▲ Protest in London in October 2018 after the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi [John Lubbock, Wikimedia Commons].
ANALYSIS / Naomi Moreno Cosgrove
October 2nd last year was the last time Jamal Khashoggi-a well-known journalist and critic of the Saudi government-was seen alive. The Saudi writer, United States resident and Washington Post columnist, had entered the Saudi consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul with the aim of obtaining documentation that would certify he had divorced his previous wife, so he could remarry; but never left.
After weeks of divulging bits of information, the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, laid out his first detailed account of the killing of the dissident journalist inside the Saudi Consulate. Eighteen days after Khashoggi disappeared, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) acknowledged that the 59-year-old writer had died after his disappearance, revealing in their investigation findings that Jamal Khashoggi died after an apparent "fist-fight" inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul; but findings were not reliable. Resultantly, the acknowledgement by the KSA of the killing in its own consulate seemed to pose more questions than answers.
Eventually, after weeks of repeated denials that it had anything to do with his disappearance, the contradictory scenes, which were the latest twists in the "fast-moving saga", forced the kingdom to eventually acknowledge that indeed it was Saudi officials who were behind the gruesome murder thus damaging the image of the kingdom and its 33-year-old crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). What had happened was that the culmination of these events, including more than a dozen Saudi officials who reportedly flew into Istanbul and entered the consulate just before Khashoggi was there, left many skeptics wondering how it was possible for MBS to not know. Hence, the world now casts doubt on the KSA's explanation over Khashoggi's death, especially when it comes to the shifting explanations and MBS' role in the conspiracy.
As follows, the aim of this study is to examine the backlash Saudi Arabia's alleged guilt has caused, in particular, regarding European state-of-affairs towards the Middle East country. To that end, I will analyze various actions taken by European countries which have engaged in the matter and the different modus operandi these have carried out in order to reject a bloodshed in which arms selling to the kingdom has become the key issue.
Since Khashoggi went missing and while Turkey promised it would expose the "naked truth" about what happened in the Saudi consulate, Western countries had been putting pressure on the KSA for it to provide facts about its ambiguous account on the journalist's death. In a joint statement released on Sunday 21st October 2018, the United Kingdom, France and Germany said, "There remains an urgent need for clarification of exactly what happened on 2nd October - beyond the hypotheses that have been raised so far in the Saudi investigation, which need to be backed by facts to be considered credible." What happened after the kingdom eventually revealed the truth behind the murder, was a rather different backlash. In fact, regarding post-truth reactions amongst European countries, rather divergent responses have occurred.
Terminating arms selling exports to the KSA had already been carried out by a number of countries since the kingdom launched airstrikes on Yemen in 2015; a conflict that has driven much of Yemen's population to be victims of an atrocious famine. The truth is that arms acquisition is crucial for the KSA, one of the world's biggest weapons importers which is heading a military coalition in order to fight a proxy war in which tens of thousands of people have died, causing a major humanitarian catastrophe. In this context, calls for more constraints have been growing particularly in Europe since the killing of the dissident journalist. These countries, which now demand transparent clarifications in contrast to the opacity in the kingdom's already-given explanations, are threatening the KSA with suspending military supply to the kingdom.
COUNTRIES THAT HAVE CEASED ARMS SELLING
Probably one of the best examples with regards to the ceasing of arms selling-after not being pleased with Saudi state of affairs-is Germany. Following the acknowledgement of what happened to Khashoggi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared in a statement that she condemned his death with total sharpness, thus calling for transparency in the context of the situation, and stating that her government halted previously approved arms exports thus leaving open what would happen with those already authorized contracts, and that it wouldn't approve any new weapons exports to the KSA: "I agree with all those who say that the, albeit already limited, arms export can't take place in the current circumstances," she said at a news conference.
So far this year, the KSA was the second largest customer in the German defense industry just after Algeria, as until September last year, the German federal government allocated export licenses of arms exports to the kingdom worth 416.4 million euros. Respectively, according to German Foreign Affair Minister, Heiko Maas, Germany was the fourth largest exporter of weapons to the KSA.
This is not the first time the German government has made such a vow. A clause exists in the coalition agreement signed by Germany's governing parties earlier in 2018 which stated that no weapons exports may be approved to any country "directly" involved in the Yemeni conflict in response to the kingdom's countless airstrikes carried out against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in the area for several years. Yet, what is clear is that after Khashoggi's murder, the coalition's agreement has been exacerbated. Adding to this military sanction Germany went even further and proposed explicit sanctions to the Saudi authorities who were directly linked to the killing. As follows, by stating that "there are more questions unanswered than answered," Maas declared that Germany has issued the ban for entering Europe's border-free Schengen zone-in close coordination with France and Britain-against the 18 Saudi nationals who are "allegedly connected to this crime."
Following the decision, Germany has thus become the first major US ally to challenge future arms sales in the light of Khashoggi's case and there is thus a high likelihood that this deal suspension puts pressure on other exporters to carry out the same approach in the light of Germany's Economy Minister, Peter Altmaier's, call on other European Union members to take similar action, arguing that "Germany acting alone would limit the message to Riyadh."
Following the line of the latter claim, on November 9th last year, Norway became the first country to back Germany's decision when it announced it would freeze new licenses for arms exports to the KSA. Resultantly, in her statement, Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ine Eriksen Søreide, declared that the government had decided that in the present situation they will not give new licenses for the export of defence material or multipurpose good for military use to Saudi Arabia. According to the Søreide, this decision was taken after "a broad assessment of recent developments in Saudi Arabia and the unclear situation in Yemen." Although Norwegian ministry spokesman declined to say whether the decision was partly motivated by the murder of the Saudi journalist, not surprisingly, Norway's announcement came a week after its foreign minister called the Saudi ambassador to Oslo with the aim of condemning Khashoggi's assassination. As a result, the latter seems to imply Norway's motivations were a mix of both; the Yemeni conflict and Khashoggi's death.
Denmark and Finland
By following a similar decision made by neighboring Germany and Norway-despite the fact that US President Trump backed MBS, although the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had assessed that the crown prince was responsible for the order of the killing-Denmarkand Finland both announced that they would also stop exporting arms to the KSA.
Emphasising on the fact that they were "now in a new situation"-after the continued deterioration of the already terrible situation in Yemen and the killing of the Saudi journalist-Danish Foreign Minister, Anders Samuelsen, stated that Denmark would proceed to cease military exports to the KSA remarking that Denmark already had very restrictive practices in this area and hoped that this decision would be able to create a "further momentum and get more European Union (EU) countries involved in the conquest to support tight implementation of the Union's regulatory framework in this area."
Although this ban is still less expansive compared to German measures-which include the cancellation of deals that had already been approved-Denmark's cease of goods' exports will likely crumble the kingdom's strategy, especially when it comes to technology. Danish exports to the KSA, which were mainly used for both military and civilian purposes, are chiefly from BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, a subsidiary of the United Kingdom's BAE Systems, which sold technology that allowed Intellectual Property surveillance and data analysis for use in national security and investigation of serious crimes. The suspension thus includes some dual-use technologies, a reference to materials that were purposely thought to have military applications in favor of the KSA.
On the same day Denmark carried out its decision, Finland announced they were also determined to halt arms export to Saudi Arabia. Yet, in contrast to Norway's approach, Finnish Prime Minister, Juha Sipilä, held that, of course, the situation in Yemen lead to the decision, but that Khashoggi's killing was "entirely behind the overall rationale".
Finnish arms exports to the KSA accounted for 5.3 million euros in 2017. Nevertheless, by describing the situation in Yemen as "catastrophic", Sipilä declared that any existing licenses (in the region) are old, and in these circumstances, Finland would refuse to be able to grant updated ones. Although, unlike Germany, Helsinki's decision does not revoke existing arms licenses to the kingdom, the Nordic country has emphasized the fact that it aims to comply with the EU's arms export criteria, which takes particular account of human rights and the protection of regional peace, security and stability, thus casting doubt on the other European neighbours which, through a sense of incoherence, have not attained to these values.
Speaking in supranational terms, the European Parliament agreed with the latter countries and summoned EU members to freeze arms sales to the kingdom in the conquest of putting pressure on member states to emulate Germany's decision.
By claiming that arms exports to Saudi Arabia were breaching international humanitarian law in Yemen, the European Parliament called for sanctions on those countries that refuse to respect EU rules on weapons sales. In fact, the latest attempt in a string of actions compelling EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to dictate an embargo against the KSA, including a letter signed by MEPs from several parties.
Rapporteur for a European Parliament report on EU arms exports, Bodil Valero said: "European weapons are contributing to human rights abuses and forced migration, which are completely at odds with the EU's common values". As a matter of fact, two successful European Parliament resolutions have hitherto been admitted, but its advocates predicted that some member states especially those who share close trading ties with the kingdom are deep-seated, may be less likely to cooperate. Fact that has eventually occurred.
COUNTRIES THAT HAVE NOT CEASED ARMS SELLING
In contrast to the previously mentioned countries, other European states such as France, UK and Spain, have approached the issue differently and have signalled that they will continue "business as usual".
Both France and the KSA have been sharing close diplomatic and commercial relations ranging from finance to weapons. Up to now, France relished the KSA, which is a bastion against Iranian significance in the Middle East region. Nevertheless, regarding the recent circumstances, Paris now faces a daunting challenge.
Just like other countries, France Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, announced France condemned the killing "in the strongest terms" and demanded an exhaustive investigation. "The confirmation of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi's death is a first step toward the establishment of the truth. However, many questions remain unanswered," he added. Following this line, France backed Germany when sanctioning the 18 Saudi citizens thus mulling a joint ban from the wider visa-free Schengen zone. Nevertheless, while German minister Altmeier summoned other European countries to stop selling arms to Riyadh-until the Saudi authorities gave the true explanation on Khashoggi's death-, France refused to report whether it would suspend arms exports to the KSA. "We want Saudi Arabia to reveal all the truth with full clarity and then we will see what we can do," he told in a news conference.
