tv Inside Story 2018 Ep 17 Al Jazeera January 18, 2018 2:32pm-3:01pm +03
between pakistan and russia a route used by migrant workers police are investigating what caused the blaze rushes this missing what it calls a groundless accusations by the u.s. president that the kremlin's helping north korea evade international sanctions in an interview donald trump also cast doubt on whether talks with north korea's leader would be useful he said china could do much more but praised restrictions on oil i'm called deliveries to the north aid agencies and the u.n. calling for the day that to remain open beyond friday to continue the delivery of lifesaving goods so he led coalition has allowed the ports operation after u.s. funded cranes were installed it used to handle seventy percent of yemen's imports but damage from a twenty fifteen air strike and the blockade by the saudi led military alliance has severely restricted aid axis more than eight million people in yemen are dependent on food aid pope francis is urging chile's much uproot indigenous people to end violence in their struggle for more rights he held mass in the. region which is at
the center of a long running conflict between the government and indigenous groups. those are the latest headlines on al-jazeera inside story is coming up next they with us. some call it the business of death the worldwide arms trade is booming and the number of dead from wars gun battles and on gang crime is rising with thousands killed every day is it possible for governments to control powerful companies that dominate the global weapons market this is inside story.
hello welcome to the program i'm adrian finnegan and when it comes to global arms trades and deals the scenes play out pretty formulaically politicians shaking hands a joint press releases issued an astronomical amount of money is spent what often isn't mentioned though is the companies that are profiting from such deals and whether parties that sell arms to governments are complicit if they use them to commit serious human rights abuses whether it's war planes ships missiles tanks or guns of all sizes the international arms trade is big business in every sense amnesty international says that military expenditure for countries worldwide in twenty sixteen was one point seven trillion dollars three hundred seventy five billion of that on buying arms specifically the united states china france russia
and the u.k. so more than seventy percent of all weapons manufactured worldwide and they're all permanent members of the un security council the world body that's charged with maintaining international peace and security at least a quarter of conventional weapons sales to the middle east. north africa and the human cost two point two million people killed in conflicts worldwide since the end of the cold war in one nine hundred eighty nine so which companies are making the big bucks in the global arms trade will of the top ten defense companies by sale seven of them are based in the united states lockheed martin is number one with forty one billion dollars worth of sales in twenty sixteen three our european air bus group b. a systems and leonardo in italy much to discuss on today's program let's bring in our guests right now joining us from london lloyd russell moyle who's a u.k. member of parliament and with the opposition labor party from lancaster via skype tim ripley an independent defense and security analyst and also in london is ben
morris a senior defense davey asian analyst with i.h.s. james which covers global defense procurement defense exports and commercial aviation gentlemen welcome to you all lord russell moyo british sales of military equipment to saudi arabia topped one point one billion pounds in the first half of twenty seventeen is the u.k. quote shamefully profiting from the conflict in yemen in which thousands of civilians have died and billions more are subjected to famine and disease as one of your fellow opposition politicians put it. well the short answer is yes not just in twenty seventeen let's go further back and the year before last over four billion worth of sales and our criteria that is laid out by the european union is clear that a weapon should not be sold when there is a clear likelihood they will be used for humanitarian for for against
humanitarian law and used for war crimes now the u.n. is clear and the e.u. is clear that what saudi arabia is doing in the yemen is at least crimes against humanity in many respects but britain continues to issue licenses one reason because of course it weakened the license regime a few years ago and the second because there is political interference because the last of his other sided not by an independent body but by a government department overseen by a government minister who has other issues particularly to think about around the amount of money we can get in rather than actually the amount of people that are being killed and yet the argument that the stress of time and time again by ministers and civil servants in the u.k. is that britain operates one of the most rigorous arms control export control regimes in the world and yet the u.k. continues as you say to export arms to repressive regimes countries involved in
conflict and has done for years so can we therefore say that the u.k. government the u.k. government's control regimes are anything but rigorous. on paper they look nice and rigorous and shining in reality we know from the latest figures over two billion is exported in the last period to some of the most unfree and repressive regimes around the world and that is because there is political meddling at all levels jewing the checking process we don't check against fraud in those companies we don't check whether those companies and those sales have breached previous export licenses we don't even check to see where the end users of those weapons are we look only the the the first user let's compare the u.k. with norway and only in twenty fifteen there was a deal that involved a norwegian and british company selling arms to african warlord the norwegians
