Media Review for April 18, 2016

Ethiopia Says Death Toll from Raid Rises to 208; 108 Children Kidnapped
The death toll from a raid carried out by South Sudanese gunmen in western Ethiopia has risen to 208 people and the assailants kidnapped 108 children, an Ethiopian official said on Sunday. The attack took place on Friday in the Horn of Africa nation’s Gambela region which, alongside a neighbouring province, hosts more than 284,000 South Sudanese refugees who fled conflict in their country. By Sunday afternoon, the number had risen to “208 dead and 75 people wounded” from 140 a day earlier, government spokesman Getachew Reda told Reuters, adding the assailants had also abducted 108 children and taken 2,000 head of livestock. “Ethiopian Defence Forces are taking measures. They are closing in on the attackers,” he said. Getachew did not give further details, but officials in Gambela said on Saturday Ethiopian troops had crossed the border in pursuit of the attackers. Cross-border cattle raids have occurred in the same area in the past, often involving Murle tribesmen from South Sudan’s Jonglei and Upper Nile regions – areas awash with weapons that share borders with Ethiopia. Reuters on Yahoo News

How U.S. Special Operations Troops Secretly Help Foreign Forces Target Terrorists
The armed men drove right into the nighttime ambush. The militants, led by a veteran jihadist blamed for a bloody attack on Westerners just 10 days earlier, were winding their way along a narrow desert road in central Tunisia. When the elite Tunisian forces hidden in the surrounding hills opened fire, their tracers lit up the night sky, and some of the militants tried to flee. All nine suspects, including the senior militant, Khaled Chaib, were killed. An informant in the truck at the time of the ambush was wounded in the shoulder. The March 2015 operation was a badly needed victory for Tunisia’s fragile democracy, whose leaders were struggling to deliver on the promise of the 2011 revolution. Prime Minister Habib Essid called the ambush by Tunisian National Guard forces the crowning success of a growing counterterrorism capability. One newspaper headline proclaimed: “The country has been saved from catastrophe.” But what Tunisian leaders did not reveal was the pivotal role that U.S. Special Operations forces had taken in helping to design and stage the operation. The Washington Post

This is where American Special Operations Forces are Helping Advise U.S. allies
[…] Since December 2013, the United States has maintained a small contingent of U.S. troops in Somalia and Kenya to help advise local forces and to support the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), according to the U.S. Africa Command. AMISOM is composed of peacekeepers from a consortium of African countries, and they have have been targeted by al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda-aligned group operating predominately in Somalia. U.S. Special Operations forces have conducted raids against al-Shabab, along with its Somali allies, and U.S. aircraft regularly carry out airstrikes in the region. After a 2012 campaign to stop Joseph Kony, the warlord and commander of the brutal Lord’s Resistance Army, the Pentagon deployed a detachment of U.S. Special Operations forces, including Army Green Berets, and drones to help local forces, including Ugandan troops, to locate Kony in the neighboring Central African Republic. The Washington Post

Boko Haram Attacks Soldiers in Northeastern Nigeria: army
Boko Haram fighters on Monday attacked Nigerian soldiers in the northeast of the country, where the jihadists have been waging a seven-year insurgency, the army said. “Boko Haram terrorists attack troops of 113 Battalion,” army spokesman Sani Usman said in a brief statement. “The troops have been battling the insurgents since (the) early hours of today.” No further details were immediately available from the remote area in Kareto where the clashes occurred.  Reuters

Boko Haram’s Focus on Destroying Schools Threatens a Generation
In the early morning of Nov. 24, 2014, hundreds of militants from the brutal extremist group Boko Haram poured into the remote Nigerian border town of Damasak. First, they blocked all four main roads in. Fighters then went straight to the Zanna Mobarti Primary School and took captive 300 children and teens, ages seven to 17. The gates were locked, and the boys were separated from the girls. It would be their prison for the next four months. […] Estimates by UN agencies and non-profit groups suggest nearly one million school-age children in northeastern Nigeria have been forced from their places of learning. Most of them have been out of school for at least a year, some for much longer. “Attacks on schools and students are the ultimate tactic of intimidation, practically and symbolically,” said Joseph Siegle, director of research at the Washington, D.C.-based Africa Center for Strategic Studies. “And the carnage is exacerbating problems in a region already facing many social and economic challenges.” CBC

