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28 mai 2013 2 28 /05 /mai /2013 16:30
INS Sindhurakshak File Photo K.R. Deepak

INS Sindhurakshak File Photo K.R. Deepak

May 27, 2013, zeenews.india.com

 

Cairo: India's submarine INS Sindhurakshak received help from Egyptian Navy when it encountered extreme bad weather and rough sea on its way back home after mid-life up-gradation in Russia.

 

The Sindhurakshak, a Russian Kilo Class submarine built in 1997 at Admiralteiskie Verfi shipyard in St Petersburg, underwent mid-life up-gradation.

 

The Egyptian Navy towed the submarine to Port Said along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in March, sources said.

 

Welcoming the gesture, Indian ambassador to Egypt Navdeep Suri praised the professional handling by the Egyptian Navy.

 

In thank you cable to Egypt's Defence and Military Production Minister Gen Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, Suri said, "(Egyptian) Naval troops towed the submarine in a professional way to a safe Egyptian port", the official MENA news agency reported.

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27 mai 2013 1 27 /05 /mai /2013 17:50
Made in Germany: Berlin Under Fire for Tank Deal with Cairo

May 27, 201 By Gerald Traufetter - spiegel.de

 

Berlin is once again in hot water over its arms export policy, having authorized the shipment of armored vehicles that were used to fatally crush peaceful demonstrators in Cairo. Tanks manufactured in Egypt under license by a German contractor have also ended up in war-torn countries.

 

On the night of Oct. 9, 2011, scenes of wanton brutality played out on the streets of Cairo. Shaky videos captured by mobile phones show images of peaceful demonstrators, including students and Coptic Christians, marching toward the Maspero building, which houses the Egyptian Radio and Television Union.

 

But then tanks rolled in and the masses panicked as the armored vehicles headed directly toward the crowds. Rather than slowing down, they accelerated and charged straight ahead. In the end, a dozen pro-democracy advocates lay dead, crushed by the tanks' steel armoring or run over by their solid-rubber tires.

 

Mathias John has not been able to get these images out of his mind. As an arms expert, the activist with Amnesty International knows exactly what kind of military equipment can be seen in the images: the Fahd armored personnel carrier. The 4x4 vehicle is based on the prototype of the TH 390 designed by , a German defense contractor that was integrated into Rheinmentall, another German arms manufacturer, in 2000. Since the 1980s, some 1,300 units have been manufactured in Egypt under license. "It is unspeakable that such a massacre was perpetrated with German vehicles," John says angrily.

 

With the help of parliamentarians from Germany's far-left Left Party, the human-rights advocate has submitted an official request for information from the German government. He wants to learn whether the German Economy Ministry has learned what is being done with "Made in Germany" military equipment.

 

But the ministry refuses to directly acknowledge what even a second-rate military expert should be able to clearly recognize from the videos: that the vehicle crushing the demonstrators is a Fahd. Instead, its response was that: "The federal government is aware of a report claiming that at least two armored personnel carriers wantonly steered into the crowds during demonstrations on Oct. 9, 2011 outside the 'Maspero' television building, killing up to 12 people."

 

John finds that cowardly. But there are reasons for such faintheartedness. The tank deal that the German government has with Egypt calls into question the principles on which its arms-export policies are based. These principles are actually supposed to prevent occurrences like those seen in the Cairo images. German export policy stipulates that arms be sold only to states that do not commit violence against their own people, invade other countries or pass on the weaponry to agressive regimes.

 

Pumping Weapons into Crisis Zones

 

But such pledges have not been kept. Instead, images have repeatedly emerged showing German weapons in the hands of terrorists, individuals committing massacres and members of organized criminal organizations. Despite the visibility of cases such as the Fahd vehicles in Cairo, German export controls have not worked properly for some time now. Indeed, in this case, the failure can be seen on several YouTube videos uploaded onto the Internet by survivors of the Maspero massacre.

 

But something even more shocking is included in the government's response to the parliamentary request for information, in which the government reveals that, between 2004 and 2012, German companies delivered components for the Fahd vehicles to Egypt, including Daimler-made diesel engines and chassis, without which the Egyptians would have never been able to manufacture such armored vehicles. All told, the ministry cites approved deliveries of such parts totalling some €131 million ($170 million). Of this, €55 million in parts deliveries were approved in 2011, the year in which the Arab Spring began. What's more, the total value of exports could be even higher if components for the Fahd that do not require government approval were also delivered. Such approvals come from Germany's Federal Security Council, a nine-member body made up of the chancellor and several ministers that meets behind closed doors.

 

Germany's recent actions make it clear that the Arab Spring, which saw citizens in several North African countries rise up against their autocratic rulers, did not trigger a change in thinking about arms-export policies. The Economy Ministry, which is responsible for monitoring exports, states that it reviewed the already granted approvals "in February 2011, in light of ongoing developments." But, it continues: "Individual approvals were re-granted after the reviews were concluded."

 

Among these approvals were those related to the components for the Fahd vehicles. And in 2012 -- as if images from the Maspero massacre had never been captured -- the ministry also signed off on exports of Fahd components worth €3.5 million. "The government neglected to address the consequences of its mistake," criticizes Amnesty International arms expert John.

