Cameron in Middle East arms tour hypocrisy

5 November 2012

Prime Minister David Cameron's trip to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Oman sends a very clear UK message of support for these authoritarian regimes.

Arguments that such support is necessary for security have been made before with regards to other regimes which disregarded human rights. This is morally repugnant and can lead to disastrous consequences in the longer term as the consequences of arming the likes of Saddam and Gadaffi clearly show.

CAAT spokesperson Henry McLaughlin says: "The Prime Minister claims that he wishes to support democracy in the Middle East but at the same time sells arms to these authoritarian regimes. Despite everything that has happened in the last two years, the UK government continues to bolster authoritarian regimes with weapon sales and to spend taxpayers' money on promoting further deals. They don't just approve the arms sales, they promote them."

As well as Prime Ministerial visits, the arms industry receives day-to-day support and subsidy through research and development funding, export credit insurance and a Government arms export promotion unit with nearly 150 staff. This is all paid for by the taxpayer, though the beneficiaries are BAE Systems and other international arms companies.

Military industry is, despite the subsidies, declining. Although it still employs a lot of skilled workers, such as engineers, these skills are needed in other industries. This was confirmed by a representative of the industry's trade body ADS giving evidence to the Commons' Defence Committee in September 2010: "... the skills that might be divested of a reducing defence industry do not just sit there waiting to come back. They will be mopped up by other industries that need such skills."

Promotion of arms to authoritarian regimes show the government's human rights statements to be empty words.


For further information please contact CAAT's Media Coordinator on 020 7281 0297 or mobile 07990 673 232 or email media(at)caat·org·uk.


  1. Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) in the UK works to end the international arms trade. The arms business has a devastating impact on human rights and society and damages economic development. Large-scale military procurement and arms exports only reinforce a militaristic approach to international problems. Around 75% of CAAT's income is raised from individual supporters. In 2012, CAAT was awarded a Right Livelihood Award, the "alternative Nobel Prize" for its "innovative and effective campaigning against the arms trade.
  2. View UK military exports to the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman at CAAT's online arms export browser.
  3. More information on arms trade jobs is available on CAAT's Arms Trade Jobs page.
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