Category Archives: North Africa

Sudan – SPLM-N may accept US humanitarian plan

Sudan Tribune


SPLM-N leader Malik Agar (2R) attends a graduation ceremony for SPLA-N fighters in Blue Nile State on 29 January 2017 - (ST photo)
February 6, 2017 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) leader Malik Agar reiterated their readiness to discuss the U.S. proposal to deliver humanitarian assistance to civilians in the rebel-controlled areas in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, stressing what they refuse is the control of the whole operation by the government.

in a bid to break the deadlock in the peace talks between the Sudanese government and SPLM-N, the former U.S. Special Envoy Donald Booth last November proposed that the USAID will deliver medical humanitarian aid to civilian in the rebel held areas by air directly after its inspection from the government.

The SPLM-N declined the proposal insisting on the need to transport 20% of the humanitarian aid directly from Ethiopian border town of Asosa to the rebel areas.

In an audio statement obtained by Sudan Tribune, Agar who was speaking last Saturday in the SPLM-Controlled areas in the Blue Nile said the SPLM-N didn’t reject the “Sudanese American proposal”, as he said.

The proposal provides that the USAID will deliver specific humanitarian assistance through an internal corridor to the United Nations workers in the SPLM areas, explained Agar in remarks delivered at a promotion ceremony for SPLA Second Division officers on Saturday.

“This gives the Sudanese government the upper hand in the (humanitarian) operation, and we should keep in mind the experience of UNAMID in Darfur,” he added.

The SPLM-N rejected the Sudanese government control of the humanitarian operation but didn’t decline the U.S. proposal or the proposal of the African Union mediation which provides to deliver the aid across Asosa town on the Ethiopian Sudanese border, he said.

The SPLM-N sticks to the direct delivery of 20% of humanitarian assistance through Ethiopia, pointing that the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) supports this idea.

Sources close to the file disclosed that the SPLM-N in its response to the U.S. proposal underscored that the safe humanitarian corridor through Asosa would enable the SPLM-N to transport its sick or wounded fighters for treatment from the land-locked controlled areas. Also this corridor enable the rebel leadership and delegates to reach the venue of peace talks and return to their bases for consultations, they said.

Sudanese government rejected Asosa corridor, saying it’s a violation of the state’s sovereignty and also allows the rebel to bring arms and ammunition from outside.

However, Agar called to not exclude Asosa corridor from the negotiating table stressing that there are “two proposals on the table, that one of the AUHIP and “the U.S. proposal with the proposed amendments’’.

“And we are ready to discuss the two proposals,” he said.

Recently it was reported that the AUHIP mediators filed new proposals for the negotiating parties, and it is expected to convene a meeting between the armed groups and a Sudanese committee tasked with the implementation of the national dialogue outcome.

But Agar denied being invited to resume talks with the government. Also, he said they are not concerned by the outcome of the government-led dialogue process but they call for an inclusive and comprehensive dialogue, and a preparatory meeting to discuss the creation of a conducive environment before this constitutional process, in line with the African Union Roadmap Agreement

He further said they expect that an invitation be extended by the AUHIP for a consolations-meeting.

He said the SPLM-N is ready for peace and war alike.

“The regime challenged us in the past and can challenge us again but we are ready to take up the challenge until the Sudanese get their full rights. We will not accept half-solutions and will not postpone the war for future generations,” he added.

