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Gulf States 'increase arms imports by 200 percent'

US-Gulf relations have tightened as business soars for the biggest arms exporter [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 February, 2016

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Arms sales between Gulf States and the United States have sky rocketed since the 2011 Arab Spring rocked the region.
Weapon imports in the Gulf region have soared over 200 percent in the past four years, according to a new report.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar were among the states to significantly increase their weapon import from the United States since the Arab Spring in 2011.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) released a report on Monday, analysing global trends in arm sales over the past four years.

The report found a surge in sales made to the Middle East and Asian region, with particular focus on Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Egypt.

Figures show Saudi Arabia was the world's second largest arms importer between 2011-2015, with an increase of 275 percent compared to imports bought in 2006-10.

In the same period, arms imports by the United Arab Emirates grew by 35 percent while Qatar saw a 279 percent rise.

A Saudi-led coalition was formed earlier this year to combat Houthi rebel fighters in Yemen.

The 10-nation coalition war on Yemen has been estimated to cost Saudi Arabia $200 million a day, or $6billion per month.

"A coalition of Arab states is putting mainly US and European-sourced advanced arms into use in Yemen," Pieter Wezeman, Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Programme said in the report.

"Despite low oil prices, large deliveries of arms to the Middle East are scheduled to continue as part of contracts signed in the past five years."

In Africa, the two largest arms importers in the region with a combined total of 56 percent of African imports, are Algeria and Morocco.

The report analyses data from "all international transfers of major conventional weapons, including sales, gifts and production licences to states, international organisations and armed groups".

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