Monday 20 November 2017

Nicholas Leonard: Cameron caught between principle and profit

Nicholas Leonard

'Dreadful and horrifying' was how British foreign secretary William Hague yesterday described the Libyan response to the latest pro-democracy demonstrations in the Arab world.

Given the vicious scale of the military action against the protesters, Hague had little option but to denounce them. But only a few months ago, the Foreign Office was granting export licences for the sale of ammunition and tear gas to Libya, and at the massive international defence exhibition in Abu Dhabi this week, almost 100 of the 1,060 exhibitors taking part are British. They are being backed up by a delegation of 15 civil servants from Whitehall.

A mere 10 days ago, Hague himself was in Bahrain, where, according to a local news report, he gave an enthusiastic comment on its "tremendous democratic achievements" and "hailed the kingdom's successful reforms".

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