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War, conflict fuel arms imports to Middle East, Asia

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13th-Mar-2018       
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AFP, Stockholm :
Weapons imports to the Middle East and Asia have boomed over the past five years, fuelled by war and tensions in those regions, a new study showed on Monday.
In the period between 2013 and 2017, arms imports to the conflict-ridden Middle East more than doubled, jumping by 103 percent compared with the previous five-year period, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) calculated.
And the Middle East accounted for 32 percent of all arms imports worldwide.
SIPRI, an independent institute, monitors arms deliveries by volume over periods of five years in order to iron out short-term fluctuations.
Saudi Arabia-which is waging a war against Shiite Houthi rebels backed by its regional rival Iran-is the world's second largest importer of arms after India, SIPRI said.
The United States accounts for 61 percent of arms imports to Saudi Arabia and Britain for 23 percent.
On Friday, Britain signed a preliminary multi-billion-pound order from Saudi Arabia for 48 Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets, military equipment maker BAE Systems announced.
The deal sparked heated debate and protests in the UK where the NGO, Save the Children, placed a life-size statue of a child near parliament "to draw attention to the violence that is being fuelled, in part, by British-made bombs."
"Widespread violent conflict in the Middle East and concerns about human rights have led to political debate in Western Europe and North America about restricting arms sales," said senior SIPRI researcher Pieter Wezeman.
"Yet the US and European states remain the main arms exporters to the region and supplied over 98 percent of weapons imported by Saudi Arabia."

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