UAE to buy US-made drones in military expansion

Updated 20 February 2013
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UAE to buy US-made drones in military expansion

ABU DHABI: A defense official in the United Arab Emirates said the Gulf nation has signed $ 1.4 billion in military contracts that include purchases of US-made drones.
The drone deal, worth nearly $ 200 million, suggests Gulf Arab states are looking to boost surveillance capabilities to match claims by rival Iran of growing drone technology. UAE said the Predator drones, built by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, will not be outfitted for weapons capabilities, but used for reconnaissance.
Experts say Controversy over the legality of attacks by missile-firing drones will not dampen the volatile region’s enthusiasm for the technology, in part because export curbs mean most equipment sold will be for use only in reconnaissance.
Sello Ntsihlele, executive manager for UAVs at Denel Dynamics, a division of state-owned Denel, South Africa’s biggest maker of defense equipment, told Reuters this was “the best time” for unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) sales.
“Demand is growing fast in developing countries, in the Middle East, the Far East and Africa. The Gulf is critical in all this,” he said on the sidelines of the biennial International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) in Abu Dhabi, capital of UAE.
He said that Denel’s UAV sales had risen around 20 percent in the last four years, driven mostly by the Middle East.
Earlier, an Abu Dhabi’s firm said it had signed an agreement with Boeing Co. to “provide training, support and marketing services” for Boeing unmanned aircraft systems in the UAE.
Washington says its commitments to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), a non-binding international agreement designed to limit the spread of long-range precision weaponry, restrict drone exports.


Iraqi PM Abadi says election fraud allegations to be investigated

Updated 46 min 1 sec ago
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Iraqi PM Abadi says election fraud allegations to be investigated

BAGHDAD: Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi said on Thursday that allegations of fraud in national elections held last week will be investigated, according to a statement from his office.
The electoral list of Moqtada Al-Sadr, a populist Shiite cleric, unexpectedly won the biggest number of seats in the May 12 ballot.
The fraud claims have centered on the city of Kirkuk — although there have been reports of irregularities in multiple provinces — and focused on the tabulation system in electronic voting machines that were used for the first time during the election.
A special committee appointed by the cabinet will investigate the allegations, Abadi’s office said.
Some candidates have also expressed concerns about voter intimidation and reports of chaotic distribution of ID cards, which they claim disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of people.
Following several days of complaints — including a call for an investigation by the UN’s senior envoy to Iraq, Jan Kubis — the country’s electoral commission said on Monday it had invalidated ballots from 103 polling stations in five provinces.
The investigatory committee, which will include advisers from the security and intelligence sectors, will have access to all documents pertaining to the electoral process, including from the electoral commission.
The commission could not immediately be reached for comment.