Archive for ‘United Arab Emirates’

July 23, 2013

Soft power: Qatar’s Foreign Policy Adventurism

John Kerry with the Emir of Qatar in Doha, Foreign Policy of Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani

John Kerry with the Emir of Qatar in Doha, June 2013 (Jacquelyn Martin/Courtesy Reuters)

Earlier this month, the Taliban opened an official office in Doha, landing Qatar once more in Western headlines. That might have been part of Qatar’s plan: the decision to host such a controversial office is symptomatic of a desire to play a central role in a wide array of important diplomatic issues. Yet the debacle of the office’s first 36 hours shows just how far Qatar still has to go.

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June 13, 2013

Israel’s arm trade with the Arab and Muslim world

English: This is a map of countries (in green)...

English: This is a map of countries (in green) that reject passports from Israel (blue). Countries that reject not only Israeli passports but also any passport which contain Israeli stamps or visas are in dark green. The depicted countries are (from left to right): Algeria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Brunei. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From Elder of Zion, who quote Haaretz:

Israel has exported security equipment over the past five years to Pakistan and four Arab countries, according to a British government report. The report, which deals with British government permits for arms and security equipment exports, says that in addition to Pakistan, Israel has exported such equipment to Egypt, Algeria, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco.

The report was released by Britain’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which oversees security exports and publishes regular reports on permits granted or denied to purchase arms, military equipment or civilian items that are monitored because they can be put to security uses.

From January 2008 to December 2012, British authorities processed hundreds of Israeli applications to purchase military items containing British components for use by the Israel Defense Forces, or to go into systems exported to third countries.

The British reports also list the countries to which Israel sought to export the items. Among Israel’s clients are Muslim countries with which it does not have diplomatic ties. According to the report, in 2011 Israel sought to purchase British components to export radar systems to Pakistan, as well as electronic warfare systems, Head-up Cockpit Displays ‏(HUD‏), parts for fighter jets and aircraft engines, optic target acquisition systems, components of training aircraft, and military electronic systems. In 2010, Israel applied for permits to export electronic warfare systems and HUDs with components from Britain to Pakistan. Also in 2010, Israel sought permits to supply Egypt and Morocco with Israeli electronic warfare systems and HUD systems that use British parts.

Here’s Haaretz’ graphical summary of the article:

Although at first glance it sounds a little alarming for Israel to sell to countries that consider it an enemy, I think it is a reasonable assumption that the Israeli government is careful not to give away any technologies that would hurt Israel’s defense.

Which means that this is about as massive a BDSFail as can be imagined!

Already the Arabic media are reporting this, so we can expect a backlash any moment now and the denials from Muslim countries will follow soon afterwards.

UPDATE: The first denial, from Pakistan.

UPDATE 2: #2 from Egypt. (h/t IranAware)

June 17, 2011

Follow the money

Fahd bin Abdul Aziz, October 13, 1998

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Alex Joffe on Yale:

It is well known, for instance, that Yale has long been seeking support from wealthy Arab donors. In particular, it has wooed Saudi Prince Alwaleed ibn Talal, who in 2005 gave $20 million apiece to Harvard and Georgetown for Islamic-studies programs. (Yale, which competed vigorously for the prize, made it to the final round.) True to their donors’ intent, such academic programs are faithful disseminators of the “narrative” of Muslim victimization. In the same connection, it should likewise be borne in mind that in 2009, alerted to the imminent publication by its own press of a scholarly book on the Danish-cartoons controversy, the Yale administration summarily intervened to yank images of the cartoons from the final product—on the grounds that their appearance might elicit “violence.”

And, from March, on the bigger picture:

The transparency of programs like the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding—established in 2005 with the Saudi royal’s $20-million gift to Georgetown University, and staffed with reliable apologists—is glaring. Alwaleed himself could not have been clearer, stating that because of the events of 9/11, “the image of Islam [had] been tarnished in the West”; hence, his donation to Georgetown, along with one to Harvard in the same amount, was intended “to teach about the Islamic world to the United States.”

