The Surest Sign Yet ISIS Has Pulled An Entire Region Into War Is This Number

Iraqi soldiers loads ammunition before departing for a patrol in the town of Jurf al-Sakhar, south of Baghdad,June 30, 2014. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani

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Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent
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The rise of the Islamic State in Iraq, Syria, and Libya has sparked war fever across the region, nearly doubling weapons exports to the Middle East from $342 million to $630 million. Small arms deliveries to arms importers in the Middle East rose by 84% from 2012 to 2013, the latest years that data was available to the western government-funded Small Arms Survey.

The US led exports with $1.1 billion in sales followed by Italy, and Germany. Together they exported nearly 40% of all small arms and light weapons. Nocolas Florquin told the Associated Press the increase in weapons imports directly coincided with the conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen.

Florquin further noted, in some instances, imported weapons made their way into conflicts with active arms embargoes.  Ammunition moving from the West to Qatar was discovered in Libya, despite Qatar’s agreement not to re-export weapons or ammunition without permission from the original exporter.

The Small Arms Survey warned that its analysis “is skewed toward documenting more transparent countries and underestimates the total value and extent of the global trade in small arms.” The statement indicates the actual number and value of weapons floating throughout conflict zones in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen may be much higher.

Eric Berman, director of the Smalls Arms Survey told The Guardian “The near doubling of small-arms transfers to the Middle East from 2012 to 2013 raises important questions.” The reports release coincides with the beginning of meetings this week at the United Nations aimed at regulating the Global Arms Trade and increasing transparency.

The report noted that many major exporters are not open about their internal standards and assessment processes when evaluating potential arms sales. Since 2013 the rise in arms sales likely increased as conflicts in Libya, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen got worse with no end likely in sight.

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Saagar Enjeti