An investigative journalism website has revealed that the former United Nations special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, is linked to the British spy agency MI6 through the private conflict resolution company Inter Mediate.
According to the Declassified UK report, the British diplomat, who currently serves as the UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, is both a co-founder and an adviser to the firm, which also has ties to the Foreign Office and is known to have among its trustees and advisers a range of former British military and diplomatic figures.
It is proclaimed that Inter Mediate “focuses on the most difficult, complex and dangerous conflicts where other organizations are unable to operate” and “brings together some of the world’s leading experts on dialogue and negotiation.”
The company was established in 2011 by Griffiths and Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair’s former chief of staff. Powell has been Inter Mediate’s chief executive since its founding.
Powell and Inter Mediate have run numerous projects funded by the Foreign Office in countries such as Burma, Libya and North Korea.
Declassified discovered 23 payments made by the Foreign Office to the company from 2013 to 2020.
The Foreign Office told Declassified it “provided just over £4 million ($4.86 million) to Inter Mediate between 2011-2020 to support work towards resolving international conflicts.”
Inter Mediate, according to its chief executive, launched “starting work” in Yemen and Syria six years before Griffiths became UN envoy to Yemen. At the time, the British diplomat was serving as a senior UN adviser on Syria.
Powell has been described by the specialist media organization, Intelligence Online, as the Foreign Office’s “private partner.”
Close to MI6
In an email disclosed by the US government, Powell wrote that Inter Mediate is close to MI6.
He told a senior aide to Hillary Clinton, then the US secretary of state, in March 2012 that “we work closely with FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office), NSC (National Security Council) and SIS (Secret Intelligence Service) in London.”
The UK’s National Security Council is the main government body for discussing British security objectives and is chaired by the prime minister.
Griffiths’s links to MI6 raise questions about the supposed impartiality of the UN special envoy’s role in war-torn Yemen.
Additionally, Declassified has found that in 2019, “at least five British special forces commandos had been wounded in gun battles as part of a top-secret UK military campaign in Yemen.”
The men, from the Special Boat Service (SBS), received the injuries from battles in Sa’ada area of northern Yemen, where “up to 30 crack British troops are based.”
The operations of UK special forces are opaque, but it is known that MI6 works closely with the SBS and the army’s equivalent, the Special Air Service (SAS).
Declassified also revealed in 2021 that Britain had a secret detachment of up to 30 troops at al-Ghaydah airport in Yemen’s eastern province of al-Mahrah, where they were training Saudi forces.
Saudi Arabia, in collaboration with its Arab allies and with arms and logistics support from the US and other Western states, launched the devastating war on Yemen in March 2015.
The objective was to crush the popular Ansarullah resistance movement, which has been running state affairs in the absence of a functional government in Yemen, and reinstall the Riyadh-friendly regime of Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.
While the Saudi-led coalition has failed to achieve any of its objectives, the war has killed hundreds of thousands of Yemenis and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.