Turkey has become third largest arms importer in the Middle East despite huge arms order by oil- and gas-rich Gulf Arab states, a Swedish think tank said on Monday.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said in its report that arms imports by states in the Middle East decreased by 7 per cent between 2008–12 and 2003–2007. During 2008–12, the report claimed, 19 per cent of all major arms transfers to the Middle East went to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), followed by Saudi Arabia (18 per cent), Turkey (17 per cent) and Iraq (10 per cent).

The volume of arms imports by Eastern Europe increased by 21 per cent between 2003–2007 and 2008–12. However, this increase is entirely due to Azerbaijan, which was the only state in the region to increase its volume of imports. Azerbaijan increased its imports by 155 per cent and rose from 48th to 35th largest importer. These imports are connected to the ongoing dispute with Armenia over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. In 2012 deliveries continued of Aerostar and Hermes-450 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from Israel, Mi-24 combat helicopters from Russia, and Matador and Marauder armored vehicles from South Africa built under licence in Azerbaijan.

The report also said China bypassed Britain as the world’s fifth largest arms exporter.

The volume of Chinese weapons exports rose by 162 percent in the five years 2008-2012, compared to the previous five-year period. That means China’s share of all international arms exports increased to 5 percent from 2 percent, and the country climbed to fifth from eighth in the rankings.

The largest buyer of Chinese weapons was Pakistan, which accounted for 55 percent of the country’s exports, followed by Myanmar with 8 percent and Bangladesh with 7 percent, SIPRI said.

“China’s rise has been driven primarily by large-scale arms acquisitions by Pakistan,” said Paul Holtom, director of the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme. “However, a number of recent deals indicate that China is establishing itself as a significant arms supplier to a growing number of important recipient states.”

Such deals include the sale of three frigates to Algeria, eight transport aircraft to Venezuela and 54 tanks to Morocco, SIPRI said.

The US remains the world’s top arms exporter during the 2008-2012 period, with 30 percent of the global volume. Russia is second with 26 percent, Germany third with 7 percent, and France fourth with 6 percent, SIPRI said.

China’s move into the top-five means Britain (now in sixth place) dropped off the list of the top five for the first time since at least 1950, the earliest year covered by SIPRI data.

The institute said Asia dominated the global imports of weapons, with the top five importers all located in that region.

Here’s SIPRI’s list of the top 5 arms exporters in 2008-2012 (share of international exports in parenthesis):

1. United States (30 percent).

2. Russia (26).

3. Germany (7).

4. France (6).

5. China (5).

The top 5 arms importers in 2008-2012 (share of international imports in parenthesis):

1. India (12 percent).

2. China (6).

3. Pakistan (5).

4. South Korea (5).

5. Singapore (4)

source: http://www.todayszaman.com