ALGIERS. — Algeria has taken a lead as the largest importer of defence equipment in Africa in the face of growing regional security threats, an expert says.

“Militarisation and arms race between Algeria and Morocco hit alarming stage in recent years, creating thus a climate of uncertainty and challenge in the region,” Rachid Tlemcani, a professor of international relations and regional security said.

According to a report released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Algeria accounted for 30 percent of the arms imports to Africa and 3 percent of the global arms purchases over the last five years.

There has been a sort of arms rivalry between Algeria and Morocco since the independence of Algeria in 1962, when Morocco attempted to join two Algerian localities to its territory, leading to the outbreak of what is known as “the War of Sands” in the same year.

“Algeria and Morocco want to lure the NATO in order to be perceived as the first military force in the region and secure a key role in the security of the Euro-US security agenda in the Mediterranean and Sahel regions,” Tlemcani said.

He added that SIPRI data showed Algeria’s arms purchases increased from US$716 million in 1988 to nearly US$10 billion in 2013.

The Algerian government allocated US$13,1 billion worth of budget to the defence sector in 2015, in addition to US$6,95 billion for homeland security, according to the expert.

“Despite huge military spending, terrorism is still existing, while its remnants are seen as an adjuster of political conflicts,” Tlemcani said. — Xinhua.

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