Qatar Newspaper: Will the West Please Stop Financing Arab Tyranny
Western weapons have been killing people all over the Middle East, a Qatar newspaper reported.
Gregg Carlstrom and Evan Hill pointed out that in the five years leading up to the Arab Spring, more than $2 billion worth of tanks, guns, tear gas, and other weaponry were sold to Arab nations by Western countries. The recipients of these weapons include Egypt, Libya, Syria, Bahrain, and Yemen.
Weapons sold by Western arms manufacturers allowed dictatorial regimes to murder their own citizens.
The article, published at Aljazeera.com, points out that in the past five years the United States alone sold or gave more than $1 billion worth to weapons to Egypt alone. Italy, France, and the U.K. in turn gave weapons to Libya and Syria.
One would have thought that the genocides in Libya and Syria would have taught the West a lesson. Not so. Last autumn the United States was considering selling Bahrain more than $50 million worth of Humvees and missiles, despite the violence occurring in the country.
Although America’s arms sale to Bahrain was opposed by Congress, the Obama administration took advantage of a legal loophole last month which allowed them to bypass congressional approval and push forward a separate deal. This happened even as the Bahrain government was conducting a nearly year-long crackdown against protesters, in addition to taking steps to block American NGOs from operating in the island kingdom.
“As long as billions of dollars in profit remain available,” wrote Carlstrom and Hill. “many countries seem eager to put memories of the Arab Spring behind them.”
Drawing on data gathered by the human rights organization Amnesty International, Carlstrom and Hill pointed out that
in the five years preceding the Arab Spring, a host of at least 20 governments – including Italy, the United Kingdom, France, Serbia, Switzerland and South Korea – sold more than $2.4 billion worth of small arms, tear gas, armoured vehicles and other security equipment to the the five countries that have faced – and violently combated – popular uprisings: Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Yemen.
The United States has far outpaced all other countries in arms exports to the five countries mentioned in the report, approving sales worth roughly $1.1 billion between 2005 and 2010, all but $100 million of which went to Egypt. Italy sold $554 million in arms, mostly to Libya, followed by $145 million from Germany and $111 million from Serbia. …
British-made mortar rounds and assaults rifles and ammunition from Russia and North Korea have also been seen by Al Jazeera journalists at the site of battles in Libya….
The British government initially took a principled stand on arms sales to Libya: In 2006, the UK refused to licence several deals, citing a European Union regulation which requires states not to sell weapons “if there is a clear risk that the proposed export might be used for internal repression”.
But by 2008, British companies were allowed to sell more than $8.65 million worth of armoured vehicles to Libya; the following year, the government approved sales of tear gas and other equipment which Amnesty points out could clearly be used for “internal repression”.