On Tuesday the UK Parliament published an unusually critical report from MPs on UK arms exports, especially to the Middle East and North Africa.
The story appears on the Parliament website. So far I haven't seen anything about it in the media.
The report states:
"Both the present Government and its predecessor misjudged the risk that arms approved for export to certain authoritarian countries in North Africa and the Middle East might be used for internal repression"
I've seen the following comment on a mailing list I subscribe to:
It appears that the committee is unaware that the major intended purpose of these arms is for internal repression, and that this is in the economic interests of both the authoritarian rulers in this region and the owners of the UK's large corporations.
All the dictators in the Middle East and North Africa were put in place by the rich countries of the West, or have been supported by the West. Their assigned role is to sell the raw materials of their country to the West at low prices, and in return they get to keep the money for themselves personally. They necessarily also have the role of keeping their populations under control - if a real democracy ever was established in this region then the dictators would get nothing. The democratic government could set a much higher price on the raw materials and the returns would be spent on projects of benefit to the whole population. The West's corporations would not be able to make huge profits based on raw materials bought at artificially low prices, and would probably risk collapse.
So there is a huge 'economic incentive' (or greed, if you like) on the part of the West's rich corporations to keep the dictators armed and in power - not just the profits on the arms sales.