Impact on Boko Haram Unclear After Splinter Group Leader Held
Nigeria’s security services have hailed the arrest of the leader of the Boko Haram splinter group Ansaru, Khalid al-Barnawi, saying it will lead to them to other senior Islamist commanders. “The arrest of Barnawi is a huge success and will have a profound effect on counter-terrorism operations in Nigeria and beyond,” one security source told AFP. “He is a known transnational terrorist and the backbone of all Al-Qaeda affiliate groups in West Africa.” Barnawi, designated a global terrorist by the United States since 2012, was detained on April 1 with three others in the Kogi state capital, Lokoja, and found with four Thuraya satellite phones. The phones “provided several leads” to “high-profile Boko Haram and Ansaru elements” in the capital, Abuja, Lokoja and the central city of Jos, said another source.  France 24

Foreign Ministers of France and Germany Make Surprise Visit to Libya
The foreign ministers of France and Germany made an unannounced visit Saturday to Tripoli in a show of support for the new unity government striving to bridge Libya’s deep political divisions. World powers see the Government of National Accord (GNA) as a crucial partner in tackling jihadists behind a string of deadly attacks in Libya as well as human traffickers exploiting the country’s turmoil. France’s Jean-Marc Ayrault and Germany’s Frank-Walter Steinmeier flew into the capital amid tight security for talks with the UN-backed cabinet which has set up operations at a naval base in the city. Steinmeier described the visit as a signal that the international community is united behind the GNA. “The way to peace and stability is through the implementation of the peace agreement and the government of national unity,” Steinmeier said in remarks released by his ministry. The Telegraph

Europeans Ready to Fight IS Group in Libya, But with Which Government?
The foreign ministers of France and Germany, Jean-Marc Ayrault and Frank-Walter Steinmeier, made an unannounced visit on Saturday to the Libyan capital, Tripoli, to shore up support for the UN-backed government of Fayez Serraj. Ambassadors from France, Britain, and Spain also visited earlier the same naval base where the UN-backed cabinet has set up his fledgling administration. During a joint press conference in Tripoli on April 14, the group of diplomats even pledged to re-open embassies closed back in 2014, when the Libyan capital descended into chaos. Since the downfall of late Libyan leader Muammar Ghaddafi, who was killed in a popular uprising, the country has descended into near-anarchy, ruled by rival militias vying for power while the Islamic State group has gained influence. France 24

African Union Troops in Somalia Kill Four Civilians
The incident took place near Bulla Marer, 60km (37 miles) south-west of the capital, Mogadishu. The dead include an 80-year-old woman and her nine-year-old granddaughter who were sick and were travelling to the capital, Mogadishu, for treatment. The AU Mission said scared soldiers had opened fire when the car failed to stop at a roadblock. Abdiwahid Ibrahim Maalim, the son of the elderly woman killed, said she and the granddaughter were in the car with two of his friends, one of them the driver, when the troops killed them. Residents of Lower Shabelle have protested, denouncing the killings. BBC

Gambian Opposition Figure Dies in Detention, Opposition Leader Arrested
A senior party figure in Gambia’s main political opposition has died in police custody after a peaceful protest, rights group Amnesty International said Saturday, triggering a demonstration at which the party chief and other senior leaders were arrested. United Democratic Party (UDP) leader Ousainou Darboe was arrested along with three senior party figures after holding a news conference demanding to see the body of UDP organizing secretary Solo Sandeng, who died in police custody after holding a rare demonstration on Thursday calling for electoral reform. “These people have done nothing wrong. They have exercised their constitutional right and that constitutional right we are now going to exercise,” Darboe said at the press conference. “We are going out there to ask for Solo’s body to be given to us. We are going to ask for Madam Fatoumata Jawara and the rest to be released.”  Deutsche Welle

African Security Forum Kicks off in Ethiopia
The fifth Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa has kicked-off on Saturday in Ethiopia with the participation of several African leaders to discuss challenges facing the continent. Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who addressed the opening of the forum, said that Africa suffers from a number of security and political challenges which requires African leaders to develop a strategic vision to resolve them. He saw that the large participation of the African leaders in the forum underscores their keenness to promote the common understanding to achieve security and stability in the region. The Ethiopian premier also mentioned the challenges of peace and security in the continent and ways to resolve them, pointing that Africa has begun to tackle those challenges. Sudan Tribune

South Sudan Rebel Leader Riek Machar Postpones Return to Juba
The expected return of South Sudan’s rebel leader Riek Machar to the capital, Juba, has been postponed for logistical reasons, a spokesman said. He was due to take up the post of first vice-president, a key part of the peace process aimed at ending more than two years of civil war. Mr Machar fled Juba at the start of the conflict in December 2013. More than two million people have been displaced and tens of thousands killed in the fighting. BBC

South Sudan President Says Will Run for 2018 Elections
South Sudanese President, Salva Kiir, said there is a possibility he will run for another term in office after 2018, saying the decision will however be decided by the people and not “others with intention to install puppet government to exploit resources.” He said the opposition faction leadership was returning to Juba with a new strategy to take over power from his and his supporters, calling on his government’s officials and supporters to work hard as an internal front. “They are coming, yes we have accepted them to come but this should [not] be construed to mean we have surrendered or have accepted what they are after. The regime change has not changed. They have not abandoned [it]. They are coming in as part of another strategy,” said President Kiir. Sudan Tribune