In this context, Amnesty International France has become one of Paris' biggest burdens. The organization has been putting pressure on the French government for it to freeze arms sales to the realm. Hence, by acknowledging France is one of the five biggest arms exporters to Riyadh-similar to the Unites States and Britain-Amnesty International France is becoming aware France's withdrawal from the arms sales deals is crucial in order to look at the Yemeni conflict in the lens of human rights rather than from a non-humanitarian-geopolitical perspective. Meanwhile, France tries to justify its inaction. When ministry deputy spokesman Oliver Gauvin was asked whether Paris would mirror Berlin's actions, he emphasized the fact that France's arms sales control policy was meticulous and based on case-by-case analysis by an inter-ministerial committee. According to French Defence Minister Florence Parly, France exported 11 billion euros worth of arms to the kingdom from 2008 to 2017, fact that boosted French jobs. In 2017 alone, licenses conceivably worth 14.7 billion euros were authorized. Moreover, she went on stating that those arms exports take into consideration numerous criteria among which is the nature of exported materials, the respect of human rights, and the preservation of peace and regional security. "More and more, our industrial and defence sectors need these arms exports. And so, we cannot ignore the impact that all of this has on our defence industry and our jobs," she added. As a result, despite President Emmanuel Macron has publicly sought to devalue the significance relations with the KSA have, minister Parly, seemed to suggest the complete opposite.
Anonymously, a government minister held it was central that MBS retained his position. "The challenge is not to lose MBS, even if he is not a choir boy. A loss of influence in the region would cost us much more than the lack of arms sales". Notwithstanding France's ambiguity, Paris' inconclusive attitude is indicating France's clout in the region is facing a vulnerable phase. As president Macron told MBS at a side-line G20 summit conversation in December last year, he is worried. Although the context of this chat remains unclear, many believe Macron's intentions were to persuade MBS to be more transparent as a means to not worsen the kingdom's reputation and thus to, potentially, dismantle France's bad image.
As it was previously mentioned, the United Kingdom took part in the joint statement carried out also by France and Germany through its foreign ministers which claimed there was a need for further explanations regarding Khashoggi's killing. Yet, although Britain's Foreign Office said it was considering its "next steps" following the KSA's admission over Khashoggi's killing, UK seems to be taking a rather similar approach to France-but not Germany-regarding the situation.
In 2017, the UK was the sixth-biggest arms dealer in the world, and the second-largest exporter of arms to the KSA, behind the US. This is held to be a reflection of a large spear in sales last year. After the KSA intervened in the civil war in Yemen in early 2015, the UK approved more than 3.5billion euros in military sales to the kingdom between April 2015 and September 2016.
As a result, Theresa May has been under pressure for years to interrupt arms sales to the KSA especially after human rights advocates claimed the UK was contributing to alleged violations of international humanitarian law by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. Adding to this, in 2016, a leaked parliamentary committee report suggested that it was likely that British weapons had been used by the Saudi-led coalition to violate international law, and that manufactured aircraft by BAE Systems, have been used in combat missions in Yemen.
Lately, in the context of Khashoggi's death things have aggravated and the UK is now facing a great amount of pressure, mainly embodied by UK's main opposition Labour party which calls for a complete cease in its arms exports to the KSA. In addition, in terms of a more international strain, the European Union has also got to have a say in the matter. Philippe Lamberts, the Belgian leader of the Green grouping of parties, said that Brexit should not be an excuse for the UK to abdicate on its moral responsibilities and that Theresa May had to prove that she was keen on standing up to the kind of atrocious behaviour shown by the killing of Khashoggi and hence freeze arms sales to Saudi Arabia immediately.
Nonetheless, in response and laying emphasis on the importance the upholding relationship with UK's key ally in the Middle East has, London has often been declining calls to end arms exports to the KSA. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt defended there will be "consequences to the relationship with Saudi Arabia" after the killing of Khashoggi, but he has also pointed out that the UK has an important strategic relationship with Riyadh which needs to be preserved. As a matter of fact, according to some experts, UK's impending exit from the EU has played a key role. The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) claims Theresa May's pursuit for post-Brexit trade deals has seen an unwelcome focus on selling arms to some of the world's most repressive regimes. Nevertheless, by thus tackling the situation in a similar way to France, the UK justifies its actions by saying that it has one of the most meticulous permitting procedures in the world by remarking that its deals comprehend safeguards that counter improper uses.
After Saudi Arabia's gave its version for Khashoggi's killing, the Spanish government said it was "dismayed" and echoed Antonio Guterres' call for a thorough and transparent investigation to bring justice to all of those responsible for the killing. Yet, despite the clamor that arose after the murder of the columnist, just like France and the UK, Spain's Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, defended arms exporting to the KSA by claiming it was in Spain's interest to keep selling military tools to Riyadh. Sanchez held he stood in favor of Spain's interests, namely jobs in strategic sectors that have been badly affected by "the drama that is unemployment". Thusly, proclaiming Spain's unwillingness to freeze arms exports to the kingdom. In addition, even before Khashoggi's killing, Sanchez's government was subject to many critics after having decided to proceed with the exporting of 400 laser-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia, despite worries that they could harm civilians in Yemen. Notwithstanding this, Sanchez justified Spain's decision in that good ties with the Gulf state, a key commercial partner for Spain, needed to be kept.
As a matter of fact, Spain's state-owned shipbuilder Navantia, in which 5,500 employees work, signed a deal in July last year which accounted for 1.8 billion euros that supplied the Gulf country with five navy ships. This shipbuilder is situated in the southern region of Andalusia, a socialist bulwark which accounts for Spain's highest unemployment estimates and which has recently held regional elections. Hence, it was of the socialist president's interest to keep these constituencies pleased and the means to this was, of course, not interrupting arms deals with the KSA.
As a consequence, Spain has recently been ignoring the pressures that have arose from MEP's and from Sanchez's minorities in government-Catalan separatist parties and far-left party Podemos- which demand a cease in arms exporting. For the time being, Spain will continue business with the KSA as usual.
All things considered, while Saudi Arabia insists that MBS was not aware of the gruesome murder and is distracting the international attention towards more positive headlines-suchas the appointment of the first female ambassador to the US-inorder to clear the KSA's image in the context of Khashoggi's murder, several European countries have taken actions against the kingdom's interests. Yet, the way each country has approached the matter has led to the rise of two separate blocks which are at discordance within Europe itself. Whereas some European leaders have shown a united front in casting blame on the Saudi government, others seem to express geopolitical interests are more important.
During the time Germany, Norway, Denmark and Finland are being celebrated by human rights advocates for following through on their threat to halt sales to the kingdom, bigger arms exporters-like those that have been analyzed-have pointed out that the latter nations have far less to lose than they do. Nonetheless, inevitably, the ceasing carried out by the northern European countries which are rather small arms exporters in comparison to bigger players such as the UK and France, is likely to have exacerbated concerns within the European arms industry of a growing anti-Saudi consensus in the European Union or even beyond.
What is clear is that due to the impact Saudi Arabia's state of affairs have caused, governments and even companies worldwide are coming under pressure to abandon their ties to the oil-rich, but at the same time, human-rights-violating Saudi Arabian leadership. Resultantly, in Europe, countries are taking part in two divergent blocks that are namely led by two of the EU's most compelling members: France and Germany. These two sides are of rather distant opinions regarding the matter, fact that does not seem to be contributing in terms of the so-much-needed European Union integration.
ESSAY / Marina Díaz Escudero
Since 2015, Europe has been dealing with an unprecedented scale of migration from different parts of the world, mainly from MENA (Middle East and North Africa). People flee their countries due to war, bad living conditions or a lack of opportunities for wellbeing.
Although Europe characterises itself for its solidarity, liberty, values and respect for other countries and cultures, such a large flow of immigration seriously tests the European project. For instance, the Schengen system of passport-free travel could collapse as fearful countries enhance their border controls, to the disadvantage of European citizens. "The Schengen system is being more and more questioned and most opinion polls highlight the correlation between the fear of immigration and the distrust of the citizens of the member states towards European institutions. "1 The migration crisis is also considered a "threat for the European project's constitutional stability and for its fundamental values" (Spijkerboer, 2016). 1
Divisions between northern and southern EU countries, and between them and the Visegrad countries have clearly intensified due to this problem, especially after the approval, in 2015, of some quotas of relocation of refugees that were critisised and voted against by Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Due to this lack of consensus but also due to the delay of other EU countries in complying with the quotas, a treaty was signed between the EU and Turkey in March 2016 so that most refugees arriving to Europe through Greece would be immediately returned to Turkey2.
Understandably, EU countries are mostly concerned with the prevention of illegal immigration and with border-control policies, as well as with the need of reaching an agreement for an egalitarian distribution of arriving migrants, most of them being asylum seekers and refugees. Nevertheless, this will probably not be enough to satisfy both the European citizens and the migrants: root causes of migration may need to be solved as soon as possible to prevent people from fleeing their homes. This gives the EU food for thought: addressing the migration problem without focusing on the prevention of migration in the countries of origin may not be a lasting, long-term solution. "The instability, insecurity, terrorism, poverty, famine and climate change besetting large parts of Africa and the Middle East are the root causes of migration, but the European Union (EU) governments have come around to this too late, engaging essentially in damage-limitation exercises at our borders. "3
According to World Bank data, in 2017 over 8 million migrants came from "the Arab world" and from these, 6 million fleed the Syrian Arab Republic4. The war in Syria, originally between Bashar al Assad's regime and the rebel opposition, and currently a proxy war involving various international actors, turns the country into one of the greatest sources of migrants. The fact that over a million of them live in Lebanon (currently accounting for a 30% of the population) , a country who didn't sign the 1951 Refugee Convention and who has been trying to deport the migrants for years now, is worrying. Due to the "fuelling tensions between Lebanese host communities and the Syrian refugees" the Lebanese government has taken some more restrictive measures towards migrants, such as the banning of the construction of formal refugee camps. This for sure puts additional pressure on the EU5.
In order to comprehend the European Union's vision and strategy on Syria, and whether the institution and its members are willing to fight the root causes of its situation, one must consider the words of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, in her speech at the Conference of Brussels in April 2018:
"[In this conference] we had representatives of over 85 countries and international organizations, international and Syrian civil society. [...] We identified common ground on at least 2 or 3 issues: one is that there is no military solution to the war in Syria and that there is a need that everyone recognizes to relaunch the political process. The second element on which I have not found any divergent view is the key role of the United Nations in leading this political process. This is extremely important for us, the European Union, because we have always consistently identified in the UN and in Staffa de Mistura the only legitimate leadership to ensure that the political process represents all Syrians in intra-Syrian talks and happens along the lines of the United Nations Security Council resolutions already adopted. The third element is the need to support Syrians inside Syria and in the neighbouring countries, with humanitarian aid, financial support but also to support hosting communities, in particular neighbouring countries".6
The Vice-President of the European Commission basically makes three clear statements: the European institution will by no means intervene militarily in Syria, neither will it take the initiative to start a political process or peaceful negotiation in the country (it will only support the UN-led process), but it will clearly invest economically both in the country and in its citizens to improve their conditions.
