Media Review for October 2, 2015

Extremism: Root Causes, Drivers, and Responses
The Leader’s Summit to Counter ISIL and Violent Extremism that took place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meetings was animated by the perceived growing threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS or ISIL) to international security. Less well known is that four of the eight ‘provinces’ or wilayat of the group’s self-declared caliphate are located in Africa – Algeria, Libya, Egypt and Nigeria. While there are questions about the group’s ability to direct affiliates in a unified and coordinated campaign, those who have declared loyalty to ISIS have adopted its signature brutality. Efforts to counter violent extremism (CVE) in Africa long pre-date ISIS, however. Drawing on its CVE work over the years, the Africa Center for Strategic Studies highlights some of the recurring themes.  Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Nigerian City of Maiduguri ‘Attacked by Five Girl Bombers’
Five young girls were behind a series of deadly explosions in the north-eastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri on Thursday evening, security sources say. Fourteen people, including the girls, died and 39 were injured in the attacks at a mosque and house of vigilante leader, the military said. More than 100 people died in similar attacks in the city two weeks ago. Maiduguri is where Boko Haram Islamist militants were first based when they began their insurgency six years ago. Some 17,000 people are said to have been killed in that time and attacks by the group have intensified since Muhammadu Buhari became president in May, vowing to defeat the insurgents.

Islamic State Ties Widen Reach of Boko Haram
Nigeria predicts that Boko Haram will soon be defeated, but the militant group’s ties with Islamic State mean that would probably push the fighters further into neighbouring countries, writes BBC Monitoring Africa security correspondent Tomi Oladipo. The Nigerian military has been in overdrive in trying to control the narrative of its war against Boko Haram in recent weeks. It says it has cornered the jihadists and the conflict will soon be over – in line with its mandate from President Muhammadu Buhari to end the crisis by mid-November.  BBC

Tunisian Troops Block Car bombs Crossing Libyan Border
Tunisian troops stopped two bomb-laden cars crossing from Libya and seized arms and documents bearing the symbol of Islamic State, as security tightened following two major attacks this year, the government said on Thursday. Last month, Tunisian authorities had warned of possible car bombings in Tunis and banned traffic in parts of the city after getting intelligence reports about potential attacks in the capital. Authorities said three suspect vehicles were tracked on Wednesday after crossing the border and troops opened fire to stop them. Two were halted and a third fled back across the Libyan border. “The army has dismantled the car bombs, which were rigged to detonate, one with a bomb belt, the other with rocket explosives,” the Interior Ministry said in a statement.  Reuters on The Hindu

Burkina Faso Coup Leader Hands Himself In
The leader of Burkina Faso’s short-lived coup was in police custody on Thursday after handing himself in. General Gilbert Diendere, who had said several times that he was willing to face justice following the September 17 putsch, was being held at the Paspanga police base near the centre of the capital Ouagadougou. “General Diendere and his accomplices will answer for all the offences of which they are accused,” the country’s interim government said in a statement, adding that a “commission of inquiry” was already “hard at work” investigating the coup. A military source said military justice would deal with Diendere. AFP on Yahoo News

Burkina Army Says Most of Coup Regiment Have Rejoined its Ranks
A majority of troops from the elite Burkina Faso army regiment behind a failed coup have joined loyalist units after it was disbanded, a senior army source told AFP Thursday. “Over 800 men” out of the 1,300 in the powerful Presidential Security Regiment (RSP) that staged the September 17 coup, have taken up new postings, a source in the army high command said. The regiment, which was loyal to deposed president Blaise Compaore, was dissolved last week and all its members assigned to other units. More than 600 of the soldiers reported for duty at one barracks on the outskirts of the capital Ouagadougou, the source added.  AFP on Yahoo News

Is Burkina Faso’s Elite Guard Still a Threat?
Burkina Faso’s interim government adopted a decree last week dissolving the Presidential Security Regiment, which mounted a short-lived coup two weeks ago. But despite promises to disarm and subsequent interventions by the army, some RSP members still refuse to give up their weapons, leaving many to wonder if the elite force will continue to pose a threat to the transition to democracy. Ever since long-term president Blaise Compaoré was ousted after the popular uprising on 30 and 31 October 2014, democracy advocates have wrestled with the troublesome issue of demilitarising politics. The armed forces have maintained almost exclusive control over the political scene since 1966, which is to say 49 of the 55 years since Burkina Faso gained independence in 1960. The RSP, which was created in 1995, officially became “a large unit attached to the national army and at the disposition of the president” in July 2000, but is still thought of by most as an “army within the army,” or a body of troops loyal to and recruited by Compaoré.   IRIN

