Nearly half of US arms exports go to Middle East

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Stockholm, March 12 (IANS) Nearly half of US arms exports over the past five years have gone to the war-stricken Middle East, with Saudi Arabia consolidating its place as the worlds second biggest importer, a report revealed on Monday.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) isaid that global transfer of major weapons systems between 2013 and 2017 rose by 10 per cent compared with the five-year period before that, in a continuation of an upward trend that began two decades ago, reports the Guardian.

The US, which is the world’s biggest exporter, increased its sales between those two periods by 25 per cent, according to the Sipri report.

It supplied arms to as many as 98 states worldwide, accounting for more than a third of global exports.

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Russia, the world’s second biggest exporter, saw a decrease of 7.1 per cent in its overall volume of arms exports; US exports were 58 per cent higher than those of Russia.

France, Germany and China were also among the top five exporters followed by the UK in the sixth place.

“Based on deals signed during the Obama administration, US arms deliveries in 2013-17 reached their highest level since the late 1990s,” said Aude Fleurant, the director of the Sipri’s arms and military expenditure programme.

“These deals and further major contracts signed in 2017 will ensure that the USA remains the largest arms exporter in the coming years.”

The Middle East, a region where in the past five years most countries have been involved in conflict, accounted for 32 per cent of global imports of weapons, the Guardian quoted the report as saying.

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Arms imports to the region doubled between 2013 and 2017 and in the five-year period before that.

The US, the UK, and France were the main supplier of arms to the region, while Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were the main recipient countries.

Meanwhile, India, which receives most of its arms from Russia, heads the list of top importers follwed by Egypt, the UAE and China.

“The tensions between India, on the one side, and Pakistan and China, on the other, are fuelling India’s growing demand for major weapons, which it remains unable to produce itself,” said Siemon Wezeman, senior researcher with Sipri’s arms and military expenditure programme.

“China, by contrast, is becoming increasingly capable of producing its own weapons and continues to strengthen its relations with Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar through arms supplies.”

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–IANS

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