Tyrants for Clients: Tyrants Make the Best Clients for Arms-Selling Countries (Chart on Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Burma and Indonesia)

New Internationalist, November 1994 | Go to article overview

Tyrants for Clients: Tyrants Make the Best Clients for Arms-Selling Countries (Chart on Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Burma and Indonesia)


SAUDI ARABIA

PROFILE

An absolute monarchy with no legislature or political parties. King Fahd rules in accordance with the laws of Islam with advice from the Council of Ministers. Saudi Arabia is a leading oil producer which allied with the West during the 1991 Gulf War.

HUMAN RIGHTS

Moves in 1993 by leading figures to secure changes in the judicial system and labour laws and to introduce an electoral system led to imprisonment and exile. Judicial amputation and public execution are regularly used as punishment for criminal offences. Religious intolerance is rife - scores of Christians and Shi'a Muslims have been detained without trial, flogged and tortured. Some have been executed. The rights of women are very restricted.

ARMS

A major buyer. Main suppliers 1988 - 93 were: UK $3,116 million, US $2,783 million, France $1,572 million and China $858 million. The UK - Saudi Al Yamamah II arms export deal, estimated to be worth over $7,500 million, is the biggest ever. Transactions began in 1993 and payment is to be in oil.

SOUNDBITE

'It is true that by our standards [Saudi Arabia] is not a democracy ... but there are courts there which are fair. Their record on human rights is not one of the ones to be ashamed of in the world.' Jonathan Aitken, UK Minister of State for Defence Procurement, BBC TV Question Time, 22 May 1993.

TURKEY

Turkey has the second - largest armed forces in NATO after the US. It aspires to membership of the European Union but is involved in a long - running dispute with Greece over Cyprus and is at war with its own Kurdish population. After Israel and Egypt, Turkey is the third - largest recipient of US military aid. The current president is Suleyman Demirel.

Although nominally a democracy, Turkey holds thousands of political prisoners. Hundreds are sentenced to death. The use of torture is widespread and systematic. Press censorship is violently applied. The Government is currently waging a genocidal war against the nine - million - strong Kurdish population.

Main suppliers 1987 - 91 were: US $3,953 million, Germany $1,549 million, The Netherlands $237 million, Italy $125 million, France $22 million and UK $10 million. Turkey itself is entering the arms - export business, re - exporting second - hand weaponry and planning co - operation on new weapons with the US and Egypt.

There is a presumption that Turkey has or will use funds under this provision in violation of human rights... To me thatis a gratuitous insult to Turkey.' Senator Cochran's response to a proposed amendment that US military funds to Turkey must not be used for internal security purposes, US Senate 29 June 1994.

BURMA

The ruling SLORC military junta, headed by General Saw Maung, has been waging war against ethnic rebel groups and student dissidents. 'In our military science there is no such thing as dialogue,' says General Saw Maung. …

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