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Asia fuels rise in world defence spending

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

World defence spending will rise in 2014 for the first time in five years, a key study found Tuesday, driven by arms races in Asia and the Middle East, as well as a resurgent Russia.

The closely watched IHS Jane's Annual Defence Budgets Review said military budgets this year would inch up by 0.6 percent, after years of falls brought on by lower spending in the West.

"We have seen substantial increases in defence spending from countries like Russia, China, India, Saudi Arabia, and Oman over the past two years," said Paul Burton, Director of IHS Jane's Aerospace, Defence & Security.

Military spending in Russia is on the advance, the study said, with President Vladimir Putin pushing through a 44 percent surge in defence expenditure over the next three years.

Already, spending in Russia last year shot to $68 billion, putting it ahead of Britain and Japan.

Spending by superpower China last year was $139 billion dollars, with only the United States expending more defence. In 2015, the study said military spending in China will outweigh that of Britain, France and Germany combined.

Expenditure on weapons and armies throughout Asia, which rose steadily since 2009, is fueled by heightened tensions between regional powerhouses China and Japan over islands in the East China Sea.

The high-stakes rift has rattled nerves throughout the region and IHS Janes's now believes defence spending in Asia, excluding China, will exceed spending in Western Europe by 2015.

Middle East rivalries, especially as regional players choose sides in the murderous Syria conflict, has increased military spending there.

"We have seen a rapid acceleration of defence spending in the Middle East since 2011 ... Oman and Saudi Arabia, in particular, have seen rapid growth of over 30 percent between 2011 and 2013," said Fenella McGerty, a senior analyst at IHS Jane's.

Military expenditure by the United States still towers over the rest of the world's, but is expected to continue its steady fall.

Spending has drifted lower from $664 billion in 2012, to $582 billion in 2013 and is forecast at $575 billion in 2014 and $535 billion in 2015.

Pentagon outlays have been cut due to the winding down of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and political bickering in Congress over the government spending.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140204/asia-fuels-rise-world-defence-spending