Arming democracy’s opponents

The Daily Telegraph reports:

Facing budget cuts at home, western arms firms are desperate for a share of the lucrative Middle East market. “The post-financial crisis reality,” said Herve Guillou, president of Cassidian Systems, a subsidiary of European aviation defence group EADS, “is that today it is clearly the Middle East that is seeing the biggest growth.” Iran’s growing military power has pushed Gulf states into their largest-ever military build up, making purchases worth £76 billion from the US alone in 2010. The largest acquisitions were made by Saudi Arabia, which is spending £41 billion on F-15 fighter jets and upgrades for its naval fleet.

The six Gulf Cooperation Council countries – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait – along with Jordan will spend another £41 billion on defence in 2011, according to Frost and Sullivan, a research firm.

Libya and Egypt are among the states which have representatives at IDEX [the International Defence Exhibition and Conference in Abu Dhabi]. Global Industrial and Defence Solutions, a Pakistani exhibitor, lists Libya as being among the “key customers of our products.” Renault also issued a press release before the exhibition, saying it had contracted to supply military trucks to Egypt. Libya’s al-Musallah magazine, which covers arms-trade related issues in the country, is also among the exhibitors.

Simon Jenkins writes:

I must be missing something. The present British government, like its predecessor, claims to pursue a policy of “liberal interventionism”, seeking the downfall of undemocratic regimes round the globe, notably in the Muslim world. The same British government, again like its predecessor, sends these undemocratic regimes copious weapons to suppress the only plausible means of the said downfall, popular insurrection. The contradiction is glaring.

Downing Street is clearly embarrassed by Egypt, Bahrain and Libya having had the impertinence to rebel just as David Cameron was embarking on an important arms-sales trip to the Gulf, not an area much addicted to democracy. Fifty British arms makers were present at last year’s sickening Libyan arms fair, while the resulting weapons are reportedly prominent in gunning down this week’s rioters. Cameron reads from the Foreign Office script, claiming that all guns, tanks, armoured vehicles, stun grenades, tear gas and riot-control equipment are “covered by assurances that they would not be used in human rights repression”. He must know this is absurd.

What did the FO think Colonel Gaddafi meant to do with sniper rifles and tear-gas grenades – go mole hunting? Britain has tried to cover its publicity flank by “revoking 52 export licences” to Bahrain and Libya for weapons used against demonstrators, in effect admitting its guilt. This merely locks the moral stable after the horse has fled, while also being a poor advertisement for British after-sales service. What is the point of selling someone a gun and telling him not to use it?

Gaddafi turns US and British guns on his own people

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2 thoughts on “Arming democracy’s opponents

  1. Christopher Hoare

    The merchants of death need to pay for their evil trade. How about taking the weapons sellers to court to claim reparations for all the families who have lost loved ones in the vicious attacks on the demonstrators?

  2. Norman

    Now that is a novel idea, Mr. Hoare. Of course, under the present scheme of things, it will be a non-starter. That the war machine is trying to continue selling their wares, says a lot about where the Western mindset is. Because at the present time, there doesn’t seem to be any one leadership outside of the Military establishment, It would seem that no further sales can be conducted. Of course, I’m sure that there are ways around and obstacle, but then, there is the payment of such. Time will tell how this will play out, hopefully, the revolutions will have been true in that the old regimes don’t reappear in another guise. For all the planning that has gone into these change overs, I’m sure the economy’s have been thought out too.

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