Saudi Arabian Ground Forces
According to the authoritative Stockholm International Peace Research Institute SIPRI, Arab states today account for up to a third of all purchases on the world market of arms and military equipment.
Arab countries are ready to spend very large sums of money on the purchase of weapons, even despite the difficult economic situation and general poverty of the population.
A striking example is Egypt, where up to 60 percent of the population can be classified as poor, despite this, the country spends tens of billions of dollars on military equipment. At the end of 2015–2019, Egypt ranked third in the world among importers of arms and military equipment with a 5,8 percent share of the total market volume over the years.
In the past five years, the United States has exported half of its military products to the Middle East, with half of that amount going to one country, Saudi Arabia. It is the main consumer of American military products in the region. In addition, the volume of supplies to the Arab countries of the Middle East and France is increasing, the volume of French arms exports to this region has reached maximum values since 1990, SIPRI reports.
By the way, the already mentioned Egypt has tripled its imports of military products over the past five years, reaching third place in the world, behind only Saudi Arabia (12 percent share) and India (9,2 percent share). Saudi Arabia continues to be the largest importer weapons on the planet, its total military spending is estimated at about $ 61,9 billion.
Against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, many states in 2020 have reduced military spending by redirecting funds to medicine. A large amount of funding was directed to the purchase of tests, personal protective equipment, and medical equipment. Despite this, many countries of the Arab world, especially the Persian Gulf, have not given up their military spending, actively buying various systems of weapons and military equipment.
It should be noted that at the end of 2015–2019, six Arab countries, including four states of the Persian Gulf, were among the ten largest importers of arms and military equipment. Among them are Saudi Arabia (1st place), UAE (8th place), Iraq (9th place), Qatar (10th place). Also in the rating are Egypt (3rd place) and Algeria (6th place).
Arms imports by the Gulf states
United Arab Emirates
In November 2020, the administration of former US President Donald Trump struck the largest defense deal with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), totaling $ 23,37 billion (according to the US State Department). The deal is based on deliveries aviation equipment, as well as air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles.
The deal marks the first time the US is selling 50 new fifth-generation F-35 multipurpose fighter-bombers to the Middle East.
The supply of fighters is estimated at over $ 10 billion. Another $ 10 billion will be spent by the UAE on the purchase of missiles and about $ 9 billion will go to the MQ-XNUMXB Reaper reconnaissance and strike drones.
Fighter-bomber of the fifth generation F35
This deal caused a lot of controversy even in the United States. On December 10, 2020, the US Senate blocked two draft resolutions that prohibited the transaction, in fact, giving it the green light. This was the last day the deal could be blocked in Congress. The deal was criticized primarily by the Democrats, as well as by various public organizations. In particular, the human rights group Amnesty International stated that the weapons sold by the United States would be used by the UAE in the civil war in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia, which is a traditional buyer of American weapons, is also actively arming. In May 2020, Saudi Arabia signed a contract with the American aerospace corporation Boeing for the supply of more than a thousand anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles, as well as for the modernization of previously delivered missiles. The deal amounted to more than two billion dollars.
At the end of October 2020, it became known that the Pentagon's Office of Military Cooperation had notified the US Congress of the possible sale of arms and military equipment to Saudi Arabia for a total of $ 60 billion. Among other things, the United States is ready to sell to its partner the latest Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow Block III attack helicopters, F-15SA Strike Eagle fighters, as well as dozens of transport, light and reconnaissance helicopters. All supplied equipment will be sent in the latest modifications.
Fighter F-15SA Strike Eagle
Israel notes that the supply to Saudi Arabia of the latest modifications of attack helicopters and fighters with AFAR could change the balance of power in the region. At the same time, the kingdom itself is actively working to strengthen the missile defense, hoping to provide reliable protection against a possible missile strike from Iran.
In February 2020, Forbes magazine reported that Qatar and the Italian defense concern Fincantieri signed a memorandum providing for the supply of the latest warships and submarines. If the agreement is implemented, Qatar will become the first Gulf country to receive its own submarine fleet.
Perhaps the deal is being implemented as part of an agreement signed back in 2017 with Fincantieri for a total of about $ 6,1 billion. As part of the agreement signed earlier, Qatar was to receive 7 newest warships, including the Doha-type corvettes with a length of 107 meters and a total displacement of 3250 tons, two coastal patrol ships and a helicopter landing dock ship with a displacement of approximately 9000 tons.
Model corvette type "Doha" for the Qatar Navy
It's worth noting that the country hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup dreams of becoming a maritime power. Apart from Italy, Qatar buys ships from Turkey. In 2020, the lead training ship QTS 91 Al-Doha with a total displacement of 1950 tons was launched in Turkey; the Qatar Navy ordered two such ships from Anadolu.
The administration of the outgoing US President Donald Trump managed to carry out another major deal in the Persian Gulf. At the very end of 2020, Kuwait entered into an agreement with the United States worth more than $ 4 billion. As part of the deal, Kuwait will receive 8 of the latest AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and related equipment, and another 16 AH-64D Apache aircraft will be repaired and upgraded.
Is Egypt preparing for war?
Egypt's external debt is estimated at about $ 111,3 billion; in the first quarter of 2020, the country's GDP fell by 31,7 percent at once. Despite poor economic performance, the country is actively arming itself, concluding more and more new deals on the international market. According to SIPRI, in 2015–2019, Egypt ranked third in the list of the largest arms importers, the growth of imports of various military equipment was 206 percent.