(ST)

South Sudan rebels accuse Egypt of bombing raid

Reuters

By Denis Dumo | JUBA

South Sudan rebels accused Egypt on Saturday of carrying out bombing raids against their positions, drawing an immediate denial from Cairo, and warned of the risk of a regional war.
It was the first time either side had alleged Egyptian involvement in South Sudan’s festering conflict, which pits President Salva Kiir’s military against forces loyal to his former vice president, Riek Machar.
The Egyptian air force on Friday dropped “more than nine bombs and explosions on the gallant SPLA-IO positions” near the northern village of Kaka, a rebel statement said, using an acronym for the rebel force.
Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid denied the alleged air strikes, saying: “Egypt does not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.”
South Sudan presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny also denied Egypt had conducted any bombings in the country, describing the allegations as “nonsense.”
“Those small packets of rebels are … operating inside our population and we cannot bomb our own population,” he said.
War erupted in South Sudan in December 2013 after a political disagreement between Kiir and Machar exploded into military confrontation.
Under a peace deal, Machar returned to the capital Juba as vice president early last year. But tensions escalated between the two men, who hail from rival tribes, and fighting broke out again in Juba in July.
Intermittent clashes continue in several parts of the country. The conflict has often taken an ethnic hue, fuelling fears the world’s youngest nation could be plunged into a genocide on the scale of Rwanda’s in 1994.
In the statement, the rebels accused Kiir’s government of seeking to escalate the war. They said they repelled attacks by government forces in several places this week, including at three locations in Unity State, leaving “so many dead bodies”.
The statement said the rebels had captured nine soldiers after firefights, and destroyed four military vehicles.

“Egyptian participation in the ongoing war in South Sudan are clear indications to the people of South Sudan…that the Juba regime is provoking the region and tilting South Sudan for a regional war,” the statement said.
(Reporting by Denis Dumo in Juba; Aaron Maasho in Addis Ababa and Lin Noueihed in Cairo; writing by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

African Union backs mass withdrawal from international court – despite opposition from Nigeria and Senegal

Impunity rules – is the African Unionh turning back into the bad old days of the OAU, when it was a trades union for autocrats and dictators? KS

BBC

ICC in Ivory Coast in 2013GETTY IMAGES Africa has 34 signatories to the Rome Statute, the treaty that set up the court

The African Union has called for the mass withdrawal of member states from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

However, the resolution is non-binding, with Nigeria and Senegal opposing a withdrawal.

South Africa and Burundi have already decided to withdraw, accusing the ICC of undermining their sovereignty and unfairly targeting Africans.

The ICC denies the allegation, insisting it is pursuing justice for victims of war crimes in Africa.

The AU took the decision on Tuesday following a divisive debate at its annual heads of state of summit in Addis Ababa.

Part of the resolution also said the AU would hold talks with the UN Security Council to push for the ICC to be reformed.


Analysis by Emmanuel Igunza

After being discussed in several previous summits, this was a huge announcement showing how frustrated the AU was with the international court. But the debate itself showed how divisive the whole issue is.

The resolution isn’t as strong as many who are opposed to the court would have liked. It only calls on countries to consider how to implement the decision but does not bind them to it. It’s a victory for human rights activists who insist the court still has a very important role to play in the continent where many countries have weak judicial systems.

The resolution also calls for African countries to continue pushing for reforms of the court – another clear indication that ditching the court en masse isn’t such a popular decision. The likes of South Africa and Kenya, which have pushed for withdrawing, will be disappointed that the discussions about completely severing ties with the ICC will have to wait another six months for the next summit.


Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the court on charges of genocide in Darfur, was at the summit.

In 2015, a South African court criticised President Jacob Zuma’s government for failing to arrest Mr Bashir when he attended an AU meeting in the main city, Johannesburg.

The government later announced that it was withdrawing from the ICC because it did not want to execute arrest warrants which would lead to “regime change”.

A total of 34 African states are signatories to the Rome Statute, which set up the ICC.


The ICC and global justice:

  • Came into force in 2002
  • The Rome Statute that set it up has been ratified by 123 countries, but the US is a notable absence
  • It aims to prosecute and bring to justice those responsible for the worst crimes – genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes
  • Only Africans prosecuted so far

Why the favourites lose race to become African Union head

Al Jazeera

How did Kenya’s Amina and Senegal’s Bathily lose the election for African Union Commission chairperson?

