European companies are accused of taking advantage of weak fuel standards in African countries to export highly-polluted fuel to West Africa, a new report says.
The report, from the Swiss watchdog group of Public Eye, said major European oil companies and commodity traders take crude oil from African countries, blend it with highly-polluted additives, and then sell it back to them.
“Many West African countries that export high grade crude oil to Europe receive toxic low quality fuel in return,” it wrote.
Toxic products that the companies add to make the so-called “African Quality” fuels are far higher than those allowed in Europe, according to Public Eye.
“Their business model relies on an illegitimate strategy of deliberately lowering the quality of fuels in order to increase their profits,” the report read.
It said companies, among them the Swiss commodity traders Trafigura and Vito, increased their profits at the expense of Africans’ health.
While the European Union (EU) has allowed ten parts per millions (ppm) of sulfur in diesel in the continent, the legal limit on sulfur petrol in some African countries like Nigeria is 3,000 ppm.
After burning, the sulfur is released into the atmosphere as sulfur dioxide and other particulates that provide a major contributor to respiratory symptoms such as bronchitis and asthma.
According to the report, 20 million people in the Nigerian state of Lagos breathe 13 times more particulate matter than people in London, with dirty fuel being the main reason.
This is while Nigeria and some other West African countries produce petroleum with the world’s lowest sulfur levels. They do not have refining capabilities, however, and have to import fuel from Europe.
“Africa could prevent 25,000 premature deaths in 2030 and almost 100,000 premature deaths in 2050” if the export of low-quality fuel is stopped, Public Eye said.
It called on African governments “to protect the health of their urban population, reduce car maintenance costs, and spend their health budgets on other pressing health issues.”
“If left unchanged, their practices will kill more and more people across the continent,” the report warned.
In response to the allegations, the report said, three of the companies denied any wrongdoing, arguing that they meet the regulatory requirements of the market.
Public Eye, however, said that the companies adjusted their blends with no increased costs when Ghana lowered its sulfur content level in 2014.
Casuistry, which one dictionary defines as “specious, deceptive, or oversubtle reasoning, especially in questions of morality” is, rightly or wrongly, inextricably linked to the history of Jesuit order of the Catholic Church. And the rise of the Jesuit order is deeply enmeshed with the Counter-Reformation, a set of measures designed to roll back the spread of Protestantism in Europe during the late 16th and early 17th centuries. The control center of the movement was Spain, the world-striding superpower of that historical moment.
Rightfully fearful that Protestantism’s rejection of long-standing modes of clerical privilege and the Church’s “right” to collect vast sums of money from parishioners would undermine their ability to bully and bribe Italian, French, Dutch and German potentates into compliance with their political demands, the Spanish Monarchy undertook an endless series of military adventures against “heretics” across the Continent in the years between 1530 and 1648. This military thrust was accompanied by a well-organized propaganda campaign in which the highly educated Jesuits priests played a crucial role.
Appearing morally and intellectually reasonable while serving as a convinced advocate for the systematic subjugation of other people and their animating ideals is not a simple task. In the long run it is, in fact, an impossible one. No amount of argument can convince a person or group of persons who see them selves as suffering under the boot of another that their bondage is a good and necessary thing. What such a rhetorical posture can do, for a time at least, is convince the subjects of the hegemonic country of, if not the inherent nobility of their bloody mission, its generally benign nature.
A key, if generally unstated, goal of the 16th and 17th century Jesuits was to insure that the highly problematic matter of Rome’s corruption, and the brutal Imperial designs of the Spanish monarchy that lay behind it, never be allowed to occupy the center zone of what then passed for “public” discourse.
When confronted by the emergent Protestant movements about the clear violations of Christian morality practiced by the Church of Rome, they responded with complex disquisitions on the largely circumstantial nature of all moral reasoning. By constantly parsing the intricacies of how overarching moral rules should, or should not, be applied in each particular circumstance (and teaching others to do the same), they very effectively prevented the emergence within the Church, and by extension in the leadership class of the Spanish Empire, of a frank discussion of the quite real and deeply-felt grievances of their many enemies.
