A new report published from Jane’s by IHS Markit on Thursday predicts that the six countries that comprise the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will spend a collective $100 billion on defense in 2019, a record high for the group. According to Al Jazeera, the rise in defense spending is coupled to a six percent increase in military costs.
“The six percent growth that we’ve seen this year is expected to slow, but growth rates of three to four percent a year are sustainable over the next decade, meaning that defence spending is likely to hit a record $100bn next year,” said Craig Caffery, the principal Defence Budgets Analyst for Jane’s.
The current member nations of the GCC are Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman and Kuwait. The council was formed in 1981 and aims to promote economic ties between the six nations, as well as unify the countries to respond to security threats and “regional affairs,” according to an article published by Al Jazeera.
The GCC has several governing bodies including the Supreme Council, Ministerial Council, and Consultative Commission. The Supreme Council appoints a new Secretary-General periodically. Currently, Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani of Bahrain occupies the post according to the GCC’s website.
The additional defense expenditures are no doubt related to the numerous armed conflicts the GCC nations are involved in throughout the Middle East and North Africa. According to Jane’s by IHS Markit the increased budget will likely be spent on modernizing existing forces with an emphasis on aircraft and “intelligence gathering capabilities,” as well as infrastructure. Some spending is also going towards improving the overall readiness of the militaries for more rapid deployment into trouble areas.
A significant portion of the GCC’s military spending goes to North America and Europe, which according to Jane’s by IHS Markit, supplies 95 percent of all military equipment purchased by GCC countries. About half of that number is from the United States.
Despite the U.S’ current hold on the market, countries such as Turkey and China are looking to carve out pieces of the GCC arms market for themselves.
“The modernisation and operational requirements of some militaries in the region are seeing some governments turn to alternative suppliers for equipment,” said Jane’s by IHS Markit’s senior Defence Industry Analyst Charles Forrester, adding that the “downturn in oil prices in 2014 and 2015” forced the GCC nations to start thinking about cost.
The report also concluded that the GCC nations will continue to spend more on defense for at least another five years, peaking at $117 billion by 2023, with a majority of the money going towards new equipment.