Russia fuels Syrian arms increase of 580%

SIPRI report notes that Russia supplied 78% of Syria’s arms imports in 2007–11, arms sales stayed strong in Middle East.

Syrian arms (illustrative) (photo credit: REUTERS/Sana Sana)
Syrian arms (illustrative)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Sana Sana)
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on Monday published a report finding that Russian arms imports to Syria contributed to a 580 percent increase in the volume of Syrian arms imports from 2007-2011 as compared to 2002-2006.
Russia supplied 78% of Syria’s arms imports in 2007–11. During 2011, Russia continued deliveries of Buk-M2E SAM systems and Bastion-P coastal defense missile systems to Syria, as well as securing an order for 36 Yak-130 trainer/combat aircraft.
Besides the situation in Syria, the report also notes that major arms suppliers continued to deliver weapons to countries involved in the events of the Arab Spring, despite the uncertainty surrounding the intentions of the new regimes.
The US completed a review in 2011 of its arms transfer policies towards the region, but continues to provide significant arms to both Tunisia and Egypt. In 2011, the US delivered 45 M-1A1 tanks to Egypt and agreed to deliver 125 more.
“The transfer of arms to states affected by the Arab Spring has provoked public and parliamentary debate in a number of supplier states. However, the impact of these debates on states' arms export policies has, up to now, been limited,” stated Mark Bromley, senior researcher with SIPRI.
Unconnected to the Arab Spring, the report notes that in 2011 Saudi Arabia placed an order with the US for 154 F-15SA combat aircraft, the largest arms deal for at least two decades.
Meanwhile, globally, Asia and Oceania accounted for 44% of global arms imports, followed by Europe (19%), the Middle East (17%), the Americas (11%) and Africa (9%). India was the world’s largest recipient of arms, accounting for 10% of global arms imports, the next four largest being South Korea (6%), Pakistan (5%), China (5%) and Singapore (4%). “Major Asian importing states are seeking to develop their own arms industries and decrease their reliance on external sources of supply,” said Pieter Wezeman, senior researcher at SIPRI.
The SIPRI Arms Transfers Database contains information on all international transfers of major conventional weapons from 1950 to present.