prosecuted and have tightened up there we the warlords are now in jail and what is the british what are the british done we continued to issue export licenses to that very company that has a brass plate in london so that is the example of where it is complete hogwash to say that we have the strongest export license procedures in the world on paper yes in reality they're not worth the paper they are written on to repeat the campaign against the arms trade in the u.k. says that arms sales don't enhanced security they fuel conflict repression and they make the world a more dangerous place for us or are they right. well all those things are very subjective terms and the history of arms sales to saudi arabia goes back many many decades and the same weapons that the u.k. government sold to saudi arabia and they've been used in yemen twenty five thirty years ago we used as part of an international coalition to liberate kuwait that had
been occupied by iraq and that was an operation that was mandated on and approved by the you know security council and the saudi arabians were part of an international coalition and was was achieving what was called a humanitarian operation so in that case that everyone applauded the fact the saudi arabians were using british supplied equipment to liberate the people of kuwait. so you have to be very subjective about these terms about when things are sold for use in human rights abuses they may be sold many many decades before when the government of that country was perfectly friendly was doing a legally recognized and approved activity so arms sales are part of international diplomacy that part of international alliances that part of the. state craft they've been going on for centuries and will go on for centuries just because at the moment in time the saudi arabian government is doing something
that certain parts of the british political classes disapprove of doesn't mean that in two years time ten years down the saudi arabia is going to do something that we applaud so you know this is a i think as of the moment it will pass it will go so you have to be very careful about using very emotive language in these circumstances but is the arms trade something that that the five permanent members of the un security council has any business being involved in i mean it is it ethical in any sense is there any moral justification for it. but well first of all the right of self-defense is in shrine and the un charter sovereign states have a right to defend themselves to quit their own forces and to repel attacks on their borders and they're entitle under international law to buy whatever weapons they want to fulfill those aims now countries it's up to them if they want to sell arms
to sovereign countries to defend themselves most countries in fact almost every country in the world now regular sale of arms. that they have to get approval of the governments the that the air of. you know uncontrolled on sales dates back to you know treaty will warm and now most countries and if i do most every country in the world with any kind of defense industry they have to get approval of their government to sell to a foreign government so and so the their sales are aligned with the interests of the home countries foreign policy now. there are different rules in different countries some countries impose quite strict criteria or they try and have at so quasar independent. oversight of these sales but it's up to each country to set its own rules there's no international configure.
treaty that says you can't sell arms there are various coffer cations on circumstances the un security council can impose arms in barker's which are legal in forcible and other nations are bound to abide by then but unless the u.n. security council imposes an embargoed their own cell in our society arabia it's up to individual countries what they did ben was in london thanks for waiting patiently have a feeling you're going to say money here but but it's not just the u.k. why are why are some governments the u.s. france russia china israel or so committed to. their defense industries. well i think there's two factors here i think firstly it's let's divide the market up into i think small arms which calls you know ninety percent plus for the casualties in a conflict and you know platform and systems mission systems you know and this
small arms market well you know that's as eighty countries in the world which can supply small arms now we have no real control over them for the large platforms well if you if you don't sell into them you know russia and china increasingly china have viable alternatives and of course. if you remove yourself from the global supply chain for defense then you will and you want to continue to protect moxie's and your allies then you're looking at your pretense cost doubling at least doubling because you know you wouldn't be involved in key programs you would be able to offset your costs in a program that large white programs just simply wouldn't be viable then a read somewhere today in the name of creating american jobs and keeping american companies at the top of that list of the top ten on as many factors the president trump is is perhaps going to loosen regulations on the americans weapons industry and yet the number of jobs in the arms industry is as a whole is in long term decline is that right. well ok so
if he does deregulate it won't make any difference because the american market is so large relative to american exports as you know american to you know american exports or some like seventeen billion dollars a year. you said earlier does forty one billion u.s. market is worth you know hundreds of millions so it's a very small part of their overall thing finally even if it does deregulate he's alienated so many potential customers that it is probably going to see a downturn in sales lord russell morrow what do you make of the fact that the five permanent members of the security council are responsible for something like seventy percent of the global arms trade that's somewhat perverse isn't it. it is very worrying that. the security council the people who are meant to be bringing peace to the world are also the people selling death machines to the
