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.
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.
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.