backing of warmonger Sharon by international reaction, led by US imperialism, and affirmed that the cause of the Palestinian people for their national liberation is just.

The whole demonstration, which marched from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square, in full command of the streets, was a sea of banners from CND, the local Stop the War Coalitions, political parties and organisations, and, of course, the Palestinian flag and pictures of president of the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Arafat.

For the text of the Statement of RCPB(ML) on this occasion, which was disseminated in its scores as the lead article of the March 30 issue of Workers' Weekly, see [WDIE No.61].

The size and defiant mood of the demonstration, coming so soon after the last national demonstration against the "war on terrorism", was an indication of the depth and breadth of the opposition to the warmongering path of George W Bush and equally against this same path of Tony Blair and the New Labour government. Labour against the War was one of the banners.

Following is a summary of some of the speeches from the plinth of Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square.

Tam Dalyell MP spoke vehemently against the plan to bomb Iraq. He mentioned the strong opposition of the countries in the region to such bombing. Denouncing the lies told about Iraq in the media, he pointed out that it was the West who had poured arms, including chemical weapon know-how, into Iraq when it was at war with Iran. He said the only way forward was to have talks with Iraq.

Alice Mahon MP said that the demonstration was delivering a message to the US and British governments: Stop the War! No Bombing of Iraq! She mentioned that she had had more correspondence opposing the possible bombing of Iraq than on any previous issue and that 141 MPs had signed an early day motion opposing bombing. She denounced Jack Straw’s support for possible US first use of nuclear weapons since Hiroshima and nuclear attack on non-nuclear states.

A speaker from Stop the War Coalition said that this was not a war on terrorism; it was a war to impose US rule on the world. He said the British government was covering itself with shame, being alone in backing Bush’s plans as well as becoming isolated at home. Bombing Iraq would only lead to even more bloodshed and increased hatred for Britain. He said US and British plans would only lead to endless war.

Veteran peace campaigner Pat Arrowsmith read a moving poem against the war on Afghanistan.

Shadeeha Awada spoke passionately about the suffering of the Palestinian and Iraqi people. She spoke of the use by the USA of weapons of mass destruction in the Korean and Vietnam wars and of their violations of the ABM Treaty. She said it was vital to join together to speak out against the atrocities being committed in our name. Conscience dictates, she said, we must oppose them.

Filmaker Jeremy Gillies (Peace One Day) spoke of the successful efforts to get the UN, governments and NGOs to agree to a Global Ceasefire Day on September 21st.

A message of support was read from Tom Yorke of the popular Radiohead group.

A speaker from Palestinian Right of Return outlined the suffering of the Palestinian refugees over 50 years. He said pressure must be put on the government to stop supporting Sharon.

Caroline Lucas MEP (Green Party) spoke against the devastation of Afghanistan and the obscene widening of the war against Iraq. It was in reality, she said, a war against anyone the US did not like. She said the bombing of Iraq would be immoral and illegal, as were the current sanctions and limited bombing. She called for Britain to get rid of its nuclear capability and to stop its support for NMD, which was an offensive system which would only start a new arms race. She said these plans were driven by corporate interests. She denounced Tony Blair for his hypocrisy, claiming to travel the world as a "peacemaker" while actually selling arms.

Bruce Kent (CND) said he was moved to speak about Palestine. He called for the immediate protection of Palestinian civilians, for an end to military assistance to Israel and for the prosecution of war criminals. He called for justice for Palestine and said enough was enough. He ridiculed the suggestion made by such as Salaman Rushdie that to oppose US policy was to be "Anti-American". He called on American friends to uphold the great Americans, such as Martin Luther King, to look to their best. He said this was a sick world in which 15 million children could die of starvation while farmers were paid not to grow food. The terrorists, he said, were the major governments. He said the terrorism of the powerful was more culpable than the terrorism of the oppressed. He said another world is possible.

Article Index

Escalation of Israeli State Terror

March 30, 2002

On March 31, the Palestinian news agency reported, "The Israeli vicious attacks upon the cities of Ramallah and Albira, including the Presidential Headquarters, continue, causing lots of causalities, and great destruction. Since the early morning hours the Israeli tanks shelled the Presidential Headquarters, at least twice, firing tank shells, and poisonous gas bombs, into the Headquarters, while trying to break into it.