I am reminded of all this when I read or watch the news after every so-called “terrorist” attack against a US or European target. Within minutes of the violence, mainstream journalists, begin intense speculation about what particular ethnic group the assailant came from, how he or she became “radicalized” (as if the desire to kill was akin to some sort of contagious moral flu) and whether the “West’s” latest stand-in for PURE EVIL™ (e.g. Al-Qaeda, ISIS, ISIL) was behind the act.
What will almost never be talked about are the many very good reasons a person from the vast region stretching from Morrocco in the west, to Pakistan in the east, have to be very angry at, and to feel highly vengeful toward, the US, its strategic puppeteer Israel, and their slavishly loyal European compadres like France, Germany and Great Britain.
There is never any talk of that group of august “democracies” long-standing penchant for implanting, then staunchly supporting, ruthless and deeply corrupt regimes in that region.
No talk of the very long Algerian experience of French colonialism, nor the US and French- backed coup of that country’s government in 1992 which led to a civil war that left 200,000 people dead.
No talk of the coup against the legally elected president of Egypt in 2013, nor the cold-blooded massacres carried out by his US-backed successor upon hundreds of that same president’s followers.
No talk of the decision of the US to back elements of ISIS in order to cynically extend a Syrian Civil War that was on its way to peace—albeit an imperfect one—by means of a Syrian government victory by late 2013.
No talk of the planned destruction of Libya in 2011 and its enormous effects on the stability of life in that once wealthy country as well as all of northern Africa.
No talk of the US-Israeli nullification of the results of the Palestinian elections of 2006, Israel’s coldly planned siege of Gaza nor the “shoot-fish-in-a barrel” assaults on that benighted enclave by Israel in 2006, 2008, 2012 and 2014.
No talk of the ongoing Saudi—and therefore US-approved—war on Yemen, nor the ruthless Saudi march on Bahrain in 2011 in which several dozen people died and thousands of democracy activists were tortured and/or carted off to prison.
No talk of the 18-year Israeli—and therefore, US-backed—occupation of Southern Lebanon nor Israel’s 1993, 1996 and 2006 assaults upon that same country.
Oops, I almost forgot. There is no talk of the small matter the calculated US destruction of Iraq, pre-invasion Libya’s rival as the Arab world’s most wealthy and socially progressive state.
But hey, why talk about all that off-putting stuff when you can boil it all down to neat tales of personal ideological contamination, Svengali-like recruiters lurking in mosques, and that old standby, the development of an urgent need to bang virgins in the hereafter.
It seems the media believes that the delicate imperial mind must be left free from understanding the effects of the actions for which it regularly cheers and prays.
The best way to insure this? Casuistry, as the old saying goes, “Pure casuistry”.
Thomas S. Harrington is a professor of Iberian Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut and the author of the recently released Livin’ la Vida Barroca: American Culture in a Time of Imperial Orthodoxies.
The sensational headlines following the arrests of Brandon-Lee and Tony-Lee Thulsie, as well as Ebrahim and Fatima Patel, in Johannesburg and the West Rand, have dominated the South African media over the past few weeks. The #TerrorArrests, as they have been dubbed on social media, came a month after the US embassy issued its umpteenth terror alert warning of imminent Daesh attacks in the country. Even though there are still questions around the legality of the Thulsie arrests, the word “terror” has been used freely. The South African Jewish Report claims that it dubbed the Thulsies the “Terror Twins” and the “name has stuck like glue in all media reports on the case,” gloated journalist Ant Katz.
It comes as no surprise, therefore, that the court of public opinion has already found the accused – all of whom are Muslims – guilty of being Daesh recruits. They were, it is claimed widely, planning attacks on American sites and Jewish cultural institutions.
There has been much speculation about Daesh recruitment in South Africa — indeed, around the world — but I would argue that the extremist group has no need to make any real effort to recruit anyone; the West does a good enough job in that respect. It is the West’s support for tyrannical Arab and Israeli regimes that draws people to extremism. Daesh’s use of terminology such as “Caliphate” and “jihad”, and its Hollywood-style video clips purportedly confronting the imperial invaders, also attract marginal support from the naive.