Somalia and South Sudan: Britain Enters the Fray
Britain has a grand plan to fix the refugee crisis, alleviate poverty and stabilise east Africa – and, sure enough, it involves more wars in more foreign lands. Prime Minister David Cameron is sending troops to ‘advise’ in Somalia and South Sudan, believing this will make all the difference. However, even at face value, his logic is flawed. […] When deployed, these will be the only British peacekeepers operating in active conflict zones (there are others in Cyprus, while Britain’s involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq is not under an international mandate), and will be the first deployment of British boots on the ground in Africa since the military intervention in Sierra Leone in 2000.  Daily Maverick

Britain and Kenya end Diplomatic Stand-off with Fresh Troop Training Deal
David Cameron and Uhuru Kenyatta, the Kenyan president, have renewed a decades-long deal for British soldiers to train in the country, ending a lengthy diplomatic stand-off. The deal to be signed will allow around 10,000 infantry troops to train at two bases in Kenya each year. The 40-year-old agreement provides Britain with some of its best overseas training facilities and is worth an estimated £58million a year to the Kenyan economy. British troops also train the Kenyan armed forces. Last year however it appeared that it might not be renewed because of a row over a perceived immunity British troops enjoy from prosecution over offences committed while in the country. British soldiers are alleged to have committed serious offences including murder on Kenyan soil but, the Kenyans say, escaped prosecution because of the military deal. The Telegraph

Just When Kenya’s Military Needs More Civilian Oversight, a Proposed Bill Calls for Less
[…] The Kenyan government recently put forward some far-reaching amendments to the Kenya Defence Forces Act (2012). The amendment bill is currently in the committee stage in which members of the National Assembly and the public can propose further changes to the document before it goes to the National Assembly for the third reading and vote. But if the amendments go through as the government hopes, the result is that the defence forces would be shielded from any form of civilian oversight, including financial accountability to parliament. If passed, the Defence Cabinet Secretary will no longer be required to submit an annual report to the president and parliament on the expenditure and work of the ministry. Meanwhile, the amendment bill also seeks to delete the requirement that the Auditor General scrutinises the financial records of the KDF.  African Arguments

Burundi’s Nyamitwe Accuses Rwanda of Training Rebels
Burundi has accused neighbouring Rwanda of training rebels seeking to destabilise the country. It is hosting Burundi’s failed coup leader, and helping rebels launch cross-border attacks, Foreign Minister Alain Nyamitwe told the BBC. Rwanda denies the allegation, and says Burundi is trying to deflect attention from its own problems. The two governments have a tense relationship, with both countries sharing a similar ethnic make-up.  BBC

Amid Unexplained Killings, Burundi Descending into Anarchy
Bodies keep turning up in Burundi, dumped at roadsides and in streams. Mass arrests are being carried out. The killings and arrests have triggered fear and uncertainty across this central African country that was already shaken from protests and a coup attempt earlier this year. It appears no one is safe from a growing state of anarchy. Ordinary life in many parts of Burundi is now punctuated by gunfire, grenade explosions and assassination attempts on prominent figures opposed to or allied with President Pierre Nkurunziza, who recently sought – and ultimately won – a controversial third term in office.  News 24

Nkurunziza Grants Pardon to Minors Arrested During Protests
Burundian president Pierre Nkurunziza has granted amnesty to minors who were arrested during protests against his bid for a third term in April. While addressing the nation via the state broadcaster, President Nkurunziza said the decision was reached in consultation with the minors’ parents who committed to have them back in school. “Minors and those who apologised on causing instability and chaos in the country will be forgiven, all those who participated in the protests and were arrested will get a fair trial,” said the Burundian president. However, the president said that the detainees won’t be let to go freely at first but would spend at least one month in training for different activities of work.  The East African

South Sudan: UPDF Already Pulling Out of South Sudan, Says Juba
The South Sudan government has said the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) have started withdrawing from the country although the latter insist they have not received any instructions to that effect. The UPDF was deployed in the war-ravaged nation in December 2013 to rescue Ugandans, stop genocide and protect the government of President Salva Kiir after a launch of rebellion by former deputy president Riek Machar. President Kiir’s spokesperson, Mr Ateny Awek Ateny, told Daily Monitor yesterday that the Ugandan army started withdrawing on Monday. “They started withdrawing yesterday and the last Ugandan soldier will have left by October 10,” Mr Ateny said in a phone interview from Juba. The Monitor on allAfrica

Looting blocks Central African Republic Aid Effort
Aid agencies in the Central African Republic were struggling on Thursday to treat the wounded and distribute aid after days of renewed fighting in the capital Bangui which UN agencies said had killed at least 40 people and injured more than 100. Armed gangs have ransacked dozens of compounds belonging to international organisations since violence flared on Saturday, and machete-wielding militia are blocking roads, humanitarian workers said. “Keeping humanitarian workers from doing their job in a country whose state lacks authority and which relies so heavily on aid is a recipe for disaster,” said Rodolphe Moinaux, country director for the International Rescue Committee. News 24