Alwaleed’s terms had been on even brighter display years earlier. Offering $10 million to New York City in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, he noted pointedly that the “United States of America should re-examine its policies in the Middle East” since “our Palestinian brethren continue to be slaughtered at the hands of Israelis while the world turns the other cheek.” Then-mayor Rudy Giuliani promptly and publicly spurned the money, calling Alwaleed’s statement not only wrong but “part of the problem.” What Giuliani explicitly rejected, universities have implicitly embraced.

The effect has been felt most saliently in academic studies of the Middle East. An early and rather clumsy attempt at influence-buying, as Martin Kramer notes in his Ivory Towers on Sand, was a 1977 grant to Georgetown from Libya; the motives behind it were so blatant that three years later the money was returned with interest. But this, like earlier sallies by the Shah of Iran (to endow chairs of Iranian studies) and the Turkish government (for an Institute of Turkish Studies in Washington), was merely the prelude to a flood of oil money.

Between 1995 and 2008, according to the researcher Stanley Kurtz, Arab Gulf states gave $234 million in contracts and about $88 million in gifts to American universities. Although amounting to only a drop in the bucket of total university endowments, such targeted gifts, like the $20 million contributed by King Fahd of Saudi Arabia to the University of Arkansas, and various multi-million-dollar donations to Berkeley, Cornell, Princeton, Texas A&M, Columbia, Rutgers, and other schools, have meant a very great deal locally.

The aims of these investments are very specific: the creation of a particular sort of cultural “understanding.” And in this respect they have paid off, especially in the area of faculty hiring and concentration. Early on, there was much touting of secularization in the Middle East, a commodity that failed to materialize. As for radical Islam, a subject in much greater need of “understanding,” it was downplayed both before and even after 9/11. Instead, the supposedly “separate political wings” of Hamas and Hizballah, the way that elections in the Arab world allegedly tend to “moderate” radical groups, and the so-called “incrementalism” toward democracy of tyrants like Qaddafi were held up as hopeful signs. To this day, even as the study of Israel itself has been marginalized, the Palestinian cause has been presented as the pivotal issue of all time and the real key to everything one would ever need to know about the Middle East.

Although report after report has documented the strong anti-Israel bias coming out of these programs, the U.S. government has also abetted them financially through Title VI of the Higher Education Act of 1998, which provides funds to centers of Middle East studies undertaking language instruction and, ominously, outreach to local primary and secondary schools. But the American government is one thing, foreign donors something else, and these particular foreign donors something else again. Here the fundamental issue remains: why was the money taken in the first place?

Sometimes, to be sure, the deal stinks a little too much. In a surprising display of backbone, UCLA returned a $1-million gift from Turkey after it was revealed that scholars would be prevented from using Ottoman archives that might confirm evidence of genocide against Armenians in World War I. But this was a rare exception. In 2003, the Harvard Divinity School would have been happy to take $2.5 million from Sheikh Zayed of Abu Dhabi, despite his support for Holocaust denial, were it not for the activism of one persistent student. The next year, back at the trough, Harvard accepted two $1-million gifts from unnamed donors in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and another $14.5 million two years later. In 2008, thanks to a gift of $50 million, New York University set up a campus for international students in the UAE (sorry, no Israelis allowed), as have other American universities.

And, from across the Atlantic, Student Rights report:

Our latest report uncovers the links with the Saudi Arabian Regime which has resulted in SOAS directly receiving £755,000 from the Saudi Arabian Royal family. Further scandals are also uncovered by this report.

The briefing unveils the fact that SOAS provided Mutassim Gaddafi, the National Security Advisor to the Murderous Gaddafi regime, with private English tutoring and that an agreement between SOAS and Al-Fateh University in Tripoli was signed just months before the uprisings began in Libya.

Perhaps the most shocking revelation is that Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a cleric who is banned from the UK and US for endorsing suicide bombings and the killing of pregnant women, is on the editorial board of the SOAS journal of Quranic Studies. Al-Qaradawi has in addition been condemned by over 2,500 Muslim scholars worldwide.