world and let's be very clear that it is there is a you set of criteria that we are meant to be following there are international agreements around the sales of certain classes of weapons and time and time again we see british companies involved in that whether flouting those rules but it is only two thousand and eleven was the last prosecution absolutely no activity in enforcement. in the u.k. and i suspect that is very much the same picture in the other security council countries to the un's arms trade treaties been in force what's the three years now and yet many signatory states continue to sell arms to governments the accused of committing serious human rights abuses may be a naive question here but why is that why is the treaty working. well because. one man's human rights abuse is another man's freedom fighter there are the
definition of what is a crime it's very very fluid and you have the international criminal court which is supposed to prosecute war criminals and it hasn't actually prosecuted very many war criminals so. lots of countries of append to right nor. that ledge to pieces in the interests of the of the national interest now we have in the in that u.n. security council. they they apply impose sanctions that are legal in forcible and nations are required to impose impose them but you know you have veto powers by the u.s. china u.k. france who can use those b. two powers to protect their friends now those veto powers and the u.n. security council is the main venue where real sanctions can be imposed on
on states for doing things that will disapprove of unless the u.n. security council is going to impose a a arms embargo on saudi arabia. all those other treaties are of you know you call them second order issues they are moral indignation but they they have they don't have the same impact under international law now. in the case of iraq. you know they had arms embargoes imposed on them by the u.n. security council and countries respect them and countries and individuals in the breach them were prosecuted quite considerably in the united kingdom so that the u.k. has quite a robust process for. in forcing u.n. security council mandate. sanctions and take them very seriously i mean there are
cases of. prosecutions involving iran and. countries that have un security council imposed. sanctions so until countries are prepared to take their their concerns the unity unity council and get that body to back them. it is moral indignation rather than practical politics when you talk about this argument you know if we're not selling arms and doing it responsibly then someone else will perhaps less so who controls the arms market particularly that you talk about the small arms market in the damage that small arms do to people worldwide is the collusion between the major powers about who sells what and and can that the arms trade truly ever be controlled and can't be controlled there's no collusion no you can't it's very very difficult to track you know what company and or china or pakistan or sri lanka or russia and who they're selling
right rifles to it's extremely difficult to do that you've got to remember that these countries with think that this sort of oversight or that somehow this is a bad thing they would think i maybe i might even find that amusing and you can remember that that's where the trade is coming from it's not coming from the u.k. where you know something like point less less than point one percent if you correct ports are in that category in terms of dollar value you know it's not relevant part of the market for us especially and that's for the rest of the west as well because we can't compete on cost and there are and we are regulated it's too costly to look into it and then we talked about president trump perhaps loosening regulations on the american weapons industry how many of those american weapons are going to eventually end up in the wrong hands i think that it's a fallacy to believe that somehow or other. you know major mission systems or platforms can be simply passed around you know aircraft have tens of thousands of
components and you need them all to be able to flight you can hide them you can't simply parties on to third parties and some you know it's not like you know boxes in the back of a crate you need suppliers to be able to provide you with the components just look at the iranians in the iran iraq war and it's it's you know when you start getting up to you know major systems which is the bulk of the market in dollar terms i mean what i mean ninety percent plus you simply can't conceal that sort of that that's under the market right lloyd do you want to come in on that i mean does that make everything ok then the britain is only selling big weapons systems well two points to make first of all i totally agree it's a very small arms sales in terms of british exports is very small that is a reason to stop treating it like it was a major industry that needs protecting and start treating it like the pariah it
should be secondly the idea that maybe china or russia or wherever will sell arms as well so we might as well do it is a complete false economy it is a false economy in terms of life and let's let's boil this down to the street it's not it's a walk down the road there someone the committed a mugging so we might as well do it anyway no that's not how law and order at the national level or at the international level works and i'm afraid it's a very dangerous slippery slope if we just say well someone else's is doing now the immoral things or why don't we just go down that route as well and the other final point to say is britain regulates not just arms that to produced in britain and then exported out of britain. but every single british person who is involved in the brokerage of arms so if there is a british person involved in selling arms from russia to. syria for example or from
