News / Europe

British Security Sales to Mideast Under Scrutiny

Bahraini protester runs away after riot police fired tear gas at protesters at the Pearl roundabout soon after the military pulled out in Manama, Bahrain, February 19, 2011 (file photo)
Bahraini protester runs away after riot police fired tear gas at protesters at the Pearl roundabout soon after the military pulled out in Manama, Bahrain, February 19, 2011 (file photo)

Multimedia

Audio

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron says he would like to see a United Nations resolution condemning Libya's use of force against anti-government protesters.  He was speaking in Qatar during a tour of Gulf Arab states.  Back in Britain, controversy has arisen over his country's sale of arms to what critics call repressive governments.

Speaking in Qatar, Mr. Cameron described the force used by the Libyan government to crack down on its opponents as "appalling."

On Tuesday, the United Nations Security Council issued a statement condemning the use of force against civilians in Libya.  

Cameron said more should be done.

"Would I like us to go further and have a full United Nations Security Council resolution? Yes, I would, I think that would be good," said Cameron.

Mr. Cameron is in the Gulf along with a team of senior defense manufacturers.

The 10th International Defense Exhibition, or IDEX, is taking place in Abu Dhabi with more than 1,000 companies showing their military equipment and services.

Among them are a number of major British companies.

Wyn Rees is an international security expert at Britain's Durham University. He says Britain's defense manufacturers are some of the top globally and are keen to make sales.

"We're currently in times of financial austerity and arms companies earn this country large overseas balance of payments, so with the amount of money we spend domestically on defense squeezed very hard, there's going to be continued pressure from big defense manufacturers to continue selling items of equipment, the argument being you can only develop these sorts of high ticket price items domestically if you have also got overseas markets in which to sell them to," said Rees.

But in Britain, critics say the British government is hypocritical for arming those same governments it criticizes.

Britain has this week revoked licenses for arms sales to Libya and Bahrain after fears surfaced that British tear gas or riot equipment may have been used against political demonstrators.

It has also emerged that security forces from Libya and Bahrain have been trained in the United Kingdom.

Keith Hartley is from the Centre for Defense Economics at Britain's University of York.

He says the Gulf Arab states need international arms to defend themselves.

"They live in an uncertain world," said Hartley.  "They are surrounded quite often by some neighboring states that they regard as potential enemies and rivals. You simply have to mention Iran for example, others feel a threat from Israel. So it's not surprising that they are reasonably heavily armed."

He says the United Nations would need to play a stronger role if those countries were not to be armed.

"It would be a far better world if we had an effective United Nations that could in actual fact introduce, police and enforce peace in the Middle East and elsewhere and enforce it by having the equivalent of a world military force - but that doesn't exist, and I think we're a long way from it," added Hartley.

Britain has licensed hundreds of cartridges of tear gas and other riot equipment for sale to Bahrain within the past nine months.

You May Like

South Korea Divided on Response to North’s Cyber Attack

In past five years, officials in Seoul have accused Pyongyang of hacking into banks, government websites, causing chaos and inflicting millions of dollars in damages More

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Bentiu

Residents have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy, but planning for the future remains uncertain as fear of attacks looms More

2015 Could Be Watershed for Syria Conflict

Republican control of US Senate in January could lead to more aggressive policy against IS militants in Syria - and against regime of Bashar al-Assad More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jane Monheit Christmas Speciali
X
December 22, 2014 8:15 PM
Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Trade Talks Could Heat Up in 2015

With boosting trade a top priority for the Obama administration, 2015 may be the year that an agreement is finally reached on the Trans Pacific Partnership. But the trade deal, which is intended to boost trade between 12 Pacific countries, faces opposition as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school

All About America

AppleAndroid