Friday, February 07, 2014

Indian defence purchases may be on hold till after Lok Sabha elections

...With the Indian parliamentary elections looming in the background, fresh defence purchases are likely to be put on hold, even as funds are being diverted to meet the rising operational costs of India’s armed forces.

India’s Ministry of Finance had refused to allocate an additional 80 billion rupees ($1.3 billion) to the armed forces to cover the costs associated with rising fuel prices and paying salaries to servicemen. The Ministry of Defense has since recommended that these costs be covered with funds that had been earmarked for purchasing weapons.

“Among the transactions that had been planned, but did not take place, there are several agreements that deserve mention,” Ali Ahmed, a strategic analyst and former research fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses told Izvestiya. “These include an as-yet unsigned contract for the purchase of 126 French Rafale multirole fighter aircraft, and tenders for purchasing new artillery systems, purchasing 197 light helicopters, and for constructing six new submarines.” Ahmed added that Russian companies “had a good chance of winning the last two contracts.”...

Link Russia and India Report

-bth: basically declining rupee and rising fuel costs have drained equipment procurement dollars from India.  But common and long lasting interests between Russia and India will keep this relationship strong especially with co-production.  Plus the departure of US and other NATO countries from Afghanistan will strengthen the common purpose and interests of India and Russia in that region.

China's Military Rise Forcing Asian Defense Splurge

...Asian defense spending in 2013 was 11.6 percent higher than in 2010, in real terms, the IISS said. The largest absolute spending increases in the past year were in East Asia, with China, Japan and South Korea accounting for more than half.

China now spends around three times as much as India on defense, and more than neighbors Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam combined.

“These outlays are fueling heightened military procurement in a region replete with conflicting territorial claims as well as long-standing potential flashpoints,” said IISS director-general John Chipman.

“Not least because of the Asia-Pacific’s central place in the global economy, the rapid pace of capability development and the potential for accidental conflict and escalation will continue to be of concern.”...

‘Saudi-India defense cooperation pact next month’

RIYADH: India and Saudi Arabia are all set to ink a defense cooperation pact during the visit of Crown Prince and Defense Minister Salman Bin Abdulaziz to New Delhi next month.

“The proposed memorandum of understanding (MoU) for defense cooperation will be signed during the visit of Crown Prince Salman to New Delhi sometime in February this year,” Finance Minister P Chidambaram said here in an interview to Arab News.
The proposed defense pact will allow shared use and exchange of defense-related information, military training and education as well as cooperation in areas varying from hydrography and security to logistics.
Chidambaram, who held talks with the Crown Prince during his two-day stay in the Saudi capital, said the Kingdom and India “have been able to make significant progress in relationship over the past few years.”

A joint panel constituted by Saudi Arabia and India has been working on a draft defense pact, which was agreed upon by Crown Prince Salman and the Defense Minister A K Antony during the latter’s visit to Riyadh in 2012.

The recently concluded joint commission meeting (JCM), which was co-chaired by Chidambaram and Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, Saudi Minister of Commerce and Industry, also called for “boosting cooperation in security fields, especially exchange of information to curb crime, money laundering and drug trafficking.”
Observing that India and Saudi Arabia have made substantive progress in addressing issues of common concerns, the Indian Minister said: “We will continue to enhance cooperation in addressing common issues.” –PTI

Drone Flying Over Crash Scene Has Police, FAA Concerned

Drone Flying Over Crash Scene Has Police, FAA Concerned: Police say they spotted a drone flying over a fatal accident scene, and the police are concerned about officer safety and public privacy. The FAA is investigating.

-bth: frankly this is a legitimate concern for law enforcement. The FAA needs to take some formal action to legalize drone use for commercial purposes but set some operational parameters on their use along practical guidelines.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Russia Cancels Second Consecutive Government Bond Auction Due To "Market Conditions" -Zero Hedge

In the aftermath of yesterday's Developed Market rout, it may come as a surprise how - relatively - quiet the EM bourses were. Because while the now ongoing Argentina reserve depletion continues (the country has $28 billion left - a drain of over $2 billion in two weeks, the Turkish political instability is still there, and everyone from Hungary to South Africa to India are lamenting the Fed's taper, for the most part traders were ignoring developments out of the emerging world. This may change today when just over an hour ago, Russia announced it would cancel a bond auction for the second consecutive week after an emerging-market rout sent yields on January 2028 bonds to record highs. The reason cite: market conditions....

bth: right now financial markets are noticing the collapse of emerging market equity markets, but largely ignoring the strong political stability issues that are coming along with it.  Major elections are scheduled this coming quarter in India and Turkey.  South Africa, Ukraine, Thailand are all very unstable right now as well. I think 2014 will be very unstable with major political instabilities occurring as a result of extraordinary poor monetary and fiscal policies by the US and others.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Al-Qaida fighters in Syria kill rival rebel leader - Indian Express

Syrian activists say al-Qaida fighters have killed the military leader of a rival Islamic brigade in a twin car bombing near the northern city of Aleppo, an attack  likely to further exacerbate rebel infighting.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said late Saturday that the al-Qaida linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant killed 26 people on Saturday attack, near the base of a rival rebel group.
The Syrian rebel group, known as the Tawheed Brigades, confirmed the attack on Twitter, saying in an interview they posted that their commander, Adnan Bakour was killed.
A coalition of rebel groups has for weeks been fighting the Islamic State, a group resented by many rebels for its perceived arrogance and extremism.
-bth: it appears to me that most of the violence in Syria is now between rebel factions.  The ISIL extemists are out of control like rabid dogs biting at everything they see.

Iranian commander: We have targets within America- Daily Caller

A top commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards boasted Saturday that his forces have plans in place to attack the United States from within, should the U.S. attack the Islamic Republic.

“America, with its strategic ignorance, does not have a full understanding of the power of the Islamic Republic,” Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami said in a televised interview. “We have recognized America’s military strategy, and have arranged our abilities, and have identified centers in America [for attack] that will create a shock.”

Reports indicate that terrorist Hezbollah forces — allies of Iran — have infiltrated the U.S. and have mapped out targets.

“We will conduct such a blow in which they [America] will be destroyed from within,” Salami said.
This is the second warning by a high-ranking officer of the Guards in two weeks. The chief commander of the Guards, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Jafari, addressing Secretary of State John Kerry, said on Jan. 24 that a direct conflict with America is the “strongest dream of the faithful and revolutionary men around the world.”

Kerry had previously said that if Iran did not live up to the agreement reached in Geneva on its nuclear program, “all options are on the table.”

“Your threats to revolutionary Islam are the best opportunity,” Jafari had said. “Muslim leaders for years have been preparing us for a decisive battle.… Do you know how many thousands of revolutionary Muslims at the heart of the Islamic revolutionary groups around the world are awaiting for you to take this [military] option from the table into action?”
-bth: Salami is a very dangerous adversary. Speeches like these are for Iranian domestic consumption. Is Salami being sidelined by the logical course of more rational leaders on both sides?