An article on our report has been written by The Jewish Chronicle and the brief is also the subject of a new Early Day Motion proposed by Robert Halfon MP.

And from back in April:

It has emerged that the august institution of St. Andrews, the UK university renowned for its ties to the British Royal family, has been taking money from Bashar Assad’s despotic Syrian regime.

As democratic protesters are slaughtered in their hundreds in Syria,The Guardian has uncovered that over £100,000 has moved from the Syrian government to St. Andrews.

“Opened in November 2006 as part of the university’s school of international relations, funding for the centre was only secured with the assistance of Khiyami, who, according to the centre’s head, Prof Raymond Hinnebusch, persuaded Syrian-born British businessman Ayman Asfari to pay for it.”

Raheem Kassam, Director of counter-extremism pressure group Student Rights has said, “It is deplorable that in the wake of the LSE-Libya scandal, universities have not come forward and ceased to work with murderous regimes across the Arab world.  If these institutions persist in taking money from dictatorships who insist on oppressing their people, then the UK government should immediately cease funding to them.”

The Guardian has quoted Robert Halfon MP, advisory board member for Student Rights:“We need to learn from what’s happened with Libyan funding of our universities, that universities should not accept money from governments like Syria, or those with connections to the Syrian government. The danger is that you get compromised by the amount of money, and it inevitably influences your outlook on the Middle East. I’ve argued that universities that take money from dictatorships should receive a reduction in their public subsidy.”

May 17, 2011

Mercs, R2, Blackwater And The UAE

ABU DHABI. With President of the United Arab E...

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At Modernity, on the successor company to Blackwater:

R2, a creation of Erik Prince, are essentially upmarket mercenaries, who will work for anyone with money and are finalising a deal with the UAE, according to the Nation:

“Erik Prince did leave the US, but he isn’t teaching high school and is certainly not out of the mercenary business. In fact, far from emerging as a neo-Indiana Jones, the antithesis of a mercenary, Prince is more like Belloq, offering his services to the highest bidder. Over the weekend, The New York Times revealed that Prince was leading an effort to build an army of mercenaries, 800 strong—including scores from Colombia—in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. They would be trained by US, European and South African Special Forces veterans. Prince’s new company, Reflex Responses, also known as R2, was bankrolled to the tune of $529 million from “the oil-soaked sheikdom,” according to the Times, adding that Prince was “hired by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi” Sheik Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan. Erik Prince is not mentioned by name in corporate documents outlining the deal, but is instead referred to as “Kingfish.”

The contract between R2 and the UAE kicked in last June and is slated to run through May 2015. According to corporate documents on the private army Prince is building in the UAE, its potential roles include “crowd-control operations,” defending oil pipelines from potential terrorist attacks and special operations missions inside and outside the UAE “to destroy enemy personnel and equipment.” Other sources said the Emiratis wanted to potentially use the force to quell potential rebellions in the country’s massive labor camps that house the Filipinos, Pakistanis and other imported laborers that fuel the country’s work force. Prince also has plans to build a massive training base, modeled after the 7,000 acre private military base Blackwater built in Moyock, North Carolina.

When Prince moved to the UAE last summer, he said he chose Abu Dhabi because of its “great proximity to potential opportunities across the entire Middle East, and great logistics,” adding that it has “a friendly business climate, low to no taxes, free trade and no out of control trial lawyers or labor unions. It’s pro-business and opportunity.”

The timing of Prince’s move was auspicious to say the least. It came just month after five of Prince’s top deputies were hit with a fifteen-count indictment by a federal grand jury on conspiracy, weapons and obstruction of justice charges. Among those indicted were Prince’s longtime number-two man, former Blackwater president Gary Jackson, former vice presidents William Matthews and Ana Bundy, and Prince’s former legal counsel, Andrew Howell. The UAE does not have an extradition treaty with the United States. “If Prince were not living in the US, it would be far more complicated for US prosecutors to commence an action against him,” said Scott Horton, a Columbia University Law lecturer and international law expert who has long tracked Blackwater. “There is a long history of people thwarting prosecutors simply by living overseas.”

