Please note: The following news items are presented here for informational purposes. The views expressed within them are those of the authors and/or individuals quoted, not those of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, the National Defense University, or the Department of Defense.
Shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles flow abroad from Libya: U.N.
Shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles have been trafficked out of Libya to Chad, Mali, Tunisia, Lebanon and likely Central African Republic, with attempts made to send them to Syrian opposition groups, according to a U.N. report on Tuesday. An independent panel of experts monitoring U.N. sanctions on Libya, that include an arms embargo imposed at the start of the 2011 uprising that ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi, reported that the weapons, known as MANPADs, that were found in Mali and Tunisia “were clearly part of terrorist groups’ arsenals.” Reuters
Libya PM Zeidan dismissed as oil tanker ‘breaks blockade’
Libya’s parliament has dismissed PM Ali Zeidan after a tanker laden with oil from a rebel-held port reportedly broke through a naval blockade. MPs called a vote of confidence in Mr Zeidan after they were told the North Korean-flagged ship had escaped to sea. Defence Minister Abdullah al-Thinni was named interim prime minister. Earlier, Libyan officials had said they had “complete control” of the tanker as it tried to leave the port of Sidra. But the rebels rejected the assertion. Separatist militants have occupied three major eastern ports since August. BBC
Political Killings Still Plaguing Post-Qaddafi Libya
[...] Libya has suffered widespread bloodletting in the aftermath of the 2011 revolution. Over 1,200 people have been killed nationwide in the last two years, victims of revenge, power clashes and spiraling crime. Political divisions within the elected General National Congress, with groups backed by rival militias, have rendered the appointed government almost powerless. The power struggle kept Prime Minister Ali Zeidan under threat of dismissal for months before he was voted out of office on Tuesday, and left the country without an interior minister since August, when the last one resigned. No place has been harder hit than the country’s second-largest city, Benghazi, the birthplace of the Libyan uprising. The New York Times
Egypt, Libya at odds over border control
Terror attacks in Egypt have shone a spotlight on the Egyptian-Libyan border, a top priority in recent discussions between the two states. The discussions have broached potential cooperation to prevent the infiltration of Libyan jihadists and arms smuggling to Egypt. An Egyptian diplomatic source asserted in an interview with Al-Monitor that the talks between Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, who was ousted from his post today, and Egyptian officials during Zeidan’s Jan. 31 visit to Cairo focused on the border issue and extraditing members of deposed Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s regime. The source added that Zeidan requested direct support and prompt cooperation from Egypt to resolve these issues. Al-Monitor
Lockerbie: What really happened?
In late December 1988 a terrorist bomb destroyed Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie and killed 270 people. Only one man, Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, a Libyan citizen, was tried and found guilty of causing the explosion. But he protested his innocence at the time of his trial in Camp Zeist in Holland in May 2000, and continued to do so up until his death in Tripoli in May 2012. For three years filmmakers working for Al Jazeera have been investigating the prosecution of al-Megrahi. Two award-winning documentaries, screened on Al Jazeera in 2011 and 2012, demonstrated that the case against him was deeply flawed and argued that a serious miscarriage of justice may have taken place. Al Jazeera
South Sudan’s Pagun Amum treason trial starts
Four top South Sudanese politicians have gone on trial on charges of treason after being accused of plotting a coup against the government. This was their first court appearance since their arrest in December, when a rebellion that has killed thousands of people broke out in South Sudan. The accused held senior posts in the governing party before falling out with President Salva Kiir. They have not yet pleaded to the charges read out in court. BBC
Al Qaida-linked website calls for Hollande’s assassination
An Al Qaida-linked website has called for the assassination of President François Hollande and French soldiers because of France’s military interventions in Mali and the Central African Republic. Sources close to the president promised “extreme vigilance”, while declaring that such threats were nothing new. “It’s not the first time there have been threats,” a source close to the French presidency said on Tuesday after the Islamist website The Media Platform of the Mujahideen swore that “neither Hollande, nor his soldiers will know peace in France until the Muslims of Mali and the Central African Republic (CAR) have it”. RFI
Jihadists return to northern Mali a year after French intervention
A year after France mounted Operation Serval to rid northern Mali of jihadists, they seem to be back. According to local sources but also the security forces, jihadists have regained a foothold in several areas. Islamists have pressured families hostile to their presence to leave their homes. Over the past six months al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has murdered several people who helped the French military in Mali, in particular Touareg members of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA). At least 10 people have been killed. There is also growing concern at the repeated attacks by suicide bombers or with mines and small arms on French, Chadian and Malian forces despite the presence of 6,000 troops from the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Mali (Minusma) on the ground. The Guardian
Nigeria’s fight against Boko Haram: how can France help?
