Alwaght- The Israeli regime’s violent repression of the Palestinian protests over the past few weeks may not have drawn practical reactions from a majority of the Western governments, but it was also too heinous to be given a blind eye by the global public, the pro-rights organizations, and also the Western media outlets. The displaced Palestinians were protesting as part of “Great March of Return”, calling for restoration of their right to return home. But the Israeli iron fist left so far 123 of them dead and 13,000 injured.
Citing a statistical report by the London-based NGO Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), the Guardian, maintained on Sunday that the British defense contractors sold unprecedented amounts of weapons to Tel Aviv in recent years. The figures suggest that in 2017 the government issued licenses for £222 million ($294.8 million) worth of weapons exported to the Israeli army, making the Israeli regime the eighth biggest market for the British-made arms. The NGO said that the 2017 sales were way larger than the year before which it reported were £86 million ($114 million), adding that the 2016 sales were also a big growth compared to £20 million ($26 million) in 2015.
London has been increasingly under fire from the human rights organizations over the past year for selling weapons to the repressive regimes. A CAAT report in March 2018 made it clear that Britain issued licenses secretly to make sure that the arms shipped to the regimes with a black record of abuses against human rights in West Asia region will remain hidden.
During the trip to London of Mohammad bin Salman, the highly controversial and warlike Saudi crown prince, in March, Britain signed £10 billion (nearly $14 billion) worth of Typhoon fighter jets with the Arab kingdom. During the prince’s stay in London, protests were held in opposition to his invitation and sealing the military sales deal. According to the agreement, Britain will deliver to Saudi Arabia some 48 multi-purpose Eurofighter Typhoon jets, manufactured by BAE Systems.
A recent leaked report has revealed that some 7,000 British defense industry personnel are involved in Saudi Arabia’s aggression on Yemen which has resulted in unprecedented war crimes and atrocities.
The London backing to the anti-Yemeni campaign, now in its fourth years, comes while the pro-rights groups, on top of them the Amnesty International, accuse the Saudi-led Arab military coalition of war crimes for their violation of war principles and indiscriminate attacks whose major victims are the women and children. In October 2017, the UN blacklisted Saudi Arabia as a children rights violator for its slaughter of defenseless Yemen children. The UN shortly after withdrew its labeling, after Riyadh put strains and threatened to cut its funding for the international body.
Brexit, economic hardship, and military sales
After the EU exit referendum, held on June 23, 2016, the government of Prime Minister Theresa May has gone through a period of highly challenging economic difficulties.
Being a member of the European Union is supportive to the businesses in Britain. But the exit from the European bloc, dubbed Brexit, will bring damages to the production sector and destroys hundreds of thousands of jobs in the country. Since the plebiscite result came out, the government has been involved in intensive talks with the EU to secure a smooth withdrawal from the 28-member club to minimize the detrimental impacts on the mutual companies. But as of now, it has failed to reach acceptable results.
In February, The Independent newspaper published a report of revealed findings of a Britain cabinet’s research which proves risks to the national economy once the Brexit process is complete. According to the report, if the government leaves the EU without a certain agreement with the Union, the national economy will suffer some £252 billion ($334.6 billion) damages. Further figures suggest in case of leaving with disarmament, the British GDP in the next 15 years will totally shrink by over £3 trillion ($4 trillion). More findings maintain that even in case of reaching a withdrawal deal with the European bloc, the nation’s GDP in next 15 years will be £131 billion ($174) less than expectations.
According to the latest figures by Britain’s Office for National Statistics, Britain’s slowdown has been confirmed, with new GDP figures showing the economy only expanded by 0.1 in the first three months of 2018, compared to the 0.4 percent of the last quarter of 2017.
Therefore, this conundrum has strongly emboldened the British authorities to seek new strategic trade footholds in other countries after Brexit. West Asia, a region of oil wealthy states which is a permanent and attractive market for the global military manufacturing brands, falls to the center of focus of the London leaders. Once free from the impeding laws of the EU which restrict arms sales to the human rights-abusing states, Britain can have a bigger share in the largely-lucrative weapons market of the region.
Addressing the world’s largest arms fair in London, Defense and Security Equipment International (DESI) in mid-September 2017, Britain’s Secretary of State for Defense Michael Fallon outlined his vision for his country to take a bigger share of the international defense market and claimed demand was going “through the roof” because of increasing war and terror.
“As we look to live post-Brexit and spread our wings further across the world, it’s high time we do more to compete for a share of this international export market,” the defense secretary was quoted as saying to the audience. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, and Bahrain, which major arms purchasers and engaged in the war against Yemen, were invited to the annual fair.
The record of London arms sales to the most heinous human rights violators and war criminals like Riyadh and Tel Aviv very well reveals how sham the British intervention is in other states under the guise of human rights drives, such as the missile strikes in Syria under the excuse of use of chemical weapons. This gives a very dangerous conclusion: London does not hesitate to sell arms to regimes with a record of barbarous crimes against the humanity if this secures its interests.