Tehran has raised its military budget for the first time in four years, a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) found.
Iran raised its military budget to $24.6 billion in 2021, an increase of 11%, the report said, despite ongoing economic problems in the country because of years of sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic by the United States.
Last year SIPRI said Iran’s military spending fell by 3% to $15.8b., part of a downward trend that began in 2018 when the sanctions over the country’s nuclear activities were reinstated. Between 2018 and 2020, Iran’s military spending fell by 20%.
In December, Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi submitted a budget bill that more than doubled the amount allocated to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for the fiscal year 2022 (which began March 31), allocating the organization 930 trillion rials ($22b.). Meanwhile, Iran’s conventional army was allocated 339.68 trillion rials (US $8b.) for 2022.
Iran also increased its military spending by 11%, making the country one of the largest military spenders in 2021.
“This is the first time in 20 years that Iran has ranked among the top 15 military spenders,” SIPRI wrote.
As part of the increased military budget, the 2021 budget of the IRGC also increased by 14% and accounted for 34% of Iran’s total military spending.
The IRGC is one of eight military branches and makes up about 10% of Iran’s overall armed forces. The IRGC along with its Quds Force is not only the Islamic Republic’s most feared and advanced military branch, it is also a powerful political and economic player and answers directly to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The IRGC and the Quds Force are the main targets of Israel’s war-between-wars campaign, which has been ongoing for close to a decade in an attempt to prevent Iran from entrenching itself in Syria and to stop Tehran from smuggling advanced weaponry to its proxy in Lebanon, Hezbollah.
Over the years, Israel has carried out thousands of kinetic strikes in Syria and farther from its borders, by land, sea, air as well as cyber-kinetically, to prevent the Iranian regime from reaching its goal of regional hegemony as well as becoming a nuclear state.
The SIPRI report also found that Israel’s military spending rose by 3.1% in 2021 to $24.3b. The increase comes after no state budget in 2020 and 2021 due to political instability, leading the IDF to base its military spending on the 2019 budget with additional allocations.
In July, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman agreed on a NIS 58b. ($17.8b.) defense budget for 2022, with NIS 7b. ($2.15b.) to rearm and strengthen the IDF to prepare the military for a strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.
The budget, Gantz said at the time, would “maintain our security superiority in the face of increasing threats and safeguard the interests of the State of Israel and other government ministries.”
In addition to Iran and Israel increasing their military budgets, the report found that world military expenditure reached $2,113b. in 2021 – the first time world military expenditure surpassed the $2 trillion mark.
Last year, despite a challenging year marked by the pandemic, world military expenditure was estimated to have been $1,981b.
The report found that military expenditure grew in three of the world’s five regions in 2021: Asia and Oceania (3.5%), Europe (3%) and Africa (1.2%). Meanwhile, there was a decrease in spending in the Middle East (-3.3%) and the Americas (-1.2%).
The five largest military spenders in 2021 were the US, China, India, the UK and Russia, which together accounted for 62% of world military spending. The US and China alone accounted for 52%.
Iran and Israel placed 14th and 15th, respectively.