Arms imports to Middle East doubled over past decade, study shows

Arms imports to Middle East doubled over past decade, study shows

It said that from 2013 to 2017 the world's top weapons exporters were US and Russian Federation.

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

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

US President Donald Trump has been pushing US arms exports since coming to power at the start of 2017.

The report finds that arms imports by states in the Middle East increased by 103 per cent in the two periods from 2008-12 and 2013-17, accounting for nearly a third of global weapons imports in the latter period.

The Islamic kingdom, which is the world's second-largest arms importer behind India, agreed last week to buy 48 highly advanced fighter jets from Britain's BAE Systems amid protests by human rights activists, who allege that Riyadh uses arms procured from western countries to kill innocent civilians in Yemen. 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.

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Almost half of United States 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.

"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. India's arms imports from the U.S. saw a more than six-fold jump.

During the same period, China's weapons exports to Pakistan augmented by healthy 35pc and the latter remained biggest buyer of Chinese-made weapons. Its arms exports rose by 38 per cent between 2008-12 and 2013-17. Arms imports by Egypt grew by 215 per cent over the past ten years, making it now the third-largest importer in the world. Saudi Arabia is the most important single customer of the United States arms industry with almost 20% of USA sales.

Wezeman believes that the "growing aversion" in several European countries to arms exports to Middle Eastern nations such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates could have an impact on the figures in years to come.

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.

In 2013-17 Saudi Arabia was the world's second largest arms importer, with arms imports increasing by 225 per cent compared with 2008-12.