"The Israeli occupation army continued today to prevent ambulances from evacuating wounded Palestinians to hospitals, arresting medical staff, and ambulance drivers, breaking into hospitals, and arresting wounded Palestinians. The Israeli occupation army launched a large scale arrest campaign in Ramallah, and Albira, after breaking into houses, viciously destroying property, and shooting towards journalists and press offices, in order to prevent them from reporting the Israeli crimes committed against helpless civilians.

"The latest reports say that at least nine Palestinians were assassinated today in cold blood, by the occupation troops, and their bodies are still lying in the streets, as ambulances are not able to reach them, and that the Israeli occupation army began invading Hebron, and the surrounding villages."

Israeli occupation troops are carrying out random acts of killings of Palestinian citizens in Ramallah, Beitunya and the nearby Amaa'ri refugee camp, eyewitnesses told the Iranian news agency, IRNA. "Among the people killed in cold blood are five senior Palestinian police officers whose bodies were found in Ramallah Saturday afternoon inside a building evacuated by the Israeli army. Palestinian sources said the five were arrested and summarily executed in cold blood." An Israeli army spokesman said the killings were being investigated, IRNA said. "In Beitunya southwest of Ramallah, Israeli tanks were reportedly besieging the headquarters of the Preventive Security Force headed by Col. Jebril Rajoub. Palestinian sources said the Israeli army was demanding that all high-ranking officers surrender and lay down their weapons. However, Rajoub, who is at the building, reportedly told the Israelis that he and his subordinates would fight till death rather than surrender."

"Elsewhere in the West Bank, Israeli tanks entered several Palestinian population centres including Beit Lahm (Bethlehem), Beit Jala, al-Khalil (Hebron) and Dura. Palestinians living in these towns have pointed out that Israeli troops were shooting randomly on civilian homes and at anything moving in the streets," IRNA reports. "No other people on earth is asked to accept military occupation," Hamas founder and spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yasin told IRNA in a telephone interview from his Gaza home. "We will continue the resistance and Intifada until we earn our freedom from occupation and apartheid," he added.

In a statement to the press, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel said, "We are told that this is a war against terror, and that war on terror knows no geographical or other constraints. The facts tell us that this is a war against civilians, and that red lines have been crossed. At this very moment the hospitals in Ramallah are suffering from a shortage in medical supplies. Pregnant women, the chronically ill, wounded and bleeding lie waiting for ambulances to take them to hospital, while ambulances are prevented passage, their crews are detained and humiliated and their vehicles confiscated. The emergency services of the Palestine Red Crescent Society and Medical Relief are frequently attacked by Israeli occupation forces and prevented from fulfilling their humanitarian duty. At this very moment, tens of thousands of civilians are under military siege and curfew, and suffering from a shortage of basic provisions.

"Physicians for Human Rights-Israel calls upon the Israeli government to put an end to the occupation and the resultant severe and systematic violations of human rights. However, as long as the attack on Palestinian society continues, Israel must adhere to International Humanitarian Law – designed precisely for times of occupation and armed conflict – to avoid harming civilians, and allow free and safe passage of medical personnel, ambulances, patients, food and medical supplies. The principles of protection of medical personnel, allowing the treatment of the sick and wounded, are among the most basic foundations of International Humanitarian Law, the violation of which is crossing a dangerous red line. In the face of these severe abuses of medical neutrality and attacks on the fabric of Palestinian civil society, we call for immediate international intervention."

March 29, 2002

The Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that on March 29, "Israeli occupation troops backed by tanks and bulldozers swarmed into President Yasser Arafat's headquarters, punching holes in walls and fighting room to room, while the occupation tanks also rumbled into Beit Jala town which is next to the biblical city of Bethlehem, where Christians are observing Easter weekend, Palestinian officials said on Saturday. Seven Palestinians were killed and more than 40 were injured as the occupation forces took over Ramallah and Al Beirh, officials said.

