61% increase in arms sales to the Middle East

US, WASHINGTON (NEWS OBSERVATORY) — Arms sales to the Middle East have risen dramatically in the past five years, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (CIBRI).

Arms sales in the world which have been increasing since 2003 increased by 5.5% in terms of quantity in the period 2015-2019 compared to 2010-2014, according to the Stockholm-based institute.

“In total, arms sales increased … and demand was high in importing countries, and it also saw an increase,” Peter Weizmann, a researcher at the institute, told AFP.

Middle East imports increased by 61% during that period and accounted for 35% of total world arms imports during the past five years.

Saudi Arabia became the first importer of weapons in the world, ahead of India, with an increase in quantities of 130%.

The United States was the first supplier to Saudi Arabia with 73% of the imports of this country, followed by Britain with 13%. This came despite “great concerns” related to Saudi military intervention in Yemen, the institute said.

Peter Weizmann stressed that the quantity of weapons exported to the Middle East is a “source of concern”, especially as the region is witnessing “conflicts, tensions and a possible new escalation in conflicts.”

France ranked third among the arms exporting countries.

In the past five years, the French arms market represented 7.9% of total sales in the world, an increase of 72% compared to the period 2010-2014.

“The French exports reached their highest level since 1990 (…) and the French arms industry benefited from the demand in Egypt (26% of its exports), in Qatar (14%), and in India (14%),” the institute said in its report.

The delivery of combat Rafale aircraft to these three countries accounted for about a quarter of all French arms exports.

The United States continues to dominate the market with 36% of the shares ahead of Russia, whose sales fell by 18% to settle on 21% during 2015-2019.

Asia and Oceania maintained the first rank in terms of importing weapons during the same period, during which 41% of global imports of conventional weapons were concentrated.

This came despite the decline in the import of weapons in India, which was in the past its largest importer in the world, by 32%, as well as in neighboring Pakistan, where the decline reached 39%.

In the report, the researchers explained that these two nuclear powers “have long set the goal of producing their own weapons (…) but they still depend a lot on imports.”


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