US together with European allies provided about three quarters of the arms exported to the region. The US was the top supplier of arms by a wide margin as Russia was a distant second coming in at 17 percent. The next four leading suppliers were: France at 11 percent, UK 5 percent, Germany 5 percent and China at just 3 percent.
Top recipients of weapons
Saudi Arabia was the top recipient of weapons in the area, receiving 30 percent of the weapons imported into the region. Almost three quarters of those weapons came from the US which was the top weapons provider for all the Gulf countries.
Rationale for the exports
The CIP study reports that proponents of the arms sales portray them as “a force for stability, a way to cement alliances, a way to counter Iran, or, more generally, as a tool for creating a balance of power that makes conflict less likely.”
US officials refer to the Iranian threat to justify their sales to countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) even though weapons shipped to them are most used in the war in Yemen. Some end up in the hands of terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda. US weapons have helped fuel wars in Libya, Egypt, Iraq and Syria. The CIP study found that US arms ended up on opposing sides in conflicts.
Exports and Imports in 10 top countries in 2019
The appended video shows the data for the 10 countries with the biggest global arms exports last year.