Posts tagged ‘David Cameron’

July 20, 2012

The US Senate, HSBC and Saudi Funding of Terrorism

Hsbc

Hsbc (Photo credit: green_kermit)

via Paul Stott:

Today’s Telegraph Business pages and London’s City A.M. both gave priority to the US Senate Committee investigation into HSBC.

The Committee found HSBC’s lax procedures allowed it to be used to launder millions of dollars by Mexican drug cartels, the Saudi bank Al Rajhi (linked to Al Qaeda) and, in the face of international restrictions, the Iranian and Sudanese governments.
At the moment media attention in the UK is centred on Trade Minister Lord Green. An ordained Church of England Vicar who writes on business ethics, Green was Chairman of HSBC from 2003-6 and then Chief Executive until 2010, when he joined David Cameron’s government.

Researchers such as Robert Pape have in the past pinned down that Al-Qaeda appears to be a mostly Saudi organisation. Al Rajhi bank, the Kingdom’s largest financial institution, seems to have played a key role in the activities of the world’s most infamous terrorist organisation. The executive summary of Carl Levin‘s senate report states:

In particular, HSBC has been active in Saudi Arabia, conducting substantial banking activities through affiliates as well as doing business with Saudi Arabia’s largest private financial institution, Al Rajhi Bank. After the 9-11 terrorist attack in 2001, evidence began to emerge that Al Rajhi Bank and some of its owners had links to financing organizations associated with terrorism, including evidence that the bank’s key founder was an early financial benefactor of al Qaeda. In 2005, HSBC announced internally that its affiliates should sever ties with Al Rajhi Bank, but then reversed itself four months later, leaving the decision up to each affiliate. HSBC Middle East, among other HSBC affiliates, continued to do business with the bank.

There is plenty more along those lines – but I encourage you to read Levin’s report executive summary, and/or the report in full here.

April 8, 2011

War in the Middle East: follow the money

From Der Spiegel:

Weapons Sales to the Arab World under Scrutiny

By Benjamin Bidder and Clemens Höges

Bernhard Zand/ DER SPIEGEL

In recent years, Western countries have made a bundle selling arms to Arab despots. But, as with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, some of yesterday’s buyers have become today’s enemies. Now major weapons exporters must seek a new balance between arms profits and human rights.

The revolutions in the Arab world caught British Prime Minister David Cameron off guard. For some time, diplomats had been planning a trip for Cameron that would take him to several countries in the Middle East. In fact, it was meant to be more of a trade mission, with Cameron’s delegation consisting largely of high-level executives from Great Britain’s weapons industry.

But then came the revolutions in Arab countries and the fighting in Libya. Ignoring them was impossible, and Cameron added a six hour stopover in Cairo to his already tight schedule. It was almost exactly a month ago that he visited Tahrir Square in the center of the city, the focal point of mass demonstration which ultimately forced Egypt’s aging leader, Hosni Mubarak, out of office.

“Meeting the young people and the representatives of the groups in Tahrir Square was genuinely inspiring,” Cameron said. “These are people who have risked a huge amount for what they believe in.”

From Egypt, Cameron flew on to Kuwait, where he got down to the real purpose of his trip: selling weapons to Arab autocrats. When members of parliament back home attacked him for this lack of tact, the prime minister insisted there was nothing wrong with such business transactions and that, in any case, his government made weapons buyers pledge to not use them to violate human rights under any circumstances. Great Britain, he said, has “nothing to be ashamed of.”

Britain, though, has exported over €100 million ($142 million) in weapons to Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi in the last two years alone. Included in those shipments are sniper rifles that may currently be in use against the Libyan opposition. Furthermore, Gadhafi’s terror police are British-trained. Indeed, British officials were forced to hastily revoke 50 arms export licenses to Libya and Bahrain.

Friends of Convenience

Cameron now finds himself in a tight spot shared by many Western politicians. Policies that seemed fine prior to the revolutions are now questionable. Regional paradigms are shifting and, at a time when populations are throwing off the yoke of oppression, Realpolitik is a poor guide to Western policy.

