A new report from the Center for International Policy (CIP) found that from 2015 to 2019, the US was the number one supplier of weapons in the Middle East and North Africa, supplying 48 percent of the region’s arms. Combining the US arms with its European allies, the Western countries provided nearly three-quarters of the weapons used in the area for that period.
The US was the top weapons supplier by a wide margin, with Russia coming in second at 17 percent. The next four leading suppliers were France with 11 percent, the UK at five percent, Germany at five percent, and China trailed behind exporting three percent of the region’s weapons.
The top recipient for weapons exports was Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom received 30 percent of the weapons transferred to the region. Seventy-four percent of the arms sold to Saudi Arabia came from the US, who is the top provider of weapons for all the Gulf countries.
The CIP study said that proponents for these arms sales describe 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.”
While US officials invoke the Iranian threat to justify arms sales to countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the reality is, these weapons are mostly used to kill civilians in Yemen and end up in the hands of groups like al-Qaeda.
Besides Yemen, US arms have fueled wars in countries all across the region, in Libya, Egypt, Iraq, and Syria, to name a few. The study found that US arms often end up in the hands of opposing sides in these conflicts.