The British press celebrates the triumph of Libya’s “rebel” forces. And the British arms industry toasts its continued success in expanding its markets in the Middle East.

A Libyan woman reads a copy of daily newspaper Arus al-Bahr, bearing a doctored image of Gaddafi dressed as a woman. Tripoli, 8 September 2011.
On 13 September, one of the world’s biggest arms fairs opens in London, backed by the British government. On 8 September, the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry held a preview entitled “Middle East: a Vast Market for UK Defence and Security Companies”. The host was the Royal Bank of Scotland, a major investor in cluster bombs. According to Amnesty International, 98 per cent of the victims of cluster bombs are civilians and 30 per cent children. RBS has received £20bn in public money. The blurb for the bank’s arms party read: “The Middle East is one of the regions with the greatest number of opportunities for UK defence and security companies. Saudi Arabia . . . is the world’s top defence importer, having spent $56bn in 2009 . . . a very worthwhile region to target.”


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