Wednesday December 13, 2017
Home World Blood money: ...

Blood money: US arms manufacturers are feeding fodder to the unrest in Middle East

0
41

fighter-60754_640

By NewGram Staff Writer

Even as the Middle East rapidly becomes engulfed in a string of proxy wars, sectarian violence, while transforming into a breeding ground for barbaric terrorist groups such as ISIS, the geopolitical phenomenon has brought much euphoria on the faces of American defense manufacturers.

To put the arms race into perspective, here are a few cases in point:

While Saudi Arabia uses F-15 fighter jets bought from Boeing to wage war in Yemen, pilots from the United Arab Emirates fly Lockheed Martin’s F-16 to bomb both Yemen and Syria. General Atomics and the Emirates are on the brink of signing a deal for a fleet of Predator drones to run spying missions in the neighborhood.

Thousands of American-made missiles, bombs and other weapons, are refueling Arab arsenal that has been depleted over the past year.

US Defense Industry officials are awaiting requests from Arab allies fighting the Islamic State — Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan and Egypt–for weapons, within a few days.

Countries in the region that have stockpiled American military hardware are now actually using it and are hungry for more. Consequently, American defense contractors are witnessing an upsurge in the dealings of the foreign business department.

Why the boom in sale of armory?

The shift in momentum has erupted ever since the Alliance map was redrawn. In light of the historic de facto alliance between Israel and the Arab nations to stall Iran’s nuclear program, the Obama administration has been more forthcoming in allowing the sale of advanced weapons in the Persian Gulf.

This is in stark contrast to earlier plans of the United States to put restrictions on the types of weapons that American defense firms could sell to Arab nations, so that Israel maintained a military advantage against its traditional adversaries in the region.

Previously, virtually all sales to the Middle East were based on how they affected Israeli military superiority. There has been a shift in ideology with the Obama administration now showering greater support for the militaries of select Arab nations, particularly those that view Iran as a threat in the region. The change in geopolitical stance is expected to shake things up.

According to Industry Analysts and Middle East experts, the high-tech hardware from the defense industry is likely to see an upswing due to the fortitude and the determination of the wealthy Sunni nations to battle Shiite Iran for regional supremacy.

Anthony H. Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies said, “When you look at it, Israel’s strategic calculation is a simple one. The gulf countries do not represent a meaningful threat to Israel. They do represent a meaningful counterbalance to Iran.”

Who drives the weaponry demand?

The military coffers of Middle East nations is bulging with money, and with a desire to exert their influence over their nations, they have embarked on a shopping spree. The heavy weight shoppers have been highlighted below:

Qatar

The monarch State of Qatar, another gulf nation, signed an $11 billion deal with the Pentagon to purchase Apache attack helicopters and Patriot and Javelin air-defense systems.

While the country maintains a modest military force of approximately 12000 men, The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI, found that in 2010–14 Qatar was the 46th largest arms importer in the world.

Now the tiny nation is betting money on making a large purchase of Boeing F-15 fighters to replace its aging fleet of French Mirage jets.

Saudi Arabia

The largest Arab state in Western Asia is also amongst the world’s largest military spenders. In fact, Saudi Arabia has the highest percentage of military expenditure in the world, spending more than 10 per cent of its GDP in its military.

Last year, it spent more than $80 billion on weaponry— the most ever, more than either France or Britain, thereby becoming  the world’s fourth-largest defense market, according the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

UAE

The federation of seven emirates, UAE, has grown its arsenal of weapons significantly over the years. It has purchased modern weapon systems from a wide variety of outside countries, mainly the US, France and Britain.

The Emirates spent nearly $23 billion last year, more than three times what they spent in 2006.

The recent developments in the armory market

Supply follows demand. As money attracts followers, so does the  American weapon manufacturers run after lucre.

Boeing opened an office in Doha, Qatar, in 2011, and Lockheed Martin set up an office there this year.

Lockheed created a separate division in 2013 devoted solely to foreign military sales, and

the company’s chief executive, Marillyn Hewson, said that Lockheed needs to increase foreign business — with a goal of global arms sales’ becoming 25 percent to 30 percent of its revenue — in part to offset the shrinking of the Pentagon budget after the post-Sept 11 boom.

