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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms 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.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid