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Category Archives: Africa

Egyptian President al-Sisi is employing militia in the Sinai – a sign of how desperate his war against Isis has become

Counter-insurgency wars – struggles against “terrorism” – always breed corruption and counter-murder. And now the Egyptian army is following the same contaminated path as many of its neighbours by using a killer-militia in its war against Isis in Sinai. Most armies have proxy allies who can act as informants and treat civilians with brutality. The Syrians, the Iraqis, the Turks – and the Israelis when they co-opted their own Lebanese militias between 1976 and 2000, and the Americans in Iraq – all ended up shamed by the cruelty of their supposed allies.

But now Egypt – whose own President staged the original military coup which overthrew the country’s first elected president, Mohamed Morsi – is employing uniformed militias in the Sinai, where Isis has taken over many areas of the peninsula. It is a sign of just how desperate the military situation has become in the battle with Isis that the Egyptian Army, whose former field marshal and commander, Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, is now the president, should be resorting to such measures. Egyptian police and soldiers are now attacked daily and civilians are disappearing, either for fear of Isis or because they are seized by the army’s “collaborators” (for so they are of course called) who are also executing ‘suspects’.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/egypt-isis-sinai-al-sisi-militian-becoming-more-desperate-a7717151.html

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2017 in Africa

 

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Problems faced by Egypt’s Coptic Christians run far deeper than Isis attacks

Just as Pope Francis was holding a mass for 25,000 Coptic Christians in a Cairo stadium this weekend, around 30 Muslim schoolgirls arrived at the Coptic Museum in the old centre of the capital. They took photographs of each other and selfies against the facade of the museum. For the front wall of this magnificent building was constructed by Marcus Simaika Pasha in 1910 to resemble the facade of a mosque. This was a quite deliberate decision by Simaika: his idea was to illustrate in stone how intertwined are Egypt’s Christians and Muslims, not only in religion but in culture.

But that was then. It was, of course, the Pope’s message this weekend, along with that of the Sheikh of al-Azhar, Ahmed al-Tayeb. Their message of peace was broadcast around the world. Their far more striking remarks – in almost identical words – about the evils of arms manufacturers who sell their products to the Middle East, was predictably ignored. Journalists understandably went for the most obvious story: both Muslim and Christian leaders condemned (no name mentioned, of course) the Isis ‘Caliphate’ – which Pope Francis excoriated in the memorable phrase “the incendiary logic of evil” – and the attacks on Christian churches by the Egyptian variety of the Isis cult. Yet the problems of Egypt’s Christians go rather deeper than this.

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2017 in Africa

 

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The U.S. Military Moves Deeper into Africa

General Thomas Waldhauser sounded a little uneasy.  “I would just say, they are on the ground.  They are trying to influence the action,” commented the chief of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) at a Pentagon press briefing in March, when asked about Russian military personnel operating in North Africa.  “We watch what they do with great concern.”

And Russians aren’t the only foreigners on Waldhauser’s mind.  He’s also wary of a Chinese “military base” being built not far from Camp Lemonnier, a large U.S. facility in the tiny, sun-blasted nation of Djibouti.  “They’ve never had an overseas base, and we’ve never had a base of… a peer competitor as close as this one happens to be,” he said.  “There are some very significant… operational security concerns.”

At that press conference, Waldhauser mentioned still another base, an American one exposed by the Washington Post last October in an article titled, “U.S. has secretly expanded its global network of drone bases to North Africa.”  Five months later, the AFRICOM commander still sounded aggrieved.  “The Washington Post story that said ‘flying from a secret base in Tunisia.’  It’s not a secret base and it’s not our base… We have no intention of establishing a base there.”

Waldhauser’s insistence that the U.S. had no base in Tunisia relied on a technicality, since that foreign airfield clearly functions as an American outpost. For years, AFRICOM has peddled the fiction that Djibouti is the site of its only “base” in Africa. “We continue to maintain one forward operating site on the continent, Camp Lemonnier,” reads the command’s 2017 posture statement.  Spokespeople for the command regularly maintain that any other U.S. outposts are few and transitory — “expeditionary” in military parlance.

Source: Tomgram: Nick Turse, The U.S. Military Moves Deeper into Africa | TomDispatch

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2017 in Africa, North America

 

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‘It’s life and death’: how the growth of Addis Ababa has sparked ethnic tensions

Drive out of Addis Ababa’s new central business district, with its five-star hotels, banks and gleaming office blocks. Head south, along the traffic-choked avenues lined with new apartment blocks, cafes, cheap hotels and, in the neighbourhood where the European Union has its offices, several excellent restaurants. Go past a vast new church, the cement skeletons of several dozen unfinished housing developments, under a new highway and swing left round the vast construction site from which the new terminal for the Ethiopian capital’s main international airport is rising.Here, the tarmac gives way to cobbles and grit and the city loosens its hold. Goats crop a parched field beside corrugated iron and breezeblock sheds, home to a shifting population of labourers and their families. Children in spotless uniforms neatly avoid fetid open drains as they walk home from school. Long-horned cattle wander. Beyond the airport, the road splits into a series of gravel tracks that quickly become dusty paths across fields, which take you to the village of Weregenu.There is nothing remotely exceptional about Weregenu. It is just another cluster of flimsy homes like many others around, and within, Addis Ababa. Nor is there much exceptional about the series of demolitions here over recent months. As the Ethiopian capital expands, it needs housing, rubbish dumps, space for factories. All land is theoretically owned by the government, merely leased by tenants, and when the government says go, you have to go. So Weregenu’s thousand or so inhabitants know they are living on borrowed time. All have been warned that the bulldozers will come back.

