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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:
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.
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.
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.
Great historic events that have shaped the world and changed the outlines of countries are often not recorded in memory, or so we think. Wars made sure to destroy evidence and heritage, and the ones who survived told the tale of what really happened. Folklore, albeit through oral tradition kept alive many such stories, hidden in verse, limericks, and rhymes.
Ringa-ringa-roses, a common playtime rhyme among children across the world, is an example of folklore that has survived for many centuries. It tells the story of the The Great Plague of London which ravaged the city between 1665-1666.
The Plague broke out from improper disposal of garbage and poor sewage conditions. Fleas from the rats that lived in the sewers spread the disease that killed more than half of London's population. Many people fled from their homes as there was no medicine available for those who were infected.
Beak-shaped masks worn during the Great Plague of London Image source: wikimedia commons
It was around this time that masks began to be invented. The first masks were shaped like beaks, and were worn not to protect the wearer from the disease, but to the prevent them from being able to smell the decay and death around them, which they called 'miasma'. The beaks were filled with floral herbs that allowed doctors and nurses to tend to the sick without being reviled from the smell.
Children are often seen forming circles by holding hands and reciting loudly,
Pockets full of posies
We all fall down"
An illustration of the Great Plague of London, 1665 Image source: wikimedia commons
When the last line is sung, they break the circle and fall down. The roses and posies are believed to be the preferred fragrances inside the masks, and a single sneeze (a-tishoo) was enough to infect the one who was exposed to the disease. Consequently, they fell down, ill, and later died.
An alternative version of this rhyme is sung about the fall of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the aftermath of World War II. The roses and posies are interchanged with geranium and uranium, to symbolise what was used in the atomic bomb. But this version is not as famous the original.
Keywords: Rhymes, Ringa-ringa-roses, Great Plague of London, WWII, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Folklore
In modern times, many social movements aim to bring reform to the society we live in, on the basis of certain existing patterns. Patriarchy is something that many aim to cleanse our cultures of, to usher in the era of social and gender equality. Despite all these so-called movements, in southern India, certain societies that patronise matriarchy have existed since before India's independence. The Nairs and Ezhavas of Kerala, and Bunts and Billavas of Karnataka are matrilineal societies that continue to thrive in a patriarchal country.
Kerala remains separate from the rest of India in many ways. Be it literacy policy, form of government, or cultural practices, this state does not always conform to the ideal that India is known for. Even so with their social structure. Certain tribes have remained matrilineal, where the decision-making power rests with the eldest female of the family.
The Nairs and Ezhavas of Kerala, and Bunts and Billavas of Karnataka are matrilineal societies that continue to thrive in a patriarchal country. Image source: wikimedia commons
A male member, who is the close confidante of the matriarch is chosen. He plays a crucial role in representing the male members of his family, and his opinion is highly valued. He is called karavanan. The men reside in separate rooms or in separate houses, and do not interfere in the upbringing of children. Property is also passed down along the lineage of the eldest female. Among the Nairs, matriarchy is more prominently adhered to than the Ezhavas, who have some patrilocal connections.
In Karnataka, the Bunts and Billavas belong to the Tuluva ethnic group. They are also a predominantly matriarchal society, founded on the belief in a legend. Their matrilineal descent is known as Aliyasantana.
The story is told of a demon who threatened to destroy a kingdom if the king did not sacrifice his sons, but the king's sister comes forward to offer her children in sacrifice for the sake of the kingdom. The demon is touched and does not destroy the city. Since then, the kingdom, or the property is inherited through female lineage.
In Karnataka, the Bunts and Billavas belong to the Tuluva ethnic group. They are also a predominantly matriarchal society, founded on the belief in a legend. Image source: wikimedia commons
In the recent past, many of these matriarchal societies have been reduced to matrilineal societies by certain governmental laws. They fall under the patriarchal scheme of the rest of the state but have reserved the right to pass on property and heritage through the female line. In the North east of India, matriarchal dominance is far more resilient than the south.
