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Troubles in the Desert; Mauritania as arms exports destination

Mauritania can hardly be called a hot spot for international arms traders. Although its military expenditure - almost 4 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) - is a real burden for the desert country, in absolute figures the 116 (2009) million US dollars is less than e.g. the costs of one Dutch offshore patrol vessel. Much of it has to be used for salaries and buildings. Mauritania is the kid... read more >

The EU’s 28th member and Al Nusrah’s arms

The Brown Moses blog has gained international acclaim for identifying the use of weapons in the two year old Syrian war. One of the more significant findings of the blog are pictures of what appear to be Croatian weapons spotted in the arsenals of Islamic extremist groups operating in Syria, including Jabhat al-Nusrah, notorious for its grave human rights violations. In February, Eliot Higgins... read more >

Pensions and nuclear arms

Six years ago TV programme Zembla revealed how Dutch pension funds invested massive amounts of money in arms companies producing landmines, cluster bombs and nuclear weapons [with English subtitles]. Public indignation forced pension funds to kowtow and promise their members to improve their performance. With some funds, promises got stuck halfway. Many pension funds have since ‘green-... read more >

Germany undercuts blocked Dutch tank deal with Indonesia

Late 2011 it emerged that the Indonesian army was seeking surplus Leopard tanks, which both Germany and the Netherlands had on offer. The Indonesians preferred the Dutch type and came over to see the tanks. But, soon after the potential sale became public, parliamentarians put their weight against such a deal, as they feared possible abuse against Papua’s and Moluccans. Very much to the... read more >

Burmese frigates to be equipped with Dutch tech despite arms embargo

Positive change is underway in Burma/Myanmar since President Thein Sein took office two years ago. The house arrest of opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has been lifted and her National League for Democracy has been giving unprecedented freedoms. The military-led regime has released hundreds of political prisoners and inked a series of cease-fire deals with ethnic... read more >

The value of an arms embargo

The European Union controversy whether or not to lift the embargo on supplying weapons to the Syrian opposition is on the agenda again at the EU foreign ministers meeting 22-23 March in Dublin. The current Syria embargo was amended last month and is due for review in May, but France wants it to be renegotiated now. When all member states agree, the lifting of the embargo “can be a question... read more >

Syria does not need weapons - keep the EU arms embargo

For months the British government has been pushing to amend the European Union arms embargo on Syria, in an effort to increase military support for rebels fighting Syria's Bashir al-Assad government. The proposal to provide weapons to Syrian rebels is back on the agenda. Intense diplomatic pressure has now created a first crack in the embargo, although the details must still be determined.... read more >

US and Venezuela coast guards soon have similar Dutch patrol boats - thanks to Cuba

Damen Shipyards is the superlative of Dutch entrepreneurship. Using all kinds of Dutch export support - from royal visits to export credits - and manoeuvring along political sensitivities, it has expanded a global network of yards, building ships small and big. The Damen family-business sells mega-yachts to the world’s richest as well as anything from tug boats to major warships to... read more >

Chilean ‘frigate gate’ is just a rumour for Dutch MoD

It often takes ages for major corruption cases to evolve from rumours and allegations into investigations, court cases and finally convictions – if they ever get there. Secrecy and political sensitivities are major obstacles to get cases to court. The most infamous of all cases is the 1980s British-Saudi Al Yamamah deal, where a £50 billion oil-for-weapons programme was sweetened with... read more >

Nobel Peace Prize laureate boosts arms exports to the Middle East, despite or thanks to Arab spring

The European Union’s arms exports rose by 18 percent in 2011 and most of it is for the Middle East. This is remarkable, as 2011 also was the year of the Arab spring. Several EU member states (partially) stopped exporting to Arab Spring countries – Bahrain, Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen for example – at least for some time. Arms embargoes were imposed for Libya and Syria. Remember,... read more >

Arms trade promotion compensating for declining domestic demand

With military budgets declining or frozen in most of Europe, arms producers are increasingly looking abroad to fill their shrinking order books. And increasingly they are relying on a helping hand from the government, either through active diplomacy at the highest level to speed up potential deals, or with the military showing their hardware for potential foreign customers. And any sale... read more >

Dutch ships assist Honduras in escalating war on drugs

Honduras is currently building up its naval forces, reportedly to counter international drugs trafficking. A stronger naval force would also help the country in deterring harassment of its fishing crews by naval and police units from neighbouring Nicaragua and El Salvador, according to Honduran officials. Current equipment of the navy is said to be 30 years old on average. Last October the Latin... read more >

EADS claiming its place in rapidly expanding cyber warfare market

Behind the scenes of the recent Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip a cyber war has also been going on. Israeli hackers penetrated and paralyzed the website of The Hamas Interior Ministry on 18 November, while Israeli Finance Minister Steinitz said: "Beyond the main military battlefield, there is a secondary arena. Israel has been under unprecedented cyber attack." These attacks include... read more >

Dutch pension funds boost investments in nuke producers

"Some say nuclear disarmament is utopian... I say the illusion is that nuclear weapons provide security", said United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon earlier this week. The UN chief further argued that their inherently destabilising presence was unwarranted in the post-Cold War era. "How, then, do we explain that... amidst a global financial crisis, the nuclear-weapon states... read more >

The unwanted JSF swamp and the new Dutch cabinet

Soon after the 12 September parliamentary elections in the Netherlands the two largest parties, VVD [liberal/conservative] and PvdA [social democrat], started talking about the potential for a coalition representing 79 out of 150 parliamentary seats. So far nothing has been leaked from the negotiating table to the media on what is likely one of the most contentious issues they have to deal with:... read more >

Wedding of the elephants: merger between BAE and EADS in the making

Europe's two biggest arms companies, British BAE Systems and German/French/Spanish EADS announced that they are negotiating a merger, or an 'elephants wedding' according to the press. This wedding would create the single largest defence company in the world, bigger than the present number one Lockheed Martin. According to the American weekly Defense News, Lockheed Martin had a 2011... read more >

Dutch engineers take India’s warship building into “a new era”

Maritime relations between India and the Netherlands have existed since the Dutch East India Company (VOC) was allowed to set up a fort and trading post – Fort Geldria - on India’s east coast in 1608. At that time trade in clothes, as well as the establishment of a gun powder factory made the so-called Dutch Coromandel an essential link in the VOC trade routes. Four hundred years... read more >

Released Dutch arms sales contract reveals special role of Parliament

The normal procedure for arms export licences in the Netherlands is that export officials decide whether to grant one or not, following a standard procedure, including a criteria check relating to e.g. human rights, internal and regional tensions and sustainable development. Only after the licence has been granted (or rejected), the Parliament has a role. As controller of the government it can... read more >