Media Review for November 19, 2015

Young Female Suicide Bombers Kill 15 in NE Nigeria
At least 15 people were killed on Wednesday when two female suicide bombers, one said to be aged around 11, blew themselves up at a busy mobile phone market in northeast Nigeria, a day after more than 30 were killed in a bomb blast. Two explosions ripped through the Farm Centre market in northern Nigeria’s biggest city, Kano, shortly after 4:00 pm (1500 GMT), with one of the bombers said to be aged just 11 and the other 18. Boko Haram has previously used young girls as human bombs in its six-year insurgency in northeast Nigeria that has left at least 17,000 dead and made more than 2.6 million homeless. In July 2014, Kano was hit four times in the space of a week by a spate of young female suicide bombers whom experts say are unlikely to be willing participants to the carnage. AFP on Yahoo News

Corruption Hampered Troops Fighting Boko Haram: Nigeria’s Buhari
Nigerian troops were denied weapons to fight Boko Haram and thousands of lives were lost because of rampant fraud in the procurement process, President Muhammadu Buhari has alleged. Buhari ordered anyone involved in corrupt multi-billion dollar deals for weapons and equipment to be “brought to book” after receiving a report from a committee set up to probe the issue. Former national security advisor Sambo Dasuki is accused of awarding some $2 billion in “fictitious and phantom contracts” for fighter jets, helicopters and bombs that never materialised. But he hit back, denying anything untoward and stating that sensitive military deals and payments were all sanctioned by former president Goodluck Jonathan. “All contracts and accruing payments were with the approval of the president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces,” he said in a statement.  AFP on Yahoo News

Nigeria Looks for Missing $5.5 Billion in Defense Spending
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the arrest of former National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki and other unidentified officials for allegedly misappropriating as much as $5.5 billion worth of contracts to buy defense equipment to fight the Islamist militant group Boko Haram. A government committee investigating weapons deals said it discovered total “extra-budgetary interventions” of 644 billion naira ($3.3 billion) in local currency and $2.2 billion in foreign funds, Femi Adesina, a spokesman in Buhari’s office, said in an e-mailed statement Tuesday. Dasuki awarded “phantom” contracts for the purchase of four jets, 12 helicopters and bombs, Adesina said. Dasuki denies the charges, his lawyer Ahmed Raji said.  Bloomberg

The World’s Deadliest Terrorist Organization
The grisly attacks in France and Lebanon last week have fixed attention on the violence perpetrated by ISIS. But a study published this week indicates that the world’s deadliest terrorist organization actually operates thousands of miles south of Paris and Beirut, in Nigeria. The 2015 Global Terrorism Index, published by the Institute for Economics & Peace, found that Boko Haram, the Nigerian jihadist group, was responsible for 6,644 deaths in 2014, compared with 6,073 at the hands of ISIS. Boko Haram, which was founded in 2002 as an Islamist movement against Western education and morphed into an armed insurgency in 2009, has rapidly expanded its scope and ambitions over the past two years, achieving international notoriety in the spring of 2014 by kidnapping more than 200 schoolgirls. Much like ISIS, the organization controls territory in Nigeria (although it has lost some of it over the past year) and has declared a caliphate in that territory. The group is also international; although based in northeastern Nigeria, it has launched attacks in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. In the latest incident, Boko Haram is the suspected author of an attack in the Nigerian city of Yola that has left more than 30 people dead.  The Atlantic

Morocco Provided Intelligence to Help France in Paris Raids: Sources
Moroccan security officials provided information that helped their French counterparts launch raids in the Paris suburb of St.Denis on Wednesday, a Moroccan source said. “We exchanged information. Morocco gave information this morning with regard to the events that unfolded this morning,” the source said, referring to the St.Denis raid. At least two people holed up in a flat in the Paris suburb of St.Denis were killed and seven arrested during the police raid this morning. A French police source said four representatives of Moroccan security services were in Paris on Tuesday to meet the heads of judicial police.  Reuters

Israel warns Against Trimming Peacekeepers in Egyptian Sinai
Israel issued an unusually blunt warning on Wednesday against proposals to restructure the U.S.-led peacekeeping force in the insurgency-wracked Egyptian Sinai next door, saying any drawdown of the foreign troops would “reward terrorism”. Installed to monitor the demilitarization of the Sinai under the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace accord, the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) and some of its 12 contributor countries have been quietly mulling reviews of the deployment and mandate. They worry for the safety of the almost 1,900 peacekeepers after six were wounded in September by a roadside bomb, and argue dismantling more remote and vulnerable posts would not significantly set back the mission. Reuters

