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JORDAN: Guns galore at Middle East weapons fair

April 4, 2008 |  6:50 am

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The specter of conflicts in the Middle East intensifying and widening worries many countries in the region. But some Arab nations are showing a growing interest in acquiring or selling sophisticated weapons as suggested by the wide participation in an international exhibition for military hardware, held in Jordan over the last few days.

The event, Special Operations Forces Exhibition and Conference (SOFEX) 2008 was a muscular display of tanks, armored vehicles, high-tech surveillance equipment, gunboats, machine guns, etc.

Check out the first minute or two of the promotional video for the event and you'll get the idea.

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The event brought together defense contractors from around the world to discuss the newest trends in counter-terrorism strategies, according to the English-language daily, The Jordan Times:

Some 300 exhibitors from across the world showcased state-of-the-art equipment and weaponry, especially in the field of special operations at the three-day exhibition, which also brought together high-ranking military personnel and decision makers.

Around 70 U.S. security firms and institutions participated in the event making the U.S., by far, the largest participant, according to the exhibition's organizers.  Among the customers attending were Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Even Syria, on the outs with much of the Arab world, sent a delegation.

The fair was an occasion for Jordan to parade its latest tactics for combating terrorism by showing special unit forces jumping from a helicopter onto a plane.

The Jordan Times said that the exhibition led to the signing of many agreements related to security issues, including one between Jordan and Russia for the creation of a factory to manufacture anti-tank rocket-propelled grenades launchers.

According to the Saudi-owned London-based Al Hayat newspaper Jordan is trying to become a regional hub for the military industry. The paper added in today's edition that the current crises witnessed in the Middle East have bolstered the importance of weapon's markets in the region.

Raed Rafei in Beirut

Photos: From top, a visitor inspects a machine gun at the SOFEX 2008 show near Amman, Jordan; A Jordanian counter-terrorism team demonstrates an evacuation of hostages. Credit: Salah Malkawi/Getty Images

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