Wars, occupation, oppression, and corruption fuel a surging Middle East arms race

New SIPRI arms transfers data shows small overall increase in global trade, but huge increase in sales to the Middle East.

Graphic showing map of states in the Middle East with bubbles for each country indicating level of arms imports. Heading: Arms imports by states in the Middle East. Subheading: The volume of arms imports in SIPRI trend-indicator values is depicted by the size of the circle. 2014-2018. Source: SIPRI Arms Transfers Database. Copyright SIPRI 2019.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) yesterday releasedits latest data on the global arms trade, for which it is by far the best source. The data provides details of deliveries of major conventional weapons worldwide from 1950-2018, both in numerical terms and with searchable lists of the actual weapons transferred between countries. The information can be found in SIPRI’s database, and some of the key points are discussed in a fact sheet also published yesterday.

Continue reading “Wars, occupation, oppression, and corruption fuel a surging Middle East arms race”

Oil & war; 16 years since the 2003 anti-war protests

Protesters stand outside the British Museum in lines holding onto large banners/ a 'living tapestry' with messages about war, colonialism, the Iraq war and fossil fuels painted on
Cover photo by Safa Kadhim

On the 16th Feb, and to mark 16 years since the 2003 anti-war protests, BP or not BP?, and many others took over the British Museum; targetting specifically the BP-sponsored Assyria exhibition. This was part of a series of actions, that also included the action at the press launch of the exhibition in November. Iraqi members of the group also set up an alternative exhibition in Feb-March, with works of Iraqis in Iraq and in the diaspora exposing the realities of BP in Iraq. Here you can read why we protested on the 16th.

An overview of the takeover on the 16th can be found here and Culture Unstained also released a detailed report with FOIs from the British Museum on the recent I am Ashurbanipal exhibition.

Biggest protest in British Museum's history over BP and Iraq

Hey British Museum, did you really think that putting a BP logo on looted objects from Iraq was even a tiny bit acceptable? *Cue largest protest in museum's 260 year history* 🏛✊🏽

Posted by BP or not BP? on Thursday, 28 February 2019
Video of the action on the 16th February 2019
Continue reading “Oil & war; 16 years since the 2003 anti-war protests”

Addressing some misconceptions about the Arms Trade Treaty

Deception in High Places by Nicholas Gilby
Deception in High Places by Nicholas Gilby

In this blog anti arms trade writer and campaigner Nicholas Gilby, author of Deception in High Places – A History of Bribery In Britain’s Arms Trade, analyses misconceptions about the arms trade treaty.

The Arms Trade Treaty came into force on 24 December 2014.  At the time of writing the Treaty has been signed by 131 states and ratified by 61.  I want to try and clear up some misconceptions about the Treaty that have been aired in the commentaries surrounding its the entry into force.

Will the Arms Trade Treaty prohibit the sale of arms which might be used to violate human rights?

The short answer is no.

The Arms Trade Treaty sets out criteria for when arms exports should be prohibited (Article 6) and the criteria which should be used when deciding whether other arms exports should be permitted (Article 7).

Continue reading “Addressing some misconceptions about the Arms Trade Treaty”

“The affair stinks but it doesn’t stink enough….”

Damning words from Judge Stefan Apostol. He was speaking in a courtroom in Vienna, at the conclusion of a corruption trial.

Alfons Mensdorff-Pouilly
Alfons Mensdorff-Pouilly. He’s laughing but we’re not – and nor are the Austrian judiciary.

Although the trial received almost no publicity in the UK, the individual on trial and the company behind his misdeeds were deeply linked with the UK.

In the dock was “Count” Alfons Mensdorff-Pouilly, popularly known in Austria as “Count Ali”. Aristocratic ranks were abolished in Austria in 1919 but erstwhile aristocratic families are reluctant to give up grandiose titles which it seems work wonders in gaining entrée into certain social and business circles.
Continue reading ““The affair stinks but it doesn’t stink enough….””

BAE wilts under Select Committee onslaught

Ann Feltham, CAAT’s Parliamentary Co-ordinator, attended the International Development Committee hearing on 19 July which saw  BAE under attack by MPs for its shameful inaction in paying £29.5 million to the Government of Tanzania.

