Arms imports to Middle East jump 103 percent in 5 years

  • Arms imports to Middle East jump 103 percent in 5 years

Arms imports to Middle East jump 103 percent in 5 years

Extending its lead as the world's biggest arms exporter, the USA accounted for 34 percent of total arms exports.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in its latest study on global arms transfers that weapons imports by countries in the Middle East increased by 103 percent between 2008 and 2017, and accounted for one third of global arms imports in the 2013-2017period. India's arms imports witnessed a massive surge of 24pc in 2013-17.

Despite the decrease, it was the world's fifth-largest arms importer in 2013-17.

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

Arms imports by Middle Eastern states have more than doubled over the past decade, with the USA and European countries the main suppliers of weapons to the region.

Russian Federation continues to be India's most trusted strategic ally who supplies major military hardware to New Delhi.

And India was the world's largest weapons importer, with Russian Federation its main supplier accounting for 62 percent of its imports.

A SIPRI report on trends in global arms transfers also reflects the changing geopolitics of South Asia, with sales of weapons to Pakistan by the United States dropping by a significant 76 per cent in the past five years. However, German weapon exports to the Middle East jumped by 109 percent. Arms imports by Egypt grew by 215 per cent over the past ten years, making it now the third-largest importer in the world.

According to Aude Fleurant, the director of the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Program, arms deals signed during the administration of then US President Barack Obama and "further major contracts signed in 2017 will ensure that the United States of America remains the largest arms exporter in the coming years".

The flow of arms increased to Asia, while there was a decrease in the flow to Africa, the Americas and Europe between 2008 and 2012 and 2013-17. Russia, the next biggest exporter, saw its arms sales fall 7,1 percent to 22% of global exports compared with the five years to 2012. "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. Earlier this year, the German government said it would stop approving arms exports to anyone participating in the war in Yemen.

"In Germany there has been a very clear debate about whether or not to stop arms exports to Turkey or at least restrict them, and right now the tendency is towards restriction", Wezeman says.