Arms imports to Middle East jump 103 percent in 5 years

Nearly half of US arms exports go to the Middle East

"China delivered major arms to 48 countries in 2013-17". Much of American exports include military and transport aircraft. "Its imports increased by 24% between 2008-12 and 2013-17", SIPRI, which monitors global arms transfers, said in the report released on Monday.

The rivalry between America and China has seen both sides step up worldwide arms sales and transfers as they seek to strengthen military ties with key allies, according to a report published on Monday.

The study was released as peace activists and some lawmakers have called for an end to USA arms sales to countries including Saudi Arabia.

"Its imports increased by 24 per cent between 2008-12 and 2013-17...arms imports from the United States of America increased by 557 per cent, making it India's second largest arms supplier...." More than half of Russian exports were directed to India, China and Vietnam. France is now the third largest arms exporter, Germany the fourth with German arms exports to the Middle East increasing by 109 percent.

The largest exporters of arms are the United States, Russia, France, Germany and China (they provided 74% of total world export of arms for the last 5 years).

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. While the vast majority of ISIS's arsenal originated in Russia, China and Eastern Europe, much of it was initially procured by the USA and Saudi Arabia, which transferred it to Syrian rebel forces later defeated or absorbed by ISIS.

On the other hand, India - which has been accelerating its relationship with the U.S. over the past several years from more military exercises to a path-breaking logistics sharing agreement - has recorded a 557 per cent increase in arms deliveries from Washington in 2013-17 as compared to the past.

"China is becoming increasingly capable of producing its own weapons and continues to strengthen its relations with Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar through arms supplies", said Siemon Wezeman, a senior researcher with the SIPRI arms and military expenditure programme. Total arms imports by the kingdom rose 225 percent over the past five years, making it the world's second-largest importer overall.

A SIPRI report on trends in global arms transfers also reflects the changing geopolitics of South Asia, with sales of weapons to Pakistan by the United States dropping by a significant 76 per cent in the past five years.

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.

Imports by states in Europe decreased by 22 per cent between 2008-12 and 2013-17. China was the fifth largest arms exporter, with Pakistan the main recipient of its arms.

Indonesia increased its arms imports by 193 per cent between 2008-12 and 2013-17. The UK is the sixth biggest weapons exporter.

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