Forecast International Sees Syrian Conflict Driving Neighbors' Security Postures

NEWTOWN, CONN., March 28, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A third round of Syria political negotiations has begun in Geneva, but the conflict in Syria remains a key security concern for the country's neighbors.

Syria's neighbors foresee instability along their borders for the immediate future. Regardless of the results of the negotiations, Iraq's fight to regain its territory from the so-called Islamic State (IS) will continue on, while the other countries will maintain a cautious approach to the non-state actors on their borders.

"Israel has to contend with Hezbollah activity near the Golan Heights, which is of primary concern," said FI's Middle East Analyst, Derek Bisaccio. "At the same time, the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) needs to keep a close eye on the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, an Islamic State affiliate that controls part of the border with Israel and has recently gained ground against rebel factions in the area."

Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon all have Islamic State or affiliate groups on their borders with Syria. Lebanon's border includes territory controlled by al-Qaeda's Syrian branch, which has carried out terror attacks inside Lebanese cities. Ankara is worried about the expansion of the Kurdish People's Protection Units, whose political wing, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), recently voted along with other local parties to create a federal zone in northern Syria.

To address the instability, Forecast International expects that of the five countries bordering Syria, four will spend more on defense in 2016 than in 2015. The defense expenditures of Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan will increase by a combined average of 2.85 percent. Iraq's defense budget could see a jump of over 12 percent.

Israel, meanwhile, will spend slightly less this year compared to the previous year, but over Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon's firm objections. Officially, the Defense Ministry will receive around ILS56 billion ($14.4 billion). Ya'alon was able to negotiate to receive more in allocations after arguing that the official amount was insufficient.

The scope of the security threat and the varied types of hardware required to respond to the threat together ensure that military acquisitions will be a priority for these countries.

"Iraq's procurements will focus on equipping the Army with light and medium weapons, and also on acquiring demining devices to clear improvised explosive devices left behind in places like Ramadi," noted Bisaccio. "For Jordan, the military can utilize newly acquired helicopters, such as Cobra combat helicopters and Black Hawks, to further protect its borders from militant groups."

European Union and American defense firms, in particular, will benefit from sales as Syria's neighbors seek to increase their readiness and capabilities. Following Moscow's intervention in the Syrian conflict, Russian systems may also see increased attention.

"Russian officials have touted the Syrian campaign as demonstrating the effectiveness of their military systems in a modern conflict," said Bisaccio. "Russian fighter jets and other aircraft aided the Syrian Army in taking ground in Aleppo, Latakia, Daraa, and elsewhere in the country. Moscow's T-90 tanks, meanwhile, proved far more resilient than the Syrian Army's vehicles to the anti-tank guided missiles in the hands of militant groups."

Even if a political solution can be reached in Geneva, the situation in Syria is likely to remain unstable. IS still controls large amounts of territory and al-Qaeda group Jabhat al-Nusra is unlikely to lay down its arms. The PYD's declaration of a federal zone is at odds with both the government and the opposition. These factors continue to make Syria a potential destabilizer for the region, necessitating higher defense expenditures and more military procurements out of its neighbors.

About Forecast International

Forecast International, Inc. is a leading provider of Market Intelligence and Analysis in the areas of aerospace, defense, power systems and military electronics. The firm, which publishes eight International Military Market services, also maintains a high posture of situational awareness and geopolitical analysis. Based in Newtown, Conn., USA, Forecast International specializes in long-range industry forecasts and market assessments used by strategic planners, marketing professionals, military organizations, and governments worldwide. Forecast International's resources and extensive base of experience can also be readily adapted and efficiently focused to fulfill a broad spectrum of civil and military consulting and special research requirements.

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Source:Forecast International, Inc.