Morocco and Algeria rank as the world's biggest defence spenders at a time when the Western Sahara conflict is increasing tensions between the two nations

Marruecos aumentará en un 6% su gasto en defensa en 2022

photo_camera PHOTO/REUTERS - Moroccan Army

Morocco's defence spending has been rising steadily in recent years. The arms budget for 2022 set by Rabat amounts to 4.838 billion euros, which represents 4% of its national GDP. This expenditure has been classified by the Moroccan Defence Minister, Abdelatif Loudiyi, as "moderate and realistic". 

This new increase in the funds dedicated to military armaments comes on top of the increase in 2021, in which the Alawi kingdom allocated 3.4% more than in 2020. That year, the North African country devoted a total of $4.8 billion of its budget to defence, an increase of 54% compared to 2011. On the other side of the border, Algeria allocated 9.7 billion dollars to its military budget in the same year, reducing its spending by 3.4%.

Soldados del Ejército marroquí en un punto de observación durante el ejercicio militar "León Africano" en la región de Tan-Tan, en el suroeste de Marruecos, el 18 de junio de 2021

The Alawite kingdom's Defence Minister said in December 2021 that the defence budget was "insufficient in view of the multiple missions of the Royal Armed Forces and the security threats in the area, which require permanent vigilance by all military personnel". Total military spending in Africa increased by 1.7% last year compared to 2022, Morocco and Algeria are the biggest arms spenders on the continent, and tensions between the two have been rising since 2021.

Morocco's armaments come 90% from the United States, one of its strongest allies, 9.2% from France and a meagre 0.3% from the UK. The sum of the arms purchased from these three countries places Morocco 55th out of 140 countries in terms of military power in the world, a position it has achieved thanks to the acquisition of various weapons including: 3,335 battle tanks, 144 rocket launchers, 29th with 3,500 armoured vehicles, 16th with 517 self-propelled artillery units and 44th with 211 towed artillery pieces, making the Alawite kingdom one of the top 40 arms buyers.

Soldados marroquíes hacen guardia durante una recepción como parte del ejercicio militar African Lion en el complejo Grier Labouihi, en el sur de Marruecos
Morocco ranks as the 55th best-armed country in the world

Morocco's army, led by its commander-in-chief Mohammed VI, has grown to become the 55th best armed country in the world. Its military budget, which has grown steadily in recent years, has led to 140 fighter jets and 64 combat helicopters, as well as 24 Apache helicopters recently acquired from the United States, ready to be used in the event of a confrontation. If the conflict were to be fought by sea, the Alawi kingdom would have six frigates at its disposal. However, the jewel in the crown of the Moroccan armed forces is the land army, which is made up of 400,000 soldiers and 500,000 reservists, in addition to an armament that surpasses that of Spain in terms of tanks, armoured vehicles and artillery pieces. In addition, the North African country intends to continue growing its army and has shown interest in three Israeli defence systems, including the Iron Dome, the Green Pine radar system and the Arrow system. Of these, the Iron Dome is of particular interest to Mohammed VI. It is a missile-based method of air defence aimed at detecting other enemy missiles at long range and shooting them down before they land.

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