Algeria’s frenzied arms race in the face of the latest political developments in the region and its institutionalized hatred of Morocco is pushing the kingdom to adopt a posture of mistrust and caution. Algeria is ranked as the most powerful army ahead of South Africa, Canada, and Portugal.
The neighboring country declared its hostility to Morocco by severing diplomatic relations in August 2021 in a context of strong tensions with the kingdom over the Sahara, a file for which Algeria does not declare itself to be a stakeholder, although it mobilizes all possible means to influence the course of events against Morocco.
In this context and faced with the restoration of diplomatic relations between Morocco and Israel, Algeria has redoubled its efforts to become a regional military threat, in particular by organizing military parades and joint exercises with Russia on the borders with Morocco. .
Already, one of the main military powers in Africa, Algeria has decided to allocate in 2023 the modest sum of 22 billion dollars to Defense, thus remaining the first budgetary item of Algeria before national education, finances, health, etc.
The country will therefore devote some 3,186 billion dinars in 2023, against 1,300 billion dinars (9 billion dollars) in 2022 to buy weapons, an increase of 130%.
According to calculations, Algeria thus devotes more than 13% of its GDP to armaments (based on its GDP in 2020 estimated at 145 billion dollars and its announced growth rate) or even more than 15% of its GDP. For reference, Algeria had devoted 6.7% of its GDP to armaments in 2020.
The increase is therefore colossal, on one of the highest arms budgets well before the increase, since the world average in this area does not exceed 2.2% of GDP. The investment is double that of Spain, and will thus become greater than that of Israel.
According to the Global fire index, Algeria is ranked 26th military power in the world, just after Spain (21st), Saudi Arabia (22nd), Germany (25th).
This unprecedented increase occurs not only in a context of heightened tensions with Morocco, but also with other countries in the Mediterranean basin, in particular Spain and France.
“Algeria, whose relations with Spain and Morocco are non-existent, badly damaged with Tunisia and barely economically with Libya, was the one that increased the defense budget the most. During the conflict, the Algerian military government cut a gas pipeline to Spain and strained relations with France, preventing the French from crossing its territory to help troops in the Sahel“Said the Spanish media Atalayar.
The same source recalls that Algeria has revised its Constitution to allow the army for the first time to operate outside its borders, in particular to engage in the Sahel, while increasing its purchases of modern weapons from partners such as Russia and Iran, by ordering, among other things, fleets of Shahed drones, small, deadly and at low cost, which are also sent to the Polisario.
This frenetic arms race in Algeria places the country among the 30 most armed countries in the world and its explanation is simple. “The excessive increase has no other purpose than to put pressure on Morocco”says Atalayar.
Algeria is becoming a serious threat to North Africa, the Sahel region, and is also weighing on regional balances, even going to compete with the Arab powers by continuing its strategy of compulsive arms purchasing, pushing its neighbors , like Morocco to seek to protect itself.
It is in this sense that the United States authorized the sale of 18 HIMARS rocket launchers and JSOWs to Morocco, for purely defensive purposes and to maintain regional stability and security, the DSCA (Defense Security Cooperation Agency) makes this clear in its press release.
The DSCA states about JSOWs that “this proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a major non-NATO ally that continues to be an important force for political stability and economic progress in Africa North “.
“The proposed sale will improve Morocco’s ability to deal with current and future threats”, adds the document. About the HIMARS, they respond to the presence of Russian Iskander missiles in Algeria placed at the borders in Morocco.
“The proposed sale will improve Morocco’s ability to deal with current and future threats and contribute to Morocco’s ability to defy threats and control its borders, thereby helping to maintain regional stability and security.”says the DSCA.
These two weapons which could join the Moroccan military arsenal therefore represent weapons of deterrence, aimed at balancing the regional forces, although the spectacular Algerian military budget represents a major threat, 4 times greater than the military budget of Morocco.
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