The government of UK Prime Minister Theresa May has been caught selling used military aircraft to Bahrain and other countries it officially categorizes as human rights violators.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has sold at least two former Royal Air Force (RAF) C-130J Hercules transport aircraft from under a government-to-government deal worth up to £30 million, the i News reported Monday.
The aircraft, capable of tactical operations, parachute insertions and the air dropping cargo, are likely to be dispatched to Saudi Arabia as part of Bahrain’s contributions to the Riyadh regime’s brutal military aggression against Yemen.
“Bahrain has sent F-16 fighter jets to Saudi Arabia to support Yemen operations, so I think that’s how these C-130s will be used, as well as hunting safaris for the King,” an aviation source with knowledge of the sale told the British news outlet.
The MoD retired the aircraft after a major military and security review in 2015. The ones purchased by Bahrain are currently undergoing refurbishment by Marshall Aerospace Group at Cambridge airport, where the aircraft have been seen sporting the Bahrain air force’s camouflage.
'Intensifying human crises'
Andrew Smith, a spokesman for the Campaign Against Arms Trade, said the deal was an “unequivocal statement of political and military support for the Bahraini regime.”
“If these aircraft are used to aid the Saudi-led bombardment of Yemen then it can only intensify the humanitarian crisis,” he argued.
The UK has also been providing the Manama regime’s security forces with training and intelligence in its heavy-handed crackdown on a years-long popular uprising against the ruling Al Khalifah family.
Besides Bahrain, May’s government has inked major military deals with other repressive regimes in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia itself.
As one of the biggest suppliers of weapons to Riyadh over the past 40 years, London has provided Tornado and Eurofighter Typhoon jets along with training to Saudi pilots participating in the Yemen war, which has killed over 12,000 people.
London has been heavily criticized for striking government-to-government deals as a bid to hide the real amount of its weapons exports to other countries.
May has been touring the Middle East in hopes of striking new trade deals since last year, after British voters opted to end the country’s decades-long membership in the European Union.