"Throughout Friday, the occupation army tanks shelled buildings in the compound and troops broke into structures next to Arafat's headquarters and punched holes in walls, moving room to room toward his building. At one point, they broke through a wall into the office building itself and traded fire with the Presidential security through the hole. By nightfall, the three-story office building plunged into darkness when the occupation soldiers cut off electricity and destroyed a generator. Phone links were blocked, leaving the President with only a cell phone to connect him with the outside world. Arafat was in his room, giving phone interviews to satellite TV channels and speaking by cell phone to more than a dozen world leaders. Among those the President spoke with were U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Arab League leader Amr Moussa, the King of Jordan and the Egyptian President. A submachine gun placed on the table in front of him, Arafat was defiant. 'They want me under arrest or in exile or dead, but I am telling them, I prefer to be martyred,' he said in a telephone interview with Al Jazeera, the Arab satellite television channel. In yet another interview, the President described Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as 'bloodthirsty' and bent on 'blowing up' a collective Arab peace initiative endorsed by the Arab League. He added that the United States 'could have ordered Sharon to end the attacks. Why are they quiet despite all that is taking place?' 'It is the real terrorism of the occupation,' the President added. 'They are using all the American weapons against us ... F-15s and F-16s and rockets and bombs and artillery and everything.' 'But our people will continue (to be) steadfast in the face of this terrorism. ... the real terrorism of the occupation.' The President scoffed at the assurances of his safety, which some world leaders talked about. 'They are shelling us continuously in the last 24 hours,' Arafat said in a telephone interview with CNN, during which machine-gun fire could be heard in the background. 'What do you think, it's by chance?' 'They have destroyed completely seven of our buildings. Completely surrounded my office and firing (at) my office with all their armaments,' Arafat said as the soldiers were outside his office. 'They either want to kill me, or capture me, or expel me,' the President said. 'I hope I will be a martyr in the Holy Land. I have chosen this path and if I fall, one day a Palestinian child will raise the Palestinian flag above our mosques and churches.'"

Article Index

Palestinian President Stands His Ground

Following the March 29 attack launched against his headquarters, Palestinian President Yasser Arafat spoke to Al Jazeera TV. "They (the Israeli government) want me either a hostage, a runaway or a martyr. I tell them I will be a martyr, a martyr, a martyr," he said. "This (attack) is a response to the Arab Summit in Beirut, to the initiative of the Arab Summit which adopted Crown Prince Abdullah's initiative. This initiative has now been adopted and approved by the whole Arab Summit, and has become a Saudi-Arab initiative," he added. "This is the Israeli response to any peace attempts. Because they don't want peace. They don't want peace. We have to remember. Weren't these extremist elements the ones that assassinated my late partner Yitzak Rabin? Why did they kill him? Because they don't want peace," he said.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat told Reuters, "The Israeli government, which practises state terrorism, has declared a comprehensive war and Sharon is intent on destroying the Palestinian Authority and the peace process." Sharon is dragging the region into further bloodshed, he said. He told Reuters that he had contacted Arab and international leaders, urging them to do whatever possible to stop the Israeli army's operation against Arafat's headquarters.

The Palestinian leadership urged all peace-loving countries and organisations to demand an immediate end to Israeli attacks against Palestinian refugee camp, villages, towns and cities including the Presidential headquarters in Ramallah. A statement after the Israeli attack against the worshippers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque on March 29 said the occupation forces commenced a wide invasion and attack against Bethlehem and its suburban towns and refugee camps. The following call was made to the Israeli public: "Security will prevail once you have withdrawn from our lands and recognise our right to establish our independent state and recognised us as we have recognised your rights."

Article Index

For Your Information:

The Arab Peace Initiative

Following is the Resolution on the Arab Peace Initiative adopted by the Arab Summit held by the Arab League in Beirut, Lebanon from March 26-28.