31 Jan 2017 12:04 GMT

In the last round of voting, Chad's Moussa Faki Mahamat beat Kenya's top diplomat Amina Mohamed to secure the post as head of the commission of the AU [AP]
In the last round of voting, Chad’s Moussa Faki Mahamat beat Kenya’s top diplomat Amina Mohamed to secure the post as head of the commission of the AU [AP]

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – It is the morning after the night before and the cold chill of the night have lifted.

At the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa it’s postmortem time and everyone is asking one question: How did the favourites – Amina Mohamed of Kenya and Abdoulaye Bathily of Senegal – lose?

Their people had walked around the summit halls and hotel lobbies with a swagger – chests puffed, chins up and smiles from ear to ear.

Team Kenya put the champagne on ice and the invites to the celebration party at one of the five star hotels were extended to friends and allies. But this was before the heads of state voted.

Kenya ran the best PR at the summit. President Kenyatta was one of the first heads of state to land and lobby in Ethiopia. It looked like a done deal. Or so the press corp gathered at the summit were made to believe.


WATCH: Kenya’s Amina Mohamed talks to Al Jazeera’s UpFront


In the end, Kenya was beaten to the AU’s top seat by a candidate from one of the less glamorous countries on the continent, and the defeat left egos pricked and confidence crushed.

But why did Kenya’s top diplomat lose the closely-fought contest? Many theories, some true and others not so true, have been put forward.

Contrary to some rumours flying around the corridors of the summit building, Amina did not lose because some leaders preferred a male chairperson, a senior AU official who was present when the leaders cast their ballot told Al Jazeera.

“Gender did not play a part. Many leaders were in favour of having a female leader at the top because the AU chairperson and deputy AU commissioner are both male”,  the senior official, who did not want to be named, said. “Amina winning would have brought some balance to the AU top table.”

One more likely reason, officials said, was that Kenya did not make its stand on the disputed territory of Western Sahara clear.

When lobbying the pro-Morocco camp Kenya, sources told us, said it was in favour of Morocco’s readmission to the AU. But when Kenyan officials met the pro-Polisario camp they said they were not.

This got Amina some votes but backfired in other cases, a diplomat from a neighbouring country told Al Jazeera.

READ MORE: Leaders gather to elect AU chair, re-examine key issues

The Kenyan candidate has also been a fierce critic of the International Criminal Court and this did not sit well with the countries who are in favour of the Hague-based court, which has been often accused of a bias against African nations.

Amina, who is not a career politician unlike her opponents, is a first term foreign minister and lacks the weight and experience of dealing with major security matters, some analysts said.

The winner, Moussa Faki, is a former Chadian prime minister and is currently the foreign affairs minister in his country at a time when N’Djamena is leading the regional fight against the armed group Boko Haram.

Amina’s opponents hammered this point home when seeking the backing of undecided leaders.

Faki also had the advantage of previously holding a senior position at the AU. The Chadian was a former chair of AU’s Economic, Social and Cultural Council and knew better than any other candidate how to sell himself.

Idris Deby, the President of Chad and Faki’s boss, was until yesterday the chairperson of the continental body and this also could have only helped.

READ MORE: Chad’s Moussa Faki Mahamat named AU Commission chair

Some heads of state saw Amina as too close to President Kenyatta and questioned whether she could be truly neutral. Would she be able to stand up to Uhuru if elected, many asked?

In Bathily’s case, many saw him as France’s man and, discomfited with that, took their votes elsewhere.

Here in Addis Ababa, Senegal is also seen as the main supporter of Morocco’s now successful bid to rejoin the AU. So pro-Polisario votes went to other candidates despite the tough-talking academic being a long-term Polisario supporter.

The other candidates – Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, a veteran minister from Botswana and Mba Mokuy from Equatorial Guinea – were never favoured.

Many heads of state, it seems, saw Faki as a safe pair of hands at a time when the organisation is going through major reforms. His performance will be watched closely by those he beat to the job.

