Month: February 2011

Chart of the day – Most dependent nations on oil from Libya

Via the Economist, a look at which nations are most dependent on oil from Libya.  According to the Economist

Libya produces 1.7m of the world’s 88m barrels a day (b/d) of oil. OECD countries import 1.2m b/d, and China another 150,000. Our chart shows which of Libya’s main export markets are most dependent on it for their oil. At the top of the list, Ireland only accounts for a tiny fraction of Libya’s oil exports. Italy is by far the biggest importer: in 2010 it took 376,000 b/d from its former colony.

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8th Chinese naval escort fleet leaves to patrol Gulf of Aden


Family members wave goodbye to the sailors and Chinese naval officers who have been sent out to the Gulf of Aden for the anti-piracy mission in Zhoushan, East China's Zhejiang province, Feb 21, 2011.

The eighth Chinese naval escort fleet, which consists of two missile frigates, left on Monday for the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters to protect merchant ships from rampant piracy in the area.

Missile destroyers "Wenzhou" and "Ma'anshan" are ready to set sail to the Gulf of Aden at an East China's port in Zhejiang province, Feb 21, 2011.

The 8th Chinese naval escort flotilla, consisting of frigate Wenzhou and frigate Ma’anshan, departed from Zhoushan on Monday, for the escort mission with comprehensive supply ship Qiandaohu in the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters to protect commercial ships from pirate attacks.

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China sends navy ship to protect-evacuate citizens in Libya


Type 054A FFG530 (XuZhou) to Libya

China is planning to evacuate around 15,000 of its nationals out of the 33,000 of its workers based in Libya.

China is taking the unprecedented step of dispatching a navy ship to protect its citizens being evacuated from conflict-ridden Libya — underscoring the navy’s growing capabilities and Beijing’s need to protect its citizens abroad.

The missile frigate Xuzhou was ordered to break off from anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden and is sailing toward Libya, the Defense Ministry said in a notice reported by state media Friday. It’s orders are to protect ships carrying Chinese expatriates to safety, the notice issued Thursday said. No details were given.

The ship’s mission, approved by the Central Military Commission headed by President Hu Jintao, marks the first time China’s entaglement-wary leaders have ever sent a navy ship to take part in the evacuation of civilians.

Traditionally, China has shied away from missions that could be interpreted as projecting military power abroad, although such qualms began to melt away in Dec. 2008, when it dispatched the first of seven naval squadrons to the Gulf of Aden to take part in anti-piracy patrols around lawless Somalia.

The Libya mission “shows the Chinese navy is willing to play a more active role in international aid operations in international waters,” said Zhu Feng, a professor at Peking University’s School of International Studies.

Over the past decade, hundreds of thousands of Chinese have taken up residence in developing countries for private business or to work on dams, roads and other infrastructure projects funded by China.

That growing presence has compelled China’s leaders and diplomats to play an active role in protecting Chinese lives and property overseas by advocating for them with local authorities and organizing aid and evacuations in the case of unrest or natural disasters. Otherwise, they risk appearing callous before a Chinese public that has continued to support one-party communist rule through three decades of economic reform.

In Libya, Chinese workers have been injured and driven from their dormitories by looters who have attacked more than two dozen Chinese-run construction sites.

In addition to preventing attacks on ships carrying evacuees, the Xuzhou’s dispatch also serves as a warning to elements in Libya not to harm Chinese civilians or prevent them from leaving the country, U.S. Naval War College China expert Andrew Erickson wrote in an article published late Thursday.

“This latest initiative is part of a larger ongoing increase in Chinese power, presence and influence around the world and should come as no surprise. China … requires a presence in critical areas and situations in order to have a voice,” Erickson wrote.

The mission sets a precedent for future operations in areas overseas where the lives and property of Chinese are threatened and will burnish the navy’s credentials among the public, Erickson said. That in turn could help the force procure greater funding and support for aircraft carriers and other programs, he said.

The 4,500-ton Xuzhou was launched in 2006 and carries an array of air defense and anti-ship missiles, along with a Chinese-made Z-9 helicopter. To get to Libya, the ship must pass through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal and it wasn’t clear when it would arrive.

