The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has found that arms sales to the Middle East have grown by 87 percent over the past five years, with Saudi Arabia topping the list of importers.
The SIPRI said in a report on Sunday that Saudi Arabia’s arms imports in 2014-2018 increased by 192 percent, compared to the preceding five years, becoming the world’s top arms importer.
Other countries at the top of the list of global arms buyers included Egypt, Algeria, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq. The institute measures the volume of deliveries of arms, not the dollar value of deals.
According to the report, arms sales to the Middle East now account for more than a third of the global trade.
The defense think-tank’s annual survey also showed how the United States and European countries sell jets, jeeps and other gear used in controversial wars in Yemen and beyond, Pieter Wezeman, a senior researcher with SIPRI, told Middle East Eye.
“Weapons from the US, the UK and France are in high demand in the Persian Gulf, where conflicts and tensions are rife. Russia, France and Germany dramatically increased their arms sales to Egypt in the past five years,” he said.
Wezeman attributed the growth in Middle Eastern imports to the need to replace military gear that was deployed and destroyed in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Libya, as well as political tensions and a regional arms race.