Russia: West ‘slammed door’ on Syria at UN

Russia: West ‘slammed door’ on Syria at UN

GEORGE JAHN, Associated Press

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, left, listens as Dutch foreign minister Uri Rosenthal, right, answers questions during a press conference in Wassenaar, near The Hague, Netherlands Wednesday Feb. 15, 2012. Lavrov said he will meet his French counterpart in Vienna on Thursday and discuss moves to rework a U.N. Security Council resolution that aims to end violence in Syria. Photo: Peter Dejong / AP

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, left, listens as Dutch foreign minister Uri Rosenthal, right, answers questions during a press conference in Wassenaar, near The Hague, Netherlands Wednesday Feb. 15, 2012. Lavrov said he will meet his French counterpart in Vienna on Thursday and discuss moves to rework a U.N. Security Council resolution that aims to end violence in Syria. (Peter Dejong / AP)
VIENNA (AP) — Russia’s foreign minister on Wednesday blamed “external actors” for prolonging Syria’s agony, suggesting that the U.S. and its allies opposed negotiations to end the bloodshed there and were responsible for torpedoing a U.N. resolution aimed at calming the situation.

Sergey Lavrov also seized on a call by the al-Qaida terror network to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad to caution that little was known about those opposing the regime in Damascus, and implied that the opposition could not be trusted to run the country if victorious.

He also welcomed Assad’s announcement that he had ordered a Feb. 26 referendum on a new constitution that would open the way to political parties in Syria other than the ruling Baath Party.

Russia and China vetoed a Security Council resolution earlier this month brought by the Arab League that aimed to halt Syria’s violence — angering many Western powers and Arab states. The U.N. estimates well over 5,400 people have died in the Syrian regime’s crackdown on protesters in the past year.

Lavrov and other foreign ministers were in Vienna for a conference Thursday to discuss ways to reduce the drug flow from Afghanistan. But Syria was the dominant issue during his talks Wednesday with Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger and was likely to dominate talks on the sidelines Thursday.

Lavrov told reporters that he would meet with French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe on Thursday to be briefed on a French plan that envisages setting up violence-free “human corridors” in Syria. But he insisted any plan to reduce the carnage must be approved by all sides in the conflict.

The Russian foreign minister defended Moscow’s stance against the U.N. Security Council resolution, saying “it wasn’t us who slammed the door” on council agreement Feb. 5. Refusal by Western permanent Security Council members to accept Russian insistence that not only Syrian army units but rebels also withdraw from urban battle zones essentially was “a demand on the regime to capitulate,” he said.

He blamed “some external actors” — shorthand for Washington and its Western allies — for allegedly persuading the rebels not to negotiate, a tactic that he said “can only lead to (further) massive losses of human life.”

Al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahri has called on Muslims to support the Syrian rebels, raising fears that Islamist extremists will try to exploit the uprising, and Lavrov emphasized such concerns Wednesday.

“Who are these people? Nobody knows,” he said alluding to the anti-Assad forces. “The Muslim Brotherhood … there are deserters, al-Qaida is represented.”

Lavrov came from the Netherlands, where, after meeting with Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal, he said Russia would not support any U.N. resolution “that could legitimize regime change.”

Earlier in the day, White House spokesman Jay Carney called Assad’s plans for a referendum on a new constitution “quite laughable.” But Lavrov praised the move.

“A new constitution to end one-party rule in Syria is a step forward,” Lavrov said. “It is coming late, unfortunately, but better late than never.”

Carney, however, said any attempt to hold a constitutional referendum now “makes a mockery” of the Syrian uprising.


Associated Press writer Mike Corder contributed from Wassenaar, Netherlands.

Russia Getting Into the Act On the Impossible TAPI Gas Pipeline Project Which Cannot Be Built Irks US

Russia interest in TAPI gas pipeline project irks US

Russia interest in TAPI gas pipeline project irks US

ISLAMABAD – The proposed transnational Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI) gas pipeline project is fast emerging as a geopolitical disquiet between the two major powers – the United States and the Russian Federation – to invest in a $7.5 billion venture.

