News that the UK is training Saudi Arabia's national guard (the elite security force deployed during the recent protests in Bahrain) in public order enforcement measures and the use of sniper rifles should come as no surprise. Plaid's Jonathan Edwards MP, who has tabled parliamentary questions to the Ministry of Defence about its links to Saudi Arabia, has done excellent work exposing this questionable but no doubt lucrative business to the cold light of day. The UK Government has spent may years tooling up the forces the of repression across the globe and signing lucrative arms deals with some of the worlds most repressive regimes.
Depressing though this news is, we would do well to note that this is relatively old news - in that the UK has been quietly supplying and training up some pretty questionable people's security services for years. Even David Cameron took arms dealers on a recent tour of Middle Eastern states - no doubt we can off a good discount of rubber bullets and tear gas in exchange for ensuring that more than a few pints of the dark stuff (and we are not talking about Guinness here) keep flowing. Mrs Thatcher in here time oversaw the the sale directly and indirectly of more than enough weapons to Saddam Hussein when he was our boy, some of which broke the sanctions that were imposed during the war between Iraq and Iran.