Islamic State Says ‘Schweppes Bomb’ Used to Bring Down Russian Plane
Islamic State’s official magazine carried a photo on Wednesday of a Schweppes drink it said was used to make an improvised bomb that brought down a Russian airliner over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula last month, killing all 224 people on board. The photo showed a can of Schweppes Gold soft drink and what appeared to be a detonator and switch on a blue background, three simple components that if genuine are likely to cause concern for airline safety officials worldwide. “The divided Crusaders of the East and West thought themselves safe in their jets as they cowardly bombarded the Muslims of the Caliphate,” the English language Dabiq magazine said in reference to Russia and the West. “And so revenge was exacted upon those who felt safe in the cockpits.”  Reuters

Egypt Continues Defence Spending Spree
The recent €950 million purchase of the two Mistral-class amphibious ships (LHDs) that France had originally built for Russia illustrates the close defence relationship between Egypt and France. The ships are expected to be delivered in March 2016, with crew training and modification to Egyptian specifications included in the package. Indeed, this deal makes Egypt France’s number one weapons customer. In just 18 months, Egypt has ordered roughly $8 billion worth of French weapons and services. The cooperation began in early 2014 with the purchase of four Gowind corvettes, derived from the DCNS L’Adroit offshore patrol vessel. The value of the contract is estimated at about €1 billion, but the corvettes will also add €400 million worth of MBDA’s MICA Vertical Launch air-defence missiles and MM-40 Exocet anti-ship missiles, and DCNS’ torpedoes for €100-200 million. Deliveries are scheduled to start in 2017. DefenseWeb

Extra Security Forces Deployed in Tunis
Security forces have been deployed in unusually high numbers in downtown Tunis. Interior Ministry spokesperson Walid Louguini told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the impressive deployment of forces in the Tunisian capital city was just part of “security vigilance measures.” Police forces, some of them wearing balaclavas, were lining up the city’s main avenue, which has been partially closed to road traffic, while the French embassy building was under heavy protection. The operation came a week after Tunisian authorities announced the dismantling of a cell that it said had planned terror attacks at police stations and hotels in the seaside city of Sousse, about 150km south-east of Tunis. Sousse was hit by an attack last June that left 38 people dead. News 24

SA Soldiers to be Deployed to DRC
More than 400 South African soldiers are heading to the Democratic Republic of Congo to beef up the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Congo (Monusco), a senior official said on Wednesday. “We will be deploying three groups. We will be deploying a specialist unit to Kinshasa. An aviation unit will be deployed to Goma and the third group will be an engineers squadron,” Brigadier-General Linda Selepe, responsible for SANDF external operations told reporters. A farewell parade was held at the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) mobilisation unit in De Brug, near Bloemfontein. The deployment is a rotation for the South African soldiers as hundreds on that mission would be returning home. IOL News

Congolese Troops Raped 14 Women in Three Days, Says U.N. Office
Government soldiers raped 14 women over a three-day period in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the human rights office of the U.N. mission in Congo said in a report on Wednesday. The atrocities were committed in the Kalehe territory of South Kivu province between Sept. 20 and 22 as Congolese troops searched for a rebel leader, the report said. They are part of a pattern of sexual violence in eastern Congo, a region where dozens of armed groups operate and millions died, mainly from hunger and disease, during a war between 1998 and 2003. Human rights groups have accused both government and rebel forces of using rape as a weapon of war.  Reuters

Rwandan Lawmaker Defends Senate Vote on Term Limits
A Rwandan lawmaker says President Paul Kagame has been a good leader for the country and deserves to serve another term. This comes after the Rwandan senate Tuesday unanimously endorsed constitutional amendments that would allow President Kagame to stay in office for another two decades. Kagame, 58, has ruled Rwanda since his army ended the 1994 genocide and ousted Hutu extremists from power. The decision will now be put to a national referendum, where it is expected to win easy approval. Margaret Nyagahurah, a member of the Rwandan senate, says parliament was simply honoring the wishes of more than 3.6 million eligible Rwandan voters who petitioned their lawmakers to change article 101 of the constitution. She says the country has had a rough time in its most recent history and cannot afford to experiment with new leaders. VOA

Tanzania Names Little Known Bureaucrat as Prime Minister
Tanzania’s new president has named a little-known politician to be the east African country’s prime minister to lead a parliament dominated by the ruling party, state media said Thursday. President John Magufuli, who himself took power earlier this month after winning October 25 elections, nominated former teacher Kassim Majaliwa as the country’s new prime minister. “I hereby propose the name of Kassim Majaliwa, so that the National Assembly endorse him in accordance with relevant procedures,” a letter from Magufuli said, read in parliament in the capital Dodoma by the Speaker Job Ndugai. Majaliwa, aged 60, and a stalwart of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party, comes from the south-eastern Lindi district. He was a former deputy minister in the local government ministry, overseeing school education. His nomination is expected to be passed without problem in parliament, and be sworn in on Friday.  News 24

