World Politics

The Nations who Armed the Arab Dictatorships

By Ted Newcomen

The U.S. “lamestream” media circus has been fulminating about Arab dictatorships killing innocent demonstrators in recent uprisings across the Middle East but has been conspicuously silent about the origins of the weapons used. Although some governments, such as the UK, have recently had second thoughts and are revoking arms licenses to Libya and Bahrain. This includes weapons such as tear gas grenades and other ammunition to suppress demonstrations. Never mind that it’s a bit late to actually affect what’s happening in the street but at least the thought was there!1

The issue has been an ongoing one in the EU since the lifting of the arms embargo back in 2004 with the Belgian courts again stopping arms sales only last year.2

Thirteen months ago the Russians announced a $2 billion deal with the Libyan regime to supply armaments, mainly combat aircraft, tanks, and surface-to-air anti-missile systems.3

In 2008, President Putin visited Libya and cancelled billions of dollars of the nation’s Soviet-era debt in exchange for big new contracts with Russian firms. Prior to this Moammar Gadhafi had visited Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine, all of which had offered to supply Libya with weapons. He said he was also discussing possible arms deals with Britain, France, and Italy, “everyone is trying to offer a better choice,” he said.4

Early on in the Obama administration Vice Admiral Jeffrey Wieringa, head of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, said the United States might supply Humvees, the vehicular backbone of U.S. forces worldwide, to the Libyan regime as relations had warmed since the administration of former President George W. Bush removed Libya from its list of alleged state sponsors of terrorism. Wieringa said a Libyan delegation visited him about six months ago in his office and “we’ve got some modest, non-lethal efforts … that is progressing at a reasonable pace right now.”5

Another army department spokesperson said at the time “initial contacts between the two militaries have been very positive ….. both sides recognize that since we haven’t had good relations in almost four decades, we both have a lot to relearn about each other’s countries and policies and how to work together.”6

In August 2007 the French Defense Minister Herve Morin confirmed a deal to sell arms to Libya worth $405 million including the purchase of communications equipment and medium-range anti-tank missiles from subsidiaries of the European Aerospace and Defense firm EADS.7

In May 2007 British Prime Minister Tony Blair visited Libya and signed an agreement on establishing a defense partnership between London and Tripoli. This followed on from the opening of a full-time Libyan office by the British government body responsible for arms exports, the Defense Export Services Organisation.8

Real journalists, if there were any, should be asking our leaders why they have been supporting thuggish Middle Eastern dictators with arms sales and military training. It doesn’t take much research to find out this information but our ‘lamestream’ media is silent and complicit as per usual.

—February 23, 2011