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article imageSaudi Arabia biggest arms purchaser in the world

By Ken Hanly     Mar 12, 2019 in Politics
While the US is the world''s largest exporter of arms, Saudi Arabia is the world's largest customer not just in the Middle East which purchases about a third of world arms exports but in the entire world.
Saudi Arabia the world's largest importer of arms
Over the last five years, Saudi Arabia global arms purchases have soared by 192 percent. As shown on the appended video from several years back, the Saudis purchase many arms from the US. The Saudis need to replace arms as they are locked in a long war with Yemen but the Saudis also want to build up their armaments to counter Iran. According to recent estimates, the Saudis now spend the third most of any country on their military behind the US, by far the largest, and then China. Saudi Arabia has now surpassed Russia, which is much larger both in size and population than Saudi Arabia.
Unlike Russia, China, or the US, the Saudis do not have the same significant military-industrial complex to make their own armaments and earn funds through exports. Instead the Saudis must import most of their arms from countries such as the US and the UK. As the oil economy begins to shrink and oil prices drop, the Saudis may find that their costly military arms budget that now eats up about 10 percent of their budget could become too costly to sustain.
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) report
SIPRI reports that arms flowing to the Middle East have gone up 87 percent during last. The report shows that from 2014 to 2018 Saudi Arabia became the world's largest arms importer. Egypt, Algeria, and the UAE also were among the top ten of world arms buyers. The SIPRI report shows the US and European nations sell jets, jeeps and other other gear that is used in wars in Yemen and elsewhere.
Peter Wezeman, a SIPRI researcher told the Middle East Eye: “Weapons from the US, the UK and France are in high demand in the Gulf, where conflicts and tensions are rife. Russia, France and Germany dramatically increased their arms sales to Egypt in the past five years." The SIPRI report also mentioned that the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Israel are all arming to make ready for a potential conflict with Iran
Arming Middle East governments becoming more controversial for some
Patrick Wilcken of Amnesty International pointed out that many western arms ended up being used in actions that abused human rights as in Egypt's crackdown on political opponents, Israel actions against Palestinians and occupation of their lands, and the Saudi-led war in Yemen. Germany is one country that has finally taken a stand as it extended until the end of March a unilateral freeze on supplying arms to Yemen because of its war in Yemen and murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Jeff Abramson, scholar at the Arms Control Association said the US should follow the example of Germany: “Instead of being challenged, the US continues to claim a larger share of an expanding global arms market.As such, the US should take the lead in promoting responsible behaviour, rather than encouraging trade to repressive and irresponsible regimes, such as those in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.”
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