We arm dictators, then bomb their people

IssueApril 2011
Feature by Milan Rai , Emily Johns

As Peace News goes to press, Britain is once again bombing a Middle Eastern dictatorship that it previously helped to arm.

On the day that the UN security council passed a no-fly zone resolution, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi threatened rebels: “We will come house by house, room by room.... We will have no mercy and no pity.”

In the areas under his control, Gaddafi’s programme of hunting down his political opponents house by house has been aided by £4.1m worth of military material from Britain including wall- and door-breaching projectile launchers, crowd control ammunition, small arms ammunition, and tear gas, all approved for export to Libya by the British government in the third quarter of 2010.

Similar sales were approved in 2010 to repressive governments in Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. In the first quarter of 2010, the government issued export licences for £160,245 worth of bullets and body armour to the Yemeni government of president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was in the process of being overthrown as PN went to press.

Topics: Libya, Arms trade