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Showing posts from October 17, 2013

Ready to Detonate: Saudi-backed Rebels Strap Bombs to Geneva-2 Talks

By Nile Bowie

October 16, 2013 - As Syria’s rebels refuse to take part in Geneva-2, Saudi Arabia has emerged as the primary state-backer of rebel groups now trying to escalate the Syrian conflict and topple Assad by force.

When Vladimir Putin met with Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia in August, the newly appointed Intelligence Chief reportedly tried to cut a deal with Moscow by promising to buy billions in Russian arms and pledging not to challenge Russian gas sales to Europe in exchange for withdrawing support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Though later refuted by the Kremlin, the media reports suggested that Bandar told Putin to forget about any political solution to the Syrian conflict.


In addition to being the main propagator of a militant anti-Shiite form of Islam that many rebel fighters subscribe to, the Saudi monarchy has become the chief financier of anti-Assad movements aimed at toppling the Syrian government and weakening its allies in Iran and Hezbollah. Russian diplomat…

NATO Standards in Former Warsaw Pact Countries

Summary


Former Warsaw Pact countries are steadily adopting NATO standards despite fiscal and industrial constraints. Romanian Defense Minister Mircea Dusa announced Oct. 10 that Romania had signed a 600 million-euro (about $815 million) contract for the purchase of retired Portuguese F-16 fighter aircraft. The F-16 aircraft will be modernized to extend their lifespan by 20 years and will steadily replace Romanian MiG-21 fighters upon their arrival in 2015. While the purchase of aging, secondhand aircraft highlights Romania's fiscal limitations, it also marks another step in the overall move toward NATO standards by ex-Warsaw Pact countries.

Analysis


NATO standardization is important for both new and old members of NATO for two key reasons. Operationally, NATO forces benefit from having interchangeable infrastructure and a network of supplies and logistics, from small arms ammunition to lighting systems. Utilizing the same communication and procedural doctrine means NATO members can…