Africa Blasts ICC as World Crimes Court Members Meet
The African Union blasted the world’s only permanent war crimes court Wednesday for its unrelenting focus on the continent, as it called for a case against Kenya’s deputy president to be dropped. “We have arrived at the conclusion that the International Criminal Court, whose establishment was strongly supported by Africa… is no longer a court for all,” Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. The Ethiopian minister was speaking on behalf of the AU at the 14th session of the Assembly of States Parties, an annual meeting between the 123 countries that have signed up to the Hague-based ICC’s founding statute. The AU, led in particular by Kenya, has accused the court of unfairly targeting Africans for prosecution as the majority of its cases come from the continent. AFP on Yahoo News

Kenya Steps up War to Suspend ICC ‘Rule 68′
Kenya’s delegation to the Assembly of States Parties has vowed to ensure the controversial rule allowing use of recanted evidence at the International Criminal Court is debated. Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed said protests by the ICC should be ignored. Kenya maintains that the rule was not to be used in the case against its Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua arap Sang, who are facing charges of crimes against humanity at the court. Ms Mohamed spoke after chairing a meeting of the Kenya delegation and said the country also wants an audit into how the court sourced its witnesses in both cases. Kenya’s two items have now been included in the agenda. The meeting brings together countries that have ratified the Rome Statute, its financiers and the UN Security Council. It begins on Thursday at The Hague, Netherlands.  The East African

How Kenya’s Port of Mombasa Became the World’s Hub for Ivory Smuggling
When Singaporean authorities seized a near-record four tons of ivory hidden inside containers of tea in May, its origin was familiar: the Kenyan port of Mombasa. Stretched along the Indian Ocean coast, East Africa’s biggest port has quietly emerged as the world’s major transit point for ivory, organizations that track illicit wildlife trade say. As the African elephant population falls to historic lows, tusks are exiting Mombasa in record numbers—secreted in containers of dried fish, buried in chili powder or wedged inside vats of shea butter. The ivory trade, propelled by surging demand from Asia’s swelling middle class, is enriching African poachers, Chinese gangsters and corrupt officials. Two of the biggest ivory seizures in Asia this year originated in Mombasa, but Kenyan authorities haven’t seized any ivory there for almost 18 months.  The Wall Street Journal

Burkina Faso Victims Seek Answers From Former Torture Site
A rundown colonial building in Burkina Faso that was once the headquarters of the presidential guard brings back horrible memories for Mousbila Sankara, who was among dozens of people who were imprisoned and tortured there. Some never made it out alive. In the wake of a recent failed, bloody coup by the presidential guard, a feared unit that has since been disbanded, many people in Burkina Faso are debating what to do with its headquarters, the most notorious site in this West African country, highlighting a broader push for an end to impunity here. The building is the site where revolutionary leader Thomas Sankara was killed in a 1987 coup. It was only this year that an autopsy determined that human remains found in Sankara’s purported grave in Dagnoen Cemetery on the eastern outskirts of Ouagadougou were indeed of the slain leader, and that he had been shot about ten times in the chest, head and legs.  AP on Stars and Stripes

China’s Investment in Africa Down 40% on Year
Chinese investment in Africa fell by more than 40 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2015, officials said Tuesday, as the Asian giant’s slowing growth dents its commodity demand. Natural resources from Africa have helped fuel China’s economic boom, and it became the continent’s largest trade partner in 2009. But growth in the world’s second-largest economy has slowed to its lowest rates since the aftermath of the global financial crisis, reducing commodity prices worldwide. Beijing’s direct investment in Africa slumped “more than 40 percent” to about $1.2 billion in the first six months of the year, commerce ministry spokesman Shen Danyang told reporters. China has handed out loans and funded infrastructure across Africa in what critics branded as deals made for mining rights and construction contracts. Daily Monitor

Conflicted: The Fight over Congo’s Minerals
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of the least developed countries in the world. Yet it is also home to $24tn worth of untapped mineral reserves. In the eastern hills of the country, the “three Ts” – tantalum, tungsten and tin – are mined by hand, eventually making their way into electronic devices across the world. For a decade, advocacy groups in the US and Europe pressured technology companies to pay attention to violence-linked “conflict minerals” in their products. They successfully lobbied to include a resolution called Section 1502 in 2010’s Dodd-Frank Act, requiring all publicly traded companies to track whether they are receiving minerals from Congo. Al Jazeera

Facebook Activates Safety Check in Nigeria after Yola Blast
Facebook has activated its safety check feature after a suicide attack killed 32 people in the north-eastern Nigerian city of Yola. The social networking site had been criticised for activating the feature for the attack in Paris on Friday but not for the attack in Beirut the day before. Before the Paris attack, the feature was only used in natural disasters. The safety check allows people to inform their contacts they are safe.  The BBC’s technology reporter Dave Lee says during emergencies mobile phone networks often collapse under the stress of everyone using their phones at the same time – so this is one way to help solve that by informing possibly hundreds of friends in one go. The system was first used earlier this year during the Nepal earthquake. Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg announced the Yola Safety Check in a Facebook post but added “unfortunately, these kinds of events are all too common, so I won’t post about all of them.” BBC



Photo: Adam Jones