Well-placed diplomatic sources told TheNation on Tuesday that the United States that had made significant presence in the resource-rich Central Asia during the past decade in order to tape the vast investment opportunities has been upset on Russian keenness to take over the project.

The Russian move comes ostensibly after buoyancy shown by some American and European business concerns including the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and Export-Import Bank (EIB) to invest in the 1,640 km long TAPI gas pipeline project.

The sources said that a high level Russian delegation led by the Energy Minister including senior officials from Russian giant Gazprom would soon visit Pakistan to explore investment opportunities in the mega project.

Some sources privy to these developments were also of the view that Moscow, which has expressed its willingness to invest in the project, was diplomatically engaged with Afghan government to help facilitate in securing the project. They believed that Russia was all set to deny further investment opportunities in Central Asia ostensibly in a strategic move to push the United States away from its backyard, therefore in tactical terms it wanted to grab the TAPI project.

“Security in Afghanistan and Pak-Afghan region is the main hurdle for Moscow in realising the project,” a Russian diplomat in Islamabad said in response to a query, adding that Russia was willing to invest in the energy projects including the TAPI gas pipeline project. He confirmed that a Russian delegation headed by the energy minister would tentatively visit Pakistan this year and the two countries were mutually working out dates of visit.

Last week, the US Embassy spokesman Mark Stroh described query as hypothetical when this scribe drew his attention towards media reports that the US was distressed after Russia also expressed its willingness to invest in the TAPI gas pipeline project. He conceded that the US and other international companies were keeping close eye on the progress of the project by the TAPI countries.

The TAPI gas pipeline backed by the Asian Development Bank will bring 3.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day (bcfd) from Turkmenistan’s gas fields to Multan in Central Pakistan and end in the northwestern Indian town of Fazilka. To be completed by 2013-2014, the landmark deal was signed by President Asif Ali Zardari, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, Indian Petroleum Minister Murli Deora and President of the Asian Development Bank Haruhiko Kuroda in Ashgabat the capital city of Turkmenistan in 2010.

Iranian and Afghan Presidents Up the Pressure On Pakistan

Iranian, Afghan leaders visit Pakistan to discuss Taliban

Pictures of summit leaders are displayed Thursday in Islamabad, Pakistan. From left: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari. / By B.K. Bangash, AP

USA Today

ISLAMABAD (AP) — The presidents of Afghanistan and Iran convened in Pakistan on Thursday for a three-way summit that is expected to focus on specific steps Islamabad can take to facilitate peace talks with the Afghan Taliban.

Pakistan is seen as key to the peace process because of its historical ties with the Taliban and their feared ally, the Haqqani network. The leaders of both groups are believed to be based in Pakistan and in close touch with Pakistani intelligence officials.

One of the people Afghan President Hamid Karzai was scheduled to meet during his trip is Maulana Samiul Haq, known as the spiritual father of the Taliban because he runs an Islamic seminary in northwest Pakistan that has taught many of the group’s leaders. Haq has also

supported the insurgency in Afghanistan.

Haq urged the leaders of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran to work together to push U.S.-led forces out of Afghanistan.

“This is a time when the Taliban are defeating Western forces in Afghanistan,” Haq told the Associated Press. “A forceful stance by Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran will bring peace and stability in this region by pushing out the foreign forces.”

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is also likely to focus in the meetings on a proposed pipeline that would deliver natural gas from his country to Pakistan. The U.S. has opposed the initiative because of tensions with Iran over its nuclear program, and has pushed for an alternative pipeline that would transport gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan.

But Pakistan is facing acute gas shortages and has pledged to go forward with the Iran pipeline, despite U.S. threats of sanctions.

The summit comes at a time when momentum for peace talks with the Taliban seems to be growing.

The U.S. and Afghan governments have begun secret three-way discussions with the Taliban, The Wall Street Journal quoted Karzai as saying Thursday. Karzai believes most Taliban are “definitely” interested in a peace settlement, the paper said.

The Taliban are setting up an office in the tiny Gulf state of Qatar in the first step toward formal negotiations. Also, the Obama administration is considering releasing five top Taliban leaders from the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay as a starting point for talks.

