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Arms and Egypt
THE CLOSE RELATIONSHIP between several armsproducing countries in the European Union (EU)and the regime of president Hosni Mubarak in Egypt has been brought to light. In recent years the Mubarak regime has benefitted from a sharp increase in arms sales from EU countries. The evidence was found in an EU report that had been largely overlooked until examined by an Italian activist.
The news came days before Hosni Mubarak was forced from power by mass protests. France and Germany announced a freeze on arms sales to Egypt shortly after the uprising began, but the UK government refused to follow suit.
In 2009, EU governments taken together issued arms export licences for Egypt worth £293 million – an increase of sixty-nine per cent on the previous year. In the same period, the UK’s licences for arms to Egypt bucked the EU trend. They declined by £7m, from £23.4m to £16.4m. Arms sales also increased to other troubled north African countries, including Tunisia, Morocco and Libya.
: Ramy Raoof/flick r C C
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The statistics reveal British arms sales to the Ben Ali regime in Tunisia, which was recently overthrown in a popular uprising. The value of UK licences for arms to Tunisia more than trebled in 2009, reaching £5.9m.
The statistics appear in an EU report on export controls published last month. It had received little attention until investigated by Giorgio Beretta of Unimondo, an Italian NGO working with the European Network Against the Arms Trade.
‘For years the UK has been selling weapons to these authoritarian regimes, although it is obvious that their main use would be for internal repression,’ argued Kaye Stearman of the Campaign Against Arms Trade in the UK.
The UK foreign secretary, William Hague has been visiting north Africa and calling for ‘free and open societies’. Kaye Stearman urged him to ‘back up these noble sentiments with positive action and to place an immediate arms embargo on the whole region’.
Postgraduate degrees in Quaker studies
THREE FRIENDS have become the latest to receive postgraduate degrees in Quaker Studies.
Simon Best, who currently works for Britain Yearly Meeting (BYM), completed his doctoral work on adolescent Quaker spirituality. Simon has recently been appointed tutor for nurturing Friends and Meetings at the Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre in Birmingham. He will take up the post in September.
Deborah Cho from South Korea wrote her PhD dissertation on four British Quaker women and their attitudes to peace and politics at the start of the twentieth century.
Kate Mellor, who works for Quaker Homeless Action, completed her MPhil on belief in God and Christian identity within BYM.
They bring to thirty-five the total number of people to have completed degrees at the Centre for Postgraduate Quaker Studies, which is based at Woodbrooke in association with the University of Birmingham. The Centre currently has twenty-five MPhil and PhD students working on different aspects of Quakerism past and present.
Symon Hill the Friend, 18 February 2011