British government helps corrupt BAE selling weapons to dictators


BAE arms trade, cartoon

From the Ekklesia site in Britain:

UK prioritises Eurofighter deals over human rights, says CAAT

By agency reporter

18 Nov 2013

Despite mounting concerns about human rights abuses, David Cameron continues to promote UK weapons sales in the Gulf States, visiting the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to lobby for a £6 billion pound deal for BAE Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets. This follows a £2.5 billion deal with Oman and further potential sales with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, priority markets for UK weaponry despite their authoritarian regimes and poor human rights records.

The UAE visit (for which a schedule has not been made available) is part of Mr Cameron’s trip to India and Sri Lanka and will coincide with the Dubai Air Show an international exhibition of military and civil aircraft. The RAF Red Arrows team, used as a marketing opportunity for the Eurofighter, are in Dubai as part of their five-week Middle East tour, covering Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

CAAT spokesperson Kaye Stearman said: “Once again David Cameron acts as cheerleader for private sector arms companies, most particularly BAE Systems. When the UK sells these deadly weapons, whether they be fighter jets or assault rifles, they are conferring legitimacy on illegitimate and undemocratic regimes. In effect, they are saying that these regimes can abuse human rights with impunity and that the arms deals buys UK tolerance of their abuses.”

Meanwhile in London, there have been a series of government meetings and events to cement the UK’s already close relationship with Bahrain‘s abusive government, and lay the ground for further arms sales, including a Eurofighter deal.

On 11 November, the Bahrain Society held a dinner at Claridges, hosted by Prince Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, a Royal Guard commander who has been accused of personal involvement in torture. The dinner was attended by representatives of the military and diplomatic corps and UK Trade and Investment and senior political figures.

On Tuesday 12 November, there was a meeting of the UK-Bahrain joint working group, including a discussions between Foreign Office Minister Hugh Robinson and Bahrain Foreign Minister Prince Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohamed Al Khalifa.

On Wednesday 13 November, an International Fighter conference took place, with a representative from the Bahrain Air Force.

CAAT Campaigner Sarah Waldron said: “The crackdown in Bahrain has intensified, yet the UK does not speak out against the abuses that are daily committed by government forces. Rather, it woos the ruling family with diplomatic meetings, military co-operation, conference invitations and celebration dinners. In the three months April-June the UK licensed £9 milliuon worth of weaponry to Bahrain but the big prize is selling the Eurofighters. This is a disgraceful situation.”

Bahrain opposition leadership ‘systematically targeted’: here.

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49 thoughts on “British government helps corrupt BAE selling weapons to dictators

  1. Witness at UK trial alleges high-level corruption in Bahrain

    Reuters

    By Estelle Shirbon 1 hour ago

    LONDON (Reuters) – A former senior executive at the Bahraini aluminium smelter Alba, the fourth-largest in the world, told a London court on Tuesday there was a “parallel universe of corruption” at the top of the state-controlled firm during his time there.

    South African Jeremy Nottingham, who was deputy chief executive at Alba from 1998 to 2004, was speaking as a prosecution witness in the bribery trial of British-Canadian businessman Victor Dahdaleh.

    The trial involves allegations of corruption at senior levels of government and business in Bahrain, a sensitive issue at a time when the Sunni ruling dynasty’s authority is being disputed by sporadic protests from within the Shi’ite majority.

    Britain’s Serious Fraud Office accuses Dahdaleh of having paid over $65 million in bribes to the former chairman and chief executive of Alba to secure contracts worth over $3 billion for foreign companies in which he had an interest.

    Dahdaleh has pleaded not guilty to eight corruption charges related to events between 1998 and 2006. The sums involved make the case one of the largest international bribery trials seen in Britain in recent years.

    Alba is not a party to the trial. An Alba spokesman declined to comment. The firm’s current chairman, Mahmood Al-Kooheji, is scheduled to give evidence at the trial on Wednesday.

    Nottingham told Southwark Crown Court that during his time at Alba, decisions to award major contracts were taken in private by the then chairman, Sheikh Isa Bin Ali Al Khalifa, a minister and member of the Bahraini royal family.

    “I have now discovered there was a parallel universe of corruption going on under my nose,” Nottingham said in the witness box.

    “AN UNCOMFORTABLE TRUTH”

    He said the process of awarding contracts involved secret payments to Sheikh Isa and he believed that what he described as “the gravy” was also flowing to the sheikh’s patron, Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa.

    Reuters was unable to reach Sheikh Khalifa for comment.

    Sheikh Isa is named as a co-conspirator and as a recipient of corrupt payments in the indictment against Dahdaleh, but cannot be compelled to come to court as Britain has no extradition treaty with Bahrain.

    In a statement issued on his behalf by a Paris-based lawyer, the sheikh has denied “all allegations of corruption, bribery, impropriety and unlawful acts”.

    The Alba chief executive at the time, Australian national Bruce Hall, has pleaded guilty in London to a charge of conspiracy to corrupt and has given evidence against Dahdaleh.

    The Serious Fraud Office says Sheikh Isa received about 39 million pounds ($63 million) in bribes from Dahdaleh, while Hall received about 3 million pounds.

    Nottingham said Alba board meetings lacked substance and would merely rubber-stamp decisions that had already been made by Sheikh Isa during private meetings with government figures.

    Nottingham described the corruption as “an uncomfortable truth” that the Bahrainis were embarrassed about, but which was the way that state-controlled businesses worked in Bahrain.

    “We could not buck the system. The system was endemic,” he said.

    There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by Nottingham.

    The trial continues.

    ($1 = 0.6210 British pounds)

    (Additional reporting by William Maclean in Dubai; editing by Ralph Boulton)

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  2. Cameron and his tribe, will not put a end to the sales of arms to despots and any one whom a sale can happen, if the people were put the question, do you think arms sales should keep going? the answer would be no, the group that runs the military on the allied front are a answerable to no people, this shows democracy is all but in name only.

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