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    Campaigners from Amnesty International carry model missiles to Downing Street in central London on March 18, 2016 to highlight the export of UK-manufactered arms to Saudi Arabia

    UK Arms Sales Serve to 'Make Repressive Regimes More Repressive'

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    With British arms sales to repressive regimes having allegedly soared to 5 billion pounds in the past 22 months, arms industry expert Andrew Feinstein told Sputnik that this is directly contributing to these regimes’ ability to repress and violate human rights.

    The countries Britain is selling arms to are among the most corrupt in the world,  oppressing their own people and involved in a variety of conflicts in their regions, including in Yemen.

    When asked why the UK is turning a blind eye to atrocities committed by these countries, Feinstein said that one reason is purely economic, as London is trying to make sure that its economy remains afloat after Brexit and the loss of its main trading partner, the EU.

    “This is extremely disturbing for a number of reasons. First of all, the global trade in arms accounts for 40 percent of corruption in all world trade,” Andrew Feinstein said.

    Britain is selling arms to Saudi Arabia despite the fact that a whole range of humanitarian organizations, and the United Nations itself, have documented proof of human rights abuses committed by the Saudis both inside their own country and in other countries across the Middle East, Andrew Feinstein noted.

    The UK government justifies its sale of arms to repressive regimes by the need to prop up the defense industry, but Feinstein argued that arms sales account for just a tiny fraction of the British economy and that the amount of public subsidy for each job in the defense sector would be enough to create between four and seven jobs in far more productive and socially acceptable sectors.

    He also dismissed the government’s other argument that arms sales serve to bolster allies and fight enemies as equally weak because arming countries like Saudi Arabia, which support terrorism, is not doing Britain any good.

    Mentioning the ongoing war in Yemen, Andrew Feinstein said that the war crimes committed there are happening with the use of American and British weapons that are being sold to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other members of the Saudi-led coalition.

    “I think that all this is doing the UK’s reputation a great deal of damage,” Andrew Feinstein emphasized.

    A report by The Guardian about the current uptick in UK arms sales came out just ahead of the Defense and Security Equipment International arms fair at the Excel center in London.

    The fair is one of the largest shows of its kind in the world. Among the countries invited to attend by the British government are Egypt, Qatar, Kenya, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

    Saudi Arabia has historically been a major buyer of British-made weapons. However, experts note that the rise in sales to other countries signals a shift in emphasis on the part of the British government, which is keen to support the defense industry.

    Related:

    Another Special Relationship: UK Arms Sales to Saudi 'Violate' Int'l Obligations
    Yemen Airstrikes: 'UK Putting Saudi Arms Sales Ahead of Human Rights'
    Tags:
    repressive regimes, human rights violations, arms sales, war crimes, EU, Andrew Feinstein, United Kingdom
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