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Showing posts from November 12, 2013

Peru receives US-donated J8 vehicles

The Peruvian Army has accepted 38 new Jeep J8 light utility vehicles donated by the United States.

The new vehicles are meant to increase Peruvian forces' mobility for counter-insurgency and counter-narcotics operations in the troubled Valle del Rio Apurimac, Ene y Mantaro (VRAEM) region.

The US donation is seen as a boost for Peruvian operations in the VRAEM, where the remainder of the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso - SL) militant group and most of the Peruvian narcotics production are concentrated.

Moreover, the Peruvian Army is considering buying about 100 light vehicles to provide mobility for new Spike Long Range and Spike Extended Range anti-tank guided missiles and for liaison and utility purposes.

Iraq starts taking delivery of Russian Mi-35 helicopters

Key Points
Iraq has begun to receive Russian Mi-35 'Hind' helicopters
The state is ordering Mi-35 and Mi-28 helicopters despite earlier concerns about corruption

Iraq has received the first of four Russian-built Mi-35 'Hind' helicopters, according to Iraqi government officials and press reports.

The Iraqi government has ordered a total of about 40 Mi-35 and 40 Mi-28 'Havoc' attack helicopters from Russia, according to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

The rest of the helicopters will arrive in batches over the coming weeks, according to the post.

The purchase is part of a broader multi-billion arms deal with Russia. IHS Jane's reported in June 2013 that the deal also includes more than 40 Pantsyr-S1 mobile air-defence systems, and other media reports note that a Ka-52 'Hokum-B' twin-seat attack helicopter is part of the deal as well.

Iraq almost cancelled the weapons agreement with Russia earlier this year due to concerns about corruption. In March, h…

The Secret Diary of Abu Zubaydah, from Student to Hardline Jihadi and CIA Torture

Remarkable personal account released of Guantanamo detainee allegedly responsible for planning 9/11 atrocity and other major attacks

By Rupert Cornwell

November 11, 2013 - "The Independent" --  The private diaries of Abu Zubaydah, who is currently one of the most prominent remaining detainees in Guantanamo Bay, have been revealed by Al Jazeera.
They offer a remarkable and personal picture of how al-Qa'ida grew from its origins in the mujahedin struggle against the Soviet occupiers of Afghanistan into the organisation that carried out the 2001 attacks against the US. They track Zubaydah's journey from a student to a hardened jihadi. The diaries, reportedly obtained by journalist Jason Leopold from a former intelligence officer, cover more than a decade. They start in 1990 when Zubaydah - a Saudi-born Palestinian - was a 19-year-old student in computer sciences in Mysore, India, a few months before he travelled to join the Afghan civil war that followed the Soviet departure…

Colombia's River Revitalization Plan

The Magdalena River -- along with the Amazon, Parana and Orinoco -- is one of the great rivers of Latin America. From pre-colonial times until the early 20th century, the Magdalena served as the primary means of transportation, linking Colombia's mountainous interior with the coast. Existing roads were poor, rail was underdeveloped and air travel was nonexistent. Flat-bottomed riverboats (powered first by hand, then by steam and finally by diesel engines) became a primary means of transportation of both goods and passengers. However, due to certain characteristics of the river -- such as inadequate depth, shifting sand banks and erosion, as well as competition from other modes of transport -- scalability proved to be a challenge. By the mid-1950s, the river had peaked in importance, settling into a steady devolution that has continued to this day.

From the present perspective the Magdalena has lost nearly all of its economic relevance due to competition from roads and railways. Onl…

Colombia: The Impact of Reviving the Magdalena River


Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced Nov. 3 that the government would invest 2.2 trillion pesos (roughly $1.2 billion) in restoring the navigability of the Magdalena River, Colombia's primary waterway and conduit between the Andean interior and the Caribbean coast. The initiative, first conceived in the late 1990s, is just one component of the Santos administration's larger attempt to develop Colombia's transportation matrix and create more cost-competitive options for getting goods to market.

While the project will have some positive effects, such as lowering transportation costs for the energy sector, the venture is no panacea. Fluvial transport will continue to account for a small percentage of overall freight in Colombia, and the country will still struggle with high transportation costs due to the overall inadequacy of existing infrastructure, namely its road and rail networks and intermodal facilities.


The Magdalena River -- along with the …

East African Infrastructure Development, Part I: The Central Corridor


Editor's Note: This is a four-part series on the development of transport infrastructure in East Africa. The region is looking to expand its economy and increase international trade as it becomes a seemingly attractive destination for low-end manufacturing. Part 1 examines the factors behind the drive to improve and expand the region's transport infrastructure and the possibilities and limitations in the Central Corridor.

East Africa's existing transport infrastructure is limited in its capacity and efficiency. If the countries in East Africa are to expand their commercial operations and attract new activity, particularly manufacturing, more reliable transportation networks will be needed.

The Central Corridor transport route is crucial to the movement of exports (especially mining exports) from inland areas to the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam. However, the railroads in the Central Corridor need to be upgraded, if not replaced outright. Countries with interests in…