In 2003, the South African government introduced US-inspired anti-terrorism legislation, despite warnings from civil society on the impact that this would have on the Muslim community. Since then, there has been a slew of clandestine arrests and detentions of South African Muslims, in collaboration with foreign intelligence agencies like the FBI.
Human Rights Watch and Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute reports that the FBI treats Muslims like “terrorists-in-waiting”, encouraging, pressurising and sometimes paying them to commit crimes that they would not ordinarily have committed. Informants trawl through Muslim communities, mosques and community centres, monitor and engage social media, and talk of radical Islam in order to identify possible targets sympathetic to such ideas. If suitable suspects are identified, FBI agents then run a sting, often creating a fake terror plot in which it helps supply weapons and targets. Then, dramatic arrests are made, press conferences held, terror “experts” paraded and lengthy convictions secured.
Are the authorities in South Africa headed in the same direction? It seems that we might well be seeing such a scenario. The investigating officer for the Thulsie case, Wynand Olivier, admitted in court that foreign intelligence agents prompted the Hawks — SA’s elite anti-terror police squad — to arrest the Thulsie and Patel siblings. So desperate were the authorities to effect an arrest that even paintball guns have been presented as “evidence” of an arms cache. More disturbing still is Olivier’s understanding of the word “jihad”, a term that has become central to the case against the Thulsies. The legal official has admitted that no Islamic or Arabic language experts were consulted to guide the authorities on the use of the word.
The word “jihad” is actually used widely by all Muslims, and refers to both individual and social struggles. In fact, if the Hawks were to monitor the use of “jihad” thoroughly, then every South African Muslim would qualify as a “terror” suspect. That is a day we must ensure never comes. The Muslim community is woven firmly within the fabric of South African society, a fact recognised by the government.
However, if we are to retain this social harmony, then the authorities must revisit the anti-terror laws we were coerced into adopting. Furthermore, an independent, enlightened and prudent foreign policy must be followed; it would be the best way to protect us all by ensuring that we do not give Daesh the metaphoric ammunition to entice gullible people to join the movement. Such a policy will be infinitely more effective at countering extremist ideology than a witch-hunt based on myths, stereotypes and misinformation.
When NATO murdered Gaddafi and blitzed his country in 2011, they hoped the socialist ‘Jamahiriya’ movement he led would be dead and buried. Now his son has been released from prison to a hero’s welcome with his movement increasingly in the ascendancy.
There were various moments during NATO’s destruction of Libya that were supposed to symbolically crown Western supremacy over Libya and its institutions (and, by implication, over all African and Arab peoples): the ‘fall of Tripoli’ in August 2011; Cameron and Sarkozy’s victory speeches the following month; the lynch-mob execution of Muammar Gaddafi that came soon after. All of them were pyrrhic victories – but none more so than the death sentence handed down to Gaddafi’s son (and effective deputy leader) Saif al-Gaddafi in July 2015.
Saif had been captured by the Zintan militia shortly after his father and brother were killed by NATO’s death squads in late 2011. The ‘International’ Criminal Court – a neocolonial farce which has only ever indicted Africans – demanded he be handed over to them, but the Zintan – fiercely patriotic despite having fought with NATO against Gaddafi – refused. Over the next two years the country descended into the chaos and societal collapse that Gaddafi had predicted, sliding inexorably towards civil war.
By 2014, the country’s militias had coalesced around two main groupings – the Libyan National Army, composed of those who supported the newly elected, and mainly secular, House of Representatives; and the Libya Dawn coalition, composed of the militias who supported the Islamist parties that had dominated the country’s previous parliament but refused to recognize their defeat at the polls in 2014. After fierce fighting, the Libya Dawn faction took control of Tripoli. It was there that Saif, along with dozens of other officials of the Jamahiriya – the Libyan ‘People’s State’ which Gaddafi had led – were put on trial for their life. However, once again the Zintan militia – allied to the Libyan National Army – refused to hand him over. After a trial condemned by human rights groups as “riddled with legal flaws”, in a court system dominated by the Libya Dawn militias, an absent Saif was sentenced to death, along with eight other former government officials. The trial was never recognized by the elected government, by then relocated to Tobruk. A gloating Western media made sure to inform the world of the death sentence, which they hoped would extinguish forever the Libyan people’s hopes for a restoration of the independence, peace and prosperity his family name had come to represent.
