Friday Oct 28, 201101:01 PM GMT
UK arms sales to despots enjoy rise
Mon Aug 29, 2011 3:9PM
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Britain has increased by about 30 percent its weapons exports to the Middle East and North African regions, where a wave of Islamic Awakening is challenging totalitarian regimes.


A new inquiry found that the UK has exported arms worth at least £30.5 million to various countries, including Bahrain and Saudi Arabia between February and June this year, as compared to £22million in the same period of 2010, The Times newspaper reported.

According to the report, arms exports to countries, where human rights records are deteriorating, have spiked by one third at the same time when the rulers of these countries are brutally repressing their own people.

The arms exports included weapons used for internal repression, such as small arms ammunition, rifles and sub-machine guns, the report said.

This was despite the Foreign Office promising in February an "immediate and rapid" review of all military exports to the region.

Shortly before the UN Security Council imposed an embargo on weapon supplies to Libya in February this year, Britain provided the Libyan regime with ammunition worth a total of £64,000, the report added.

Meanwhile, the UK weapons manufacturers continued selling weapons to Yemen, Bahrain and Egypt during the period from February to April. The Bahraini regime received the British-made weapons in April, several weeks after its troops violently broke up a pro-democracy rally in Manama's Pearl Square.

The revelations add to the UK government's double standard policy as it has been harshly denouncing Bahraini regime of al-Khalifa for gunning down pro-democracy activists in the country, and at the same time selling them weapons, which its regime used to suppress dissent.

It is also difficult to assume that the British authorities were unaware of weapon supplies to the troubled countries of the Middle East and North Africa, given that the country's license to sell arms is under strict control of the government.

British laws accurately outline that the license should not be issued if weapons sold may be used for internal repressions, attacks against other countries, as well as heating up or extending armed conflicts.

Meanwhile, the UK's largest peace campaign group, Stop the War Coalition (STWC) has said in a report that Britain is one of the prominent “gunrunners” to the world's most oppressive and corrupt regimes.

“Britain is one of the world´s biggest arms traders, with a long history of arming the most oppressive regimes, like Libya, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, who we can assume used UK arms in putting down Arab Spring rebellions,” STWC said.

“Out of the 26 countries that the UK has highlighted as being 'countries of concern´ on human rights, we sell arms to 16 of them,” it said.

MOL/PKH/HE
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