By Yasmin Al Jeraisy
November 13, 2017
Colonel Richard Kemp spent most his 30-year career fighting terrorism and insurgency, commanding British troops on the front line of some of the world’s toughest hotspots, including Afghanistan, Iraq, the Balkans and Northern Ireland.
Most of the last five years of his career were spent in Downing Street, heading the international terrorism team at the Joint Intelligence Committee. He was also a member of Cobra, the government’s top-level crisis management committee. He Chaired the Cobra Intelligence Group, responsible for coordinating the work of the national intelligence agencies, including MI5 and MI6, during the July 2005 London bombings, the Madrid and Bali attacks.
In a wide-ranging interview, Colonel Kemp detailed the gravity of the threat Iran poses to international security. He appraised the commitment by Saudi Arabia to countering Iranian aggression in the region, arguing that condemnation of the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen is objectionable and unjustified.
He voiced support for Saudi Arabia and its allies in the dispute with Qatar and weighed in on the Muslim Brotherhood’s destabilizing influence in Britain and the Middle East. He assessed the far-reaching implications of Obama’s Middle East Policy and Trump’s moves to reverse what Obama instituted with regard to Iran. And he called upon British and European governments to legitimate more repressive measures in the face of increased terror threats.
“My experience with Saudi Arabia goes right the way back to 1977 when I first joined the army and trained at Sandhurst. We had Saudi Arabian army officers training with us and I have had contact with the Saudi military over the years since then,” said Col. Kemp.
“I see Iran as the greatest threat to world peace today. Not just to the Middle East, but elsewhere in the world. A lot of so-called experts and political leaders in this country and in the media down play Iran’s role in Yemen. There is absolutely no doubt that Iran is playing a critical role in the Yemen conflict providing very effective weaponry that wouldn’t otherwise be there and also providing advice, assistance, support, and direction to the Houthis. Some people may exaggerate that but the reality is that it is very significant. In many ways it is comparable to Iranian aggression against Israel using their Hezbollah proxies as they use the Houthi proxies in Yemen.”
“This aggression in Yemen should be stopped as part of confronting Iranian imperial aggression across the region. It is not just the legitimate government in Yemen that is being undermined by these people, but we should also take account of Saudi’s concerns on their border. We obviously have an interest in regional stability and the threat to Saudi Arabia. We shouldn’t simply allow terrorists directed by Iran or anyone else to take over a country.”
when asked about British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia recently signing a new Military and Security Cooperation Agreement Col.Kemp said the following:
“They can do more. Cooperation between Britain and Saudi is extremely important. We should be helping Saudi Arabia where we can with the problems that it has in dealing with extremism. And Saudi Arabia should do everything that it possibly can to help us as well.”
” We have similar interests. In my experience, there is a good intelligence relationship between Saudi Arabia and Britain. Saudi Arabia has provided intelligence to Britain to my personal knowledge which has helped to prevent terrorist attacks in this country and that is obviously an important aspect of it. Based on experience I have little doubt that when Saudi Arabia becomes aware of a threat to the UK or any UK interests anywhere in the world it will provide that intelligence to Britain.”
“Saudi Arabia has a track record of de-radicalization programs and I know that Britain has learnt from those programs and has had people go to visit the de-radicalization centers in Saudi Arabia. Beyond things like advising us, helping us, recommending measures, intelligence, it is hard to say what Saudi could realistically do. The kind of de-radicalization measures that Saudi takes are very difficult for us to do here because there is an Islamic government in Saudi attempting to deal with extremism among its own religion whereas here we don’t have an Islamic government and we lack the insight and the same kind of religious authority in addressing the problem. No matter how many advisers you get in from Muslim groups, there is that significant difference.”