It was a hope that would soon be dashed. Less than a year later, the France 24 news agency arranged an interview with Saif Al Gaddafi’s lawyer Karim Khan in which he revealed to the world that Saif had in fact, “been given his liberty on April 12, 2016″, in accordance with the amnesty law passed by the Tobruk parliament the previous year. Given the crowing over Saif’s death sentence the previous year, and his indictment by the International Criminal Court, this was a major story. Yet, by and large, it was one the Western media chose to steadfastly ignore – indeed, the BBC did not breathe a single word about it.
What is so significant about his release, however, is what it represents: the recognition, by Libya’s elected authorities, that there is no future for Libya without the involvement of the Jamahiriya movement.
The truth is, this movement never went away. Rather, having been forced underground in 2011, it has been increasingly coming out into the open, building up its support amongst a population sick of the depravities and deprivations of the post-Gaddafi era.
Exactly five years ago, following the start of the NATO bombing campaign, Libyans came out onto the streets in massive demonstrations in support of their government in Tripoli, Sirte, Zlitan and elsewhere. Even the BBC admitted that “there is no discounting the genuine support that exists”, adding that “’Muammar is the love of millions’ was the message written on the hands of women in the square”.
Following the US-UK-Qatari invasion of Tripoli the following month, however, the reign of terror by NATO’s death squad militias ensured that public displays of such sentiments could end up costing one’s life. Tens of thousands of ‘suspected Gaddafi supporters’ were rounded up by the militias in makeshift ‘detention camps’ where torture and abuse was rife; around 7,000 are estimated to be there still to this day, and hundreds have been summarily executed.
Black people in particular were targeted, seen as symbolic of the pro-African policies pursued by Gaddafi but hated by the supremacist militias, with the black Libyan town of Tawergha turned into a ghost town overnight as Misratan militias made good on their promise to kill all those who refused to leave. Such activities were effectively legalised by the NATO-imposed ‘Transitional National Council’ whose Laws 37 and 38 decreed that public support for Gaddafi could be punished by life imprisonment and activities taken ‘in defence of the revolution’ would be exempt from prosecution.
Nevertheless, over the years that followed, as the militias turned on each other and the country rapidly fell apart, reports began to suggest that much of southern Libya was slowly coming under the control of Gaddafi’s supporters. On January 18th 2014, an air force base near the southern city of Sabha was taken by Gaddafi loyalists, frightening the new government enough to impose a state of emergency, ban Libya’s two pro-Gaddafi satellite stations, and embark on aerial bombing missions in the south of the country.
But it was, ironically, the passing of the death sentences themselves – intended to extinguish pro-Gaddafi sentiment for good – that triggered the most open and widespread demonstrations of support for the former government so far, with protests held in August 2015 across the country, and even in ISIS-held Sirte. Middle East Eye reported the following from the demonstration in Sabha (in which 7 were killed when militias opened fire on the protesters):
Previous modest pro-Gaddafi celebrations in the town had been overlooked by the Misratan-led Third Force, stationed in Sabha for over a year – originally to act as a peacekeeping force following local clashes. ‘This time, I think the Third Force saw the seriousness of the pro-Gaddafi movement because a demonstration this big has not been seen in the last four years,’ said Mohamed. ‘There were a lot of people, including women and children, and people were not afraid to show their faces … IS had threatened to shoot anyone who protested on Friday, so there were no green flags in towns they control, apart from Sirte, although there are some green flags flying in remote desert areas,’ he said. ‘But if these protests get stronger across the whole of Libya, people will become braver and we will see more green flags. I know many people who are just waiting for the right time to protest.’
