Satellite Imagery Confirms Qatari Isolation

Left: Planet imagery of Qatar’s As Salwa Border Crossing dated 07JUN17 / Right: 05JUN17

As the diplomatic crisis between Qatar and the rest of the GCC states unfolds, food, among other commodities, could be in short supply if some agreement isn’t reached soon.  Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, and Egypt suspended their relationship with Qatar citing the country’s ties to Iran and other Islamist groups.  In doing so, the Arab states cut all modal links with the country, halting imports traversing their territory.

New satellite imagery acquired by Planet confirms the developments cited in recent news reports. The space snapshots show the land route connecting Qatar to the rest of the Arabian peninsula, closed as of 07JUN17. The As Salwa border crossing, located less than two miles from the Saudi state boundary, is the only legitimate land-based border crossing between the two countries.  Imagery from 05JUN17, just two days prior, show a busy crossing with trucks parked in both the primary and secondary inspection areas.

Unfortunately for Qatar, the desert country relies heavily on imports to feed its 2.3 million people. In particular, its two nearest neighbors, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, provide access to almost 30% of its food supply, according to data provided by the World Bank and reported by Bloomberg. The country also depends heavily on regional supply chains, particularly those in the UAE,  for re-exports. Rumors have already begun to circulate suggesting Kuwait and Oman, and perhaps Iran, could help fill the gap until the crisis has ended.

In addition to the land border, Qatar’s $7.4 billion Hamad port which recently began container operations last December, will also likely be affected. Planet imagery reviewed from 06, 07, and 08 June 2017, showed no mega container ships at the port since 04JUN17. Maersk, the world’s largest container shipping company, said that it could no longer transport goods in and out of Qatar and will require alternative shipping routes.

Posted in Chris Biggers, English, Intelligence, Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

How Iranian-Backed Shia Militias Got US Drones

by Austin Michael Bodetti. He is a student in the Gabelli Presidential Scholars Program at Boston College. He focuses on the relationship between Islam and conflict in Syria and Sudan.

Hussam al-Mayali, a contractor for the Ministry of Interior from Basra, pilots a drone to monitor ISIS positions in Fallujah (Photo: Laith al-Haydar).

Scanning the bullet-scarred rooftops of Iraq’s western desert, Hussam al-Mayahi (see photo above) deployed a small drone to search for ISIS fighters in Fallujah’s city center. As a contractor for the Ministry of Interior, he had travelled from his home in Basra to his country’s harshest front lines, over 560 km away. His drone, bought at a market near the Green Zone, acted as an artillery observer. Rocket launchers on Fallujah’s outskirts would then shell those rooftops as he provided coordinates.

Iran, the patron saint of anti-American Shia paramilitaries throughout the Greater Middle East, sees the Iraqi Civil War as an opportunity to field some of its own drones. Shia resistance movements and terrorist organizations that battled the United States Army during the Iraq War are now flying Iranian-made, military-quality drones alongside the Americans whom they once sought to kill.

Many of Iraq’s militiamen and policemen, often outgunned and understaffed, have resorted to purchasing off-the-shelf drones in Baghdad and on the Internet to improve the accuracy of their artillery batteries. The popular models come from DJI, a Chinese company that manufactures commercial and recreational drones for aerial photography and video. Iraqis can find DJI products at local toy stores.

Shia militias such as the Peace Companies have showcased their independence from Iran by building their own weaponry and ignoring the Islamic republic’s sectarian agenda. The Special Groups, a byword for Shia militias that Iran armed, funded, and trained to fight Americans and Sunnis during the Iraq War, have continued to follow Tehran’s directives. Iranian advisors often accompany them to the front lines. The Americans and the Iraqis have, meanwhile, long competed for control of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), where the military leans toward Washington, the police toward Tehran.

A CH-4 in service with the Iraqi Army Aviation.

A CH-4 in service with the Iraqi Army Aviation.

The ISF’s better-resourced military branches, such as the Iraqi Army, have access to combat drones. Last year, the Iraqi military purchased three copies of the Cai-Hong 4 (CH-4) — also a Chinese drone — to complement an American shipment of F-16s. The CH-4 is from the CASC Rainbow series of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. It resembles the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper flown by the American-led coalition but is larger, with a sixty-foot (18 m) wingspan.

In part, the Iraqis buy drones from China because China rarely questions its client, like Myanmar and Sudan, which human rights defenders have accused of committing genocide. Some of Iraq’s larger Shia militias have likewise looked to unscrupulous foreign patrons, requesting drones from Iran to reconnoiter and surveill the battlefield. “They have the best models,” said al-Mayahi, complaining that his off-the-shelf drone’s battery only lasted forty minutes.

Many of the Iranian-made drones deployed by the Shia militias in Iraq have evolved from reverse-engineered American technology. The US-military first used the Boeing Insitu ScanEagle, an unarmed military drone inspired by an earlier design for forecasting weather and spotting fish, in the Iraq War in August 2004. In December 2012, Iran claimed to have captured one.

The ScanEagle has an infrared camera and no need of an airfield for takeoff, a critical feature for war zones in Asia’s mountainous countries. It remains popular with militaries from Afghanistan and Yemen to Malaysia and Japan. Now, it’s providing overwatch for Shia militias in Iraqi skies.

I contacted commanders and press secretaries from Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba and Kata’ib Hezbollah, two Iranian-backed Shia militias in Iraq whose leaders the US State Department has labelled terrorists. They confirmed that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) had provided drones modelled on the ScanEagle, agreeing to discuss the general circumstances of their use. “We have three drones in Baghdad, two in Makhul [near Baiji], and one in al-Saqliwiyah [near Fallujah],” said Haider al-Baghdadi, the press secretary with al-Nujaba. He added that al-Nujaba’s models are variants of the Yasir, Iran’s drone reverse-engineered from the ScanEagle.

Kataib Hezbollah’s militiamen in Makhul and al-Saqlawiyah spoke to me on condition of anonymity: “The Iranian drones allow us to distinguish between civilian areas and ISIS areas,” said a militiaman in al-Saqlawiyah, discussing how Kataib Hezbollah used the drones in the Third Battle of Fallujah. “The drones are only deployed on occasion. When we don’t need them for specific objectives, the engineers keep them in storage for the sake of secrecy.”

Iran gave the ScanEagle drone copy to its proxy forces in Iraq.

Iran gave the ScanEagle drone copy to its proxy forces in Iraq.

A militiaman based in Makhul reported that Kataib Hezbollah kept most of its drones in Camp Speicher, an Iraqi air force academy and former American military base near Tikrit. A little over two years ago, Camp Speicher was the site of an ISIS-led massacre. According to the militiaman, Kataib Hezbollah has been using the air academy’s two 3 km runways since its recapture.

Al-Baghdadi implied the Shia militias’ apparent shortage of engineers. Al-Nujaba, like the Interior Ministry, had started hiring Iraqi contractors to maintain the Iranian drones. He declined to confirm whether Iran had offered its own engineering expertise.

Though Kataib Hezbollah and al-Nujaba are the only Iranian-backed Shia militias linked to terrorism, several others with dubious records on human rights and worrisome connections to Iran have acquired military-quality drones. Shunning discretion and secrecy for the sake of propaganda, many of these Shia militias have in fact posted pictures of their high-tech aircraft on social media. Pictures of fighters from Jund al-Imam Ali, another Iranian-backed Shia militia, posing with a Yasir have appeared on Twitter. I first spotted al-Nujaba’s copy of the Yasir on one of its members’ Facebook accounts. That member refused to comment on the matter.

Iranian support for the Shia militias extends beyond the Yasir and other ScanEagle variants. Kataib Hezbollah has shot video from a drone that, based on the landing gear, appears larger than the Yasir. Adam Rawnsley, an expert on drones and Iranian military technology, speculated that it might be an Iranian-made Ababil 3. Kataib Hezbollah called it a “Basir-1”.

The Ministry of Interior's drones, obtained from toy stores like Abu Abdullah's, lack the endurance and range of the Shia militias' advanced Iranian-made drones. Al-Mayali's can only fly for forty minutes (Photo: Laith al-Haydar).

The Ministry of Interior’s drones, obtained from toy stores like Abu Abdullah’s, lack the endurance and range of the Shia militias’ advanced Iranian-made drones. Al-Mayali’s can only fly for forty minutes (Photo: Laith al-Haydar).

The Ababil 3, like the ScanEagle and the Yasir, is an unarmed drone, but Iran has manufactured variants for short- and medium-range attack. In March 2009, the US-military downed an Ababil 3 that US-officials believed to be scouting routes for smuggling weapons from Iran to Iraq. Israeli officials asserted that Iran gave Hezbollah twelve variants of the Ababil capable of carrying a 40 kg warhead almost 250 km. It has since appeared in Sudan, Iran’s onetime ally.

The dangerous ramifications of Iranian-made drones’ proliferation is neither immediate nor obvious. Iranian-backed Shia militias such as Kataib Hezbollah and al-Nujaba have traded fighting their long-term American enemy for the short-term goal of defeating ISIS, and, in any case, they are using unarmed drones. The Ababil and the Yasir, flown by militiamen lacking experience, are redundant when combat drones piloted by the best militaries in the world are bombing ISIS daily.