April 27, 2011

Signalfire

Mozambique: Kenmare forced to stop production at Moma

The expansion programme to increase production capacity at the Moma mine by 50 percent is well underway and scheduled for commissioning and ramp-up in 2012
Production at Kenmare Resources’ Moma mine in Mozambique has been temporarily suspended due to an unofficial strike by workers. The industrial action commenced this morning after annual wage negotiations broke down. The Irish mining company said talks were progressing when an unofficial strike was called by a group of employees.[…] Source: http://businessandleadership.com/business/item/29744-kenmare-forced-to-stop/

Vietnamese workers end strike after Taiwan company hikes wages

Hanoi – About 1,300 employees at a Taiwan-owned footwear factory in northern Vietnam returned to work Wednesday after the company agreed to increase their monthly salary.

Workers at Stateway Vietnam Footwear in Hai Phong city went on strike Tuesday demanding an additional 18 dollars a month to 88 dollars, an official of the company’s personnel department said.

Under Vietnamese law, strikes must be approved by local authorities and the government-affiliated national trade union. In practice, virtually all strikes take place without such approval.[…] source: http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/business/news/article_1635378.php/Vietnamese-workers-end-strike-after-Taiwan-company-hikes-wages

India: Tea workers strike hit local farmers

 ILAM, April 27: Local farmers have suffered loss worth more than Rs 200 million due to the strike launched by tea workers. Farmers have not been able to sell green leaves to tea producers ever since the workers launched strike 10 days ago, demanding pay hike.

Agitating workers have brought harvesting and processing of tea in key districts — Ilam, Dhankuta and Terhathum – to a grinding halt.[…] Source: http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=30678

Uganda: Iganga Steel Workers Lay Down Tools

Iganga — Police in Iganga District deployed heavily yesterday at Tembo Steels Uganda Limited following a sit-down strike by workers protesting low pay and poor working conditions. The strike started at about 8am when the workers camped at the factory located at Kasolo village, about 2 kilometres from Iganga town.

Police led by Iganga DPC David Manzi stormed the place to ensure that the strike did not turn violent.

The workers complained that they receive little pay in addition to being mistreated by their bosses. “They give us only Shs1,200 every day for breakfast and lunch. Then at the end of every month (some) workers, especially the porters, are given as little as Shs40,000 per month, which is too little given the high cost of living,” one of the protestors who talked on condition of anonymity for fear of being victimised for revealing information told, Daily Monitor, as her colleagues backed her. They said they are not provided safety gear and the few who have, bought them.[…] Source:

Hundreds Of Iranian Workers Protest For Back Wages

TEHRAN – Workers at the Alborz tire factory near Tehran have rallied in front of Iran’s presidential office to demand nine months’ of unpaid wages and the reopening of the plant, RFE/RL’s Radio Farda reports.

An employee told Radio Farda that about 800 workers participated in the protest on April 24. He said the workers were told after the Iranian New Year in March that the factory would be closed until it had enough money to reopen.

Since the Alborz tire factory was privatized in the 1990s, its 1,300 workers have been paid irregularly.

Meanwhile, a number of workers at the Esfahan Steel Company gathered in front of the parliament building in Tehran on April 24 to protest the nonpayment of their back wages, ISNA (Iranian Students News Agency) reported.

Also on April 24, some 100 workers and their families gathered outside the Fars Organization of Industries and Mines in Shiraz seeking payment of their wages for the past six months, a worker told Radio Farda.[…] Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/hundreds_of_iranian_workers_protest_for_back_wages/16794818.html

India: Goa village protest iron ore pollution

Goa – Villagers of Cavrem, Quepem, protesting the damage to crops and homes from mining pollution paralyzed the transportation of iron ore through the village on Saturday.

Quepem police inspector Mr S Narvekar said 94 villagers including 36 women were arrested for obstructing the passage of the trucks. They were released later.

The transportation of ore through the village has been virtually suspended over the last few days with the villagers’ agitation.

