Saturday, February 26, 2011

is the West interested in assisting democracy?

The International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) was recently held in Abu Dhabi (it ended on Thursday, Feb. 24th). It is the largest defence and security event in the Middle East and North African region. According to the IDEX website, there were 900 exhibitors, but according to the Times of Pakistan there were 1060 exhibitors. The exhibitors eager to share their military technologies for sale include Canadian companies like AirBoss -Defense, Canadian Association of Defence & Security Industries, DAVWIRE, and Canstar Arms Development Corp, among others to discover if one has the time to scroll through the pages and pages of participants. Maybe you will find your country there, too.

(I'm having some problems formatting text and uploading images today, so bear with me.)

As protests crackdowns continue, West lines up to sell arms

British, European and US weapons manufacturers are participating in the region's largest arms bazaar, hoping for a share in the world's fastest-growing arms market. by Praveen Swami

"Facing budget cuts at home, western arms firms are desperate for a share of the lucrative Middle East market. "The post-financial crisis reality," said Herve Guillou, president of Cassidian Systems, a subsidiary of European aviation defence group EADS, "is that today it is clearly the Middle East that is seeing the biggest growth." Iran's growing military power has pushed Gulf states into their largest-ever military build up, making purchases worth £76 billion from the US alone in 2010. The largest acquisitions were made by Saudi Arabia, which is spending £41 billion on F-15 fighter jets and upgrades for its naval fleet.

The six Gulf Cooperation Council countries - Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait - along with Jordan will spend another £41 billion on defence in 2011, according to Frost and Sullivan, a research firm."

below are some excerpts from an article that discusses the recent situation in Bahrain:

A Revolution Paused in Bahrain by Cortni Kerr and Toby C. Jones

An uncertain calm has settled over the small island kingdom of Bahrain. The wave of peaceful pro-democracy protests from February 14-17 culminated in bloodshed, including the brutal murder of seven activists, some of whom were asleep in tents, by the armed forces. On orders from above, the army withdrew from the roundabout on the outskirts of the capital of Manama where the protests have been centered, and since shortly after the seven deaths it has observed calls for restraint. Thousands of jubilant protesters seized the moment to reoccupy the roundabout, the now infamous Pearl Circle. In commemoration of the dead, the demonstrators have renamed it Martyrs’ Circle.

The killing is done for now, but it is too early to tell if the cold peace between the regime and the dissidents will last and, if so, how long. Bahrain’s revolution is not over, but its outcome is far from decided.

Toward Defiance

At the heart of the uncertainty is the question of whether the royal family can muster the political will to see through substantive political reform at long last. On February 20, the crown prince acknowledged the “clear messages from the Bahraini people...about the need for reforms,” though what the changes might be, he did not say. The majority of Bahrainis greeted his vague words with pronounced cynicism, and with good reason, for they know the country has been down the road of false promises before.

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