Media Review for May 13, 2016

U.S. Establishes Libyan Outposts with Eye Toward Offensive Against Islamic State
American Special Operations troops have been stationed at two outposts in eastern and western Libya since late 2015, tasked with lining up local partners in advance of a possible offensive against the Islamic State, U.S. officials said. Two teams totaling fewer than 25 troops are operating from around the cities of Misurata and Benghazi to identify potential ­allies among local armed factions and gather intelligence on threats, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive mission overseas. The insertion of a tiny group of U.S. personnel into a country rife with militant threats reflects the Obama administration’s worries about the Islamic State’s powerful Libyan branch and the widespread expectations of an expanded campaign against it. For months, the Pentagon has been developing plans for potential action against the group, which has at least several thousand fighters in the coastal city of Sirte and other areas. And the U.S. personnel, whose ongoing presence had not been previously reported, is a sign of the acceleration toward another military campaign in Libya. The Washington Post

ISIS Kills 4 Libyan Soldiers in New Foray
ISIS jihadists, including two suicide bombers have killed four Libyan soldiers and wounded 24 in their latest foray into territory controlled by the UN-backed government, the army said on Thursday. Wednesday evening’s attack on a highway checkpoint in the desert interior comes after the jihadists thrust west along the Mediterranean coast from their stronghold of Sirte last week, overrunning a major crossroads. The checkpoint at Saddada lies 50km west of the Abu Grein crossroads and marks a new advance into territory held by forces loyal to the unity government in Tripoli. “Two suicide bombers, one in a vehicle and one on a motorbike, blew themselves up at the checkpoint where troops had gathered and clashes then broke out between our forces and ISIS fighters,” a spokesman for the anti-ISIS operations command told AFP. News 24

EU Mission ‘Failing’ to Disrupt People-Smuggling from Libya
The EU naval mission to tackle people smuggling in the central Mediterranean is failing to achieve its aims, a British parliamentary committee says. In a report, the House of Lords EU Committee says Operation Sophia does not “in any meaningful way” disrupt smugglers’ boats. The destruction of wooden boats has forced the smugglers to use rubber dinghies, putting migrants at even greater risk, the document says. Operation Sophia began in June 2015, as the wars in Syria and Iraq fuelled an unprecedented flow of refugees from the Middle East to Europe.  BBC

Tunisia Gets US planes, Jeeps to Guard Libyan Border
The United States gave jeeps, communications technology and small aircraft to Tunisia on Thursday to help protect the border with Libya, where ISIS has gained ground and set up training camps, officials said. The North African country was also expecting to receive a number of attack aircraft, Defense Minister Farhar Horchani said, though he did not give details on who would supply them. Tunisia has already built a 200-km (120-mile) barrier along the frontier to guard against militants since gunmen trained in Libya targeted tourists in attacks on a beach hotel and a Tunis museum last year. ISIS also launched a major assault on the border town of Ben Guerdane in March. US Assistant Secretary for Defense Amanda Dory said at a ceremony in Tunis that the jeeps, Maule light aircraft and a communication system between them would help Tunisian forces improve their monitoring of the border. Al Arabiya

US Hits al-Shabab Militants in Airstrike to Protect African Union Partners
An U.S. airstrike Thursday morning killed a handful of al-Qaida-linked mili-tants in Somalia who had opened fire on American-back Uganadan troops, a Pentagon spokes-man said. The Ugandan soldiers were attacked by about 15 to 20 al-Shabab militants while conducting a raid on an illegal taxation checkpoint set up by the terrorist organization on a remote road west of Mogadishu, said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman. Nearby American troops called in the “defensive” airstrike that killed five militants and ended the threat to the Ugandans. The Ugandan soldiers were members of AMISOM, or African Mission in Somalia, a team of more than 20,000 troops from about 12 countries charged with expelling al-Shabab from the country. “They came under fire from the al-Shabab militants and we called in an airstrike in their de-fense,” Davis told reporters Thursday at the Pentagon. “This is something we’re doing. We con-tinue to work closely with partner forces to target al-Shabab in Somalia.” Stars and Stripes

US, EU, Canadians Walk Out of Ugandan Inauguration Ceremony
U.S., Canadian and European delegates walked out of the Ugandan presidential inauguration ceremony Thursday in response to the presence of an indicted war crimes suspect and remarks by President Yoweri Museveni disparaging the International Criminal Court. The U.S. State Department said Thursday that the U.S. delegation walked out of the ceremony in Kampala, which was attended by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who has been indicted by the international court in The Hague for genocide and crimes against humanity in Sudan’s war-ravaged Darfur region. State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said the U.S. is “concerned that President Bashir has been able to travel to Uganda.” Uganda is a member of the ICC and is supposed to detain and turn over to the court any indicted suspects on its soil. But in his speech Thursday, Museveni openly voiced his disdain for the court. VOA

