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Are UK weapons sold to UAE being used against Egyptian anti-coup protesters?

February 5, 2014 at 10:37 am

In an interview with Dream TV on 8 September, failed Egyptian presidential candidate Ahmad Shafiq revealed that since the coup that deposed elected President Mohammed Morsi, the UAE has been sending weapons to the Egyptian authorities to suppress the anti-coup protests.

On Tuesday, a representative of Amnesty International confirmed that 1089 people were killed during the operation to disperse anti-coup protestors at Rabaa Al-Adawiyya square and Al-Nahda square, adding that many protesters were killed as a result of Egyptian security forces using “lethal, excessive, disproportionate and unjustified force.”

Considering that the UK and the UAE have a well-established arms trade, Shafiq’s statement raises concerns that UK weapons are being used against Egyptian civilians.

During the interview, Shafiq stated that, “The Interior Minister had asked me to mediate military support from the UAE to the [Egyptian] security forces. I did and the UAE immediately sent arms and equipment to fight terrorism.” Shafiq also remarked that the UAE has been generous in its military support to the coup authorities; indeed “despite all [the] Saudi assistance, the UAE has done more, even more things than people know.”

The EU suspended its supply of weapons to Egypt following the Egyptian military crackdown, and the UK has expressed support for this move.

MEMO contacted the UK’s Foreign Office regarding this matter and a representative confirmed that the UK fully supports the EU weapons ban. As such, the UK has “suspended 48 export licences for any equipment which might be used for internal repression.” This applies “to licences for the Egyptian Army, Air Force and Internal Security Forces or Ministry of the Interior.”

Although the Foreign Office would not comment directly on Shafiq’s statement about the UAE’s provision of arms to Egypt, the representative did confirm that export licences to foreign countries would be denied if the UK assesses that “there is a clear risk the goods might be used for internal repression, provoke or prolong conflict within a country, used aggressively against another country or risk our national security.”