Week in Review - August 29, 2014

Middle East and North Africa
Central Eurasia
Latin America and the Caribbean

Middle East and North Africa

  • As the Islamic State (IS) strengthens its positions in Iraq and Syria, the United States and several European countries have begun arming Kurdish militias through the Iraqi Central Government. Meanwhile, earlier in the week, Iran delivered weapons and ammunition to the Kurds as well.
  • Amid the growing threat of IS and recent battles in Arsal, the Lebanese Army has requested military equipment and aid from the United Nation's five permanent members of the Secuirty Council. In response, the United States delivered 1,500 M16s and 450 anti-tank rocket launchers as U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon David Hale promised to follow-up with “unspecified heavy weaponry” in the near future. It is likely those weapons would be purchased through a $1 billion Saudi grant to the Lebanese Army.
  • According to the Pentagon, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates were responsible for the unidentified airstrikes in Libya last week. The U.S. was not notified prior to the airstrikes conducted by Egypt and the U.A.E., who are both recipients of large amounts of U.S. made weapons systems and military aid. Rear Admiral John Kirby commented on the strikes: “We discourage other nations from taking part in Libya’s issues through violence.” In addition, the U.S. delayed the training of Libyan military personnel, and Egypt announced that it would train Libyan police and army in counter arms-trafficking and counterterrorism practices.  
  • General David Rodriguez, the head of U.S. Africa Command, announced that the United States will give Tunisia $60 million in military aid to help fight Islamist militants. The assistance will go toward improvised explosive devise (IED) detection equipment, new boats and training.


Latin America

  • The multinational Partnership of the Americas naval training exercise wrapped up in Santiago, Chile. Participants included Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Paraguay, along with the United States. Chilean and U.S. officials also agreed to cooperate on researching and developing biofuel technology for use in maritime military activities. A delegation of representatives from the Chilean army also visited Fort Hood in the United States to receive training and to strengthen the relationship between the two nations’ intelligence services.
  • The United States and Colombia completed the “Operation Lightning” air force training exercise, which was held in Antioquia, Colombia. The exercise included 42 flight missions and 62 resupply missions, among other operations. 
  • Argentina announced that explosives experts from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) will arrive in the country within the next few weeks to provide specific training on disarming bombs, forensic investigation techniques for explosion sites and methods for the prevention and reduction of injuries. In February of this year, the agency held similar courses around Argentina.



  • Kenya received criticism over its counterterrorism policy with concerns that it is creating more terrorists than its policies are eliminating. Kenya receives the most U.S. counterterrorism funds in the region through the State Partnership for Regional East Africa (PREACT) program.
  • China’s arms sales to Sub-Saharan Africa continue to surge and now account for over twenty-five percent of the region’s arms including a recent sale to the South Sudanese government worth $38 million.


Central Eurasia

  • The USS Vella Gulf completed joint training exercises with the Georgian Coast Guard this week while on a NATO assignment in the Black Sea. Ever since Russia’s invasion of Crimea, NATO has maintained a presence in the Black Sea, which coordinates a rotation of ships sailing in and out of the area. 
  • The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) - a military alliance whose members include Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan - held a set of military drills in Kazakhstan. The exercises featured a very specific scenario: troops from CSTO member nations practiced joint military operations against a hypothetical fascist, separatist, Western-backed enemy receiving support from sympathetic co-ethnics located in a neighboring state. The alliance’s Central Asian members each received between $16 and $95 million in U.S. security assistance in 2014 alone, however, U.S. officials have recently signaled a shift to a less security-focused policy in the region.   
  • U.S. Department of State spokesperson Jen Psaki issued a statement condemning the beating of Azerbaijani journalist and rights activist Ilgar Nasibov. According to Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty, Naxcivan Resource Center, Mr. Nasibov's office, is the only independent rights organization in the province. The United States provides Azerbaijan with millions of dollars in grants each year to purchase U.S. military equipment through the Foreign Military Financing program.