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Highlights Of OEWatch For February 2018

February 14, 2018

February’s OEWatch takes after previous issues where the cover features the prevailing topic for the magazine. This month it’s Iran: Foreign Perspectives and an entire section is devoted to the Islamic Republic. OEWatch is available as a free download from the APAN Community Network.

The latest OEWatch runs 72 pages with seven sections. Contrary to its main Iranian theme, the longest part still falls under Russia, Ukraine.

The entire section on Iran collects excerpts and tidbits about the January protests that swept its cities. What stands out, however, is a brief analysis on page 8 about the cozy relationship between Beijing and Tehran and the lucrative post-sanctions deals they’ve been arranging. This eastward focus extends to an informal alliance with New Delhi for developing the Chabahar Port. (See page 11.)

Sharing multiple perspectives on Iran comes at the expense of the Middle East, North Africa section that follows. Just three long entries are published this month tackling Turkey’s acquisition of Russia’s S-400 on page 14 until 16; Egypt’s own embrace of joint ventures with Russia on page 17; and the extent of ISIS tunnel networks in the Syrian desert on page 19.

The Africa section is preoccupied with the spread of radical Islamic terrorism in the continent. There’s a brief yet interesting analysis on page 27 discusses how cash transfers via mobile phones is making it easier for terror groups to raise money. The usually boring Latin America section, best known as a guide to regional organized crime, offers a sobering assessment on page 32 of how internet connectivity is making the “dark web” accessible to criminal elements in the Caribbean and beyond.

The Asia-Pacific section is dominated by entries about China’s growing power. The slim pickings under Central, South Asia, and Caucasus earns it a quick glance at best. As with most OEWatch issues the content assumes an unmistakable gravitas once it drifts to Russia, Ukraine.

The entries about Russian affairs–there are none connected with Ukraine–are divided between military matters and the looming threat posed by the latest US sanctions that Moscow is trying hard to circumvent. In the former category, pages 48 and 49 are devoted to analyzing the January 5 drone swarm attack on the Russian airbase in Hmeymin. Adding insult to injury, the surviving evidence suggests the local terror group behind the raid managed to build sophisticated, albeit flimsy, attack UAVs. This proves the misgivings of some Russian military analysts over Hmeymin’s existing defenses.

On page 51 is an exhaustive assessment of the newer rocket artillery platform entering service with the army.This is accompanied by the reorganization of mobile air defense systems for mechanized and tank units, as explained on page 53. The Russian military’s deliberate fortification of the Arctic Circle is tackled on pages 65, 66, and 67.

From page 68 onward the effectiveness of new financial tools for defeating US sanctions are measured. The entry on page 70 in particular tries to shed light on the FSB’s attempts at creating a “sovereign blockchain.” Dissenting opinions against the much hyped “cryptoruble” are reviewed on page 71.

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

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