An estimated 30,000 Chinese live in Libya, the majority of whom are now seeking to flee the country where fighting between rebels and foreign mercenaries and Libyan militiamen loyal to Moammar Gadhafi has killed hundreds.

Two ferries carrying 4,100 Chinese nationals arrived on the Greek island of Crete on Thursday, with another 2,100 expected to arrive in Malta on Friday. Another 450 arrived in Beijing on Friday morning aboard a pair of charter flights.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Song Tao was reported as saying Friday that a total of 12,000 Chinese have been evacuated, most of them by overland routes to Egypt and Tunisia. Additional charter flights and ferry trips have been scheduled.

The deployments are a sign that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), which includes the air force and navy, is gaining a bit in confidence following its dispatch of a small flotilla in December 2008 to join international operations in the Gulf of Aden. That was a turning point in China’s military history: the PLA navy’s first active-duty deployment beyond East Asia. China had long been diffident about long-range engagements, fearing they might stir anxiety about China’s military ambitions while at the same time revealing frailties to its potential enemies (America being the biggest concern).

Western powers have long been trying to cajole the PLA into playing a more dynamic role, both in UN peacekeeping (China is a big contributor of troops, but not of front-line ones) and disaster relief (the PLA did not send forces to help out after the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004). The PLA’s decision to get involved this time, however, is likely far more to do with domestic considerations than a desire to show solidarity with the West. A perceived failure by the PLA to show concern for Chinese lives in Libya would not have gone down well with the country’s fiery online nationalists (to whom the country’s leaders appear to pay considerable attention).

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Indian Navy sending 3 ships to evacuate Indians from Libya


INS Jalashwa

India is sending naval vessels to evacuate it’s citizens.

India is sending three Naval ships to evacuate its citizens from Libya. 18,000 Indians are currently based in Libya, many of them work for construction companies.

Government sources say two destroyers and INS Jalashawa (USS Trenton) will be dispatched from Mumbai in the next few hours. They will take 12 days to reach Libya.

In the meantime, the government has hired a private cruise ship that was already in the region. It can accommodate 1200 passengers and is sailing now from Egypt to Benghazi, the centre of the revolt in Libya. Government and medical officials will be on board the ship to provide assistance.

After leaving Benghazi, the cruise ship, named the Scotia Prince, is expected to dock in Alexandria in Egypt by March 1. From there, the passengers will be flown to India on special Air India flights.

The Naval ships will be used to move Indians from Tripoli to Alexandria. 8500 people are to be evacuated by the navy from Tripoli, another 1500 from Benghazi.

Punj Lloyd, DS Constructions and Simplex Projects Limited are among the larger employers of Indians in Libya.
While smaller companies are keen to remove their workers, larger companies have told government officials that they’d like to wait for a week to see how the massive protests unfold. So far, Col Muammar Gaddafi has retaliated against demonstrators demanding his exit with unrestrained force.

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South Korea sends Naval destroyer to evacuate nationals in Libya

The South Korean navy's Choi Young KDX-II destroyer.

South Korea has sent a naval destroyer to Libya to help evacuate it’s citizens.

Korea urgently dispatched the 4,500-ton Choi Young KDX-II destroyer, which is carrying out anti-piracy duties in the Gulf of Aden, to waters off Libya to support the evacuation of Koreans in the turbulent country, a Defense Ministry spokesman said Thursday.

“The Choi Young left the Gulf of Aden for Libya on Thursday afternoon and will arrive in waters north of Libya in the first week of March,” the spokesman said. “We’re dispatching the ship just in case the plan to evacuate Koreans by chartered aircraft hits a snag.”

Libya is being torn apart by the bloodiest of the Middle East’s “Jasmine Revolutions” so far as dictator Muammar Gadhafi refuses to quit.

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Russia to be hurt by United Nations vote on arms ban sales to Libya

President Vladimir Putin of Russia meets with Libyan leader Muammar Qadaffi on April 16, 2008 In Tripoli, Libya.

Russia stands to lose one of its biggest arms client, Libya. The United Nations voted on sanctions and an arms sales ban on Libya this past week.

