Media Review for August 5, 2015

Arms Trade: US to Remove Nigeria From Leahy Law
United State has agreed to review a proposal to relax or completely lift restrictions on military assistance to Nigeria, under provisions of the ‘Leahy Law’. The Leahy amendment prohibits the U.S. Department of State and Department of Defense from providing military assistance to foreign military units that violate human rights with impunity. Nigeria following allegations of human rights abuses by the Nigerian military in the fight against terrorism. Reports emerging from Washington DC suggest Nigeria was likely to be taken off the Leahy Law restrictions. Africa Report

US Legislator: Nigeria’s Military Needs Training, Not Arms
The United States is ready to provide military training to help Nigeria’s battle against Islamic extremists, the leader of a U.S. Congressional delegation said here. Nigeria’s military is not outgunned by Boko Haram and needs training, not arms, to defeat the insurgents blamed for the deaths of thousands in three countries, said Rep. Darrell Issa. Issa spoke after his four-person bipartisan delegation met with President Muhammadu Buhari and military service chiefs. Issa’s statement contradicts Buhari who asserted, after meeting President Barack Obama at the White House last month, that the United States is aiding Boko Haram by refusing to sell attack helicopters to Nigeria. AP on Stars and Stripes

Suspected Boko Haram Militants Kill Eight, Kidnap 100 In Cameroon
At least eight people were killed and about 100 others were kidnapped by suspected Boko Haram militants in an overnight raid on a village near Cameroon’s northern border, a local government and a military source said. Tchakarmari, the village targeted early on Tuesday, lies north of Maroua, where dozens of people were killed in a series of suicide bombings by the Nigerian Islamist group last month. “Residents said the attackers headed back to Nigeria where Cameroon is not allowed to pursue them,” the local government source in the Far North region said. A senior military officer deployed as part of a Cameroonian military operation aimed at curbing the spillover of violence from Boko Haram’s stronghold in northeastern Nigeria said the attackers had crossed over from Nigeria shortly after midnight. Reuters

7 Killed, 20 Kidnapped in Boko Haram Attack in Cameroon
At least seven people were killed and about 20 others were kidnapped by suspected Boko Haram militants in an overnight raid on a village near Cameroon’s northern border, a senior military officer said Tuesday. Tchakarmari, the village targeted early on Tuesday, lies north of Maroua, where dozens of people were killed in a series of suicide bombings by the Nigerian Islamist group last month. “There was an attack at 1:30 a.m. (0030 GMT). We have a figure of seven dead. … We were informed that this was an attack by gunmen from Nigeria,” said the officer, who asked not to be named as he was not authorized to speak to the media. VOA

Cameroon Expels More Than 3,000 Nigerians in Fight Against Boko Haram
Cameroon has expelled more than 3,000 Nigerians as part of the fight against Nigeria’s Islamic extremists who have launched attacks across borders, officials said Tuesday. Authorities also arrested hundreds of Cameroonians and Nigerians accused of collaborating with Boko Haram, said Midjiyawa Bakary, governor of Cameroon’s Far North region. They deported Nigerians who said they were refugees but were not staying at refugee camps and lacked identification papers. CS Monitor

Cameroon’s Anti-Boko Haram Strategy Hampers Commerce
Cameroon has sealed parts of its long river border with Nigeria and prohibited travel from dusk to dawn as part of measures to stop Boko Haram terrorism. Cameroon’s governors from areas sharing a border with neighboring Nigeria have expelled about 200 Chadians and arrested hundreds of people said to have Boko Haram sympathies. Governor Bernard Okalia Bilai of south west Cameroon said border areas in his part of the country were closed to make sure suspected Boko Haram terrorists were not using the 300 kilometer river boundary with Nigeria to plan attacks. The governor said many of the business people importing and exporting goods between the neighboring countries are from areas where the terrorists have been operating. VOA

Nigeria’s President Appoints New Head of State Oil Firm
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu as the new group managing director of state oil firm Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on Tuesday, a statement from the presidency said. The new head was the executive vice chairman and general counsel of Exxon-Mobil (Africa) and is taking over from Joseph Thlama Dawha. Reuters

Is Burundi Really on Brink of a Bloodbath?
[…] Whether by coincidence or design, there’s something ominous about the symmetry of these assassination attempts. It’s hard to escape the feeling that they presage a new and disturbing chapter. “Up until now I’ve been resisting the more alarmist interpretations of what’s been going on, but in the last few days the situation is really spinning out of control. These two dramatic and quite shocking incidents are a sign that the violence is likely to escalate. I don’t want to predict too much gloom and doom, but these are two high-profile individuals,” said Tertsakian. Her fears are echoed by the Crisis Group’s project director for Central Africa, Thierry Vircoulon. “The re-election of Nkurunziza has put Burundi on the path of war. It sent the signal to the opposition that there is nothing left to negotiate after his re-election and all they can do is to accept his ‘victory’. Daily Maverick

