29 October 2015

Transparency International (TI) says that U.S., Great Britain, Germany, and Russia are aiding abetting military corruption in Middle Eastern and North African states. Equipment suppliers sell vast quantities of weapons to the poor countries with little oversight. This has worsened the conflicts in the region, boosted extremism, and gave rise to violent and extremist groups. The military expenditure is not used for meeting strategic needs but for trafficking weapons over porous borders and to maintain the governments’ domestic legitimacy.

TI has named 17 countries that are already notoriously corrupt, and increasing military spending without adequate oversight. The countries selling advanced weapons fail to take greater responsibility for where their products end up. This puts international security at risk. The 17 countries collectively spent more than $135 billion in 2014 alone. That’s 7.6 percent of global military spending. Saudi Arabia spends a massive 30% of government expenditures in defense purchases. Qatar bought more than 100 tanks. Obviously this could be only for political reasons and not for strategic reasons.

Rampant corruption has helped fuel popular support for non-state militia groups, as in the case of Yemen. That country has received more than $500 million in military aid from the U.S. since 2007. The weapons are put into the hands of security agencies that were divided by political factions. There are planes and ships going missing that have been provided by the U.S. This is difficult to believe but happens in reality. The weaponry in the hands of the Yemeni rebel group Houthis was acquired straight from those in the Yemeni army.

Many weapons bought by these countries are ending up in the hands of militant groups such as the Islamic State, Syrian rebel groups, Hezbollah, and Houthi rebels in Yemen, fueling conflict in the region. These may also end up in countries that are not in the region, threatening world peace.