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Despite the health crisis, the arms race between Morocco and Algeria continues

A recent report issued by the Stockholm Peace Institute confirmed the continuation of the arms race between Morocco and Algeria during the year 2020, as the two neighbors topped the list of countries that spend the most on arms in the African continent.

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The recent report, «Trends in World Military Expenditure, 2020», issued by the Stockholm Peace Institute, ranked Morocco among the countries that spend the most on weapons in the African continent, referring to the Sahara conflict and «tensions» with Algeria.

The report stated that during the year 2020, Morocco's military spending amounted to $ 4.8 billion, an increase of 29% compared to 2019, and 54% higher than the Kingdom’s military spending in 2011.

The Swedish-based institute attributed the increase in Moroccan military spending to several factors, including «a large arms procurement programme that started in 2017, the ongoing conflict between the Moroccan Government and the Polisario Front in Western Sahara, and tensions with neighbouring Algeria».

The report explained that Morocco is one of the countries with the highest military spending as a share of gross domestic product.

Morocco among countries with the highest military spending in the world

Five of the ten countries with the highest military spending in the world are in the Middle East: Oman, which spent the equivalent of 11% of its GDP on the military, Saudi Arabia (8.4%), Kuwait (6.5%), Israel (5.6%) and Jordan (5.0%). The other five are Algeria (6.7%), Azerbaijan (5.4%), Armenia (4.9%), Morocco (4.3%), and Russia (4.3%).

Morocco is ranked 40th in the list of countries that spend the most on weapons in the world, and the second in Africa, knowing that during the past year it was ranked 45th in the world. Meanwhile, Algeria ranks 24th in the world and 1st in Africa in 2020, which is the same as in 2019.

Algeria's military spending reached $ 9.7 billion in 2020, a decline of 3.4% compared to 2019, «but it remained by far the largest spender in North Africa and Africa as a whole".

The decline in oil prices, starting from 2014 and the subsequent decline in Algerian oil revenues had a significant impact on Algeria's military spending by the end of 2016. During the period 2017-2020, Algeria's spending decreased every year except for the year 2019, when the general government spending fell by 5.3%.

The significant decline in Algeria's GDP as a result of the Covid-19 epidemic has contributed to an increase in the military burden to 6.7% of GDP in 2020, which is the highest burden in Africa and the 3rd highest in the world.

The United States topped the list of countries that spend the most on armaments in 2020 with $ 778 billion, followed by China with $ 252 billion, then India with $ 72 billion, Russia with $ 61.7 billion, the United Kingdom with $ 59.7 billion, and Saudi Arabia with $ 57.5 billion.

The report said that global military spending in 2020 is estimated at $ 1,981 billion, and over the past year global military spending increased by 2.6% in real terms compared to 2019 and 9.3% higher than the 2011 levels.

The global military burden - global military spending as a share of global GDP - rose by 2 bps in 2020, to 2.4%.

This increase is due to the fact that most countries of the world experienced a severe economic slowdown in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, while military spending continued to rise in general.

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