Weapons imports to the Middle East and Asia have boomed over the past five years, fuelled by war and tensions in those regions, a new study showed on Monday.
In the period between 2013 and 2017, arms imports to the conflict-ridden Middle East more than doubled, jumping by 103 percent compared with the previous five-year period, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) calculated.
And the Middle East accounted for 32 percent of all arms imports worldwide.
SIPRI, an independent institute, monitors arms deliveries by volume over periods of five years in order to iron out short-term fluctuations.
Saudi Arabia — which is waging a war against Houthi rebels backed by its regional rival Iran — is the world’s second largest importer of arms after India, SIPRI said.
The United States accounts for 61 percent of arms imports to Saudi Arabia and Britain for 23 percent.
Growing demand in India
Nevertheless, Asia and Oceania was the biggest region for arms imports, accounting for 42 percent of the global total between 2013 and 2017, the institute calculated.
And India was the world’s largest weapons importer, with Russia its main supplier accounting for 62 percent of its imports.
At the same time, arms deliveries to India from the US, the world’s top weapons exporter, increased more than six-fold in the five-year period, SIPRI calculated.
“The tensions between India and Pakistan, on the one side, and China on the other, are fueling India’s growing demand for major weapons, which it remains unable to produce itself,” another SIPRI researcher Siemon Wezeman said.
“China, by contrast, is becoming increasingly capable of producing its own weapons and continues to strengthen its relations with Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar through arms supplies,” he added.