Russia could lose almost $4.0 billion in arms export contracts to Libya after Moscow joined other world powers in slapping an arms embargo on Moamer Kadhafi’s regime, a report said on Sunday.

The Interfax news agency quoted a military source as saying that Russia had an order book for contracts from Libya worth $2.0 billion while negotiations had been in progress for deals worth $1.8 billion more.

“Among the countries of the Middle East and North Africa, Libya is one of the main buyers of Russian weapons,” the source, which was not identified, told the agency.

“As of today, contracts for military hardware of around $2.0 billion had been agreed with Libya.

“Work on contracts for aviation equipment and air defence was also in the final stage. These were valued at $1.8 billion,” the source said.

Russia was initially slow to echo Western condemnation of Kadhafi amid his bloody crackdown on an uprising but on Saturday it joined other UN Security Council members in ordering an arms embargo against Libya and other sanctions.

Another report last week said Russia could lose a total of up to $10 billion in arms sales from the wave of unrest currently destabilising regimes in north Africa and the Middle East.

The Interfax source recalled that Libyan Defence Minister Yunis Jaber had gone on a major spending spree during a January 2010 visit to Moscow, signing 1.3 billion euros ($1.8 billion) worth of deals including for six Yak-130 military planes.

Meanwhile, Libya had also been expected to become the first foreign buyer of Russia’s new Su-35 fighter and a contract worth $800 million for 12-15 planes had been ready for signing, the source said.

A range of other contracts for helicopters and missile systems were also being discussed.

Libya had also shown great interest in Russia’s new S-400 missile defence system, its T-90S tanks, submarines and rocket launchers, the source said.

The Soviet Union had delivered a huge amount of military hardware to Libya before the collapse of the USSR, including 350 fighter jets between 1981 and 1985 as well as 4,000 military vehicles and tanks.

As well as its economic value, Russia’s arms deals with the Middle East was also a crucial component of its bid to reassert its clout in the region which waned after the collapse of the USSR.

This is a huge set back for the Russian arms industry given the fact the it has had problems modernizing ever since the fall of the Soviet Union.  Arms sales are the only real substantive form of Trade that Russia has with most African nations.  For the last 20 years there has been very little diversification in Trade relations between both sides. Recently Russia has been trying to make new inroads in resource minerals, oil and energy sectors of countries like Algeria, Ethiopia and Namibia.  This new African dash has been largely motivated by not wanting to be left behind by the likes of China, Europe and the U.S.

Russian-Libyan bilateral relations

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United Nations votes to sanction Libya


Susan Rice, US Ambassador to UN: "This is a clear warning to the Libyan Government"

The UN Security Council has voted unanimously to impose sanctions on Muammar Gaddafi’s Libyan regime slapping sanctions on him, his five children and 10 top associates for its attempts to put down an uprising.

Voting unanimously after daylong discussions interrupted with breaks to consult with capitals back home, the council imposed an asset freeze on Gadhafi, his four sons and one daughter and a travel ban on the whole family along with 10 other close associates. The council also backed an arms embargo.

Council members also agreed 15-0 to refer the Gadhafi regime’s deadly crackdown on people protesting his rule to a permanent war crimes tribunal for an investigation of possible crimes against humanity.

The council said its actions were aimed at “deploring the gross and systematic violation of human rights, including the repression of peaceful demonstrators.” And members expressed concern about civilian deaths, “rejecting unequivocally the incitement to hostility and violence against the civilian population made from the highest level of the Libyan government.”

The uprising that began Feb. 15 has swept over nearly the entire eastern half of the country, breaking cities there out of his regime’s hold. Gadhafi and his backers continue to hold the capital Tripoli and have threatened to put down protests aggressively.

There have been reports that Gadhafi’s government forces have been firing indiscriminately on peaceful protesters and that as many as 1,000 people have died.

The day was consumed mainly with haggling behind closed doors over language that would refer Libya’s violent crackdown on protesters to the International Criminal Court, or ICC, at the Hague.

All 15 nations on the council ultimately approved referring the case to the permanent war crimes tribunal.

Council members did not consider imposing a no-fly zone over Libya, and no U.N.-sanctioned military action was planned. NATO also has ruled out any intervention in Libya.

