Wednesday, January 03, 2007

And now, a little bit of news: Saddam's co-defendants to hang on Thursday, from the AP at the Guardian:

Preparations are under way to hang two of Saddam Hussein's co-defendants on Thursday but the details still have to be worked out with the American military, an Iraqi government official said Wednesday.

Saddam's half brother Barzan Ibrahim, a former intelligence chief, and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, the former chief justice of the Revolutionary Court, were originally scheduled to hang with Saddam, who was put to death on Saturday.

But their execution was delayed until after Islam's Eid al-Adha holiday, which ends Wednesday for Iraq's majority Shiites.

So why weren't they hanged with Saddam, hmmm? Or why were their executions put off, but not Saddam's? I hope someone manages to sneak in a cell phone.

Looks to me like the region's second Shi'a state is forming, with al-Sadr as head mullah. Won't that be fun!

In a very interesting move, the Turkish military has taken control of defense procurement, overriding civilian authorities:

Turkey's military command has taken the nation's defense acquisition process into its hands after Gen. Yasar Büyükanıt took over as chief of general staff in August, overriding positions of the civilian government and the procurement agency on two top programs, officials and Turkish and U.S. analysts said.

The outcome is a change in priorities from an extensive emphasis on technology transfer and local work contribution in joint programs with foreign partners toward swift availability of weapons systems.

At a time of worsening ties between Ankara and the European Union, the military's approach generally means a preference for U.S. systems over European solutions.

[ . . . ]

There were two critical examples.

First, the military command in October fully backed a key move by the Air Force to opt for the U.S.-led F-35 JSF over the European Eurofighter Typhoon as the nation's new-generation fighter aircraft, rejecting a suggestion by SSM on behalf of the civilian side that a combination of F-35s and Eurofighters -- some 80 JSFs and 20 Typhoons -- be purchased, defense officials and analysts said.

The new-generation fighter aircraft program, worth more than $10 billion over the next 20 years, is the largest and most strategic defense project in Turkey's history.

At a time before the EU earlier this months moved to freeze membership talks with Turkey on eight of 35 policy chapters because of a Cyprus dispute, the civilian wing believed that diversification of Turkey's fighter fleet could bring strategic advantages, including reducing dependency on the United States and boosting defense ties with the EU.

But the Air Force's present fighters are all U.S.-designed aircraft, and the military preferred to continue the tradition. Also, diversification of fighters is an extremely costly business.

The military's position has prevailed, and the Defense Industry Executive Committee, Turkey's top decision-making body on defense procurement, announced after a Dec. 12 meeting that the Air Force would buy 100 F-35s.

[ . . . ]

Second, at the same committee meeting the military blocked a move by the government and SSM to choose one of the two official bidders for the army's multibillion-dollar program to jointly produce at least 30 attack helicopters.

"There was a decision on the attack helicopter program. This decision ... had to be changed because of some hesitations," Gönül said after the meeting. He admitted the hesitations came from the military.

"It's apparent that the civilian government wanted to endorse either [the Italian-British] AgustaWestland's option or [the South African] Denel's alternative, but the military objected to both solutions," one defense analyst in Ankara said. "As a result, no final decision emerged from the committee meeting, and I believe that the chances of both options have greatly diminished after the military's opposition."

[ . . . ]

Analysts and industry sources said the U.S. Boeing Co. -- maker of the AH-64D Apache Longbow -- which is outside the official competition but has an alternative offer to sell its gunship through a Foreign Military Sales deal, may benefit from the failure of the Italian-British and South African solutions.

[ . . . ]

SSM's strict specifications on technology transfer and maximum Turkish industry input have prompted some companies from the United States -- known for its notorious reluctance on technology transfer matters -- to decline to formally bid for some Turkish programs.

[ . . . ]

"For the military, the availability of weapons systems within a reasonable time is of critical importance. So this approach effectively means less emphasis on Turkish solutions in joint programs," said the Ankara-based analyst. "This also means a larger chance for U.S. manufacturers."

Actually, the struggle for control of defense procurement between the Pashas and the civilian government has been building for the last several months. The outcome should not come as a shock to anyone, particularly Lockheed Martin director Joseph Ralston. He must be overjoyed at this news, and I would bet that he was very active in encouraging this outcome. After all, it'll put a lot of money into Lockheed's pocket and his.

It should be clear, especially from the Ralston appointment, that the US is actively involved in sabotaging the EU process and the spread of democracy to Turkey. The US knew exactly what it was doing when it appointed Joseph Ralston as "special envoy" to coordinate military contracts for Turkey.

Time to get Boeing in the crosshairs. First order of business: Find out if Lockheed Martin is working with Boeing on any of the helicopter tenders. If so, it'll be like shooting fish in a barrel.

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