Arming the Middle East and North Africa

While US President Obama and British Prime Minister Cameron talk of a ‘free democratic and prosperous’ Libya and say that they are promoting democracy throughout the region, the US and British governments are arming dictatorial regimes to save these regimes from the masses.

World military expenditure in 2000 was $810 billion. In 2006 it had reached $1.2 trillion and in 2010 it was $1.63 trillion; that is double the 2000 figure. The US accounts for 43% of world military spending, an 81% increase on 2001, and its defence budget is ten times that of its nearest rival China. The profits of the US arms companies have quadrupled in the past decade. BAE Systems UK had the second largest arms sales of any company in the world in 2009. If we combine BAE Systems UK with its operations in the US and Australia then it had the largest arms sales in 2009 by far. Eleven out of the top 100 arms companies are based in Britain. According to the Ministry of Defence the UK security sector has 18,000 companies and employs 335,000 people.

World arms sales have risen by 59% since 2002. The Middle East purchased $111 billion of weapons in 2010; Saudi Arabia was the biggest of the buyers. In early May 2011 there were non-violent protests held at night in Saudi Arabia. Within days the US government said that Saudi security forces would receive $330 million worth of night vision and thermal-imaging equipment. Six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) are to spend $70 billion on US weapons this year, rising to $80 billion per year by 2015. Britain is second only to the US as an arms supplier to the Middle East. British arms sales to the Middle East and North Africa have risen 30% since the Arab Spring began in January 2011.

This is the reality behind the window dressing about democracy; imperialism prepared to fight to the death, use torture and wage war, to keep control of the Middle East and North Africa.

Trevor Rayne

FRFI 223 October/November 2011


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