Cavrem has become the symbol of the unequal fight between the politically backed powerful mining lobby in Goa and a village determined to make its voice heard.

In March, the state government was compelled to shutdown an illegal mine being operated in the area by a well connected ore exporter. The mine was shutdown only after the villagers took a morcha to chief minister Mr Digambar Kamat’s residence in Margao. Source: http://www.steelguru.com/raw_material_news/Goa_village_protest_iron_ore_pollution/202393.html

South Africa: All calm on the Zandspruit front

Johannesburg – Police were monitoring the Zandspruit informal settlement, northwest of Johannesburg, on Freedom Day following violent service delivery protests, Gauteng police said.

“Everything is quiet for now and we are confident it will stay like this until Sunday,” said Lieutenant Colonel Tshisikhawe Ndou.

Gauteng housing MEC Humphrey Mmemezi had promised to meet with residents on Sunday and discuss their concerns.

The disgruntled community was protesting against the lack of housing and sanitation in the Honeydew settlement.

Police were on Wednesday monitoring the area after violence erupted. On Tuesday, 16 people were arrested for public violence after they had burnt tyres and blockaded roads.

Police used rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.[…] Source: http://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/gauteng/all-calm-on-the-zandspruit-front-1.1061544

India: Two persons killed, 12 injured in firing in Dhanbad

At least two persons were killed and more than 12 others injured when police resorted to firing to control a mob protesting the anti-encroachment drive at a Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL) colony located in Kusunda and Matkuria, about 8 kms from Dhanbad, today.

Agitators also set fire to about 16 vehicles, out of which 11 belonged to the BCCL authorities.

State police headquarters said people of the area started pelting stones at the team which went for the eviction of local people allegedly occupying BCCL quarters.

Police resorted to firing to control them, leading to death of two persons in the area. The situation in the district was tense but under control.

On April 5 police resorted to firing in the state capital in a similar incident in which one person died on the spot while another succumbed to his injuries in the hospital. Source: http://netindian.in/news/2011/04/27/00012827/two-persons-killed-12-injured-firing-dhanbad

Young Mauritanians stage sit-in demanding the release of 20 arrested during protests this week

NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania — Dozens of young Mauritanians are holding a sit-in outside the police directorate’s office to demand the release of 20 protesters arrested the previous day.

Youth on Tuesday chanted “freedom for our friends” before dispersing peacefully.

Mauritanian police arrested 20 people on Monday after hundreds demonstrated in the capital against the regime of President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. Police said the demonstrations were unauthorized and used tear gas and batons to disperse people.

Demonstrations have been ongoing since Feb. 25, when dozens of students used Facebook to organize another sit-in demanding political reforms and the president’s departure.

In January, a businessman died after setting himself ablaze in a protest against the government. Source: http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5j8iJwIrKvyJQWTozfC_HwRUEQUhw?docId=6668468

Oman: Power firm staff regroups for protest

Muscat Daily reported that in probably what is the first legal strike since the wave of protests began in February, employees from the eight subsidiary companies of Electricity Holding Company regrouped again to protest against the management outside the company’s head office in Qurm on Saturday.

The group had given 21 day ultimatum to the management to respond, as is required by law after they called off their three day strike on March 28. We are frustrated with the management as it is only during the last few days that they held a couple of meetings to show that they were working towards meeting our demands.

Mr Mohannad al Hindi head of operations and maintenance at Muscat Electricity Distribution Company said that but what came out of those meetings are only promises and no action. The protesters said that no representative from among them was included in the meetings. We gave a list of eight most important points to be discussed, but only half of them were brought up for discussion. Moreover, there has been no positive outcome from these discussions. Of their list of demands, Hindi added that at the very least, they wanted a change in top management and increased allowances immediately.