Until recently, the West had been arming despots in the Arab world with a series of ever-larger, billion-dollar deals that served to stabilize their regimes. Some are close allies when it comes to Iran and al-Qaida, making questions about human rights and democracy secondary.

In addition, many of the region’s potentates were convenient partners for the West: They had their people more or less under control, and some provided oil. Even Gadhafi proved useful by keeping poor African refugees out of Europe. Likewise, many of the rulers bought whatever the West’s defense industry put up for sale.

The Ascent of German Arms

This was certainly also the case with Germany’s defense industry. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), though it still lags far behind the United States and Russia, Germany has become the world’s third-largest weapons exporter in recent years.

Indeed, SIPRI statistics show that, over the last decade, the German defense industry’s share of the global arms market has doubled to 11 percent. In 2008, the total value of these arms sales amounted to just under €6 billion. Germany primarily supplies high-tech items, such as submarines and military electronics. German defense corporations — such as EADS, Rheinmetall and Heckler & Koch — together employ roughly 80,000 people.

German military wares are so good that even Russia has become a reliable customer. Although Russia’s own products are perfectly suited for guerilla warfare in Africa, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov admits that they no longer meet “modern requirements.”

For this reason, Russia plans to order military hardware worth nearly €500 billion by 2020, including many items from the West. The Russian army would like to replace its T-90 tanks for the German Leopard 2, and Rheinmetall is to provide armored plating for other Russian vehicles. Even Russia’s mobile military camps will soon be “made in Germany.” Kärcher Futuretech, a company based in Winnenden, near Stuttgart, manufactures the finest in field kitchens and water purification systems.[…]

From Le Monde Diplo:

by Samir Aita
[…] Monarchies in the Arab world have been absolute, and life-long presidents (with hereditary office) ruled the republics, because they created a supreme power above both state and post-independence institutions (1). They set up and controlled their own security services to ensure that their powers would endure; the services escaped parliamentary or government supervision, and their members could reprimand a minister and impose decisions. It costs money to run such services, and the clientelist networks of one-party states. The funds derive not from public budgets, as do those for the police and the army, but from different sources of revenue. (The New York Times recently reported that Muammar Gaddafi had demanded in 2009 that oil firms operating in Libya should contribute to the $1.5bn he had promised to pay in compensation for the Lockerbie terrorist murders – or lose their licences. Many paid. And Gaddafi’s immediate cash holdings of billions of dollars are thought to be funding his mercenaries and supporters to defend him.)

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April 5, 2011

Libya and the British state

Important analysis of what the Libyan intervention tells us about the British state.

February 28, 2011

Dirty money: Britain, Libya and the arms trade

This is NOT OK

CAAT say:

The UK has sold tear gas, crowd control ammunition and fire arms to Bahrain and Libya in the last year. While UK weapons are used against civilians, a UK government departmentand David Cameron are promoting weapons sales in the Middle East. This is NOT OK.

Can you be more on top of the events than this, a mere several weeks after the revolution began in Libya:

Liam Fox, the defence secretary, has said Britain’s arms sales policy is under review following the Libyan regime’s violence against its own people.

Fox said that Muammar Gaddafi was “a liability” and that all pressure possible should be applied to ensure the Libyan leader goes, as David Cameron called on him to do on Sunday.

Carl Packman on William Hague:

First he made the government look foolish by repeating the unsubstantiable claim that Gaddafi had fled to Venezuela.

Then amid all the media attention on Cameron’s trip to the Middle East with arms dealers, and the Mirror story that the wife of an ex-Middle East arms dealer, old chum of Jonathan Aitken, had donated £300,000 to the Tories, David Cameron has to get up and apologise for the delays to the Government’s efforts to rescue British nationals stranded in Libya.

James Forsyth for the Mail has today said the “Government has resembled little more than a budget airline”.

