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Highlights Of OEWatch For May 2016

May 28, 2016

France Stormningen af HalleEach month the US Army’s think tank the Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO) publishes its open source OEWatch magazine. It’s a superb brief featuring excerpts of 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 May 2016 issue of OEWatch runs 65 pages and takes a break from the usual Russia-centrism with a feature on Chinese peacekeeping missions. The headline is Special Essay: The Changing Face of Chinese Peacekeepers In South Sudan.

According to the OEWatch staff list the content is prepared by Editor-in-Chief Tom Wilhelm together with Editors Ray Finch and Harry Orenstein. The magazine’s layout is done by Design Editor Padric Hall. This issue’s commentary is provided by 23 “regional analysts and expert contributors.”

May’s OEWatch is divided into 11 sections, including a Special Essay on page 61. The longest is Russia, Ukraine. The shortest is Europe with a single entry. The familiar Turkey section is brief and its coverage is divided between three topics. Foremost is a long discussion on Turkey’s rivalry with Russia and its implications on the recent fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh. The commentary suggests this could bode ill for the Caucasian states as a proxy confrontation now looms.

The Middle East section has a strong focus on Iran’s technological advances in missile technology, GPS-enabled UAVs, and armed speedboats. Another Iranian entry discusses Tehran’s special forces from the regular army, not the IRGC, fighting in Syria.

The Africa section is just as brief and preoccupied with the war against Boko Haram. The “Chibok Girls” kidnapped by the militant group in 2014 are of keen interest since their plight–or complete disappearance–underscores how lackluster Nigeria’s efforts have been.

The Latin America section is robust with a dozen entries equally split between Colombia’s struggle with its rebel groups and Mexico’s fight against drug cartels, whose various activities include small-scale weapons production.

The Indo-Pacific Asia section is substantial. On page 32 are found excerpts on a brewing conflict involving China and Indonesia over South China Sea fishing grounds. The latter’s coast guard arrested Chinese poachers in March. This triggered a diplomatic row and the risk of an armed clash in the future.

For some reason the China, Korea, Japan section offers zero commentary on the last two countries. The three topics in this issue are China’s new naval task force, the PLA opening its Overseas Operations Office, and China’s expansion in the Indian Ocean.

The sole entry for the Europe section is about Montenegro’s possible NATO membership and Russia’s plans to thwart it. Central Asia features two topics connected with regional security.

As with previous issues the Russia, Ukraine section is a goldmine. Among the selection of detailed excerpts a standout is a short brief on the mysterious Tsirkon hypersonic cruise missile and a so-called “4202”–a second next-generation prototype missile system.

The Special Essay by Cindy Hurst examines the importance of a reinforced infantry battalion, including engineering units, sent by China to protect South Sudan’s oil wells.

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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