February 18, 2004

More from the merry-go-round . . . couple of quotes from an IPS piece yesterday by Peyman Pejman, "Oil Fuels Record Growth - and Risks" . . .

Buoyed by the highest oil prices in years, the six countries comprising the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are reaching some of the world's highest growth records - but it is also an achievement they might not be able to sustain . . .

Aside from declining oil revenue, the GCC countries have other problems that, unless addressed, could have adverse effects on their economies.

One is the continued overspending in defence.

In 2002, the last year for which official figures were readily available, GCC countries spent 37 billion dollars on arms purchases and other military expenditures. For the past two years, the six countries have on average spent 30 percent of their annual budget on defence, the highest percentage in the world.

Some countries like the United Arab Emirates have ordered airplanes, such as F-16 fighter jets, that are more sophisticated than the ones U.S. pilots use.

''Both through our efforts to beef up security in the Middle East and through their own love for military gadgets, the Middle East countries in general, and GCC countries in particular, have been a massive market for military and defence equipment,'' says a U.S. military official who could not be named in accordance with Pentagon rules.

Be at peace.