USA and European arms sales to Middle East soar amid widespread conflict

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The United States remained the largest global arms exporter between 2013 and 2017, and almost half of all USA arms exports went to the Middle East during this time, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in its study on Monday. "Major ongoing arms deals in 2017 included the delivery of combat aircraft from China and Russian Federation", it says.

Few countries outside North America and Europe are large exporters of arms.

Saudi Arabia, which is leading a massive military campaign against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, saw its arms imports increase by a staggering 225 percent in the 2013-2017 period compared with 2008-2012. "There is a major concern about the role of ISIS in particular, again in the Sinai of course but also in Libya - and also there we see that Egypt has used major arms", Wezeman told Euronews, citing an attack on targets using newly-delivered French combat aircraft.

The United States remains the world's top weapons seller, accounting for 34 percent of global arms sales over the past five years, a new study shows.

"In 2013-17 China accounted for 68 per cent of Myanmar's arms imports, followed by Russian Federation with 15 per cent".

Arms exports by Germany - the fourth largest exporter - fell by 14 per cent between 2008-2012 and 2013-2017.

USA and European arms sales to Middle East soar amid widespread conflict
USA and European arms sales to Middle East soar amid widespread conflict

And the Middle East accounted for 32 percent of all arms imports worldwide. However, German weapon exports to the Middle East jumped by 109 percent. China was the fifth largest arms exporter in 2013-17.

During the same period, China's weapons exports to Pakistan augmented by healthy 35pc and the latter remained biggest buyer of Chinese-made weapons.

"Based on deals signed during the Obama administration, U.S. arms deliveries in 2013-17 reached their highest level since the late 1990s", said Dr Aude Fleurant, the director of the Sipri's arms and military expenditure programme.

The five big exporters - USA, Russia, France, Germany and China -together account for 74% of all arms exports in 2013-17.

The sale from United States arms majors, too, reduced by 76% between 2013 and 2017 compared to the previous five-year period. Exports increased by a quarter between 2008-12 and 2013-17, and by previous year the country accounted for over a third of the global total (34 percent). "The United Arab Emirates was the fourth largest importer in 2013-17, while Qatar (the 20th largest arms importer) increased its arms imports and signed several major deals in that period", SIPRI said.

The UK, which rolled out a red carpet for the Saudi crown prince on his visit to London last week, exported almost half of its arms to the Saudi Arabia, which has increased its imports by 225%. In fact, Indian arms imports have increased in the past five years, despite a continued push for indigenous production.

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