LES AFFAIRES SONT LES AFFAIRES

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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