22 thoughts on “British BAE, Saudi war profiteers

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  18. Thursday, 21 September 2017

    ‘Profiteering from the deaths of innocent children’ – War Child UK accuses BAE Systems

    WAR Child UK has accused UK weapons manufacturer BAE Systems of ‘profiteering from the deaths of innocent children’ by selling missiles and fighter planes to the Saudi-led coalition.

    The Saudi regime has been accused of committing war crimes and killing thousands of civilians with its bombing campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen. The charity says that UK weapons companies earned over £6bn from the Yemen war. For instance the UK-made Eurofighter Typhoon jets sold to the Saudis are the very planes which have been raining bombs down on the Yemen killing thousands of men, women and children.

    Furthermore UK-made bombs have been used in more than 80 unlawful attacks in Yemen carried out by the Saudis, human rights activists say. The Independent newspaper reported that ‘in 2014, British defence firm BAE won a contract worth £4.4bn to supply the Saudis with 72 fighter jets – some of which were used to bomb Red Cross and MSF hospitals in Yemen.’

    The chairman of BAE Systems, Sir Roger Carr, rejected criticism over BAE’s continued work in Saudi Arabia, saying ‘We will stop doing it when they tell us to stop doing it… We maintain peace by having the ability to make war and that has stood the test of time.’

    Over 12,000 Yemenis have been killed since the beginning of the Saudi war on the country more than two and a half years ago. Rocco Blume, a conflict and humanitarian advisor at War Child, said Britain is not only selling arms to Saudi forces but maintaining them as well.

    The estimated revenue from ongoing support pushed the estimated revenue far above the £3.6bn figure announced by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade last week. Blume said: ‘The revenue has to be seen in the context of all the other costs incurred in this trade, especially to our international reputation, particularly on human rights.’

    Blume said there was a ‘lack of transparency’ on the extent of British firms’ involvement amid a global weakening of protections for children in conflicts including Yemen, Syria and Iraq. He also raised concern that the UK was becoming ‘less fussy’ about international trading partners as Brexit approaches.

    Last week, as London held the world’s biggest arms fair, Tory trade secretary Liam Fox claimed all of his country’s arms deals were ‘ethical’ because they prevented an eruption of unregulated sales. Those of us from advanced economies must remember that if we do not provide countries with means of defending themselves, then we will see a proliferation of uncontrolled and unregulated arms sales free from oversight or inhibitions,’ he argued.

    Tory Defence Secretary Michael Fallon also wildly claimed Saudi Arabia is only ‘defending itself’ when attacking Yemen. BAE Systems and Raytheon were among the exhibitors at the arms fair held in London last week, which was supported by Government ministers and senior military commanders.

    UK Defence Secretary Fallon also boasted at the same event that Britain had secured military orders totalling £5.9 billion in 2016, making it the world’s second-largest weapons exporter. Last year, the United Nations blacklisted Saudi Arabia for committing grave violations against children after killing and injuring over 3,000 of them in Yemen. However, the world body was forced to reverse the decision upon protests from the Riyadh regime.

    The Saudi war has also triggered a deadly cholera epidemic across Yemen, which has killed 2,048 people and infected over 600,000 since its beginning in April. Almost 19 million people in Yemen – two thirds of the population – are now in need of humanitarian assistance, and seven million people do not know where their next meal will come from. Along with the cholera outbreak, malnutrition is widespread and water is scarce.

    Yemen is facing the ‘world’s worst cholera outbreak’, the United Nations declared in June 2017. According to the latest figures, more than 2,000 people have died since late April from the highly contagious bacterial infection, which can kill within hours if left untreated.

    There are more than half a million suspected cases of cholera in the country and on average 5,000 new cases are recorded a day. Shares in BAE Systems were boosted on the London stock exchange after Qatar signed a letter of intent to buy 24 Typhoon jets from the defence company.

    The deal, announced at the weekend, sent BAE shares up 3.9%. That made BAE the biggest riser in the FTSE 100, with the index up 32.50 points, or 0.5%, at 7,253.28 by the end of the day.
    BAE, who also supply large amounts of weapons and military vehicles and planes to Australia and India, have a dark history.

    In September 2003 the Sunday Times reported that BAE Systems had hired a private security contractor to collate information about individuals working at the Campaign Against Arms Trade and their activities. Also in 2003 BAE Systems was criticised for its role in the production of cluster bombs, due to the long term risk for injury or death to civilians.

    Following the 2008 Oslo Convention on Cluster Munitions BAE Systems was forced to stop their manufacture, however it took until 2012 for the majority of the munitions to be destroyed. Former Labour Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said of his time in office that he ‘came to learn that the chairman of BAE appeared to have the key to the garden door to number 10.

    ‘Certainly I never knew No 10 to come up with any decision which would be incommoding to BAE.’
    As well as employing in-house lobbyists, BAE Systems also employs a lobbying agency called Portland PR. Many of Portland PR’s staff have worked at the upper echelons of both Labour and Conservative governments.

    BAE Systems was accused of corruption, specifically making bribes, in regard to the Al Yamamah arms agreement with the Saudi Arabian Government. This was investigated by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) following the leaking of a letter from the then Director of the SFO to the former Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Defence.

    The SFO discontinued its inquiry in December 2006, citing the need to safeguard national and international security, a move which was supported by the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair. A legal challenge that the SFO’s decision was unlawful was not successful. In addition to the allegations surrounding Al Yamamah, parallel SFO investigations were also conducted into a number of other BAE defence contracts in South Africa, Chile, the Czech Republic, Romania, Tanzania and Qatar.

    In February 2010, BAE Systems reached a settlement with the US Department of Justice (DoJ) to plead guilty of conspiring to make false statements to the US Government in connection with certain regulatory filings and undertakings, including the Al Yamamah agreement as well as contracts with the Hungarian and Czech governments.

    In March 2010, BAE Systems pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States by impairing and impeding its lawful functions, to make false statements about its Foreign Corrupt Practices Act compliance programme, and to violate the Arms Export Control Act and International Traffic in Arms Regulations.

    It was given a $400 million fine and agreed to take measures in order to stay within US and foreign laws concerning corruption and the exports of arms.

    https://wrp.org.uk/news/13657

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