“It is no surprise that Iran has made the reverse-engineered ScanEagles available to the militias in Iraq,” Dan Gettinger, founder of the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College, said in an email. “New platforms, like soldiers, typically require battlefield experience before they can be trusted and adopted on a wider scale. […] It’s unlikely that it poses much of a direct threat to the Western-led coalition against ISIS.” For now, the coalition and the militias are more or less on the same side.

The future implications of Iranian-backed militias with Iranian-made drones are the most alarming. Whether these drones endanger US-soldiers in Iraq or not, they will threaten US interests elsewhere. Iran has sent drones and Iraqi militiamen to Syria, where they are killing rebels trained by the CIA and the Pentagon. There are even reports that Iran’s drones have fallen into ISIS’s hands. The possibility of an ISIS drone fleet has sparked its own range of concerns.

The Shia militias are living up to their name as Iranian stooges. “I imagine this is a bit of the IRGC being accustomed to acting through local proxies, and a bit of it being easier or less (politically) risky to train an Iraqi operator than it is to forward deploy one of their own teams”, Galen Wright, an associate researcher with Armament Research Services, told me.

If the Iraqis can use the drones against ISIS, Iran’s allies in Lebanon and Palestine can deploy them against Israel, the most important US-ally in the Middle East and one of Iran’s greatest enemies. As Gettinger noted, the Iranians are getting experience where they can.

Back in Fallujah, al-Mayahi, the contractor for the Interior Ministry, was quick to see the advantages of the Iranian technology. “Kataib Hezbollah — its engineers have the best drones in Iraq,” he said with a little jealousy. “Can the Americans please give us drones like that?”

Posted in Armed Forces, Austin Michael Bodetti, Drones, English, International, Iraq, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US MOAB strike in Afghanistan was very Putin-esque

by Paul Iddon.

The United States’ 21,600 pound (9,800 kg) GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast “Mother of All Bombs” (MOAB) saw its combat debut in Afghanistan in mid-April against the terror organization “Islamic State” (ISIS) in a massive retaliatory strike for their murder of a Green Beret. The bomb is the largest conventional explosive in the US arsenal and its use – shortly after Trump’s bombardment of Syria’s Shayarat with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles in response to the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack – appears part of an emergent tendency in the US to respond with overwhelming force to attacks on its forces or violations of its stated red lines.

Example of an MOAB, the largest conventional bomb in the US arsenal.

Example of an MOAB, the largest conventional bomb in the US arsenal.

This is reminiscent of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent practices in the region. In late 2015 merely a day after Russian intelligence services concluded that the downing of the Russian Metrojet Flight 9268 over Egypt’s Sinai region was the work of ISIS, Moscow retaliated with a large bombing raid. Russia’s Tu-22M3 Backfires, Tu-95MS Bear and Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers flew non-stop from Russia to rain down bombs on ISIS (for details, see Louis Martin-Vézian, “Comprehensive Infographic about the Russian Intervention in Syria — December 2015 Update“, 08.12.2015). The Russian Defense Ministry claimed the bombers flew 127 sorties which successfully struck 206 targets.

The flying of such large aircraft from the Russian mainland demonstrated that Moscow can effectively strike its enemies far beyond its territories. It already has smaller but capable attack aircraft and bombers at its base in Syria which could likely neutralize any identifiable ISIS target in Syria. However that wouldn’t convey a projection of unrelenting strength which heavy bombers, or cruise missiles, flying from hundreds-of-miles does.

The B-52 Stratofortress long projected a similar symbol of US-American reach and strength. These flying fortresses can take off from the US mainland and drop tonnes of bombs, or fire cruise missiles, and fly directly back home, as they proved capable of doing in the 1991 Gulf War.

Also, using such weapons against universally-hated militants in countries already ravaged by war is a good way to test their effectiveness. Putin himself said, in reference to his own campaign in Syria, that “no one has yet invented a more effective way of training and honing skills than actual combat operations. […] [O]nly in the battlefield could many of what was used to genuinely test, identify existing problems and fix them.” Interestingly, following the MOAB strike former Afghan President Hamid Karzai furiously declared that the strike amounted to “the inhuman and most brutal misuse of [the Afghan] country as [a] testing ground for new and dangerous weapons.”

Trump’s bombardment of Syria’s Shayarat with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles -- click on the image to enlarge (compiled by Louis Martin-Vézian of CIGeography).

Trump’s bombardment of Syria’s Shayarat with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles — click on the image to enlarge (compiled by Louis Martin-Vézian of CIGeography (Facebook / Twitter).

Explosive demonstrations of strength through use of such destructive heavy weapons did not start with the Afghan MOAB strike, or even Trump’s Tomahawk barrage of Shayarat. It started just before President Barack Obama vacated the Oval Office. In January he sent two stealthy B-2 Spirit bombers to strike ISIS targets in Libya which costed estimated $11 million. He also sent a B-52 Stratofortress, accompanied by drones, to bomb a training camp belonging to an al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria’s northwestern Idlib Province in a strike which the Pentagon claimed killed over 100 terrorists.

While the MOAB is certainly an effective weapon to penetrate bunkers and cave networks in Afghanistan smaller alternatives could prove as capable, not to mention cheaper and less destructive to nearby civilian populations, against such opponents. In other words, use of such weapons in most scenarios constitutes severe overkill.

Kenneth Pollack, former CIA intelligence analyst and expert on Middle East politics and military affairs, outlined – while evaluating Iraqi counterinsurgency tactics against the Kurds in the 1960s – in his important 2002 military history “Arabs at War”: “To destroy an enemy through firepower one must fix him in place, and the only way to fix a guerrilla force in place is either to trap it in a confined area or to engage it in close combat. Thus, using firepower against guerrillas suffers from an inherent flaw: the guerrillas are too mobile and elusive to be pinned down and destroyed this way.”

Applied to today this means that unless such immense firepower is aimed precisely, the MOAB has a whopping one-mile blast radius, against such irregular adversaries their actual usefulness is extremely limited, if not counterproductive.

The MOAB impact in Afghanistan last April 13. US DoD photo.

When the United States initially entered Afghanistan in October 2001, following the devastating September 11th attacks the previous month, the deputy foreign minister of Iran at the time, Mohsen Aminzadeh, later recalled that: “There was nothing left in Afghanistan to destroy. It had all been destroyed already. American targeted bunkers – caves, actually. They dropped stupendous bombs that could destroy mountains. No result.” (Emphasis authors)

Rapid knee-jerk projections of strength using such lethal overwhelming firepower to quickly avenge attacks by the likes of ISIS or al-Qaeda will likely prove ineffective and even dangerous in the long run – especially if carried out in lieu of far more complex counter-terrorism strategies, which are absolutely essential for decisively defeating such groups.

Posted in Afghanistan, English, International, Paul Iddon, Security Policy, Syria, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NATO & Trump: relationship status – complicated

von Patrick Truffer (English version). Patrick Truffer absolviert momentan ein Masterstudiengang in Internationale Beziehungen an der Freien Universität Berlin.

Die Agenda des NATO-Gipfeltreffens der Staats- und Regierungschefs der Mitgliedsstaaten am Donnerstag, 25. Mai 2017 stellte sich überschaubar dar: Stärkung der Bekämpfung des Terrorismus, Diskussionen über die Verteidigungsausgaben, Einweihung des neuen 1,1 Milliarden Euro teuren NATO Hauptquartiers in Brüssel, wo das Gipfeltreffen auch durchgeführt wurde, und der Empfang der neuen Staats- und Regierungschefs wie beispielsweise die britische Ministerpräsidentin Theresa May, der französische Staatspräsident Emmanuel Macron und natürlich der U.S.-Präsident Donald Trump. Das erste Mal überhaupt war der Ministerpräsident Montenegros, Duško Marković, an einem NATO-Gipfeltreffen, denn Montenegro wird am 5. Juni 2017 als 29. Mitglied in die NATO aufgenommen. Ziel der Übung: Einigkeit demonstrieren. Doch Trump lies die NATO-Mitgliedsstaaten alles andere als einig aussehen.

Während des Präsidentschaftswahlkampfs kritisierte Trump die NATO: Nach dem Zusammenbruch des Warschauer Pakts erfülle das Verteidigungsbündnis nicht mehr den ursprünglich angedachten Zweck und die damit verbundenen Kosten seien für die USA zu hoch – insbesondere im Vergleich zu den übrigen NATO-Mitgliedsstaaten. Als Präsident würde er ein Rückzug der USA aus der NATO in Betracht ziehen, sollte sich das Bündnis nicht restrukturieren, den Kampf gegen den Terrorismus nicht aktiver unterstützen sowie die Kosten nicht gerechter verteilt (D’Angelo Gore, “What’s Trump’s Position on NATO?“,, 11.05.2016). Nach erfolgter Wahl zum U.S.-Präsidenten versuchte sein Vizepräsident Mike Pence die Wogen an der Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz zu glätten: “The United States of America strongly supports NATO and will be unwavering in our commitment to this transatlantic alliance.” Gleichzeitig unterstrich er die Forderung nach einer ausgewogeneren Lastenverteilung: “The promise to share the burden of our defense has gone unfulfilled for too many for too long, and it erodes the very foundation of our alliance. When even one ally fails to do their part, it undermines our ability to come to each other’s aid. […] Let me be clear on this point, the President of the United States expects our allies to keep their word to fulfill this commitment, and for most that means the time has come to do more.”