But the success of the process could hinge on whether Pakistan chooses to cooperate and feels its interests are being addressed. Iran will also be a factor since it is wary of the Taliban, a radical Sunni Muslim group opposed to the Shiites who make up a majority of Iran’s population.

Pakistan helped the Taliban seize power in Afghanistan in the 1990s, and many members of the group, reportedly including chief Mullah Omar, streamed across the border into Pakistan after U.S.-led forces invaded in 2001.

Pakistan has also had a close relationship with the founder of the Haqqani network, Jalaluddin Haqqani, that dates back to the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s. The Haqqani network is the most feared militant group fighting in Afghanistan.

Many analysts believe Pakistan has continued to support the Taliban and the Haqqani network because they are seen as key allies in Afghanistan after NATO forces withdraw, specifically to counter the influence of Pakistan’s neighbor and archenemy, India. The outcome of any peace process in Afghanistan would likely have to address this concern.

Pakistan has denied accusations that militant leaders are based in the country and that it has maintained ties with them — a stance that could become tricky to maintain as the peace process progresses.

Pakistan has pledged to do whatever Afghanistan asks to help facilitate the peace process. But the main thing that Karzai has sought is for Islamabad to facilitate access to the same militant leaders who Pakistan denies are using its territory.

There are also likely limits to what Pakistan can achieve since there is reportedly significant distrust of Islamabad among the Taliban.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said recently that Karzai’s visit would focus on figuring out exactly what role Islamabad would play in the negotiations.

Pakistan and Afghanistan have long had a troubled relationship, one that grew more difficult last year when a suicide bomber assassinated former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani in Kabul. He had been serving as Afghanistan’s envoy to Taliban peace talks, and Afghan officials accused Pakistan of playing a role in the killing — allegations it denied.

The peace process could also be complicated by strained ties between Pakistan and the United States, especially following American airstrikes that accidentally killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last year.

Pakistan retaliated by closing its border to NATO supplies meant for troops in Afghanistan. It also kicked the U.S. out of a base in Baluchistan used by American drones, but the move its not expected to significantly impact the program.

A pair of missiles strikes killed nine people in North Waziristan on Thursday, said Pakistani intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

In the first strike, a U.S. drone fired two missiles at a house in Spalga village, killing six people. Later in the day, missiles hit a vehicle in Khaisur village, killing three militants.

The U.S. does not publicly discuss details of the covert CIA-run drone program in Pakistan.

‘US ambassador to Pakistan on another planet’

`US ambassador to Pakistan on another planet`
Islamabad: There is an antipathy towards the US that transcends the merely political and has in fact “become visceral”, said a Pakistani daily. 

Taking a dig at US Ambassador Cameron Munter, an editorial in the News International said that the envoy “appears to be on another planet entirely when it comes to the state and nature of the Pak-US relationship”.

Speaking at the Harvard-Kennedy School, Munter had said that “Pakistani politicians don’t want Americans to go away from their country”.

“This may or may not be true of our politicians and it does seem to be something of a generalisation; but it is not the view of probably a majority of the people of Pakistan. There is an antipathy towards the US that transcends the merely political and has, in recent years, become visceral.”

It said that the reshaping of Pakistan’s relationship with the US that was triggered by last year’s NATO airstrike is still a “work in progress”.

The airstrikes on November 26 last year on two Pakistani Army checkposts in Mohmand Agency in the northwest region killed two dozen soldiers, sparking outrage in Pakistan.

Islamabad promptly barred the passage of NATO supplies through the country and decided to boycott an international conference focussed on the future course of action in Afghanistan. It also told the US to vacate the key Shamsi airbase in Balochistan that was used to launch drone strikes.

The editorial went on to say that the “relationship outside the closed box of intelligence agencies is badly decayed”.

“It is that relationship, the one that is harder to define, that requires care and maintenance,” it added.


The State of High Drama Known As Pakistan

Prospects of Pakistan’s Islamist resurgence


The Hindu

Even though Islamists have enjoyed only limited electoral support, they have shaped the state’s destiny. The country’s liberal democratic politicians must confront them or prepare to see them take power.

Early in 1939, on the eve of the great war that would lead on to the death of the British empire and the birth of his homeland, the politician and religious ideologue, Abdul Ala Maududi, delivered a lecture that has become a foundational text for South Asia Islamism.