Keywords: Bunts, Billava, Nair, Ezhava, Aliyasantana, Matrilineal, South India, Karnataka, Kerala
Apple inc. Is an American multinational tech firm specialized in consumer electronics, computer programs, and internet services founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne in 1976 to manufacture Wozniak's Apple iComputer. It is the world's top tech company in turnover (totaling $274.5 billion in 2020) and its most valuable corporation. Apple is the fourth-largest PC seller by unit sales and the fourth-largest smartphone manufacturer in the world.
Apple has revealed a slew of new products at a special launch event that has been long-awaited. On the day of the live event, Apple announced the iPad mini, Apple Watch Series 7, iPhone 13 mini, and iPhone 13, as well as the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max.
Apple has revealed a slew of new products at a special launch event that has been long-awaited. | Photo by Daniel Romero on Unsplash
In the first major product announcement during the event, Apple introduced the newest edition of the iPad and a 5G-capable iPad Mini.
iPad: The 10.2-inch iPad is equipped with a solid A13 processor that delivers 20 percent quicker performance than the preceding version. According to Apple, it is now three times faster than a Chromebook. A new 12MP ultra-wide camera with Center Stage, which utilizes machine learning to optimize the front-facing camera during FaceTime video chats, as well as more incredible accessory support, including compatibility with the first-generation Apple Pencil, are among the new features. For 64GB of storage, the iPad costs $329.
iPad Mini: In addition to reduced borders and more rounded edges, the 8.3-inch iPad mini also has improved front and back cameras. A liquid retina display, USB-C compatibility, magnetic support for the Apple Pencil, an enhanced speaker system, and new hues such as pink and purple are all features of the new Apple iPad Mini. The starting price is $499.
In the first major product announcement during the event, Apple introduced the newest edition of the iPad and a 5G-capable iPad Mini. | Photo by Leone Venter on Unsplash
The other major unveiled products include:
iPhone 13 and other variants: The iPhone 13 range is almost identical to the iPhone 12 lineup, with a 5.4-inch iPhone 13 Mini, a 6.1-inch iPhone 13, a 6.1-inch iPhone 13 Pro, and a 6.7-inch iPhone 13 Pro Max. It was also revealed that the Watch Series 7 has a smaller "S7" processor, which may allow for a bigger battery or other components to be housed in a smaller footprint. The gadgets have a revolutionary design that includes a dual-camera system, placed diagonally. Apple's iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini have longer-lasting batteries than the previous generation of devices. In addition, Apple claims that the iPhone 13 will have a battery life that is 2.5 hours longer than the iPhone 12, and the iPhone 13 mini will have a battery life that is 1.5 hours longer. A more energy-efficient display, an upgraded 5G chip, and functionality called "Cinematic Mode," similar to the famous Portrait mode function but is only available for movies, are among the other enhancements. The A15 Bionic chip present in the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini is also used in the 6.1-inch iPhone 13 Pro and 6.7-inch iPhone 13 Pro Max, also 6.1-inch devices. However, it also has a five-core CPU, which promises graphics that are 50% quicker than previous models. Other notable features of the Pro devices include a brilliant Super Retna XDR display with a higher refresh rate and long-lasting battery life. Now, for the price, it will start at $699 for the iPhone 13 mini with 128 GB of storage, $799 for the iPhone 13 with 128 GB of storage, and the Pro and Pro Max have starting prices of $999 $1,099, respectively.
Apple Watch Series 7: The new Apple Watch Series 7, which is smaller and has a larger screen than its previous model, was introduced by Apple on Wednesday. There is a 20% increase in screen size over Series 6 on the new watch. A complete keyboard that you can touch or slide to write out text messages can show 50% more text. It starts at $399.
Keywords: Apple, iPad, iPad Mini, iPhone 13, iPhone 13 pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone Mini, Apple event 2021