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New Report Exposes EU’s Security Links to Refugee-Creating Arms Dealers

Sputnik | July 6, 2016

Like peace itself, the military-industrial complex sees internal stability as bad for business. A new report has exposed the activities of military and security companies that are profiting from the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa, which have also successfully lobbied the EU to react by buying their security equipment.

The joint report by the European NGO Stop Wapenhandel and the Transnational Institute (TNI), called “Border Wars: The Arms Dealers Profiting from Europe’s Refugee Tragedy,” reveals the most prominent winners of security contracts which were issued in Europe as a result of the migrant crisis, and Europe’s acquiescent response to their lobbying.

“Some of the beneficiaries of border security contracts are some of the biggest arms sellers to the Middle-East and North-African region, fuelling the conflicts that are the cause of many of the refugees. In other words, the companies creating the crisis are then profiting from it.”

The big players in Europe’s border security complex include arms companies Airbus, Finmeccanica and Thales, which are also three of the top four European arms traders and have been particularly prominent winners of EU contracts aimed at strengthening borders.

Other companies to benefit from the EU’s policy response to Middle Eastern conflict are French defense and aerospace company Safran, the Spanish IT and defense systems firm Indra Sistemas, and some Israeli companies like BTec Electronic Security Systems, which promote their expertise based on equipment installed at the Israeli-Palestinian border.

French companies Airbus and Thales, and Italian Finmeccanica, are part of the European Organisation for Security (EOS), which has been most active in lobbying the EU for increased border security. The report notes that many of its proposals, such as its push to set up a cross European border security agency, have eventually ended up as policy.

According to the report, the booming border security market was worth an estimated 15 billion euros ($16.5 billion) in 2015, and is predicted to rise to over 29 billion euros ($32 billion) annually in 2022.

New EU member states have been required to strengthen borders as a condition of membership, creating additional markets for profit.

“The arms business, in particular sales to the Middle-East and North-Africa, where most of the refugees are fleeing from, is also booming. Global arms exports to the Middle-East actually increased by 61 per cent between 2006–10 and 2011–15. Between 2005 and 2014, EU member states granted arms exports licenses to the Middle East and North Africa worth over 82 billion euros ($91 billion).”

On Tuesday, the German newspaper Tagesspiegel newspaper revealed that the arms industry could benefit even further from a new direction in the EU’s African policy.

According to the report, the EU Commission intends to direct some funds from its Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace towards equipping African militaries.

The fund was established in March 2014 and has a 2.3 billion euro ($2.5 billion) budget, to be disbursed between 2014 and 2020.

“Development without security and stability is not possible,” a source in the Commission told the newspaper.

“The Commission is therefore considering increasing its support for security actors,” and “in some very special cases,” this will include security forces.

The proposal to spend African development funds on security forces was criticized by the German Green Party MEP Reinhard Butikofer, who described it as “breaking a taboo.”

Die Linke MEP Sabine Losing called the idea “scandalous,” and criticized the “misuse of aid.”

She said the proposal is one of a series of “steps in the militarization of EU foreign policy.”

July 6, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Arrest arms dealers, not peace campaigners!’ 8 on trial over weapons fair protest

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RT | April 11, 2016

Eight activists are standing trial at Stratford Magistrates Court for disrupting the world’s biggest arms fair, held in London, where deadly merchandise was marketed to repressive regimes such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Azerbaijan.

The campaigners blocked the road leading to the Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI) in Stratford, London, last September, preventing tanks and weaponry from entering.

The defendants are using a defense of necessity, insisting their actions were justified because they intended to prevent greater crimes taking place around the world.

These include: “The sale of weapons to internally repressive regimes, including Bahrain and Saudi Arabia; the sale of weapons to countries imminently at war and overtly complicit in ongoing war crimes in Yemen, Kurdistan and Palestine; the sale of weapons to regimes that have been widely accused of arming ISIS [Islamic State or IS]; the promotion for sale of weapons that are designed specifically for torture or banned under international law for their capabilities concerning the mass indiscriminate killing of civilians.”

The DSEI arms fair is held every two years in London, and is regularly attended by representatives from repressive regimes. It has also previously provided a platform for weapons dealers to illegally promote arms that are used for torture.

Last September’s event featured stalls from more than 1,500 exhibitors, including arms giants Lockheed Martin, BAE systems, Finmeccanica and others.

Protestors sought to disrupt the fair by locking their bodies together to block access roads outside the Excel Centre, where the fair was held. Several were arrested.

Some protestors, such as Vyara Gylsen – who was arrested after writing a slogan on a military vehicle with a washable marker pen – have since seen criminal charges against them dropped.

The defendants in court this week include Isa Al Aali, a Bahraini activist who was tortured during the Arab Spring uprising in Bahrain.

