Algeria more than doubles military spending for 2023, raising eyebrows in Morocco
Algeria's new defense budget eclipses those of nations like Spain, Turkiye, Iran, Israel, and Canada
By News Desk - November 30 2022

(Photo Credit : Algerian Presidency/Anadolu Agency)

The Algerian government will allocate approximately $22 billion to its defense budget in 2023 – more than twice as much as its military expenditures in 2022, which stood at approximately $10 billion.

The massive increase in Algeria’s defense budget, now the largest in Africa, makes the Arab nation an even bigger player in the geopolitical field, overtaking countries such as Spain, Turkiye, Iran, Israel, Canada, and the UAE.

The new budget, approved on 22 November, represents an increase of 110 percent since last year, according to Radio France Internationale (RFI).

According to Algerian journalist Akram Kharie, who specializes in defense issues, the increase is necessary to update and maintain military equipment bought from Russia in 2007.

“This equipment needs updates and improvements, especially those purchased during the big 2007 agreement with Russia. This is the fleet of fighter jets, submarines, and anti-aircraft equipment,” he said.

“I also think Algeria is thinking about new acquisitions and preparing to modernize its army,” Kharie added.

The new budget would allow Algeria to modernize its military with new purchases from Russia, Iran, China, and Turkiye and diversify its arms suppliers away from just Russia.

US Senator for Florida, Marco Rubio, called for sanctions against Russia in September, citing them as the “top global purchasers of military equipment from the Russian Federation.” Algeria is one of the largest buyers of Russian military equipment.

In October 2021, Algeria and Russia announced a joint military drill known as “Desert Shield,” which was scheduled for the second and third week of November 2022. However, the Algerian Ministry of Defence announced on 28 November that the drills have not yet taken place.

The increase in Algeria’s defense budget is raising concerns with some of its neighbors, particularly Morocco, which had a defense budget of $5.4 billion in 2021.

Algeria has been a known backer of the Polisario Front in occupied Western Sahara.

Members of the Polisario Front announced the establishment of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic in 1976 while exiled in Algeria. In response, Rabat outlawed the national liberation movement during the ongoing conflict.

Morocco has been trying to outweigh Algeria’s military might by moving closer to Israel, signing a normalization agreement in 2020, and later purchasing advanced Israeli electronic warfare technology and 150 attack drones.

According to a report by the Palestinian online website Akka on 19 September, Morocco has acquired an electronic intelligence (ELINT) system capable of collecting radar signals and performing signal intelligence (SIGINT) actions.

The system is intended to assist the Moroccan army in examining and analyzing communications by its adversaries and collecting time-sensitive intelligence.

The Moroccan Royal Armed Forces also purchased the WanderB and ThunderB VTOL-type drones, retaining reconnaissance, surveillance, and air defense capabilities.

In November 2021, Morocco purchased $22 million worth of Israeli-made Harop Loitering Munitions drones and made another purchase deal worth $500 million in February of this year.

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