EUObserver write:

As dead bodies pile up on the streets of Tripoli and blocked phone lines hamper the EU evacuation effort, the latest EU figures show that EU countries just two years ago granted over €160 million of export licences to Libya for small arms and electronic jamming equipment.

The Union’s latest report on arms exports, out in January and covering 2009, says that EU countries granted €343.7 million worth of Libya licences two years before the massacre. Figures for actual shipments are incomplete.

With the UK’s Associated Press agency reporting on Tuesday (22 February) that the streets of Tripoli “are littered with the bodies of scores of protesters shot dead by security forces,” the EU report notes that Malta in 2009 granted licences and actually shipped €79.7 million of small arms to the regime. Belgium granted €18 million of licences and Bulgaria €3.7 million.

On electronic jamming, Germany led with €43.2 million of permits. The UK granted €20.7 million worth and Italy €1 million.

EU officials on Monday told this website that Libyan jamming of mobile phone, internet and GPS services is hampering attempts to get the 5,000 or so EU citizens still in Libya to safety. The EU’s ambassador in Tunis, who is also responsible for Libya, is trying to co-ordinate evacuations by calling EU embassies in Tripoli on landlines. But many of these are also down.

Amid widespread reports that the Libyan airforce is bombing and shooting opposition activists, Italy led the sale of what the arms industry calls “big ticket items.”

Italy granted €107.7 million of licences for military aircraft, including assault craft, and associated equipment. France granted €17.5 million worth and Portugal €14.5 million. Portugal also granted €4.6 million of permits for drones.

[…] Paul Holtom, an arms control expert with the Swedish NGO Sipri said that Russia is Libya’s main arms supplier. The EU gold rush began after the UN lifted its arms embargo in 2003, with senior British, French and Italian officials jetting in and out of Tripoli in delegations with arms and oil industry executives.

[…] Belgium in 2009 in response to NGO complaints overturned a licence for FN Herstal to supply €11.5 million of small arms – including 367 rifles, 367 handguns, 50 “luxury” pistols and 22,000 grenades – for Gaddafi’s elite army and police units.

The UK in 2008 blocked York Guns from shipping 130,000 Kalashnikovs to Libya because it feared they would be resold to warlords in Sudan.

The same year Romania gave the green light to sell Gaddafi 100,000 of the guns, however. And UK premier David Cameron on his current Middle East tour opted to bring Ian King, the CEO of top British arms firm BAe Systems, as part of his delegation, as well as executives from UK weapons firms Rolls Royce and Thales.

Here is Russia’s role in the trade:

Russia could lose almost $4.0 billion in arms export contracts to Libya after Moscow joined other world powers in slapping an arms embargo on Moamer Kadhafi’s regime, a report said on Sunday.

The Interfax news agency quoted a military source as saying that Russia had a swelling order book for contracts from Libya worth $2.0 billion while negotiations had been in progress for deals worth $1.8 billion more.

Here is some information about British arming of the un-democratic government of Bahrain:

Alistair Burt went on to detail some of the licenses granted in recent months.

“In the last nine months we have approved a range of licences for Bahrain. These include two single export licences for 250 tear gas cartridges to the Bahrain Defence Force and National Security Agency that were for trial/evaluation purposes.

“In addition there are a number of open individual export licences that have been approved. One of these includes equipment that can be used for riot control. The approval of these applications were judged to be consistent with the criteria at the time and followed precedents set by previous governments. As with all export licences for Bahrain, these are being urgently reviewed.”

Oddly enough, the defence industry says: “Anarchy in the Middle East benefits no-one”.

More from the Campaign Against the Arms Trade:

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September 19, 2010

Chart of the week: What does progressive austerity look like?

Story here.
April 26, 2010

NEWS: From the UK

In this issue, executive payrises despite jobs losses and poor performance at Tomkins and Wimpey, BA and other airlines seek tax hand-out to pay for volcano turmoil, Conservative businessmen who cut jobs oppose “jobs tax”, Britain’s shame over Senegal mining industry, and sub-contracting in the cycle courier industry.

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