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.
Nevertheless, Asia and Oceania was the biggest region for arms imports, accounting for 42 percent of the global total between 2013 and 2017, the institute calculated.
The US remained the biggest arms seller, accounting for 34 per cent of global arms exports.
The U.S. reportedly supplied weapons to some 98 states with 49 percent of sales going toward the Middle East, where American weapons have ended up in the hands of countries charged with human rights abuses and militant groups labeled terrorist organizations accused of destabilizing the region.
"Based on deals signed during the Obama administration, U.S. arms deliveries in 2013-17 reached their highest level since the late 1990s", said Aude Fleurant, Director of the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Program.
The UK, which rolled out a red carpet for the Saudi crown prince on his visit to London last week, exported almost half of its arms to the Saudi Arabia, which has increased its imports by 225%.
"European states remain the main arms exporters to the region and supplied over 98 percent of weapons imported by Saudi Arabia", he added.
In 2017 it delivered one patrol ship, the USS Morgenthau, to Vietnam - the first major United States arms transfer to that country.
"Yet the U.S. and European states remain the main arms exporters to the region and supplied over 98% of weapons imported by Saudi Arabia".
India is followed by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and China in the list of world's top arms importers.
"The USA's exports of major arms grew by 25 percent between 2008-12 and 2013-17, further widening the gap between it and all other arms exporters", the report read. "China delivered major arms to 48 countries in 2013-17".
The report also said China's arms exports to Africa rose by 55 per cent over the period.
Pakistan and China's arms imports have reduced in the same period.India's arms imports accounted for 12 per cent of the arms transfers in the world.
China's arms imports fell by 19% between 2008-12 and 2013-17.
"China is becoming increasingly capable of producing its own weapons and continues to strengthen its relations with Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar through arms supplies", said Siemon Wezeman, a senior researcher with the SIPRI arms and military expenditure programme. "Major ongoing arms deals in 2017 included the delivery of combat aircraft from China and Russian Federation", it says. "We don't know if what we see is the tip of the iceberg or most of the iceberg when something is found", he says, noting that serious, reputable shipping companies are unlikely to be involved in taking such risks.
Australia was the sixth largest arms importer globally in 2013-17.
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