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Global arms trade ‘at highest level in decades’

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This photo, taken on July 12, 2016, shows a Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter jet taking part in a flying display at the Farnborough Airshow, southwest of London. (By AFP)

Global arms sales have reached their highest level in decades, with Middle Eastern Arab countries being among the top buyers, a new report says.

More weapons were sold across the globe between 2012 and 2016 than any other five-year period since 1990, according to an annual report on arms sales released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) on Monday.

Among the arms purchasers, Saudi Arabia, which is involved in military aggression against its impoverished neighbor Yemen, is ranked the world’s second-largest importer after India.

India bought most of its arms from Russia, while the Saudis purchased their major weapons systems from the US and the UK.

‘No arms control regime in place’

“Over the past five years, most states in the Middle East have turned primarily to the USA and Europe in their accelerated pursuit of advanced military capabilities,” said Pieter Wezeman, a senior researcher at Sipri.

The US’s main three customers were Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Turkey. Saudi Arabia was also particularly a lucrative market for the UK, which sold almost half of its total manufactured weapons to Riyadh.

A nuclear submarine manufactured by the French industrial group DCNS, in Cherbourg-Octeville, northwestern France, December 14, 2016 (photo by AFP)

“With no regional arms control instruments in place, states in Asia continue to expand their arsenals,” said Siemon Wezeman, a senior researcher at Sipri’s arms and military expenditure program.

“The USA supplies major arms to at least 100 countries around the world — significantly more than any other supplier state,” said Aude Fleurant, director of the Sipri’s arms and military expenditure program.

“Both advanced strike aircraft with cruise missiles and other precision-guided munitions and the latest generation air and missile defense systems account for a significant share of US arms exports,” Fleurant said.

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