THE British government is accused of arming repressive regimes in the Persian Gulf and being complicit in state violence, in a new report published yesterday by campaign group War on Want.
A “murky network” of officials and corporations operating in the region have been integral in training sniper units; selling tear gas, water cannons, crowd control technology and ammunition; and the delivery of covert surveillance technology, according to the report.
More than 6,000 export licences were approved by British ministers to arms companies serving in Persian Gulf states— with a combined value of £16 billion — since 2010, added the report entitled Arming Repression: The New British Imperialism in the Persian Gulf.
The motives are focused on trade, oil and so-called “internal security.”
War on Want executive director John Hilary called on the government to own up to its reasons for funding and assisting repression in the Middle East and to ban exports of arms.
He said: “This is the latest chapter in the long and violent history of British imperialism in the Persian Gulf.
“The UK government’s renewed military and economic strategy is putting the UK’s access to oil ahead of any commitment to democracy and human rights.
“It’s time for an immediate ban on exports of arms and repressive technologies where there is a risk of use for internal repression or human rights violations.
“The government has a serious case to answer when clandestine meetings between public intelligence and security agencies form the basis of the UK’s role in arming repression in the Gulf.”
The report’s author Dr Sam Raphael said the investigation reveals for the first time the “sheer scope” of weapons exports and training provided by Britain to violent and repressive states.
He said: “From the sale of vast quantities of tear gas to the training of sniper units used to put down pro-democracy protests, the UK government, working closely with private companies, are key partners for repressive regimes in the Gulf.”