According to the World Bank, roughly 60 percent of Egypt's population is either poor or very close to this condition. Despite this, the Egyptian government is not going to reduce the volume of military purchases. In June 2020, Cairo entered into a major agreement with Italy, totaling over $ 9 billion. Egypt buys from Italy 6 new FREMM frigates of the Bergamini type (4 new construction, 2 from the Italian fleet), 20 rocket launchers, 24 Eurofighter Typhoon fighters, the same number of Aermacchi M-346 trainers.
Experts believe that Egypt buys weapons through loans. Earlier in a television interview, the Egyptian President said that France had provided Cairo with a loan of 3,2 billion euros to purchase French military equipment. In particular, it was from France that Egypt acquired two Mistral-type UDCs, which were originally intended for Russia. For these ships, Egypt purchased sea-based Ka-52K attack helicopters from the Russian Federation.
Cairo is also preparing to receive the first batch of modern Russian multi-functional Su-35 fighters belonging to the 4 ++ generation. The country signed a contract for the supply of fighters in 2018, in total, Egypt will receive 24 of the latest aircraft (according to other sources, at least 22), deliveries should begin in 2021, the deal amounted to more than two billion dollars. Also in recent years, Egypt has acquired from Russia 500 tanks T-90 for a total of approximately $ 2,5 billion.
Egyptian Ka-52K and AH-64D Apache aboard Mistral-class UDC.
Experts note that a real "thaw" has begun in relations between Israel and the Arab world. Relations between Egypt and Israel have significantly improved in recent years. Israel is trying to normalize relations with many countries of the Persian Gulf, which is in the interests of all countries. Earlier in September 2020, relations between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain had already returned to normal. Following them, Israel can be recognized by Saudi Arabia and Oman. At the same time, they are all ready to be friends together against Iran, which they see as the main threat in the region.
It is unlikely that Egypt is building up its military capabilities for a military conflict with Israel. Strengthening the country's defenses, in principle, excludes a possible conflict and grave consequences for Cairo, which were characteristic of the previous Arab-Israeli wars. Experts note that Libya may be the target of active arming of Egypt with modern models of military equipment. In the future, Cairo may intervene in this military conflict for the "unification of the country" on the side of Marshal Haftar in order to gain control over the country and the new leadership.
The Arab Maghreb is actively arming
In terms of military spending, Algeria ranks third in the Arab world after Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
At the same time, according to the rating of the analytical company Global Firepower, which compares the armies of the world, other states of the Arab Maghreb are also actively arming themselves. Thus, Morocco is in the 7th place in the ranking of this organization, and Tunisia is in 11th.
Algeria currently spends about $ 6 billion a year on military needs. At the same time, it is difficult to say exactly about the numbers, since many countries in the region, including Egypt, hide their military spending. At the same time, Algeria has traditionally been an active buyer of Russian weapons. In particular, the country purchased at least 14 Su-35 fighters and Su-34 fighter-bombers each.
In all likelihood, Algeria will become a starting buyer for the latest Russian fifth-generation multifunctional fighter Su-57E. According to the Menadefense portal, Algeria signed a contract with Russia in 2019 for the supply of 14 state-of-the-art fighters, and the deal was estimated at about $ 4 billion.
In addition, Algeria is actively buying Russian Pantsir-M air defense missile systems, anti-ship missile systems and warships.
In November 2020, it became known that Algeria was going to strengthen its fleet with three Project 20382 corvettes of the Guarding type, the first ship could be delivered as early as 2021. Experts believe that for some time these ships may become the most powerful warships on the continent.
Algeria is spinning the flywheel of the arms race, so its traditional adversary, the Kingdom of Morocco, is forced to arm itself in response.
Morocco is a traditional buyer of French weapons, but in recent years it has also increased its cooperation with the United States.
In December 2020, Reuters reported that the administration of outgoing US President Donald Trump had notified Congress of a possible deal with Morocco for the supply of drones (at least 4 MQ-9B SeaGuardian) and various precision guided weapons totaling $ XNUMX billion.
Attack helicopter AH-64E Apache Indian Air Force.
And this is not the first contract.
In November 2019, it became known that the State Department had approved a $ 4 billion arms deal to Morocco, including at least 24 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters.
Also earlier, an agreement was signed in the amount of $ 239 million, according to which Washington is ready to supply the country with 25 modern armored personnel carriers and various military vehicles and equipment.
Tunisia is trying to keep up with its neighbors, but its purchases are much more modest. So the Ministry of Defense of Tunisia over the past year signed a contract with the Turkish company Turkish Aerospace Industries for the supply of three medium-altitude long-duration UAVs ANKA and three control stations. The contract is estimated at $ 80 million and includes training and education for 52 Tunisian military personnel. And the total amount of Turkey's military supplies to Tunisia at the end of 2020, according to Ankara, amounted to $ 150 million.
The deal could open the way for military cooperation between Ankara and Tunisia.
At the same time, Tunisia in the southeast borders on war-torn Libya, where Turkey has its own interests, which are different from those of Egypt.
It is also known that Tunisia expects to purchase US aircraft worth 325 million dollars. Including four light turboprop attack aircraft Beechcraft AT-6C Wolverine and weapons for them.
This deal was approved by the US Department of State.
Information about the upcoming deal was submitted to Congress at the end of February 2020.