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Showing posts from September 16, 2013

Taking on Syria's Air Defense Network

As the United States weighs a military response to the Syrian regime's reported use of chemical weapons, one of the largest concerns will involve countering Syria's robust air defense network. With an estimated 54,000 personnel, Syria's air defense network is twice the size of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's air force and air defense command combined at the start of the NATO campaign in 2011. Syria's Air Defense Command consists of the 24th and 26th anti-aircraft divisions, which comprise thousands of anti-aircraft guns and more than 130 surface-to-air missile (SAM) batteries.

The bulk of Syria's SAM weaponry is composed of the SA-2, SA-3, SA-5, SA-6 and SA-8 SAM systems, which were also operated by Gadhafi's forces. However, the Syrians operate these systems in far greater numbers, have devoted significant resources to maintaining and upgrading these missile batteries and have also successfully deployed their SAM systems in a dense and overlapping la…

Nigeria: Nasarawa Violence - Scores Killed, Houses Razed, 30,000 Displaced

The communal clash between the Ombatse and Alago tribes of Nasarawa state that began on Friday continued on Saturday, with the crisis extending to Obi local government main town and Assakio area of Lafia east.

The crisis, which started on Friday as a result of the resistance by Ombatse militia to the arrest of their member caught with weapons through a tipoff by Alago youths, has consumed the entire town of Assakio in Lafia east and part of Obi local government area as at the early hours of Saturday.

In Obi, the resident of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) North Central Zonal Chairman, Yusuf Ayitogo, was razed just like that of a former Commissioner for Agriculture in the state, Salihu Iyimoga.

The properties were reportedly touched by members of the Ombatse militia group. Two cars belonging to the PDP chieftain were also vandalized.

The youth spent the morning hours of Saturday attacking Obi village after which they proceeded to Assakio without any hinderance from security agencies as …

South Africa Seeks 'Balanced Trade' With China

South Africa is looking to foster a more balanced and sustainable trade relationship with China, Deputy Trade and Industry Minister Elizabeth Thabethe said at the opening of the last in a series of three South African expos in Beijing on Thursday.

The expo, taking place at the Beijing Exhibition Centre, is showcasing South Africa's top 10 value-added products and services for export to China, as well as the country's top 10 investment areas, including agro-processing, chemicals, and automotive steel and aluminium.

A total of 63 South African companies have been taking part in the expos, which began in Xiamen earlier this week before moving to Shanghai and now to Beijing.

China is South Africa's largest trading partner from both the import and export perspective, with South Africa's exports to China increasing from R6.4-billion in 2004 to just over R81-billion in 2012, while South Africa's imports from China grew to R120-billion in 2012.

South Africa places emphasis on …

Why did China’s Infrastructure for Resources deal fail in Nigeria? – By Emeka Umejei

I was on board the defunct Air Nigeria Airline to the Gambia for the Conference for African Ministers, Fisheries and Aquaculture (CAMFA) in 2010 when I encountered another Nigerian (Ikechukwu), who was alighting in Sierra Leone. We both boarded the aircraft in Lagos and soon I began to chat to him about political developments in Nigeria. The young man told me he had lived in China for more than a decade and was involved in business. After regaling me with the wonders of Chinese infrastructural development, he narrowed it down to his own venture in Nigeria.

“I brought a Chinese construction firm to negotiate construction of railway line in my state, on a public-private partnership model but they rejected it,” he told me. “The government officials who were in the driving seat said they preferred to award contracts, so that they can get their own cut of the deal.”

Ikechukwu’s account is not strange in Nigeria; it is almost a normative for government officials to want to profit from project…

South African Coal Mines and Power Stations

South Africa has a significant extractive industry and many natural resources. From gold to diamonds to platinum to coal, the country's economy is founded upon its mineral wealth. In the case of coal, much of the ore is found concentrated in the north-central region of the country, a characteristic shared across South Africa's mineral resource base.

These industries employ a high number of workers and constitute the bulk of South Africa's exports, and consequently they can significantly affect the value of the South African rand. Any degradation in the health of these sectors indirectly affects other economic sectors. For example, coal-fired power plants generate the majority of the country's electricity and are also used for industrial input purposes. A significant amount of coal is exported to markets in South Asia and East Asia.

Labor contract negotiations are currently taking place between South African coal companies and unionized miners. Wage negotiations in Sout…

Putin Plays Up Russian Strength

Russian President Vladimir Putin is playing to several audiences as he tries to exploit the crisis in Syria and convince the Russian periphery that his country is stronger than it actually is. And he must do all this while managing Russia's domestic problems.

On Wednesday, Putin published an op-ed in The New York Times, in which he reflected on Russia's proposal to remove chemical weapons from Syria -- an article that came one day after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. He also discussed Russia's intent to protect international law and the dangers of U.S. military intervention in Syria.

But it was Putin's parting words that grabbed the attention of the U.S. media. He explicitly criticized American exceptionalism, saying that it is "extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional," adding that "we are all different" and that "we must not forget that God created us equal.&qu…