Malaysia, ASEAN must guard against foreign intervention: PM

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad blamed the ‘merchants of death’ US, UK and France for abetting the years-long Yemeni civil war. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana

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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 23, 2019, MalayMail. Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad warned Malaysia and its neighbours to be vigilant against the West’s meddling, saying this could plunge the region into the instability now sweeping the Middle East, reported the MalayMail.

In a speech delivered on his behalf by Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah at the “Stand with Yemen” symposium here today, the prime minister blamed the “merchants of death” US, UK and France for abetting the years-long Yemeni civil war.

Accusing them of hypocrisy with their talk of human rights, he said no country that profited through the supply of weapons to a conflict-torn region was fit to preach about such issues.

Dr Mahathir saw the proxy battles and interference in the Middle East as a reminder of why Malaysia and Asean must safeguard themselves from similar attempts to influence policies and decisions here.

“We are already beginning to see the seeds of confrontation and rivalry in our region. Lines are being drawn. Bases are being built. Armadas are being readied. The pressure is on to take sides.

“If we are not careful, the same fate that has befallen the Middle East can overtake us as well with the same predictable consequences: we will be forced to buy ever-increasing amounts of weapons from the big powers so that we can fight each other,” he said.

Such an outcome would impoverish the region while enriching the countries that ply in neocolonialism, he added.

He urged Asean members to hold firm to the pact’s tenet of neutrality and to make this clear to countries such as the US and China that are vying for influence in the region.

While Asean welcomed trade and interconnectivity, it will not join in the proxy conflicts waged by the world’s superpowers, the PM added.

Dr Mahathir also exhorted nations to pursue the unity he said was a pillar for each country’s security, going on to criticise Muslim nations for having “no shame” in supporting Israel that he asserted was engineering their destruction.

“Is our hatred of fellow Muslims so complete that we are willing to align ourselves with those who plunder our lands and murder our people just to punish a brother nation?”

A civil war between rival Shia and Sunni factions (which is backed by a Saudi-led coalition assisted the US, UK, and France, among others) has wracked Yemen since 2015.

The conflict has left over eight million people at risk of death by starvation and another 23 million in dire need of humanitarian assistance due to the total collapse of Yemen’s health infrastructure.

Malaysia had been involved in the conflict when the previous Barisan Nasional government deployed armed forces personnel there as part of the “Ops Yemen” series.

The 12 missions had Malaysian servicemen transporting military equipment, bullets and explosives for the Arab Alliance, although Malaysia does not have any military agreement with Saudi Arabia to place its troops there.

This is now under investigation as the operations were allegedly executed without formal endorsements from the National Security Council (NSC) or the previous Cabinet.

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