Category Archives: Asia

France, Qatar completed deal – US $7.5 billion for 24 Dassault Rafale

According DefenceNews, France and Qatar completed the deal for 24 Dassault Rafale fighter jets at the opening day of the Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference.

AIR_Rafales_Split_lgThe fighter deal, which includes MBDA missiles, training for 36 pilots and some 100 mechanics, was earlier reported to be worth €6.3 billion (US $6.9 billion); however, it was announced Tuesday that the deal is worth €6.7 billion (US $7.5 billion).

Qatar’s purchase of Dassault Rafale fighters has been financed with the help of Japanese banks external link external link. The Gulf state recently paid a 15% down payment on its order, which in total amounts to $6.8 billion. The loan highlights a growing relationship with Japan through Japanese business interests in areas of construction and finance. Investments and projects involving Japanese companies include construction for the 2022 World Cup, and the building of a subway system in Doha, while Qatar supplies liquefied gas to Japan. The participation of Japanese money in the deal comes as tighter EU financial regulations to European banks bring lending under greater scrutiny, while a US loan to buy French technology may have upset Boeing, a competitor to Dassault in the fighter market.

The Rafale is a 9.5 – 10.5 tonne aircraft powered by 2 SNECMA M88 jet engines, each generating up to 16,500 pounds thrust with afterburner. Canards are used to improve maneuverability, especially for snap-shots in short-range dogfights, and radar shaping lowers the aircraft’s profile relative to 4th generation competitors like the Mirage 2000 or F-16. Carrier capability was a prime motivator behind France’s decision to go it alone with the Rafale program, and variants exist for both land-based and carrier use.

UPDATE: DIMDEX Press Day –  A dedicated day for the press was organised for Monday 28 March, the day before DIMDEX officially opens. Press Day consisted of three main components: covering the arrival of warships to Doha Commercial Port (DCP) on tugboats, followed by a press conference and a media lunch at the QNCC. There was an option to stay longer on a tugboat instead of attending the press conference / lunch if desired.

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UN Syria envoy Lakhdar Brahimi resigned

Lakhdar Brahimi resigned as United Nations special envoy in charge of mediating the civil war in Syria, after the failure of the peace talks he presided over in Geneva this year. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he accepted Brahimi’s resignation, which takes effect May 31, notices Bloomberg.

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One day in Aleppo province (according Syrian Observatory for Human Rights): 19 civilians ( including 11 children and 2 women ) killed by aerial bombardment on Om al-Amad village, near Tal al-Daman in the southern countryside of Aleppo, 1 child killed by sniper in Jam’iah al-Zahraa area, 1 child killed by mortar shells fell on al-Neirab camp, in addition to 2 children and a woman killed by regime’s bombardment on Soran, and a woman died by wounds sustained earlier by regime’s bombardment on A’zaz city.

More than 150,000 people have so far been killed in the Syrian conflict. Some 2.5 million people have fled abroad, while 9 million people inside the country need help – including nearly 3.5 million who have no access to essential goods and services.

File photo of UN-Arab League envoy for Syria Brahimi addressing a news conference at the United Nations European headquarters in GenevaThe Security Council has adopted five resolutions linked to the Syrian conflict – one in February demanding greater aid access, which has effectively been ignored by the warring parties, three resolutions in 2012 to mandate a failed U.N. observer mission to Syria and one last year on the eradication of Syria’s chemical weapons.

According Reuters, Brahimi has organized two rounds of negotiations in Geneva between Assad’s government and members of the opposition seeking to oust him. But Syria’s announcement that it would hold presidential elections on June 3 dealt a severe blow to Brahimi’s efforts. After trying for nearly two years to overcome “almost impossible odds” (as said Ban Ki-moon) to end a civil war, after confronting with the deeply divided Security Council, Brahimi resigned. 

Lakhdar Brahimi is the second U.N.-Arab envoy to quit after failing to achieve a breakthrough in the more than 3-year-old conflict between the regime of President Bashar Assad and rebel groups.

When Brahimi took over from his longtime friend, former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan, he said it would be “an extremely complicated and very, very difficult mission”. On Tuesday, he indicated he could see no end in the near future to the bloodshed.

Lakhdar Brahimi, 80, is a former Algerian foreign minister and longtime U.N. diplomat and troubleshooter in hotspots from Afghanistan to Iraq. He said he was humbled by Ban’s “extremely generous words on this occasion which is not very pleasant for me.”

Overview of Russia’s Recent Foreign Policy, India Important for both US and Russia

Interview accorded The World Reporter journal.

As soon as Vladimir Putin assumed power in Kremlin last year, we have seen immense involvement of Russia in the international affairs. From Cyprus to Iran and Syria, the amount of aggressiveness Russia showed to maintain its interests was comparable to Soviet times. After a big gap of 20 years, when this huge nation was keeping a low profile since the collapse of Soviet Union, Russia’s recent active role in the world politics has given hopes that soon we are going to see a multipolar world ending US dominance. To discuss the mood in the Kremlin we interviewed Gabriela Ionita, Editor in chief of Power&Politics World who is also an expert in Russia’s international affairs.

TWR: After the collapse of Soviet Union, we saw Russia had gone under a cold state. There was almost negligible response from Russia on Iraq and Afghanistan war. But we could see some response from Russia on Libya, and now Russia has come out fully aggressively in Syria’s case. Do you think all these years, when Russia re-established itself on the global platform, it has prepared itself to take on western world again on global geopolitics issues? Are we going to see a bipolar or a multi polar world soon?

 G.I.: We are already part of a world with multiple power centers. President Obama’s speech, at the recent meeting of the UN, certifies such a perception of political analysts. To reduce the geopolitical equation only highly questionable relationship between U.S. and Russia is meaningless. There are numerous emerging economies from which even Russia and U.S. could learn some useful lessons. Also, there are many cooperation organizations to which the two are not only States, but also leaders and the need to find consensus solutions to highlight leadership. And last but not least, we see that today almost all the countries of the world – from the European Union, the Middle Orient, the Chinese and American societies – are faced, in one form or another, with the need to find new strategies and preserve their identity in the radically changing world, and Russia – a huge melting pot of ethnic groups and cultures – cannot make an exception from it.
putin_lodkaIn the last two decades, Russia has changed its political and ideological concepts as far as was possible with the legacy of the former USSR, legacy assumed open by the new leaders in Moscow. As you were saying, there was almost a negligible response from Russia on Iraq and Afghanistan war. But we must remember that Russia had its own catastrophic experience in Afghanistan, whose consequences are still felt in the minds of the Russian society. So it’s good to notice that after the disintegration of the USSR Russia has really felt what a collapsed state means. Its first and foremost priority was the domestic situation. It is known that the economic growth, prosperity and geopolitical influence are derivatives from the total condition of a settled society. After overcoming the urgent impediments of internal order, it was logical for Russia to wonder itself: ”who is ?” and where should it be looking on foreign policy for supporting its own interests. The first step, of course, was trying to gain the regional influence and, subsequent, the global influence and its returning to the table of the world’s great leaders.
Regarding the reaction to the conflict in Libya, I do not think that Russia had a clear strategy. This was more an attempt of the ex-president – the current prime minister Medvedev – to improve his personal political rating, which proved to be a rather unsuccessful attempt. Instead, Russia’s intention to protect its interests in the Middle East were seen in the intervention in Syria. Russia wants to be a major decider and even a major opponent when its interest dictates. And if you take a peek at the commercial agreements between Russia and Syria or Iran, it is easy to see that here the interests dictate.
 Contrary to controversial statements regarding Russia’s imperial obsessions, restoring the USSR and other such foolishness that the russophobias propaganda sites are full of, there is nothing unusual in Russia’s intentions. Looking closely and judging right, we can see that all the great and small powers of the world are doing everything they can to promote their economic interests and preserve their own sphere of influence. What differs are only the methods and strategies used. Some prefer to invoke the principles of democracy and human rights, other – the rule of law and veiled threats, other – economic pressures and direct threats, others – just shut up and do – the last statistically having the best results.
TWR: – But what do you think about the relations between Russia and the U.S. at the moment?
G.I.:  On one hand, it would be childish of us to believe that between two states that claim to be a global power pole there could be a relationship like ”milk with honey”. On the other hand, in spite of the officials declarations, the restart of Russian and American relations continued all along (sometimes even for reasons of internal propaganda of the two states) to be hunted by the ghosts of the Cold War. Nowadays, at the level of perception of public opinion I will quote Olga Kamenciuk, communications director of the Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion. “Lately, between Russia and the U.S. there are many differences. Mainly, this is on the cases such as Snowden and about Syria. Regarding Snowden, for example, most Russians thought that Russia’s position will worsen relations with the U.S., but only 15% are saying he does not have to be granted political asylum”. The same is the public opinion in the case of Syria. Russians understand that this situation will worsen relations with America, but prefer an independent position of their country on this issue. In the U.S., the situation is somewhat similar. According to Gallup (agency for marketing and social studies) for the first time since 2000, the number of those who consider Russia an enemy exceeded the number of those who see Russia as an ally.Shoigu_Rasmussen
But it’s good to remember that not always the public perception also means the reality behind the closed doors. U.S. and Russia worked together and effectively collaborate on the levels where the interests of the two coincide. The fight against terrorism, drug trafficking, aviation security, cyber-crime are some aspects of this collaboration. Then, behold, recently a NATO ship arrived in port at St. Petersburg as part of continued NATO-Russia Council military cooperation, and provided an opportunity for naval counterparts to meet and exchange experiences. And even when we are tempted to believe that relations between the U.S. and Russia are at their lowest level in a few days will take place in Brussels the first over two years meeting of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) at the level of Defense Ministers with the participation of Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu. The NATO headquarters considers Shoigu’s involvement in the meeting the unique opportunity to give an impetus to military relations between Russia and NATO in the field of security. So here, the reality is much more complex and cannot be reduced to categorical labels.
TWR: In spring, Cyprus approached Russia under financial crisis to seek potential bailout plan which Russia refused. Why do you think that Russia let go such a big opportunity of earning a partner in Mediterranean Sea, who was ready to offer its gas fields and warm water port at a strategically important place just under the nose of EU? 

G.I.: In reality, things are not so simple. Many people said they were surprised and wondered at the time why the Prime Minister Medvedev stepped out in the case the Cyprus crisis. […]

(Full text can be read here)

interview made by Sanskar Shrivastava, editor in chief of TWR