Media eyes may have been focused on the Murdochs’ Select Committee appearance, but the real pleasure for CAAT supporters was the International Development Committee hearing which took place on the same day. The focus was “Financial Crime and Development” and, in particular, BAE’s military radar deal with Tanzania which had been the subject of a plea bargain between the company and the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in February 2010.

BAE’s sacrificial goats up before the MPs were Legal Counsel Philip Bramwell and the company’s Head of Government Relations Bob Keen. Why, the MPs demanded to know, had BAE not paid over the £29.5million for the benefit of the Tanzanian people which was part of the plea bargain and confirmed by Judge Bean in the Crown Court in December. Continue reading “BAE wilts under Select Committee onslaught”

BAE – getting away with paying peanuts

Demo outside BAE court case
A giant Dick Olver, chairman of BAE, paying peanuts

BAE managed to escape with a fine of £500,000 plus costs in court today. Its plea bargain (worth £30 million) to end years of corruption investigations was structured so poorly that if the court fined more, this would be deducted from the amount Tanzania is to receive in reparations. The judge described “moral pressure” to therefore minimise the fine.

But it is heartening that the judge, like the rest of us, could clearly see through BAE’s story:

“..on the basis of the documents shown to me it seems very naïve in the extreme to think that Mr Vithlani was simply a well-paid lobbyist” Continue reading “BAE – getting away with paying peanuts”

BAE – guilty not only of “accounting errors”?

We braved the snow to demonstrate outside BAE’s court hearing

CAAT outside court
Will a giant Dick Olver get away with paying peanuts?

Sub-zero temperatures didn’t deter us from voicing our anger outside court today. Arms company BAE was inside and set to get away with paying utter peanuts: buying an end to years of corruption investigations by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO). But it seems we weren’t the only people to spot injustice: the judge has so far not rubber-stamped the proposed plea bargain. He has instead postponed sentencing until tomorrow.

The SFO investigations involved allegations of corrupt payments of over £1,000,000,000 in nine countries. The proposed plea bargain on the other hand is a measly £30 million, admitting only to “accounting errors” in a single disastrous deal for Tanzania. Continue reading “BAE – guilty not only of “accounting errors”?”

Justice should be HEARD by everyone

Westminster Magistrates Court
Westminster Magistrates Court

Kaye Stearman explains, as far as she is able, what happened when BAE pleaded guilty in court.
Tuesday 23 November 2010

9.45 – I arrive at Westminister Magistrates Court in Horseferry Road, a building with all the architectual charm of a multi-story parking lot and the security checks of a minor international airport. Continue reading “Justice should be HEARD by everyone”

Report – The People’s Jury @ BAE AGM

Anne-Marie O’Reilly on how CAAT campaigners brought BAE to justice on 5 May.

Dick Olver looms over judges
The People's Jury in session

One 12-foot high puppet (literally armed to the teeth) + 30 judge/jurors in wigs and cloaks = a strange sight for civil servants, tourists and shareholders in the City of Westminster this morning. The giant puppet was Dick Olver, Chair of the world’s largest arms company, and the thirty judge/jurors were Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) activists. The scene was set for the People’s Jury outside BAE’s AGM.

Chanting “BAE can’t you see: corruption is your legacy”, the People’s Jury pursued Giant Dick Olver from 66 Victoria Street (home to the government arms sales department from which he receives so much support) to justice outside the AGM. Continue reading “Report – The People’s Jury @ BAE AGM”

BAE boss lectures on ethics – a bad joke?

Cordula Bieri describes how a CAAT protest took on a comic theme to highlight the absurdity of an arms company boss speaking on ethics.

On a cold and wet Thursday evening, 12 November 2009, supporters of Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) gathered outside Savoy Place in central London to have a good laugh. What happened?

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) invited BAE Systems’ Chairman, Dick Olver, to give its annual Mountbatten Memorial Lecture on ethics. The head of a company which is being investigated in several countries for alleged corruption and bribery and yet still denies any wrongdoing. So, naturally, we were really interested in what he had to tell us about ethics.
Continue reading “BAE boss lectures on ethics – a bad joke?”