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UAE signs arms deals worth $5bn at Abu Dhabi exhibition



The United Arab Emirates, a key partner in the bloody Saudi war on Yemen, has struck arms deals worth of over five billion dollars at an international exhibition of weapons and military equipment in Abu Dhabi.

The purchases were made during the four-day biennial International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX), which concluded on Thursday, the Middle East Eye news portal reported.

The deals included a $740-million one with US weapons manufacturer Raytheon.

Also starring in the show were about 100 British companies, including giants such as the BAE Systems, Raytheon’s UK chapter, and the European missile manufacturer MBDA’s British branch.

Emirati armed forces show their skills during a military show at the opening of the International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) in Abu Dhabi, February 19, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

During the event, the American and British companies displayed some of their weapons which have been used in the Saudi war on Yemen with the permission of their respective governments since March 2015.

Raytheon showcased its Paveway IV guided bombs. British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon confirmed last year that the Saudi air force had used the Scottish-built bombs and British-supplied missiles in Yemen.

The BAE Systems displayed its Hawk Advanced Trainer aircraft, 30 of which Saudi Arabia bought last February, amid reports that Riyadh widely uses the aircraft to train its pilots, who carry out sorties over Yemen.

Smoke billows behind a building following a Saudi airstrike in the Yemeni capital Sana’a, January 22, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Among the items on display was the Eurofighter warplane, which has been jointly developed by the BAE Systems, France’s Airbus and Italian aeronautics company Alenia Aermacchi.

London sent an official to the event, sparking criticism from human rights activists and some opposition figures.

MP Tom Brake, Liberal Democrats’ foreign affairs spokesman, said, “The weapons on display at IDEX, many of which have been deployed by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen to murderous effect, must serve as a chilling reminder to the UK government of their obligation to suspend arms sales to Saudi.”

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The UK’s Minister for Defense Procurement, MP Harriett Baldwin, who had joined the exhibition on the British government’s orders, however, said “It is wonderful to be celebrating the ties that we have between our two countries and the important role that UK firms play in terms of security and prosperity of the [Persian] Gulf states.”

The US and the UK have on several occasions come under fire for their arms sales to the parties involved in the Saudi military campaign in Yemen.

In its annual 2016 report released last month, Human Rights Watch slammed Riyadh’s military and the countries assisting it in the war for using internationally-banned weapons in their attacks against civilian targets.

The report further said the war “has been supported by the United States and the United Kingdom,” naming the world powers as two “key international actors” in the offensive.

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