By Daniel Margrain
If not for the protests that have been taking place over the past week at London’s Docklands, what is taking place their might appear to some to be a run of the mill trade show. In fact, one of the world’s greatest cities is hosting representatives of some of the most authoritarian regimes on earth such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and Azerbaijan as part of the biennial Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) exhibition that began yesterday (September 12, 2017).
This summer, Britain demonstrated its support for the Saudi government, the biggest market for UK arms companies, by delivering a consignment of 500lb Paveway IV bombs originally earmarked for the RAF. Saudi Arabia’s fleet of strike aircraft includes British Tornados, Eurofighter Typhoons and US F-15s.
Michael Stephens, of the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi), told the BBC:
“The UK is digging into its own weapons supplies to replenish Saudi stocks.”
Many of the weapons that will be sold to the Saudi’s at the arms fair will be used in airstrikes ostensibly against Houthi rebels in Yemen but in fact are being targeted against civilian infrastructure. This amounts to a violation of the laws of war. More than 1,500 companies are expected to exhibit their weapons of death wares at the event, including the US and UK giants Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon and BAE Systems.
Many of the Saudi bombs raining down on Yemeni civilians are being sold to them by BAE Systems, whose chairman, Sir Roger Carr, is also vice-chair of the BBC Trust. This almost certainly explains why the BBC has been reluctant to highlight Saudi-UK links in their news coverage.
At past London arms fairs, campaigners have discovered a variety of illegal torture equipment advertised for sale, including electric shock stun guns and batons, leg-irons, and belly, body and gang-chains. There has also been a range of illegal cluster-munition weaponry advertised. Author and activist, Matt Kennard, posted a photograph on Twitter of some of the munitions on sale at the event (see below):
According to the Guardian, Amnesty said it had identified nine companies that had violated UK law at DSEI events between 2005 and 2013.
The royal connection
The British establishment and royalty know that arms are good investments especially shells, bombs and cruise missiles that are tipped with depleted uranium. Air, water and soil are contaminated when DU is used and once contaminated there is no way to de-contaminate it. To contaminate the food chain is a crime against humanity for which the Royal Family is complicit.
Their complicity (with the help of Tiny Rowland), extended to the asset stripping of Africa. Tiny Rowland, who was an unashamed member of Hitler Youth and nicknamed the “Royal Buckaneer”, was chief executive of the Lonrho conglomerate from 1962 to 1994. Angus Ogilvy, the Queen’s nephew, would sit on Rowland’s Board with Royal approval. The Royal shares would thus finance the arming of Africa in the Lonrho resource wars. African lenders who promised Lonrho their strategic minerals were armed to the hilt by Ogilvy and Rowland.
In 1987, the Anti-Slavery Society reported that in Lonrho’s shanty goldmines, 60 boys had to work almost naked in a pool of cyanide at their extractor plant in Ghana. The cyanide, in separating out the gold, enters the body as gas, liquid or acid dust. But for Lonrho and royalty such horror is overlooked if it happens to impinge on profits. With the help and advice of their pet buckaneer, the royal shareholder’s had recolonized Africa by the back door and their uranium holdings are now worth more than 6 billion dollars.
But here’s the catch. No amount of money can deflect from the fact that pollution is democratic. Not only can uranium winds blow back into the faces of their profiteers but thanks to uranium investors, radioactive isotopes are now found in the flesh of worms. Worms are a pillar of ecosystems in as much as they air-ate the soil and aid the nutrient uptake of plants which Prince Charles reportedly likes to talk to.
Depleted uranium that hardens the tips of shells that can pierce concrete is one of the royal ordinance star exports despite the fact that weapons which contain DU violate the Geneva Convention. The DU shell which the Sovereign has shares in, is not only illegal but it is also a highly mobile discriminate killer described as a “permanent terrain contaminant”.
Unlike any hereditary monarchy, however historic, DU stains the environment forever and rewrites DNA codes. The rates of human deformation in Fallujah, the city in Iraq where the West used DU, exceed those in Hiroshima. While the UK government was undertaking its illegal war in Iraq, it increased the value of the Royal investment. The price of uranium increased 500 percent in six years.
The trading in death by royalty continues apace but has shifted from the Continent they fleeced during the Ogilvy/Rowland years to the Arabian Gulf Peninsula. Three year ago BAE systems, sold 72 Typhoon fighter jets to the Saudi Arabian dictatorship. On the eve of the day the deal was signed Prince Charles was in the Saudi capital Riyadh, dressed in traditional robes and joining the Saudi princes in a sword dance.
Andrew Smith from the Campaign Against the Arms Trade said:
“It is clear that Prince Charles has been used by the UK government and BAE Systems as an arms dealer”. This was Charles’ 10th visit to the Saudi regime and was made at the request of the Foreign Office. A previous investigation into UK-Saudi arms deal, Margaret Thatcher’s sale of Tornado fighters in the Al Yamamah deal, was blocked by Tony Blair on “national security grounds”.
Illegal arms deals involving British royalty extends further afield. In South Africa, for example, Hawk Jets are the preferred killing machines.
Former South African MP Andrew Feinstein said:
“The royal family was involved in trying to persuade South Africa to buy BAE’s Hawk jets, despite the air force not wanting the planes that cost two and a half times the price of their preferred aircraft. As an ANC MP at the time, I was told that £116m in bribes had been paid to key decision-makers and the ANC itself. The royal family’s attitude is part of the reason that BAE will never face justice in the UK for its corrupt practices.”
It’s the hereditary concentration of power and accumulation of wealth through weapons profiteering, corruption and death that, in part, is the context that lays behind Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to refuse to sing the national anthem. The monarchy and notions of democracy are irreconcilable concepts.
It was on this principle that the English people fought a civil war, made a revolution and cut off their king’s head in the 17th century. I’m not suggesting anything of the sort be carried out today, but the outward expression of Corbyn’s republican principles, set against Monday’s passing of the Brexit Bill in Westminster, highlight the contradiction at the heart of liberal democratic Britain in the 21st century.
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