Follow Hamza Mohamed on Twitter: @Hamza_Africa

Source: Al Jazeera News

Sudan extends ceasefire with rebels for six months

Sudan Tribune

Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir speaks, during a meeting of the NCP Shura Council in Khartoum on October 21, 2016 (ST Photo)
January 15, 2017 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese Council of Ministers on Sunday has decided to extend the unilateral cessation of hostilities in war zones for six months.

The Sudanese army has been fighting the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) rebels in Blue Nile and South Kordofan, also known as “Two Areas” since 2011 and a group of armed movements in Darfur since 2003.

In June 2016, President Omer al-Bashir declared a unilateral four-month cessation of hostilities. In December, he extended the ceasefire for one month following a two-month extension declared in October.

According to the official news agency SUNA, the Sudanese cabinet held an extraordinary session on Sunday headed by al-Bashir and decided to extend the ceasefire for six months.

The government decision appears to be part of a roadmap agreement between Khartoum and Washington that prompted the latter to ease the economic sanctions imposed on Sudan since 1997.

On Friday, the outgoing US President Barack Obama signed an executive order to ease sanctions against Sudan enabling trade and investment transactions to resume with the east African nation.

He said the move intends to acknowledge Sudan’s efforts to reduce internal conflicts, improve humanitarian access to people in need and curtail terrorism.

It is noteworthy that the SPLM-N, the Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM), and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) in October extended for six months the unilateral cessation of hostilities in Darfur, Blue Nile and south Kordofan they declared in October 2015 and April of this year.

Following six days of talks in Addis Ababa last August, the armed movements and the government failed to conclude a deal on the security arrangements and humanitarian access in Darfur and the Two Areas prompting the African Union mediation to suspend the talks indefinitely.

(ST)

Mapping Africa’s Natural Resources

Al Jazeera

Mapping Africa’s natural resources

An overview of the continent’s main natural resources.

28 Oct 2016 07:34 GMT |

Africa remains a key territory on the global map. Rich in oil and natural resources, the continent holds a strategic position.

It is the world’s fastest-growing region for foreign direct investment, and it has approximately 30 percent of the earth’s remaining mineral resources.

It’s home to more than 40 different nations, and around 2,000 languages. Sub-Saharan Africa has six of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies. North Africa counts with vast oil and natural gas deposits; the Sahara holds the most strategic nuclear ore; and resources such as coltan, gold, and copper, among many others, are abundant on the continent.

The region is full of promise and untapped riches – from oil and minerals and land to vast amounts of people capital – yet, it has struggled since colonial times to truly realise its potential.

For more: Shadow War in the Sahara

Correction, 24/10/2016: An earlier version of this graphic used a basemap which did not accurately show disputed Western Sahara. The map has been corrected.

Source: Al Jazeera

Africa – France and US in shadow war in Mali and the Sahel

Al Jazeera

‘War on terror’ or competition for natural resources? A look at the US and French military presence in Africa.

  • Africa is the world’s fastest-growing region for foreign direct investment
  • Nearly $2tn of investments in African oil and gas are expected in the next two decades
  • The continent’s population will more than double to 2.3 billion people by 2050
  • Africa has approximately 30 percent of the earth’s remaining mineral resources
Sources: Al Jazeera, CIA Factbook

Africa remains a key territory on the global chessboard of the 21st century. Rich in oil and natural resources, the continent holds a strategic position.

Sub-Saharan Africa is home to six of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies. North Africa counts with vast oil and natural gas deposits, the Sahara holds the most strategic nuclear ore, and resources like coltan, gold, copper among many others are abundant in the continent.

Whoever controls Mali, controls West Africa, if not the whole of Africa.

Doulaye Konate, Association of African Historians

But despite its position and resources, conflict and chaos have spread throughout the continent. At the heart of this turmoil is a strategic territory: the Sahel.

The region that straddles the Sahara to the north and the savannas in the south has become an important new front in the so-called war against terrorism.