He said that the other demands to be discussed are a proper promotion policy, an increase in the employee loan limit from the current amount equal to two months salary, academic and professional training for staff and the setting up of a training center. The formation of an Omani employee committee is also on the anvil. But we are not happy with it as it consists of the top management only. We want representation from among us.[…]Source: http://www.steelguru.com/middle_east_news/Power_firm_staff_regroups_for_protest/202122.html

India: 150 agitating workers of General Motors detained

VADODARA: Around 150 agitating workers of General Motors India (GMI) were detained by the police here on Monday after they tried to stage a protest at the residence of a senior GMI official.

The agitating workers, who since March 16 are on strike at the Halol plant of GMI, were trying to stage a protest outside the residence of GMI`s human resources (HR) director Rakesh Mehta at Shrushti Bungalows on Vasna Road on Monday. Some of them had even planned to undress themselves as a mark of protest and to press upon their demands.[…] http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/vadodara/150-agitating-workers-of-General-Motors-detained/articleshow/8084480.cms

And lots more…

March 24, 2011

The new arms race in a multipolar world

RIYADH. King of Saudi Arabia Abdullah bin Abdu...

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In the bi-polar world, the two superpowers raced against each other for bigger, more and more deadly weapons. In today’s multipolar world, the race is one which anybody can join. Here are a couple of reports from the side of the track.

  • China has new powerful Dong Feng 16 (DF-16) missiles aimed at Taiwan, according to the island state’s National Security Bureau Director-General, Tsai Der-sheng.
  • Russia has claimed that it will inject USD100 billion into the development of its defence industries during the next decade.
  • General Dynamics Land Systems, a business unit of Ohio, USA-based, General Dynamics, was recently awarded two contracts worth $44 million for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia‘s tank program. The contracts were awarded by the U.S. Army TACOM Lifecycle Management Command on behalf of the Royal Saudi Land Forces. This work is part of a plan by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to upgrade its entire fleet of 314 tanks. The first contract of $37.1 million is to provide materials and labor for the conversion of 42 M1A2 tanks to an M1A2S configuration for the Kingdom. The M1A2S will possess defined capabilities that “increase lethality while limiting obsolescence”. Saudi Arabia is the biggest defence spender in the region, and its tanks are currently being deployed in Bahrain to suppress the pro-democracy movement there.
  • Iran is rapidly and significantly expanding capabilities to accommodate larger missiles and satellite launch vehicles (SLVs), including the Simorgh 3 SLV in construction at Semnan space centre, according to Jane’s analysis of satellite imagery of the site. Tehran spends around $9.3-9.5 billion annually on defence, putting it at no.5 in the region.

Finally, check out this fantastic photo essay from IDEX, the global arms expo in Abu Dhabi.


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March 16, 2011

Arming the dictators: How the west profiteers from anti-democracy actions in the Middle East

In its broadest sense, the arms industry encom...

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Saudi Arabia uses UK-made armoured vehicles in Bahrain crackdown on democracy protesters

Saudi Arabia has sent scores of UK-made armoured personnel carriers into Bahrain to aid the government’s bloody suppression of pro-democracy protesters. The armoured vehicles, marketed as Tacticas, were manufactured by BAE Systems Land Systems Division in Newcastle Upon Tyne with final assembly taking place in Belgium (Jane’s Armour and Artillery 2009-10 pp. 664)

The Saudi Arabia National Guard (SANG) ordered 261 of the vehicles in 2006 for delivery in 2008. Saudi forces entered Bahrain in a convoy of the Tacticas on 13 March, at the invitation of the Bahrain’s ruling al-Khalifa family. It seems that the Saudi forces are being held in reserve, leaving the front-line repression of protesters by Bahrain’s military and security forces.

Saudi Arabia has been a major market for market for UK arms since the 1960s. The majority of contracts have been through the controversial Al-Yamamah arms deals of the mid-1980s, and their successor, the Salam Project, which involved arms giant BAE Systems (formmerly British Aerospace). However, the Tactica purchase was not part of either package but a separate contract with SANG.

