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Highlights Of OEWatch For August 2016

August 28, 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 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 August 2016 issue of OEWatch runs 67 pages. The headline is Philippine Military Plans Shock And Awe In The Sulu Sea with a photo of Filipino commandos in action during exercises with their American counterparts.

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 17 “regional analysts and expert contributors.”

August’s OEWatch is divided into eight sections and a Special Essay analyzing the terrorist attack on Istanbul airport in late June. The magazine’s Russophilic slant is very much intact although multiple entries are now found in the Latin America, Asia, and Africa sections compared to before. The Europe sections appears to have been excised owing to its poor coverage in previous issues.

Considering the dramatic coup attempt and its aftermath two weeks ago, the Turkey section is a bland affair–and the shortest–covering the war against ISIS, Turkey’s regional ties, and yes, the coup.

Half of the Middle East section is devoted to Iran and a particular ominous entry discusses Tehran’s fraying ties with Bahrain. The best treat is the analysis on page 9 about Houthi forces in Northern Yemen using modified S-75 SAMs as ballistic missiles to attack Saudi Arabia. These modded “Qaher-1” missiles compelled the deployment of Patriot PAC-3 batteries, which Saudi and US sources claim have a 100% success rate.

The Africa section is preoccupied with Boko Haram and its ripples across several countries. On page 14, however, is an analysis of the African Union’s progress as an organization despite the institutional problems it faces.

The Latin America section is almost entirely a Colombian bonanza as a handful of entries tackle FARC, drug cartels, and organized crime. But on page 19 are two entries about the rising influence of Venezuela’s armed forces amid the country’s rapid decline. On page 20 is a brief glimpse into how Mexican cartels extend their business and supply chain to the European mainland.

This issue’s Indo-Pacific Asia section devotes itself to ISIS’ spread across ASEAN states, including the islands of the Sulu Sea. Excerpts and commentary on page 26 delves into the Philippine military’s plans against the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group now that the militants are on a kidnapping and piracy kick once again. Page 27 breaks from the mold and tries to assess how Vietnam will deal with its South China Sea problem given how the Philippines turned to the Hague, which ruled in its favor against China’s claims.

The bountiful China, Korea, Japan section manages to leave the other two countries out in the cold as the focus on Beijing’s military industrial complex devours the editor’s attention. Page 34 does have an intriguing bit of minor news–how a Chinese peacekeeper got killed in war-torn Mali.

The Central Asia section covers a terrorist attack in Almaty, Kazakhstan, and how the same country is boosting its Caspian fleet. There’s a long entry about Kyrgyzstan.

As always, the Russia, Ukraine section doesn’t disappoint. Its detailed analysis of new Russian technology along with the Putin regimes inner-workings is a great treat. A particular highlight is on page 42 about coastal defense radars being able to detect, but not lock on, fifth-generation stealth aircraft like the F-35.

Terrorism and counter-terrorism aficionados are well-served by Karen Kaya’s dissection of the Atatürk airport attacks on June 28. 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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