Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Crowds gather in protest against ‘Muslim ban’ outside US Embassy in London

Thousands of people converged in London on Saturday for the latest Donald Trump protest. They gathered at outside the US Embassy before making their way down to Downing Street in protest at the immigration ban being imposed by President Donald Trump. It is the latest mass demonstration against the travel ban, which affects seven Muslim-majority countries in Africa and the Middle East. More than 11,000 people are estimated to have joined the demonstration outside the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square, Mayfair. The protest comes after airlines said they are allowing nationals targeted by the ban to board flights to America, after a US judge ruled the Executive Order, signed by Trump on January 27, was unconstitutional.


Newsline: Russian embassy uses alternate rhyme to criticise UK Prime Minister

Russia’s UK embassy criticised a speech by Theresa May about Vladimir Putin – through rhyming poetry. The embassy chided the Prime Minister after she called on US President Donald Trump to “beware of” the Russian leader. In a speech delivered on Thursday, Mrs May urged Mr Trump to engage with the Kremlin “from a position of strength.” Her comments appeared to have irked the London-based Russian embassy, who tweeted their response in the form of ABAB poetry. Russian Embassy, UK, wrote that they believed the Cold War to be “long dead.”


Newsline: Ex-British ambassador to Russia alerted US intel to Trump dossier

A former British ambassador to Russia played a major part in alerting U.S. intelligence agencies to the existence of an unverified dossier alleging that President-elect Donald Trump engaged in “perverted sex acts” at a ritzy Moscow hotel while colluding with the Kremlin, according to a report. Andrew Wood, who served as Britain’s head of mission in Moscow between 1995 and 2000, told The Independent that he met Arizona Sen. John McCain at an international security conference in Canada after Trump’s election this past November. The two spoke at length about a 35-page document that claimed Trump was being blackmailed by Russia over “perverted” sexual activity he engaged in during a visit to Moscow in 2013. The document, which cannot be corroborated by the Daily News, also claimed that Trump’s campaign cooperated with the Kremlin in its effort to sway the 2016 presidential election in his favor.


Newsline: Russian embassy warns Britain preparing ‘official’ anti-Moscow campaign

The Russian embassy in London says that the British authorities are looking to launch an official campaign against Moscow, based on what senior diplomats in Britain reportedly called a “concerted drive by Russia to undermine the UK.” The embassy posted a statement on its website apparently meant as a follow-up to an article published by the Sunday Times in mid-December. The newspaper reported Whitehall’s growing concerns over Russia, including a perceived cyber threat, an alleged increase in spying, and the deployment of “useful” MPs and “propaganda.” In its response, the Russian embassy voiced fears that the UK will attempt to use its influence to brief the incoming administration in the US against Moscow. “Judging by media reports… the British authorities are planning to emulate the Obama Administration and launch an official campaign to counter presumed ‘concerted drive by Russia to undermine the UK’… HMG [Her Majesty’s Government] is also widely suspected of and expected to brief the incoming US Administration against Russia,” the statement reads.


Newsline: Labour calls for investigation into ‘disturbing’ influence of Israeli embassy on British politics

The Labour Party has called for an investigation to be launched into the “extremely disturbing” influence of Israeli embassy officials in British politics. It follows an undercover sting that caught Shai Masot, a senior political officer at the Israeli embassy in London, speaking on camera about plotting to “take down” pro-Palestinian ministers. The Al Jazeera investigation also revealed how the Israeli embassy had funded parliamentary groups such as the Labour Friends of Israel, in addition to student organisations, to shape British politics with a pro-Israel bias. In light of the revelations, Labour’s Shadow Foreign SecretaryLabour calls for investigation into ‘disturbing’ influence of Israeli embassy on British politics Emily Thornberry has written to Crispin Blunt, chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, requesting an investigation. “The exposure of the Israeli embassy official, Shai Masot, discussing how to bring down or discredit a government minister and other MPs because of their views on the Middle East is extremely disturbing,” Thornberry said. “Improper interference in our democratic politics by other states is unacceptable whichever country is involved. Israel’s influence on British politics was uncovered by Al Jazeera’s investigative unit, who are releasing their findings in four parts.


Newsline: Israeli embassy official resigns amid UK scandal

An Israeli embassy official who was caught on camera talking about “taking down” British MPs who are critical of the State of Israel has resigned from the Israeli Ministry for Strategic Affairs. Shai Masot, who serves as a senior political officer at the Israeli embassy in London, was recorded by an undercover reporter from the Al Jazeera network as he was speaking about a number of British MPs, including British Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan. Israel’s Ambassador to Britain, Mark Regev, apologized following the incident. Britain decided not to pursue any diplomatic action against the Israeli embassy. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson explained the decision by saying: “The Israeli ambassador made a very full apology for what had taken place and the diplomat in question seems no longer to be a functionary of the embassy in London – so whatever he may exactly have been doing here his cover may well be said to have been and well truly blown – so the matter can be considered closed.” Embassy officials said that Shai Masot would have no further contact with the Ministry for Strategic Affairs in Israel.


Newsline: Russian Embassy, British Foreign Office Trade Accusations of Plots

The Russian Embassy in London has issued a statement accusing British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and the rest of the Foreign Office of preparing a “witch-hunt against Moscow” as part of growing allegations across Western Europe and North America that Russia is trying to undermine their elections, and is driving populism. The Russian statement itself followed comments from Johnson, who claimed that Russia “has been up to all sorts of tricks.” Johnson also told the House of Commons that “it is clear they are up to no good” and blamed them for hacking in the US election. Ironically, the narrative surrounding Russia’s “fueling populism” worldwide also blames Russia for the Brexit campaign, which Boris Johnson himself was a major leader in. Despite this, Johnson appears more than willing to accept the anti-Russia story as “clear.” Johnson did, however, insisted it would be “folly” to continue to try to demonize Russia in respect to international policies.