Three Britons are jailed in Dubai for drugs offences using confessions that those found guilty claim were extracted by torture, the day before the UK hosts a state visit by Sheikh Khalifa, the UAE ruler, during which UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, hopes to land a £3 billion (US£ 4.65 billion) deal for 60 Eurofighter Typhoon jets.  Pressenza publishes here the latest statement by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, one of the 2012 right livelihood award winners.

UAE State visit continues arms sales drive to repressive Gulf regime

Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) has condemned the UK government’s arms export drive to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Data recently released shows that in 2012 the UK licensed weaponry worth £26.2 million to the authoritarian UAE despite their lack of human rights and democratic process. The new data comes on the eve of a state visit to the UK by the ruler of the UAE, Sheikh Khalifa, on 30 April-1 May.

The UK government and BAE Systems are currently promoting the sale of 60 Eurofighter Typhoon jets to the UAE, in a sale potentially worth over £3 billion, which would dwarf previous weapons deals. In November 2012 David Cameron visited the UAE and Saudi Arabia to promote the fighter jet. During his visit he joined senior UAE military and political figures inspecting Typhoons at Al Minhad airbase and attended a trade fair in Abu Dhabi, with exhibits by arms giants BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce.

Kaye Stearman from CAAT said:

The eagerness of the UK government to pursue arms sales with authoritarian regimes in the Middle East leads them to ignore human rights abuses. This is especially true of the UAE where criticism of the ruling elite has been muted because of their wealth, power and influence in the region and the UK itself. The UK should not be selling weapons, whether small arms or fighter jets, to a repressive regime which cannot respect the basic human rights of its people.

Arms export data – UK arms exports to the UAE

The UAE has long been a major customer for UK arms exports. The government’s arms sales unit, United Kingdom Trade & Investment Defence & Security Organisation (UKTI DSO), designates the UAE as a “priority market” for military and internal security equipment.

In 2012 the UK licensed weaponry worth £26.2 million to the UAE. Themain items licensed fell in the categories: “other electronic equipment” – £8.4 million; small arms – £5.8 million; “aircraft, helicopters, drones” – £3.5 million; “armoured vehicles, tanks”- £2.2 million; and “target acquisition, weapons control systems” – £2 million. In addition, there were licences totalling over £1.1 billion for dual use items of ““telecommunications and information security”.

In the final quarter of 2012, the UK issued licences covering weaponry worth over £7.7 million. This included £2.1 million for “other electronic equipment”, £1.8 million for “armoured vehicles and tanks” and almost £1 million worth of small arms. There were also licences worth over £400 million for dual use items of “telecommunications and information security”.

In the five years 2008-2012, the UK licensed arms worth over £157 million to the UAE, with electronic equipment worth £77 million at the top of the list. There were also substantial amounts of other military equipment and services, including £13.6 million of small arms, £10.7 million of “aircraft, helicopters and drones”, £8.9 million of armoured vehicles and tanks, £5.3 million for “grenades, bombs, missiles, counter-measures”, and £4.2 million for “target acquisition and weapon control systems”.

In addition, the UK also licensed over £3 billion worth of “dual use” goods (which can be used in military or civilian purposes), including “information technology” which could be used against dissidents.