Green Party activists Angela Ditchfield and Tom Franklin are also among the eight appearing in court.

“The government is supporting and facilitating the sale of weapons that are being used to kill ordinary people, from the West Bank to Yemen and Sudan,” Franklin, 57, of York, said.

“This week we will put the arms trade in the dock and highlight the crimes that the government and the companies at DSEI are complicit in. Arrest arms dealers, not peace campaigners.”

The defendants will be supported by expert witnesses, including former South African MP Andrew Feinstein, who resigned from parliament in 2001 in protest at the government’s refusal to investigate a £5 billion (US$7.12 billion) arms deal.

Amnesty International UK’s Oliver Sprague, who heads up the charity’s arms Control and Policing division, will also give oral evidence, as will Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy director Sayed Ahmed, who seeks to improve accountability in the repressive Gulf state.

April 11, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Arms giants see stocks rocket after Syrian airstrikes vote

RT | December 3, 2015

The share prices of major international arms traders jumped in the wake of the British parliament’s decision to extend its aerial bombing campaign against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) from Iraq into Syria.

Stock values at BAE Systems, Airbus, Finmeccanica and Thales all soared as trading began on Thursday morning, CommonSpace reports. It comes as Britain prepares to spend millions more on its war with IS, and as an international collaboration against the terror group looks ever more likely.

BAE Systems leapt four points at the start of trading on Thursday. The jump comes as the arms trader’s value increased by 14 percent following the terror attacks in Paris which left 130 dead and over 300 injured.

Britain announced it is boosting its military spending and introducing a range of new security measures in the wake of the Paris attacks.

Aircraft firm Airbus, which develops the British Typhoon fighter jet, is also trading 1.5 percent up since the stock market opened on Thursday.

Italian arms dealer Finmeccanica has also seen its shares rise by 2 percent.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade told CommonSpace that arms companies are cashing in on the bloodshed.

“Unfortunately, where most of us see war and destruction, the arms companies see a business opportunity. It is conflict and military intervention that fuel arms sales, and companies like BAE are only too happy to cash in from it. These companies don’t care who uses their weapons or the damage they cause, the only thing they care about is profit.”

Prime Minister David Cameron warned on Thursday that British military action in Syria will be complex and take a long time.

“This is going to take time. It is complex and it is difficult what we are asking our pilots to do, and our thoughts should be with them and their families as they commence this important work,” he added.

On Wednesday evening British bombers hit seven IS targets in eastern Syria, including oil fields used to supply the terror group with vital funds.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the airstrikes had dealt IS “a real blow,” and added that British planes would not initially be targeting urban areas like Raqqa.

“I can confirm that four British Tornados were in action after the vote last night attacking oil fields in eastern Syria – the Omar oil fields – from which the Daesh (IS) terrorists receive a huge part of their revenue.”

“This strikes a very real blow at the oil and the revenue on which the Daesh terrorists depend,” he told the BBC.

December 3, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Economics | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

U.S. to Destroy a Half-Billion Dollars’ Worth of Unused Aircraft in Afghanistan

By Noel Brinkerhoff | AllGov | December 13, 2013

The U.S. military has decided to scrap nearly half a billion dollars worth of aircraft purchased for Afghanistan’s air force because the planes couldn’t handle the climate, among other problems.

A total of 16 cargo planes, the G222 manufactured by Italy’s Finmeccanica, now sit at Kabul International Airport. They were flown only 200 of the 4,500 hours scheduled for flight training by Afghan pilots before the U.S. decided to shut them down.

The Obama administration spent $486 million to purchase the aircraft, which were supposed to comprise 15% of the Afghan Air Force.

“We need answers to this huge waste of U.S. taxpayer money,” John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction who is investigating the matter, said in an email to Bloomberg. “Who made the decision to purchase these planes, and why? We need to get to the bottom of this, and that’s why we’re opening this inquiry.”

A January 31 Pentagon Inspector General report, marked “For Official Use Only,” criticized NATO and U.S. training commands for “hav[ing] not effectively managed the program.”

Lieutenant General Charles Davis, the U.S. Air Force’s top military acquisition official, told Bloomberg: “Just about everything you can think of was wrong for it other than the airplane was built for the size of cargo and mission they needed.”

“Other than that, it didn’t really meet any of the requirements,” he added.

A key problem was that the planes couldn’t handle the heat and dust of Afghanistan’s environment, which caused numerous maintenance troubles and prevented them from flying.

Davis said the Air Force tried to sell the aircraft to another country, but couldn’t locate any buyers. So now they will be dismantled for parts.

The U.S. decided to replace the G222s with American-made C-130H transports for the Afghan Air Force to use. But the replacements won’t be available until 2016.

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December 13, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Economics | , , , | Leave a comment