Defence of the UN-led political process
Once a solely-European military intervention has been discarded (due to a lack of consensus among countries on a common defense policy and to the already effective existence of NATO in this regard), the EU considers its role in a political solution to the Syrian conflict, which would clearly reduce migration numbers.
According to the European Council in its conclusions on Syria of April 2018, "the momentum of the current situation should be used to reinvigorate the process to find a political resolution of the Syrian conflict [...] A lasting peace in Syria is the ultimate objective of the EU".7 The Council makes clear that it will not create a new EU-led political process but that it will support the UN's: "...any sustainable solution to the conflict requires a genuine political transition in line with UNSCR 2254 and the 2012 Geneva Communique negotiated by the Syrian parties within the UN-led Geneva process."
The UN currently takes part in two parallel processes: inter-Syrian conversations in Geneva and the Conversations in Astana. The first looks for a dialogue solution to the conflict and participants are the Syrian government, a delegation from the opposition and the UN Special Envoy for Syria. Until now, 9 rounds of talks have taken place, the last focused on the elaboration of a new constitution for the country. The second process is promoted by Russia, Iran and Turkey, guarantors of the peace process in Syria. Conversations started in 2017 with the aim of consolidating the cease-fire and preparing the way for a political solution to the war. The last round of talks took place in Sochi this past July8.
But things aren't as easy as they seem.
UN special envoy for Syria will soon be replaced by the Norwegian Geir Pedersen making future lines of action unpredictable for us. We know, however, what the starting point will be. In the ordinary UN session held on the past 20th December, de Mistura stated that they had "almost completed the job of starting a constitutional commitee to write a constitutional reform, as a contribution to the political process, but still have to go one more mile. "9
Such a commiteee would be composed of 150 persons, a third of which should be appointed by the Syrian regime, another third by the opposition and the last one by UN designated persons. This last point has been repeatedly opposed by Syria. The biggest problem at the moment is that the UN is not fully comfortable with the 50-name list proposed by Iran, Russia and Turkey9.
On the other hand, the strategy of the US, a very relevant actor in this process due to its position in the UN as a permanent member of the Security Council (with veto power on resolutions), has been unclear for a long time. US Special Envoy to Syria Joel Rayburn stated in November that the objectives of the US in Syria were three: the defeat of the Islamic State, the withdrawal of all Iranian-commanded forces and "a political settlement under the auspices of the UNSC Resolution 2254 and the political process supported by the UN in Geneva. "10
In other words, it seemed that unless the first two objectives were covered the US wouldn't wholeheartedly compromise for a definitive political settlement in Syria and given US relevance, the UN would have it very difficult to advance the political process anytime soon. Most recently however, there was a turn of events: in December the US declared its intention of gradually withdrawing its troops from Syria. "We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump presidency. "11
Does this mean that the US is finally willing to head its efforts towards the third objective? US diplomat Rodney Hunter said: "the US is ready to impulse the political process, to isolate more the regime diplomatic and economically, we are willing to do it". 9
Although a positive answer would facilitate discussions for peace and thus, EU involvement, a reduction of violence in the region (and therefore a reduction of migration to Europe) is not assured for two reasons: the US now leaves Turks with free hands to attack Kurdish militants and, although ISIS has lost 95% of its territory, "2,500 Isis fighters remain [...] The group retains the capacity to do even more damage, especially if let off the hook now." 11
Soft power: humanitarian aid and investment
Given the fact that the EU can not really influence the military and political/diplomatic decisions regarding the Syrian conflict, it has been focusing, since the beginning of the war in 2011, on delivering humanitarian aid and development support to the country and its nationals. The next phrase from the European External Action Service summarises very well the EU's aims on this respect: "Our objective is to bring an end to the conflict and enable the Syrian people to live in peace in their own country. "12
Although bilateral, regional and technical assistance cooperation between the EU and the Syrian government came to an end due to the violent situation that was emerging in the country, the international organization directly supports the Syrian population and its neighbours13.
Through the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), the EU worked hand in hand with its neighbours to the East and South (including Syria) with the aim of fostering stabilization, security and prosperity and achieving cooperation in key areas like the "promotion of democracy, rule of law, respect for human rights and social cohesion. "14 After the cease of cooperation between the EU and the regime, support to the ENP countries is given through the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI), with a predicted budget of 15 billion dollars (2014-2020)15.
Under the financing og the ENI, the Commission approved in November a special measure "to help the Syrian population to cope with the effects of the crisis and prepare the grounds for a sustainable peace. "16 The main action has been entitled as "Preserving the prospects for peace and stability in Syria through an inclusive transition" and counts with a maximum contribution of EUR 31 million. According to the European Commission, if the Syrian situation turns into a "post-crisis state-building and reconstruction scenario," special measures will be revised in order to suit the new needs of the population14.
The ENP is part of the EUGS or European Union Global Strategy (for the European Union's Foreign and Security Policy) presented by Federica Mogherini to the EU Council in 2016, and whose main aim is to achieve an integrated approach and a "coherent perspective for EU's external action. "15 As part of this broader strategy, the EU wishes to prevent fragile contexts from becoming serious humanitarian crises17.
Within this, another particular strategy for Syria was developed in 2015, the EU Strategy for Syria. Some of its most important objectives are "saving lives by addressing the humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable Syrians across the country," "promoting democracy, human rights and freedom of speech by strengthening Syrian civil society organisations" and "supporting the resilience of the Syrian population and Syrian society. "18 The European Council, in its Conclusions on Syria of 2018, agreed that the objectives of the "European Union Strategy on Syria" remain valid.
Although all these initiatives are well-intentioned and show that the EU is not only concerned about the end of the war but also with how it will be done and its aftermath, history has proved that Western political intervention in the Middle East is far from optimum for the region. In the 1916 the Sykes-Picot agreement between France and the UK drew an artificial political line on the territory that would later trigger the Arab-Israeli conflict and promote present ISIS action. Later on, the US-leaded intervention in Iraq in 2003 (one of its objectives being the "liberation" of the Iraqi people) has caused an increase of Sunni-Shiite tension, the rise of Al-Qaeda and the strenghtening of Iran in the region.
The point here is that the EU might be interested in helping Syria and its citizens in ways that improve living conditions and welfare opportunities without messing up with the country's cultural, social and political system. Imposing the notion of democracy in these states, knowing that they have a completely different historical and cultural background, might not be a feasible solution.
Thus, other types of EU initiatives like the New Partnership Framework (NPF, June 2016), focused on the role of economic development in fighting the root causes of migration, might be more effective in the long-term. "It will address all aspects of this migration crisis, from its root causes to the daily tragedies that occur in the Mediterranean. These ambitions [...] illustrate EU's willingness to address specific migratory challenges, but also the long-term drivers of migration. "19
Through the NPF, the EU explains how private investment can be a very useful tool for promoting the economic growth and development of Syria, which would in turn improve the living conditions of its citizens making it less necessary to flee their homes in search of a better place to be. "Instead of letting irregular migrants risk their lives trying to reach European labour markets, European private and public resources should be mobilised for investment in third countries of origin. If deployed intelligently, leveraged use of the limited budget resources available will generate growth and employment opportunities in source as well as transit countries and regions [...] This should address the root causes of migration directly, given the high impact of those investments in terms of employment and inequality reduction". This is what the EU calls innovative financing mechanisms.
This project is called the External Investment Plan and is being organized in three steps. First, the mobilization of scarce public resources in an attractive way to attract private investment. Then, helping local authorities and private companies to be known in the international investor community. Finally, the EU would try to improve the general business government by putting a solution to some corruption issues as well as some market distortions. "The EU, Member States, third countries, International Financial Institutions, European bilateral development institutions, as well as the private sector, should all contribute." The EU hopes to collect, through this External Investment Fund, a total of 62 billion euros.
Long story short, European countries believe in the expansion of this type of innovative financing "in those fragile and post-conflict countries which are often important for migration flows but where the potential for direct private or public investment is currently limited."
An interesting factor to take into account in this matter is who will be the most involved international actor in the project. Will it be the US, allowing us to compare the current situation with the 20th century Marshall Plan? (where investments in infrastructure and the spread of domestic management techniques was also a key element). Or could it be Russia? As the President of the Russian Chamber of Commerce stated in March 2018, "$200 billion to $500 billion will be needed for the reconstruction of the Syrian economy, and the first priority will, as President Bashar al-Assad has said, be given to Russian businesses. "20 What is clear is that investing in Syria will clearly give the investor country some important influence on the newly-recovered state.
Conclusions and forecast for the future
Since the beginning of the crisis in 2011, Syria has been one of the major sources of migration towards Europe. Although EU members currently need to discuss the prevention of illegal immigration and the distribution of legally coming asylum seekers, some attention must also be given to the elimination of factors that activate migration in the country of origin.
While it is true that a definitive end to the war between the regime and the opposition would be the best and most immediate solution for disproportionate fleeing from Syria, the EU doesn't seem to be able to intervene more than it already does.
Not having an army of itself (and not seeming to want it in the near future) and being the "assistant" of the UN in the political and diplomatic resolution of the conflict, it can only apply its soft power tools and instruments to help to the country and its citizens.
Although humanitarian aid is essential and the EU is sparing no expense on it, the institution has come to realise that the real key to improving Syria's situation and the wellbeing of its citizens may be investment and development. This investment could be "short-term", in the sense that foreign countries directly invest in Syria and decide what the money will be used for (i.e reconstruction of buildings, construction of new infrastructure...) or "long-term", in the sense that the main role of the EU is improving the country's business governance to facilitate the attraction of private investors in the long-term.
Regarding the last option it is very important that "the recipient countries establish transparent policies, broad and effective that propitiate an appropiate atmosphere for investment, with the consequent formation of human resources and the establishment of an appropiate institutional climate. "21 Taking this into account, Syria will be a difficult challenge for the EU, as in order to achieve an appropiate institutional climate, a diplomatic solution to the conflict and a peaceful political transition will be required, as well as the collaboration of the future government in promoting political transparency.
