2020-October-20 09:53
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2020-October-3  21:47

US Spreading Misery in West Asia Through Arms Sales

TEHRAN (FNA)- According to a new report from the Center for International Policy (CIP), the United States continues to be the number one supplier of weapons in the Middle East and North Africa, supplying 48 percent of the region’s arms.

Combining the US arms with its European allies, the Western countries provide nearly three-quarters of the weapons used in the area, as well.

The US is the top weapons supplier by a wide margin, though. The next three leading suppliers are France with 11 percent, the UK at five percent, and Germany at five percent. The top recipient for weapons exports is Saudi Arabia, of course.

The CIP study says proponents for these arms sales describe them as “a force for stability, a way to cement alliances, a way to counter Iran, or, more generally, as a tool for creating a balance of power that makes conflict less likely. While US officials invoke the Iranian threat to justify arms sales to countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the reality is, these weapons are mostly used to kill civilians in Yemen and end up in the hands of terror groups like ISIL al-Qaeda.

Besides Yemen, US arms have fueled wars in countries all across the region, in Libya, Egypt, Iraq, and Syria, to name a few. The report says  US arms often end up in the hands of these regimes and their terror proxies in these conflicts. We couldn’t agree more:

The glaring absence of human rights from Washington’s arms sales to the Arab regimes has only emboldened further violations in the region where they kill and injure civilians or flout the rights of their own peoples in the name of security, and violate International Humanitarian Law in the ongoing crackdowns fuelled on large part by US arms transfers.

Here, brutal regimes like Saudi and Al Khalifa have been using counter terrorism as an excuse to ruthlessly crush and persecute critics, peaceful dissidents and human rights defenders. Even as protesters are killed, detained and tortured, the Trump administration has approved more arms deals with Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. This brazen disregard for human rights and humanitarian law only serves to further embolden them in their pursuit of insecurity and state terrorism.

Funny how US officials insist that the US is also continuing to discuss human rights issues with these unelected regimes, and is encouraging reform. That historically has never really been the case, as the US has largely turned a blind eye to Bahrain’s abuse of its Shia population, viewing it as a cost of getting to host a major naval base there. The US also ignores what the Saudis are doing in Yemen as it’s bad for their illicit arms business.

This is a country where even the US government accepts that serious human rights abuses and atrocities are taking place, yet it is still pushing arms to the Saudis. It is not that hard to know what atrocities and abuses these arms have fuelled, or who they have been used against. All the US needs to do is go through various reports by human rights organizations that openly condemn rights abuses in Yemen.

Nor is that all. If the US government wants to promote human rights and democracy then it must stop selling arms to the Al Khalifa and other repressive regimes in the Persian Gulf, as well. It also faces particular criticism over sale of weapons to Bahrain and the UAE, which are involved in the dirty war against Yemen.

Worse still, the United Nations is yet to scrutinise US arms exports, much less say it likely that American weapons have been used to violate International Law. The Bahraini regime, and to a greater extent, the Saudis and Emiratis stand accused of bombing civilian objects like international hospitals, schools, wedding parties and food factories in Yemen. So far, thousands of people have been killed in the air strikes backed by the US.

All in all, US arms trade provides the destructive hardware used in human rights abuses, atrocities and conflicts across the Middle East and North Africa, mainly in Libya. It undermines democracy and development, contributing to the poverty and suffering of millions.

It is high time for the UN to call for regulation of arms sales in the West. The world body should call on the US government to ensure that all manufacturers are made to publish the full details of their holdings and services to the regional arms trade. The UN must introduce regulation which prevents Western governments from supporting the arms trade to repressive regimes in the Persian Gulf. 

To this end, UN member states must work together to hammer out a binding international treaty to end unregulated conventional arms sales - a pact that a powerful US lobby has forced Washington to reject.

The treaty should set standards for all transfers of any type of conventional weapon. It should set binding requirements for Western governments to review all arms contracts to ensure the munitions will not be used in human rights abuses, do not violate laws, and are not illegally diverted to terrorist groups.

Syria, Iraq and Yemen are just a few recent examples where the world bore witness to the horrific human cost of a reckless US-led arms trade. The treaty should leave no avenues for abusers of human rights to continue getting weapons from the West.

As long as the UN remains silent, the dirty wars on Yemen, Syria and Libya will continue to grind on. The United States and its allies have no intention to talk peace, let alone stop aiding various terrorist groups on the pretext of fighting ISIL and Al-Qaeda or regional security.

The State Department has itself on several occasions told the whole world that the US cannot guarantee the weapons it sends to these regimes would not end up in the hands of ISIL terrorists. It’s the same official position shared by the Central Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon, which in tandem are providing the same Al-Qaeda-linked militants with military training and weapons in Syria and Libya.

As is, US arms sales are evasive and wrong. It’s in no way in compliance with international law and UN Security Council authorization. It is silly for the War Party to try to trump complying with international law and UNSC authorization, making arguments within the general category of “security”.

If Washington is really serious about fighting terrorism and helping to ensure regional security, there are immediate means by which it could act, such as by ending its bogus war on terror, by supporting regional peace talks, by ending its support for terrorist proxies, and by increasing aid to millions of civilians and refugees who have lost their livelihoods throughout the region.