Die Prioritäten Trumps wurden auch beim Treffen mit dem NATO-Generalsekretär Jens Stoltenberg Mitte April deutlich. Trump honorierte die Funktion der NATO während des Kalten Krieges, sieht aber die jetzige und zukünftige Rolle des Verteidigungsbündnisses primär in der Bekämpfung des internationalen Terrorismus und in der Verhinderung von Migrationsströmen. Konkret erwartet er, dass die NATO sich aktiv bei der Bekämpfung der Terrororganisation Islamischer Staat (IS) und bei der Beendigung des Bürgerkriegs in Syrien einsetzt. Ausserdem müsse wie vereinbart jeder NATO-Mitgliedsstaat mindestens 2% des Bruttoinlandsprodukts (BIP) in die Verteidigung investieren. Gemäss seiner Logik hätten die NATO-Mitgliedsstaaten sogar noch offene Rechnungen zu begleichen: Den Differenzbetrag zu den 2% des BIP, welche sie die letzten Jahre nicht aufgebracht hätten.

Mr President, I thank you for your attention to this issue. We are already seeing the effect of your strong focus on the importance of fair burden-sharing in the Alliance. — NATO-Generalsekretär Jens Stoltenberg

Auch wenn es Trump kaum kümmern wird: Seine Überlegungen zum letzten Punkt sind falsch. Die 2%-Vorgabe basiert auf einen nicht bindenden Richtwert, welcher 2006 am NATO-Gipfeltreffen in Riga von den Mitgliedsstaaten beschlossen wurde. Diese Regel wurde im NATO-Gipfeltreffen im Herbst 2014 in Wales noch einmal bekräftigt: Bis 2024 wollen alle NATO Mitgliedssstaaten 2% des BIP in ihre Verteidigung investieren. Bei dieser Erklärung handelte es sich jedoch mehr um ein politisches denn ein realistisches Versprechen – deshalb gibt es auch hier keine bindende Verpflichtung (Jan Techau, “The Politics of 2 Percent: NATO and the Security Vacuum in Europe“, Carnegie Europe, 02.09.2015). Problematisch ist jedoch, dass ausgerechnet Stoltenberg Trump an der gemeinsamen Pressekonferenz in Washington gepriesen hat. Dank seiner Kritik hätte Trump die faire Lastenverteilung zu einem Hauptthema gemacht. Stoltenberg ging sogar soweit zu behaupten, dass dadurch bereits die ersten positiven Effekte ersichtlich seien (“Joint Press Conference by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the President of the United States, Donald Trump“, NATO, 13.04.2017).

Diplomatically, [Trump’s] speech was inept at best and deliberately insulting at worst. — Jeff Rathke, deputy director of the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Natürlich handelt es sich dabei um “beschwichtigende Diplomatensprache”, doch für Trump ist Diplomatie eine Fremdsprache. Mit anderen Worten: Stoltenberg hat Trump ungewollt in seiner Rolle als Geldeintreiber der NATO bekräftigt. Die an die anderen Staats- und Regierungschefs gerichtete Kritik während der Ansprache zu Ehren des 9/11 Denkmals im NATO Hauptquartier, sie kämen gegenüber der NATO ihren finanziellen Verpflichtungen nicht nach, überrascht also nicht. Dies brachte ihm zusammen mit der ausgelassene Bekräftigung der Artikel 5 Beistandspflicht jedoch wenig Sympathien von den anderen Staats- und Regierungschefs ein (Rosie Gray, “Trump Declines to Affirm NATO’s Article 5“, The Atlantic, 25.05.2017).

Dabei gaben sich die übrigen NATO-Mitgliedsstaaten offensichtlich Mühe, dem neuen U.S.-Präsidenten zu gefallen. Nicht nur wurde ein weiter Bogen um die Problematik “Russland” gemacht, bereits vor dem NATO-Gipfel wurde auf eine der Prioritäten Trumps eingegangen: Die NATO gab bekannt, der U.S.-geführten Koalition zum Kampf gegen den IS beizutreten. Es handelt sich primär um eine symbolische Geste, denn viele NATO-Mitgliedsstaaten und NATO-Partner sind bereits Teil der Koalition und unterstützen direkt den Kampf gegen den IS. Seit dem letzten Gipfeltreffen unterstützt die NATO die Koalition mit moderner Radar- und Kommunikationstechnik ausgestatteten AWACS-Flugzeugen, was noch zusätzlich ausgeweitet werden soll. Ausserdem unterhält die NATO eine Ausbildungsmission im Irak. Ein direkter Kampfeinsatz ist jedoch nicht geplant (“Kampf gegen den Terror: Nato tritt Anti-IS-Koalition bei“, NZZ, 25.05.2017). Darüber hinaus wollen die NATO-Mitgliedsstaaten mit einem neu geschaffenen Koordinator zur Bekämpfung des Terrorismus ihre Anstrengungen in diesem Bereich besser bündeln.

Auch bezüglich der Erreichung einer ausgewogeneren Lastenverteilung hat sich etwas bewegt. Jeder Mitgliedsstaat soll eine individuelle Planung einreichen, welche drei Fragen beantworten soll:

  1. Wie wird das Ziel erreicht, 2% des BIP zur Verteidigung aufzuwenden und dabei mindestens 20% des Geldes in neues Equipment zu investieren?
  2. Welche zusätzlichen finanziellen Mittel werden direkt in Schlüsselsystemen der NATO investiert?
  3. Welcher Beitrag wird bei den NATO-Missionen, Operationen und weiteren Einsätzen geleistet.

Die ersten Planungsdokumente sollen im Dezember vorliegen und im Februar nächsten Jahres von den Verteidigungsministern begutachtet werden.

Die Zeiten, in denen wir uns auf andere völlig verlassen konnten, die sind ein Stück vorbei. Das habe ich in den letzten Tagen erlebt. […] Wir Europäer müssen unser Schicksal in unsere eigene Hand nehmen. — Deutsche Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel

Der NATO-Gipfel in Brüssel wurde als kleines, kurzes Treffen konzipiert bei dem es in erster Linie darum ging, den neuen U.S.-Präsidenten “ins Boot zu holen”. Strategische Entscheide wurden weder erwartet noch getroffen. Trotz symbolischen Zugeständnissen bleiben die Beziehungen zu Trump kompliziert, was die fehlende Bekräftigung der NATO-Beistandspflicht durch Trump deutlich unterstreicht. Der öffentliche Affront gegenüber den anderen Staats- und Regierungschefs während der Ansprache zu Ehren des 9/11 Denkmals im NATO Hauptquartier darf jedoch auch nicht überbewertet werden. Momentan spricht das effektive Engagement der US-Streitkräfte in Europa eine deutliche Sprache: Die USA stehen hinter der NATO (siehe dazu: Louis Martin-Vézian, “Operation Atlantic Resolve: Back to Europe“,, 11.03.2017). Dies zeigt auch Trumps eingereichter Vorschlag für den U.S.-amerikanischen Staatshaushalt 2018. Darin soll die Finanzierung der European Reassurance Initiative, zu der auch die Operation Atlantic Resolve gehört, von den diesjährigen 3,4 Milliarden auf 4,8 Milliarden U.S.-Dollar ausgeweitet werden (David M. Herszenhorn, “NATO Cheers Trump’s Military Budget“, POLITICO, 24.05.2017). Trump ist jedoch kein geduldiger Mensch und wird kaum bis 2024 warten wollen, bis die anderen Mitgliedsstaaten ihre Verteidigungsausgaben (vielleicht) auf 2% des BIP anheben. Sollten insbesondere die europäischen NATO-Mitgliedsstaaten mittelfristig nicht deutlich mehr für ihre eigene Sicherheit investieren, könnte die finanzielle Unterstützung der USA schnell spürbar abnehmen. Grundsätzlich kann Trump in einem Punkt kaum widersprochen werden: Weshalb sollten die U.S.-amerikanischen Steuerzahler finanziell für die Sicherheit Europas einstehen, wenn die Steuerzahler in Europa dazu nicht bereit sind? Gefragt wäre von Seiten Trump jedoch echte Überzeugungsarbeit anstatt schulmeisterliches Gehabe. Damit erweist er sich langfristig einen Bärendienst, was insbesondere im Kontext mit dem Treffen mit der EU und den anderen G7-Staaten offensichtlich wurde.

• • •

Info-Box: Noble Jump 2017
Nach etwas mehr als einem Monat Vorbereitung findet im Juni die NATO-Übung Noble Jump 2017 statt. Mit rund 4’000 Soldaten aus 9 Mitgliedsstaaten wird der Einsatz der Very High Readiness Joint Task Force in Rumänien geübt. Die Übung starte mit einer Mobilmachung (Alert Excercice), bei der Truppen und Equipment aus Militär-Basen in Grossbritannien, Deutschland, den Niederlanden, Spanien, Norwegen, Polen, Albanien, Bulgarien und Rumänien innerhalb wenigen Tagen mittels Bahn, Luft und über die See in den Übungsraum verlegt werden sollen. Damit ist diese Übung nicht nur eine infanteristische, sondern in erster Linie eine logistische Herausforderung. Für die NATO stellt dies ein Meilenstein in der Fähigkeit dar, sich gegen einen externen Aggressor zur Wehr zu setzen.