you know kind of from america to somewhere in latin america and there are british people involved in that they need to be licensed and that is also what is failing and that is something we could have a great control in preventing british people in the sale and resale of small arms and ammunitions which you kill not most people but we need to start regulating we're running out of time here and i need a brief answer from you if you can give me one when arms sales are prioritized over arms control when business and jobs take precedence over suffering and human rights in foreign policy and when narrow and some might say dangerous visions of security dominate public discourse isn't it time to argue that the arms industry has undue access to influence over public policy makers in governments particularly there in britain totally correct and that's why we need independent regulators not ministers deciding the rules and then regulating the rules totally
right to one thing we haven't touched upon here is corruption to what extent is corruption a factor in the arms trade world worldwide and who's involved. well this is a major problem in certain regions of the world particularly in africa and the middle east where you have countries that have no what you'd call accountable governments that have their budgets approved by parliaments or in any kind of alleged legislature. and in these countries there is apt opportunity for abuse you have small elites running these countries and their public policy decisions are made on wimps which are vulnerable to influence by various means whether it's it whether it's through the payment of cash all awarding
of a contract to buy a large mass of oil from the country in return for the selling o. or of defense equipment or the political alliance so. in certain parts of the world activity that can be described as corruption or is it just in america they call it pork barrel politics or is it just redistribution of resources i mean these things are these are words that are very difficult to pin down and. what is described as corruption in the arms trade is. very much linked to countries that don't have independent financial oversight of their countries but it retracts us a tip very very briefly ben was was talking about the fact that it big weapon systems aren't easily transferable but it is a case that is the fact that basically when it comes to small arms weapons that were sold quite legitimately and on the license responsibly you could say do end up
in the wrong hands so they. that they are the most the seepage these are weapons which can be an oprah crate in the back of a truck or a ship or a plane under ship somewhere else if they are in damage in africa and conflicts with wolds and smuggling and that candace and you have only so you have armed forces that are paid and that's the soldiers self the stuff all the offices sell off the stuff as a means to you know to eat so the these this small arms that is the one where seepage and sales and corruption of most endemic speech are pretty clear low level as you call it cash corruption right ben one final question a need to be brief if you can norway has stopped selling arms to the u.a.e. over fears that those weapons might be used in yemen if they can do it why can't the u.k. . u.k.
could could could do it then have to find a good justification for it you have to weigh up the pros and balances because you don't want to necessarily anyway a partner who is is fighting against islamic extremism you have to be the problem of the arms trade is complex and we have to use the arms trade to support our partners who have been threatened by russia maybe by china and we have to use it says. destabilize people who are threatening our friends and we have to use this way of being able to leverage because once you pull that plug you can no longer do it so if we pull the plug on the yemen and we alienate the saudis and next they go buy chinese weapons then there's nothing we can do and for saudi arabia as a revolution like around it and we and we have no leverage of metol the chinese will keep selling equipment that doesn't mean it's right to sell it it just means that we it's better for us to have control and when it's appropriate pull the plug all right gentlemen but he thanks indeed good to talk to you lloyd russell moyle tim ripley and ben morris thank you two for watching the program don't forget you can see it again at any time just by going to the web site at al-jazeera dot com
for further discussion on this issue join us at our facebook page facebook dot com forward slash a.j. inside story or you can join the conversation on twitter our handle is at a.j. inside story for me adrian for the good of the whole team here and thanks for watching we'll see you again by foot. the scene for us where on line what is american sign in yemen the peace is always
possible but it never happens not because the situation is complicated but because no one cares or if you join us on set there are people that that are choosing between buying medication eating base is a dialogue i want to get in one more comment because this is someone who is an activist and has posted a story join the global conversation at this time on al-jazeera. al-jazeera. where every your. piece here i mean you could see it going to give one hundred kind of a i still in afghanistan to some taliban fighters
a new call to arms for taliban leaders a threat to their authority the head of the salt just seeing who also chose to enslave all through that neighborhood suddenly call for a slew of the old lovely but not unprecedented access i still and the taliban at this time on al-jazeera. her. own daughter. this is al jazeera i'm talking obligato with a check on your world headlines ties between washington and turkey are under strain after reports the u.s. is forming a kurdish border force in northern.