Saudi military spending grew 17% between 2010 and 2015, the most for any country in the world
Western nations, particularly the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia and Germany, have helped increase corruption in Middle Eastern and North African countries by selling them large quantities of weapons, a Transparency International report has found.
The report titled Government Defence and Anti-corruption Index found that corruption has worsened the region’s conflicts, weakened its militaries, increased extremism, and “formed a narrative for violent extremist groups.”
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“There is evidence that because of corruption, nepotism, and a lack of transparency, rising defence budgets in the region are not being spent on arms and equipment that actually meet countries’ strategic security needs,” the report reads.
The risk of arms proliferating across the region is extremely high due to few institutional checks and balances, the researchers found, adding that the combination of rising arms imports, weak oversight and low public engagement is worsening the risk of future conflict.
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In 2014, the 17 countries studied in the report together accounted for $135 billion, or 7.6% of global military spending. The countries spend an average of 5.1% of their GDP on defence, the highest of any other region. This does not including Israel and Palestine.
Saudi Arabia took the mantle for the highest growth in military spending worldwide between 2010 and 2015 — 17%.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE were found to be the largest importers of weapons since 2010, while countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – a political and economic union consisting of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE – have increased their arms imports by 71% over the last decade.
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The region also accounts for more than a quarter of the world’s “opaque” defence spending, defined as defence spending that is either not revealed or revealed in only highly aggregated form to a legislative committee. The report found that defence budgets were not published, save for Jordan and Tunisia, and that oversight on defence budgets was weak, with only Tunisia having parliamentary defence committees authorized to question and scrutinise defence spending.
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According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the US and Russia were the biggest arms suppliers to the Middle East and North Africa, with Russia arming Iran, Syria, Yemen and Algeria, Germany arming Tunisia, France arming Morocco, Canada arming Libya, and the US arming the rest of the countries in the study.