• • •

Weitere Informationen
Offensichtlich fuhr Trump mit seinen Belehrungen der anderen Staats- und Regierungschefs beim anschliessenden Essen weiter: Judy Dempsey, “Trump Leaves NATO“, Carnegie Europe, 26.052017.

Posted in Patrick Truffer, Security Policy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leadership Transition in Uzbekistan: What’s next for Central Asia?

by Paul Pryce. With degrees in political science from both sides of the pond, Paul Pryce has previously worked as Senior Research Fellow for the Atlantic Council of Canada’s Canadian Armed Forces program, as a Research Fellow for the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, and as an Associate Fellow at the Latvian Institute of International Affairs. He has also served as an infantryman in the Canadian Forces.

Uzbek men gather to pay their last respects during the funeral of President Islam Karimov in September 2016.

Uzbek men gather to pay their last respects during the funeral of President Islam Karimov in September 2016.

Though dwarfed by Kazakhstan in terms of geographic size, Uzbekistan is strategically vital to peace and stability in Central Asia. Encompassing a great portion of the resource-rich Fergana Valley, Uzbekistan shares borders with all four other post-Soviet Central Asian states – Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan – as well as Afghanistan. As such, the death in September 2016 of Islam Karimov, president of the country since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, and the subsequent rise to power of Shavkat Mirziyoyev will have a substantial impact on efforts in the region to counter terrorism and foster development.

Under Karimov’s rule, Uzbekistan adopted a relatively isolationist foreign and security policy, especially after the Andijan massacre and the withdrawal of American troops from the Karshi-Khanabad Air Base, located in south-eastern Uzbekistan, in 2005. The aforementioned massacre occurred when Uzbek Interior Ministry and National Security Service troops opened fire on protesters alleged by Karimov’s regime to have been organized by Hizb ut-Tahrir extremists and the terrorist group Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), potentially killing hundreds and drawing condemnation from the United States and the international community. Since then, there have been few updates to Uzbekistan’s National Security Doctrine, with that document outlining terrorism and Islamic extremism as the chief threats facing the country.

Such non-state actors certainly remain prominent on the list of security challenges facing Uzbekistan as Mirziyoyev takes power, though their particular structure and tactics have changed since Karimov’s 2005 crackdown. In August 2015, the IMU leadership pledged alliance to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), precipitating the fragmentation of the former group as some factions declared their rejection of ISIS and continued commitment to the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and other traditional allies in Central Asia. In a sense, Uzbekistan’s militant Islamists are being pulled apart by two competing interests or causes: on the one hand, the original goal of establishing an Islamic Caliphate in Central Asia centred on Afghanistan, and on the other hand, the allure of travelling westward to wage religious war on behalf of ISIS. The siren call of ISIS complicates Uzbekistan’s security situation – hundreds of Uzbek fighters have reportedly joined training camps in Syria and Iraq since 2013 – but this also presents a strategic opportunity for Uzbekistan as the exodus of fighters weakens the domestic presence of IMU and its various factions.

Mirziyoyev also inherits a border dispute with Kyrgyzstan, specifically regarding the status of a small mountain called Ungar-Tepa in Uzbek and Unkur-Too in Kyrgyz. In March 2016, two Uzbek armoured personnel carriers and approximately 40 troops appeared in the area, prompting Kyrgyzstan to deploy troops and border police in response and for emergency talks to be held in Moscow under the auspices of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Mirziyoyev seems interested in the mending of fences in the region, travelling to Turkmenistan in March 2017 as his first official visit abroad. But it is difficult to say how willing he will be to pursue a negotiated compromise with Kyrgyzstan or finalize an agreement on border demarcation.

Were Mirziyoyev to reach a rapprochement with Kyrgyzstan, it would present a significant opportunity for Uzbekistan to re-engage with the CSTO and potentially step up defence cooperation with the country’s neighbours. In particular, the CSTO formed in 2009 a so-called Collective Rapid Reaction Force (CRRF), currently comprised of the Russian Federation’s 98th Guards Airborne Division and 31st Guards Air Assault Brigade, as well as infantry battalions from Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. This would go some way toward entrenching any normalization of Uzbekistan’s relations with the rest of the region, fostering the mutual trust necessary for any border agreement with Kyrgyzstan to be successfully implemented.

It is also important to note that, while Uzbekistan has withdrawn from the CSTO, it has maintained some degree of involvement in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). In 2004, the SCO established the headquarters of its Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent, as much to secure continued Uzbek participation in the organization as it was a recognition of the country’s geo-strategic importance to the fight against terrorism in Central Asia. Furthermore, Tashkent has been the site of many important milestones for the SCO, such as the signing of a memorandum in June 2016 that would see India and Pakistan become full members – the SCO membership is currently comprised of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, and of course Uzbekistan. Given the clout that Uzbekistan has come to hold in the SCO, a drive for membership of Afghanistan in the organization in order to ensure greater support for Uzbek-Afghan border security could be successful.

Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko (L) and Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev (R) attend the rountable plenary meeting during the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation at the International Conference Center at Yanqi Lake on May 15, 2017 in Beijing, China. (Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images).

Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko (L) and Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev (R) attend the rountable plenary meeting during the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation at the International Conference Center at Yanqi Lake on May 15, 2017 in Beijing, China. (Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images).

However, Mirziyoyev’s views on these issues are currently a mystery. Domestic observers have described him as “even tougher” than Karimov and exhibiting a similarly strict management style. Despite serving for many years as a regional governor and as Prime Minister of Uzbekistan from 2003 to 2016, he has largely managed to avoid the public eye. There is some reason to believe he will be more open to external engagement and regional solutions than his predecessor, though. For example, in 2006, Mirziyoyev hosted South Korea’s then-Prime Minister Han Myeong-sook in Tashkent. Their talks resulted in several agreements that boosted bilateral trade, particularly a deal to supply South Korea with 300 tons of Uzbek uranium ore a year from 2010 to 2014. This served to partially alleviate some of the pressure from economic sanctions imposed by the US and others in response to the aforementioned Andijan massacre. Given his demonstrated willingness and capacity to negotiate linkages with countries beyond the region, it would not at all be surprising were Mirziyoyev to launch an ambitious series of talks and overtures to the world following his visit to Turkmenistan.

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Colombian Defense After FARC

by Michael Martelle. Michael is a masters student studying Security Policy at the George Washington University’s Elliott School for International Affairs.

Since 1965 the focus of Colombia’s defense policy has been on countering insurgent groups, principally the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia otherwise and more commonly known as FARC, and the supporting narcotics trade. Now that Colombia is on a path to peace with FARC (see info box below), it is apparent that there will be a shift in Colombia’s defense priorities that will have direct implications for policy.

It is clear in the messaging from Colombia’s military leaders that issues related to FARC and the peace process are expected to remain a priority. Two of the three prioritized “lines of action” outlined by Colombian military leadership are “Sword of Honor”, a continuing military response to criminal threats, and “Transition to Peace” which oversees the disarmament and reintegration of guerilla fighters. This pairing likely represents a “carrot and stick” approach to mitigating the risk posed by former FARC guerillas experienced in drug-trafficking and kidnapping. The exploration of issues beyond the FARC peace process is covered in the third prioritized “line of action” which establishes a command to transform Colombia’s military and develop strategy through 2030 (see graphic below).

A successful peace process with FARC will mean Colombia’s defense policymakers will be able to commit more resources to external challenges, specifically those posed by Nicaragua and Venezuela. Nicaragua and Colombia have a recurring dispute over islands in the South Caribbean Sea which motivated Nicaragua to begin expanding its small collection of patrol boats (according to the Military Balance 2017, the Nicaraguan Navy has eight patrol boats: three Dabur-class, four Rodman 101 and one Zhuk-class). Neither these patrol boats nor Nicaragua’s nonexistent offensive air capabilities pose a realistic challenge to Colombia’s blue water force of four Almirante Padilla-class frigates, two Pijao-class (GER T-209/1200) and two Intrepido-class (GER T-206A) tactical submarines.

Nicaragua does, however, have a close relationship with Venezuela, who has their own island dispute and border tensions with Colombia. Venezuela’s fleet of blue-water combatants is on paper a fairly even match with Colombia’s (six Mariscal Sucre-class frigates and two Sabalo-class (GER T-209/1300) tactical submarines). When examining air assets, however, the comparison is more one-sided. The highlight of Colombia’s air inventory is a single squadron of Kfir C-10/C-12/TC-12 ground attack fighters, which does not match up well with Venezuela’s two squadrons of F-16s sold by the US in 1982 to counter Cuban MiG-23 acquisition and four squadrons (with a possible fifth in the works) of Su-30s (For the sake of this comparison squadrons of older generation aircraft and light attack aircraft such as Tucanos have been intentionally overlooked). In addition to this superiority in aircraft, Venezuela’s Air Defense Command has the region’s most advanced air defense which features the Russian-sourced S-300VM surface to air missile system.

