What Do Arabs Want Most? Russian Weapons

Americans still hesitate to invest in Russia’s fuel and energy complex

The Arab world has been considering Russia as a possible target of investments for a long period already. Several attempts have been made to consolidate Muslim money and set up, for instance, an Arab bank in Russia. However, some definite reasons and, as well as pressure of the US diplomacy, has always hampered such projects. It seems that today’s tension in the relations between the Arab world and the USA causes the Arabs to be more persistent. Russia and the United Arab Emirates are going to conclude a defensive contract to a record sum of 4 billion dollars. The United Arab Emirates will place an order for a revolutionary new anti-aircraft defense system from Russia’s Almaz-Antey scientific industrial enterprise. Arabs would like the Russian defense establishment to develop new, multifunctional defense system working on many levels against attacks from the air. The system should at the same time consist of a complex of fire and location control systems, communication systems, and radio-electronic warfare. The system’s requirements exceed even the 4th generation air defense currently being tested in Russia. The creators of the system call it a fifth generation system. It is perfectly clear why the Arab countries are so anxious about obtaining armament: there is still the question of which country among will be targeted by the Pentagon as soon as the Iraqi campaign is over. Just to be on the safe side, Arabs want to buy modern and reasonably priced high accuracy weapons that will allow them to at least put up a fight.

Until recently, Arab countries had to buy the majority of their weapons from the USA and its NATO allies. However, this source could easily be banned if relations between countries suddenly worsen. If this happens, the fate of oil sheikhs will be sad. Russia is currently the only country in the world that can supply the Arab world with weapons of quality and effectiveness comparable to American weapons. In fact, the RF Ministry of Defense is interested in investments of this kind, even if they originate from Muslim countries. In any case, when a new air defense system is created, it will remain in Russia all the same, and it will be successfully used by the Russian army. It will be necessary for the oligarchs to chip in 100 million dollars each, and defense production lines will start working at their full capacity.

However, there is one problem: Russia is considered America’s global partner, a partner obviously against the Muslim East. Moreover, the “Muslim revival” is currently posing a real danger to Russia’s national interests. And this is not only the problem of Arab assassins (and those who finance them), who continue to fight in Chechnya. Russian special services have already grown tired of chasing Arab scouts working on Russia’s territory under the guise of teachers and philantropists, who open Vakhabit mosques in areas where Muslims live and financially maintain obviously extremist nationalist organizations. Several attempts made by Muslims to invest in Russia’s economy have been made. At the end of the 1990s, a group of Muslim bankers, who were citizens of Russia, suggested that a large Muslim investment bank named Badr should be opened in the country. Financiers from very remote countries, such as Sudan and Nigeria, came to Moscow for a constituent session of the bank; there were also emissaries from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain. At that time, Arab oil magnates were rather suspicious about the USA. In any case, they were looking for more markets to place their investments. And Russia’s defense industry, which was at that time suffering immensely from a lack of orders, attracted them. Also, they were ready to invest in Russian oil production at that time. This is exactly what the Russian government desires to obtain from American businessmen. However, the idea of Muslim bank in Russia failed; the initiators were accused of connections with Russian extremist Islamic groups and were practically blamed for financing Chechen terrorists. High-ranking authorities were afraid of establishing contacts with oil sheikhs. Law enforcement authorities suddenly thought of many questions for Russians who suggested the idea of creating such a bank. Very likely, “friendly” consultations with the US Embassy in Moscow were held for this purpose. No doubt that, if the project were a success and large-scale Arab investments were started, the Russian government would have felt intense pressure manipulation from the Arab political elite. However, on the other hand, this would have settled the majority of economic problems the country is currently experiencing. This was five years ago. The USA is currently in open opposition to the Arab world. Russia still needs investments. And the Muslim world seems to have finally determined what it wants: it wants new generation weapons from Russia in order to oppose US hegemony if problems arise. In this case, global partnership with the USA may become a very tangible hindrance. Indeed, Russia’s envolvement with Iran's nuclear program isn’t disturbed at all by Russia's obvious pro-American foreign policy. Will the Russian government be determined enough to develop effective protection against warplanes and missiles from US aircraft? In any case, for the time being, the Russian government is ready to develop a new air defense system for the United Arab Emirates. This is confirmed by the fact that the president approved of setting up the Almaz-Antey Concern, consisting of 43 defense establishments; deputy chairman of the presidential administration Biktor Ivanov is supposed to be the head of the concern. The contract with the United Arab Emirates is supposed to be concluded by next year. Almaz-Antey is to finish drafts of the new defense system by that time. If the client likes the draft, the United Arab Emirates will start financing other elements of the fifth generation air defense system. It is a precedent in Russia that consumers of Russian weapons are ready to give loans for developing new generation weapons. For Russia, it is a really nice opportunity.

Dmitry Slobodanuk PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Maria Gousseva

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