Faith, Maududi insisted, was more than a “hotchpotch of beliefs, prayers and rituals.” Islam was, in fact, “a revolutionary ideology which seeks to alter the social order of the entire world and rebuild it in conformity with its own tenets and ideals.” Even the word ‘Muslims’, he argued, denoted not a community of believers, but an “international revolutionary party organised by Islam to carry out its revolutionary programme.”

Ever since December, the world has watched, with ever-growing concern, the growing momentum of the Difa-e-Pakistan (Defence of Pakistan) — a new Islamist coalition that represents the full flowering of Maududi’s vision.

The party Maududi founded, the Jama’at-e-Islami, is part of the alliance, along with 39 other major and minor political actors. The Maulana Sami-ul-Haq faction of the Jama’at Ullema Islam, representing the Deoband theological tradition, and closely linked to the Taliban movement in Afghanistan, is also a key actor. The movement’s backbone, though, is the Jama’at-ud-Dawa, with tens of thousands of volunteers — many of them in the party’s sword-arm, the Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Later this year, many experts believe, the besieged Pakistan People’s Party government is likely to call early elections. The party has been hard hit by corruption allegations, a flailing economy, and the unremitting hostility of the military.

Has the Pakistani Islamist movement’s tryst with destiny finally come?

Theatrical performance

“Every city in Pakistan,” Jama’at-e-Islami leader Liaqat Baloch thundered before a giant audience at a Difa-e-Pakistan rally in Karachi this weekend gone by, “will soon become a Tahrir square.” Difa-e-Pakistan leaders have announced they will lay siege to the Parliament building in Lahore later this month. These gestures aren’t, as some have suggested, warnings of an impending jihadist coup. Instead, they are theatrical performance aimed at an electoral audience.

It isn’t that organisations like the Jama’at-ud-Dawa have dropped their jihadist ambitions. In a recent speech, its chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed claimed that Prophet Muhammad had called for war “against the Hindu, so that the greatness of the jihad can be evident.” Following “the success of this jihad, after the end of Judaism, after the end of Christianity, after the end of obscenity and irreligiousness, Islam will rule the world,” he said.

The resolutions passed in Karachi, though, show the Difa movement isn’t just concerned with jihad. It seeks, for example, a rollback of electricity tariffs, a reversal of the privatisation of Karachi’s power utility, an end to load-shedding, and the reinstatement of sacked public sector workers.

Gradual evolution

Ever since 2010, this new alliance of the religious right has evolved slowly. That May, for example, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa’s Hafiz Abdul Rehman Makki, the Jamaat-e-Islami’s Farid Paracha and the Tehreek-e-Insaaf’s senior vice-president Ejaz Chaudhury addressed an all-party meeting called to voice anger at India’s alleged choking of river waters. Makki, a key Lashkar ideologue, said India was working to “to destroy the next generation of Pakistan.”

In March 2010, a jihadist convention held at Kotli drew speakers from terrorist groups linked to many of the same political formations — using, for the first time, the Difa-e-Pakistan name. The Lashkar’s Muzaffarabad-based leader Abdul Wahid Kashmiri addressed the Pakistan government: “you beg water from India, whereas we are battling to levy jizya [a tax on conquered non-Muslims]”.

The same themes have suffused Saeed’s speeches since 2006, and earlier, as well as those of others on the religious right-wing. The religious right, however, never succeeded in uniting under a single banner for any length of time.

Now, though, parties like the Jama’at-ud-Dawa have grasped that patronage from Pakistan’s militaries isn’t a substitute for the acquisition of state power. In turn, the Islamist search for power is being welcomed by a military leadership under fire from a defiant political leadership. Founded on the bedrock of the pious bourgeoisie of businessmen and white-collar employees, a class shut out of a share of power by landed elites and big capitalists, the Islamist has, in recent years, found a wider audience — notably, elements of urban youth and landless peasants with no other language of resistance.