This inequality in hardware distracts from potential readiness challenges facing the Venezuelan defense forces. A 2004 report by Stratfor stated that “Venezuela’s armed forces (FAN) are among the poorest, least prepared military institutions in Latin America, despite the country’s substantial oil revenues.” Given Venezuela’s continuing difficulty in preventing Colombian rebel groups from crossing the border (a frequent source of tension), the increase in political instability since the death of Hugo Chavez, and defense spending decreasing from roughly a third to roughly a sixth of Colombia’s from 2014 to 2016 (according to the Military Balance 2016 and 2017). It is not likely that there has been any meaningful improvement and possible that the situation has deteriorated.

It is perhaps due to Venezuela’s readiness challenges that Colombian acquisitions do not seem to be in response to an imbalance in air power. A modernization of the Colombian Army’s rotary wing inventory, artillery, and APCs suggest that Colombia’s solution to near rivals is in converting an army that currently consists of one armored division and eight light infantry divisions to a more conventional and mechanized force (in 2016, Colombia ordered 60 Textron Commando armoured infantry fighting vehicles for US$ 65 millions).

In January 2015, the Ministry of National Defense and the Army presented the new LAV II APC 8×8. The LAV III, originally named the Kodiak by the Canadian Army, is the third generation of the Light Armoured Vehicle (LAV) family of Infantry fighting vehicle built by General Dynamics Land Systems first entering service in 1999. It is based on the Swiss Mowag Piranha IIIH 8x8.

In January 2015, the Ministry of National Defense and the Army presented the new LAV II APC 8×8. The LAV III, originally named the Kodiak by the Canadian Army, is the third generation of the Light Armoured Vehicle (LAV) family of Infantry fighting vehicle built by General Dynamics Land Systems first entering service in 1999. It is based on the Swiss Mowag Piranha IIIH 8×8.

Any conversion of the Colombian Army will have to balance continuing counterinsurgency demands. While FARC has been the primary insurgent organization in Colombia, the National Liberation Army, Popular Liberation Army, and Indigenous Revolutionary Armed Forces of the Pacific (ELN, EPL, and FARIP respectively) are still active in Colombia. The Colombian government is currently pursuing a peace deal with the ELN, by far the largest of these groups, using the negotiations with FARC as a model. Despite the promise for a drastically reduced need for counterinsurgency operations, however, the fact that Colombia’s defense structure is responsible for both domestic and international issues as well as the geography of Colombia and its neighbors mean that light infantry will continue to be important. Continued acquisitions of coastal patrol vessels also indicate that the Colombian Navy anticipates a continued need for interdiction operations, which in the past have been counter-narcotics in nature.

The peace process with FARC, if successful, will present an opportunity for Colombian defense policymakers to shift focus to regional challenges. While Nicaragua has challenged Colombian claims in the South Caribbean Sea, the Colombian Navy has no reason to feel challenged by Nicaragua’s small collection of patrol boats. Of more concern is Venezuela’s superiority in aircraft, though serious doubts regarding the readiness of Venezuela’s entire military diminish the credibility of that threat. Rather than addressing challenges in the air, Colombian acquisitions would seem to indicate a desire to conventionalize and modernize the Army, though geography and lingering counterinsurgency challenges may continue to demand a land force dominated by light infantry.

• • •

Info box: The path to peace
FARC is a left-wing, marxist guerrilla movement, which fought against the Colombian government, its representatives, the Colombian armed forces as well as against right-wing paramilitary groups and some drug cartels from 1964 till 2016. After four years of negotiations, on June 23, 2016, a ceasefire accord was signed between the FARC Guerilla Army and the Colombian Government, in Havana, Cuba. Under the accord, the Colombian government will support massive investment for rural development and facilitate the FARC’s reincarnation as a legal political party. FARC promised to help eradicate illegal drug crops, remove landmines in the areas of conflict, and offer reparations to victims. The punishment of the rebels was reduced to a minimum: FARC leaders can avoid prosecution by acts of reparation to victims and other community work. (Sibylla Brodzinsky, “Rural Colombians hope ‘pretty promises’ can bring peace back to paradise“, The Guardian, 23.06.2016). Even grave war crimes would be punished only up to eight years. The impunity to FARC combatants was a major obstacle for the referendum, which was hold on October 2, 2016. Finally, Colombian voters rejected the peace deal with FARC by 50.2% to 49.8% (Richard Emblin, “‘No’ wins plebiscite: Colombians reject FARC peace accord“, The City Paper Bogota, 02.10.2016). Shortly after the failed referendum, the government met with the opponents, receiving over 500 proposed changes, and continued to negotiate with FARC. A revised agreement, which lays down aggravated punishment for rebels and a better compensation of victims out of FARC’s assets, was announced on November 12, 2016, which required parliamentary approval rather than a nationwide referendum. The revised peace agreement was approved by the Colombian Congress on November 30, 2016. On February 18, 2017, the last FARC guerrillas arrived in a designated transition zone, where they began the process of disarming. The rebels are intended to stay in the zones until May 31, 2017, after which they will be registered there and then reintegrated into civilian life.

• • •

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Tremendous! Trump of Saudi Arabia!

• • •

But now seriously: Those who expected Donald Trump to fly into Riyadh and insult his Saudi hosts with the kinds of broadsides he delivered on the campaign trail against Islam and Muslims needn’t have worried. He didn’t do anything embarrassing. But he did commit the United States to a deeper alliance with the very leaders who are part of the problem. –> Blake Hounshell, “Donald of Arabia“, Politico, 21.05.2017.

What’s all in the $110 billion Military Arms Deal — probably the largest single arms deal in American history — which the US sealed with Saudi Arabia?

Source: Anthony Capaccio and Margaret Talev, “Saudis to Make $6 Billion Deal for Lockheed’s Littoral Ships“, Bloomberg, 19.05.2017.

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Israel-Saudi relations have come a long way

by Paul Iddon

At the Munich Security Conference earlier this year Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman “accused Iran of trying to undermine Saudi Arabia” and accordingly called on “moderate” Sunni Arab monarchies to fight “radical” forces in the region. According to him, Tehran is seeking to “undermine stability in every country in [the] Middle East […] their main destination at the end of the day is Saudi Arabia.” He declared, “I think that [for] the first time since 1948 the moderate Arab world, Sunni world, understands that the biggest threat for them is not Israel, not Jews and not Zionism, but Iran and Iranian proxies.”

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir avoided a question at that conference about the prospect of an overt Israeli alliance aiming to counter Iran and normalize relations in the process. Nevertheless Lieberman’s comments are the latest to indicate that Israel and the Sunni Arab states are seeing eye to eye when it comes to their opposition to Tehran’s actions in the region.

Back in 2015, retired Saudi General Anwar Majed Eshki and former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Dore Gold revealed, at an event of the Council on Foreign Relations, that their countries held five secret meetings concerning Iran. Such interactions coupled with a perceived common threat show both sides now possess an unprecedented level of common interests.

These behind the scenes interaction do not begin and end with consultations over Iran. Bloomberg reported back in February 2017 that, “[t]rade and collaboration in technology and intelligence are flourishing between Israel and a host of Arab states, even if the people and companies involved rarely talk about it publicly. […] The Arab embargo of Israel, nominally in force since the Jewish state’s founding in 1948, necessitates that all business between Israel and most Arab states remain strictly off the books, cloaked by intermediaries in other countries,” the report outlined. “But the volume and the range of Israeli activity in at least six Gulf countries is getting hard to hide.” The report also says that “Other Israeli businesses are working in the Gulf, through front companies, on desalination, infrastructure protection, cybersecurity, and intelligence gathering.”

These engagements are not unlike Iran’s own pre-revolutionary low-profile relations with Israel. This included selling Israel Iranian oil (see the Eilat-Askelon pipeline) and Israel covertly helping Iran develop its modern military, then among the largest (Iran had the fifth largest army in the world at the time) and certainly the most technologically advanced in the Persian Gulf region.

Anwar Majed Eshki and Dore Gold shaking hands at an event of the Council on Foreign Relations in 2015.

Anwar Majed Eshki and Dore Gold shaking hands at an event of the Council on Foreign Relations in 2015.

While Saudi Arabia never formally accepted the foundation of the State of Israel in 1948 it did not nevertheless perceive it as a major strategic threat. In the late 1930s the fledgling Saudi kingdom drove the Hashemites out of the Hejaz region – which includes Mecca – beginning decades of rivalry between it and Jordan (David Wurmser, “Tyranny’s Ally: America’s failure to defeat Saddam Hussein“, The AEI Press, 1999, p. 112). When Israel emerged the Jordanian kingdom found itself wedged between two rivals. In the mid-1990s Amman-Riyadh rivalries were finally done away with, incidentally around the same time Israel and Jordan signed their own peace agreement, and they presently enjoy cordial relations.

Saudi Arabia did play small, albeit more symbolic, roles in the background of the major Arab-Israeli wars. Even though it feared the fiery revolutionary rhetoric of the regime of President Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt it couldn’t feasible have itself perceived as opposed to, or even ambivalent about, the Arab states in their fight against Israel. The Saudis agreed to use the “oil weapon” in support of Nasser’s successor’s, Anwar Sadat, war against Israel to reclaim the Sinai Peninsula. The Saudis initiated the infamous oil embargo shortly after Washington overtly beefed up Israel’s conventional military late in the October 1973 war – known as Yom Kippur War in Israel and the Ramadan War in the Arab countries.

