Saudi Arabia will cut military spending for a second straight year in 2019, when education is set to overtake it as the budget’s biggest item, according to official projections published on Tuesday.
The Saudi armed forces are among the world’s leading weapons buyers, a role often cited by President Donald Trump to defend America’s close alliance with the kingdom.
But they’ll have 12 percent less to spend next year, after getting allocated a budget of SAR 191 billion ($51 billion). Spending on education will also drop, by 6 percent to SAR 193 riyals. Overall outlays are projected to rise 7 percent as the kingdom boosts capital investment.
The cutbacks on defense may reflect expectations that Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen is drawing to a close. Earlier on Tuesday, King Salman didn’t include soldiers fighting in the war in his decision to renew a package of cost-of-living allowances for another year.
Saudi Arabia heads a coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015 to support the government against pro-Iranian rebels. The two sides agreed to a ceasefire in a key port city this month.
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