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Highlights Of OEWatch For April 2020

April 30, 2020

Each month the US Army’s think tank the Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO) publishes its open source OEWatch magazine as a free download on the APAN Community Network. OEWatch’s April issue runs 77 pages and features a stock image of a pathogen on the cover to keep up with the difficult times facing humanity amid a pandemic. But the usual five section format is maintained spanning Eurasia, the Indo-Pacific, MENA, Africa, and Latin America. Editorial duties are shared among Tom Wilhelm, Karen Kaya, and designer Thomas Tolare with input by a large pool of contributing writers.

The Eurasia section that begins each issue of OEWatch is a Russia-centric affair. On page 7 is a short update on possible advances in range for the Russian army’s artillery ammunition. Matters relating to the Arctic Circle and Northern Europe have multiple entries. The entry on page 14 mentions a small-scale military exercise near the shared border with Norway involving a thousand troops. This was meant to signal Russia’s pushback versus the “Cold Response” NATO exercises in March. The highlight of the Indo-Pacific section is on page 26 whose entry reveals China’s PLA have a tender for 930,000 ballistic plates and 467,000 protection plates. The plates refer to bulletproof vests for infantrymen who have gone without any force protection until now.

The Middle East, North Africa section has an abundance of Syria-related entries. A real gem of a read is on page 40 where Turkey’s drone power is scrutinized after successful combat operations in Idlib this March. Drones figure once more on page 48, this time regarding Saudi Arabia’s renewed attempts at localizing production with foreign help. Libya’s dire straits are given proper attention on page 44 until page 46 with an emphasis on the backers of the two rival factions, the Tripoli-based GNA and the LNA under Gen. Haftar. On page 51 is a curious bit of news dealing with the Israeli military’s “Strategy and Iran Directorate” whose main focus is to build subtle regional alliances against Israel’s number one adversary.

The Africa section is rather diminished for April but the contents are useful. The best entry is on page 56 where the author gives an assessment of Turkey’s influence over the African continent; there’s a strong historical precedent to it but at present Turkey’s diplomatic and financial clout is nowhere near China’s, who is both an ally and creditor for many African states. Zimbabwe, being a loyal client state of China, is itself facing political and economic headwinds this decade and the legitimacy crisis faced by President Manangagwa is discussed on page 59. The threat of terrorist insurgency occupies three entries near the end. On page 62 is a short entry about Mozambique’s vulnerability to a local ISIS affiliate and page 63 takes stock of France’s commitment to protecting the Sahel countries from rebellion.

The Latin America section remains true-to-form with an emphasis on internal security matters. Of particular note is the entry on page 69 that sheds slight on an anti-terror unit in Venezuela whose main role appears to be defeating foreign-sponsored rebellion against the Maduro regime. Venezuela is a recurring topic for OEWatch’s Latin America analysts but in this issue the sections sole entry with strategic relevance is on page 74 where Russia’s support for Nicaragua is examined.

OEWatch often runs several dozen entries in a single issue. Readers should download their own copies and find content that’s most relevant to their curiosity and interest.

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