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Highlights Of OEWatch For July 2020

July 31, 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 July issue runs 93 pages divided among five sections 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 for this month comes with a little more variety but Russia remains its core focus. The first dozen pages are a treat for anyone who follows Russian military aviation; from pages 3 to 5 are detailed excerpts about improvements to the Mi-28NM attack helicopter. There’s a wonderful update on page 6 about the air force’s modernization plans involving several dozen Su-34 bombers and up to 500 helicopters by the middle of the decade. The newest Russian long-range “flying radar,” known as the A-50U, is given proper scrutiny from pages 9 to 11.

No surprise here, but China’s unmistakable military power occupies the brunt of the Indo-Pacific section. A short update on page 33 discusses efforts to build “6G networks” within China by its telcos and wonders if this generational leap from 5G has military applications too. A real eye-catcher is the entry on page 77 that seeks to verify if the PLA’s artificial islands on the South China Sea are now suited for agriculture. The entries on pages 41 to 44 are irresistible for PLAN watchers, especially the details analysis of the new AG-600 flying boat.

In previous months the Middle East, North Africa section focused on the growing clout of Iran and Turkey. But this month it’s Russia that looms over the entire region. Moscow and Tehran’s influence on Syria gets a lengthy analysis on page 50 while the entry on page 52 brings up near-term outlooks on how Syria will fare once the civil war ends for good; none are optimistic. Russia is on top of events in Libya as well, where the Turkish-backed GNA has held its ground and resisted Gen. Haftar’s forces. The entry on page 57 goes at length to explore the possibility of a Russo-Turkish truce to settle the Libyan question.

The Africa section makes for good browsing this time. The dire financial and material situation of South Africa’s military is assessed on page 73. Somalia’s prominence is notably reduced with a short entry about AMISOM’s continued–or non-existent–role in the battered country being examined on page 74. On page 76 is a noteworthy brief on illicit financial networks exploited by terror groups in West Africa, these complex activities are essential for militant logistics and involve up to six different countries. Islamist insurgencies in the Sahel (pp. 77-80)  and Mozambique (p. 81), the latter being a new hotspot, occupy the rest of the Africa section.

The Latin America section has few surprises this month. The overt support extended by Iran to the Maduro regime, which is still presiding over a ruined economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic, is scrutinized across two entries from pages 83 to 84. The frequency of protests within Venezuela since its COVID-19 lockdown was eased are examined on page 85. The section closes with an update on the coming national elections in Bolivia, which is currently governed by a caretaker government. Readers should download their own copies and find content that’s most relevant to their curiosity and interest.

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