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

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border From Mexico

    In remote areas of the Sonoran Desert, which straddles the US-Mexico, thousands of migrants face arid desolation

    Video Recycling is Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    It's an ancient craft that stretches back millennia - but despite Lebanon’s trash crisis providing a lifeline, remaining glass blowers face an uncertain future

    Meet the Alleged Killer of Cambodia’s Kem Ley

    What little is known about former soldier, troublesome Buddhist monk and indebted gambler, raises more questions than answers

    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.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora