US Arms Sales to the Middle East Soar

A new report (pdf.) released earlier this week by the independent Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) shows that the volume of arms transfers worldwide increased by 21 percent during the group's latest five-year reporting period. While that number is off a low base as arms transfers had been at their lowest level since the 1960's during the previous reporting period (1999-2003), the number masks a significant rise in arms transfers to the Middle East. The SIPRI report shows that arms transfers to the Middle East have increased by 38 percent during the past five years, compared to the base period.

It should come as no surprise that five biggest suppliers of major conventional weapons for the period 2004-2008 were the United States, Russia, Germany, France and the United Kingdom with these top five suppliers accounting for 78% of total world arms sales. Furthermore, the global arms trade is largely two nation game with the United States and Russia accounting for 56% of total arms sales. The US alone accounted for 31% of the world arms trade on sales to 69 different countries.

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A sane voice: Arundhati Roy

arundhati roy
Image courtesy of

This post begins a series to recognize people that speak about the world in terms of what they observe and what they can prove.  Their voices stand out in the crowd.  In their words, they speak not of fantasy, delusion and rationalization.  Instead, they utilize the gifts of human cognition, awareness to observe what is here in the world around us.  They are not dogmatic, but analytic and take in the world 'warts & all' for what it is and what it is not.  They do not separate humankind from nature in any form of grandeur.  In short, they look at things the way they really are and not what we would have them be.

(Cross posted at The National Gadfly)

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Al Yamamah: Another Government Capitulation To Big Business

I haven't written about the government's decision to drop a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) corruption investigation into a huge arms contract between BAE and Saudi Arabia yet because I've been too awe-struck for words. Of course, that the government is in bed with the military-industrial complex is no surprise, but to display such flagrant subservience to the arms industry so openly is truly staggering.

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Arms Sales To Israel Must Stop

Amnesty International today published an open letter from Irene Khan, Amnesty's Secretary General, to EU Heads of State and governments asking them to immediately halt sales or transfers of arms to all parties in the Israel/Palestine conflict. Israel, naturally, reacted negatively to the proposal. Mark Regev, spokesman for Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that an arms embargo "would leave every man woman and child in this country to face a multitude of hostile challenges that there are here. It ignores the real threats faced by the Jewish state and gives comfort to those who say Israel should be wiped off the map."

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