Flood of Western Weapons Fueling Unrest, Extremism Across Middle East

October 7, 2020 0 By HearthstoneYarns

Western nations—led by the United States—are selling large quantities of weapons to governments in the Middle East and North Africa, providing little oversight for how these arms are used, and thereby fueling corruption and conflict in countries from Saudi Arabia to Egypt, a new report (pdf) from the watchdog organization Transparency International finds.

The investigation examines government defense corruption in Tunisia, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Syria, and Yemen. These countries together account for $135 billion in military spending in 2014 alone, making their expenditures as a percentage of GDP the “highest in the world,” the report finds.

Researchers assigned all of these countries a “D,” “E,” or “F” grade for corruption, with the majority in the latter category denoting “critical” risk. The United States is the major supplier for the majority of these countries, with the United Kingdom, Germany, and Russia also significant exporters.

The report warns: “Corruption has fueled political unrest, extremism, and formed a narrative for violent extremist groups.”

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The role of the United States in driving this arms flow was well-established long before Transparency International’s report. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute found earlier this year that, between 2010 and 2014, the United States was the world’s top supplier of arms, accounting for 31 percent of global exports. This compared with 27 percent for Russia.

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