The US built-up its current relationship with Saudi Arabia during this period. Washington’s own bilateral relations with Riyadh have come a long way from the days of the Nixon administration, when they were preparing secretive contingency plans which included taking military action against Abu Dhabi in response to Riyadh’s embargo.

As part of the periphery doctrine established early in its existence Israel maintained cordial relations with non-Arab states in the wider region, notably Turkey and the Shah’s Iran. Even after the Iranian Revolution Israel favored Iran over Saddam Hussein’s Iraq during the eight year Iran-Iraq War. They began voicing their concerns about Iran in the early 1990s following the decimation of Saddam’s military in the 1991 Gulf War. Today Israel’s old periphery doctrine seems to have shifted from the periphery to include major Sunni Arab powers in the region against Iran, a major non-Arab state.

A Royal Air Force Boeing Sentry AEW.1 (E-3D serial ZH103) from No. 8 Squadron, RAF Waddington, deployed to the U.S. Air Force 363rd Air Expeditionary Wing, prepares to take off for a mission from Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia, on 22 March 2003.

A Royal Air Force Boeing Sentry AEW.1 (E-3D serial ZH103) from No. 8 Squadron, RAF Waddington, deployed to the U.S. Air Force 363rd Air Expeditionary Wing, prepares to take off for a mission from Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia, on 22 March 2003.

Back in the early 1980s Israel vehemently opposed the nascent Reagan administration’s decision to sell five hi-tech E-3 Sentry surveillance planes to the Saudi kingdom. The planes, with their powerful radars could detect Israeli jets taking off and possibly eliminate any element of surprise, of the kind which famously won them the June 1967 war, Israel would need in a future war. Nevertheless the deal went ahead, much to Israel’s consternation. In November 1981 Israeli warplanes reportedly violated Saudi airspace in the northwest near the kingdom’s Tabuk airbase, perhaps to warn Riyadh against challenging their military supremacy in the region.

As a newspaper report from the time observed that incident came “at a time of increased tension in the Mideast over Saudi defense. On Oct. 28 [1981] the US Senate, over the vehement protests of Israel, approved an $8.5 billion arms package to the oil-rich kingdom, which provides 20 per cent of American imported oil. Israel regards possession of sophisticated arms by a hard-line Arab nation as a threat to the security of the Jewish state.”

For over 50 years now US administrations supplying arms to Arab powers always sought to assure Israel that they will uphold their military’s technological edge over these states. The Obama administration sought to placate Israeli and Saudi opposition to the Iran nuclear deal by offering them more lucrative arms deals.

The Saudi military’s build-up in the last decade is both vast in scale and the technology involved. According to a report seen by Reuters the Obama administration offered the Saudis more than $115 billion worth of weapons since coming into office which constituted, “the most of any US administration in the 71-year US-Saudi alliance.” The offers “included everything from small arms and ammunition to tanks, attack helicopters, air-to-ground missiles, missile defense ships, and warships.”

Mute opposition from Israel on this – although they did say they are “not thrilled about it” – is noteworthy, especially considering that as recently as 2003 Riyadh relocated many of its advanced American-made F-15E Strike Eagle jets to Tabuk, allegedly to counter any Iraqi attacks during that years war, where they could reach Israeli airspace in a mere six minutes.

Israel is clearly no longer, at least publicly, concerned about the Saudi military’s expanding capabilities. The Israelis do publicly say, repeatedly, that their primary concern is Iran’s growing power in the region. Undoubtedly these stated concerns and their acquiescence to the Saudi military’s manic build-up indicate that they hope Riyadh can one day bolster the Israeli military by afflicting significant damage on Tehran were a war to break out.

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Can the T-14 Armata Main Battle Tank Possibly Match Its Hype?

by Sébastien Roblin. He holds a Master’s Degree in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university instructor for the Peace Corps in China. He has also worked in education, editing, and refugee resettlement in France and the United States.

Few tanks have received as much attention in peacetime as the T-14 Armata. Russian state media has published hundreds of articles in its praise. Western media has reciprocated with pieces depicting the Armata as heralding the end of NATO’s military superiority. And of course there have also been many pieces, such as this article on by my colleague Joseph Trevithick, doubting that the Armata is nearly as good as Russia Today promises, and more pointedly, that Moscow can afford to produce more than a handful of them in the near term.

The T-14 Armata seen at the rehearsal for the 2016 Victory Parade in Alabino near Moscow on April 11, 2016 (Photo: Vitaly Kuzmin, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License).

The T-14 Armata seen at the rehearsal for the 2016 Victory Parade in Alabino near Moscow on April 11, 2016 (Photo: Vitaly Kuzmin, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License).

There is undoubtedly much hype and propaganda surrounding the Armata, and early claims about the T-14’s armament and engine have been demonstrably scaled back with time. On the other hand, even stripped of hyperbole, the T-14 exhibits intriguing innovations and evolutions in tank design.

This article reviews the claims that have been made about the T-14 and its various systems, considers what these claims imply and, where evidence is available, whether the claims stand up to scrutiny. The reader should keep in mind that in regards to certain issues, such as the configuration of the T-14 armor, it is only possible to speculate. In other cases, the officially available data may be open to question. The author invites the reader to interpret the same set of data to their own satisfaction, and to offer their own insight on any data that has been overlooked or not given the consideration it is due.

How much do the world's tanks cost?

How much do the world’s tanks cost?

Perhaps the first relevant question one should ask is whether the T-14 will actually be produced in numbers sufficient to enhance the effectiveness of the Russian Army. Russia currently has an order for more than 100 T-14 tanks, sufficient to equip several battalions. Thus the T-14 appears to be far more tangible than other much boasted about defense projects such as the PAK-FA stealth fighter or S-500 SAM system that seem unlikely to materialize in operational units in fully capable form before the end of the decade, despite claims in the media to the contrary.

Nonetheless, the Russian military was not pleased by the price tag of the T-14. Russia Insider claims the T-14 prototypes cost $6.5 million each, and that price will fall to $3.7 each once mass production begins. More recent publications claim costs ranging between $4 and 5 million.

Another consideration is that the Armata chassis is also being used for the T-15 heavy IFV (for which no production orders are extant so far), the T-16 armored recovery vehicle, and also a tank destroyer variant using the 152-millimeter gun from the Koalitsya self-propelled artillery system. Some claim the figure of more than 100 Armatas actually includes these other vehicles, and a second “true” production run of 70 Armatas is due in 2019.

Revealed in Uralvagonzavod's corporate calendar for 2016.

Revealed in Uralvagonzavod’s corporate calendar for 2016.

Moscow has “confirmed” it will produce 2,300 T-14s by 2020 (now 2025). However, a British intelligence report estimates that only 120 T-14s will be produced annually. Thus, some argue that even if the T-14 is every bit the wunder tank it is claimed to be, Russia cannot afford many of them any time soon.

In January, the Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu has announced its interest in upgrading its fleet of 400 T-90A tanks to the T-90M. This is thought to use technologies adapted from the T-14, including the Afghanit active protection system, Malachite reactive armor, and, for certain, the 2A82 main gun. This would be a substantial upgrade for the T-90A, though as usual, the extent of implementation will matter.

Offensive Capabilities

Main Gun
For nearly three decades, several generations of Russian tanks relied on the 2A46 125 millimeter gun — a weapon which famously failed to penetrate the M1 Abrams tank during the 1991 Gulf War. Since other top-of-the-line Western main battle tanks boasted similar levels of protection, this was a rather serious shortcoming. However, the Iraqi tanks lacked the more advanced ammunition developed for the 2A46 gun, which theoretically could have pierced the Abram’s frontal armor at shorter combat ranges.

The T-14 finally has a new gun — not a 152 millimeter 2A83 gun as was long rumored, but a longer-barrel 2A82-1M 125 millimeter gun (56 calibers in length verses 51 calibers on the 2A46M1). Russia claims the 2A82 generates 17% more muzzle energy than the 120 millimeter L/55 gun on later Leopard 2 tanks.

The T-14’s unmanned turret has the space for a larger carousel autoloader which can fire ten rounds per minute of single-piece ammunition and can use longer penetrator rods. Russia claims the 2A82 can pierce the equivalent of one meter of Rolled Homogenous Armor (RHA) at 2 kilometers using its new Vacuum-1 APFSDS round, which has a 0.9 meter long penetrator. If this claim is accurate, this would pose a real threat to top Western main battle tanks even at medium combat ranges. However, the round would also need to be produced and deployed in sufficient quantities, which has not always been the case for advanced Russian munitions. Russian media also claims the T-14 can fire a new “remotely detonated” Telnik high explosive shell, which presumably may be similar to the programmable air-burst shells coming into service on tanks like the Leclerc and M1A2 SEP V3 tank.

Russian defense official still maintain they will upgrade the T-14 with a 2A83 152 millimeter main gun in the future, but most observers believe this is unlikely to happen anytime soon. Assertions that a tank-mounted 152 millimeter gun was just around the corner date back to the 1990s.

Unlike most Western tanks — bar the Merkava — the T-14 can fire anti-tank missiles from its main gun. This is an ability that Russian tanks have boasted since the T-64A. In theory, tank-launched missiles may be superior to shells at extremely long engagement ranges, or possibly for attacking helicopters. However, tank-launched missiles have seen little use in combat. The Armata uses a new SACLOS missile called the 3UBK21 Sprinter, with a range of 8 kilometers and an anti-helicopter mode — though the 7.5 kilometer range claimed for the Aramata’s laser targeter might shorten that range a bit.

 A Russian schematic of the new T-14 tank translated into English by a U.S. Army analyst. Illustration via the U.S. Army’s Foreign Military Studies Office’s OEWatch 5, Issue 3, March 2015, p. 52.

 A Russian schematic of the new T-14 tank translated into English by a U.S. Army analyst. Illustration via the U.S. Army’s Foreign Military Studies Office’s OEWatch 5, Issue 3, March 2015, p. 52.

Sights and Sensors
Of course, major factors of offensive capability are detection and fire control — in other words, which tank will detect its adversary first and actually land a hit. The T-14 reportedly has sights with 4x and 12x optical zoom. Its sensors are also said to be capable of detecting tank-sized targets to a range of 7.5 kilometers during the day, or 3.5 at night. The commander’s sight is mounted on top of the turret and can rotate 360 degrees; the gunner has a sight slaved to the turret, and also has its own periscope. Both sights have thermographic and electromagnetic channels, as well as laser rangefinders. The driver has his own forward-looking infrared sensor. There are also many video cameras giving a 360 degree view around the tank, as the crew otherwise would have little ability to see outside.

Western tanks have generally been seen as having superior sights, sensors and ballistic computers compared to Russian designs. For example, an M1A2 sight is capable of 50X magnification. Russian thermal imagers are also believed to have lower resolution. The T-90A tanks uses French Thales Catherine sights, and there is evidence that the T-14’s sensors may rely on imported or smuggled Chinese or Western components for thermal imagers.

Secondary Armament
Through early 2015, it was widely reported that the T-14 would boast a 30 millimeter auto cannon as a secondary armament for engaging infantry, helicopters and incoming missiles. This would have been another radical design feature, as very few modern tanks boast a secondary weapon heavier than a heavy machine gun. However, the T-14 unveiled at the May Day parade had no such weapon. Apparently, the main secondary armament is to be a remotely-operated 12.7 millimeter Kord machinegun mounted above the commander’s sight. Remote weapons have become standard equipment for tanks in urban combat zones, and their inclusion on the T-14 makes a lot of sense. It has also been claimed that this machine gun could automatically controlled by the T-14’s radar to serve as a back-up hard-kill active protection system. Russian officials maintain the 30 millimeter cannon may show up in future versions of the T-14. There is also a co-axial PKTM machinegun in the turret, but no hull-mounted machinegun.

The T-14 tank mounts two active protection assemblies on both sides of the turret. Covered by passive armor for ballistic protection, these modules integrate the Afghanit sensor (trapezoidal unit), five hard-kill launch tubes mounted at the turret’s base, two peripheral cameras and flat (possibly covered) sensor, likely radar coupled with the soft-kill system. Some sources indicate these sensors are derived from AESA radar technology developed and implemented on the Sukhoi T-50 stealth fighter jet. The rotatable soft-kill launcher containing 12 cartridges can be seen above, mounted on a rotating pedestal. (Source: Tamir Eshel, "New Russian Armor – First analysis: Armata", Defense Update, 09.05.2015).

The T-14 tank mounts two active protection assemblies on both sides of the turret. Covered by passive armor for ballistic protection, these modules integrate the Afghanit sensor (trapezoidal unit), five hard-kill launch tubes mounted at the turret’s base, two peripheral cameras and flat (possibly covered) sensor, likely radar coupled with the soft-kill system. Some sources indicate these sensors are derived from AESA radar technology developed and implemented on the Sukhoi T-50 stealth fighter jet. The rotatable soft-kill launcher containing 12 cartridges can be seen above, mounted on a rotating pedestal. (Source: Tamir Eshel, “New Russian Armor – First analysis: Armata“, Defense Update, 09.05.2015).


Crew Survivability
The T-14 is renowned for its unmanned turret. The crew of three — a commander, gunner, and driver — instead reside in an armored pod in the front hull. The Armata’s main gun ammunition is stowed separately from the crew in the turret. This means that penetrating hits to the turret are very unlikely to kill crew, which could be especially advantageous when a T-14 is in hull-down position, with just the turret exposed over the crest of a hill. On the other hand, at 3.3 meters tall, the T-14 has a profile nearly a full meter taller than an M1A2 Abrams. One disadvantage of this layout is that the crew will be especially dependent on the Armata’s many external cameras to gain a better view of the battlefield. It should also be noted that there is very little machinery standing in between the crew and any shells or missiles that penetrate the front hull.

Afghanit Active Protection System
Undoubtedly the most ambitious development in the Armata is its Afghanit Active Protection System, which includes both soft-kill measures (seeking to confuse or misguide approaching missiles) and a hard-kill system (attempting to physically destroy them).

The soft-kill component consists of four smoke grenade dischargers on the turret top, each with twelve grenades. These serve not only to visually obscure the tank, but release multi-spectral aerosol clouds that may mask the vehicle’s infrared signature and block targeting lasers and radars. Two of the launchers have a vertical orientation, allowing them to counter top-attack missiles. In theory, the soft-kill measures might help ward against deadly infrared guided Javelin or laser-guided Kornet missiles. However, some sources argue that modern IR sensors are sufficiently powerful not to be confused by such a cloud.

The Afghanit’s hard-kill component consists of five tubes carrying interceptor charges nestled under each side of the turret. The T-14’s has a millimeter-wave length AESA radar system, believed to be adapted from the one used on the PAK-FA stealth fighter, that detects incoming projectiles and automatically turns the turret towards them so that the hard kill tubes can shoot the threat down. This has the added benefit of presenting the thicker front turret armor towards the projectile. The radar may also be able to provide targeting data on the firing platform.

Afghanit Active Protection System (Hard Kill).

Afghanit Active Protection System (Hard Kill).

Given the combat-proven effectiveness of the Israeli Trophy hard-kill active protection system, as well as Russia’s long history developing and fielding active protection systems, the Afghanit system may be effective in swatting down rocket propelled grenades and most low-flying anti-tank guided missiles. However, the hard-kill interceptors’ horizontal orientation means they are incapable of stopping top-attack missiles.

The publication Izvetsia also claims the Afghanit will work against kinetic anti-tank shells ie. the armor-piercing main gun rounds of an opposing tank, at speed of up to 1,700 meters a second — a claim most Western analysts are skeptical of. Consider, first of all, that a tank shell is smaller and travels many times faster than an anti-tank missile, making it harder to detect, giving the active protection system less time to react, and presenting a much harder target to intercept. However, in the event the Afghanit manages to hit an incoming shell, physics still presents a problem: the vast kinetic energy of a tank shell cannot be negated by the Afghanit’s smaller, low-velocity projectiles. That is to say, even if hit by an Afghanit interceptor round, a tank shell would possess sufficient force to continue towards its target. However, an intercepted shell may be deflected off course, and its penetration could be degraded by a few hundred millimeters, giving the tank’s armor a better chance of resisting. Thus, it seems that if the Afghanit is capable of contributing at all to defense against its kinetic shells, it may do so at the margins.

Malachit Reactive Armor
The Armata also boasts the new Malachit explosive reactive armor (ERA), thought to be an evolution of the earlier Relikt ERA. Reactive armor involves an array of explosive bricks set on the hull of a tank that blast outward to disrupt and deflect incoming shaped charge warheads. Traditional ERA is useful against missiles, rockets and HEAT shells, which project a jet of molten metal into the target when impacted. However, traditional ERA is largely ineffective against kinetic shells. Relikt and now Malachit use a radar system to detect incoming shells and detonate the reactive armor before the moment of impact. Relikt also differs from earlier forms of ERA by using small explosives between reactive armor plates that feed the metal plates laterally into the path of a projectile, causing the penetration rods of sabot shells to warp and possibly shatter. Thus, Russia claims that Relikt and its successor Malachit are both effective at degrading kinetic tank shells. Relikt is also a dual-layer ERA intended to counteract tandem charge warheads. Details of how Malachit differs from Relikt are scant. The U.S. Army developed the new M829A4 120 millimeter sabot shell as means to counteract Relikt ERA, so perhaps the new reactive armor may be designed to counter the latest American shell.

The Armata has a composite armor made of ceramic and a a new steel alloy made through electroslag melting which Russian designers maintain enables better performance for the same weight. The T-14 also has slat armor on the rear hull sides to protect the vulnerable engine compartment and air intakes against rocket propelled grenades. Russian media claims the T-14 has a maximum protection equivalent to 1.1 to 1.3 meters of Rolled Homogenous Armor verses HEAT munitions. This would suffice to block many older anti-tank missiles such as the TOW, which can penetrate a maximum of 900 millimeters. Against armor piercing rounds, the T-14’s armor supposedly is equivalent to 1 meter RHA.