All in all, the EU is clearly aware of the root causes of migration and is developing feasible strategies to counter them. The rate of progress is still slow and it may be due to the fact that, in order to effectively apply many of these soft power strategies (except for the humanitarian aid), the recipient country must be stable and ready to collaborate. In other words, EU investment and development plans will most probably bear fruit when the war is over, a peaceful political transition is on the move and the general atmosphere is favorable for economic growth and innovation.
Political stability in Syria could be achieved through two scenarios: the success of the UN-led process and the drafting of new constitution for the country; or the victory of one of the sides (most probably the Syrian regime) and its establishment in power. Meanwhile, the EU and its members will have three challenges: developing the forementioned long-term investment strategies in the view of a future peace (while maintaining already-functioning soft power initiatives), dealing with the refugee crisis at the European borders, and preserving the European project and unity by avoiding major disagreements on migration policy and an exacerbated fear of immigration.
Moreover, one of the key issues that will need to be followed closely in the following months is the effect that the, maybe early, withdrawal of US troops can have on the region and on the power dynamic between the actors, together with the potential changes in US strategy with regards to the UN-led process.
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Strategic bombers will continue to matter in the geopolitical balance as "weapons of mass deterrence."
The U.S. B-52 bomber fleet is to receive a series of upgrades that will boost its active life at least through the 2050s. By then, the B-52 will have been flying for nearly 90 years, since its liftoff in the Eisenhower presidency. This will make it by far the model longest flying aircraft with its primary operator, in this case the USAF.
▲ A B-52G when it was in service [USAF].
article / Jairo Císcar Ruiz
The words "strategic bomber" may sound like Cold War, Soviet Union and spy planes, but today it is a concept that is at agenda despite sounding very distant. It is true that the current status of strategic aviation is limited by the 2010 Prague agreement (START III), which restricts deployed nuclear weapon delivery vehicles to 700. These delivery vehicles include strategic bombers, ICBMs (intercontinental missiles) and SLBMs (submarine launched). Despite the fact that both Russia and the US have now significantly reduced the issue of their bombers (the US has "only" 176), strategic weapons (and with it, bombers) will remain a fundamental part of the geopolitical balance on the International Office.
There are only 3 countries in the world that have strategic bombers in their arsenal, the USA, Russia and China (although the Chinese Xian H-6 is far behind its Russian and American counterparts), and this scarcity of aircraft makes them so precious and a differentiating element on the battlefield. But it is not only on the battlefield that these aircraft cause an imbalance, they especially stand out in the field of International Office as "weapons of mass deterrence".
A strategic bomber is an aircraft designed not for the battlefield directly, but to penetrate enemy territory and attack both strategic targets (instructions military, headquarters, bunkers...) and critical locations for a country's war effort. The fact that a country has such an aircraft in its aircraft fleet is clearly a deterrent to potential enemies. Both Russia and the US -especially the latter- are capable of keeping their bombers permanently in the air (thanks to in-flight refueling) loaded with up to 32 tons of weaponry, with a flight duration only restricted to the endurance capacity of the crew. In this "diplomacy of fear", strategic bombers will continue to play a prominent role in geo-strategy and the global balance of power. The US is fully aware of this and is therefore embarking on a series of ambitious plans to continue to enjoy air and geostrategic superiority. Of these plans, one of the newest and, perhaps, most eagerly awaited is advertisement that the American B-52s will continue to fly until at least 2050.
Although it was assumed that this would be the case, the confirmation given by the US Air Force is no less surprising: the active B-52 fleet is to receive a series of upgrades that will boost its service life until at least the 2050s. This would not be too much news B considering that it is common to approve upgrade packages, either avionics or software, to increase the service life of aircraft in service, but the reality is that the last B-52 Stratofortress left Boeing's assembly plant in Wichita (Kansas) in 1962. In other words, by 2050 the entire fleet would have been flying for nearly 90 years, making it by far the model longest flying aircraft with its primary operator, in this case the USAF.
Versatility, deterrent effect and lower operating cost
But can an aircraft that was put into service in 1955, with Eisenhower as president, stand up to the new bomber models, such as the B-2 or the future B-21 Raider? Is the huge outlay that congress intends to make justifiable? It is estimated that it could spend 11 billion on engines alone; almost 300 million are approved for fiscal year 2019.
The answer is yes. Because of its strategic versatility, its deterrent effect and its comparatively low operational cost, the B-52 is a vital aircraft for the United States.
Its combat versatility has long been proven, since its "debut" in the Vietnam War, where it was the protagonist of carpet bombing (it is capable of dropping more than 32 tons of explosives). As time progressed, it proved that it could not only drop bombs, but also long-range missiles such as the AGM-158 JASSM or the Harpoon anti-ship. Its great armament capacity makes it one of the flagship long-range attack aircraft of the United States. This has been attested in the internationalmission statement against Daesh, in which, until being relieved by the B-1, the B-52 performed 1,850 combat missions, dropping some 12,000 bombs, something that was fundamental for the victory over Daesh in Mosul.
It is precisely when talking about long distance that the B-52 excels: without refueling, a B-52 can fly more than 15,000 km, even flying 20,000 km in extraordinary situations. This offers a global attack capability, since in the event of refueling, only the crew's own endurance would prevent them from flying indefinitely. This capability makes them ideal not only for bombing from instructions far from the enemy, but also to participate in search tasks, being able to perform between two aircraft a "scan" of 364,000 km2 in two hours. This is vital for use by the US Navy in anti-submarine or enemy navy detection missions.
The same parameters and advantages apply to the use of the B-52 as a weapon of "mass" deterrence. Initially created to permanently have a squadron in flight armed with nuclear bombs, and thus guarantee an immediate response to any aggression, the aircraft stationed in Guam are currently used as part of the U.S. tactic of free passage through the international waters of the China Sea. They have also been employee as permanent air support in areas of particular risk such as the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan, or at the beginning of the war itself, in Tora Bora. By having a B-52 on standby, troops could have air support available at short notice (and for a long time) that would otherwise take a long time to arrive.
Another indisputable advantage of these aircraft is their relatively low cost in proportion to the other bombers of the U.S. fleet. First we must clarify that the cost per flight hour is not only the fuel used, but also the cost of maintenance, spare parts... It is true that neither the cost of ammunition (which can amount to tens of millions) nor other variables such as pilots' salaries, mechanics, insurance costs, costs of car park in hangars or other variables that are classified, are added to these theoretical prices, but they do serve to give us an overall view of their operating cost. B-52s cost the U.S. taxpayer about $70,000 per hour. It may seem an extraordinarily high price, but its "brother" the B-2 reaches $130,000 per hour. Despite being exorbitant prices for an army like the Spanish one (the Eurofighter costs about 15,000 dollars/hour), for the US Defense budget it is not significant (Trump intends to reach up to 680,000 million dollars in budget).
A B-52H after being refueled in flight by a KC-135 Stratotanker over Afghanistan [USAF].
We have seen that the B-52, that Big Ugly Fat Fellow as it is affectionately nicknamed by its crews, may remain a vector to be reckoned with in the air for years to come, but the USAF does not want it to become a bit player, but to remain a major player. To this end, it has created the Commercial Engine Reengining Program (CERP) to replace the old original engines. The TF33s are now more than 50 years old, and in the last 20 years their cost has doubled, due to the lack of spare parts (they currently have to cannibalize parts from retired engines) and their inefficient consumption. It should not be forgotten that it has 8 engines, so consumption is not a trivial issue. To replace them, the USAF has opened a tender that should be adjudicated from mid-2019. At the moment, the USAF specifications aim, at least, to achieve engines 25% more efficient and that take 5 times longer to need a repair, which would mean a savings over 30 years (until 2050) of about 10 billion dollars. With a very juicy contract (there is talk of the order of $11 billion to replace the 650 engines in the B-52 fleet), the big military aviation companies have begun to submit their proposals, including Pratt&Whitney (with the PW815), General Electric (with the new Passport Advanced Turbofan) and Rolls-Royce (with the Pearl or the BR735). Other names in the aerospace industry have yet to submit their proposals.
But it is not only the engines that will benefit from the improvements and the investment, but also the purchase of new engines will require a change in the cockpit instrumentation: in this way, they will also take advantage of the remodeling to change the old analog gauges and cathode ray displays for the modern multifunctional displays that we see in any fighter nowadays. USAF assistant secretary for procurement, William Roper, has also commented that new ejector seats are being considered.
Beyond speculation, it is certain that in the Radar Modernization Program (RMP) framework , 817 million dollars will be invested between fiscal years 2019 and 2023 in the purchase of new radar systems to replace the APQ-166, from the 1960s. New tactical software will also be purchased from data Link 16, as it is the only USAF aircraft that does not have it built in and is vital for conducting joint operations, both within the U.S. military and with European NATO armies.
In the future, the software and the aircraft itself will be adapted to increase its offensive capabilities, as was already done with the IWBU program, which increased its cargo capacity in the hold by 67%. One of the main objectives of the offensive trimming refurbishment is to be able to carry at least one GBU-43/b (or MOAB; Mother of all Bombs; the most powerful non-nuclear bomb in the world). To this end, a new wing pylon is being designed that can support 9,000 kilos of weight. Looking ahead, the B-52 will be able to carry hypersonic missiles, but that will not be seen until the mid-2020s at the earliest.
In this way, the USAF intends to keep the B-52 Stratofortress as the A option in its fleet when it comes to heavy bombing. Therefore, the B-52 will continue to be a fundamental military-strategic factor in understanding International Office for years to come. No one would have claimed in 1955 that that aircraft, no matter how good it was, could still be flying a hundred years later. There are still 31 years to go, but we will see what the B-52 has in store for us, that "big, fat, ugly subject " that has become, thanks to its magnificent design and construction, the Dean of bomber aircraft: the B-52 (arguably) the best bomber in the world.
From Soviet assistance to the race with the US to take advantage of the mineral wealth of asteroids
The arrival of a Chinese artifact on the hidden side of the Moon has led world public opinion to focus on the Chinese space program, more developed than many imagined. Assisted by the Soviets in their beginnings, the Chinese have ended up taking a lead in some programs (probably more apparent than real, due to some setbacks), such as the development of their own permanent space station, and compete with the United States in the desire to take advantage of the mineral wealth of asteroids.
▲ Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center [CNSA].
ARTICLE / Sebastián Bruzzone[English version] [Spanish version].