What does the future hold?

According to American intelligence agencies, the proxy wars in the Middle East could last for years, which will make countries in the region even more eager for the F-35 fighter jet, considered to be the jewel of America’s future arsenal of weapons.

The F-35, manufactured by defense giant Lockheed Martin in 2006, is currently in its testing and production stage. From its futuristic shape to the millions of lines of computer code that act as a kind of artificial intelligence, the plane is a complicated beast.

The plan to sell F-35’s to Arab allies is on holds so as the preserve Israel’s military advantage.

This could change dramatically, if Russian President Vladimir V. Putin decides to sell an advanced air defense system to Iran. The demand for F-35 would magnify immensely due to its ability to penetrate Russian-made defenses.

“This could be the precipitating event: the emerging Sunni-Shia civil war coupled with the sale of advanced Russian air defense systems to Iran. If anything is going to result in F-35 clearance to the gulf states, this is the combination of events”, Mr. Aboulafia, a defense analyst at the Teal group said.

While most Americans feel justified with the ‘military support’–as a strategy to maintain peace and stability in the region, experts feel skeptical about the move to augment arms sales in the Middle East. Some even view it as a leading cause for the escalation in the type, number and sophistication in the weaponry in these countries.

They also point towards the misdirections of the arms against civilian populations, specifically in  the war raged by Saudi Arabia against Yemen, something that Saudi Arabia denies.

Opinion remains divided over the ethical considerations of arms supply. It is quite evident, though, that no war exists without the US.

Next Story

Will sexual misconduct scandals make Men more cautious towards Women?

0
16
Sexual scandals may wary men's behavioral instincts
FILE - In a Feb. 3, 2015, file photo, Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg is photographed at the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. Some women, and men, worry that the same climate that’s emboldening women to speak up about harassment could backfire by making some men wary of female colleagues. Sandberg recently wrote that she hoped the outcry over harassment doesn’t “have the unintended consequence of holding women back.” (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)
  • Sexual Scandals are the new low in business industry
  • Americans were already edgy about male-female encounters at work
  • Gender comes as a barrier in interaction

Some women, and men, worry the same climate that’s emboldening women to speak up about sexual misconduct could backfire by making some men wary of female colleagues.

Forget private meetings and get-to-know-you dinners. Beware of banter. Think twice before a high-ranking man mentors a young female staffer.

“I have already heard the rumblings of a backlash: ‘This is why you shouldn’t hire women,’” Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg wrote in a recent post .

“So much good is happening to fix workplaces right now. Let’s make sure it does not have the unintended consequence of holding women back,” said Sandberg, author of the working women’s manifesto “Lean In.”

Sexual Scandals
From left, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., accompanied by Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Illinois., and former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson, speaks at a news conference where she and other members of congress introduce legislation to curb sexual harassment in the workplace, on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, in Washington. Gillibrand and fellow female Democratic senators have united in calling for Sen. Al Franken to resign amid sexual misconduct allegations. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Ana Quincoces, a Miami-based attorney and entrepreneur who owns her own food line, says her business and its success involves working mostly with men, and sales and other activities are often concluded over lunch or drinks. Those opportunities, she says, are dwindling, because many of the men she knows through her business “are terrified.”

“There’s a feeling of this wall that wasn’t there that is suddenly up because they don’t know what’s appropriate anymore — it’s disconcerting,” Quincoces said. “I feel that they’re more careful, more formal in their relationships with co-workers. And I can’t say I blame them, because what’s happened is pervasive. Every day there’s a new accusation.”

She said many of the men she knows are now avoiding one-on-one social occasions that were normal in the past.

“This is going to trickle down into all industries. … It’s going to become the new normal,” Quincoces said. “It’s a good thing because women are not afraid anymore, but on the other side, it’s a slippery slope.”