Mugabe Steals Show at Museveni State Dinner
Some thought Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe, one of the world’s oldest and longest-serving head of state, was tired and needed to rest and for that reason, had opted to skip a grandiose State dinner ahead of President Museveni’s swearing-in yesterday. Others, particularly those who had no idea about his arrival, thought “Uncle Bob” was not in the country yet. But when all the formalities were done, and as the 16 heads of state and other invited dignitaries were settling to a sumptuous dinner at about 10:30pm, the 92-year-old Zimbabwean leader arrived to the ululation of the guests and a standing ovation from his colleagues. The guests cheered President Mugabe as he stole the show, stretching his right hand to greet President Museveni, the host of the sumptuous dinner at Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort Hotel on Wednesday. Mr Mugabe’s politeness was warm and engaging as he mingled with other African leaders. He looked frail on account of his advanced age, yet strong-willed, shaking hands with Mr Museveni and other presidents before taking a seat at the front dinner tables reserved for special guests. Daily Monitor

Former Coup Leader Elected Comoros President: Provisional Results
Former coup leader Azali Assoumani was elected as president of Comoros, according to provisional results released on Thursday, after last month’s election was partially re-run due to violence and “irregularities”. In the re-run at 13 polling stations, Assoumani beat Vice President Mohamed Ali Soilihi by 2 271 votes to 1 308, the electoral commission said, confirming his narrow victory in April. Two percent of the electorate were able to vote again Wednesday on Anjouan, one of the three main islands of the archipelago nation set off the east coast of Africa. Hundreds of people waited in line during the day as armed security forces stood guard to ensure polling was smooth. Last month, voting on Anjouan was tarnished by broken ballot boxes, interruptions in voting, accusations of ballot stuffing and some incidents of violence. News 24

Guinea-Bissau’s President Vaz Sacks PM, Dissolves Government
Guinea-Bissau’s President Jose Mario Vaz sacked Prime Minister Carlos Correia and dissolved his government on Thursday in a move that threatened to worsen political turmoil that has crippled the tiny West African nation. Correia was appointed prime minister in October – becoming the third person in the post in the span of three months – in an attempt to end a crisis sparked by a row within the ruling PAIGC party. His dismissal by Vaz now threatens to bring renewed instability. “Carlos Correia’s government is incapable of managing the crisis and creating better political and institutional conditions for (the government’s) full function,” Vaz said in an address at the presidency. He called for consultations among the political parties to select a new prime minister. Guinea-Bissau is one of the region’s most chronically unstable nations and has not seen a democratically elected leader serve a full term since independence from Portugal in 1974. The chaos has helped it become a major transit point for cocaine trafficked from South America to Europe. Reuters

Suicide Bomber Kills at Least 6 in Northeastern Nigeria
A suicide bomber who was stopped from entering a government compound killed at least six people, including two police officers, on Thursday in the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack but the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram was suspected. Maiduguri was the birthplace of Boko Haram and has been the scene of numerous attacks by the group’s fighters in the past seven years. In recent weeks, the Nigerian military’s operations against the group had kept fighters out of the city center for the most part and residents had been starting to look ahead to a possible end of the long war with the militants. But the attack Thursday, which also wounded more than a dozen people, shattered the city’s fragile sense of calm. The bomber, who was riding a tricycle taxi, was stopped around noon outside a heavily guarded complex of government offices in the city center, officials said. He then set off his explosives, killing two police officers and at least four other people. The New York Times

Inside the Global Hunt for Nigeria’s Missing oil Billions
With his luxury yacht, Swiss chateau and network of celebrity friends, businessman Kola Aluko is a regular face in the gossip columns of newspapers in his native Nigeria. The boss of a multi-billion oil empire by his early 40s, he plays as hard as he works, socialising with the likes of Naomi Campbell and Leonardo DiCaprio, and renting out his £35m luxury yacht to stars like Beyonce and Jay-Z. Now, though, the man once named by Forbes Africa as one of the continent’s top entrepreneurs is in the spotlight for a different reason, as Nigeria investigates allegations that up to $20bn has gone missing from state oil revenues. A joint inquiry with Britain’s National Crime Agency is examining claims of embezzlement on a huge scale under the rule of President Goodluck Jonathan, with the trail leading all over the world, including Britain. The Telegraph

Nigeria: U.S. Congress Move to Compel Obama to Withhold Abacha Loot for Boko Haram Victims
Lawmakers in the Congress of the United States of America may soon vote on a bill that will allow President Barack Obama and his government to set aside all or part of Abacha loot recovered in the U.S. for victims of the Boko Haram insurgency. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee who represents the 18th District of Texas, is sponsoring a bill, H.R. 528, which will allow the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to use money from the recovered Abacha loot that is in its custody to provide relief for families of the abducted Chibok girls, Premium Times correspondent in Washington reported. Speaking on Wednesday (May 11) at a Congressional subcommittee hearing on the U.S. role in helping Nigeria confront Boko Haram and other threats in Northern Nigeria, Ms. Jackson Lee sought the Committee’s support for H.R. 528. Premium Times

