SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — David Cameron saw the Arab Spring as "a massive opportunity to spread peace, prosperity, democracy" - and lots and lots of guns, it turned out today. Peace activists were scathing after new government figures revealed that trade officials are still approving arms sales worth tens of millions of pounds to some of the world's most violent regimes.
The Department for Business Innovation and Skills gave the green light to around £12m in "strategic export" arms licences to the Egyptian government - controlled since last February by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces with £11.97m earmarked for "projectile launchers."
Another £330,000 in licences were granted for shipments bound for Bahrain, £200,000 of it for military communications equipment.
At least 50 people have been killed in the country since the crackdown on the protests began.
Meanwhile the United Arab Emirates, which deployed its own troops to Bahrain last February amid some of the worst violence, has been approved for £6.4m in arms shipments, including small arms, machine guns, night sights and military vehicle components.
Earlier this month MPs sitting on the Commons committee on arms export controls urged "cautious judgements" in light of the region's bloodshed.
Campaign Against the Arms Trade's Kaye Stearman said MPs were right to recognise Britain's "shameless" sales to repressive regimes.
"Yet the government still pursues these so-called "priority markets," with government ministers entertaining military delegations at the Farnborough arms fair while talking about the need to limit weaponry at Arms Trade Treaty negotiations in New York.
"The latest data reveals a situation in which arms licences, including for items such as small arms, body armour and armoured military vehicles, are issued routinely to highly repressive governments.
"A year after the beginning of the Arab Spring, it seems nothing has changed in UK government policy or practice on arms sales," she said. But the figures only paint part of the picture.
London is a major hub for the global arms trade and Britain is ranked as the world's fifth-biggest arms exporter.
Earlier this month Business Secretary Vince Cable mingled with dealers and trade delegations at a Farnborough International soiree in Kensington.
Guests included Russia's state-owned Rosoboronexport, which has continued to supply the Syrian government following Russia's veto of sanctions against the regime as a member of the UN security council.
Source : MorningStar