Typhoon Jets sale to Oman symptom of ballooning arms sales to repressive regimes

The Oman government is getting a sweetener of a £2 billion guaranteed (by our tax money) loan to buy a fleet of Typhoon fighter jets. Campaign Against the Arms Trade points out that arms sales have risen from 1% to 47% of export credits recently. According to the UK Trade & Investment's Defence and Security Organisation arms exports rose by 62% last year. The government is negotiating similar deals with Saudi Arabia (72 Typhoons) and the United Arab Emirates (60 Typhoons) according to the Guardian newspaper.

Shoring up repression / Flooding Middle East with arms

By pursuing these deals aggressively the goverment is shoring up authoritarian regimes actively engaged in trying to suppress the popular unrest of the 'Arab Spring' and flooding an unstable and conflict-ridden area of the world with powerful weapons.

Strange Priorities

Such generous funding of the Arms Trade contrasts strangely with austerity and cuts at home. Private Eye contrasts the 2 billion Oman loan with the 10 million Osborne has made available for recently injured servicemen.

Nuclear Deployment

The US governement is planning to deploy a new generation of "substrategic" or "tactical" nuclear weapons in Europe and it is expected that Russia will reciprocate. The Parliamentary Committees on Arms Export Controls has asked the Foreign Office for its views on the effect of this on the planned reductions in NATO's short range nuclear arsenal.

UK criteria for arms exports - are they merely optional?

Do UK officials have to stick to the much vaunted consolidated criteria for arms exports? In a recent public meeting Vince Cable defended his licensing of arms exports by drawing attention to the rigorous criteria for issuing licences. However the Parliamentary Committees on Arms Exports Controls complains that officials are advised only to 'consult the criteria' and asks that this be changed to "strictly adhere to the criteria".

Recent European arms sales to Libya

According to the official journal of the European Union, Europa, total arms sales to Libya increased from approximately 250 million euros in 2008 to 340 million in 2009, a rise of almost 40%. Italy was the biggest exporter, its largest success being the sale of military aircraft (107 million). Strangely Malta provided most of the huge increase in small arms sales (80 million) but this was really an Italian company using a Maltese licence! The UK had led the way on small arms sales in 2008 (250,000). Germany and the UK were the main suppliers of electronic equipment in 2009, quite probably used to jam mobile phone networks etc.

Dangers of War in drift to the right

Trump, Farage, hard Brexit, the rise of the right in Europe, Putin all raise the spectre of war. The nationalistic, isolationist, "Put your country first" politics of instinct usually leads to protectionist economic policies on trade and jobs, which lead in turn to trade wars, which are all too often followed by actual wars, either wars to achieve trade advantage or wars to distract the populations' attention from economic decline. Trump has made it abundantly clear that he will follow this instinctive "My country first" politics and will be doing favours to no country. Theresa May has already threatened the EU with a trade war if she doesn't get what she wants. The negotiations over Brexit will almost certainly involve eonomic threats from both sides; we have to hope they are not carried out. The threats to the EU from all sides, not least from our leaving, may lead to its break-up, which would greatly increase the risk of trade wars and conflict, even in Europe.
Not many people in Europe, the UK or US have experienced either a Trade War or a fighting war. Those who have should be standing up and giving warning -this is not the way to go!

Cameron's Arms Sales Jaunt to Middle East

There is an occasional advantage in having rather old news items on the page - see Yemen item opposite. I cannot discover at the moment whether arms licenses to Yemen are among the 158 that have been revoked but it doesn't appear to be on Cameron's itinerary. However the old news highlights the possible grim results of supplying fighters to authoritarian regimes such as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Oman - let alone small arms and 'crowd control' weapons. The Committees on Arms Exports Controls has requested information and answers from the government on a wide range of issues including arms exports to "countries of concern" and revocation of licenses.

BAE looks to Middle East after merger collapses

10/11/12 Now the BAE/EADS merger has fallen through, BAE is looking to bolster sales in the Middle East - with the help no doubt of Cameron's sales trip. The merger was rather favourably reported by the BBC and others as BAE looking to turm more towards the civil aviation market but EADS was driven by worries over the civil air industry's future during economic downturn and increasing eco-regulation - hence the turn to the more reliable arms sector.

Planes supplied by Britain used against Yemen civilians by Saudi Arabia?

According to a report by Amnesty International on the repression of protest and dissent in southern Yemen, it seems very likely, though impossible to verify beyond all doubt, that British supplied fighter planes have been used against civilians in Yemen by the Saudi Arabian air force. The Amnesty report refers to evidence on the British supply of arms obtained by CAAT(Campaign Against the Arms Trade) under the Freedom of Information Act and to Associated Press reports of rocket attacks by Saudi planes in November last year.

Lockerbie bomber trade deal?

This August news item now confirmed by Wikileaks Cablegate document

According to commentators in the USA and the UK arms trade negotiataions between the UK and Libya intensified around the time of the release of 'the Lockerbie bomber' Al Megrahi from prison on 20th August last year. Representatives of the UKTI(United Kingdom Trade and Industry) met with someone from the Libyan army on 2nd August, the day before the Scottish Justice Secretary met Al Megrahi to discuss his request to be allowed home. A flurry of UKTI/Libyan defence/security meetings followed in August and October. The suspicion is that the Libyans made the release a precondition for any future arms deal.
Further details available from Guardian article on this.