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UAE to Develop the Serbian Arms Industry

Over the past two years the UAE has invested billions of dollars in Serbia.

The Emirati leadership has agreed lucrative deals to develop the Serbian arms industry; bought a significant stake in its national airline; and handed out multibillion dollar loans to the government.

The reasons for UAE investment in Serbia are shrouded in secrecy, although Serbian sources have revealed to MEE that they go far beyond any potential financial rewards.

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan has been accused of acting as a proxy for the US and Israel in Eastern Europe while also attempting to exploit a loosely regulated Serbian arms market to distribute weapons across the Middle East.

Behind the huge investment lies the shadowy figure of exiled Palestinian strongman Mohammed Dahlan. He is said to be at the centre of a web facilitating communication between the UAE with American and Israeli intelligence figures while also aiding corrupt Emirati investments in Serbia that have lined the pockets of their political leaders.

UAE investments in Serbia

An agreement worth up to $200mn was signed between the Serbian arms company Yugoimport SDPR and the UAE’s Emirates Advanced Research and Technology Holding (EARTH) at the International Defence Exhibition in Abu Dhabi last year.

A source in Serbia told MEE the investment relates to the Serbian missile system ALAS (Advanced Light Attack System), which is a “multipurpose anti-armour weapon with effective range up to 60km”. The source said the UAE is interested in these missiles because “they should be able to destroy all existing models of tanks in the world”.

The UAE is the fourth largest arms importer in the world, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, and spent over $19bn on military equipment in 2012. With a national population of fewer than one million the UAE, in terms of arms per capita, is now widely viewed as being the most heavily armed nation on the planet.

The UAE-Serbian defence relationship is becoming increasingly close, according to the Serbian source, who said “initial forms of cooperation have been established at the level of military security agencies, military police and special units, and in the fields of information and communication technologies and cyber defence”.

While the source said the UAE is primarily interested in Serbia’s burgeoning defence industry, the Emiratis have also made numerous other investments across several industries.

One of the most prominent deals has been Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways buying a 49 percent stake in Serbia’s lossmaking JAT Airways in August 2013. A new company was born out of that investment, Air Serbia, with the stated aim of creating an eastern European transportation sub-hub.

The deal, however, has been criticised as corrupt by a former economic advisor to the Serbian government.

“Etihad provided a credit note, not a direct investment, in the JAT deal that will later be converted to shares,” Dusan Pavlovic, who served as advisor to the Minister of Economy in Serbia from September 2013 to January 2014, told MEE. “The Republic of Serbia is the guarantor of this credit note and if the new company goes bust it is the Serbian people who will have to pay up the 40 million euros.”

“If this were to happen an additional two million euros would have to be paid in legal fees to a company involving people close to the Serbian prime minister,” he added.

Deals involving UAE investments in Serbia are kept secret from the public because of a condition in an agreement signed between the two governments in March 2013, according to Pavlovic.

“This agreement included provisions to overrule some domestic law in Serbia. For example, any investment that comes from the UAE is given priority over local deals,” he said.

“The agreement for UAE investments in Serbia stipulates that the details of all deals must remain secret.”

Pavlovic slammed many of the most high-profile Emirati investments and criticised the Serbian government for lying to their people.

He described a proposed multibillion dollar property investment by the Emiratis in Belgrade as “totally absurd”, saying “there simply isn’t the market for luxury apartments” in a country as poor as Serbia.

He criticised the sale of agricultural land to the UAE worth hundreds of millions of dollars as preventing local Serbians from accessing huge farming areas, condemning the government’s claim that the land was derelict as a “complete lie”. (middleeasteye)

Bangladesh-Kuwait Step up Ties

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has stressed the strengthening Bangladesh-Kuwait ties.

She also urged Muslim nations to take a united stand on the current crisis in Gaza.

She said this when Deputy Chief of Staff of the Kuwaiti Armed forces, Lt Gen Khaled Mohammed Al-Kheder, called on her at her office on Wednesday.

The prime minister’s Press Secretary AKM Shameem Chowdhury, told reporters that Hasina had described the Bangladesh-Kuwait bilateral relations as “very good”.

She recalled the then Kuwait Emir’s visit to Bangladesh in 1974 and taking Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to the OIC summit.

After that visit, the relation between the countries began to develop, Chowdhury quoted Hasina as saying.

During the Awami League’s 1996-01 term, the Middle Eastern country provided Bangladesh $200 million at a time when the foreign reserve was low.

She said the two countries have to increase bilateral visits among their armed forces personnel to “enhance ties between the armed forces of the two brotherly countries”.

Hasina said Kuwait armed forces personnel could receive higher education and training at various renowned institutions in Bangladesh.

Let Gen Al-Kheder expressed gratitude for the Bangladesh Army’s assistance in mine sweeping operations after the Gulf War.

He said the armed forces personnel in Kuwait were working very skilfully.

"We are very pleased," Chowdhury quoted him as telling the prime minister.

Al-Kheder said the armed forces personnel would remain in Kuwait as long as his country needed them.