In Sirte, demonstrators were fired at by ISIS fighters, who dispersed the group and took away seven people, including four women. The same Middle East Eye report made the following comment:
The protests have been a public representation of a badly kept secret in Libya, that the pro-Gaddafi movement which has existed since the 2011 revolution has grown in strength, born out of dissatisfaction with the way life has worked out for many ordinary citizens in the last four years… [Mohamed] added that some people who had originally supported the 2011 revolution had joined the protests. Most Libyans just want a quiet life. They don’t care who takes over or who controls Libya’s money, they just want a comfortable life. That’s why Gaddafi stayed in power for 42 years. Salaries were paid on time, we had good subsidies on all the essentials and living was cheap.
Mohammed Eljarh, writing in the conservative US journal Foreign Policy, added that,
These pro-Qaddafi protests have the potential to turn into a national movement against the 2011 revolution, not least because a growing number of Libyans are deeply disillusioned by its outcome… there is now a building consensus that the atrocities and abuses committed by post-Qaddafi groups since the revolution exceed by far those committed by the Qaddafi regime during its rule.
At the same time, the Green resistance is becoming an increasingly influential force within the Libyan National Army, representing the country’s elected House of Representatives. Earlier this year, the Tobruk parliament allowed Gaddafi’s widow back into the country, whilst the LNA entered into an alliance with pro-Gaddafi tribes in the country’s East, and began to recruit open supporters of Gaddafi into its military structures. Gaddafi’s Tuareg commander General Ali Kanna, for example, who fled Libya following Gaddafi’s fall in 2011, has now reportedly been welcomed into the LNA. The policy is already bearing fruit, with several territories near Sirte already seized from ISIS by the new allies.
The Jamahiriya, it seems, is back. But then, it never really went away.
Dan Glazebrook is a freelance political writer who has written for RT, Counterpunch, Z magazine, the Morning Star, the Guardian, the New Statesman, the Independent and Middle East Eye, amongst others. His first book “Divide and Ruin: The West’s Imperial Strategy in an Age of Crisis” was published by Liberation Media in October 2013. It featured a collection of articles written from 2009 onwards examining the links between economic collapse, the rise of the BRICS, war on Libya and Syria and ‘austerity’. He is currently researching a book on US-British use of sectarian death squads against independent states and movements from Northern Ireland and Central America in the 1970s and 80s to the Middle East and Africa today.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says projects by the Israeli and Saudi Arabian regimes to portray Iran as a threat to the world have been falling flat over the past years.
Speaking to a group of Iranian expatriates in the Ghanaian capital city of Accra on Monday evening, Zarif said Tel Aviv and Riyadh, “two like-minded regimes,” are investing heavily in Iranophobia to draw attention away from their crimes and their collaborations.
“It is obvious that the cooperation of the Zionist regime (Israel) and the Saudi regime, which are two like-minded and congruent regimes, has today become known and can no more be concealed,” Zarif said.
He said the two regimes are concerned about their collaboration having become publicly known and are thus “investing further in Iranophobia” as a means of distraction.
He said, however, that, “The world has today waken up to the fact that the danger of Wahhabism is the real threat.”
Wahhabism is an extreme ideological strand openly preached by Saudi Arabian clerics, who have the blessing of ruling Saudi authorities. It is the main ideological feature of Takfiri terrorist groups — particularly Daesh — which declare people of other faiths and beliefs as “infidels” and, based on “decrees” from clerics, rule that they should be killed.
Most Arab governments have no diplomatic relations with Israel. Egypt and Qatar are the only two Arab states to have open diplomatic ties with Israel.
Some Arab governments, however, while posing as Israel’s traditional adversaries, have been revealed to have secret ties with the Tel Aviv regime. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are two such countries.
Last week, a retired general in the Saudi military traveled to Israel at the head of a delegation, meeting with Israel’s foreign ministry director general Dore Gold Yoav Mordechai and a number of Knesset members.
Both Riyadh and Tel Aviv were and continue to be fiercely opposed to a nuclear deal between Iran and a group of six world powers.