The Chinese space program started at the beginning of the Cold War, in the midst of a direct struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union for the control of international politics. Since 1955, President Mao Zedong looked for the respect of the world powers and decided to follow in the footsteps of the neighbouring country, the USSR. In March of the following year, the Fifth Academy of the Ministry of National Defense began the development of a first ballistic missile (Twelve Year Chinese Aerospace Plan). After the launch of Sputnik 1 by the Soviet Union in 1957, Mao embarked on the development of a Chinese artificial satellite that would be active in space two years later (Project 581), an effort materially and economically supported by the Soviet Union. However, in the early 1960s, all economic and technological assistance by the USSR stopped after Beijing accused Nikita Khrushchev of being a revisionist leader who wanted to restore capitalism.
The China National Space Administration (CNSA) is in charge of the Chinese space program. The first Chinese manned space flight took place in 2003, with Yang Liwei, aboard the Shenzhou 5 spacecraft, which was docked to the Tiangong-1 space station. In this way, China became the third nation to send humans out of Earth. The main objective of the Shenzhou missions is the establishment of a permanent space station. Up to now, there have been nine Chinese men and seven women in space.
Since 2007, China put its focus on the Moon. The Chinese lunar exploration program has been developed in four phases. The first (Chang'e 1 and 2), that took place in 2007 with CZ-3A, was the launching of two unmanned lunar orbital probes. The second (Chang'e 3 and 4), conducted in 2013 with CZ-5/E, was the first moon landing of two rovers. The third one (Chang'e 5 and 6), executed in 2017 with CZ-5/E, consisted of a moon landing and return of samples. And the fourth, scheduled for 2024 with CZ-7, will consist of a manned mission and the implementation of permanent instructions on the lunar surface.
The Chang'e 4 mission was launched on December 8, 2018; the landing took place on 3rd January 2019 in the crater Von Kárman (186 kilometers of diameter), in the southern hemisphere of the hidden face of the Moon. The landing was a success, according to Sun Zezhou, chief engineer of the mission. The images transmitted by the Yutu-2 rover showed that this lunar surface never before explored is densely perforated by impact craters and that its crust is thicker than the visible side. As part of a biological project a cotton seed sprouted, but the high levels of radiation, lower gravity than terrestrial and sudden changes in temperature killed the cotton plant some days later. Given that the hidden side of the Moon is protected from any interference from the Earth, according to astronomers, it should be a good place to better study the evolution of stars and galaxies.
In mid-2017, Chinese intentions to search for scarce minerals on Earth on the surface and, if possible, inside asteroids, were made public. Within China's space program, this particular issue occupies an important place. According to Ye Peijan, head of the lunar exploration program, in recent years his country has been studying the possibility of executing a mission that captures an asteroid to place it in the orbit of the Moon, and thus be able to mine it, or even use it as a permanent space station, according to the South China Morning Post. The same official highlighted that in the Solar System and near our planet there are asteroids and stars with a large amount of precious metals and other materials. This plan could be launched as soon as 2020. To do this, the CNSA will use the Tianzhou position ships, unlike the Shenzhou manned exploration vessels whose main objective is the establishment of a permanent space station, or the Chang'e of lunar missions.
The cost of this futuristic plan would be very high and it would involve the organisation of complex and high-risk missions, but the interest will not decline, since it could be very profitable in the long term and would provide billionaire benefits. Goldman Sachs analyst Noah Poponak has pointed out that a single asteroid could have more than 50 billion dollars in platinum, as well as water or other precious metals.
The capture of an asteroid requires, first, that a ship land on its surface, to anchor itself. The ship must have incredibly powerful engines, so that, being anchored, it may be able to drag the entire asteroid into the Moon's orbit. These thrusters, with enough power to move a rock of thousands of tons, still do not exist. Ye Peijan has warned that this technology needed for such a space experience could take approximately 40 years to develop. For the moment, in March 2017 China announced in the official press that it had the intention of sending probes to the cosmos to study trajectories and characteristics of some objective asteroids. Thus China goes to direct competition with NASA, which is developing a program to reach an asteroid as well.
Tiangong-1 was the first space laboratory that China put into orbit, in 2011, measuring 10.5 meters in length, 3.4 meters in diameter and weighing 8.5 tons, with the objective of carrying out experiments within the Chinese space program and starting the permanent station that the CNSA seeks to have in orbit by 2023. Against all speculations, in 2016 the digital control of the ship was lost and it ended up destroyed in pieces over the Pacific Ocean, northwest of New Zealand. Subsequently, that very year a second module, Tiangong-2, was launched with the same objectives. On the other hand, China is making progress in the plan to establish a permanent space station. According to Yang Liwei, the central capsule will be launched in 2020 and the two experimental modules in the two subsequent years, with manned missions and position spacecraft.
From Soviet aid to degree program with the US to exploit asteroid mineral wealth
The arrival of a Chinese spacecraft on the far side of the moon has brought world public opinion to focus on China's space programme, which is more developed than many had imagined. Aided by the Soviets in the early days, the Chinese are now ahead in some programmes (probably more apparent than real, given certain setbacks), such as development for a permanent space station of their own, and are competing with the United States in their desire to exploit the mineral wealth of asteroids.
Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre [CNSA] ▲ Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre [CNSA].
The origins of the Chinese space programme1 can be traced back to the beginning of the Cold War, at the height of the tension between the United States and the Soviet Union over the control of international politics. Since 1955, Chairman Mao Zedong had been seeking the respect of the world powers and decided to follow in the footsteps of his neighbour, the USSR. In March of the following year, the Fifth Academy of the Ministry of National Defence began the development of a first ballistic missile (Chinese Twelve-Year Aerospace Plan). Following the launch of Sputnik 1 by the Soviet Union in 1957, Mao turned to the development of a Chinese artificial satellite that would be active in space two years later (project 581), in a material and financial effort supported by the Soviet Union. However, in the early 1960s, the USSR withdrew all its economic and technological attendance following Beijing's accusation that the first secretary of the CPSU's Central committee Secretary Nikita Khrushchev was a revisionist and wanted to restore capitalism.
The China National Space Administration (CNSA) is the manager for space programmes. China's first manned space flight took place in 2003, with Yang Liwei aboard the Shenzhou 5 spacecraft, which docked with the Tiangong-1 space station. China thus became the third nation to send men out of the Earth. The main goal of the Shenzhou missions is the establishment of a permanent space station. To date, nine Chinese men and seven women have gone into space.
Since 2007, China has shown a special interest in Luna. China's lunar exploration programme consists of four phases. In the first (Chang'e 1 and 2), carried out with CZ-3A, two unmanned lunar orbital probes were launched. The second (Chang'e 3 and 4), in 2013, with CZ-5/E, saw the first lunar landing of two rovers. The third (Chang'e 5 and 6) was executed in 2017 with CZ-5/E, consisting of lunar landing and sample return. The fourth, with CZ-7, is planned for 2024; it will consist of a manned mission statement and the deployment of permanentinstructions on the lunar surface.
The mission statement Chang'e 4 was launched on 8 December 2018 and landed on the lunar surface on 3 January 2019, in the Von Kárman crater (186 kilometres in diameter), in the southern hemisphere of the hidden side of the satellite. Images transmitted by the Yutu-2 rover showed that this never-before-explored lunar surface is densely perforated by impact craters and that its crust is thicker than the visible side. As part of a biological essay , a cotton seed could have been sprouted, but high radiation levels, lower-than-Earth gravity and abrupt temperature changes caused the cotton plant to succumb a few days later. Astronomers believe that the shadow side is shielded from interference from Earth, so that the evolution of stars and galaxies can be better studied from there.
In mid-2017, Chinese intentions to search for minerals that are scarce on Earth on the surface of asteroids, and if possible inside them, were made public. Within China's space programme, this particular topic occupies an important place. According to agreement with Ye Peijan, head of manager of the lunar exploration programme, China has been studying in recent years the possibility of running a mission statement to capture an asteroid and place it in the moon's orbit for mineral exploitation, or even to use it as a permanent space station, according to the South China Morning Post. The same manager has pointed out that there are asteroids and stars in the Solar System and close to our planet with a large amount of precious metals and other materials. The plan will be implemented from 2020 onwards. The CNSA will use the Tianzhou cargo spacecraft, as opposed to the manned Shenzhou exploration spacecraft whose main purpose is to establish a permanent space station, goal , or the Chang'e lunar mission spacecraft.
The cost of this futuristic plan would be extremely high, as it would involve the organisation of complex and high-risk missions, but interest will not wane, as it could be very profitable in the long run deadline and would yield billion-dollar benefits. According to Noah Poponak, an analyst at Goldman Sachs, a single asteroid could hold more than $50 billion in platinum, as well as other precious metals and water.
Capturing an asteroid first requires a spacecraft to land on its surface, to anchor itself. The spacecraft must have extremely powerful engines so that, when anchored, it will be able to drag the entire asteroid into the moon's orbit. Such thrusters, powerful enough to move a rock weighing thousands of tonnes, do not yet exist. Ye Peijan has warned that the technology needed for such a space experiment could take 40 years or so to develop. For the time being, in March 2017 China announced in the official press that it intended to send probes into the cosmos to study the trajectories and characteristics of some asteroids. In doing so, it is directly skill with NASA, which is also developing a programme aimed at an asteroid.
Tiangong-1 was China's first space shuttle, laboratory , launched into orbit in 2011, with a length of 10.5 metres, a diameter of 3.4 metres and a weight of 8.5 tonnes. Its goal was to conduct experiments as part of China's space programme and to launch the permanent station that the CNSA aims to have in orbit by 2023. Against all odds, in 2016 the spacecraft's digital control was lost and it was destroyed in pieces over the Pacific Ocean, northwest of New Zealand. A second module, Tiangong-2, was launched in 2016 with the same objectives. On the other hand, China is making progress on the plan to establish a permanent space station. According to Yang Liwei, the central capsule will be launched in 2020 and the two experimental modules in the following two years, with manned missions and cargo spacecraft.
[Bruno Maçães, The Dawn of Eurasia. On the Trail of the New World Order. Allen Lane. Milton Keynes, 2018. 281 pp]
review / Emili J. Blasco
The discussion on the emergence of Eurasia as an increasingly compact reality, no longer as a mere geographical description that was conceptually a chimera, owes much to the contribution of Bruno Maçães; particularly to his book The Dawn of Eurasia, but also to his continuous proselytizing to different audiences. This Portuguese diplomat with research activity in Europe notes the consolidation of the Eurasian mass as a single continent (or supercontinent) to all intents and purposes.
