Saudi Arabia is on a massive arms-buying spree, according to a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). In the last five years, the country increased its arms purchases by 225% compared to the previous five-year period, importing 98% of its weapons from the US and European Union states. In the same period, Israel increased its exports of arms by 55%, the report said.
The SIPRI report, titled “Asia and the Middle East lead rising trend in arms imports, US exports grow significantly,” provides details on the current world-wide arms trade. The US, Russia, France, Germany and China remain the biggest exporters of military technology. Under the Obama administration, deals “reached their highest level since the late 1990s,” Dr. Aude Fleurant, director of the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Program was quoted as saying in the report. Along with Israel, South Korea and Turkey have also increased their exports in recent years.
The Middle East is sponging up weapons, with imports growing 103% in the last five years, compared to 2008-2012. The region accounts for 32% of global arms imports, even though the region accounts for only around 5% of the world’s population. The United Arab Emirates have joined Saudi Arabia in buying heavily in the last five years, as have Qatar and Egypt, all of which have increased their imports. The Saudis have taken delivery of 78 combat aircraft, 72 combat helicopters, 328 tanks and 4,000 vehicles, the report notes. Qatar signed major details for 84 combat aircraft from the US, UK and France. It ordered an additional 12 such aircraft from France in 2017.
The SIPRI Arms Transfers Database contains information on all international transfers of major weapons. The independent international institute is dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.