Ankara Closely Watching Mideast Arms Race
Lale Sarıibrahimoğlu writes in Today’s Zaman:
While Turkey is concerned about arms proliferation in the region, it has been continuing its own arms purchases.
Turkey’s Defense Ministry budget, including the budgets of the ministry as well as those of the land, air and navy forces commands, has been fixed at YTL 13.05 billion ($9.46 billion) for 2007 — a 10.6 percent increase from 2006.
With the proposed total fiscal year budget for 2007 fixed at YTL 204.98 billion (a figure that was YTL 174.32 billion in 2006), the defense allocation accounts for 6.3 percent of the total budget and corresponds to 2 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).
The Defense Ministry budget does not, however, include extra-budgetary figures, of which only some are disclosed. The Undersecretariat for the Defense Industry (SSM) Support Fund is unofficially estimated to have reached YTL 2.07 billion in 2007, about 98 percent of which goes toward major arms production projects.
Other disclosed extra-budgetary allocations include YTL 3.13 billion (a 22 percent increase) for the Gendarmerie General Command, YTL 229.93 million (an 18.2 percent increase) for the Coast Guard Command and YTL 27.52 million (a 17.6 percent increase) for the SSM administrative budget.
…Meanwhile the US State Department approved direct commercial arms equipment and services exports worth $66.6 billion in 2006 — an increase of $14.6 billion from the previous year, JDW reported in its Aug. 1 issue.
According to Section 655 of the Annual Military Assistance Report for 2006, which provides figures for defense articles and services licensed for direct commercial export, commercial licenses for defense equipment were worth $19.8 billion and authorizations for defense services totaled $46.8 billion.
The two largest US trading partners last year were Canada and Japan and combined import authorizations were valued at $21.56 billion, or nearly one-third of the total.
The UK was third with total authorizations worth $7.56 billion — $1.9 billion for defense equipment and $5.6 billion for defense services. Since 2002, the UK’s commercial defense equipment imports from the US have been worth an average of $2.24 billion annually.
The other top countries were Singapore ($5.15 billion), Australia ($3.35 billion), Israel ($3.16 billion), South Korea ($3.04 billion), Italy ($2.7 billion), Turkey ($2.1 billion) and Germany ($2 billion).