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Highlights Of OEWatch For January 2016

January 31, 2016

France Stormningen af Halle

Each month the US Army’s think tank the Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO) publishes its open source OEWatch magazine. It’s a superb brief that features excerpts from the latest news about ongoing wars and crises. These snippets gathered from various media outlets are accompanied by informed commentary that’s strong on context and analysis.

The FMSO releases OEWatch, together with its vast library of research papers on geopolitical issues, as free downloads.

The January 2016 issue of OEWatch runs 64 pages. On the cover is a stock photo of the Russian defense ministry used as a backdrop for its coat of arms. The headline is Special Essay: The Russian General Staff System. The choice of subject matter continues OEWatch’s ongoing Russian-centric slant. According to the OEWatch staff list the content is prepared by Editor-in-Chief Tom Wilhelm, Editors Ray Finch and Harry Orenstein, and the magazine’s layout is done by Design Editor Keith French. This issue’s commentary is provided by 22 “regional analysts and expert contributors.”

This month’s OEWatch is divided into eight sections and a separate “Special Essay” that tackles the cover story about Russia’s General Staff System. The longest section is Russia, Ukraine. Indo-Pacific Asia and Latin America are substantial as well. The shortest are Turkey and Central Asia.

Like the previous issue QEWatch’s latest begins with three articles related to Turkey. These are about its membership in a Saudi Arabia-led anti-terrorism coalition, the Russian navy’s growing presence in the Eastern Mediterranean, and the nuances of Ankara’s ties with Moscow.

The bulk of the Middle East section deals with Iran. Three entries are devoted to analyzing its regional activities including a meeting between a top diplomat named Ali Akhbar Velayati and Bashar al-Assad. Two pages are devoted to Iraq and preparations for the recapture of Mosul, which was seized by ISIS in June 2014. The Middle East sections wraps with more bad news about GCC losses in Yemen and rumors of a possible Russian presence there.

The Africa section covers familiar ills, specifically the challenge of peacekeeping in Somalia and combating Boko Haram in Nigeria. Mentioned are recent protests in Ethiopia and China’s deal with Djibouti for a naval base.

The Latin America section is a diverse one in this issue of OEWatch. Two entries discuss domestic politics in Colombia and Venezuela. Another entry excerpts three editorials to shed light on the “LATAM Ideological Swing.” Two more entries are dedicated to human and narcotics trafficking. A particularly interesting read is a short brief on how Colombian rebel groups like FARC and the ELN jointly govern a de facto mini-state along the Venezuelan frontier.The section ends with two updates involving Mexico’s drug violence and its military.

The Indo-Pacific Asia section is a diverse one. Discussed are India-Singapore cooperation in satellite launches. Entries concerning Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines deal with the threat of terrorism from Muslim extremists.

The China, Korea, Japan section is completely devoted to the PLA. Two short entries deal with its modernization. The first is about the increasing role of the private sector in the PLA’s maritime and space ventures. The second is about the replacement of tank destroyers by attack helicopters like the Z-10. Half a page is devoted to the 2015 World Robot Conference in Beijing from last November.

Xi Jinping’s imposed reforms on the PLA occupies page 33. The following entry discusses Chinese attitudes to Russo-Turkish relations after the downing of an Su-24 bomber. An additional entry devotes further analysis to the PLAN base in Djibouti.

The Central Asia sections runs three entries. These take note of Kazakhstan’s arms industry, the return of Russian troops to Tajikistan where the army’s last post-Soviet base remains operational, and the tangled state of the Tajik-Kyrgyz border.

The Russia, Ukraine section is enormous and deals with various aspects of Moscow’s ongoing rearmament. It’s worth noting two entries on page 41 and 60 deal with “combat robots” and their battlefield uses. Further entries devote generous space to Russia’s conduct in Syria, the Arctic circle, and economic matters.

This issue of OEWatch ends with a three-page essay about Russia’s general staff, its intricacies, and organization.

OEWatch often runs several dozen stories in a single issue. Readers should download copies to find what’s most relevant to their curiosity.

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