The Libyan mission to the U.N., run by diplomats who have renounced Gadhafi, told the council in a letter that it supported measures “to hold to account those responsible for the armed attacks against the Libyan civilians, including through the International Criminal Court.”

The letter was signed by Ambassador Mohamed Shalgham, a former longtime Gadhafi supporter who had a dramatic change of heart after the crackdown worsened. Shalgham pleaded with the council on Friday to move quickly to halt the bloodshed in his country.

Earlier Saturday, in Ankara, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged the council not to impose sanctions, warning that the Libyan people, not Gadhafi’s government, would suffer most.

U.N. sanctions were slapped on his country after suspected Libyan agents planted a bomb that blew up Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988, killing 270 people, mostly Americans.

Libya accepted responsibility for the bombing in 2003 and pledged to end efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. and Libya in 2009 exchanged ambassadors for the first time in 35 years, after Libya paid about $2.7 billion in compensation to the families of the Lockerbie victims.

In Geneva on Friday, the U.N. Human Rights Council called for an investigation into possible crimes against humanity in Libya and recommended Libya’s suspension from membership of the world body’s top human rights body.

Video report below about the sanctioning of Libya.

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Paramount Group showcasing new armoured vehicle

Mbombe 6x6 - Armoured Fighting Vehicle

Paramount Group is showcasing a new armoured fighting vehicle for the global arms market.

European defence manufacturers are facing strong competition in the form of new ground breaking vehicle technology developed in Africa.

Paramount Group, Africa’s largest privately owned defence company, is at the forefront of this trend and is showcasing its latest vehicles at International Armoured Vehicles 2011.

The African defence giant, which is at IAV at the request of its customers, is showcasing its range of ‘new breed’ infantry fighting vehicles following the successful launch of its latest vehicle, Mbombe, in Johannesburg in late 2010. Since then Paramount Group has experienced healthy levels of interest in the vehicle from armed forces across the world.

Mbombe is a revolutionary six wheeled infantry fighting vehicle that is ideally suited to cope with conventional and non-conventional threats.

Commentators have branded Mbombe the ‘holy grail’ of modern vehicle design because of its flat hull – as opposed to the traditional V shape – giving it a reduced target profile, yet still boasting better armour that many vehicles used by NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Ivor Ichikowitz, Executive Chairman of the Paramount Group, said: “Europe is waking up to the fact that African manufacturers, scientists and engineers are producing world class products for the global defence sector. European defence experts and buyers are very excited by Mbombe. Many believe that this is the IFV that forces from across the world have been waiting for because it is versatile enough to handle a number of different roles.”

Ichikowitz continued: “South Africa’s defence industry has an established record at the cutting edge of mine protected vehicle design and development. Now Paramount Group is using its advanced research and development, harnessing the latest technology, to take that innovation to the next level and deliver a new breed of armoured vehicle to the global market.

“We are attending IAV 2011 to show the European market that Africa has a long tradition of armoured vehicle design, the skills and expertise to provide the very best in armoured vehicle technology, offering superb protection, reliability and affordability.”

David McDonald Joyce, Paramount Group’s Business Development Director, will reveal more about the Group’s development of the next generation of mine protected vehicles on day one of IAV 2011’s Conference.

David McDonald Joyce said: “We are at IAV at the request of our customers and in response to a growing level of interest from forces across the world. The reality is that modern forces require versatile and adaptable vehicles that can handle both traditional operations as well as newer threats, such as counter insurgency. Our vehicles meet these challenges which is why I think we are experiencing increased interest from buyers.”

A great showcase to the rest of the world about the capacity and advancement in technology that can be produced by an African defense company. Last year Vietnam was looking at buying missiles for it’s navy from Denel Dynamicsm, a south African defense firm. This once again shows that when it comes to research and development of arms, African companies can compete on the global scale. Whether it is unveiling a new space agency, being recognized as the highest quality production marker of Mercedes-Benz in the U.S., Africa can compete globally.

More information and video highlights about the Mbombe

Background history on Paramount Group’s beginnings.

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China to build $1.2 billion airport in Sudan

China has agreed to build a $1.2 billion airport in Sudan.

