Russia, China Try to Find Arms Customers in US-Dominated Middle East

US general says he doesn't want nations buying from them

When talking about international arms sales, it usually doesn’t matter what region you’re talking about, the United States is by far the largest seller. The Middle East has a lot of wealthy customers, and while right now they’re buying from the US almost exclusively, both Russia and China are looking to get some more business.

Cheaper hardware and fewer restrictions, along with not giving one nation a monopoly on selling arms, means there are some potential customers. For those same reasons, the US says they are determined to be dependable partners to keep selling hardware, and keep those nations from buying from anyone else.

Gen. Kenneth McKenzie says the US wants to maintain a “measure of control” over how the arms are used, and to prevent Russia and China from gaining influence. A lot of this is just talking points, however, as the US rarely does anything when customers misuse purchased arms, as when UAE-bought US arms ended up with various Islamist groups in Yemen.

While influence may be an issue, the reality is that much of the incentive for the US to sell arms to these nations is politically well-connected US arms makers, who profit immensely from making and selling much of the world’s armament.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of