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Saudi soldiers are seen on top of their tank deployed at the Saudi-Yemeni border, in Saudi Arabia's southwestern Jizan province, on April 13, 2015.

Saudi Arabia Becomes Biggest Arms Importer in Middle East

© AFP 2016/ Fayez Nureldine
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In a further sign of its ramping up its military muscle, Saudi Arabia has become the biggest arms importer in the Middle East, and the second biggest in the world, after India, with an increase of 275 percent in 2011-5 compared to 2006-10.

Between 2011-15 Saudi Arabia was the world's second largest arms importer, with an increase of 275 per cent compared to 2006-10. In the same period, arms imports by the United Arab Emirates rose by 35 per cent and those by Qatar went up by 279 per cent.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), during 2011-15, 27 per cent of arms transfers to the region went to Saudi Arabia, 18 percent to the UAE and 14 percent to Turkey. The USA accounted for 53 percent of total arms supplies to the region, the UK for 9.6 percent.

The Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen by a coalition of Arab states, which began in 2015, was boosted by high levels of arms imports to several of the states leading the intervention, including Egypt, Qatar and the UAE.

"Although concerns have been raised in arms-supplying states over Saudi air attacks in Yemen, Saudi Arabia is expected to continue to receive large numbers of major arms from those states in the next five years," the SIPRI report said.

"Arms on order include 150 combat aircraft and thousands of air-to-surface missiles and anti-tank missiles from the USA, 14 combat aircraft from the UK and an undisclosed but large number of armored vehicles from Canada with turrets from Belgium," the report stated.

Humanitarian Disaster

The London-based Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) says the UK government has licensed US$9.5 billion (£6.7bn) of arms to Saudi Arabia since David Cameron took office in 2010, including US$4 billion (£2.8bn) since the bombing of Yemen began in March 2015.

"The humanitarian situation is getting worse and the UK government has been complicit in it. We agree that arms sales need to stop, but they should never have been allowed in the first place. Saudi Arabia has a terrible human rights record and has been supported by governments of all political colors for far too long," said Andrew Smith of CAAT.

In January 2016, Law firm Leigh Day, representing CAAT, issued a pre-action protocol letter for judicial review challenging the government's decision to export arms to Saudi Arabia despite increasing evidence that Saudi forces are violating international humanitarian law in Yemen. At the time of writing the government was yet to respond.

"The [UK] government is always telling us how rigorous and robust its arms export system is. This is further evidence that nothing could be further from the truth. The UK has continuously armed some of the most abusive regimes in the world," said Smith.

A recent study by Opinium LLP for CAAT found that 62% of UK adults oppose arms sales to Saudi Arabia, with only 16% supporting them.

Related:
The Business of War: Saudi Defense Sales Help BAE Systems to Big Profit
MPs Call for Immediate Halt to UK-Saudi Arms Sales Amid Conflict in Yemen
US Approves Sale of Weapons Spare Parts to 13 Poor Nations - Pentagon
US Approves $154.9Mln Weapons Sale to Saudi Arabia - State Department
US Approves $1.95Bln Sale of Weapons, Munitions for F-16 Jets to Iraq
Tags:
Yemen conflict, arms trade, humanitarian crisis, military, import, exports, arms, weapons, Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), World, United States, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia
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  • siberianhusky
    And despite all this the camel humpers still cannot win against a rag tag army in Yemen. KSA weapon purchases a marketing success from the MIC, Wall street and Zionton.
  • all munitions used.. need to be replaced. Costing money before, during, after use.
    all aircraft, require fuel, equipment, maintence etc.. costing money before, during after use.

    Thus, the collusion of special interests who profit, by all military related factors espically of the *expendable/replenished* nature of munitions and equipments life expectency etc.

    So.. the nature of the geo-political game, is multi-faceted.. not only are the financial realities in arming, resupplying, etc..
    But also in changing Governments, the world view of understanding/opinion are forever changed.

    So not only is money made by the war action, but also the rebuilding! but also the mineral/elemental access contracts and resource refinement realities!

    Than of course, the further geo-political support at the United Nation's and in other Geo-Political Arena's where the *new* government is used to push agenda via allegiance or collusion with foreign power's usurping sovereignthy with *Security*.

    ...As a Canadian i am completely shocked to continue to see the nature of time/space built in all the way happening. While the media's focus is truely only about galvinizing support in the proccesional case of experience crafted, presented by media, politician and real events!
  • beydety
    lol... These Saudi Apes have the most up to date weapons and AF from the US, yet they cannot even win against a bunch of sandal wearing warriors of Yemen with Kalashinkovs?
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