The crown in the gutter: Saudis, Lebanon, and Middle Eastern realignment

No, really. ALL bets are off in the Middle East.

The end of the year is a hard time to write about developing trends.  There’s a lot to say, long-term projections to be made, the natural urge to lay out the scope of likely developments over the next 365 days.  But there’s also the sense of endings, and a preference for brevity.  One wants to put the right period to the passage we have just made.

For now, I’ll go with brevity.  The Saudis have decided to fund a big arms buy for the Lebanese armed forces, to the tune of an unprecedented $3 billion.  The vendors will be Continue reading “The crown in the gutter: Saudis, Lebanon, and Middle Eastern realignment”

Why is Qatar buying 180 main battle tanks?

Arabs, united.

Citing German reporting, Reuters related on Sunday that the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar plans to buy a total of 180 Leopard 2 main battle tanks from Germany.  An original buy of 62 Leopard 2s was announced in April 2013; the recent disclosure indicates Qatar will buy 118 more.

The total purchase would enlarge Qatar’s tank inventory by a factor of six.  The inventory currently consists of 30 French-built AMX-30s.  The Leopard 2 (Qatar is buying the 2A7+) is a modernized 61-ton tank suitable for heavy armor warfare (comparable to the U.S. M-1 series); the older AMX-30 is a lighter, 40-ton tank, less capable in the field and with some features optimized for urban warfare.  The 14 July report references the World Cup in 2022 – which Qatar will host – and seems to imply that the tank purchase is related to World Cup preparations.  But replacing 30 AMX-30s with 180 Leopard 2 MBTs is not what you would do Continue reading “Why is Qatar buying 180 main battle tanks?”