Global military spending rose in 2015 to nearly €1.5trn, the first increase in several years, driven by conflicts including the battle against Islamic State (IS), the Saudi-led war in Yemen, and fears about Iran.
The study by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) also noted that the Chinese expansion in the South China Sea and Russia’s annexation of Crimea and support of Ukrainian separatists also accounted for nudging spending up 1% in real terms, compared to 2014.
For weapons manufacturers, the non-stop pace of airstrikes targeting Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria, as well as Saudi-led bombing of Yemen’s Shi’ite rebels and their allies, means billions of dollars more in sales.
However, activists question continued US arms deals to Saudi Arabia as its Yemen campaign has killed civilians, while American fighter jet sales to both emerging military buyer Qatar and longtime ally Kuwait appear stalled.
The US, with €524bn in defence spending, and China, with an estimated €189bn, led all countries in 2015, the annual report by SIPRI said.
Saudi Arabia, however, came in third with spending of €76.7bn — double what it spent in 2006, according to the report. That fuelled the first worldwide increase in military spending since 2011.
Iraq spent €11.4bn on its military in 2015, up well over 500% from 2006 as it has rebuilt its armed forces following the US withdrawal and rise of IS, SIPRI said.
While part of the US coalition fighting the extremists, Saudi Arabia also launched a war in Yemen in March 2015 to support the country’s internationally recognised government after Shi’ite rebels known as Houthis earlier overran the country’s capital, Sanaa.
The United Arab Emirates is also taking part in both conflicts and likely has spent billions of dollars to support its military in 2015 as well, though SIPRI said it could not offer precise figures this year, senior research Pieter Wezeman said.
Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia also sent troops into Bahrain to put down its 2011 Arab Spring-inspired protests.
And if you are wondering here's what just one trillion dollars would look like.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved