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Showing posts from January 17, 2013

Mexico's Drug War: Persisting Violence and a New President

Editor's Note: This week's Security Weekly summarizes our annual Mexico drug cartel report, in which we assess the most significant developments of 2012 and provide updated profiles of the country's powerful criminal cartels as well as a forecast for 2013. The report is a product of the coverage we maintain through our Mexico Security Memo, quarterly updates and other analyses that we produce throughout the year as part of the Mexico Security Monitor service.

In 2013, violence in Mexico likely will remain a significant threat nationwide to bystanders, law enforcement, military and local businesses. Overall levels of violence decreased during 2011, but cartel operations and competition continued to afflict several regions of Mexico throughout 2012. These dangers combined with continued fracturing among cartels, such as Los Zetas, could cause overall violence to increase this year.

A New President

2013 will be the first full year in office for Mexican President Enrique Pena Nie…

Hostages seized after deadly Algeria attack

Two people dead and dozens of local and foreign workers abducted by fighters demanding end to French operations in Mali. Last Modified: 17 Jan 2013 08:31 Armed fighters have kidnapped a group of foreign workers after killing at least two people in a raid near a southern Algerian gas field, apparently in retaliation against France's intervention in Mali, officials say.
A spokesperson for the "Masked Brigade", claiming to hold the hostages, said Wednesday's operation near the In Amenas field was to punish Algeria for allowing French jets to use its airspace in attacking al-Qaeda-linked rebel groups in Mali.
Later on Wednesday, the group claimed to have repelled an attempt by Algeria's army to enter the facility, according to Mauritania's ANI news agency. The army has now surrounded the facility.
"Forty-one Westerners including seven Americans, French, British and Japanese citizens have been taken hostage," the spokesperson said. "The operation was…

U.S. Sees Hazy Threat From Mali Militants

WASHINGTON — As Islamic militants methodically carved out a base in the desert of northern Mali over the past year, officials in Washington, Paris and African capitals struggling with military plans to drive the Islamists out of the country agreed on one principle: African troops, not European or American soldiers, would fight the battle of Mali.

But the surprise French assault last Friday to blunt the Islamists’ advance upended those plans and set off a cascading series of events, culminating in a raid on Wednesday by militants on a foreign-run gas field in Algeria. That attack threatens to widen the violence in an impoverished region and drag Western governments deeper into combating an incipient insurgency.

And yet the rush of events has masked the fact that officials in Washington still have only an impressionistic understanding of the militant groups that have established a safe haven in Mali, and they are divided about whether some of these groups even pose a threat to the Unite…

Militants Seize Americans and Other Hostages in Algeria

Published: January 17, 2013

BAMAKO, Mali — The French military assault on Islamist extremists in Mali escalated into a potentially much broader North African conflict on Wednesday when, in retribution, armed attackers in unmarked trucks seized an internationally managed natural gas field in neighboring Algeria and took at least 20 foreign hostages, including Americans.

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Amenas Gas Field

Algerian officials said at least two people, including a Briton, were killed in the assault, which began with an ambush on a bus trying to ferry gas-field workers to an airport.

The British Foreign Office confirmed that a British citizen had been killed in the attack but a spokeswoman declined to give details or identify the victim. Foreign Secretary William Hague said the hostages included "a number of British nationals. This is therefore an extremely dangerous situation."

Hundreds of Algerian security forces surrounded the gas-field compo…

Israel arms exports increase in 2012

Israel's military equipment exports for 2012 reached USD7 billion, according to preliminary estimates by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). The final figures are not expected until March, but if they are accurate, this represents a 20% increase over 2011 numbers local media reports said on 10 January. The country's defence exports have been increasing steadily over the past several years. The value of military hardware sold abroad was USD6.3 billion in 2008, rising to USD6.7 billion in 2009 and USD7.2 billion in 2010. The United States and Europe have long been the country's top customers for arms, followed by Southeast Asia and South America. The MoD has said its goal is to reach USD10 billion worth of weapons exports per year. Officials have said they hope to achieve this goal by increasing investment and aid to small and medium-sized companies. At the same time, the country's defence procurement numbers have stagnated. Israel went from spending USD1.88 billion on it…

USN's OSA strategy to help foster innovation, lower ownership costs

The US Navy (USN) has published its Open Systems Architecture (OSA) strategy, a four-page document to guide acquisition towards quicker innovation, reduced cycle times, and lower total ownership costs.
The strategy, published in early January 2013, is the culmination of a year's worth of work to pull together a four-year plan with concrete actions and is aligned with the Chief of Naval Operations' (CNO) emphasis on pursuing the concept of "payloads over platforms".
"If we want to get to reusable enterprise components where you have things that can be put across multiple platform types, then there are some things we have to change about the way we have to build them and the way we invest in them," Nickolas Guertin, director for transformation in the office of the deputy assistant secretary of the navy for research, development, test, and evaluation told IHS Jane's .
"My personal belief is we are not going to get big change in how much we spend on ou…