The global arms industry has enjoyed a major boon period over recent years with the rise of tension and military conflict across the globe.
The US has seen the largest financial windfall from the sale of arms while Saudi Arabia continues to be the world’s largest importer of arms according to a new report released today by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
According to SIPRI, which keeps the only publicly available database on the transfer of arms, “arms imports by countries in the Middle East increased by 61 per cent between 2010-14 and 2015-19, and accounted for 35 per cent of total global arms imports over the past five years.”
Saudi Arabia has seen a 130 per cent increase compared with the previous five-year period making it the world’s largest arms importer in 2015-19. The volume of weapons purchased by Riyadh accounted for 12 per cent of the global arms imports in that period.
The USA and the UK remain the main source of arms for the kingdom. A total of 73 per cent of Saudi Arabia’s arms imports came from America while 13 per cent of its arsenal were supplied by UK, despite major concerns in both countries over Riyadh’s military intervention in Yemen.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), which has been militarily involved in Libya as well as Yemen over the past five years, was the eighth-largest arms importer in the world between 2015-19. The US supplied two-thirds of the arms imported by Abu Dhabi.
SIPRI noted that in 2019, when foreign military involvement in Libya was condemned by the United Nations Security Council, the UAE had major arms import deals ongoing with a number of other countries including, the UK, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and Turkey.
Turkish arms imports were 48 per cent lower between 2015-2019 than in the previous five-year period, even though its military was fighting Kurdish rebels and was involved in the conflicts in Libya and Syria. The SIPRI report explained that the reason for this decrease was due to delays in deliveries of some major arms; the cancellation of a large deal with the USA for combat aircraft; and developments in the capability of the Turkish arms industry.
The main supplier of weapons worldwide is still the US, which has increased its arms exports by 23 per cent, according to SIPRI.