Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Why the UK, US and France Would Not End its Arms Trade with Israel.

'Whereas Hamas is constrained by the continuing blockade and allegedly relies on neighbouring countries, such as Iran , for its arms, Israel has an advanced arms industry. There are more than 200 arms companies in Israel'  'The UK must end its arms trade with Israel' Andrew Smith, The Guardian Tuesday 5 August 2014
The US and UK would most likely review its selling of arms so as to use it as a tool of diplomacy to try to push Israel away from attempting to impose a military solution as regards Gaza. One reason is that they ( and especially France ) already have a flourishing arms trade with energy rich Qatar.

Arms deals are connected not only to profit. They tend to be a means to forge regional alliances and evermore closer relations with Qatar which, in turn, supports Gaza and ( in effect ) Hamas against the air, land and sea blockade. It is vying with Israel for influence in the Eastern Mediterranean along with Turkey.

The regional alliance with Israel has become less important with the Syrian conflict as a consequence and because, oddly enough, Israel has tended to look towards Russia and Gazprom as a potential regional partner to exploit energy reserves and as a client for arms ties.

That is why Israel has, under threat of an arms embargo, suspended an arms deal with Russia which would have seen the export of drones in the wake of the Ukrainian crisis, another conflict as in Syria involving the use of proxies and a ruthless power pathological struggle over energy transit routes.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond was, in his previous capacity as Defence Secretary, an advocate of closer military ties with Qatar. As North Sea gas runs down and Britain is searching more for ways to diversify its gas supply away from the prospect of depending too much on Russia.

Yet arms sales to Egypt and Israel are not going to stop for the reason that this strategic connection remains a vital interest for two reasons. Firstly, Israel is set to tap its gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean and it would potentially offset the dependence of Britain's EU partners have on gas from North Africa and Russia.

Secondly, Russia has sought to muscle into the market for exporting that gas and to increase its connections with both Egypt and Israel through arms sales. Even if the Egyptian coup of 2013 was not backed by the US or UK, it was accepted as an a fait accompli to protect arms sales and strategic interests.

Arms deals are increasingly bound up with energy geopolitics as gas rich powers try to compete for export routes and to assert their interests with or against those dependent upon buying that gas. Moralistic outrage at arms deals is neither here nor there unless the geopolitics of energy is understood.

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