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

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Forced Anal Testing Case to Appear Before Kenya Court

    Men challenge use of anal examinations to ‘prove homosexuality’; practice accomplishes nothing except to humiliate those subjected to them, according to Human Rights Watch

    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.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora