UK military agreement with Qatar shows “flagrant disregard for human rights”

  • Defence agreement between Qatar and UK will deepen military relationship
  • Agreement offers UK base for Qatari air force
  • Since 20105 the UK has licensed at least £540 million worth of arms to Qatar

Campaign Against Arms Trade has condemned a new military agreement between the UK and Qatar. The agreement, which was signed this week by the Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, and his Qatari counterpart, opens the door for a new UK base for the Qatari Emiri Air Force’s recently acquired nine Hawk aircraft.

The agreement will bring further integration to UK relations with Qatar. The country is listed as ‘not free’ by Freedom House and the record of the Qatari government has been widely condemned by human rights monitoring groups.

Qatar played a military role in the Saudi-led bombing of Yemen until its forces withdrew in 2017 following a breakdown in relations between Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The UK has armed and supported the Saudi-led coalition throughout the war.

Since 2015, the UK has licensed at least £540 million worth of arms to Qatar. This includes:

  • £370 million worth of ML4 licences (Grenades, bombs, missiles, countermeasures)
  • £134 million worth of ML10 licences (Aircraft, helicopters, drones)
  • £6.5 million worth of ML1 licences (small arms)

In reality the real figures will be a great deal higher, with arms sales being licensed via the opaque and secretive Open Licence system which means that totals are not published.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: “The Qatari authorities have a long and shameful record of repression and abuse. This deal shows a flagrant disregard for human rights and will integrate UK and Qatari foreign policy. This can only serve to fuel repression by strengthening the political and military links between Downing Street and the Qatari royal family.

With Brexit and COVID upon us, is ‘Global Britain’ going to continue arming, supporting and empowering human rights abusers around the world? It is long past time to end a hypocritical foreign policy that is based on military intervention and securing arms sales, and instead to focus on the meaningful promotion of human rights and democracy.”

CAAT would not exist without its supporters. Each new supporter helps us strengthen our call for an end to the international arms trade.

Keep in touch