Source: ‘It’s life and death’: how the growth of Addis Ababa has sparked ethnic tensions | Cities | The Guardian

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2017 in Africa

 

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‘We All Live in Fear’: How Climate Change Is Devastating to Refugees

“I had 120 animals,” Amina Abdul Hussein, a mother of three tells me as we sit inside her ragged cloth tent in Maxamad Mooge camp, temporarily shielded from the midday glare of the sun. “But the drought killed all of them.”Dozens of unofficial camps like this are scattered across the outskirts of Hargeisa, the capital of the self-declared independent state of Somaliland in East Africa. The UNHCR reports that nearly 40,000 people have already been forced out of their native rural villages by drought in the last three months. Trigged by El Niño, the drought has been worsened by climate change, according to a new study published by the American Meteorological Society.

Source: ‘We All Live in Fear’: How Climate Change Is Devastating to Refugees – Vice

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2017 in Africa

 

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Isis has finally reached central Egypt – but that’s not even al-Sisi’s biggest problem

So it’s back to Egypt’s ghastly prisons, no arrest warrants, fearful interrogations, and a presidential state of emergency which brings the army back onto the streets. But it’s also a frightening prospect for President al-Sisi in the aftermath of the church attacks and the slaughter of 45 Coptic Christians – for it means that Isis has “crossed the canal”, something which his army has been trying to prevent for months.

Donald Trump may think that al-Sisi has done “a fantastic job in a very difficult situation” but in fact he’s done a deplorable job, presiding over multiple disappearances of anyone the police don’t like, allowing torture to resume in police stations (we should not forget the Italian student found tortured and murdered beside a highway outside Cairo), and pretending that the Muslim Brotherhood, whose government he overthrew in a coup d’etat, is Isis.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/isis-egypt-cairo-coptic-christians-murdered-president-al-sisi-emergency-laws-a7675936.html

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2017 in Africa

 

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Sul genocidio del Ruanda ci sono ancora molte domande aperte 

A distanza di 23 anni, la conoscenza del genocidio compiuto dagli estremisti hutu contro i tutsi – di cui sono state vittime anche numerosi tra i cosiddetti hutu moderati – non è ancora diventata patrimonio comune. Il trascorrere del tempo, in teoria, potrebbe avere una funzione positiva: l’enormità del massacro, la sua dinamica complicata, la storia precedente e le cronache successive, richiedono studi e analisi approfondite. Ma la sensazione è che il passare degli anni giochi contro la costruzione di una memoria collettiva di quel genocidio. La stessa giornata istituita dalle Nazioni Unite per ricordarne l’inizio, il 7 aprile, sembra appassionare sempre meno.

Source: Sul genocidio del Ruanda ci sono ancora molte domande aperte – Daniele Scaglione – Internazionale

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2017 in Africa

 

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The Guardian view on South Sudan: don’t punish the starving 

Even in the context of years of obscene crimes against its citizens, the news that South Sudan’s government is threatening to hike the cost of work permits for foreigners a hundredfold, from $100 to as much as $10,000, is horrifying. Without permits, aid workers trying to feed civilians who are starving in a famine caused by three years of vicious conflict cannot operate. What began with a rift between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar, has fractured the country along ethnic lines. Atrocities have been committed by all parties; civilians and their livelihoods have been deliberately and repeatedly targeted. In December, the chair of the UN commission on civil rights in South Sudan warned that the country stood on the brink of an all-out ethnic civil war. Aid workers already face harassment and attacks and are blocked from areas in desperate need. Now the government is trying to profiteer from efforts to save the lives put in peril through its own self-interest.

Source: The Guardian view on South Sudan: don’t punish the starving | Editorial | Opinion | The Guardian

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2017 in Africa

 

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‘It’s life and death’: how the growth of Addis Ababa has sparked ethnic tensions

Drive out of Addis Ababa’s new central business district, with its five-star hotels, banks and gleaming office blocks. Head south, along the traffic-choked avenues lined with new apartment blocks, cafes, cheap hotels and, in the neighbourhood where the European Union has its offices, several excellent restaurants. Go past a vast new church, the cement skeletons of several dozen unfinished housing developments, under a new highway and swing left round the vast construction site from which the new terminal for the Ethiopian capital’s main international airport is rising.

Here, the tarmac gives way to cobbles and grit and the city loosens its hold. Goats crop a parched field beside corrugated iron and breezeblock sheds, home to a shifting population of labourers and their families. Children in spotless uniforms neatly avoid fetid open drains as they walk home from school. Long-horned cattle wander. Beyond the airport, the road splits into a series of gravel tracks that quickly become dusty paths across fields, which take you to the village of Weregenu.

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/mar/13/life-death-growth-addis-ababa-racial-tensions

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2017 in Africa

 

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Facing Famine, 20 Million People Need Food, Not Bombs

By Amy Goodman and Denis MoynihanDemocracy NowThe world is facing the most serious humanitarian catastrophe since the end of World War II. Twenty million people are at risk of starving to death in Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria and South Sudan.

Source: Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan: Facing Famine, 20 Million People Need Food, Not Bombs

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2017 in Africa, Middle East

 

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