Obama: Arabs spend 8 times more on military than Iran

WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama says Iran’s Arab neighbors spend at least eight times more on their military, but they are not as “strategically effective” as the Islamic Republic, which uses military funds for defense.

“The reason that Iran has been effective has less to do with the amount of money they have spent, it has more to do with the fact that, although [Persian] Gulf countries for example spend eight times more at least combined on defense than Iran’s entire defense budget, they haven’t deployed it in ways that have been as strategically effective,” Obama said during an interview with CNN on Sunday.

Saudi Arabia spent more than $80 billion on its military last year, trailing only the United States and China, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar — the four biggest Persian Gulf military equipment customers — spent about $110 billion on their militaries in 2014, up from almost 44 percent from 2012.

All these countries are planning to boost spending on their militaries in coming years, according to consultancy IHS Jane’s Aerospace, Defense & Security.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates imported more weapons from the United States last year than all of Western Europe combined, spending $8.6 billion between them on these imports.

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