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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

Yemen war cost Saudi $5.3bn: Minister

Iran Press TV

Tue Dec 29, 2015 4:36PM

Saudi Arabia says the increase in the kingdom's military spending in 2015 was almost entirely due to its aggression against Yemen as Riyadh struggles with a rising annual budget deficit.

Economy Minister Adel Fakeih said Monday that Saudi Arabia's expenditure in 2015 increased by 13 percent to hit 975 billion riyals (USD 260 billion), adding that about 20 billion riyals (USD 5.3 billion) of that figure was in military and security, which he attributed to the war on Yemen.

Since launching its attacks on Yemen on March 26, Riyadh has been resisting calls for disclosing the costs of the war, which largely consists of airstrikes.

More than 7,500 people have been killed in Yemen over the past months. Riyadh says the campaign was meant to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement and restore power to the fugitive former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi. The United Nations says more than 2,500 of the fatalities have been civilians.

The Reuters news agency estimated earlier this year that Saudi Arabia would spend approximately USD 175 million per month to support its campaign, adding that a further USD 500 million will be allocated to a potential ground invasion.

The significant increase in the military spending comes against the backdrop of falling oil prices in the international markets which has badly affected Saudi Arabia as the country relies on oil for roughly 90 percent of its revenue.

The Saudi economy minister posted a 98-billion-dollar budget deficit for 2015, adding that the kingdom will face a deficit of USD 87 billion for the next year. To make up for the heavy expenditures of the Yemen war and its rising deficits, Riyadh has adopted a series of austerity measures at home by increasing the cost of fuel and some services up to 80 percent. That has already triggered a nationwide dissatisfaction with many urging the rulers to stop the aggression against Yemen in order to avoid further economic woes.

A budget plan released by the Saudi Finance Ministry on Monday said Riyadh is to allocate 213 billion riyals (some USD 57 billion) to the military and security services in 2016, roughly a quarter of the kingdom's total budget.

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