Mali Asks UN to Take on Drug Traffickers Fueling Conflict
Mali asked the United Nations to take on drug traffickers and roll out an emergency aid package after a peace deal was signed to end violence in the north. Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop on Tuesday told the Security Council that the UN peacekeeping force must help restore state authority in the north after an Islamist takeover in 2012 plunged the country into turmoil. “This will be a first test for the agreement,” Diop said as the council prepares to vote next week on renewing the mandate of the 11,500-strong MINUSMA force. The foreign minister called for a major anti-drug effort to put an end to the trafficking fueling conflict in northern Mali and stressed that peace would not take hold without such a campaign. “We will never achieve a definite settlement for this crisis without this initiative because drugs are fueling all sides in this conflict,” Diop said. AFP on Yahoo News

Islamic State Militants Attack Forces Guarding Libya Oil Port: Official
Islamic State militants attacked forces guarding one of Libya’s main oil ports on Thursday with a gun assault and an attempted car bomb in an escalation of their campaign in the North African state, a local security official said. Islamic State has gained ground in Libya where two rival governments — one internationally recognized and the other self-declared — are battling for control, leaving a security vacuum four years after the uprising toppled Muammar Gaddafi. Militants attacked guards at a gate near Es Sider port, which is under the control of forces allied with the recognized government, the security official said. The terminal has been closed since December because of fighting with other rival armed factions and problems at supply oilfields.  Reuters

Morocco Eyes Boycott of Swedish Companies over Western Sahara
Morocco said on Thursday it was considering a boycott of Swedish companies operating in the North African kingdom because of Sweden’s position on the conflict over Western Sahara. The territory has been disputed since a war two decades ago. The government said Sweden has been campaigning to boycott products from Western Sahara and international companies with a presence there. “We are heading toward a boycott of Swedish companies according the principle of reciprocity after similar campaigns to boycott Moroccan companies,” the statement issued after the weekly cabinet meeting said. Reuters

Morocco to Receive 150 Upgraded M1A1 Tanks
The Royal Moroccan Army will receive 150 upgraded M1A1 main battle tanks by 2018 under a $358 million contract awarded to General Dynamics Land Systems. The United States Department of Defence on 28 September announced that the US Army Contracting Command had awarded General Dynamics Land Systems a $358 000 000 firm-fixed-price undefinitised foreign military sales contract for Morocco for the conversion of 150 M1A1 vehicles to the M1A1 situational awareness configuration. Work will be performed in Lima, Ohio, with an estimated completion date of 28 February 2018. “One bid was solicited with one received. Fiscal 2010 other procurement funds in the amount of $11 975 143 were obligated at the time of the award,” the Pentagon said.  DefenceWeb

Guinea Opposition Asks for Election Delay
Guinea’s opposition on Thursday called for upcoming presidential elections to be delayed, warning of “serious problems” that could compromise the transparency and credibility of the vote. Tensions have been rising in Guinea ahead of the poll on October 11, and several people were wounded last week when supporters of rival political factions clashed in the north. Eight contenders including President Alpha Conde and opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo have been approved as candidates for the country’s second democratic presidential election. The ruling party and opposition last month sealed a deal on the organisation of the vote, raising hopes it would pass off peacefully, but opposition parties say Conde has reneged on the deal.

U.S.-South Africa Trade Spat Risks $1.7 Billion of Exports
South Africa is fighting to retain duty-free access for exports to the U.S. worth as much as $1.7 billion a year in a dispute that pits farmers in the two nations against each other. The U.S. is reviewing South Africa’s status as a full beneficiary of a preferential trade pact known as the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which eliminates import levies on more than 7,000 products ranging from textiles to manufactured items. AGOA, as the accord is known, was renewed in June for another 10 years, benefiting 39 African nations. At the heart of the dispute are American chicken and cattle farmers who want South Africa’s government to remove trade restrictions imposed to protect the local industry from a flood of cheaper imports. While Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said onSept. 29 that South Africa had done all it can to retain access to AGOA, the U.S. government says there are still major unresolved issues. Bloomberg

Mining, Oil Threaten Most of Africa’s Natural Heritage Sites – Group
Mining, oil and gas exploration poses a threat to 61% of Africa’s Unesco-approved Natural World Heritage Sites and nearly one-third of sites worldwide, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) conservation group said on Thursday. “Our research shows that intrusion into natural World Heritage Sites is especially high in Africa, where 61% of these precious areas are subject to some form of extractive concession or activity,” WWF said in a report. The report found that extraction concessions or activity affect 25 of Africa’s 41 World Heritage sites. Worldwide, 70 of 229, or 31%, of natural World Heritage Sites are under threat, it said. News 24



Photo: Adam Jones