Despite what is perceived to be an arms race developing in recent years between Morocco and Algeria – and the latter recently splashing out on Russian arms to the tune of around 12bn dollars in one shot – Morocco is in fact pulling back.
A recent report from a respected defence website claims that Morocco is actually falling in its defence spending and lagging behind Algeria, which, if reports are accurate, is estimated to have an annual defence budget in 2023 of around 23bn USD.
With a defense budget of 1.39 billion dollars and 150,000 soldiers, Morocco ranks 61ᵉ in the 2023 ranking of major military powers drawn up by the specialized site Global Firepower, which identifies among 140 countries in the world.
“The kingdom has thus fallen from 55ᵉ place to 61ᵉ, a drop of 6 places compared to 2022”, the report claims. “The royal armed forces have 31,972 armored vehicles, 453 self-propelled artillery units and 211 artillery trailers. In the Middle East and North Africa, Morocco rises to 6th place far from Egypt (14th in the world for a defense budget of 11.20 billion dollars) which occupies the first place. It is followed by Saudi Arabia (22ᵉ world rank), Algeria (26ᵉ), Iraq (45ᵉ) and the United Arab Emirates (56ᵉ rank)”.
Recently there were raised tensions between Algeria and Morocco when the former planned a number of military exercises along its border with the Kingdom. This was put off after calls from Western leaders pleaded with the Algerians due to the fever pitch tensions between the two countries which resulted in Morocco sending 50,000 troops to the border. Currently the EU and the US are on a different page as to how to go about controlling Algeria. The EU’s focus is on energy while the US obsesses over Algeria’s relations with Russia.