In his Monday remarks, Foreign Minister Zarif said the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), succeeded in proving to the world the peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program.
The JCPOA was struck between Iran and the US, the UK, France, Russia, China and Germany on July 14, 2015.
Zarif is in Ghana on the second leg of a four-nation African tour. He was in Nigeria before arriving in Ghana and will be traveling to Guinea-Conakry and Mali on the third and fourth legs of his tour.
In April, the French and British foreign ministers visited Tripoli to show support for Libya’s UN-backed unity government. France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault urged Libya’s neighbours to get behind the government, adding, “There is no other possible path.” Reports have however recently surfaced showing that Western forces, including France, have been assisting General Khalifa Haftar – a figure who has been threatened with EU sanctions for refusing to support the unity government and who has been fighting some groups involved in the Western-backed campaign against Daesh.
Earlier this month, air traffic control recordings obtained by the Middle East Eye showed that British, French, Italian and US troops, have been coordinating air strikes in support of Haftar. On Wednesday, the death of three French soldiers led to the first official confirmation that French special forces are operating in Libya, something the unity government say they were not informed of. France’s presence in the country was first reported by Le Monde in February, with reports claiming that a detachment was aiding Haftar in his battle against Daesh from a base at Benghazi airport. Earlier this year, the Pentagon said its units were deployed to “partner” local militias against Daesh and Britain has admitted sending RAF reconnaissance flights over the country.
Since the fall of the Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi in 2011, the country has struggled to stay on course. Today Libya is in the middle of a civil war and is split between two warring parliaments. The political vacuum has allowed for the powerful militant group Daesh to gain a foothold and criminal networks to flourish.
General Khalifa Haftar, who leads the Libyan National Army (LNA), has been the key force fighting against Libya Dawn, an umbrella of several armed groups who have supported Omar Al-Hassi’s General National Congress (GNC). The GNC was replaced by the House of Representatives (HoR) following an election but political opponents of the new parliament challenged its legitimacy and revived the GNC in Tripoli. Fighters from Libya Dawn forced the government of Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Thani and the HoR to Tobruk. Haftar’s crackdown is known as Operation Dignity.
The UN-backed unity government, effectively Libya’s third parliament, was formed in Tunisia in December 2015, with the aim of bringing an end to the conflict. It has the difficult task of replacing the two governments, bringing unity to the fractured country and dealing with security concerns arising from the presence of Daesh.
But it has faced endless opposition. The government only managed to sail into Tripoli in March 2016 as opposition groups prevented them from flying in. Daesh has also made things difficult – in the run-up to the January 16 2016 deadline for its formation, the militant group led a sustained attack against Libya’s vital infrastructure. While the unity government does have the mandate to call for the UN to militarily intervene, unsanctioned military actions by Western countries only works to undermine the already very thin veneer of legitimacy it has.
In Libya, the response to the news of the French soldiers has been strong, with condemnations from the UN-backed government and angry protests in Tripoli. As Fayez Serraj, the Prime Minister of Libya, said in a recent op-ed, “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Daesh) is not our greatest enemy. National division is.” The divisions within Libya have allowed it to veer into civil war, with groups such as Daesh managing to exploit the cleavages in the country. The growth of Daesh is a symptom of conflict in Libya not the cause.
Serraj continues, “The stark lesson from the past five years of turmoil is that when Libyans fail to work together they empower those who would destroy our country… terrorists will be defeated by our Armed Forces uniting under civilian command, not rival militias rushing to claim a political prize.” This applies to achieving peace in Libya- by backing one side politically while supporting another militarily, divides that are preventing peace only widen. In supporting Haftar whose power base is in the east, it undermines the unity government’s struggle to gain control of this heavily divided area.
Aside from the implications of peace for the country, there is also a question of the legality of the action. As Libya’s Supreme State Council put it, it is a “clear deception by a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a sponsor of the [December 2015] political agreement”. Stop the War Coalition’s Chris Nineham told RT: “They are not backed by the UN, these interventions. They are not checked anywhere. They are just unilateral acts of military aggression.” Some have gone even further. “This is a sort of coup against the political process and against the democratic path chosen by the Libyan people,” Mansour Al Hasadi, a member of the GNA, told Al Jazeera.