Some observers, however, feel that the T-14’s weight and size don’t add up to such formidable levels of protection. The Armata weighs just 50 tons compared to the 72 ton M1A2, which in later iterations is estimated as having 0.95 meters of protection against kinetic rounds. Proponents of the T-14 maintain this is simply because the Armata has a smaller volume to protect. But while the Armata’s smaller turret could account for some of the difference, it is taller and actually has a longer hull than the M1A2 at 8.5 meters compared to 7.9 meters. The use of extremely expensive metals also seems unlikely given the T-14’s projected cost. For this reason, many Western observers believe the Armata remains overall less well armored than an M1.

One common theory is that the T-14’s turret is lightly armored — perhaps just enough to protect against the automatic cannons common on infantry fighting vehicles — while heavy armor protection is reserved for the manned front hull. This might reconcile the high claimed maximum armor value for a vehicle that weighs significantly less than its Western counterparts, and may rely on its reactive armor and active protection system to protect against missile and rocket threats from the sides and rear.

Other Defensive Systems
The T-14 has four turret-mounted Laser Warning Receivers. These would alert the crew if they are being painted by the laser targeted of an enemy tank or missile system, giving the T-14 crew a chance to orient the turret towards the adversary and back the vehicle out of danger. It is also said to have a magnetic-countermeasure system on the rear hull intended to disrupt electronics on remotely-detonated IEDs or possibly even incoming missiles. The Moscow Times also claims the T-14 will be coated with radar absorbent paint and that its heat-emitting components have been recessed within the vehicle to lower its infrared signature, making the T-14 a “stealth tank”. However, analysts are skeptical that the T-14’s engine can be significantly hidden from modern IR sensors, or that anti-radar paint can have a significant effect on detection when not combined with other measures to reduce radar cross section

As one can see, the Armata’s multi-layered defensive system could be particularly effective against direct fire missiles.

As one can see, the Armata’s multi-layered defensive system could be particularly effective against direct fire missiles.

Initial widely publicized claims of a 1,500 horsepower turbocharged diesel engine for the Armata have been downgraded to a 1,350 horsepower engine. Other sources state the engine is governed to 1,200 horsepower. Armata designers insist they will eventually field a model with a fully-powered 1,500 horsepower engine.

Due to the T-14’s comparatively low weight, it can still attain a maximum road speed of 50 mph (80 km/h) or more — 5 mph (8 km/h) faster than even a Leopard 2 or Leclerc, and 35% faster than a Challenger 2 or a T-90. The T-14 reportedly has an automatic gear box suspension, allowing it to move in reverse as quickly as forward. Reports that the T-14 has hydrostatic transmission, by contrast, are likely inaccurate due to the expense of such a system.

The Armata is claimed to have an operational range of 310 miles (500 km), putting it in between the T-72 and T-90. Of course, Russia will have to hope that the T-14 demonstrates greater reliability than the vehicle that stopped up on the 2015 Victory Day parade rehearsal. The official explanation: an inadequately trained driver didn’t realize he had the parking brake on. Towards that end, the Armata will also come with its own automated diagnostic system, another feature that has come into fashion on Western battle tanks.

Further Development
Pravda claims that the Armata will come with its own dedicated Pterodactyl lightweight drones tethered by a power cable to the vehicles, which will fly dozens of meters high to aid in spotting adversaries.

Russian media also touts the future deployment of entirely remote-controlled Armatas. This seems plausible in the sense that the crew already relies on externally mounted cameras to look upon the world, the Armata’s main and secondary weapon are remotely controlled, and the main gun uses as an autoloader. Thus, the crew of remotely-operated Armata could use the same controls to operate an Armata from a place of safety, allowing the Russian military to field battle tanks without putting their crews at risk. However, though robot tanks may lie in the future, Moscow has yet to present a prototype. There are also practical considerations. Maintaining datalinks in battlefield conditions secured from hacking, jamming and other natural or artificial sources of interference would be of vital importance for a remote tank, and represent a new electronic Achilles Heel for adversaries to exploit.

Obviously, there’s considerable uncertainty given the information available on the T-14. This is what the currently available evidence suggests to the author:

  • The 2A82 cannon may be effective against current Western tanks at medium combat ranges — if the new ammunition is as effective as claimed, and is actually produced in quantity.
  • The T-14’s sensors and fire control systems are likely inferior to modernized Western counterparts, given the information available.
  • The T-14’s multi-layered Active Protection Systems and Explosive Reactive armor will likely give it good protection against direct-fire anti-tank missiles and rocket propelled grenades. However, top-attack munitions will only face the soft-kill countermeasures of the Afghanit system.
  • The usefulness of the Afghanit system against kinetic armor piercing rounds is in doubt. The effectiveness of the Malachit ERA against armor-piercing sabots is an unknown quantity, though Relikt ERA appears to have inspired the United States to develop a new armor piercing round.
  • The Armata’s significantly lower weight implies less conventional armor than on the M1 Abrams or Leopard 2. It is possible that the armor may be concentrated on the crew compartment.
  • The Armata will have greater crew survivability than earlier Russian tanks.
  • The T-14 is faster than modern Western tanks.
  • For the time being, Russia is unable to afford large-volume production of the T-14. Thus, the Russian army will field mostly T-72s into the 2020s.
Posted in Armed Forces, International, Sébastien Roblin, Technology | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

On our own behalf: I’m back

Deutsch (scroll down for an English translation)

Werte Leser,

Preview of the "Ethnic civil wars 1949-2015 Dataset" - part 1.

Preview of the “Ethnic civil wars 1949-2015 Dataset” – part 1.

ich kann mitteilen, dass ich letzte Woche nach monatelanger intensiver Arbeit meine Masterarbeit “Multicultural Failure? Peacebuilding after Ethnic Civil War” bei der Freien Universität in Berlin einreichen konnte. Bei dieser Arbeit geht es hauptsächlich darum, wie sich Abspaltung, territoriale und politische Autonomie sowie Repression auf die Erfolgschancen eines dauerhaften Friedens nach einem ethnischen Bürgerkrieg auswirken. Damit verbunden war die Zusammenstellung einer umfangreichen Datenbank aller ethnischen Bürgerkriege (> 1’000 durch Kampfhandlungen bedingte Tote pro Jahr) zwischen 1949 und 2015 (Ethnic civil wars 1949-2015 Dataset). Momentan bin ich noch unschlüssig, ob ich die Masterarbeit nach der Verteidigung im Herbst dieses Jahres veröffentlichen werde. Der Entscheid ist davon abhängig, wie gut die Arbeit beim Joint Examination Board ankommt. Ich stelle jedoch die dazugehörige Datenbank bereits jetzt allen Interessierten zur Verfügung und zwar als Excel-Datei sowie als PDF zur Erstellung von Postern (Teil 1 / Teil 2).

Das Erstellen dieser Masterarbeit sowie gleichzeitig meine berufliche Tätigkeit zwangen mich die verfügbare Zeit für seit anfangs dieses Jahres auf ein Minimum zu reduzieren. Dies hatte zur Folge, dass viele eingereichte Artikel für Wochen oder gar Monate auf eine Bearbeitung warten mussten. Ich danke allen Autoren, die dafür Verständnis aufbringen konnten und trotzdem treu bleiben. Es ist geplant, dass ich in den nächsten Wochen allmählich wieder mehr Zeit in den Blog investieren werde. Momentan kann ich jedoch nicht versprechen, dass wir dieses Jahr bei den veröffentlichten Artikeln zahlenmässig wieder an die letzten paar Jahre aufschliessen werden können. Es geht in Zukunft wieder mehr darum, die Qualität ins Zentrum zu stellen und dafür auf eine hohe Veröffentlichungskadenz zu verzichten. Sollten Sie interessiert sein uns dabei zu helfen, sind Sie interessiert einen qualitativ hochstehen Artikel einmalig oder regelmässig beizusteuern, dann melden Sie sich auf [email protected].


English (für eine deutsche Übersetzung nach oben scrollen)

Valued reader,

Preview of the "Ethnic civil wars 1949-2015 Dataset" - part 2.

Preview of the “Ethnic civil wars 1949-2015 Dataset” – part 2.

I can finally announce that last week, I handed in my master’s thesis “Multicultural Failure? Peacebuilding after Ethnic Civil War” to the Freie Universität Berlin after months of intensive work. This thesis mainly addressed how secession, territorial and political autonomy, and repression affect the chances for lasting peace after ethnic civil war. This involved compiling a comprehensive database of all ethnic civil wars (> 1,000 deaths per year caused by combat operations) between 1949 and 2015 (Ethnic civil wars 1949-2015 data set). At the moment, I remain undecided as to whether I will publish the thesis after I defend it this autumn. The decision will depend on how well the paper is received by the joint examination board. However, I am already making the database available to anyone interested as an Excel file, as well as as a PDF for creating posters (part 1 / aprt 2).

Writing this master’s thesis and my professional obligations have kept the time available for me to work on to a minimum since the beginning of this year. As a result, many articles that have been submitted have been waiting for weeks or even months for me to edit them. I would like to thank all of the authors for their understanding and their continued loyalty to in spite of this issue. I plan to gradually invest more time in the blog again in the next few weeks. At the moment, however, I cannot promise that the number of articles published this year will be able to return to the levels of the last few years. In the future, it will be more important to focus on quality than on quantity. If you are interested in helping us out or in submitting high-quality articles on a one-off or repeated basis, then please contact us at [email protected].


Posted in Editorial Announcements, English, Security Policy | Tagged , | 4 Comments