Heavy Gunfire Heard at Burundi’s National Broadcaster
Heavy gunfire was heard near Burundi’s state broadcaster RTNB on Tuesday with reports saying that one man has been critically injured. The head of RNTB security, Lt.Col. Dismas Indaye, was attacked by unknown armed men a few minutes to noon, making him the second victim in less than 24 hours in what is appearing to be targeted attacks. Last night, renowned human rights activist Pierre Claver Mbonimpa was injured by unknown gunmen near his home in the capital, Bujumbura. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where he is recuperating. Mr Mbonimpa’s close relatives say he requires specialised medical treatment abroad but the government has allegedly refused to allow him to leave the country. He was a stern critic of President Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial bid for a third term in office. This comes a day after the killing on a former Burundi intelligence chief and president Nkurunziza’s aide Adolph Nshimirimana. The East African

Obama Heaps Pressure on Warring South Sudan Leaders
US President Barack Obama renewed pressure on South Sudan’s warring leaders Tuesday, insisting they must accept an August peace deadline or face being sidelined. Obama said President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar had “squandered” goodwill for the world’s youngest nation, one that is now mired in ethnically fueled conflict. During a recent trip to Ethiopia, Obama held talks with regional power brokers and issued the feuding pair an ultimatum to agree a power sharing peace deal by August 17. AFP on Yahoo News

Amnesty Accuses Sudan of War Crimes in South Kordofan
Amnesty International has accused Sudan’s army of committing war crimes by bombing and shelling civilians in its South Kordofan region. More than 374 bombs, including cluster bombs, were dropped in 67 locations between January and April, killing at least 35 people, the human rights group said. Sudan’s army has not yet commented on the allegations. It has been battling rebels demanding more rights for the region since 2011. At least 1.4 million people, or a third of South Kordofan’s population, have fled their homes because of the conflict, Amnesty said in a report. BBC

Ivory Coast Convicts Ex-leader’s Top Security Officers
Ivory Coast’s military court on Tuesday sentenced the former head of security for the ex-first lady to 20 years in prison for acts related to the postelection crisis in 2011. More than 3,000 people were killed after former President Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept his defeat in 2010 elections to Alassane Ouattara, who is now president. Anselme Seka Yapo, head of security for Simone Gbagbo, was accused of killing the driver of a former human rights minister who is an influential member of Ouattara’s party. The court convicted him of voluntary homicide and assault and battery. It also expelled him from the gendarmerie and said he could not leave the country for 10 years after his release. AP

Ebola Cases Fall Sharply, U.N. Reports
The number of new Ebola diagnoses in Sierra Leone and Guinea reached its lowest point in well over a year last week, according to the World Health Organization, with only one reported case in each country. There were no new cases in Liberia, the third nation most severely affected by the outbreak. “That progress is real,” Dr. Bruce Aylward, an assistant director general of the organization, said Tuesday at a news conference in Geneva. Dr. Aylward said it was realistic to expect the epidemic to be quelled by the end of the year. “We can get there,” he said. He cautioned that in the interim there would probably be additional flare-ups of the disease, which has killed more than 11,000 people since this outbreak emerged in Guinea in late 2013. Already two new Ebola diagnoses have been made since Sunday, and responders are tracking close to 2,000 people potentially exposed within the past 21 days, some of whom could still fall sick. The New York Times

Judge Throws out Fraud Case Against South African Firebrand Malema
A judge threw out corruption charges against South African opposition firebrand Julius Malema on Tuesday, a ruling hailed as a major victory by the vocal critic of President Jacob Zuma. Malema had been accused of money laundering, racketeering and fraud relating to government contracts. But Judge George Mothle said he had waited too long for his trial after a string of postponements, and told him: “You are free to go.” The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA)said the move did not constitute an acquittal and the action could be revived at a later date. But political analyst Nic Borain said the outcome was an embarrassment and showed the state’s “general incompetence to assemble a case”. “If this was a conspiracy to besmirch Malema’s name, it looks like it was carried out very poorly,” Borain said. Reuters

Firing Of Generals Raises Fear Of Return To Algerian Strife
Algeria is in the grips of political intrigue, as the president nears death and rumours of coup attempts swirl. Now, the unprecedented firing of three top generals is generating fear that a power struggle within the regime will break into the open — unleashing a new cycle of the bloodshed that plagued the country in the 1990s. The stakes for the oil-rich nation — a key US ally against terrorism — are especially high because of the dramatic fall of oil prices and the rising threat from extremist groups across the border in Mali, Libya and Tunisia. These developments have put the regime on weaker footing in a country still emerging from a traumatic civil war. News 24

Tanzanian Opposition Pick Ex-PM for President Race
Tanzania’s four main opposition parties chose ex-prime minister Edward Lowassa as a joint presidential candidate on Tuesday, three months ahead of a general election scheduled for October 25. Lowassa, 61, was the east African country’s prime minister between 2005 and 2008, when he resigned over corruption allegations, charges he denied. He defected last week from the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party to join the opposition Chadema party. He will run for the top post for Chadema, as well as the Civic United Front (CUF), NCCR-Mageuzi and the National League for Democracy (NLD). News 24