"One of the reasons we have to start thinking about Eurasia is because this is how China is increasingly looking at the world (...) China is already living a Eurasian age," says Maçães. What is new about it, he says, "is not that there are such connections between continents, but that, for the first time, they work both ways. Only when the influence flows in both directions can we speak of an integrated space." The Silk Belt and Road Initiative, especially its overland route, sample that China is no longer looking only to the Pacific, but is also contemplating new routes to Europe.
Maçães urges Europe to adopt a Eurasian perspective, for three reasons: because Russia and China have one; because most of the big foreign policy issues of our time have to do with how Europe and Asia are connected (Ukraine, refugee crisis, energy and trade); and because all the security threats of the coming decades will play out in a Eurasian context. Maçães adds a final reason why Europe should become more actively involved in the Eurasian integration project : it is the way to combat the forces of disintegration that exist within Europe itself.
From the various considerations included in the book, some suggestive ideas could be highlighted. One is that Russia's historic problems of identity, straddling Europe and Asia - seeing itself as different from the Europeans and at the same time being attracted by the modernity of the West - are now being replicated in the East, where China is on its way to creating a second pole of economic growth and integration in the supercontinent. If Europe is one of the poles and Asia (China and the other successful countries of the Far East) the other, then what is Russia, if it does not fully respond to the European and Asian identities?
The Silk Belt and Road Initiative gives geopolitical importance to Central Asia, as Maçães reviews. Thus, China needs a clear dominance of Xinjiang, its westernmost province and the gateway to the Central Asian republics. The land route to Europe cannot exist without the Xinjinag segment, but at the same time the exhibition of this Uyghur-majority territory to trade and modernization could accentuate its separatist aspirations. Just northwest of Xinjiang is the ex-Soviet republic of Kazakhstan, a vast country of great agricultural value, where Chinese attempts to buy land are being viewed with high suspicion from its capital, Astana. Maçães estimates that if Russia were to try to reintegrate Kazakhstan into its sphere of influence, as vehemently as it has done with Ukraine, "China would not stand aside."
Not only are the East Coast (European peninsula) and the West Coast (Pacific coast) moving closer together, but the connections between the two also improve logistical conditions in the interior of the supercontinent. This is precisely one of the objectives of the Silk Belt and Road Initiative: as Chinese companies have moved away from coastal business hubs to lower labor costs, they are moving farther away from ports and therefore need better land connections, thus contributing to the shrinking of Eurasia.
Beijing accelerates its change of economic strategy as Germany tries to reinvent itself as a manufacturing powerhouse with its 'Industry 4.0'.
From being the big factory of the lowest products in the global price chain to becoming a manufacturing powerhouse appreciated for the added value that China can bring to its production. The 'Made in China 2025' plan is underway with the purpose to operate the change in a few decades. The Chinese push is intended to be countered by Germany with its 'Industry 4.0', to preserve the international recognition of what is produced by German industry.
▲ Huawei booth at Mobile World Congress 2017 [Huawei].
article / Jimena Puga
"Made in China 2025" is a political-economic plan presented by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in May 2015. The main goal of this initiative is to grow China's industry, and in turn to foster industrial development in China's poorest areas located in the interior of the country, such as the provinces of Qinghai, Sinkiang or Tibet. One of the goals is to increase the domestic content of basic materials to 40% by 2020 and 70% by 2025.
But what does the People's Republic want to achieve with this initiative? As announced by Mu Rongping, director general of the Innovation Center and development of the Chinese Academy of Science, "I do not believe that the Made in China 2025 plan and other industry-related plans pose a threat to global Economics and innovation. These industrial policies stem from traditional Chinese culture. In China whenever we set a new policy or economic measure we always have high expectations. Thus, if we get only half of it, we will be satisfied. This point of view has led China to change and, to some extent, to innovation.
Chinese economic development
In 1978 Deng Xiaoping came to power and changed all the Maoist Structures . Thus, from an economic perspective, law has become a decisive element in resolving conflicts and maintaining social order in China. Deng tried to establish a socialist system, but with "Chinese characteristics". This justified a free market Economics and, consequently, the obligation to develop new rules and Structures. In addition, the president introduced the concept of democracy as a necessary instrument for the new socialist China. The most important legal reform was the possibility to set up private businesses. In 1992 the expression of a "socialist marketEconomics " was adopted, a label to hide real capitalism (1).
The current president of the People's Republic, Xi Jinping, has spoken out against economic protectionism and in favor of balancing globalization to "make it more inclusive and equitable". He also added an increase in the study of current capitalism and the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics proper to the country, since if the party were to abandon Marxism it would lose "its soul and direction", besides qualifying it as "irreplaceable for understanding and transforming the world".
Made in China 2025 and Industry 4.0 plan
Over the past decade, China has emerged as one of the most significant manufacturing miracles in history since the Industrial Revolution began in Britain in the 18th century. By the end of 2012, China became a global leader in manufacturing operations and the world's second largest economic powerhouse over Germany. The Made in China paradigm has been evidenced by products made in China, from high-tech products such as computers or cell phones to consumer goods such as air conditioners. The goal of the Empire at the Center is to extend this plan to three phases. In the first, from 2015 to 2025, China aims to be on the list of global manufacturing powers. In the second, from 2026 to 2035, China plans to position itself in the middle tier in terms of global manufacturing power. And finally, in the third phase, from 2036 to 2049, when the People's Republic will celebrate its 100th anniversary, China wants to become the world's leading manufacturing country.
In 2013, Germany, a world-leading country in terms of industrialization, published its Industry 4.0 strategic plan. Known for its prestigious brands such as Volkswagen or BMW, the country's leading industries have emphasized their innovative strength that allows them to reinvent themselves again and again. The Industry 4.0 plan is another example of the German country's manufacturing strategy to compete in a new industrial revolution based on industrial integration, the integration of industrial information, the Internet and artificial intelligence. Germany is known worldwide for the design and quality of its products. The Industry 4.0 plan, presented in 2013 by the German government, focuses on the smart factory, meaning that the factories of the future will be more sustainable and intelligent; on cyber-physical systems, which integrate advanced technologies such as automotive, the exchange of data in manufacturing technology and 3D printing; and on goods and people.
Both Industry 4.0 and Made in China 2025 focus on the new industrial revolution and employ elements of manufacturing digitalization. The core of the German plan is the cyber-physical system, i.e. a mechanism controlled or monitored by algorithms closely linked to the Internet and its users, and integration into dynamic value creation mechanisms. The Chinese plan, in addition to the "Internet Plus Industry" action plan, has a special focus on strengthening existing industries, promoting diversity and expanding the scope of many industries, enhancing regional cooperation through the use of the Internet for borderless manufacturing, new product innovation and product quality improvement, goal .
By 2020, the United States will be the most competitive manufacturing country in the world, followed by China, Germany, Japan, India, South Korea, Mexico, Taiwan, Canada and Singapore. Of these ten countries, six are Asian countries, one is European and the remaining three are members of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement).
This new shift in industrial strategy translates into the world's anticipation of a fourth industrial revolution driven by technological advances. China will undoubtedly be one of the international leaders of this revolution thanks to the Made in China 2025 and One Belt One Road plans, however, new emerging economies such as South Africa, Vietnam or Hungary that have contributed to the global Economics in recent years will require more attention.
(1) Vid. ARANZADI, Iñigo González Inchaurraga, Derecho Chino, 2015, p. 197 et seq.
The need for close air support in the fight against ISIS has prompted a rethink of the preference for technology over effectiveness
In the last decades, the constant bet for technological improvement had led to discard old models of combat aircraft that, properly equipped, are proving to be more effective in counterinsurgency operations. The urgencies posed especially by the fight against the Islamic State have turned these old models into a sort of Special Operations capability of the Air Forces.
▲ OV-10 Bronco [USAF, TSgt Bill Thompson].
article / Ignacio Yárnoz
August 2015. At framework of the "Combat Dragon II" Special Operations Program, two OV-10G+ Bronco aircraft take off from a U.S. air base in northern Iraq. The mission statement of these Vietnam War-era twin-engine aircraft is twofold. First, to assist Peshmerga fighters in the face of attacks by Daesh (al-Dawla al-Islamiya al-Iraq al-Sham) insurgents; second, to demonstrate the effectiveness of low-cost propeller-driven aircraft in COIN (Counter Insurgency) operations. The mission statement proved to be a success and caused many things to be rethought at the Pentagon, where astonishment flooded the offices as it was a counterinsurgency mission statement with 50-year-old aircraft.
The three fundamental pillars that made this mission statement a success should be highlighted. First, there is the human factor that was part of the mission statement. The brave pilots who embarked on it were meticulously chosen for their experience in special missions, in addition to being USAF Weapons School instructor officers. This was of great importance given the delicacy of the mission statement and the precision it required. We will now see why.
The second pillar to highlight is the weaponry and equipment used. More specifically, these are the new, but very promising APKWS (Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System) laser-guided rockets and multiple modern infrared surveillance systems such as the MX-15HD FLIR. The former are 70 mm rockets similar to the "Hydra" (a U.S. air-to-air/air-to-ground rocket system known to be the most widely used in the world as helicopter weaponry) to which a laser guidance and control system can be incorporated. They are rockets that can be fired from very close or longer distances at any desired angle, giving the pilot a very wide firing range that gives him an important tactical advantage. In addition, its high accuracy means that it can eliminate enemies or destroy lightly armored vehicles with an efficiency that other systems would not reach, at least not without causing greater collateral damage. Here is the core topic mentioned in the first pillar: pilots experienced in the handling of precision weapons accompanied by the appropriate means make this a perfect combination that turned the OV-10G+ Bronco into true precision weapons.
Finally, and as the third pillar, there is the aircraft itself: the OV-10G+ Bronco (or "Black Pony"). This Vietnam War veteran is an aviation legend. The Bronco was born after a triple-duty specification called "LARA"(Light Armed Reconnaissance Aircraft), issued in late 1963 and designed for that war, was approved by the U.S. Navy and Air Force. LARA was based on the need for a new subject light attack and observation aircraft for "jungle fighting". During the conflict, Broncos performed observation operations, forward air control, helicopter escort, armed reconnaissance, light transport services and limited ground attack actions. The Broncos also conducted airborne radiological reconnaissance, tactical aerial observation and naval gunnery, as well as air control of tactical support operations and, on the front lines, aerial photography from leave altitude.