Bahrain is also a market for UK arms. In the first nine months of 2010, the UK approved export licenses for over £5 million worth of arms including tear gas and crowd control ammunition, equipment for the use of aircraft cannons, assault rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles and sub-machine guns. In response to an earlier crackdown on 18 February 2011 the UK government revoked 24 individual licences and 20 open licences to Bahrain.[…]

Arms made in Newcastle used by Saudis to suppress protests

Saudi Arabia has sent scores of UK-made armoured personnel carriers into Bahrain to aid the government’s bloody suppression of pro-democracy protesters. The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) has criticised the UK government for allowing the sale of the armoured vehicles, made by BAE Systems.

The vehicles, marketed as Tacticas, were manufactured by BAE Systems Land Systems Division in Newcastle-upon-Tyne with final assembly taking place in Belgium.[…]

Britain reviewing crowd control weapons exports, says Hague

Britain is reviewing its arms exports to the Middle East and north Africa, which have included crowd control weapons and small arms to Bahrain and Libya, the foreign secretary, William Hague, said on Wednesday.

Exports recently cleared for export to Bahrain include more than 100 assault rifles, over 50 sub-machine guns, stun grenades, tear gas ammunition, riot control agents, and components for “military devices for initiating explosives”, according to the latest official figures.

The Guardian reported last month that the British government had approved the sale to Libya of a wide range of equipment for use against civilians, including teargas and “crowd control ammunition”, as well as sniper rifles.

Export licences increased significantly and were valued at more than £200m over the first nine months of last year, according to figures compiled by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills for the Foreign Office.[…]

Bahrain Crisis: Is U.S. Military Assistance Hindering Democracy?

The increasingly violent crackdown on anti-government protesters in Bahrain has rekindled debate over whether U.S. military aid is being used to crush popular uprisings.

The Obama administration launched an investigation last week into the possibility that U.S. arms and training money were used by Bahraini security forces in violent crackdowns on protesters. The outcome of that probe is not yet known, but the Bahrain situation is stirring up uncomfortable questions about the effectiveness of military aid and to what extent U.S. assistance undermines emerging democracies, said Marine Corps Lt. Col. Christopher L. Naler, a federal executive fellow at The Brookings Institution, in Washington, D.C….

His own research revealed some troubling numbers. Between 2006 and 2011, annual U.S. assistance to Bahrain ranged from $5 million to $18 million. And even though the U.S. government can choose to allocate the aid to non-military programs, in this case it earmarked every penny to the security sector, Naler said. “This is one that caught me by surprise.” […]

Britain under fire for selling arms to Bahrain

The British Government has been heavily criticised for allowing arms sales to a number of Arab governments that have cracked down on pro-democracy protests in recent weeks, killing scores of people and injuring thousands more in demonstrations across the region….

David Cameron and other leading Conservative cabinet ministers have long standing ties to Bahrain. A year before last May’s General Election, the then Leader of the Opposition received a “gift of a fountain pen and half suite cufflinks and studs, provided by His Majesty Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa,” the King of Bahrain. The present is listed in the Register of MPs’ interests. Defence Secretary Liam Fox registered travel expenses worth £1,400 paid for by the Bahrain government….

Denis MacShane said that the idea of civilians dying because of British manufactured arms made him feel “physically sick”. “With the protests spreading across the Middle East, I am very concerned that once Britain is going to be caught on the wrong side of history again, defending the indefensible,” he said.

The Foreign Office policy to date chimes with a determination at the top of government to put commercial interests at the heart of British foreign policy. Within weeks of entering Downing Street last year, David Cameron embarked on one of Britain’s biggest ever trade delegations, to India, during which the two governments announced a deal between BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce and Indian aerospace group Hindustan Aeronautics to supply 57 Hawk trainer jets….

Britain’s ingrained position in the Middle Eastern arms market is further underlined by the expected presence of at least 92 British companies at a pan-Middle East arms fair, scheduled to be opened in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. The chairman of the IDEX event, Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, a member of the Abu Dhabi ruling family, and the chairman Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company, says on its website: “Over the recent years significant investment in resources and facilities at our host venue… have enabled IDEX to sustain its reputation as the largest defence exhibition in the Middle East and North Africa region.”[…]

German arms used to crush protests in Bahrain: MP

German weapons are being used to suppress peaceful protests in Bahrain, said a senior legislator of the opposition party The Left (Die Linke) here Wednesday.