South Sudan Officially Joins East African Community
South Sudan has become the sixth member of the East African Community (EAC) block after President Salva Kiir signed an ascension treaty in Tanzania’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam. Early last month the EAC Heads of State approved the admission of the new country, which is trying to recover from a civil war. Tanzanian counterpart, John Magufuli, who doubles up as the bloc chairman hosted the South Sudan head.  Africa News

Zambia Ruling Party Denies Report Predicting Opposition Victory in August
Zambia’s ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party has dismissed a political report by the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU), published by the British-based magazine The Economist, predicting that main opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development, (UPND) will win the August 11 presidential election. In its analysis, the Economic Intelligence Unit said recent defections from the ruling PF party to the UPND, coupled with the endorsement of Hichilema by former vice president Guy Scott, a leading member of the PF, boosts the chances of the opposition leader to defeat incumbent President Edgar Lungu in the August presidential poll. Frank Bwalya, deputy spokesman for the PF party said Zambians are solidly behind Lungu and the governing party after rejecting the electoral prediction as not a true reflection of issues on the ground.  VOA

Ghana Bolsters Security Amid Warnings of Attack
Ghana is bolstering its border protection as part of new security measures after reports that a potential attack by an armed group is “real”. A leaked intelligence memo published in Ghanaian media warned the West African country and its eastern neighbour, Togo, could be targeted by armed groups following deadly attacks in Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast in recent months “Intelligence gathered by the … NSCS [National Security Council Secretariat] indicates a possible terrorist attack on the country is real. … The choice of Ghana according to the report is to take away the perception that only Francophone countries are the target,” said the memo, dated April 9. The memo reportedly referred to the confessions of a suspect who was interrogated by Ivorian authorities after an attack last month on Grand-Bassam, a popular tourist destination, that killed dozens. It ordered immigration agents on the northern border with Burkina Faso to be extra vigilant and said patrols should be stepped up along informal routes between the two countries.  Al Jazeera

Court Declines to Uncover Israel’s Arms Deal with Kigali
The Israeli Supreme Court on Monday last week ruled that records documenting Israel’s arms dealings with Rwanda during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi will remain undisclosed. The ruling reported by The Times of Israel noted that Supreme Court judges cited Section 9 of Israel’s Freedom of Information Act, saying that releasing the documents would “harm national security and foreign relations.” According to the publication, Israeli activist attorney Eitay Mack filed in 2014 a request with the Defence Ministry for the information on arms exports to Rwanda. Mr Mack argued there was “a major public interest in having the information revealed, and that preventing its disclosure created a feeling that the respondents were preventing it due to extraneous considerations,” according to the court’s decision. The East African

Rwandan Who Called Tutsis ‘Cockroaches’ in 1992 Gets Life Sentence
In 1992, Leon Mugesera, a senior politician in Rwanda’s then-ruling Hutu party, told a crowd of supporters at a rally in the town of Kabaya that members of the country’s minority Tutsi population were “cockroaches” who should go back to Ethiopia, the birthplace of the East African ethnic group. Spectators claim that at one point in the rally, which was not recorded in its entirety, Mugesera said that “anyone whose neck you do not cut is the one who will cut your neck.” Two years later, some 800,000 Rwandans, mainly Tutsis were brutally slaughtered and hacked to death in a genocide that lasted 100 days. On Friday, more than 20 years after Mugesera made his speech, Rwandan Judge Antoine Muhima sentenced him to life in prison for “public incitement to commit genocide, persecution as crime against humanity and inciting ethnic-affiliated hatred.”  Foreign Policy

