Military

The Strongest Militaries in the Middle East

Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

The Middle East, a region marked by conflict over the last few decades, is home to some of the world’s strongest military forces. Countries like Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are only some of the powerhouses in the region, but many boast significant military capabilities that play into intricate regional dynamics. Here, 24/7 Wall St. is taking a closer look at the militaries in the region, and which are the strongest in the Middle East. (These are the most powerful militaries in the world.)

To determine the countries with the strongest military might in the Middle East, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed 2024 Military Strength Ranking from Global Firepower, an annually updated defense-related statistics website with information on 145 countries. Global Firepower ranked 145 countries based on their PowerIndex, a composite of over 60 measures in categories such as military might, financials, logistical capability, and geography. The smaller the PowerIndex value the more powerful a nation’s theoretical conventional fighting capability is. We included supplemental information regarding active military personnel, military aircraft, vehicles, and naval power as well.

The recent conflict within Gaza has put the Israeli military on display on the global stage for all to see. And while there may be some controversy surrounding recent military actions, Israel is considered to have one of the strongest and more technologically advanced militaries in the region.

Turkey is one of the strongest militaries on the planet, and with ties to the NATO Alliance it has even more military backing. Turkey’s impressive military force further reflects its strategic location bridging Europe and Asia. Air power is one of the top deciding factors in what makes a military strong, and Turkey has one of the largest air forces in the world, giving it further reach to project power in not just the Middle East but Europe as well. (These are the NATO countries with the most military aircraft.)

Other powers within the region like Saudi Arabia and Iran, also play into the regional geopolitics with formidable forces as well.

Here is a look at the strongest militaries in the Middle East:

Why Are We Covering This?

Source: Wathiq Khuzaie / Getty Images News via Getty Images

Understanding the strongest militaries in the Middle East is important for giving context to the relationships within the region at large. These militaries ultimately shape the balance of power within the Middle East and either ensure the stability or instability of the region.

15. Lebanon

Source: tanukiphoto / iStock via Getty Images
  • Military strength score: 2.4283 – #118 out of 145
  • Active military personnel: 60,000
  • Total military aircraft: 81
  • Total military vehicles: 4,522
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 69

14. Bahrain

Source: usnavy / Flickr
  • Military strength score: 1.7163 – #86 out of 145
  • Active military personnel: 18,400
  • Total military aircraft: 120
  • Total military vehicles: 2,598
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 58

13. Yemen

Source: Andrew Renneisen / Getty Images News via Getty Images
  • Military strength score: 1.4692 – #81 out of 145
  • Active military personnel: 66,700
  • Total military aircraft: 177
  • Total military vehicles: 4,800
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 38

12. Jordan

Source: Public Domain / marine_corps / Flickr
  • Military strength score: 1.4651 – #80 out of 145
  • Active military personnel: 100,500
  • Total military aircraft: 265
  • Total military vehicles: 24,148
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 27

11. Oman

Source: usnavy / Flickr
  • Military strength score: 1.4448 – #78 out of 145
  • Active military personnel: 42,600
  • Total military aircraft: 128
  • Total military vehicles: 5,019
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 22

10. Kuwait

Source: ManuelVelasco / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images
  • Military strength score: 1.4261 – #77 out of 145
  • Active military personnel: 72,000
  • Total military aircraft: 144
  • Total military vehicles: 4,409
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 123

9. Qatar

Source: my_public_domain_photos / Flickr
  • Military strength score: 1.0789 – #63 out of 145
  • Active military personnel: 66,550
  • Total military aircraft: 228
  • Total military vehicles: 5,544
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 123

8. Syria

Source: 39955793@N07 / Flickr
  • Military strength score: 1.0026 – #60 out of 145
  • Active military personnel: 170,000
  • Total military aircraft: 452
  • Total military vehicles: 14,550
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 47

7. United Arab Emirates

  • Military strength score: 0.8083 – #51 out of 145
  • Active military personnel: 65,000
  • Total military aircraft: 560
  • Total military vehicles: 12,253
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 79

6. Iraq

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Military strength score: 0.7441 – #45 out of 145
  • Active military personnel: 193,000
  • Total military aircraft: 371
  • Total military vehicles: 39,872
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 68

5. Saudi Arabia

Source: Photo by Abid Katib / Getty Images
  • Military strength score: 0.3235 – #23 out of 145
  • Active military personnel: 257,000
  • Total military aircraft: 914
  • Total military vehicles: 20,694
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 57

4. Israel

Israel+F-35 | 161206-F-XX111-001
Source: 77258709@N06 / Public Domain / Flickr
  • Military strength score: 0.2596 – #17 out of 145
  • Active military personnel: 170,000
  • Total military aircraft: 612
  • Total military vehicles: 43,407
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 67

3. Egypt

  • Military strength score: 0.2283 – #15 out of 145
  • Active military personnel: 440,000
  • Total military aircraft: 1,080
  • Total military vehicles: 77,596
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 140

2. Iran

  • Military strength score: 0.2269 – #14 out of 145
  • Active military personnel: 610,000
  • Total military aircraft: 551
  • Total military vehicles: 65,765
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 101

1. Turkey

  • Military strength score: 0.1697 – #8 out of 145
  • Active military personnel: 355,200
  • Total military aircraft: 1,069
  • Total military vehicles: 55,104
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 186

ALERT: Take This Retirement Quiz Now  (Sponsored)

Take the quiz below to get matched with a financial advisor today.

Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests.

Here’s how it works:
1. Answer SmartAsset advisor match quiz
2. Review your pre-screened matches at your leisure. Check out the advisors’ profiles.
3. Speak with advisors at no cost to you. Have an introductory call on the phone or introduction in person and choose whom to work with in the future

Take the retirement quiz right here.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us?
Contact the 24/7 Wall St. editorial team.