Arms purchases by Middle Eastern countries have doubled: Annual security report
Story Code : 777533
The Munich Security Report 2019, released on Monday, also said the outsize concentration of weapons in the Middle East increased the risk of confrontation in the region.
“Between 2013 and 2017, the value of Middle Eastern countries’ arms purchases doubled compared to the previous five years, thus bearing the risk of an arms race and military confrontation,” it said.
The report did not name the top purchasers of arms, but they are believed to be the Arab countries in the Persian Gulf region, which traditionally allege that they face a “threat” from Iran and use that pretense to buy advanced weapons from eager suppliers mainly in the West.
The report did reveal the exporters, though. It said 53 percent of the total volume of the arms exports to the Middle East originated in the United States. The US was followed by France (11 percent), the United Kingdom (10 percent), and Canada (seven percent).
Italy, Germany, and Turkey were also among the leading exporters, with their share in the total volume of arms sales to the region equaling six percent, three percent, and two percent, respectively.
‘Countries reevaluating relations with Saudi Arabia following Khashoggi murder’
The report also said that “numerous US politicians and governments of other countries are reevaluating their partnership with Saudi Arabia,” following the state murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last October and Riyadh’s deadly military campaign in Yemen.
While the US administration has backed the Riyadh regime in both of those cases, other US politicians, including some of the US administration’s allies in the US Congress, have been concerned by Saudi Arabia’s destabilizing role.
“The US Senate even passed a resolution urging the cessation of any military support to countries involved in the [Yemen] war, thus contradicting White House positions,” the report said.
The US administration on Monday threatened to veto any resolution passed at the Congress against Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia and a number of its allies launched a devastating military campaign against Yemen in March 2015, claiming that a popular uprising there was backed by Iran, an allegation denied both by the revolutionaries and Tehran.
According to a new report by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, the Saudi-led war has so far claimed the lives of around 56,000 Yemenis.
The United Nations (UN) has said that a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in dire need of food, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger. According to the world body, Yemen is suffering from the most severe famine in more than 100 years.
The Munich Security Report 2019 also warned of a possible “risk of an accidental clash” between Saudi Arabia, the US, Israel, and Iran in the region, stressing that the confrontation “cannot be discounted.”
The report comes days ahead of the 55th edition of the Munich Security Conference, which is scheduled to take place in the German city of Munich on February 15-17. Heads of state and defense ministers of more than 80 countries from across the globe are attend the event every year.