[...] Boko Haram has posed a threat to the people and authorities of Nigeria for years. Despite the state of emergency decreed by the government in May last year, the northern-Nigeria-based terrorist group is still carrying out its indiscriminate and deadly campaign against the population and the state. Echoing the governor’s plea, the Nigerian government has now called on France for assistance in its fight against Boko Haram. This raises the question of how France would be able to intervene, given that Nigeria is already cooperating with the United States (US) and United Kingdom (UK) in a counter-insurgency to defeat the terrorist group. ISS
Is it time for a more serious response to Boko Haram?
The conflict between radical Islamists and the government of Nigeria is little noted in the United States compared with the attention paid to that in Somalia, where al-Shabaab militants have battled what little federal authority exists there for the past nine years. In the past two weeks, more 300 people have been killed by Boko Haram guns and car bombs including last month’s brutal assault on a boarding school in which 59 students were murdered. The Nigerian government’s currently rather tepid response shows that it is uncommitted to defending its people and quashing this significant threat. President Goodluck Jonathan is doing just enough to look like he takes the situation seriously but not enough to be effective. Last May Jonathan ordered the army to launch an operation against Boko Haram, but it proved largely unsuccessful. African Argument
Offensive in Somalia sees militants flee 5 towns
Columns of African Union and Somali troops are moving deeper into land controlled by al-Qaida-linked militants, forcing fighters to flee from five towns in quick succession in a further squeezing of al-Shabab’s strongholds. Al-Shabab has put up little resistance as the AU and Somali troops surged toward their strongholds over the last several days. Towns in the interior of Somalia with little relevance to the outside world – Rabdhure, Ted, Hudur, Wajid and Buudhubow – are now in the nominal control of Somalia’s Mogadishu-based government, a further step of success following al-Shabab’s ouster from Mogadishu in 2011. AP on Stars and Stripes
Somali farmers benefit from al-Shabab reforms
[...] In November 2011, in a much-criticised move, al-Shabab banned foreign non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from areas it controlled, accusing some of the organisations of “illicit activities and misconduct”. “We want our people to be free of NGOs and foreign hands. We want them to depend on each other and to stand free of outsiders,” Sheikh Abu Abdullah, the al-Shabab governor of Lower Shabelle province, told Al Jazeera. [...] farmers here see the turn of their fortunes differently. The area’s newfound prosperity “is because of the NGO ban”, said Mohamed Sheikh Abdi, the chairman of the Bulo Mareer farmers union. “They always brought food to the town weeks before the harvest… They bought their food from abroad and never bought from us local farmers. They killed every incentive to farm. We were hostage to the NGOs.” Al Jazeera
Analysis: Propaganda, Al Shabaab-style, and a few hard truths
Al Shabaab’s on-the-run leader broke cover this week to release a recorded message, in which he exhorted Somalis to fight the good fight against foreign invaders, especially old enemy Ethiopia. It was a typical Islamist propaganda piece, filled with references to God, infidels and the Holy War – but it was also surprisingly perceptive about where Somalia is at the moment, and where it’s going. Daily Maverick
In quiet Zambia, demand for more democracy reaches boiling point
Since Zambia declared independence in 1964, this normally quiet, copper-rich southern African nation – often called a model of democracy – has had four constitutions. Now, student protesters and political activists are breaking the quiet and calling for a fifth national charter – a so-called “people-driven” constitution that allows a president to take power only after winning an outright 50-plus percent of the vote. Zambia’s president Michael Sata promised a new constitution as far back as his election in 2011, and a draft was finished months ago. But the draft and the plan for its adoption never seems to reach the daylight, let alone a parliamentary vote. CS Monitor
What We Can Learn from Child Soldiers