The Council of Arab States at the Summit Level at its 14th Ordinary Session,

Reaffirming the resolution taken in June 1996 at the Cairo Extra-Ordinary Arab Summit that a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East is the strategic option of the Arab countries, to be achieved in accordance with international legality, and which would require a comparable commitment on the part of the Israeli government,

Having listened to the statement made by his royal highness Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, crown prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in which his highness presented his initiative calling for full Israeli withdrawal from all the Arab territories occupied since June 1967, in implementation of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, reaffirmed by the Madrid Conference of 1991 and the land-for-peace principle, and Israel's acceptance of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, in return for the establishment of normal relations in the context of a comprehensive peace with Israel, 

Emanating from the conviction of the Arab countries that a military solution to the conflict will not achieve peace or provide security for the parties, the council:

1. Requests Israel to reconsider its policies and declare that a just peace is its strategic option as well.

2. Further calls upon Israel to affirm: I - Full Israeli withdrawal from all the territories occupied since 1967, including the Syrian Golan Heights, to the June 4, 1967 lines as well as the remaining occupied Lebanese territories in the south of Lebanon. II - Achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194. III - The acceptance of the establishment of a sovereign independent Palestinian state on the Palestinian territories occupied since June 4, 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

3. Consequently, the Arab countries affirm the following: I - Consider the Arab-Israeli conflict ended, and enter into a peace agreement with Israel, and provide security for all the states of the region. II - Establish normal relations with Israel in the context of this comprehensive peace.

4. Assures the rejection of all forms of Palestinian partition which conflict with the special circumstances of the Arab host countries.

5. Calls upon the government of Israel and all Israelis to accept this initiative in order to safeguard the prospects for peace and stop the further shedding of blood, enabling the Arab countries and Israel to live in peace and good neighbourliness and provide future generations with security, stability and prosperity.

6. Invites the international community and all countries and organisations to support this initiative.

7. Requests the chairman of the summit to form a special committee composed of some of its concerned member states and the secretary general of the League of Arab States to pursue the necessary contacts to gain support for this initiative at all levels, particularly from the United Nations, the Security Council, the United States of America, the Russian Federation, the Muslim states and the European Union.

Article Index

For Your Information:

The Beirut Declaration

Following are excerpts from the Beirut Declaration issued on March 28, the closing day of the Arab Summit held in Beirut, Lebanon.

We, the kings, presidents, and emirs of the Arab states meeting in the Council of the Arab League Summit in Beirut, capital of Lebanon... have conducted a thorough assessment of the developments and challenges... relating to the Arab region and, more specifically, to the occupied Palestinian territory.

With great pride, we followed the Palestinian people's Intifada and valiant resistance. We discussed the Arab initiatives that aim to achieve a just and comprehensive peace in the region...

Based on the pan-Arab responsibility, and ...the objectives of the Arab League Charter, the UN Charter, we announce the following:

We will continue to ...protect the pan-Arab security and fend off the foreign schemes that aim to encroach on Arab territorial integrity.

We address a greeting of pride and honour to the Palestinian people's steadfastness and valiant Intifada against the Israeli occupation and its destructive war machine.

We greet with honour and pride the valiant martyrs of the Intifada....

We affirm solidarity with Lebanon to complete the liberation of its territory and pledge to extend aid to help its development and the reconstruction process.

We take pride in the Lebanese resistance and the outstanding Lebanese steadfastness that led to the withdrawal of the Israeli forces from the major part of South Lebanon and western Al-Biqa. We demand the release of the Lebanese prisoners, who are held in Israeli jails....

We emphasise our solidarity with Syria and Lebanon in the face of the Israeli aggressive threats that will undermine security and stability in the region.

We reaffirm that peace in the Middle East cannot succeed unless it is just and comprehensive... and based on the land for peace principle.

Expectations from Israel

A. Complete withdrawal from the occupied Arab territories, including the Syrian Golan Heights, to the 4 June 1967 line and the territories still occupied in southern Lebanon.

B. Attain a just solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees to be agreed upon in accordance with the UN General Assembly Resolution No 194.

C. Accept the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state on the Palestinian territories occupied since 4 June 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital.

In return the Arab states will do the following:

Consider the Arab-Israeli conflict over, sign a peace agreement with Israel, and achieve peace for all states in the region

Establish normal relations with Israel within the framework of this comprehensive peace


The Council welcomes the assurances by the Republic of Iraq that it will respect the independence, sovereignty, and security of the state of Kuwait and safeguard its territorial integrity.

Within the same framework, the leaders emphasise the importance of suspending media campaigns and negative statements to create a positive atmosphere....