Over 300 Killed In Kenya Ethnic Clashes in 2015: UN
At least 310 Kenyans have been killed and over 215,000 forced from their homes this year in ethnic violence in northern Kenya, the U.N. said Wednesday. While violence between rival groups is common in Kenya’s northern Rift Valley regions, the number killed and forced to flee in the first six months of this year is already the same as the total for all of 2014. “Violent inter-communal conflicts continued to be widespread in northern Rift Valley,” the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a statement. “From January 1 to June 30, 2015, 310 people lost their lives, 195 were injured and 216,294 had been displaced as a result of unresolved border conflicts, cattle rustling and revenge attacks, competition over land and water resources, and political conflict.” Daily Star Lebanon

Africa’s Entrepreneurial Dilemma
United States President Barack Obama’s recent trip to Kenya and Ethiopia featured an appearance at the 6th Global Entrepreneurship Summit, the first of such meetings to be held in sub-Saharan Africa. This event was meant to shine a spotlight on Africa as a growing centre of innovation . While entrepreneurship is increasingly framed as a vehicle for poverty alleviation and development , it is not the path to prosperity its proponents claim it to be. Obama pushed entrepreneurship to the top of the US’ engagement agenda during a historic speech to the Muslim World in Cairo in 2009. The consequence has been an exceptionally business-oriented US foreign assistance approach in the African context. The entire gambit of foreign assistance programmes, from agriculture to healthcare, is increasingly framed in entrepreneurial language. Al JAzeera

In the Game of Maritime Power Politicking, is Africa the Biggest Loser?
Diminutive Djibouti seems set to become dangerously overcrowded: not with immigrants, or a harmful animal species, but rather with foreign military bases. Already home to Camp Lemonnier, the United States of America’s (USA’s) only African base, it was widely reported earlier this year that China intends to join the USA, France and Japan in establishing a permanent military presence there. This spurred discussions on how such a move might be seen as part of a Chinese maritime strategy that aims to challenge the relative power of the USA and India. Few analysts, however, have assessed these developments against the backdrop of Africa’s own maritime goals and strategies. ISS

Uganda: Yoweri Museveni’s Challenger Finds Route to Presidency is a Rocky Road
In their book Dictators and Dictatorships, Natasha M Ezrow and Erica Frantz write about personalist dictatorships, which are different from military or one-party regimes. “One person dominates the military, state apparatus and ruling party (if one exists),” the authors say. “No autonomous institutions exist independent of the leader. Though the leader may ally with or create a political party, it is merely a tool of the leader.” In this political setup, the “right to rule is ascribed to a person rather than an office, despite the official existence of a written constitution”. The leader usually governs using a clique of friends, unquestioning loyalists and family. The Guardian

Bending the Arc: How to Achieve Justice at the International Criminal Court
Since its creation in 2002, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has launched investigations in eight countries—the Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Darfur (Sudan), Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Libya, Mali, and Uganda. The investigations have resulted in 22 cases against individuals accused of committing the most serious international crimes, including war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. The ICC’s track record in trying these cases, however, has been less than stellar. Indeed, it has only convicted two Congolese warlords (and acquitted one, Congolese warlord Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui). The ICC has also been criticized for failing to bring many heads of state, including Sudanese President Omar Bashir (who stands accused of genocide in Darfur), to trial. The controversy surrounding the ICC’s trial history stems in part from its design. Forreign Affairs

Talking Loud and Saying Nothing
[…] CVE is supposed to be about far more than Islamic radicalism. Keep in mind that since 2001, twice as many people have been killed in the United States in attacks by white supremacists and other non-Muslim groups than by radical Muslims. And perhaps jihadis and neo-Nazis do have more in common than we think: As John Horgan, author of The Psychology of Terrorism, put it: “The similarities of how they get engaged, involved and disengaged in terrorism by far exceed the differences.” Yes, U.S. officials take great pains to make clear that they are not focused on the Muslim community and that Islam is a religion of peace. As the Department of Homeland Security website on CVE says, “The threat posed by violent extremism is neither constrained by international borders nor limited to any single ideology.” However, when people in Washington discuss CVE, most of them are thinking of the so-called Islamic State and other radical Muslim groups. When applied to the effort to counter IS and its hangers-on, here are four key questions about CVE that need better answers — or aren’t being asked at all. Foreign Policy

Morocco Courts US Backing in Sahara Dispute
The North African kingdom spent $3.1 million last year building support for its exploitation of the resource-rich territory it has occupied since 1975 and claims as its own. While officially the United States still supports a long-delayed referendum on independence — it backed another extension of the UN monitoring mission in April — key policymakers are embracing the status quo. Pending foreign aid bills in the House and Senate both call for US aid to Morocco to be spent in the disputed region. The move amounts to a de facto recognition of Rabat’s sovereignty over the resource-rich territory. Al Monitor



Photo: Adam Jones