In 2003, Moses Otiti, a 15-year-old from Uganda, was walking in a group with his father when members of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) ambushed them. Because he was a child, Moses was the only one to survive. For the next 12 months, he was forced to serve the LRA as a soldier in the rebel group’s war against the Ugandan government. “The reason why they didn’t kill me was because they were really [looking for] people who were young…they really wanted to groom them as soldiers who can fight the battle against the government,” Otiti told IPS. IPS
Algeria evaluating Chinese CH-4 UAV
Algerian is evaluating the Chinese CH-4 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and is reportedly very interested in acquiring the type, which can be armed with guided weapons. The CH-4, developed by the China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics (CAAA), has been undergoing testing with the Algerian military for some months, according to Air Forces Daily. One is reported to have crashed during testing at the Algerian Air Force’s base at Tindouf several months ago while a second one crashed on Sunday at the Ain Oussera Air Base. The UAV came down 100 metres short of the runway whilst preparing to land. In spite of the crashes, Algeria is apparently still very interested in acquiring the CH-4 (Cai Hong 4 or Rainbow 4), which appears to have been inspired by the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper. DefenceWeb
DRC Looks to Follow in Uganda’s Footsteps with Anti-Gay Bill
Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo: As Uganda comes to terms with the controversial Anti-Homosexuality Bill recently signed into law, there are some pushing the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to follow in its footsteps. Last December, Steve Mbikayi, an MP with the Parti Travailliste Congolais (PTC), introduced a draft bill to the Congolese National Assembly that would explicitly criminalise homosexuality. The DRC is one of the relatively few African countries in which homosexual acts have not been directly banned though there is much discrimination against LGBT communities. Think Africa Press
State Dept. on Violence in Burundi
The United States is deeply concerned by the Government of Burundi’s actions to prevent or break up two separate meetings of opposition political parties on March 8. We deplore the government’s use of heavy-handed tactics on March 8 to break up a peaceful International Women’s Day rally by the women’s wing of the opposition political party, United for National Progress. State.gov
With landmark Kenyatta case in disarray, ICC prosecutor has one last shot
In meetings at Kenya’s equivalent of the White House late in 2007 and early in 2008, Uhuru Kenyatta, now the president, helped plan the violence that swept the country after its disputed elections. He even transferred millions of dollars to buy weapons. That is, at least, what two men who claimed to be at the meetings told prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in statements that formed the meat of the court’s charges against Mr. Kenyatta for crimes against humanity. The problem is that both witnesses now say they lied, so they will not testify. Nor are they alone: Several others key witnesses in the Kenyatta trial, the ICC’s highest-profile trial ever, have withdrawn evidence. Some have reportedly disappeared. CS Monitor
Angola: All aboard the Luanda express
Leaders never miss an opportunity to remind us of the positive changes since the end of the civil war in 2002. Take a ride on the train to hear Angolans’ differing views. For a country that has been wracked by war for more than four decades – first the nationalist campaign against the colonial rulers and then a civil war fuelled by the geopolitics of the Cold War – the coming of peace has indeed changed our reality. The Africa Report
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State Dept. on International Court Verdict in DRC War Crimes Case
The Verdict in the Germain Katanga Trial at the International Criminal Court. Today, the Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) convicted Germain Katanga, the commander of the Force de Résistance Patriotique en Ituri (FRPI) militia, for his responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity during a brutal February 2003 attack on Bogoro village in the Ituri Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).