The Council calls for respecting Iraq's independence, sovereignty, security, territorial integrity, and regional safety.

The Council calls on Iraq to co-operate in seeking a... definitive solution to the issue of the Kuwaiti prisoners and detainees and returning [Kuwaiti] properties.

The Council also calls on Kuwait to co-operate with what Iraq offers with respect to its nationals who are reported as missing through the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The Council welcomes the resumption of the dialogue between Iraq and the United Nations....

The Council calls for lifting the sanctions on Iraq and ending the tribulation of the fraternal Iraqi people....

The Council rejects threats of aggression against some Arab states, particularly Iraq, and reiterates categorical rejection of attacking Iraq.

The Council denounces international terrorism, including the terrorist attack on the United States on 11 September 2001, as well as the Israeli Government's exploitation of this attack.

The Council emphasises the distinction between international terrorism and the peoples' legitimate right to resist foreign occupation, and stresses the need to reach an international agreement within the framework of the United Nations.

Article Index

Who Put Gen. Idi Amin in Power?

The following extract is from an article published by The Monitor (Uganda) on March 31, 2002

There has long been suspicion that Britain organised the 1971 coup in Uganda which brought Idi Amin to power. Recently released Foreign Office papers show that the Israelis were more likely to have been the culprits. But Britain and Israel rushed to help Amin and sold him weapons.

In early January 1971 a plot is being hatched in Uganda that will unleash a terror that has become a byword for evil in Africa. General Idi Amin is about to become the military dictator of Uganda, throwing out President Milton Obote. Amin and Obote have been at daggers drawn for months. Obote has demoted his chief of staff, and is now preparing to have him arrested, possibly murdered.

As the crisis mounts, the Foreign Office in London and its representative in Kampala are engaged in another serious matter. One of Obote's ministers has said in a speech that during colonial rule the British had punished Obote's grandfather by hanging him up by the hair for several hours. The High Commission in Kampala want to know if this could be true and ask the Foreign office in London if there is any evidence. The chaps in the Foreign Office in London, languid, patronising, wonder if you can hang someone up by "woolly African hair". "I suppose it is just possible that unorthodox punishment might have been meted out to him I will bear the story in mind when I speak to my Langi historian friend at Oxford", writes the Uganda desk officer on Jan. 5.

In their cynical world-weary way they exchange messages on the subject until January 25th when the Foreign Office finally sends a note saying it can find no evidence for the allegation. Someone has scribbled in the margin that it all seems a bit irrelevant now. Obote was overthrown that morning.

Obote had gone to Singapore attending a summit of Commonwealth leaders. The Ugandan president was no friend of the British. He bitterly criticised British arms sales to South Africa and he had nationalised British companies in Uganda worth millions of pounds. He was expected to give Ted Edward Heath, the British Prime Minister, a hard time at the Commonwealth meeting.

There has long been a suggestion that the British government engineered the coup. If true, the plotters certainly did not tell the Foreign Office. Richard Slater, the High Commissioner in Kampala, was caught completely unawares.

His early telegrams suggest bewilderment. But he immediately goes to the embassy that he believes to be close to Amin, the Israeli. He is right. Colonel Bar Lev, the Israeli military attaché, has already met Amin on the day of the coup and has been out on the streets of Kampala. Officially the First Secretary at the Embassy, Bar Lev has been in Uganda for five years and has recently been responsible for setting up a paramilitary police force and training the army and police.

All the British High Commission telegrams immediately after the coup quote Colonel Bar Lev. He says that Amin had all pro Obote officers in the army arrested because Obote was going to have Amin arrested on his return from Singapore. Bar Lev discounts any possibility of any moves against Amin by army units up country. "It appears that Amin is now firmly in control of all elements of army (sic) which controls vital points."

London is excited. "There is a good deal of interest here and we are receiving a number of enquiries," writes Sir Alex Douglas-Home, the Foreign Secretary.

By the end of the first day the Foreign Office is already considering recognising Amin's rule. But in Tanzania, President Julius Nyerere is already accusing Britain of organising the coup and the British are afraid of being too close to Amin too soon. They decide not to lead the way in recognition but be close behind others that do. After a few days they persuade Kenya to lead the way in recognising the new regime.