Americans were already edgy about male-female encounters at work: A New York Times/Morning Consult poll of 5,300 men and women last spring found almost two-thirds thought workers should be extra careful around opposite-sex colleagues, and around a quarter thought private work meetings between men and women were inappropriate.

But in a season of outcry over sexual misconduct, some men are suddenly wondering whether they can compliment a female colleague or ask about her weekend. Even a now-former female adviser to the head of Pennsylvania’s Democratic Party suggested on Facebook that men would stop talking to women altogether because of what she portrayed as overblown sexual misconduct claims.

Certain managers are considering whether to make sure they’re never alone with a staffer, despite the complications of adding a third person in situations like performance reviews, says Philippe Weiss, who runs the Chicago-based consultancy Seyfarth Shaw at Work.

Philadelphia employment lawyer Jonathan Segal says some men are declaring they’ll just shut people out of their offices, rather than risk exchanges that could be misconstrued.

“The avoidance issue is my biggest concern, because the marginalization of women in the business world is at least as big a problem as harassment,” Segal says. A recent report involving 222 North American companies found the percentage of women drops from 47 percent at the entry level to 20 percent in the C suite.

Vice President Mike Pence has long said he doesn’t have one-on-one meals with any woman except his wife and wants her by his side anywhere alcohol is served, as part of the couple’s commitment to prioritizing their marriage. The guidelines have “been a blessing to us,” the Republican told Christian Broadcasting Network News in an interview this month.

Employment attorneys caution that it can be problematic to curb interactions with workers because of their gender, if the practice curtails their professional opportunities. W. Brad Johnson, a co-author of a book encouraging male mentors for women, says limiting contact sends a troubling message.

“If I were unwilling to have an individual conversation with you because of your gender, I’m communicating ‘you’re unreliable; you’re a risk,’” says Johnson, a U.S. Naval Academy psychology professor.

Jessica Proud, a communications professional and Republican political consultant in New York City, said it would be wrong if this national “day of reckoning” over sexual misconduct resulted in some men deciding not to hire, mentor or work with women. She recalled a campaign she worked on where she was told she couldn’t travel with the candidate because of how it might look.

“I’m a professional, he’s a professional. Why should my career experience be limited?” she said. “That’s just as insulting in a lot of ways.” VOA

Next Story

US to begin Jerusalem Embassy move preparations: Tillerson

0
26
Photo: wikimedia commons

Washington, Dec 7. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has stated that the State Department will “immediately” act on President Donald Trump’s order and start preparations to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Earlier on Wednesday, Trump announced in a televised speech that he officially recognises Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and instructed the State Department to relocate the US embassy to the city, reports Xinhua news agency. (Read: Trump to Announce US Recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli Capital, Move Embassy)

Tillerson, who is on a Europe visit, said in a statement on Wednesday night that the US has consulted with “many friends, partners and allies” about the relocation ahead of Trump’s decision.

Though hailed by Israel, Trump’s announcement immediately drew strong opposition and widespread criticism from Arab and European countries that such a move would inflame tensions and fuel violence in the Middle East.

Tillerson said that the US had taken measures to protect Americans in the region.

“The safety of Americans is the State Department’s highest priority, and in concert with other federal agencies, we’ve implemented robust security plans to protect the safety of Americans in affected regions.”

Trump’s announcement marked a dramatic departure from his predecessors’ foreign policy.

Although the US Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 which required the relocation of the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, former Presidents, including George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, consistently renewed a presidential waiver to delay the relocation out of consideration for national security interests.

The status of Jerusalem, revered by Muslims as the third holiest site in Islam and the holiest site by Jews, lies at the core of the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians.

The international community does not recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and no foreign countries have their embassies in the city.(IANS)

Next Story

How Technology is Streamlining the US Lending Sector

0
52
cash-lending

Today, people are more connected than any other time in history. Since people are constantly using computers and smartphones, most industries have adopted technologies that help in easier and faster service delivery to customers.

In the finance industry, the development of technology has transformed the landscape in the lending sector. In this article, you’ll learn more about how this industry has been affected by technology.