However, doctrines changed since smart bombs were integrated into the air force. Advanced air control, one of the primary missions of this aircraft, shifted to elite ground troops with laser designators and digital transmissions. The concept of using the Bronco to loiter over an area and drop ordnance was not explored. The aircraft was finally decommissioned leave in July 1994.
A-10 Thunderbolt [USAF, MSgt William Greer].
OV-10 Bronco and A-10 Thunderbolt
It is a light attack and observation aircraft powered by two turboprops that, although a fixed-wing aircraft, has the capabilities of a helicopter and a drone. Like the drones, the OV-10 can fly over the battlefield for hours, but with greater visibility than an RQ9 Reaper and with greater weapons capability. The original model was capable of flying at speeds of up to 560 km/h, carrying up to 3 tons of external ammunition and remaining over an area for more than three hours. Finally, this versatile aircraft is capable of operating from short or semi-prepared runways (STOL) with low operating and maintenance costs. In most cases it can fly on a single engine. The latter makes the OV-10 Bronco and all its counterparts a great asset given that while jet aircraft have high fuel consumption per flight (starting at $20,000 for the cheapest jet, the F16), light attack aircraft cost only a few thousand dollars per operation. Also, the aircraft currently available can only take off and land on long and expensive to maintain runways that must be located hundreds of kilometers from the front line and, consequently, their effective mission time is shorter and their fuel consumption is higher.
However, the USAF's tendency has always tilted the balance toward high technology rather than effectiveness. Since World War II and with the onset of the Cold War, the American way of fighting has been to have superior technology. There has been a constant approach on the most important technological advances in which it is at the forefront. However, these effective aircraft have found a niche within the Army, possibly Air Force Special Operations. And it is that the need for close air support in the fight against ISIS has caused many commanders to rethink their strategy. In fact, it also helped convince the Air Force to reconsider its plans to retire the A-10 Thunderbolt II (A-10 Warthog as it is nicknamed in the USAF). The reasons turn out to be analogous to that for the fielding of aircraft such as the OV-10 Bronco: the need for effectiveness, experience, close air support and advanced air control, all combined with low maintenance costs.
In the case of the A-10 Thunderbolt II, it is an aircraft designed specifically around its main weapon, a 30 mm GAU-8/A cannon mounted directly under the fuselage. With 540 kg of titanium armor, it incorporates two General Electric TF34-GE-100 turbines mounted in an elevated position so that the aircraft can land in austere environments such as rough, dirty or sandy terrain. In addition, the aerodynamics and engine technology allow the A-10 to fly slower and lower, and therefore closer to ground forces and enemy targets, specifically at 555 km/h and 30 meters altitude. Last and not least, it is cheap to buy (a average of $11 million for each of the 715 built) and to operate (about $17,000 per flight hour).
Although the OV-10 Bronco was not ultimately selected by the USAF for the framework Combat Dragon II, it has marked a milestone in aeronautical history. The USAF has finally decided to go with the Brazilian model A29 SuperTucano, a two-seat aircraft that hovers around 580 km per hour and has the sophisticated avionics typical of fourth-generation fighters, including radar warning receivers, forward-looking infrared sensors and the ability to drop bombs and precision-guided missiles. At final, an aircraft with the same advanced air control and tactical observation capabilities as the OV-10 Bronco. This model is already part of the Afghan, Lebanese and Nigerian air forces (countries with insurgency threats such as Boko Haram, Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda) in addition to being in the process of replacing the Bronco in the Philippines, where the same counterinsurgency techniques used in Iraq are also being applied to combat Daesh in this region. Regardless of the fact that it is not the legendary Bronco, the paradigm is still latent. It has been proven that light aviation can be capable of standing up as a powerful ally in today's COIN operations.
The Trump Administration endorses fill in in the European theater the deployment of the Aegis system put in place by Obama.
The main defense deployment in Europe is the Ballistic Missile Defense System, a NATO capability that has been completed following the so-called European Phased Adaptive approach (EPAA). Put in place during the Obama Administration, the Trump Administration has just ratified it in its Missile Defense Review. The withdrawal of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Weapons Treaty (INF Treaty), which bound the United States and Russia, puts the missile defense system on the diary of European priorities.
▲ Launching of the ESSM missile from the Spanish frigate Álvaro de Bazán [Armada].
article / Martín Biera
In the pre-industrial era, battles were largely fought face to face, but in the technological era the line of defense can be placed at a great distance. Thus, in Europe the main defense deployment is the Ballistic Missile Defense System. This is a NATO capability that integrates the Aegis naval system and the Patriot land-based system, produced by Lockeed Martin and Raytheon, respectively, which can be used in the same scenario.
Its deployment in Europe was proposed by the Obama Administration in 2009 in what is known as approach European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA). This program aims to progressively develop anti-ballistic capabilities that will assist in the defense of NATO allies in the European theater.
The Missile Defense Review document, released by the Pentagon in January, reiterates the U.S. commitment to the planned program. "The United States is committed to fill in the deployment of the EPAA," the text states.
If in other respects, the Trump Administration has shown signs of a certain withdrawal of its military deployment in the world, on this point it maintains its technological and operational contribution so that NATO can sustain in the European theater its missile defense architecture. "The United States will strengthen regional missile defense capabilities and cooperative relations with its allies and partners," the document adds. It calls, however, as it has already done in relation to overall contributions to NATO by its member states, for "additional allied investment in missile defense, including development and joint production, to better share the common defense burden."
The EPAA is planned in four phases, from agreement with the Polish Foreign Ministry and the administration of former President Obama in the strategy of implementing advanced anti-ballistic missile systems in Europe.
The first phase, implemented in 2011, included the deployment in the Mediterranean Sea of ships equipped with the Aegis Anti-Ballistic Missile System (SAMB) and SM-3 IA missile launchers capable of intercepting short and medium range missiles (up to 3,000 kilometers). The frigate Álvaro de Bazán is equipped with the Aegis combat system (the Spanish Navy is the only one in Europe, besides the Norwegian Navy, integrated in this system). It also included the installation of a radar device located in Turkey, the AN/TPY-2, which operates in the X-band (microwave section of the electromagnetic spectrum, used by communication satellites).
The second phase was implemented in 2015. It additionally covers the deployment in Romania of a surface-to-air missile launch system subject IB-SM-3 capable of countering short- and medium-range missiles of more than 500 kilometers effective range, and the deployment of the four ships with the Aegis AMB capability. AN/TPY-2 radar capabilities were enhanced with an additional network of sensors.
The third phase, in 2018, consisted of the deployment in Poland of a ground-based subject II-SMA missile launcher capable of combating intermediate-range missiles (IRBM up to 5,500 km). The launchers are located at the Redzikowo base.
The last phase will take place in 2020 and will allow U.S. allies to improve anti-missile systems against medium- and long-range missiles and ICMBs, culminating in the implementation of SM-3 Block IIB systems that will also include a command and control system.
Thus, the SAMB Aegis system includes the capabilities deployed on the two permanent instructions (in Poland and Romania) and on board four Aegis BMD ships (in the Mediterranean Sea, based in Rota), as well as a radar operating in the X-band and a network of sensors, which makes it possible to defend the European continent against short, medium and long-range missiles.
First, infrared and communication satellites provide early warning. When a ballistic missile is launched, it is detected by the infrared satellite; the information it picks up is sent to a communications satellite, which notifies a NATO headquarters, where it is analyzed. In the case of Europe, this information is sent to the Ramstein base in Germany, where it is confirmed whether the projectile is a threat. It is then communicated to all appropriate forces, both commanders and defense systems.
When the engine finishes burning the fuel on the missile's upward trajectory, the infrared satellite can no longer detect it, so long-range sensors, such as the AN/TPY-2 system or the Smart-L Radar naval system located in Holland, are used. These sensors detect and continue analyzing the missile so that it can be intercepted. The process also integrates the Aegis system, which consists of AN/SPY-1 radars capable of tracking more than 100 objects. Together, these systems perform a more detailed analysis of the tracking and possible consequences of a ballistic missile.
All systems, on land, at sea and in the air, have the ability to share and update instantly share information. The core topic of this system is the ability to destroy the missile outside the atmosphere, largely thanks to the Aegis system, although systems such as THAAD can also provide additional capabilities. The Aegis system provides cover for missiles that have passed through the atmosphere; in the event that a missile re-enters the atmosphere, the Patriot system, which is used by France, Germany, Spain and other countries, comes into operation.
Following Poland's decision to allocate a higher percentage of GDP to defense, the country is expected to increase its military capacity. On March 28, Poland signed a $4.75 billion agreement with the United States for the purchase of the Patriot missile system. Its manufacturer, Raytheon, undertook to build in Poland parts core topic of the system, creating "new high-tech jobs", as required by Polish law.
Poland will join fifteen other countries in Europe, the Pacific and the Middle East that share and operate with this system This agreement comes after Poland signed a ten-year agreement with Raytheon to facilitate the introduction of Patriot missiles among the country's defensive capabilities. In mid-2018 Warsaw ran into some complications in acquiring the Patriots, as the civil service examination put up roadblocks to the approval of the purchase. Finally, the Polish government and Raytheon signed the project at the agreed value of €4.75 billion.
In November 2017 Romania and Sweden also showed interest in purchasing Patriots. In the case of the Middle East, the countries that mainly use this system are Israel and Qatar, although the Pentagon has expressed its desire to withdraw its batteries from the region.
outline of the Ballistic Missile Defense System [Ministry of Defense of Japan].
The Polish purchase of Patriot missiles was criticized by Russia. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova condemned the "progressive militarization" of that country. Moscow sees such "militarization" moves as an element of destabilization of the military and political apparatus in Europe and a threat to Russia.
The Kremlin criticized the deployment of the Patriot missile system batteries as a violation of the arms control treaty signed in 1987 between Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan. This Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) is about to be abandoned by the United States on the grounds that Russia has been violating it with some of its missile developments.
In response to degree program for advances in surface-to-air missile technology, the Russian arms industry developed the S-400 Triumf, which NATO designates as the SA-21 Growler. The S-400 system is a mobile defense system, which offers greater versatility and firepower. Countries such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and India have shown interest in purchasing this system despite US sanctions. The fact that major users and customers of U.S. weapons are interested in competing companies poses a problem for the U.S. military industry. The S-400 is capable of reaching a flight ceiling of 185 kilometers and an effective range distance of 120, 250 and 400 kilometers depending on the missile employee. By 2020 the Russian Army will have a new generation missile system, the S-500, a more advanced and more powerful version than the current ones.
