The world order, established after World War II, has involved the strongest countries creating a peacemaking system. Ostensibly, the European Union and the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) claim to be embarking on peacemaking and conflict resolution missions around the world. Yet, those countries are also the biggest arms manufacturers and sellers. This contrast brings the question of whether the EU and UNSC are effectively resolving problems. According to a dpa report, EU countries are among the biggest arms selling countries in the world. "The bloc is also home to leading makers and exporters of arms, ranging from aircraft to naval vessels to radar and missile systems.
Companies include BAE Systems in Britain, SAFRAN group in France, Germany's Thyssenkrupp and Italy's Finmeccanica," the report indicates. Quoting researchers from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the report points out, "Juggling this is at times awkward." The report also claims that arms sales were a must for the EU countries' economies. "A basic reason is size. While Britain, France and Germany are among the world's top 10 military spenders, their domestic markets are not large enough to sustain a defense industry. This applies for smaller EU members to an even greater degree," it said.
Eastern European countries have also been involved in arm sales to the Middle East, which has been dragged into endless conflicts. According to a July 2016 report in the Guardian, more than $1 billion worth arms were sold to Middle Eastern countries in the last four years. "Arms export data, U.N. reports, plane tracking, and weapons contracts examined during a year-long investigation reveal how the munitions were sent east from Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Montenegro, Slovakia, Serbia and Romania," it says. "Since the escalation of the Syrian conflict in 2012, the eight countries have approved 1.2 billion euros of weapons and ammunition exports to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates – key arms markets for Syria and Yemen," it adds.
In another example, the U.K. has approved 3.3 billion pounds of arms sales to Saudi Arabia as the war in Yemen has raged. "The new figures also show that the U.K. licensed 538 million pounds of weapons, including military training aircraft for the Royal Saudi Air Force, in the first quarter of 2016 alone, despite increasingly vocal international condemnation of the country's bombing campaign in Yemen. A deal for additional Hawk jet trainers came after a U.N. expert panel accused Saudi Arabia of violating international humanitarian law and a January cross-party appeal in parliament for arms sales to the oil-rich kingdom to be suspended," Middle East Eye reported last July. Although the EU has passed a non-binding resolution on sanctions against Saudi Arabia, the U.K. continues to deliver weapons.
EU countries have also violated an embargo imposed on Egypt, as Abdel Fettah el-Sissi overthrew Egypt's first democratically elected president, Mohammad Morsi, in 2013 after a bloody military coup, leaving thousands dead. Amnesty International last May said, "Almost half of the European Union member states have flouted an EU-wide suspension on arms transfers to Egypt, risking complicity in a wave of unlawful killings, enforced disappearances and torture. Almost three years on from the mass killings that led the EU to call on its member states to halt arms transfers to Egypt, the human rights situation has actually deteriorated," according to the report.
SIPRI also reported that the EU arm sales are not only in the Middle East but also in conflict-torn Asian countries. "In the 2000-2015 stint France and Germany sold defense items to Asian-Pacific nations worth $9.681 billion and $7.166 billion, respectively," SIPRI said. "The list continues with Britain ($4.736 billion), Sweden ($2.485 billion), Spain ($2.135 billion), Italy ($1.924 billion) and the Netherlands ($1.197 billion), only citing the most prominent European arm suppliers," it added.
A recent report released by SIPRI reveals that the permanent members of the UNSC, which holds veto power, are single-handedly dominating the global arms market. Sales of arms and military services in 2015 totaled some $370 billion, excluding China. "Western companies monopolize the top 12 positions in the ranking of top exporters with U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin leading with $36.4 billion in revenues, followed by another U.S. defense and aerospace giant, Boeing, with $28 billion, while Britain's BAE Systems had sales of $25.5 billion," the report reveals. "Even though, total sales fell by some 0.6 percent, dropping for the fifth consecutive year, the amount has reached $370.7 billion," SIPRI said.
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