These are the Coun­tries still sell­ing Arms to Saudi Ara­bia

The Star (St. Lucia) - - INTERNATIONAL - ---CNN

Anum­ber of coun­tries have re­stricted arms sales to Saudi Ara­bia since the king­dom be­gan airstrikes on Ye­men in 2015, in a war that the UN de­scribes as the world's worst man-made hu­man­i­tar­ian dis­as­ter.

Calls for more re­stric­tions on arms ex­ports have been grow­ing, par­tic­u­larly in Europe, since the killing of jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi at the Saudi con­sulate in Turkey last month. US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, how­ever, has re­peat­edly pointed to the US' lu­cra­tive arms deals with the Saudis as a rea­son to stand by the king­dom.

Den­mark and Fin­land on Thurs­day be­came the lat­est coun­tries to sus­pend new arms deals with Saudi Ara­bia. Fin­land also banned new arms sales to the United Arab Emi­rates, which is part of the Saudi-led coali­tion in the con­flict.

Their an­nounce­ments came just two days after Ger­many said it was stop­ping all arms trans­fers to the king­dom. Den­mark and Fin­land are not ma­jor sup­pli­ers of weapons to Saudi Ara­bia, but Ger­many cer­tainly is. It had al­ready sus­pended new arms deals to Saudi Ara­bia, but on Mon­day it widened that ban to in­clude the trans­fers of weapons on ex­ist­ing or­ders as well.

So where is Saudi Ara­bia get­ting its weapons from? Arms deals are of­ten done in se­cret or with lit­tle pub­lic­ity. The Stock­holm In­ter­na­tional Peace Re­search In­sti­tute (SIPRI) tries to track deals in­volv­ing ma­jor weapons, and a database of Saudi im­ports from the last decade shows the United States as the big­gest sup­plier, fol­lowed by the United King­dom, France, Spain and then Ger­many.

But a lot of ex­porters still sell­ing to the Saudis have dra­mat­i­cally de­creased their sup­ply in re­cent years. The United King­dom, for ex­am­ple, trans­ferred arms worth an es­ti­mated $843 mil­lion in 2016 but al­most halved that value to $436 mil­lion last year, ac­cord­ing to SIPRI. (The database uses val­ues con­stant with 1990 prices to elim­i­nate cur­rency fluc­tu­a­tions and in­fla­tion.)

French ex­ports of ma­jor weapons to Saudi Ara­bia were worth $174 mil­lion in 2015 but dropped to $91 mil­lion in 2016 and $27 mil­lion last year. The value of Span­ish ex­ports also dra­mat­i­cally de­creased in that time pe­riod, but the Span­ish gov­ern­ment con­firmed this year it would go ahead with arms deals it had pre­vi­ously sug­gested it would freeze, bowing to pres­sure from Span­ish man­u­fac­tur­ers, ac­cord­ing to re­ports.

De­spite these de­creases, the over­all value of Saudi weapons im­ports ac­tu­ally in­creased by 38% be­tween 2016 and 2017. That was al­most en­tirely be­cause of a huge uptick in trans­fers from the United States, which al­most dou­bled its ex­ports in terms of value from $1.8 bil­lion to $3.4 bil­lion in that time. Ger­many also mul­ti­plied its ex­ports from $14 mil­lion to $105 mil­lion, al­though it is ex­pected to be much lower this year fol­low­ing its sus­pen­sion.

In a state­ment on Tues­day, Trump said that can­cel­ing ma­jor arms con­tracts with the Saudis would be fool­ish, and that "Rus­sia and China would be the enor­mous ben­e­fi­cia­ries" if the US halted its sales.

China sup­plies a neg­li­gi­ble amount of ma­jor weaponry to Saudi Ara­bia, SIPRI data shows, but it is on the in­crease. Rus­sia sup­plies so lit­tle it is not in­cluded in the or­ga­ni­za­tion's database."Rus­sia has tried hard in the past 10 to 15 years to get into the large Saudi arms mar­ket, but it has not been very suc­cess­ful. Saudi Ara­bia has ac­quired Rus­sian ri­fles and may have bought some other items, but such deals have been very small," said Pi­eter Weze­man, a se­nior re­searcher with SIPRI's arms trans­fers and mil­i­tary ex­pen­di­ture pro­gram.

"China has made some more sub­stan­tial in­roads into the Saudi arms mar­ket, in par­tic­u­lar sell­ing armed drones," Weze­man said. "The de­tails are shady and we may very well have un­der­es­ti­mated China's role as an arms ex­porter to Saudi Ara­bia. But China doesn't come any­where near the USA, UK or even France as arms sup­pli­ers. Still, the im­por­tant point here is that Saudi Ara­bia has ex­plored the pos­si­bil­ity of di­ver­si­fy­ing its sup­plier base."

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