But is the official narrative, the fight against terrorism, masking a larger battle? Have the resource wars of the 21st century already begun?

“What we are currently experiencing can be described as ‘a new scramble for Africa’,” says Jean Batou, Professor of History at Lausanne University.

‘Whoever controls Mali, controls West Africa’

At the centre of the troubled region of the Sahel is the nation of Mali, which is among the world’s poorest. Unemployment is rampant and most people survive hand to mouth.

Yet, back in the 13th century, the Mali empire extended over much of West Africa and was extraordinarily wealthy and powerful. Ivory and gold made it a major crossroad for global trade of the time. But inevitably, these resources lead to conquests.

“We are the transition between North Africa and Africa that reaches the ocean and the forests. This gives us an important strategic position: whoever controls Mali, controls West Africa – if not the whole of Africa… That’s why this region became so coveted,” says Doulaye Konate from the Association of African Historians.

The imperial European powers unveiled their plans to colonise Mali and the rest of Africa at the Berlin Conference in 1885. Britain, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Germany, Italy and France, each got their share.

“The arrival of colonisation tore us apart. It felt like a cut, almost like a surgical operation,” Konate says.

The French colonial empire extended over much of western and northern Africa, but in the late 1950s the winds of freedom started blowing across Africa, and France was to lose all its colonies.

However, the euphoria of independence was short. France retained troops, bases and political influence over its former colonies: the policy of “France-Afrique” was born.

“France was Africa’s watchdog, defending the West in the region,” says Antoine Glazer, author of France-Afrique.

Colonisation of Algeria: the French landing in Algeria in a coastal town of Sidi Ferruch in 1830. [Liebig series: L’origine de diverses colonies/The origin of various colonies, 1922, No 1). (Photo by Culture Club/Getty Images]

The US and the threat of ‘terrorism’

In the 1960s, the discovery of huge oil reserves in the Gulf of Guinea attracted a new player: the United States.

The US made military as well as economic investments on the African continent and Africa became a battleground in the Cold War.

In 1992, the US launched a so-called humanitarian intervention in the strategic Horn of Africa. The US sent 28,000 soldiers to Somalia to help put an end to a civil war. The operation ended in disaster two years later after American soldiers were captured and killed, images of their mutilated bodies broadcast around the world. They decided to withdraw.

In 2001, the attack on the World Trade Center reconfigured the geo-politics of the world. The United States launched a war in Afghanistan – a war that would soon spread far beyond.

A few months after September 11, the US military returned to the Horn of Africa with plans to stay. They established their first military base in Djibouti.

“The Sahel played a key role in looking at the movement of weapons, the movement of potential foreign fighters, and organised crime…,” says Rudolph Atallah, the former Director of Africa Counter-Terrorism, US Department of Defense.

American President George Bush visits US soldiers in Somalia [Larry Downing/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images]

The US Africa Command (AFRICOM)

The United States is the only country to have divided the world into separate military sectors to monitor and patrol, NORTHCOM, PACOM, SOUTHCOM, EUCOM, CENTCOM and now AFRICOM.

Under the stated goals of fighting terrorism and providing humanitarian assistance, AFRICOM implanted itself on the continent, conducting military exercises with a growing number of African countries.

RELATED: The consequences of the US war on terrorism in Africa

The establishment of AFRICOM was key for the consolidation of US interests in Africa.

The Americans sought to establish the headquarters of AFRICOM as well as a headquarter for the CIA in Mali. The problem was that the Africans had a common position of refusing the establishment of new military bases.

This opposition forced the US to set up the command of AFRICOM thousands of miles away, in Stuttgart, Germany.

Muammar Gaddafi: The ‘mad dog of the Middle East’

Nelson Mandela’s view was almost identical to Gaddafi’s that there would be no African forces commanded by foreign military officials, and there would be no foreign militaries occupying any part of Africa or operating within Africa.

