News / Middle East

Study: Mideast Military Expenditures Increasing

Iraqi security forces fire cannon during clashes with al Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Jurf al-Sakhar, south of Baghdad, March 19, 2014.Iraqi security forces fire cannon during clashes with al Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Jurf al-Sakhar, south of Baghdad, March 19, 2014.
x
Iraqi security forces fire cannon during clashes with al Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Jurf al-Sakhar, south of Baghdad, March 19, 2014.
Iraqi security forces fire cannon during clashes with al Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Jurf al-Sakhar, south of Baghdad, March 19, 2014.
Mohamed Elshinnawi
Post-Arab Spring political tensions are driving up military spending in the Middle East, analysts say.

Expenditures escalated to an estimated $150 billion in the region in 2013. Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Bahrain are the countries spending the most on its military.

According to a recent report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Saudi Arabia’s military spending increased to $67 billion, making the kingdom the world’s fourth largest military spender after the U.S, China and Russia.

Carina Solmirano, senior researcher at SIPRI’s Military Expenditure Program, says that while countries do have security needs, the specific reasons for maintaining high level military spending vary from country to country.

“Tensions with Iran and fears of an Arab Spring-type revolt were the likely main factors explaining the Saudi increase of 14 percent in 2013, but also the desire to maintain strong and loyal security forces to insure against potential Arab Spring type protests,” said Solmirano, one of the study’s co-authors.

In Bahrain, Solmirano says, internal security in the wake of anti-government protests by the Shi’ite majority is the likely motive for the country’s 26-percent increase, whereas data for 2013 was not available for Iran, Qatar, Syria and the United Arab Emirates.

“Most probably, the real numbers and the increase in military spending in the Middle East could be potentially higher,” she said, adding that the increased spending does not necessarily reflect a new Mideast arms race.

“While Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain have been making large acquisitions of arms recently, they have done so as a part of modernization but also because of a perception of a threat from Iran’s nuclear program, so it is very early to conclude whether it is a real arms race or not,” she said.

The largest regional increase was by Iraq (27 percent), as it continued the rebuilding of its armed forces, whereas Israel maintained relatively constant military expenditures with a slight increase of 0.3 percent at about $10 billion, which is three times Egypt’s military spending and larger than the combined defense expenditures of all its neighbors.

“Israel still maintains a relatively high level of military spending per GDP at about 5.6 percent which is well above the global average of 2.4 percent,” Solimrano said.

According to Michael O’Hanlon, director of research for the Foreign Policy Program at the Washington-based Brookings Institution, Israel's spending is driven by its unique position in the region.

“Israel is a small country surrounded by a lot of potential enemies posing threats from multiple directions, so it is understandable that [it] wants to compensate for its exposed difficult position with technological and military superiority,” he said.

Although Israel did not make SIPRI’s list of the top 15 countries in terms of sheer military expenditures, he said it remains among the top countries in terms of military spending per GDP.

O’Hanlon also says international sanctions on Iran have slowed the arms race dynamic.

“Because the international community has managed to constrain Iran in terms of its conventional military buildup and slow down its nuclear aspirations, the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council and others are sort of catching up in terms of what they need to be militarily,” he said, explaining that he believes big military spending in the Middle East is primarily a result of Iran’s ongoing interest in fomenting difficulties for Arab states.

“The rise is also due to the instability climate that can be dated back to the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the various Arab Spring developments,” he said.

The report’s authors hope their findings will prompt debate on priorities for Middle East nations.

“The message we would like to convey is that there is a need to decide whether military spending is based on a real need or that resources could be utilized better in other sectors like health and education,” Solimrano said.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: michael from: nigeria
April 24, 2014 1:43 AM
these all shows that all the earthly government are incapable to rule the earth succesfully i thnk we should turn to the God of Jehovah:s withnesses for intervention

by: Martina N. from: France
April 23, 2014 2:53 PM
a war is coming - that is obvious. the question is - on who's side would you be..?? Iran is getting an Islamic nuclear weapons... Saudi Arabia is disintegrating... Egypt is in convulsions... Lebanon is a terrorist camp... Philistines are uniting - so Israel will be bombed from Gaza and from the West Bank... Iraq ceased to be a country

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs