Archive for the ‘World’ category

The energy factor between USA-Russia and Iran

March 11, 2007

The past few months have revealed a tripartite relation between USA, Russia and Iran, where the energy factor is crucial to their behaviour.

Russia is getting closer to Iran by taking into consideration that 75% of the world’s natural gas reserves are to be found in the Middle East and in Central Asia.

The above coupled with the large military procurement of Russian weaponry by Algeria-7.5 billion USD- bring into limelight an even closer relationship of the Islamic world with the Russian Federation based in geoeconomic aspirations.

The supreme religious leader of Iran-Ayatollah Homeini- has already stated that a “Gas Kartel” is needed that will function similarly to the OPEC one. Of course such a development will be a usefull and forceful reminder to the energy dependent Europeans not to side with USA in case of a conflict-war between the two states.

Thus Russia and Iran, should they cooperate ;-Along possibly with Algeria- They would be able to dictate most of the energy policy in the European capitals for the coming decades. Moreover Iran is crucial for Europe because of its geographical placement that provides access to Sea for any natural gas production from Central Asia.

On overall, if the Russian-Iranian cooperation becames a concrete reality, Europe will be dependent for its needs on those states and the prospect of siding with USA and Israel in a future war diminishes.

It certain that the coming months will include their fair share of diplomatic brinkmanship between all interested parties in a “game” that is truly global and very significant for the energy future of the West and East Asia as well.

Iraqis increase their National Army presence in Northern Iraq

March 11, 2007

Three of the four Iraqi army divisions in the north are now under the control of the Iraqi Ground Forces Command, and U.S. troops are turning over more counterinsurgency operations to those units, the top U.S. commander in the region said today. This will allow U.S. forces to refocus its combat operations and to continue working with local governments on economic issues, said Army Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, commander of Multinational Division North. U.S. troops are now serving more in an advise-and-assist role, Mixon said. U.S. combat operations are more focused on specific targets, such as individuals and groups who finance, make and use improvised explosive devices. Mixon reported that Iraqi units in the region are manned at about 85 percent. They do, however, have significant equipment shortages, he said. The final division should fall in under Iraqi command and control by this summer. To help train the Iraqi troops, Mixon has added nearly 400 U.S. soldiers to his military transition teams.
Source: Fred W. Baker III -American Forces Press Service-

USA-UK upgrade military capabilities of Afghanistan

March 10, 2007

Over the past few weeks USA has sent thousands of weaponry and amnunition to Afganistan, in a bid to assist the local military. By the end of 2008 it is scheduled that the national Afghani Army will reach 70,000 active personnel and will be capable of conducting operations without NATO assistance.

Moreover UK has already drafted plans to send an additional 800 troops to the country, thus the total British stationed soldiers will reach some 5,800 personnel. Nowadays large -scale operations against the Taliban guerillas are been fought by the British Special Forces in the Southern parts of Afghanistan. UK will remain to Afghanistan at least until late 2009, as sources from the Ministry of Defence have stated.

The continuous attacks by Taliban against the coalition forces, have in general speed-up the process of empowering the local govermental military that sooner or latter will have to start operating individually in order to secure large parts of the state still under Taliban control.

Sources:

Ministry of Defence(UK)

Voice of America

Russia plans a massive military procurement project

March 8, 2007

The deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation-Segei Ivanov- and probable President by 2008; announced 3 weeks ago (As the then Minister of Defense) a massive project by which Russia is going to spend 189 billion USD over the coming 8 years for its Armed Forces.

The synopsis of the procurements, ia as follows:

50 ICBM Topol-M systems

50 new long-range bombers

And the full modernization of: 40 brigades(Tanks), 97(Infantry), 50(Paratroopers).

Moreover Russia is going to manufacture an unspecified number of attack hellicopters, MLRS and electronic warfare equipment.

It is assumed that by the end of the end of this re-armament of Russia, its military industry will gain a great boost to its profits and abilities.

Russia Overtakes Saudi Arabia as World’s Leading Oil Producer

March 7, 2007

Statistics recently published by the oil cartel OPEC show that Russia is currently extracting more oil than Saudi Arabia, making it the biggest producer of “black gold” in the world, the British Financial Times reported.

OPEC statistics show that in the period since 2002 Russian companies have surpassed the Saudis as the world’s biggest oil producers on an on-and-off basis. The latest figures, however, have been hailed in Russia as evidence that such periodic production spikes are no one-offs and that Moscow really does have a right to lay claim to the number one spot.

According to OPEC, in June 2006 Russia extracted 9.236 million barrels of oil, which is 46,000 barrels more than Saudi Arabia. The statistics also showed that Russian production in the first half of this year increased to 235.8 million tons, a year-on-year improvement of 2.3 percent.

Traditionally, Saudi Arabia has been regarded as the world’s undisputed primary source of oil and Russia has had to settle for second place. But in recent years Russia has re-nationalized and modernized much of its industry and that policy now appears to be paying off.

Even Russian analysts concede that Moscow’s cause is helped by the fact that Saudi Arabia is subject to OPEC output restrictions.

The Saudis are famous for their ability to access spare capacity and raise production at short notice and if they really wanted to reassert their leadership role the feeling is they could do so easily.
With oil prices hovering above $70 a barrel for London Brent crude because of uncertainty over Iranian supplies and BP’s pipeline crisis in Alaska, Russia is enjoying an unprecedented bonanza. But analysts say its oil industry is already working close to capacity and that it will be able to manage output increases of up to only 2 percent a year between now and 2009.

There are also fears that Russia is becoming too addicted to what politicians call “the oil needle”, and is doing too little to develop future revenue streams. Money from oil and gas accounts for 52.2 percent of all revenues to the state treasury and more than 35 percent of Russia’s exports.

Such riches can make a country complacent, according to Alexei Kudrin, the Russian Finance Minister. “At present, we are in a dangerously carefree zone,” he said recently.
 

Source: Mosnews

China’s Military On the Move

March 4, 2007

China is emerging as a major economic power. It is also transforming its massive military into a more modern and efficient force, but this transformation is not necessarily intended to make its military capable of global power projection.
When China’s modern military came into being with the 1949 revolution that swept Mao Zedong and the communists into power, it relied on massive manpower to achieve its objectives. Waves of Chinese soldiers entered the Korean War in the early 1950s and turned a U.S.-led advance into a stalemate.
Military Technology

Today, a nation’s military strength is largely measured by its command of technology and ability to integrate the operations of its armed forces, not how many soldiers it has. This has been the trend that the United States and Britain have followed.

Evan Medeiros, a China analyst with the RAND Corporation in Washington, says Beijing is on a similar path.

“The Chinese P.L.A., or People’s Liberation Army, has traditionally always been the principal focus of the Chinese military. And the army has been focusing in recent years on building a smaller, more flexible, highly trained and well-equipped ground force, one that can have more rapid-reaction units with enhanced special operations capabilities, greater numbers of airborne troops, larger amphibious capabilities and mechanized ground forces,” says Medeiros.

The P.L.A. is not just the Chinese army. It also encompasses the air force and navy.

Christian Le Miere, the Asia-Pacific Editor of Jane’s Country Risk, says the army’s long-standing central role and massive numerical strength has been changing, and is more integrated today with the other branches. 

“The army has received less funding than the air force and the navy over the last 20 years. There is currently approximately 1.6 million personnel in the active [duty] army. That number is being reduced by about 200,000. And, with the other services, there is a major drive to modernize the army for joint service operations,” says Le Miere.

As for where joint operations involving the army, the navy and the air force might be directed, the short answer for many analysts is the island of Taiwan, off the coast of mainland China.

Taiwan Policy
When the communists defeated the forces of Nationalist Chinese leader Chiang Kai Shek in 1949, the Nationalists retreated to Taiwan, where they set up their own government. China has always considered Taiwan to be a renegade province and has often stated that it intends to get it back.