Anti-corruption Summit Launches Global Plan to Recover Stolen Assets
The Global Forum for Asset Recovery will bring together governments and law enforcement agencies to discuss returning assets to Nigeria, Ukraine, Sri Lanka and Tunisia. The meeting will be held in the US next year, co-hosted with the UK, and supported by the UN and the World Bank. David Cameron made the announcement at a global anti-corruption summit in London on Thursday. It was being hailed as the first of its kind, bringing together governments, business and other organisations. BBC

Three Men get Prison Sentences for Failed Gambia Coup, But a Minnesotan Goes Free
Three Gambian-Americans who tried unsuccessfully in 2014 to overthrow Yahya Jammeh, the dictator of the west African nation, were sentenced to prison by a federal judge in St. Paul on Thursday, while a fourth man, Papa Faal, who lives in Brooklyn Park, will not go to prison. Faal, 47, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard Kyle to “time served,” meaning no prison time, plus two years of supervised release. After his arrest last year, Faal spent one month and 17 days in jail and two weeks in a halfway house. Asked about his reaction to the sentence, Faal, 47, said, “It’s really mixed. I wanted jail time. We had a team. If one goes to jail, we all go together … I feel bad for my friends.” All four men had earlier pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the federal Neutrality Act and firearms violations. All four, however, got significantly lower sentences than the U.S. attorney’s office had sought. Prosecutors had asked that Faal receive 51 months. Sudan Tribune

UN Concerned over Regrouping of Ugandan Rebels in DR Congo
“The ADF rebels could be regrouping along the border between Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), as well as in Ituri province where they have previously committed atrocities against the civilian population,” deputy commander of the UN force Jean Baillon said. Xinhua on News Ghana

Activists, Media Taunt Egyptian President
Egyptian activists took to social media on Thursday to support an online campaign demanding the release of four detained members of a satirical street group whose selfie-style video clips mocked the country’s general-turned-president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. The activists posted phone-wielding selfies on Facebook, entitled “does a mobile phone camera rattle you?” and directed at el-Sissi. The campaign comes after police on Monday arrested four members of the group Awlad el-Shawarea, or “Street children.” A fifth member was arrested over the weekend but was later released on bail. The performers are facing several charges, including inciting terror attacks and street protests as well as insulting state institutions. Iol News

Defence Minister Looking Outside National Treasury to Fund the SANDF
South Africa’s shrinking defence budget looks set to shrink even further in the coming few years and this has necessitated Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and her senior command structure to think out of the box to keep the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) operational and viable. Addressing the National Assembly this week, she pointed out it was in South Africa’s national interest to have a defence force capable of supporting national security imperatives, foreign policy objectives and the country’s economic interests. Defence has been allocated R47 billion for the current financial year, an amount the Minister maintains is half of what is needed to train, maintain and effectively deploy airmen, military medics, sailors and soldiers. DefenceWeb

Why More Chinese Companies in Africa Are Choosing to Be Good to Their Neighbors
Chinese companies around the world, particularly in Africa, have a well-earned reputation for being bad corporate citizens. There are countless stories of labor rights violations, disregard of environmental policies and lack of engagement with local communities among many other allegations. While all of these examples highlight a serious problem in China’s overseas corporate governance, they don’t tell the whole story. New research from the International Institute for Environment and Development that surveyed 58 representatives across three African countries revealed that Chinese corporate behavior varies widely depending on the local conditions of where it invests. That is, in those areas where there is weak rule of law, for example, Chinese and other foreign investors tend to behave poorly. However, elsewhere, where there are higher standards, Chinese companies behave significantly better, thus challenging the prevailing negative narrative about Chinese companies’ disregard of corporate social responsibility. The Huffington Post

Connecting Africa
A new generation of Africans are taking development into their own hands through technological connections. Connection to solar energy for electricity. Connection to mobile networks for fresh ways of doing business. Connection to the internet to reach the digital world. Different strategies with one objective: improving the living conditions of Africans. Al Jazeera

Can a UN Summit Fix a Broken Humanitarian System?
The international humanitarian system is stretched beyond capacity. The inability of the international community to confront multiple manmade and natural disasters, like the crisis in Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, ebola in west Africa and the earthquake in Nepal is a profound contributor to insecurity around the world.There are more people displaced around the world than there has been at any time since World War Two; donors are not committing enough money to provide for the basic needs of people affected by sudden crises, and the international community is not doing a sufficient job of preventing the outbreak of conflict, ending current conflicts, or mitigating the effects of natural disasters. UN Dispatch

Kenya’s Anti-Doping Crisis
The world’s anti-doping authority has declared that Kenyan national athletics do not comply with international standards, putting the country’s participation in the Rio Olympics this summer at risk. The legislation WADA cites was approved last month. Facing pressure from WADA to crack down on cheating in sports, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta signed an anti-doping bill that created a national agency that would fine and imprison athletes who are found to be guilty of doping, according to the BBC. The committee’s recommendation must be ratified by WADA’s board, The Guardian reports. The decision to ban Kenya from participating in the summer games is up to the International Olympic Committee. The Atlantic



Photo: Adam Jones