Getting Logistics Right: An Imperative for Peace Operations
“Amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics.” The sentiment is commonly held among security operations specialists, who know that a mission can quickly collapse without effective deployment and management of the processes and resources needed to support it. This theme and the priorities for strengthening the logistical capacity of the security sector in Africa were the focus of a recently completed Africa Logistics Forum hosted by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies in Accra, Ghana, for 100 African security sector professionals representing 40 countries. Nowhere are the benefits of strong logistics and the shortcomings of weak logistics seen more starkly than in African peace operations. African nations frequently deploy forces into “the most operationally and logistically challenging conditions in the world,” says Colonel (Ret.) Daniel Hampton, professor of practice in security studies at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies. Without a strong logistics system, their complex, shifting, and expansive mandates cannot be delivered effectively. Troops earmarked for deployment must be transported to the mission area in a rapid and timely manner. Once in mission, they must be fed, supplied, transported, and supported to sustain their operations. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Africa’s Economic Slowdown an Opportunity for Reform
Falling commodity prices have pushed several African countries back into the embrace of the International Monetary Fund, which has an opportunity to push for reforms and inject transparency into opaque economies. Top of the list is Angola, Africa’s second biggest crude producer and third largest economy, which has not borrowed from the IMF since 2009 and just a few years ago had the Fund all but turning a blind eye to missing billions. It is hardly alone, with depressed prices for commodities ranging from oil to copper sapping the budgets of African governments and sending them to the IMF, the “lender of last resort” which typically imposes tough conditions for assistance. Gas-rich Mozambique and gold and oil producer Ghana, hard hit by the sour commodity cycle, both inked financial arrangements with the IMF in 2015, their first in six years, according to the Fund’s website. Ghana’s was a three-year, $918 million assistance deal signed as its fiscal and current account deficits ballooned. Reuters

Namibia Violates United Nations Sanctions Against North Korea
The Namibian army has been exposed for violating United Nations sanctions against North Korea since 2006, severely denting Namibia’s international reputation as an exemplary African government. President Hage Geingob, in his State of the Nation Address to Parliament last week, defended Namibia’s ties with North Korea, saying their soldiers fought alongside Swapo during the liberation struggle years. Geingob’s deputy and Minister of International Co-operation Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah found herself in a diplomatic minefield two weeks ago after she confirmed a wide-ranging military co-operation programme with North Korea – but she repeatedly claimed this co-operation had been a thing of the past since 2005. This turned out to be somewhat short of the full truth, as the United Nations’ Panel of Experts on North Korea noted in their February 22 report on international compliance with sanctions against Pyongyang. Mail and Guardian

UK Firm ‘Employed Former Child Soldiers’ as Mercenaries in Iraq
A former senior director at a British firm says that it employed mercenaries from Sierra Leone to work in Iraq because they were cheaper than Europeans and did not check if they were former child soldiers. James Ellery, who was a director of Aegis Defence Services between 2005 and 2015, said that contractors had a “duty” to recruit from countries such as Sierra Leone, “where there’s high unemployment and a decent workforce”, in order to reduce costs for the US presence in Iraq. “You probably would have a better force if you recruited entirely from the Midlands of England,” Ellery, a former brigadier in the British army, told the Guardian. “But it can’t be afforded. So you go from the Midlands of England to Nepalese etc etc, Asians, and then at some point you say I’m afraid all we can afford now is Africans.” He said the company had not asked recruits if they were former child soldiers.  The Guardian

France’s Hollande Underscores Importance of Human Rights in Egypt
French President François Hollande said Sunday respecting human rights was not a hindrance in the fight against “terrorism” but an aid, after meeting Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Sisi, meanwhile, defended his country’s human rights record after it became the focus of a news conference given by the two leaders following their meeting in the Egyptian capital. Sisi, a former military chief who overthrew Islamist predecessor Mohamed Morsi and cracked down on his followers, dismissed growing allegations of abuses under his own presidency as a plot by “an evil force”. Sisi, who spoke before Hollande, said the French president had brought up the issue during their meeting earlier on Sunday. “The region we live in, President Hollande, is very turbulent,” Sisi said. France 24

Morocco Boasts Stability, But Critics Say the Price is High
Compared to the rest of the Arab world, Morocco is doing pretty well. It may be an authoritarian monarchy but foreign investment is up, the country has a new and improved constitution and most importantly it’s stable in a region awash with chaos. And that’s why many citizens of Morocco who protested or supported protests in 2011 say that for now they’re just fine with the way things are. This as critics of the regime say the space for freedom of expression is at an all time low. Maati Monjib, a historian and writer in Morocco, is an advocate for democracy. And because of that he’s in trouble with the state, accused of trying to “undermine state security.”  “It’s like a prison now,” he says with a laugh. He jokes about the metal door with bars he had installed at his office. He says it’s to keep security agents out after noticing someone had been breaking in at night and unscrewing the door knob.  NPR

Yellow Fever Outbreak in Angola is ‘Threat to Entire World’
An outbreak of yellow fever in Angola in which hundreds have already died could be “a threat to the entire world”, the World Health Organisation has warned. Cases of the mosquito-borne virus were first reported in Angola’s capital Luanda in December. The disease has now spread to 16 of the country’s 18 provinces. So far, thousands of people are suspected to have been infected with the disease and 238 people have died, WHO has reported. “The evolution of the situation in Angola is concerning and needs to be closely monitored,” it stated in a report. People travelling from Angola have already exported the virus to China, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where at least 21 people are reported to have died. The Independent



Photo: Adam Jones