Concern over major Middle East arms deals2 August 2007 In response to recent media reports that the US and Russia are negotiating major arms deals with countries in the Middle East, Saferworld expresses deep concern at the impact these deals may have on the region's stability.
"The Middle East and Gulf is awash with weapons. It is hard to imagine how the existing conflicts, political tensions and insecurity in the region will be improved if it is flooded with yet more weapons" said Bernardo Mariani, International Transfer Controls Coordinator, Saferworld.
This week the US announced a huge package of arms sales to Saudi and five other Gulf countries expected to total over $20 billion. Separate agreements include $43 billion in military aid to Israel and Egypt over the next 10 years.
Similarly, reports of Russian negotiations with Iran to supply tens of billions of dollars worth of military equipment - including 250 advanced warplanes - raises further concerns about an arms race in the region that could further exacerbate tensions.
Since many of the countries in the region also face economic and development challenges, the deals also raise concerns about the diversion of limited resources away from vital activities such as support to health and education.