Maximilian Forte, author

African resistance to AFRICOM was spearheaded by Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader.

President Ronald Reagan had labelled him the ‘mad dog of the Middle East’ and had tried to assassinate him in 1986 by bombing his palace.

The Libyan leader’s independence and influence flowed from the vast petroleum reserves, the largest in Africa, which he had nationalised when he took power.

Gaddafi wanted to demonstrate that Africa could develop without depending on the western banking system or the International Monetary Fund.

“From the beginning of his political career as a leader, Muammar Gaddafi was opposed to a foreign military presence in Africa. One of the first things he did after coming to power in 1969 was to expel the British and US military bases in Libya itself,” Maximilian Forte, the author of Nato’s war on Lybia and Africa, explains.

But in March 2011, as the Arab’s Spring spread through North Africa, France and the United States decided to act. This was AFRICOM’S first war and its commander in chief was the first African-­American president.

RELATED: Orphans of the Sahara

The fall of Gaddafi produced a shockwave that would be felt far beyond Libya.

“Unfortunately there was not a very good handle on the 40,000 plus weapons that Gaddafi had, so quickly, over 35,000 disappeared,” Atallah says.

Some of the weapons fell into the hands of the Libyan rebels. Others, including anti-­tank and anti-­aircraft missiles, fell into the hands of Tuareg fighters who fought alongside Gaddafi.

The heavily armed Tuaregs formed a new fighting force, the MNLA, and launched an offensive against the government in Bamako in January 2012.

Tuareg and other rebel forces invaded the major cities of northern Mali. Despite years of training and millions spent, the West’s greatest fear became a reality: a so-called Islamic state was established in northern Mali.

“Nobody believed that a few hundred ‘Jihadist fighters” would take over [Bamako] a city of three million people where they had no significant presence,” says Batou.

But soon the French armed forces lent their support to the Malian units. The rebel advance was stopped and in just two weeks, the French regained the north. The French army claimed to have killed hundreds of so-called terrorists. The former colonial power had become the savior of the country.

Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi, right, and South African President Nelson Mandela salute the crowd as they arrive at the congress centre in Zuwarah, Libya [AP Photo/Enric Marti]

‘The El Dorado of the Sahel’

Despite the chaos, wars and revolutions, the interest of Europeans, Americans and the Chinese, remains high in what may be the largest untapped oil reserves on the continent, “the El Dorado of the Sahel”, which extends from Mauritania to Algeria across north Mali.

The interest of major US energy companies in Africa has not decreased. The needs of Asia and Europe will not stop growing. Nearly $2tn of investments in African oil and gas are expected in the next two decades.

“We all know oil resources are becoming increasingly rare. The last major reserves of oil in Africa will become increasingly important. Pre-positioning oneself with a view to exploiting these resources is vital,” says Batou.

RELATED: The new scramble for Africa

In May 2014, US President Barack Obama announced that he would allocate an additional $5bn to the fight against global terrorism.

An increasing number of African governments have signed on to the AFRICOM programme, like in Niger, where the US military brought together African forces composed of 1,000 soldiers from 17 countries for military exercises.

The US have also established drone bases in Djibouti, Niger, Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Burkina Faso and the Seychelles, and sent troops to Liberia during the Ebola crisis in 2014.

Not to be outdone, France also announced plans to increase its presence in the Sahel with a redeployment of 3,000 troops.

The increasing militarisation of Africa is a new profit centre, coveted by the military-industrial complex with millions of dollars of contracts for arms manufacturers and private contractors.

More than 130 years after the Berlin Conference, a new division of the African continent is underway as new powers seek to ensure oil supplies, strategic minerals, arable land and even the water under the desert sands.

“In reality, the big issues are not being addressed. It is as though the West lives off wars, as though wars need to be created, for them to justify their power,” says Imam Mahmoud Dicko, president of the Islamic High Council of Mali.

Source: Al Jazeera