Addressing the German parliament during a live debate on the upheavals in the Arab world, Wolfgang Gehrcke pointed out that part of the weapons deployed by Bahrain’s security forces against anti-government protesters were supplied by Germany.

The foreign policy spokesman of The Left party called for an ‘immediate end’ to the delivery of German arms to the Bahraini regime. Germany’s overall arms export to the Near-and Middle East hovers around 1.1 billion euros and includes other recipient countries like Egypt, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. In 2009, the United Arab Emirates was among the three leading recipients of German weapons, according to the latest report released by the German government.

The tiny Persian Gulf sheikdom was ranked second after the US in terms of total German arms exports last year which stood at 5.04 billion euros. Germany sold around 540.7 million euros worth of military hardware to the UAE, among them radar and steering systems, torpedoes, simulators, missiles, hand grenades, armored vehicles, tank spare parts, automatic cannons. amphibious vehicles and trucks.

Meanwhile, another Persian Gulf country, Saudi Arabia, was listed sixth in the overall export of German weaponry with 167.9 million euros.[…]

February 17, 2011

News from other parts of the Middle East

This post focuses on the ever-growing power of Chinese economic imperialism in the Middle East, but also the rising soft power of South Korea. It looks at the impact of the unrest in the region on the big oil countries, showing how oil has sustained authoritarian governments, which are fearing the changes. Labour conflict remains rife in the region, including the growing militancy of the hyper-exploited migrant workers from South Asia. Even Israel is seeing an upswing in labour militancy, with  a general strike a real possibility. 

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January 10, 2011

Essential reading on world affairs

Rising powers: China’s hard and soft power

Robert Gates Clarifies China’s Stealth Capabilities

The newest big oil company: China?

Global food crisis: feeding rebellion

Frontline Tunisia

Governments Around the World Struggle with Surging Food Prices

11 dead in Tunisia rioting

Unrest spreads to Algeria

Big oil and corporate corruption

Climate Change Skeptics are Stooges for Big Oil

Big oil’s intriguing resurgence

2011: The Arctic vs Big Oil

Big Gas Find Sparks a Frenzy in Israel

China remains world’s biggest car producer and market for second year

Blood for oil: Saudi’s hard power

Saudi Arabia’s Terror: What Hillary Clinton Knows

Saudi Arabia: Taliban Lite (With U.S. Complicity)

ANALYSIS: Saudi Arabia and Pakistan

Labour on the march

Israel port strike settled as workers win 6% pay increase, big gains for new workers, more vacation and sick days

Alta Gracia, Dominica: How One Tiny Factory Is Challenging the Sweatshop Norm

Workers strike in UAE after labour riot

The bosses strike back

Labor lawyer imprisoned in Xi’an for organizing against corrupt privatization of state enterprises

Kraft Foods Employee In Colombia Killed By Gunman, Says Union

Recent worker deaths in the Bangladeshi garment industry from police repression and from a factory fire

And even under “actually existing socialism”, the workers are fucked over

Cubans fret as massive job cuts get under way

Venezuela: Fifty-one year-old welder and leader of Sintraferrominera ironworkers union, has spent over a year in prison

September 3, 2010

Dubai: in a playground of the super-rich, workers confront a bonded labour system

DubaiTowers2.jpgMigrant workers from many countries have build up Dubai from a petty sheikhdom to a futuristic city. Their protests have exposed the grim conditions behind the glistening mirage.

Under a blazing Arabian sun was built the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which opened in January 2010. It symbolises the extremely rapid capitalist development of this city-state in the United Arab Emirates, now famous for its artificial islands, skyscrapers and shopping malls, as a centre for business, tourism, luxury homes and extravagant consumption – and increasingly infamous for the atrocious conditions endured by the army of migrant workers who are there to build the place or provide services to residents and tourists. [READ THE REST.]

[Image source.]