For the most part, commentators have been dismissive of the reach of Pakistani Islamists, noting that their parties have had limited electoral success. This argument is based on the fact that the Islamist parties have never bettered their 1970 electoral performance, when they won 21.6 per cent of the vote. Even in 2002, despite a helping hand from Pakistan’s military, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal coalition won less than 11 per cent.

It is worth considering, though, that these figures are not insignificant. The Bahujan Samaj Party won 5.33 per cent of the vote in the 2004 elections, but has transfigured Indian politics. The Islamist vote in 1970 was just one percentage point lower to the Bharatiya Janata Party mandate in 2004.

Even though the electoral clout of religious fundamentalists and Islamists has been limited, their ideological influence has shaped Pakistan’s political destiny. In 1949, the Jama’at Ullema Islam, political wing of the Deoband clerics, successfully lobbied for the Objectives Resolution, which decreed that sovereignty belonged to god, rather than people.

From 1951, the Islamist movement began to gather momentum. The Majlis-e-Ahrar, a movement of clerics drawing legitimacy from the Deoband clerical tradition, launched a campaign against the heterodox Ahmadiyya sect. In 1953, large-scale sectarian riots forced the imposition of martial law across Punjab.

Ayub Khan & Islam

General Ayub Khan’s military regime, which took power in 1958, sought to roll-back the armies of the pious. He removed the word “Islamic” from Pakistan’s name, making it a simple republic. But in 1962, Pakistan’s politicians decided General Khan had gone too far, and the country went back to being “Islamic”.

Islamist ideologues began to see electoral democracy as an asset. Maududi continued to condemn what he described as Pakistan’s “Hinduistic, western semi-feudalistic and semi-capitalistic foundation.” He thought, however, that democratic mobilisation could bring change. “For this,” he wrote in 1960, “the first prerequisite would be to acknowledge and restore the sovereignty of god over the state”

Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto realised this desire: his 1973 Constitution declared Islam the state religion, and voided laws repugnant to the Shari’a. Bhutto committed the state to teaching Islam, and set up a Council on Islamic Ideology to bring secular laws into line with religion.

General Zia-ul-Haq’s regime, which included the Jama’at-e-Islami, saw the Islamic state consolidate itself, with a new system of theocratic institutions and codes that superseded secular law. He also made the Pakistani state a patron of Islamist causes, notably the jihad in Afghanistan.

Bhutto’s testament

Bhutto’s death-row testament makes clear General Zia’s state emerged from within the dominant zeitgeist. “We were on the verge of full nuclear capability when I left the government to come to this death cell,” the former Prime Minister wrote. “The Christian, Jewish and Hindu civilisations have this capability. Only the Islamic civilisation was without it.”

It is improbable the Difa movement will dethrone Pakistan’s democratic establishment, as Gen. Zia did in 1974. President Zardari’s government has genuine bases of support. Rural incomes have risen; social security schemes have put cash in the hands of large chunks of the rural poor; landless peasants continue to be bound to the PPP’s politicians by ties of deference and economic dependence.

The fact, however, is that Pakistan’s democratic politicians have shown no stomach for a frontal confrontation with the ideas of the religious-right — and without this rupture, the growth of Islamist influence will remain inexorable. Pakistani politicians have long thought Islam is the glue that holds the nation together — a quasi-religious faith that has survived the secession of East Pakistan, multiple crises in Balochistan and murderous jihadist violence.

Evidence that liberal-democratic silence is allowing toxic Islamism to suffuse civil society isn’t hard to find. Last week, Lahore’s bar association barred the sale of soft drinks made by Ahmadiyya-owned firms, while a 14-year-old was imprisoned for flying a kite — a small pleasure the religious right-wing has long railed against.

In the wake of the 1953 crisis, Justice Muhammad Munir and Justice Mohammad Rustam Kayani made this observation: “as long as we rely upon the hammer when a file is needed and press Islam into service to solve situations it was never intended to solve, frustration and disappointment must dog our steps”.

Pakistan’s liberal-democratic rulers need to listen to that message.

