MP Defends Defense Budget Increase

MP Defends Defense Budget IncreaseMP Defends Defense Budget Increase

Regional and non-regional threats facing the Islamic Republic underscore the need for boosting defense spending, which has been recognized in the draft annual budget bill currently under parliamentary review, a lawmaker said.

"One of the strengths of the proposed budget for the next Iranian year [starting March 21] is the special attention it pays to the defense budget," Hossein Maqsoudi also told ICANA on Friday.

President Hassan Rouhani earlier this month submitted to the Majlis his proposed budget of 3,681 trillion rials (nearly $104 billion at the official exchange rate).

This marks a nearly 6% increase from the budget plan for the current year, regardless of the inflation rate of 10%.

But Rouhani is facing public criticism for allocating a substantial share of the budget to organizations with poor financial transparency, amid urgent economic problems increasingly affecting the living standards of people.

Maqsoudi defended the higher budget allocation to the defense sector, highlighting the importance of plans to counter national security threats and overseas operations of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps.

"Given the current situation of the country and the region and the security plans on agenda, including those to counter terrorism, insecurity in other regional countries and adventurist moves by the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia, and to fight armed insurgents, drug traffickers and hostile opposition groups operating in and outside the country, the defense budget needs to be increased," he said.

Tehran has been providing military advisory assistance to neighboring Iraq at the request of the Baghdad government in its war to drive out the self-styled Islamic State terrorists who occupied large swaths of land in Iraq and Syria in 2014.

Iran's advisory support to Syrian government forces has put it at odds with the other regional powerhouse, Saudi Arabia, which is backing a patchwork of insurgent groups that seek the ouster of Syria President Bashar al-Assad.

In Yemen, Riyadh is leading a western-backed Arab air campaign which is pounding the positions of Iranian-allied Houthi forces to reinstall fugitive president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Riyadh signed deals worth billions of dollars to purchase arms from its main western ally, the United States, earlier this year.

US President Donald Trump has adopted a hostile stance against the Islamic Republic and is desperate to limit its regional operations.

Since assuming office in January 2017, the hawkish Trump has slapped several rounds of sanctions against the IRGC and repeatedly called for amendments to the 2015 nuclear deal to curb Iran's regional clout and missile program.

Saudi Arabia, with a military budget of $63.7 billion, was the world's fourth-largest spender on weaponry in 2016 after Russia, compared with Iran's total defense budget of $12.3 billion.

To become law, the draft budget has to be passed by the parliament and approved by the Guardians Council, a clerical body that vets any legislation's conformity with Islamic principles and constitutional articles.


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