TWO news stories I read over breakfast yesterday morning almost had me choking on my cornflakes. Both have international implications and one in particular is directly connected with Scotland.

The first, as reported here in The National, was that Prestwick airport has been mentioned in a “war crimes” report to the Metropolitan Police on the basis that the Scottish Government-owned airport played host to Israeli Air Force (IAF) planes which may have been transporting arms or other military supplies from the US to Israel via Scotland, on November 18 last year.

I stress “may” as no one it seems, be it a Prestwick airport spokesperson, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) or indeed a Scottish Government spokesperson, seems able to cast much light on the alleged goings on.

But as highlighted by my National colleague Hamish Morrison, on the face of it through publicly available fight data produced by the online investigative journalism site, Declassified UK, flight IAF680 left Prestwick on November 18 and landed in Beersheba, Israel, around five hours later.

Beersheba in the Negev desert is of course home to the IAF’s Nevatim Airbase and according to Declassified UK has been the “central node the US has used to deliver bombs and other weapons to Israel for its attack on Gaza”. It’s a process, says the investigative group, that has been going on since October last year.

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Obviously, the most worrying implication of this, as highlighted by Janet Fenton, secretary of CND Scotland, is that because the Scottish Government owns the airport it was potentially “aiding and abetting Israeli actions that constitute genocide in Gaza.”

But disconcerting as this, what also troubles me is that we have been here before with Prestwick. And before I go any further can I just acknowledge, as the Prestwick spokesperson was quick to point out, that the airport is a commercial organisation and “cannot comment on the details of specific customers’ aircraft movements.”

I get it too that “all aircraft landing at any aerodrome in the UK (including Prestwick) require to have Civil Aviation Authority permission to transit UK airspace or land in the UK”. But it’s worth remembering that this is not the first time Prestwick has been at the centre of such controversy. Not least given that way back in 2005, Amnesty International highlighted how CIA flights used the airport to refuel two flights in 2001 and 2002 that were transferring detainees to countries where they risked torture.

As information obtained and reported by Amnesty at the time showed, these flights were directly connected to known cases of rendition, that rather nefarious process of sending foreign criminal or terrorist suspects covertly to be “interrogated” in a country where the humane treatment of prisoners is shall we say, less of a concern.

The National:

My point here is not about the guilt or otherwise of the three men who were then part of that rendition process, although their eventual respective fates make for interesting if discomfiting reading. It’s that Prestwick wilfully or innocently served as what the highly respected international legal investigative organisation, Reprieve, called a crucial “staging point” in rendition circuits during that period of illegal transfer and torture of prisoners in the so-called “war on terror”.

As Reprieve’s own report entitled Scottish Involvement In Extraordinary Rendition highlighted at the time, and I quote: “These rendition missions simply could not have taken place had these planes not been granted refuelling rights in cooperating territories such as Scotland.

“This raises serious issues of criminal complicity in these acts by those who knew, or should have known, of the significance of these notorious jets refuelling on Scottish soil.”

Among the recommendations made in its report, Reprieve called on the Scottish authorities to demand a “full, frank and public disclosure from the Westminster government, aviation and any other relevant authorities or organisations, of the real number and purpose of flight circuits involving planes with tail-numbers associated with rendition operations, which transited Scotland.”

It also asked to “obtain from Westminster and all relevant authorities information regarding what agreements were made on behalf of Scotland in support of rendition flights”, and that “new legislation and procedures are developed in order to prevent Scotland’s further facilitation of rendition flights to torture” as well as ensuring that “full public and criminal investigations are launched into these matters”.

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And while Reprieve eventually welcomed the Scottish Parliament’s decision to fully investigate the alleged use of Scottish airports, here we are once again facing questions about Prestwick’s use in what many argue is a very politically controversial role.

So, I’m asking the Scottish Government the following questions: Can they come clean and let its citizens know whether arms did or did not transit through Prestwick to Israel and if they did was any objection raised?

Transparency has not been one of the Scottish Government’s strong suits of late so here’s a chance to make amends. And while yes, I’m sure there are other wider, complex, geopolitical factors at play here, please do not patronise me or my fellow Scots simply by kicking this into the long grass.

Which brings me to that other connected international story that had me gagging over breakfast on reading it in the papers yesterday – the news that Nicaragua is threatening to take the UK to the International Court of Justice over allegations that weapons they are providing Israel are being used in a genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.

Much as I have no truck with the supply of weapons to Israel, the idea that President Daniel Ortega’s Nicaragua should be dishing out threats over acceptable political behaviour is frankly both farcical and noisome.

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This comes from someone who as a young journalist cut their teeth reporting on the Sandinista revolution and overthrow of the dictator president Anastasio Somoza and Nicaragua’s long fight against the US-backed Contra rebels.

But fast forward more than 40 years and today it is the once heroic leader of that same revolution and now himself president, Ortega, who stands accused of brutality and gross human rights violations. Once respected and admired by those on the left in Scotland – including me – Ortega has become the very monster he once fought.

There is a moral in these two stories for all of us here in Scotland. The first is that the devil almost always lies in the detail when it comes to such dealings, reminding us that things are sometimes not as politically straightforward as they appear.

Above all though, they are stark reminders that until Scotland calls its own shots over its place in the world and how it responds to global events, we remain vulnerable and subject to the most unscrupulous manipulation of others.