Riyadh sunset 120320 CREDIT PA
Middle East

Sitrep: How, Where And Why Saudi Arabia Puts Money Into UK And US Defence

Military experts discuss Saudi Arabia’s dominance of the arms industry on BFBS Sitrep.

Riyadh sunset 120320 CREDIT PA

Saudi Arabia’s increased spending in the international arms market could be for weapon-use in Yemen or for "deterring Iran", a defence expert has told BFBS Sitrep.

On the latest episode of the defence analysis programme, Pieter Wezerman, Senior Researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) broke down where the weapons come from what use they are put to.

“These two things, as already has been said, hang very closely together,” he said.

It was announced in June that military exports to the Middle Eastern country would be suspended.

The Government apologised last September to the Court of Appeal for two "inadvertent" breaches of an assurance it would not licence any more arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which could be used in the conflict in Yemen.

“What we can say is very many of the weapons which we see (…) [have] been supplied by the UK over the past decade, and particularly in the past five years, and also by the US,” Mr Wezerman added.

He estimates that “13 to 15%” of all weapons imported by Saudi Arabia are British.

LISTEN: Pieter Wezerman talks to BFBS Sitrep...

He also states, whilst Saudi Arabia have been a major importer of British weapons in previous periods, quantities have increased and they have “actually decided to use those arms, particularly in the conflict in Yemen.”

BFBS Defence Analyst Christopher Lee acknowledges those figures equate to “a lot of hardware”, and it is not just weapons that the Saudi’s receive.

“When you sell an aeroplane, for example, you sell the whole training project.

“You are going to be there for many years, showing them how to use it, how to use it in combat, how to use it internally [and] how to use it in long distance, if necessary.

“Also, you sort of take them on board, you become an ally.”

Mr Lee also recognises the criticisms levelled at the British - many argue that, by selling arms to Saudi Arabia, you are accused of becoming “part of that war.”

You can hear the programme live on Thursdays on BFBS Radio 2 at 16:30 (UK time) and at 18:30 (UK time) BFBS via DAB+ across the UK. 

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