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A new arms race in the Middle East?
February 21, 2017, 10:28 am

Russia remains the world’s second biggest seller of arms behind the United States, increasing its share by 37 per cent in 2010-2014 [PPIO]

New data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute on global weapons sales indicates that there may be an arms race in full swing in the Middle East and Asia.

According to a report on trends in international transfers of major weapons published by SIPRI, arms sales have reached their highest since the late 1980s, just before the end of the Cold War.

“The flow of arms increased to Asia and Oceania and the Middle East between 2007–11 and 2012–16, while there was a decrease in the flow to Europe, the Americas and Africa,” SIPRI says.

SIPRI examines arms imports in five-year increments.

The latest report compares arms imports between 2007-2011 and 2012-2016. Weapons imports by Middle Eastern nations increased 86 per cent between the two periods, with the region accounting for 29 per cent of all global arms purchases.

Saudi Arabia increased its weapons imports by 212 per cent between the two periods and by 2016 became the world’s second largest importer; Qatar increased its weapons imports by 245 per cent.

Nearly all the weapons imported by these Arab states came from the United States and Europe.

The US continued to dominate global arms exports accounting for nearly 67 per cent of all weapons trade by 2016, SIPRI data shows. Russia was the second largest weapons exporter accounting for 23 per cent of all global arms sales.

India is Russia’s greatest arms client and is also the largest importer in the world.

One particular Russian weapon, still in development and testing, which interests India – and China – is the Armata, the first major tank to be developed in Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union.

It is based on a fundamentally new design rather than just an update of older models. There are plans to build more than 2,000 of the tank that will eventually be called the T-14.

Sergey Goreslavsky, the head of one of Russia’s largest defense contractors Rosoboronexport, believes arms sales to India should increase in 2017.

Since the end of the sanctions on Iran, Tehran has said it wants to purchase $10 billion in advanced weaponry, including the T-90 tank.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies