By Paddy McGuffin in England:
Thursday 29 April 2010
The controversial arms firm, which has been dogged by decades of allegations of corruption and bribery, was revealed on Thursday to be bidding to provide the Iraqi government with 24 Hawk “trainer” jets.
A previous bid by BAE‘s predecessor British Aerospace to sell Hawk jets to Saddam Hussein’s regime in 1989 was blocked by the British government over fears the jets could be converted to fly combat missions.
During the 1980s and ’90s the firm sold dozens of Hawk jets to the Suharto regime in Indonesia. These jets were used in the regime’s brutal suppression of occupied East Timor during its bid for independence.
The interest from the Iraqi government comes as it attempts to rebuild an air force destroyed by allied bombardment in 2003 at the outset of the war.
Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) and the Stop the War Coalition said that the billion pounds would be much better spent attempting to rebuild the country’s infrastructure which was shattered by the invasion and subsequent occupation of the country.
CAAT spokeswoman Kaye Stearman said: “Iraq is a nation in ruins, in good part due to disastrous military interventions, including by the UK. It desperately needs to rebuild its civilian infrastructure – water, sanitation, health, education.
“Instead, we are trying to sell them weapons in the form of BAE Hawk jets. This money should be spent on areas which directly benefit Iraq citizens, rather than add to BAE‘s already handsome profits.”
The irony of a British firm attempting to sell replacements for planes Britain helped to destroy was not lost on campaigners.
Stop the War convener Lindsey German said: “This points to what the war was really all about in the first place. For all the talk of restoring democracy it is absolutely clear that this was about regime change which would open up the country for Western exploitation.
“The Iraqi air force was destroyed by the UK/US offensive and now in a classic manoeuvre BAE is trying to get the contract to replace it. There are a number of companies doing the same thing, especially oil firms, trying to loot the country.
“This is a country with no infrastructure and which suffered massive damage during the war and occupation. The government should be trying to rebuild that infrastructure not buy weapons of mass destruction, which it did not have before.”
BAE Systems is to hold its annual general meeting on May 5 at the QEII Centre in Westminster. The centre was also the location for the Iraq war inquiry and CAAT campaigners will protest both outside and inside the meeting and stage a “people’s trial” of the firm.
Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) launched its latest campaign on Wednesday to counter BAE Systems recruiting on British university campuses: here.
Anti-BAE protesters shut down a careers fair at Edinburgh University on Wednesday: here.
The time has come for warmonger and criminal leviathan BAE Systems to be dismantled, writes Steven Schofield: here.
Arms giant BAE systems delivered a huge blow to workers on Wednesday announcing plans to axe over 1,400 jobs just weeks before Christmas: here.
Britain: Showing how the arms industry has colonised the Commons is as simple as looking at its guest list: here.
Campaign Against Arms Trade has called on the coalition government to end its active promotion of the international export of weapons of mass destruction: here.
Anti-arms trade campaigners have made their case for the government to end its links to the arms industry with a mock demolition of UK Trade and Investment’s offices in London: here.
Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) has condemned a Tory minister’s claims that the new government will have a “very heavy” commitment to promoting arms sales to compensate for the huge cuts at the Ministry of Defence: here.
Anti-arms trade campaigners have condemned the Farnborough Airshow as a “shop window for deadly weapons”: here.
Anti-arms campaigners have reacted with outrage to reports that the Ministry of Justice has been paying a secretive lobby group to secure defence contracts in Washington for British firms: here.