The March 2017 issue of OEWatch runs 67 pages. The cover story features a stock image of a Chinese honor guard to accompany the special essay on page 55, The Strategic Support Force: Update and Overview.
Some of the world’s largest defense contractors are in Baghdad this week for the International Defense Exhibition in Iraq or IQDEX for short. Run by the events organizer United, Iraq’s only recognized arms show trails IDEX in Abu Dhabi and features many of the same participants.
Now in its sixth installment, IQDEX 2017 has 80 companies from East Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and North America exhibiting at the Baghdad International Fairground from March 5 until March 8. The participating firms comprise the main suppliers of Iraq’s embattled security forces these last 20 years, including China and the US.
21st Century Asian Arms Race is a media partner for IQDEX 2017.
Every two years thousands flock to Abu Dhabi for the International Defense Exhibition and Conference or IDEX. Some claim it’s the largest arms show in the Middle East. Spanning the better part of a week inside the National Exhibition Centre, IDEX brings the world’s top defense contractors under a single roof. Joining them are a dizzying multitude of guests, be they royalty, VIPs, or journalists.
Tim Mahon is a freelance writer for Mönch Publishing Group, a German magazine publisher, and was at IDEX 2017 to cover the action. Held from February 19 until 23, IDEX was scheduled alongside its maritime counterpart NAVDEX to showcase the UAE’s reputation as a serious customer for military tech. Dozens of new weapon systems and equipment were debuted during this year’s installment.
During the course of the arms show, however, Mahon suffered a heart attack. He was immediately hospitalized but the resulting costs put him in dire financial straits–lacking corporate travel insurance, Mahon had to pay for his treatment upfront.
In the beginning of February this year it was revealed Myanmar and Pakistan were negotiating a follow-on order for multirole fighter jets. As an initiative of the Myanmar Air Force, which flies both Russian and Chinese aircraft along with leftover antiques, the goal was to upgrade its capabilities with a low-cost design suited for a defensive role.
The Southeast Asian country most threatened by Chinese encroachment on its long coastline could be the first true customer for India’s deadly BrahMos cruise missile. Earlier this month it was reported that Hanoi and New Delhi engaged in “talks” over the weapon system and further acquisitions–like Akash surface to air missiles (SAM), pictured above.
India just found its first genuine ally in the Middle East. Earlier this week Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan announced the signing of 14 MoUs to enhance bilateral ties. This was days before the Crown Prince was an honored guest during the 68th Republic Day parade on the 26th, a Thursday, when a contingent of UAE soldiers joined the martial procession. Beneath the ambiguous official language of the MoUs was one particular linkage that could see Indian weapon systems transferred to the United Arab Emirates soon.
In the grand tradition of all those other websites posting Best lists, here is 21st Century Asian Arms Race’s own The Year In War. Seen below are the violent struggles that deepened the world’s insecurity in 2016.
The value of this annual report is for those who appreciate hindsight and the role war plays in shaping societies. It’s best if the lessons imparted by recent experience don’t go to waste, even when old conflicts are rekindled and fought for the same reasons.
There was no shortage of grim lessons from the previous year.
Conflict and mass violence persisted in five continents, with terrorism in the Middle East still on the rise. Specific actors on the global stage orchestrated much of the world’s mayhem; the US, Russia, Iran, NATO, and (surprisingly) the Islamic State. This is ultimate proof that as our century gets underway, modern countries have neither the will nor the foresight to work together and end war.
The sole exception was the recent peace deal in Colombia, which book ended a struggle that has lasted 50 years. Even if Colombians voted against the peace deal’s terms during a referendum in October neither their government nor the FARC appear willing to resume the showdown.
On a positive note, the incidence of warfare around the world subsided with fewer countries listed for 2016.
But still too many frozen conflicts carried on, with little effort spent resolving them at a time when dangerous new technology–including nuclear weapons–is costing less and less. A bleaker assessment of the times must acknowledge how the recent US elections furthered the possibility of a Great Power showdown in Europe and the Asia-Pacific.
It’s a state of reality that forces us to think if we live in the best of times and the worst of times. An age of wisdom and foolishness. Of perpetual peace and endless war. For the reader’s benefit, countries and regions are arranged alphabetically rather than according to how severe the conflict is.
As a newly-minted world power China’s actions in the past several years have left its neighbors anxious to deal with an implacable giant. But one Southeast Asian country may be on the verge of a real live shooting war with the People’s Republic. Myanmar, which used to call itself Burma, has spent decades battling ethnic armed groups who oppose its military-run government. Even with a democratic revival in 2010 that established civilian leadership over the country chances at a lasting peace are bedeviled by lingering rivalries.
The government of Iraq could be on the verge of acquiring a theater air defense system this year. But it won’t be coming from the US. In what appears to be a rekindling of old ties Baghdad and Beijing are hammering out a multi-billion dollar deal for advanced weaponry, including long-range SAMs. Although facts are scarce at present the implications of this purchase are worth examining.
The mountainous crust of Southern Arabia is a familiar setting for tribal societies and their feuds. As a peripheral region with forbidding geography it’s no wonder Yemen has oscillated from crisis to civil war in the last hundred years.
Should an invading army seize Yemen it gains a vantage point for interdicting maritime traffic from the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea. It can also guard a passageway to East Africa and either march to the heart of Arabia or strangle the Persian Gulf.
The Roman Empire understood the value of what it called Arabia Felix. So did the Abyssinian and the Sassanian Persians and whoever else tried to achieve hegemony in the Middle East.
With Yemen ravaged by a civil war fueled by its neighbors it’s worth exploring recent history to find the underlying causes of its endless strife. In a region synonymous with violence Yemen represents a unique case of foreign interference in parochial struggles that thrive when a strong and centralized state is nonexistent.
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 December 2016 issue of OEWatch runs just 54 pages. On the cover are stock images of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Vladimir Putin superimposed on their respective capital cities. This accompanies the Special Essay titled The Evolution of Turkish-Russian Relations.
Rather than settle for improved Humvees–or a foreign equivalent–the US Army and Marine Corps are betting on a modular truck that may soon be rolling across five continents. The Oshkosh JLTV emerged the winner in a three-way competition to find the US military’s next all-terrain 4×4 workhorse.
In retrospect the Oshkosh JLTV was the safest choice against the contenders from Lockheed Martin and AM General. The secret to Oshkosh’s winning model is it being a lighter variant (L-ATV) of the proven M-ATV MRAP. This made it a perfect fit for the JLTV program that was first approved in late 2006 and launched the following year. The JLTV competition began in earnest on August 22, 2012, and was decided on August 25, 2015 with Oshkosh the clear winner.