The day after the coup, Slater says he has been to talk to Colonel Bar Lev who has just been talking to Amin again. "He made it clear at once that (Amin) wanted me to be made aware of his intentions" says Slater. Amin, Bar Lev tells him, wants to hold elections and restore multi party democracy to Uganda within three or five months. Bar Lev also lists the advice he is giving to Amin. In London the Foreign Office concludes: "We now have a thoroughly pro-Western set up in Uganda of which we should take prompt advantage. Amin needs our help."

Britain let Israel or rather Colonel Bar Lev take the lead and avoid being seen as too close to the Israelis in Uganda while increasing contact in Tel Aviv. Bar Lev informs the British that "all potential foci of resistance have been eliminated". A number of pro-Obote officers are shot but Bar Lev explains to the British that "Amin's plan" had been "to let Obote return and then shoot him at the airport, together with a number of those who had gone to meet him. This plan was abandoned because of the difficulty of synchronising it with the liquidation of pro-Obote elements in the army."

Bar Lev also says that the police chief, Erinayo Oryema, was being chased by Amin's troops and took refuge in Bar Lev's residence. The Israeli boasts that he persuaded Oryema to surrender and persuaded Amin to forgive him and include him in the new regime. (Oryema was later murdered by Amin in 1977 together with fellow minister Oboth Ofumbi and Anglican Archbishop Janan Luwum).

In London the British want to know why Uganda is so important to Israel. The High Commissioner spells it out: "The main Israeli objective here is to ensure that the rebellion in southern Sudan keeps on simmering for as long as conditions require the exploitation of any weakness in the Arab world. They do not want the rebels to win. They want them to keep on fighting."

Sudan supports the Palestinian cause against Israel and Israel is determined to make Sudan pay by providing arms and ammunition to the southern Sudanese rebellion. Uganda's co-operation is vital. Israel also wants Uganda's vote at the United Nations.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home, Britain's Foreign Secretary and chief advocate of arming apartheid South Africa, is keen for Britain to back the new government. When British intelligence reports that Obote has arrived in Khartoum on Jan. 29 and may try to re-enter Uganda from the northern border, the foreign secretary orders that a warning message be sent to Amin through the Kenyans.

Soon after a more sinister Briton turns up in Kampala. Bruce Mackenzie is a British intelligence officer resident in Kenya who was also a roving ambassador for President Jomo Kenyatta. It was also certainly Mackenzie who persuaded Kenya to recognise Amin, though Kenya's other neighbours; Somalia and Tanzania treat the coup as mutiny.

Mackenzie is a cantankerous former fighter pilot with a handlebar moustache and firm views about who is on "our side" and who is an enemy. He immediately urges London to back Amin, telling the Foreign Office to sell him armoured cars.

Two days later an internal Foreign Office assessment reads: "General Amin has certainly removed from the African scene one of our most implacable enemies in matters affecting Southern Africa Our prospects in Uganda have no doubt been considerably enhanced providing we take the opportunities open to us "

Amin is certainly making all the right noises for the British. He has said he will tell other African leaders not to criticise Rhodesia or South Africa, he will not nationalise British firms in Uganda and sees Britain as an ally that has done much for Uganda.

To pursue these "opportunities" an increasingly sceptical Slater is ordered "to get as close to Amin as you can and see whether you can develop a degree of familiarity which would enable you to feed a certain amount of advice."

But what are these opportunities? Britain sends out a Foreign Office minister, Lord Boyd, who meets Amin on April 3. Amin, he reports, wants a signed portrait of Queen Elizabeth and a royal visit as soon as possible. Amin tells Lord Boyd that he has written her Majesty "a very nice letter".

The British like this. Even more they like Amin's desire for guns. He wants to be able to hit Khartoum with bombers. The Israelis have already obliged by providing ten refurbished American-made Sherman tanks and lots of small arms. But Amin wants armoured cars and aircraft. He likes the new Harrier jump jet that Britain is developing and, incredibly, the British think of selling them as well as Phantoms and Jaguars, all of them heavyweight fighter bombers.