Britain and France took the lead in pushing for military intervention in 2011. While the intervention led to rapid results and was initially considered successful, the country now contends with three parliaments, the growing presence of Daesh and continued violence. Peace seems a distant prospect. Yet the same international powers have not learned from their mistakes.
Arms firms like Airbus, which are cashing in on border security deals to hold back refugees, paid for exclusive access to ministers of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs), a new report claims.
Airbus, the seventh-largest arms producer in the world, makes jets, helicopters and even drones, which are marketed for border security purposes.
The ‘Border Wars’ report by Dutch group Stop Wapenhandel claims that arms firms, including Airbus, “provide the equipment to border guards, the surveillance technology to monitor frontiers, and the IT infrastructure to track population movements.
“Most perverse of all, it shows that some of the beneficiaries of border security contracts are some of the biggest arms sellers to the Middle East and North African region, fueling the conflicts that are the cause of many of the refugees,” the group said.
The report claims that such businesses are cynically “creating the crisis are then profiting from it.”
“Moreover they have been abetted by European states who have granted the licenses to export arms and have then granted them border security contracts to deal with the consequences.”
Airbus allegedly enjoyed privileged access to MSPs as part of its membership of the Scottish Parliament and Business Exchange (SPBE).
The SPBE does not regard itself as a lobbying group and is a registered charity in Scotland, however firms must pay to sign up. Companies involved in the past include security giant Serco and energy firm Shell.
Speaking to the Ferret investigative news website on Wednesday, Mark Akkerman of Stop Wapenhandel said arms firms are determined to influence “national government and politicians in European countries.”
“Even though the lobbying by Airbus in Scotland is probably not focused on military or border security issues, I think the company’s business of fueling conflicts and profiting from the refugee crisis should be reason enough to be very cautious about maintaining any relationship with it.”
Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) spokesman Andrew Smith told the Ferret that Airbus “has sold military equipment to regimes with appalling human rights records. The Eurofighter, which it has worked closely on, has been central to the Saudi-led devastation of Yemen.”
He warned that arms firms enjoy a “totally disproportionate voice in the corridors of power” and that the Scottish Parliament should reject their advances.
Scotland’s Holyrood parliament canceled its own membership of the SPBE in March.
Like peace itself, the military-industrial complex sees internal stability as bad for business. A new report has exposed the activities of military and security companies that are profiting from the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa, which have also successfully lobbied the EU to react by buying their security equipment.
The joint report by the European NGO Stop Wapenhandel and the Transnational Institute (TNI), called “Border Wars: The Arms Dealers Profiting from Europe’s Refugee Tragedy,” reveals the most prominent winners of security contracts which were issued in Europe as a result of the migrant crisis, and Europe’s acquiescent response to their lobbying.
“Some of the beneficiaries of border security contracts are some of the biggest arms sellers to the Middle-East and North-African region, fuelling the conflicts that are the cause of many of the refugees. In other words, the companies creating the crisis are then profiting from it.”
The big players in Europe’s border security complex include arms companies Airbus, Finmeccanica and Thales, which are also three of the top four European arms traders and have been particularly prominent winners of EU contracts aimed at strengthening borders.
Other companies to benefit from the EU’s policy response to Middle Eastern conflict are French defense and aerospace company Safran, the Spanish IT and defense systems firm Indra Sistemas, and some Israeli companies like BTec Electronic Security Systems, which promote their expertise based on equipment installed at the Israeli-Palestinian border.
French companies Airbus and Thales, and Italian Finmeccanica, are part of the European Organisation for Security (EOS), which has been most active in lobbying the EU for increased border security. The report notes that many of its proposals, such as its push to set up a cross European border security agency, have eventually ended up as policy.
According to the report, the booming border security market was worth an estimated 15 billion euros ($16.5 billion) in 2015, and is predicted to rise to over 29 billion euros ($32 billion) annually in 2022.
