Saudi Arabia top location for UK weapons as global sales increase


UK backing Saudi regime as figures reveal nation one of world’s top arms sellers

BRITAIN’S BLOOD PACT with the Saudi Arabian regime continues to be one of the closest ties in the international arms trade, according to new figures released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

The multi-billion UK weapons industry in more depends on the Saudis – selling 48 per cent of total weapons – that any other relationship within the six major arms exporting nations.

While the Saudis – currently linked to committing war crimes with western supplies in Yemen – are the top US arms export destination, the total of US sales is 13 per cent. 

The UK’s longstanding support for the Saudi dictatorship, which is guilty of repression of women, minorities, and basic democratic rights, has faced concerted opposition from human rights campaigners. 

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade, which recently took the government to court over alleged breaches in humanitarian law over the sales, said: “The UK public is rightly appalled by arms exports to abusive dictatorships like the one in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi regime has a dire human rights record at home and has used UK arms to create a humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen.

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“For decades now, the UK has given uncritical political and military support to the Saudi Royal family. The message it sends is an endorsement of the repression taking place, and a slap in the face for those they are brutalising at home and bombing in Yemen.”

India (11 per cent) and Indonesia (9 per cent) were the second and third top export locations for UK sales. UK weapons imports were found to be highly depended on the US market (77 per cent), with the second and third national locations being France (7.1 per cent) and Israel (6.6 per cent).

Read more – Committee of MPs demand an end to UK arms sales to ‘war criminal’ Saudi Arabia

The UK figures are part of a concerning trend of rising global arms sales – driven by military expansion in Asia and the Missle East. 

“With no regional arms control instruments in place, states in Asia continue to expand their arsenals’, said Siemon Wezeman, Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Programme. “While China is increasingly able to substitute arms imports with indigenous products, India remains dependent on weapons technology from many willing suppliers, including Russia, the USA, European states, Israel and South Korea.”

Pieter Wezeman (also SIPRI) added: “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. Despite low oil prices, countries in the region continued to order more weapons in 2016, perceiving them as crucial tools for dealing with conflicts and regional tensions.”

Picture courtesy of Oxfam International

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