 

The Primacy of the Merkel Doctrine

 

It's also possible that the German-designed and partially manufactured armored vehicles weren't used only in Egypt as an instrument to violate human rights. Of the 1,300 vehicles produced under license in Egypt, an unknown number landed in countries ravaged by civil war, such as Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

 

The Economy Ministry sheepishly admits that "re-export requires the approval of the Federal Republic," and that this is stipulated in the licensing contracts. But the Egyptian regime never received such an approval, opting instead to simply export them at will.

 

For some time now, human rights advocates have called for the German government not to rely on the written end-user certifications supplied by the countries receiving arms shipments. Instead, they would like to see officials actively monitor buyers to make sure they uphold the ban on re-exportation. "Why doesn't the German military attaché in Cairo request to see the companies' books and search them for illegal export to third countries?" asks John.

 

This violation of German laws also puts the new arms-export doctrine of Chancellor Angela Merkel in doubt because it actually makes it easier to improperly export weapons into third countries. Merkel has selected so-called "strategic partner countries" that she intends to outfit with German-made weapons. But there is no requirement that these countries pursue democratic values. Instead, the doctrine emphasizes that they defend Western interests against even more worrying rogue nations.

 

Pursuant to this strategy, Qatar has received German Leopard tanks and howitzers, Indonesia has been allowed to purchase tanks and armored personnel carriers, and Saudi Arabia has been given the green light to order Leopard tanks as well. The Merkel Doctrine also aims to support the domestic arms industry, which has suffered as a result of declining orders from Germany's own military, the Bundeswehr.

 

While former Egyptian autocrat Hosni Mubarak was in charge, Germany's arms exports to the country were widely acceptable. Mubarak's government was considered a reliable partner in the Middle East -- that is, until his security forces began running down protesters with Fahd tanks.

 

New Tanks 'Could Be Used for a Crackdown'

 
Now, Algeria has been promoted to the role of "strategic partner." The country is to serve as a bulwark in North Africa -- a buffer against the Islamist rebels raging in Mali. For this reason, Berlin gave Rheinmetall permission to build a factory near Algiers devoted to the production of Fuchs wheeled tanks, a very similar model to the Fahd. The first 54 vehicles have already been assembled in Germany and shipped to Algeria. "If the population were to rise up, the Fuchs tanks could be used for a crackdown," warns John.

 

What's more, the Fahd example shows that Germany is unable to prevent the tanks from landing in other conflict zones. Up to 1,000 units are to be produced in Algeria. Further export is not provided for, the Düsseldorf manufacturers and German Economy Ministry assure in unison.

 

Arms experts think this is implausible. A thousand is a huge production count. The comparatively large German Bundeswehr bought about as many wheeled tanks as will now be manufactured in Algeria during the entire Cold War.

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22 avril 2013 1 22 /04 /avril /2013 17:30
Illistration Armtrac.net

Illistration Armtrac.net

22 April 2013 by defenceWeb

 

The Egyptian Army will receive a second Armtrac 400 mine-clearance vehicle from the United Kingdom as it continues to clear up the millions of landmines left over from the Second World War.

 

The contract was signed during a ceremony on Wednesday and is worth $1.2 million, according to Egyptian news publication Ahram Online. Armtrac will also train four Egyptian military personnel to use the vehicle, which will be delivered in a month’s time, according to Armtrac.

 

The vehicle will be used to clear mines along Egypt’s northwestern coast. Egypt hopes to acquire another two of the vehicles for mince clearance, according to the Egypt State Information Service. The country successfully completed trials of the first Armtrac 400 in September 2010, in El Alamein.

 

The Armtrac 400 can clear up to 24 000 square metres of ground an hour using its three metre wide rotor, which can till the ground up to a depth of 55 cm. It can destroy 10 kg anti-tank mines without sustaining any major damage. However, the vehicle can be operated remotely from up to 800 metres away, further enhancing safety.

 

An estimated 20% of the world’s planted landmines lie below Egyptian soil, primarily from the Second World War and wars with Israel in 1956, 1967 and 1973. Some of the most heavily mined areas of the country include areas in the Western Desert, Sinai Peninsula, Suez Canal and Red Sea coast.

 

The United Nations Development Programme has estimated that landmines and explosive remnants of war in the northwest coast region deny access to almost a quarter of Egypt’s landmass.

 

Fathy El-Shazli, national project director for mine clearance and development at the Ministry of International Cooperation, told Irin that around 22 million landmines and explosive remnants of war lie in northwestern Egypt – particularly around the World War II battlefield of El-Alamein. According to the Egyptian government, around 3 000 people have been killed and 4 800 injured by landmines over the last 25 years.

 

The UN Development Programme, UN Mine Action Services, British Embassy and UK Department for International Development have all contributed to de-mining efforts in Egypt. According to General Mahrous El-Kelany, operational director of Egypt's General-Secretariat for Mine Clearance (G-SMC), the most recent Armtrac purchase will be funded by foreign grants.

 

According to the G-SMC, the military has managed since 2010 to clear more than 31 000 hectares of mines. Cleared land has since been handed over to the agriculture and housing ministries for development projects.

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