Philip Coyle, with the Washington-based Center for Defense Information, says China’s long-standing Taiwan policy is driving Beijing to build a different navy than the sort that would be used for global power projection.

“The kinds of surface ships that they’ll be interested in don’t need to be great big cruisers and aircraft carriers like the United States has,” says Coyle. “They can deal with smaller, frigate-sized, ships for the area in and around Taiwan,” says Coyle.

Coyle and other analysts also say Beijing wants to use its navy to support its ambition to become an economic superpower. Achieving that goal requires raw materials and oil from abroad, which need to be protected on the high seas, especially in areas subject to piracy such as the Strait of Mallaca between Malaysia and Indonesia.

The U.S. and British navies have monitored sea lanes over the years by having bases outside of their countries. John Pike, the Director of the private military information group Global Security.org, says Beijing is also headed in that direction.

“The Chinese have established bases in Burma. They are building a naval base in Pakistan. And it looks like China is looking, in the medium-term, to establish a naval presence in the Indian Ocean that would enable them to protect their sea lanes to make sure that they can get oil from the Persian Gulf back to China,” says Pike.

Air Force Modernization

Along with ships, aircraft are used for projecting power beyond a nation’s boundaries as well as for protecting its territory from intruders. China has no long range strategic bombers like America’s B-52 and Russia’s TU-95. China’s air force is presently configured for defense and the possibility of shorter-range offensive operations against, for instance, Taiwan.

Christian Le Miere at Jane’s Country Risk points out that China’s attempts to modernize its air force have not produced greater capabilities.

“They have bought some fairly modern equipment, in particular fourth-generation [Russian] Sukhois [fighters]. But it took about a decade to integrate these Sukhoi 27s into its air force. So it does have small numbers – – we’re talking hundreds, not thousands – – of quite advanced aircraft. But the ability to utilize these aircraft, particularly in joint operations, remains in question,” Le Miere.
As for nuclear missiles, China has at least 20, and possibly up to 40 liquid-fueled land-based ICBMs, which carry a roughly four megaton warhead. China’s submarine-launched missile program is miniscule and its submarines do not conduct long-range patrols as American submarines do.  But Beijing has significantly built up short-range missile installations across from Taiwan, as the Pentagon has noted for several years in its annual report to Congress.

While China’s efforts to modernize and streamline its armed forces have been considerable – – costing an estimated $82 billion, or 4.3 percent of its Gross Domestic Product last year – – most analysts say Beijing’s economic goals are its top priority, and its military ambitions are subordinate. Yet others point to recent large military budgets and say China clearly has ambitions to project its power not only in its immediate region, but also wherever it has economic and strategic interests.

But as for when China’s military may achieve parity with the United States and other first-world nations, the consensus among most analysts is that the People’s Liberation Army and its naval and aviation branches are still decades away from such capabilities.
Source: VOA News

Jordan facility for anti-terrorist training

March 3, 2007

The King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Center, based 20 kilometers northeast of Amman, will feature a wide variety of live-fire ranges and other land, sea and air training facilities, said representatives during a recent military exposition here.

Situated on 500 acres alongside towering cliffs in Yajooz, the training compound will include a large, live-fire urban training center, a driver training range, close-quarter battle houses, sniper training ranges, vehicle mockups, housing and mess hall facilities that can accommodate 650 people at a time, said Col. Maher Halaseh, project director, from the King Abdullah II design and development bureau, an organization created by Jordan’s government in 1999 to provide scientific and technical capabilities to its armed forces.

While the center’s immediate beneficiary will be the Jordanian Special Forces Command, the country intends to open the center’s doors to other units, both nationally and internationally, upon completion in 2009.

“The center will give non-Mediterranean nations the real environment of fighting counter-terrorism in this area,” said Halaseh.

The center could accommodate a battalion-size group, with company-sized elements training simultaneously on the various ranges, pointed out project representatives.
Source: Jean Grace-National Defense Journal-


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