Saudi fuels global arms spending increase
Saudi Arabia’s lavish spending on its military sector last year contributed to the first increase in global arms spending since 2011, a report says.
Overall, the world spent nearly USD 1.7 trillion on arms last year which reflected a one-percent increase in real terms compared to 2014, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reported on Tuesday.
The world also witnessed the rise in military spending due to Saudi Arabia spending USD 87.2 billion on weapons, it added.
The figure, the institute said, was double what Riyadh had disbursed from its coffers for military purposes in 2006.
Saudi Arabia, thus, ranked third across the international community, standing after the United States and China, which respectively spent USD 596 billion and an estimated USD 215 billion on arms in 2015.
Senior researcher Pieter Wezeman, who contributed to the report, attributed Riyadh’s increased arms spending to its intention “to be able to fight against internal uprisings, whether a more-peaceful nature or more violent.”
The monarchy has been engaged in stifling opposition protests in its Shia-majority and oil-rich Eastern Province, especially following its January execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, who used to vociferously criticize its policies.
Saudi Arabia has also deployed military forces to Bahrain to help the Manama regime crack down on anti-regime protests there.
Wezeman also put the increase down to Saudi Arabia’s intention “to intervene in neighboring countries,” referring to Saudi Arabia’s March 2015-present military campaign against Yemen — which has killed nearly 9,400 people so far — and its role in the United States-led coalition that purports to be striking Daesh in Iraq and Syria.