With a haste that upsets the Ministry of Defence, the Foreign Office brings over some senior officers to observe a display of British weaponry in action. From Kampala Slater's warnings to proceed cautiously are swept aside by the likes of Sir Alec Douglas-Home.

He writes: "The P(rime) M(inister) will be watching this and will, I am sure, want us to take quick advantage of any opportunity of selling arms. Don't overdo the caution."

But it transpires Amin is playing a double game. Slater's caution is proved right. Amin told the British how much he admired them and their weapons. He has told the Americans exactly the same thing. This worries Britain less than the possibility that he will approach the French with a similar request.

On March 3, Mackenzie urges Britain to supply them quickly. He says Amin is relying primarily on Israel, then on Britain and lastly on Kenya. He then flies off to Israel to see Prime Minister, Golda Meir and General Moshe Dayan. Seven years later Amin had Mackenzie murdered, placing a bomb on his plane as he left Uganda after a brief visit, ironically to try to sell Amin weapons.

In Kampala Slater seems to give up. He even begins to warm to Amin, noting his popularity and his clownishness. "He has the wherewithal to provide a satisfactory administration and has shown great qualities of leadership and a marked flair for PR..." though he admits he is "Large, ungainly, inarticulate and prone to gout He has earned a great deal of popularity by mixing freely driving his own jeep, ignoring security precautions. I believe him sincere in his wish to hold elections." Slater concludes that there is no alternative. "I had reached the end of the road with Obote", he writes.

Yet his caution about Amin had been right. Amin's love affair with Britain and Israel lasted just over a year. Israel overplayed its hand in helping to put Amin in power and thought he was their puppet. He resented that, especially when they demanded payment for the help they were giving Uganda.

Secondly in February 1972 peace was established in Sudan. An important reason for the Israelis to be in Uganda was removed. In the end neither Israel nor Britain would give Amin the weapons he wanted, though the Israelis did give him an executive jet.

Article Index

Letter to the Editor

On the Death of the Queen Mother

That the monarchy is an anachronism in a modern society is clearly reflected in the media coverage of the death of the Queen Mother; yet the coverage cannot but repeatedly dwell on her activities in the Second World War. Fifty later years of aristocratic self-indulgence and support for reaction do not seem to have extinguished the popularity stemming from her positive stand in that short period when the British state opposed tyranny and oppression rather than supporting it, as now. It is worth remembering that the death of George V coincided with it dawning on the British ruling circles that, because of the inevitable contradictions of capitalism, the Nazi Germany whose rise they had supported as a bulwark against and possible destroyer of the Soviet Union was now about to go to war with them. In such a situation they could not tolerate a new King who supported Hitler. Whatever their claims that Wallace Simpson being a divorced woman caused Edward VIII’s abdication, the more pressing fact was that she was an out-and-out fascist, linked to the most reactionary pro-Nazi US circles. Feckless, as claimed, or not, Edward VIII undoubtedly supported Hitler, as among many other things his journey to Berchesgarten to meet Hitler immediately on his abdication proved. Thus his painfully shy, unsuited, and serious-minded younger brother was thrust into his role as King over the anti-fascist period. Whatever his own views, George VI would seem to have carried out his duties as wartime Head of State with some dignity and certainly to his physical detriment. His wife would seem to have given him invaluable support in this. The anti-fascist war, the alliance of the bourgeois democracies with the great socialist bastion against Axis aggression, made some unlikely heroes. It made great statesmen of Roosevelt and Churchill, along with Stalin. Roosevelt was killed by it (some say for it). Churchill returned to reaction. The Queen Mother too, it would seem, rose to the occasion, and this has not been forgotten.

That the subsequent history revealed the weakness in the leadership of the anti-fascist movement of the people and of the workers' and communist movement which did nothing to bring into question a monarchy that could "look the East End in the face" is another issue. It too reveals the depth of the problem of dealing a blow to this "apex at the base" that on the one hand a government which in name represents the working people can be a fulsome supporter of this institution and its hereditary principle, while, according to an appreciation by the Queen Mother's titled confidants, when warned that the mayor of a French town in which she was about to sojourn was a communist replied, "But I love communists!"

East London Pensioner

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