A Chinese company has won a 900 million euro contract to build a new international airport in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, underscoring the close links between China and sanctions-hit Sudan.

A subsidiary of China Communications Construction Company will build a runway long enough to handle giant Airbus A380s, a passenger terminal, hanger, control tower and other facilities, China’s state-owned companies administrator said in a statement on its website ( on Tuesday.

The new airport will have a runway long enough for the giant Airbus A380

“After this project is completed, it will greatly enhance the degree of internationalisation of Sudan’s capital Khartoum, and also increase the impact China Communications Construction Company will have in Sudan’s market,” the statement said.

The company has a Hong Kong-listed unit, and is involved in infrastructure projects around the world. In January it was given an $810 million contract to build the second phase of a new port in Sri Lanka.

The deal with Sudan comes at a time when airlines are considering cutting back operations because of currency restrictions that prevent them repatriating their profits.

The airlines are constrained because of local laws that prevent selling tickets to Sudanese nationals in foreign currency. Credit card transactions are also not possible due to U.S. sanctions imposed since 1997..

Only about a dozen foreign airlines fly to Sudan because of the U.S. embargo. Sudan also has a poor safety record, with the European Union banning all Sudanese airlines from flying to the bloc.

But Beijing has long been an ally of the government in Khartoum, providing much needed infrastructure development for the country that conceded to a January referendum outcome which will see its oil-rich south split as soon as July 9.

China relied on Sudan as its sixth largest source of oil imports in 2010, and has been keen to build a relationship with leaders in the south.

Zhang Jun, the Chinese Commercial Consul to south Sudan, said oil remained the backbone of the economy in both the north and south, and hoped the agreement between the two sides would not affect oil production, China Business News reported on Tuesday.

China is Sudan’ biggest investor.  Most of its investment is in the oil sector.  Just recently China agreed to help build and modernize Uganda’s infrastructure.  These agreements that China has with regards to infrastructure development are now routine and are expected in its diplomatic relations with African states.

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U.S. Navy conducts exercise with South African Navy

SIMON'S TOWN, South Africa - A student from the Cape Academy, a school for math and science in Cape Town, South Africa, inspects the 76 mm cannon aboard USS Stephen W. Groves (FFG 29) during a tour of the ship as part of Africa Partnership Station (APS) East February 9, 2011. APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, the maritime component of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa.

The U.S and South Africa navies jointly conducted military exercises recently.

The Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Stephen W. Groves (FFG 29) participated in a joint-maneuvering exercise with the South African Heroine-class submarine SAS Charlotte Maxeke (S-102) off the coast of South Africa, February 10, 2011.

The exercise was part of a series of joint-training operations between South Africa and U.S. navies.

Commander Matthew Rick, commanding officer of Stephen W. Groves, stated that the exercise allowed Stephen W. Groves’ crew to test their ability to deal with real-life situations they might face during their military career.

“Training with another nation’s vessel allows the crew to execute in real time,” said Rick. “We train constantly using simulations, but having an actual submarine to train with provides hands-on experience that is unmatched in anything we can do while independent steaming. Combine that with the chance to work with the South African Navy and it was a win-win situation for both crews and nations.”

The exercise focused on close quarters maneuvering which allowed watch standers to train in vessel avoidance and contact management.

“It is extremely rare to have the opportunity to train with a foreign navy’s warship,” said South African Navy Commander Darren White, commanding officer Charlotte Maxeke. “We met every objective, and were impressed with the precision with which the crew of Stephen W. Groves handled this exercise.”

Two Stephen W. Groves sailors, Lieutenant Shane Collins and Ensign Daniel Stayton, had the unique opportunity to spend two days embarked aboard Charlotte Maxeke.

“It was really impressive to see the professionalism and efficiency with which Commander White’s crew went about their operations,” said Collins. “They were great hosts, and the whole experience is one I will treasure.”

“The crew of the Charlotte Maxeke brought us on board and helped us feel right at home,” said Stayton. “I had a great time and walked away immensely impressed with the type of operational tempo and command climate they have aboard.”

Stephen W. Groves also hosted numerous ship riders from the Charlotte Maxeke. This training was part of the U.S. Navy’s initiative to strengthen military partnership nations throughout the continent of Africa.

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