Gaddafi was a “priority market” for the Government
Just before he gunned down his own people, the UK sold him wall and door breaching projectile launchers, crowd control ammunition, small arms ammunition, and tear gas. To put this equipment in the hands of an unreliable dictator like Gaddafi, well known for torture, murder and oppression, shows either extreme naivety or cynically putting private profits at home before human rights abroad.
The UK is still arming repression
A year after the UK was condemned for its arms sales to authoritarian regimes in the Middle East and North Africa the UK is still supplying weapons to dictators. According to the Guardian, the Bahrain Government has killed and injured democracy protesters using British weapons. Despite this, UKTI DSO continues vigorously promoting weapons to repressive regimes including Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia is one of the most “authoritarian regimes” in the world. In 2011, its crackdown on dissents intensified and its British made armoured vehicles were deployed to help suppress protests in Bahrain, but UK arms sales to the kingdom never even slowed.
The arms trade gets more support than any other industry
The Defence & Security Organisation (DSO) – within Vince Cable’s Department – has 180 staff dedicated to arms sales. This compares with just 142 staff for all non-arms sectors. 56% of staff resources are committed to arms sales despite arms being only 1.2% of total exports.
Developing countries’ resources are diverted from health by UK arms sales
Through the DSO Britain vigorously promotes weapons sales to developing countries. Several developing countries are priority markets including Nigeria, South Africa, Brazil and India. The massive 1998 South African arms deals for aircraft, helicopters, warships and submarines will cost the country over £8 billion. At the same time five and a half million South Africans living with HIV and AIDS were told the country couldn’t afford anti-retroviral medication.