New EU member states have been required to strengthen borders as a condition of membership, creating additional markets for profit.
“The arms business, in particular sales to the Middle-East and North-Africa, where most of the refugees are fleeing from, is also booming. Global arms exports to the Middle-East actually increased by 61 per cent between 2006–10 and 2011–15. Between 2005 and 2014, EU member states granted arms exports licenses to the Middle East and North Africa worth over 82 billion euros ($91 billion).”
On Tuesday, the German newspaper Tagesspiegel newspaper revealed that the arms industry could benefit even further from a new direction in the EU’s African policy.
According to the report, the EU Commission intends to direct some funds from its Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace towards equipping African militaries.
The fund was established in March 2014 and has a 2.3 billion euro ($2.5 billion) budget, to be disbursed between 2014 and 2020.
“Development without security and stability is not possible,” a source in the Commission told the newspaper.
“The Commission is therefore considering increasing its support for security actors,” and “in some very special cases,” this will include security forces.
The proposal to spend African development funds on security forces was criticized by the German Green Party MEP Reinhard Butikofer, who described it as “breaking a taboo.”
Die Linke MEP Sabine Losing called the idea “scandalous,” and criticized the “misuse of aid.”
She said the proposal is one of a series of “steps in the militarization of EU foreign policy.”
We can be sure that the British exit from the European Union represents a profound crisis for the global capitalist order. We know this because the Lords of Capital and their political minions and media all over the world are in panic over Brexit. The capitalist order is built on five centuries of European plunder, enslavement, and extermination of the rest of humanity. Blood oozes from every edifice of the European Union – and yet, the victims, and the descendants of the victims of this horrific and ongoing capitalist carnage, often behave as if they have some kind of stake in keeping the old order intact. Like Malcolm X’s house Negroes, their first instinct when they see the master’s house on fire, is to put the fire out. If the master gets sick, they start sneezing. And, when the referendum went against Britain staying in the European Union, house Negroes of all colors on both sides of the Atlantic acted like their own worlds were coming to end.
On Comedy Central’s Daily Show, this week, host Trevor Noah interviewed Cynthia Erivo, who plays Celie in the Broadway production of “The Color Purple.” Noah lampooned those Brits that voted to leave the EU as a bunch of Donald Trumps with Cockney accents. He said nothing about the EU’s pro-corporate, pro-banker austerity policies – maybe because there’s nothing funny about those policies, or maybe because he works for a rich corporation. Noah drew Ms. Erivo into the Brexit discussion. She was born in London to parents who emigrated from Nigeria. She explained her opposition to Brexit, saying, “If my mom didn’t get to the UK, I probably wouldn’t be here right now, on that stage on Broadway.”
Cynthia Erivo is grateful that her West African parents were allowed into Britain, so that she could be born in London and pursue a successful career. Her parents were permitted to settle in Britain because Nigeria was a British colony, and later became part of the British Commonwealth. It actually had nothing to do with the European Union. By Cynthia Erivo’s logic, it was a good thing that Britain invaded, plundered, enslaved, and stole her parent’s homeland. By colonizing Nigeria, the Brits saved her from being born an African. The millions who died in the British conquest of Nigeria, and in the Middle Passage to the America’s, or on the plantations of Virginia or Jamaica, or in forced labor to the British in Nigeria, or who die today in the oil soaked wasteland of the Niger River Delta – all of this past and present suffering and human degradation is balanced out by the fact that a daughter of Nigeria gets to star in a Broadway show. This super-exploitation of Africa made Britain and France and Spain and Belgium and the Netherlands and other members of today’s European Union rich – but Cynthia Erivo and Trevor Noah, the South African, come to the defense of the European Union.
They like the house that slavery and genocide built, and where global capitalism now rules. They fear anything that might create disorder in the House of Europe, just as their counterparts in Black America fear anything that might disturb the tranquility of the U.S. ruling class and its institutions. The House Negroes are truly international, always ready to put out fires in their masters many houses around the globe.
Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.