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How the Arms Race in the GCC States is Affecting the Gulf Region’s Security?

Arms competitions have become more objective in the Persian Gulf, especially in the Arab countries

By Amin Bagheri

Equipping weapons has long been one of the strategic actions of international system units that have been used to manage and secure themselves, although this form of action has led to arms contests. In recent years, these arms competitions have become more objective in the Persian Gulf, especially in the Arab countries of the region. The escalation of political tensions in the Middle East is seen as the main reason for the escalation of the arms race in the region, especially in the Gulf. Despite the economic crisis and the declining income of the Persian Gulf countries, the military expenditures of these countries have not decreased, but have an upward trend. Gulf states, fearful of the rise of other countries and growing internal discontent, continue to make staggering arms purchases from Western countries, plunging the Persian Gulf region into a deep arms race. Western governments selling arms continue to demand ransom from the Gulf states in such a large-scale arms deal. The cost of purchasing military weapons from the Gulf states has risen at an unprecedented rate in recent years. Interventions by foreign powers, especially the United States, in the regional instability caused by these interventions, lack of regional security mechanisms, regional rivalries in the Persian Gulf with each other, internal disputes between Arabs and civil wars in Syria, and military strikes on Yemen are the most important reasons for Arab countries to buy weapons and military competition.

GCC states is affecting the Gulf region's security
The escalation of political tensions in the Middle East is seen as the main reason for the escalation of the arms race in the region, especially in the Persian Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia. Pixabay

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Several hundred billion dollars in arms purchases on the Persian Gulf

Some countries in the region have entered the nuclear line of action and are pursuing their own military goals. Among the countries in the region, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are trying to enter the nuclear club in this regard, and by doing so, they have encouraged an arms race in the region. This has made it difficult to establish regional missions, and increasing the scope of the arms race has dangerously threatened the security of the region and the world. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have entered the nuclear race amid growing opposition in some Western countries to arming the two countries over their war crimes in Yemen and their support for takfiri groups in Libya and Syria. On the other hand, the countries of Qatar and Kuwait have not lagged behind other Gulf countries and have participated in this arms race. The Arab countries of the Persian Gulf have historically turned to arms. From 1978 to 1982, Saudi Arabia increased its military spending to $ 27 billion. Between 2003 and 2015, the country increased its military budget by about four times, and Saudi military spending reached $ 87 billion. According to the International Institute of Peace Research, Stockholm, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have spent more than $ 100 billion on armaments. Meanwhile, Qatar, which is involved in the conflict in the region, especially in Syria and Libya, has made huge purchases in recent years in pursuit of its weapons equipment.

GCC states is affecting the Gulf region's security
Countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are trying to enter the nuclear club. Pixabay

Why is the arms race expanding and how is it endangering the security of the Persian Gulf?

The beginning of security unrest in the region, growing concerns about the expansion of Iran’s influence in the region, the efforts of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Saudi Defense Minister to change the influence of the ruling family in Saudi Arabia and his reckless policy in the Middle East and his approach to Abu Dhabi following the war in Yemen and the beginning of the crisis in Qatar’s relations with Arab countries, followed by the creation of gaps in the Gulf Cooperation Council ( GCC ), the arms race in the Persian Gulf region entered a new phase. This new arms race is linked to Saudi security concerns and global economic developments, as well as Saudi Arabia’s internal changes. In addition, several interconnected factors have increased the military spending of the GCC countries. One of these factors is the threat to the country’s security as a result of internal unrest and increased military power in the region. Arab rulers use these issues to achieve other political goals. Governments are trying to defend their system in addition to achieving their ambitions with high-end arms deals. Although the arms race and increased military spending between Arab countries began in the mid-1980sarm, Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait prompted Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates to increase their arms purchases, this trend weakened after 1992 with the weakening of Saddam and the presence of the United States slightly. However, in 1997, competition for arms increased again, and the military spending of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain increased dramatically. But over the past five years, the United States has exported more than a third of its global weapons, making it the world’s largest arms dealer. More than half of US weapons are exported to the Middle East. Saudi Arabia alone has bought 22 percent of US arms exports, and the country is an important market for US weapons. In general, in the Persian Gulf, the security and legitimacy of the sphere of power depend so much on the world outside the borders that every day the transfer of power and the change of nature and orientations are subject to international interests. The external factor exacerbates differences and shapes Middle East politics in line with international interests, not the interests of countries in the region. The heterogeneity of the political structures of the eight Gulf states has as much an impact on their foreign policy as it does on regional cooperation and as much on the security of the Persian Gulf. Thus, the feeling of insecurity has two very negative and long-term consequences on the economic and political development of the region; The first is to launch an arms race, and the second is to establish the presence of foreign forces to create security in the region. The consequences of the arms race in a situation where, on the one hand, the basis of US policy in the Persian Gulf is based on continuing the commitment and guaranteeing the security of the allies and maintaining the flow of oil. Therefore, the creation of an arms race can have several important consequences: First, it will deplete the financial resources of the countries in the region in favor of American arms companies. In fact, the United States is reimbursing several times the money it pays to buy oil from countries in the region by selling arms to those countries, and in a way, not only does it make up for lost resources, but it also makes huge profits. The second result of the arms race in the region is the consolidation and continuation of the US military presence in the Persian Gulf. In fact, under the pretext of the lack of security and protection of the countries in the region from the existing threats, the United States can legitimize the presence of its military forces in the Persian Gulf countries. The third consequence of the arms race in the Persian Gulf is to prevent the formation of any regional security arrangements. It is clear that a safe, development-friendly environment and an unsafe environment are lagging behind. At the same time, development is a key factor in environmental security and national security. In fact, the most destructive factor in achieving political and economic development is participating in the arms game. GCC countries have the highest number of arms purchases. This is one of the most important causes of insecurity in the region, and as long as this trend does not stop, not only will the region not be safe and stable, but we will see more and more insecurity. Meanwhile, the United States is trying to plunder the energy resources of the Persian Gulf countries by holding back the countries of the region from global growth and development.

GCC states is affecting the Gulf region's security
Over the past five years, the United States has exported more than a third of its global weapons, making it the world’s largest arms dealer. Pixabay

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In conclusion, the arms race represents a kind of competitive armament, and the concept of such competition in arms refers to a situation in which two or more countries, which may consider each other as their enemies, significantly increase their weapons level and military structure. They base themselves on a general focus on the past, present, and possible military and political performance of other countries competing. One of the elements that have led to the growth of the arms race in the Persian Gulf is the negative publicity of the West and the fear of the GCC countries of the superiority of the military power of other countries, and this has led them to equip themselves under the auspices of the United States and enjoy the unparalleled enthusiasm for the most up-to-date weapons, However, the continuation of this process will cause serious economic and social problems for these countries. In addition, the unprecedented increase in arms purchases by Arab rulers continues as part of these weapons has been given to terrorist-takfiri groups in countries in the region, especially Syria, Iraq, and Libya. The Gulf states, which see large-scale investment in the purchase of advanced weapons as a way to ensure security, are unaware that this procurement is a key tool for boosting the crisis-stricken economies of the West and boosting the profits of European arms companies and US military-industrial complexes. In fact, the main strategy of the West, especially the United States, to ensure the continued sale of arms to the Arab Gulf states is to create an atmosphere of insecurity. Accordingly, the arms race of the Gulf states not only threatens the security of the region but also strengthens the presence of foreign powers and prevents any regional security.

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