Hypocritical Scumbag Israeli official Says “Iran embellishing nuclear gains”–Except for That Nuclear Weapons Thing

Israeli official: Iran embellishing nuclear gains

Bahrain receives military equipment from UK despite violent crackdown

Bahrain receives military equipment from UK

despite violent crackdown

Britain sold over £1m worth of weapons including rifles and artillery to Gulf kingdom during last year’s unrest

Clashes between pro-reform protesters and police in Manama, Bahrain

Bahraini security forces in Manama during clashes with protesters. Photograph: Mazen Mahdi/EPA

Britain has continued to sell arms to Bahrain despite continuing political unrest in the Gulf state, new official figures disclose.

According to the figures the government approved the sale of military equipment valued at more than £1m in the months following the violent crackdown on demonstrators a year ago. They included licences for gun silencers, weapons sights, rifles, artillery and components for military training aircraft.

Also cleared for export to Bahrain between July and September last year were naval guns and components for detecting and jamming improvised explosive devices. No export licences were refused.

Security forces in Bahrain fired teargas and stun grenades at protesters in pre-dawn skirmishes before Tuesday’s first anniversary of the uprising in the Gulf kingdom. Armoured vehicles patrolled the capital, Manama, in a security clampdown after protesters flung volleys of petrol bombs at police cars. There was also a massive police presence in Shia Muslim villages ringing Manama, with helicopters buzzing overhead, underlining the concerns of the Sunni-Muslim-led monarchy about a new explosion of civil unrest by Bahrain’s disgruntled Shia majority.

After the exposure a year ago of Britain’s approval of arms sales, including crowd control equipment, guns, and ammunition to Bahrain, Libya and Egypt, the government revoked 158 export licences, including 44 covering military exports to Bahrain.

The latest figures, published on the Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills website, also show that during the third quarter of last year Britain exported arms valued at more than £1m to Saudi Arabia, including components for military combat vehicles and turrets. During last year’s uprising, Saudi Arabia sent forces to Bahrain in British military trucks.

Britain also supplied equipment, including components for military combat vehicles, weapons night sights, communications and rangefinding, valued at more than £1m, to Egypt’s armed forces.

Vince Cable, the business secretary, admitted to a committee of MPs last week: “We do trade with governments that are not democratic and have bad human rights records … We do business with repressive governments and there’s no denying that.”

He was giving evidence to the Commons committee on arms export controls whose chairman, the former Conservative defence minister Sir John Stanley, accused the government of adopting a “rosy-tinted” and “over-optimistic” approach to authoritarian regimes.

The foreign secretary, William Hague, told the committee that Saudi forces were sent into Bahrain last year “to guard installations but not to take part in dealing with unrest in Bahrain so they did not fall foul [of the export guidelines]”.

On Saudi Arabia, Hague said the government had raised concerns about its treatment of women and foreign workers. But 99% of Britain’s exports to the kingdom consisted of Typhoon jets. “They are not relevant to our concerns about these rights,” the foreign secretary said.

Cable announced that the government had reviewed its system of monitoring arms exports and that in future ministers would be able to “suspend” arms exports quickly in the event of political upheaval or a regional crisis.

Sarah Waldron, campaign co-ordinator for CAAT, the campaign against the arms trade, said: “The UK seems to have learned absolutely nothing from the last year. In the glare of media attention in February last year it revoked some arms licences – but the latest figures show it was quickly back to business as usual.”

A decision by the Obama administration to agree a $1m arms sale to Bahrain was attacked last week by Human Rights Watch.

“Bahrain has made many promises to cease abuses and hold officials accountable, but it hasn’t delivered,” said Maria McFarland, the group’s deputy Washington director. “Protesters remain jailed on criminal charges for peacefully speaking out and there has been little accountability for torture and killings – crimes in which the Bahrain Defence Force is implicated.”

The US state department said the equipment included spare parts and maintenance of equipment needed for Bahrain’s external defence and support of US Navy Fifth Fleet operations. But the US, in common with the UK, has not made public a full list of equipment to be supplied to Bahrain, or elsewhere.

A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: “The government takes its export responsibilities very seriously, and operates one of the most rigorous arms export control regimes in the world. All licence applications are considered on a case by case basis against agreed international criteria. Each assessment we make takes into account the intended end use of the equipment, the behaviour of the end user … We pay particular attention to allegations of human rights abuses.”

The Commons arms export controls committee said in a stinging report last year: “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.”