Kuwait’s ambassador to Bangladesh, Ali Ahmed Ebrahim, was present at the meeting. (bdnews24)

Royal Army of Oman Music Band participates in 'Tattoo Edinburgh 2014' festival

The music band of the Royal Army of Oman (RAO) concluded its participation in 'Tattoo Edinburgh 2014' festival, which was held at Edinburgh, Scotland, with the participation of a number of European music bands.

The mayor of Edinburgh handed over a shield to the RAO Music Band in appreciation of their participation — the only Arab participation in the festival. The RAO Music Band presented a musical show while walking at the Stirling City Center amidst a big audience that expressed admiration of the diverse military music shows. (timesofoman)

Jordan Wants to Make Russian Helicopters

Jordan is interested in locally assembling Russian-designed helicopters and anti-tank missile systems, an official from Russia’s state arms exporter Rosoboronexport said Friday.

“Our Jordanian colleagues have shown interest in setting up domestic assembly of portable Kornet anti-tank missile systems and several types of helicopters,” said Mikhail Zavaly, head of the Rosoboronexport delegation at the Dubai Air Show 2013.

Russia’s Kornet-E system, produced for export, has a firing range of up to 5,500 meters (18,000 feet) and features semi-automatic laser-beam guidance with a thermal imaging site.

The system, armed with missiles using dual warheads with shaped charges, is highly effective against tanks with reactive or explosive armor. It could also be used effectively against fortified buildings and helicopters, according to the Tula-based KBP Instrument Design Bureau.

Jordan has already launched licensed production of Russian-designed RPG-32 portable rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

The plant, which manufactures RPG-32 Hashim launchers, is located about 20 kilometers northeast of Jordan’s capital, Amman. It has been built and equipped by the Jordanian side, whereas Russia’s Rosoboronexport is supplying components for the assembly of the grenade launchers and is overseeing the production process. (RIA)

Understanding Egyptian Military's Economic Empire

It is the fastest shipping route between Europe and Asia and one of the Egyptian government's principle sources of hard currency.

President Abdel Fattah el Sisi announced a $4bn project this week to boost the Suez canal's shipping capacity, cut transit times and help Egypt's ailing economy.

Sisi has also said that the military will oversee the Suez project - in concert with an expanding military role in Egypt's economy.

Much of the Egyptian's military's financial dealings are unknown. Its budget is secret and its industries are unaudited and untaxed.

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BAE Systems to Upgrade Saudi Aircraft

The long-expected follow-on order from Saudi Arabia for Eurofighter Typhoons has still not materialized, but in its half-yearly report BAE Systems revealed that it expects to receive orders worth about $2.2 billion to upgrade Saudi aircraft. Earlier this year, a protracted renegotiation of the original “Al Salam” deal for 72 aircraft was finally concluded. BAE Systems plans to deliver 12 Typhoons to Saudi Arabia this year, and continues work on the contract with Oman for 12 aircraft, for delivery from 2017. But contrary to last year’s British hopes, no orders from Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar or the UAE have been announced.

Meanwhile, in the Airbus D&S in-house journal, Domingo Urena Raso, the company’s head of military aircraft, wrote, “We need to add capabilities to the Eurofighter—like the E-scan radar for instance—and make it more attractive both for our home countries and for export.” He continued, “There is no need to panic; we have known for 10 years that Eurofighter production will end in 2018.” At the recent Farnborough airshow, the Eurofighter consortium displayed the prototype, industry-funded E-scan radar. In the half-yearly report, BAE Systems confirmed that the British government has signed a three-year contract worth more than $120 million “to de-risk E-scan radar development for the Royal Air Force’s Typhoon fleet ahead of the award of a full-scale development contract.”

Two months ago, BAE Systems announced a reorganization of its interests in Saudi Arabia into a holding company, OMC, in which it will retain a 51-percent interest. Riyadh Wings Aviation Academy, already a partner of the British company, will own the other 49 percent. BAE said that the growth prospects of its training company (SDT, 98 percent owned), electronics company (AEC, 50 percent owned) and IT systems engineering company (ISE, 90 percent owned) would be enhanced by bringing them into a single holding company. BAE Systems chief executive Ian King said the enhanced relationship with Riyadh Wings demonstrates the company’s “ongoing commitment to support the national agenda of developing an indigenous defense industry.”

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No Military Operation in Libya, Sisi Says

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi denied on Sunday 24/8/2014 that the Egyptian Armed Forces had carried out any military operation inside the Libyan lands.

At a meeting with editors-in-chief of Egyptian newspapers and the Middle East News Agency, Sisi refuted reports circulated by the Doha-based Aljazeera channel in this regard, saying "We did not carry out any military operation outside our borders till now".

"Our forces are stationed inside our territories," he added.

The President stressed that Egypt is concerned about the security of the Libyan lands and is holding necessary consultations with Algeria, Tunisia and other neighboring countries to find a political solution that would bring about stability in Libya. (SIS)

 
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