"Invincibility is in oneself, vulnerability is in the adversary.
Invincibility is a matter of defense, vulnerability is a matter of attack. As long as you have not observed vulnerabilities in the order of battle of the adversaries, hide your own attack training , and prepare to be invincible, in order to preserve yourself. When adversaries have vulnerable orders of battle, it is time to go out and attack them." The Art of War, Sun Tzu.
Both NATO and Russian systems clearly have a deterrent facet. Every military operation has a relevant diplomatic, political and interest role. After the Russian annexation of Crimea and the Vostok 2018 and Trident Juncture maneuvers, missile defense systems appear to be the future of European and international security. In recent years, in a context of militarization of space by the world's military powers, a update of missile systems is underway that not only makes it possible to reach farther but also to be more precise. From agreement with the defense strategy of both the European and the Atlantic organization has led its partners to have better capabilities than their competitors to ensure the security of States. Consequently, a progressive but effective modernization of anti-missile systems.
In recent years, in the face of Russia's and China's advancement and modernization of weapons, the United States has seen the need to develop space-based systems capable of shooting down missiles, with some resemblance to the cancelled Pebbles Program. The Pebbles program sought to put into orbit autonomous systems capable of intercepting any missile launched by U.S. competitors. These systems would provide the U.S. and its allies with a capability to counter almost any subject projectile, giving them an unprecedented advantage. The employment of anti-missile systems strengthens the bond between the United States and its allies, thus enabling more effective defense and cooperation as a necessary relationship.
On the other hand, there are analysts who can see this escalation in the purchase and use of AMB systems as a new cold war, at least on a smaller scale, mainly because it is taking place in Europe and in new facets such as the economic one, manifested through the influence that arms companies exert over national governments.
One of the poorest countries in the Americas may become the world's largest oil producer per capita, disrupting its relationship with its neighbours.
Promising oil discoveries in Guyana's waters augur greater regional relevance for this small and poor South American country. Territorial disputes between Venezuela and its neighbour, over the Essequivo territory that Caracas has historically claimed (more than half of Guyana's surface area), may be exacerbated by the opening of wells in deep waters that Guyana administers but over which Venezuela is seeking fair international arbitration.
Image created by ExxonMobil about its exploration in Guyana's waters.
article / Ignacio Urbasos Arbeloa
ExxonMobil has discovered oil deposits 193 km off the coast of Guyana that could completely change the course of Economics and its international influence. After several decades of failed attempts to search for hydrocarbons in its subsoil and an exhaustive search since 1999, in 2015 the Liza field responded positively to seismic analysis, subsequently showing abundant oil reserves at a depth of 1,900 metres. At the moment, estimates speak of 3.2 billion barrels of recoverable oil to be found in the Guiana Basin, which extends to Suriname, another country with a promising oil future. Companies such as Total, Repsol and Anadarko have already obtained exploration rights in the different blocks offered so far by the Guyanese government, but it is the Stabroek Block, exploited by Exxon (45%), Hess (30%) and China's CNOOC (25%), which will be the first to start producing in 2020.
Expected to reach 700,000 barrels per day by 2025, this is the largest deepwater global deepwater finding of the decade and one of the most valuable additions to conventional oil production. The crude is Pass for middle distillates, precisely what Gulf of Mexico refineries are looking for in a market saturated by light crude from fracking. If agreement is to optimistic estimates, by 2025 this impoverished country of about 700,000 people would surpass OPEC member Ecuador in oil production, making it the world's largest producer of barrels per capita (ahead of current leader Kuwait, which produces 3.15 million barrels per day and has a population of 4.1 million). Production costs per barrel are estimated at $26 per barrel considering taxes, so profits are expected to be plentiful in virtually any future scenario (WTI is currently around $50 per barrel), making Guyana one of the biggest attractions in the oil industry at the moment. fees Prospecting led by Exxon, a company that already dominates exploitation in the so-called deepwaters, had a success rate of close to 80% in 2018, which has generated enormous expectation in a sector accustomed to fees of 25%.
The positive impact that this finding will have for Guyana's Economics is evident, although it is not Exempt challenging, given the high levels of corruption or a bureaucracy and class political inexperienced for negotiations at this level. The IMF, which is advising Guyana, has already recommended freezing further negotiations until the tax system is reformed and the country's bureaucratic capacity is improved. The IMF has estimated Guyana's GDP growth at 28% by 2020, a historic figure for a country whose exports are based on rice, sugar cane and gold, Economics . The government is already designing an institutional framework to manage oil revenues and cushion their impact on other sectors. Among the proposals is the creation of a sovereign wealth fund similar to those of Norway, Qatar or the United Arab Emirates, which could be set up this year with partnership of experts from the Commonwealth, to which the country belongs.
Historic dispute with Venezuela
These new discoveries, however, increase tension with Venezuela, which maintains a territorial dispute over 70 per cent of Guyanese territory, the Guayana Esequiba belonging to the Captaincy General of Venezuela during the Spanish Empire. The disputed territory was subsequently de facto colonised by the British Empire when the British took control over the Dutch territories of Guyana in 1814. In 1899 an international tribunal ruled unanimously in favour of the UK against Venezuelan claims. Subsequent revelations, however, demonstrated serious elements of corruption in the judicial process, rendering the award "null and void" (non-existent) in 1962. In 1966, the United Kingdom, as representative of British Guyana, and Venezuela signed the Genevaagreement , which established a commitment to reach a settlement agreement: the 1970 Port of Spain protocol , which froze negotiations for 12 years. After the end of this period, Venezuela demanded that Guyana return to direct negotiations, and in accordance with the United Nations Charter, the diplomatic formula of good offices has been agreed upon and remains in force to this day, but no significant progress has been made. Since Guyana's independence in 1966, Venezuela has promoted an indigenous separatist movement in the region, Rupununi, which was harshly repressed by Georgetown, setting a precedent of military tension on the border.
Although a formal agreement has never been reached on the territorial dispute, the arrival of the socialist People's Progressive Party (PPP) to government in Guyana in 1992 and the electoral victory of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela in 1999 ideologically aligned the two countries, which allowed them to reach Degrees unprecedented cooperation during the first decade of the 21st century. In the framework of this golden era, Guyana participated between 2007 and 2015 in the Venezuelan Petrocaribe initiative, receiving some 25,000 barrels per day of oil and derivatives, which constituted 50% of its consumption, in exchange for rice valued at market prices. committee On the other hand, Guyana supported Venezuela's candidacy to the United Nations Security Council in 2006 in exchange for Caracas' express promise not to use the privileged position it temporarily acquired in the territorial dispute. An important precedent was Hugo Chávez's statement in 2004 that he did not object to Guyana "unilaterally granting concessions and contracts to multinational companies, as long as this favours the development of the region". Despite the existence of unfriendly acts between the two states during this period, the vital importance that Venezuela's anti-imperialist foreign policy gave to the Caribbean during Chávez's term of office forced him to treat topic with the utmost restraint in order to avoid a disagreement with CARICOM and to maintain Guyana's support in the OAS.
Map of Guyana's oil blocks (in yellow), showing the delimitation of territorial waters and Venezuela's claims.
As a result of the oil discoveries, the historic territorial dispute with Venezuela is back on the agenda. A change of government in Georgetown has also contributed to this. The 2015 elections brought the A Partnership for National Unity, led by former military officer David Granger, to power in Guyana. It is a multi-ethnic coalition that could be described as centre-right and less ideologically sympathetic to neighbouring Venezuela than the previous president, PPP's Bharrat Jagdeo. Tensions escalated at the end of 2018, following the seizure on 23 December by the Bolivarian National Navy of two Guyanese-flagged vessels belonging to ExxonMobil that were prospecting in the area and which, according to Nicolás Maduro's government, had entered Venezuelan waters. agreement . The international response was swift, with the United States urging Venezuela to "respect international law and the sovereignty of its neighbours". One of the most complex issues in the territorial dispute is precisely the projection of each country's waters. The position defended by Venezuela is to draw the maritime limits of agreement to the projection of the Orinoco River delta, as opposed to the Guyanese position, which draws the line in a manner favourable to its territorial interests. Although this was a secondary element in the territorial dispute, the economic potential of these waters places them at the centre of the discussion.
To all this must be added the declaration by group de Lima, of which Guyana is a member, not to recognise the May elections in Venezuela and to threaten to sanction the country economically (although, to date, it has not recognised the opposition candidate Juan Guaidó as interim president). The international ostracism of the Bolivarian Republic has allowed Guyana to obtain important diplomatic support from the aforementioned group de Lima, CARICOM and the United States in relation to its international dispute and the detention of the Exxon ships.
result The future of relations between Venezuela and Guyana depends to some extent on the outcome of the March elections in Guyana, which will pit the hitherto president, David Granger, recently ousted from power by a motion of no confidence, against the leader of the PPP, Bharrat Jagdeo, whose party has maintained the best relations with Chavista Venezuela. The no-confidence motion is a historic milestone for the South American country, which will have to prove its social cohesion and political stability amid geopolitical tensions and an international investment community that is watching the events closely development .
Increased revenues for defence
Georgetown, for the moment, limits itself to diplomatic action to defend its territorial sovereignty, but Guyanese Defence Force documents prior to the oil discoveries already identified the need to develop military capabilities should such resources be found in the country. According to Exxon's estimates, agreement , Guyana would be earning $16 billion annually from 2020, which would increase the military expense , currently at around 1% of GDP. In August 2018, the Army of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana carried out the largest military exercises in its history, mobilising 1,500 troops out of an estimated 7,000-strong army. Information available about the material resources of the navy and aviation show the need for a quantitative and qualitative improvement. Overcoming the ethnic divisions between the Indian and African-origin population should be one of the priorities of the armed forces, which suffer from a clear under-representation of the original Indian community, a source of historical suspicion in civil society.
At final, the Caribbean region of South America will be marked in the coming years by Guyana's economic potential and its struggle for territorial survival in the face of Venezuela's legitimate demands. Achieving a real development of the oil industry will undoubtedly be the best way of safeguarding its future as a sovereign and independent country. Venezuela's political uncertainty, mired in an enormous crisis, generates fears of a possible military escalation as an escape valve for internal economic and political pressure against a rival that lacks the resources to confront it. The ability of Guyana's political class to manage the brutal increase in its economic resources after 2020 is still an unknown, but it is conceivable that the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere will reach great heights on development if it is able to learn from its neighbours and manage a regional context that is favourable to its national interests.