After the peaks registered in the 1980s, followed by a period of decline, global military spending continues to grow, reaching $1739 billion in 2017, which entails an increase in global weapons trade. Wars are unending because national governments have an interest in the sale and purchase of weapons: it’s a cynical, pragmatic acknowledgement that even a child would understand. The global figures on the import and export of weapons, released by the Stockholm international peace research Institute (SIPRI), referring to the period until May 2018, reconfirm a dramatic picture. Russia, France, Germany, China, UK were the main exporters in the period 2013-2017, holding 90% of the global market along with Spain, Israel, Italy and The Netherlands, with Asia and Oceania as the major buyers (accounting for 42% , especially in the southern Asian region, owing to tensions between China, India and Pakistan) and the Middle East (32%, a twofold increase compared to the period 2008-2012). Numbers are arid and boring, but they encompass not only purchases for military defence but also indescribable tragedies and loss of human lives. It is the case of Saudi Arabia, whose arms imports, used in large-scale combat operations linked to the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, increased by 225%. Or the twofold increase in arm sales to unstable Middle-Eastern countries, or Italy’s weapon sales to Qatar, largely viewed as the main sponsor of international terrorism.
USA remained the world’s top arms exporter,
Its share of total arms exports rose to 34%.
USA arms exports increased by 25% in the period 2013-2017, compared to the previous five-year period, equivalent to the high numbers of the 1990s, under the Obama administration. Contracts stipulated in 2017
Show a growing trend also in the coming years.
China registered a 38% increase, along with France (+27%), while Russia and Germany’s exports, on the contrary, decreased respectively by 7 and 14%.
India was the biggest arms importer, as it unable to produce weapons itself.
India’s imports make up for 12% of global purchases
Amounting to a 24% increase compared to the previous five-year period. USA is the primary importer, with a 557% increase.
However, the most worrying data refers to the flow of arms to the Middle East in the past ten years: Saudi Arabia (+225%), Egypt (+215%), Arab Emirates and Qatar.
The above-mentioned Countries purchase weapons from the United States and from European Countries. Arms imports to Africa decreased by 22%, except for Nigeria, whose imports increased by 42%. Imports decreased in the Americas -29%, including Venezuela (-40%). In 2013–17 China accounted for 68 per cent ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼of Myanmar’s arms imports, followed by Russia, (15%). Arms exports to Pakistan fell by 76%, while Indonesia registered a dramatic increase: + 193%. Australia is the sixth largest arms importer at global level.
Also Italy has its share of responsibility. According to the latest Report presented in Parliament past May by the Italian disarmament network Rete italiana per il disarmo,
Italy has granted arms export licenses totalling 10.3 billion euro: 48% to the Middle East and North Africa.
The numbers declined by 35% compared to 2016, but naval contracts with Qatar amount to +35% compared 2015 with a fourfold increase in licenses compared to 2014. Italy’s largest clients were: Qatar, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, USA, Turkey, France, Kenya, Poland, Pakistan, Algeria and Canada. In 2017, Italy sold arms to 86 countries.
Weapons’ guiding thread. “The guiding thread of arms trade lead to ongoing wars and equally worrying scenarios of future wars – Maurizio Simoncelli, vice-President of the Disarmament Archive, told SIR. Also Italy has more than tripled arms exports over the past years, contributing to foster armed conflicts and tensions, which generate instability and flight of refugees. In particular, our exports to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates are of major concern. All of these countries are involved in the bloody war ongoing in Yemen.”