US Arms Exports Surge Amid Growing Middle East, Asian Demand

Nearly half of US arms exports go to the Middle East

Arms imports to Middle East jump 103 percent in 5 years

Almost half of USA arms exports over the past five years have gone to the war-stricken Middle East, with Saudi Arabia consolidating its place as the world's second biggest importer, a report has shown.

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

The flow of arms to the Middle East has more than doubled in the past five years, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

The five largest exporters in 2013-17 were the United States, Russia, France, Germany and China (see table 1).

India remained the world's largest arms importer between 2013 and 2017, accounting for almost 12% of the global imports whereas its arch-rival Pakistan's military purchase dropped by 36% in the same period. Its arms exports increased by 25 per cent between 2008-12 and 2013-17.

Arms exports to the Middle East, Asia and Oceania increased, while there was a decrease in the flow of arms to Africa, the Americas and Europe.

Arms imports by Egypt-the third largest importer in 2013-17-grew by 215 per cent between 2008-12 and 2013-17. The Saudis, now the world's second-largest weapons importers, have led a military coalition against the Houthi rebels in Yemen since 2015 using weapons and intelligence from the Pentagon-giving way to a humanitarian crisis in the impoverished country and killing hundreds of civilians.

The share of top arms exporter, the USA, rose to 34 percent in 2013-2017 from 30 percent in 2008-2012, it said.

The Middle East, a region where in the past five years most countries have been involved in conflict, accounted for 32% of global imports of weapons.

Over the past five years, France has been the most successful country in forging a close relationship with Egypt in the arms industry.

According to SIPRI estimates, global arms deals have increased by 10% between 2013 and 2017.

'Based on deals signed during the Obama administration, United States arms deliveries in 2013-17 reached their highest level since the late 1990s, ' said Dr Aude Fleurant, Director of the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Programme. Arms exports by Germany-the fourth largest exporter in 2013-17-fell by 14 per cent between 2008-12 and 2013-17.

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

The administration of US President Donald Trump has dubbed China as a "rival", and the latest SIPRI report shows how the US has used arms transfers as a foreign policy tool to offset Beijing's growing influence.

Algeria accounted for 52 per cent of all African imports in 2013-17.

Setting a new trend, China has emerged as the number one arms supplier to Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar, by supplying almost 70% of the arms used by the military in these three nations. The report found this maneuver to be a direct violation of the Arms Trade Treaty, and SIPRI wrote Monday that the rising number of weapons sales overseas meant such global agreements needed to be enhanced and enforced. This was "due to United States perceptions that Pakistan was not fully committed to combating the Taliban", the report said.

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