Technology creates better borrower experience

Basically, the lending process requires an exchange of some data between the borrower and the lending institution. Depending on the lender and the amount in question, you may be required to submit tens of pages of information before the application is approved.

As such, the process can be daunting given that you are expected to fill multiple forms as well as provide several documents.  Without patience and some free time, getting through the loan application with traditional banks is close to impossible.

However, when the lending process is digitized the amount of paperwork is reduced dramatically. This is because account activity, credit history, income history as well as tax compliance can be fed into the system with the click of a button. This has made the collection and verification of information quite easy. Besides streamlining the application process, the amount of time it takes to get a loan has also reduced.

In addition, some lenders have developed some innovative mobile solutions that enable customers to submit an application from anywhere. The most outstanding feature about mobile loans is that there is a constant interaction between the lender and the borrowers. This goes a long way in improving service delivery.

Increased transparency

In the past, borrowers had no access to a lender’s system that hold the borrower’s personal details as well as loan application status. This implies that most borrowers were in the dark for the most part of the lending process. When the need to communicate comes, the loan teams were the most potent option. This has been the reason why loan officers were getting hundreds of phone calls from clients who were dying to get the updates about the loans.

Courtesy of technology advancements, now it’s possible to view the status of your loan application as well as your account status with a lender. This helps borrowers to stay updated during the entire online installment loans process. In addition, you can get instant communication about any requests that a lender may have that is critical to the borrowing process.

As a result, there is a high collaboration between borrowers and lenders which makes the involved parties satisfied.

A less painful borrowing process

Traditionally, it takes an average of 18 days to get a loan approval. To get through the borrowing process, you need an extra 50 days if you are applying for a mortgage. But when you consider that it’s possible to purchase something from miles away at the comfort of your home and get it in a few hours, the long lending process seems like a bad joke.

To match the level of service delivery in this digital era, the financial sector has incorporated technology for a better experience. The innovative technology makes it possible for borrowers to navigate through the process thanks to great design and real-time customer support.

This makes it easy to switch from traditional lenders who implement outdated technology and business models. The comfort of knowing that you can get help from the lender in a matter of seconds has made the process painless.

It helps you save money

On average, a lender spends about $8,000 to finish one mortgage. This is because they have to pay employees to look into tons of information and collate in various databases. In a manual process, the tasks are repetitive and consume a lot of time. The tragedy here is that the borrower will cover these costs in the form of loan fees and charges.

But when innovative technology is used, much of the redundant tasks during the application process is scraped off. This means borrowing becomes cheaper for both lenders and borrowers. Besides the huge savings on cost, the process takes less time.

Over-reliance on human capital is eliminated and this implies there are fewer errors when gathering information. While this doesn’t conclude that technology has taken the place of experienced manpower, it helps create time and resources that are focused on other tasks with higher value.

Risks associated with technology in the lending sector

While technology has a way of making life more bearable, it comes with several risks. Basically, most of the information is transmitted online and this makes it easy for criminals to intercept the information. With data security being one of the biggest concerns in this industry, most companies are investing heavily in precautionary measures to keep their customers safe.

Therefore, if you are working with a reputable loan company that has implemented the necessary safety measures, you don’t need to worry. However, this doesn’t mean that you should submit a loan application to every online lender out there.

All lenders are not created equal and there are a few predatory businesses out there that can take advantage of vulnerable borrowers and charge astronomical interests. As such, you should restrain yourself from getting into an agreement with any lender who doesn’t have a track record of outstanding customer service and a demonstrated commitment to helping customers.

Finally, identity theft is real and can cause a serious problem if a criminal gets your personal information. Therefore, you should be careful when requesting loans through online platforms. As a rule of thumb, choose to work with businesses that have strict privacy policies as well as having the necessary security measures to prevent data theft.

Final words

Innovative technology has taken the financial industry by a storm and it has created a serious revolution in the industry. Unlike in the past, loans are now easily accessible to more people and the lending process is less painful.

Considering the current trends, it’s clear that more resources are going to be invested in this industry and create better technologies. While there is still much that needs to be done with regards to improving certain loans like mortgages, technology has transformed the sector.