Mass. — OF the millions of young men and women settling into college dorms this month, one of the most unlikely is Abdisamad Adan, a 21-year-old beginning his freshman year at Harvard. Some of his 18 siblings are illiterate and never went even to first grade, and he was raised without electricity or indoor plumbing by an illiterate grandmother in a country that doesn’t officially exist.
Abdisamad Adan, a Somali who has siblings who never attended school, defied the odds to end up at Harvard. Credit Kayana Szymczak for The New York Times Abdisamad Adan, a Somali who has siblings who never attended school, defied the odds to end up at Harvard.
Credit Kayana Szymczak for The New York Times Yet he excelled as he studied by candlelight, and he’s probably the only person in Harvard Yard who knows how to milk a camel.
Abdisamad is the first undergraduate the Harvard admissions office remembers from Somalia or its parts, at least in the last 30 years of institutional memory. He is from Somaliland, a breakaway republic that isn’t recognized by any other country (and so doesn’t have a United States embassy to grant him a visa, but that’s another story). Yet Abdisamad brims with talent and intelligence. He’s a reminder of the fundamental aphorism of our age: Talent is universal, but opportunity is not.
Current students and alumni and a former teacher at the Abaarso School of Science and Technology on graduation day.
Credit The Abaarso School Current students and alumni and a former teacher at the Abaarso School of Science and Technology on graduation day. Credit The Abaarso School Current students and alumni and a former teacher at the Abaarso School of Science and Technology on graduation day. Credit The Abaarso School If not for a fluke, Abdisamad acknowledges, he might have joined friends to become part of the tide of migrants making a precarious journey by sea to Europe. How he came instead to Harvard is a tribute to his hard work and intellect, but also to luck, and to an American hedge fund tycoon who, bored by finance, moved to Somaliland and set up a school for brilliant kids who otherwise wouldn’t have a chance. The financier, Jonathan Starr, had an aunt who married a man from Somaliland, and he was charmed by stories about its deserts and nomads. So in 2008, after running his own hedge fund and burning out, Starr took a trip to Somaliland. His friends thought he was nuts for what happened next: Starr founded an English-language boarding school for the brightest boys and girls from across Somaliland. Called the Abaarso School of Science and Technology, it uses American teachers (paid a pittance) who are willing to work in a country that the State Department recommends avoiding for security reasons.
The school is surrounded by a high wall and has armed guards to foil Shabab rebels, and it has an American sensibility: There is a girls basketball team, which is so unusual in Somaliland that the team members have almost no one to play against. He says his parents divorced before he was born, so his grandmother raised him.
He spent an average of two hours a day fetching water and had no one pushing him at home, but still performed superbly at a local primary school. In national eighth grade exams, he scored second in the entire country. The problem was that while primary school tuition had been $1 a month, a good high school would be at least $40 a month. His grandmother couldn’t afford that, and in any case she didn’t really see why he needed high school. No one in his family had ever graduated from high school. But then Abdisamad was accepted at Abaarso, which is flexible about tuition: If a promising student can’t pay, Starr looks the other way. So Abdisamad began ninth grade at Abaarso, struggling at first because classes were in English, which he didn’t speak. And Abdisamad’s grandmother was displeased that he was spending his time in the classroom rather than helping the family. “She was definitely not happy in the beginning,” Abdisamad remembered. “She asked me, ‘Are you starting to hate us? Are you falling in love with Americans?’ ” He quickly learned English, however, and after three years won a scholarship to study at the Masters School, a college prep school, in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. The year in Dobbs Ferry was an adventure — it took a while for Abdisamad to figure out vending machines — but he thrived and decided to apply to Harvard. His admission to Harvard was treated as a national cause for celebration. Somaliland’s president invited him for a meeting, and Abdisamad became a local hero. His grandmother hadn’t heard of Harvard but came to be proud of her grandson and appreciate that education had its uses. On arrival at HarvardThey were teaching us things that people don’t talk about back at home.
Sexual harassment. Condoms. Consent,” he recalled, and then raised his eyebrows. “It was all very interesting.” Abdisamad plans to return to Somaliland and work with young people, and then perhaps pursue a career in politics; he hints that he’d like to be president some day. What’s indisputable is that access to a good school transformed Abdisamad’s life. Six of his brothers and sisters are getting no education at all, and some of those migrants you’ve been seeing on television drowning in their desperate struggle to get to Europe are from Somaliland.
One reason Somalia and its former parts have struggled for decades is lack of education, particularly for girls: Illiteracy correlates to huge families, to extremism, to violence and civil warfare. World leaders will be gathering this month at the United Nations to review the status of development goals, including one that by now all children would be able to complete primary school, and to approve new ones.
There has indeed been enormous progress in global education, yet even today some 59 million children around the globe aren’t enrolled even in elementary school (and tens of millions more are enrolled but learn nothing). That’s the context in which Starr’s school — and Abdisamad’s success — should offer inspiration.
And it’s not just Abdisamad. The Abaarso School has an astonishing 26 other alumni at U.S. universities, including M.I.T., George Washington University, Grinnell, Oberlin, Holy Cross and Amherst.
There aren’t many high schools in the world with 45 students in a grade that are so successful in getting alumni into top colleges, let alone one where students speak English as a foreign language and often grew up in poverty.
The Abaarso student at M.I.T., Mubarik Mohamoud, a junior studying electrical engineering, grew up as a nomadic herder raising camels, goats and sheep in an area with no schools; he began his education at a madrasa.
“Being smart is universal,” says Mubarik. “It’s just that resources are not dispersed.” source: NewYork Tmes
Shakir Essa served as manager at Somali Journalist Association and PR consultant at Allafrica.com
Ethiopia outlined conditions for possible talks with rebels from the country’s war-hit Tigray region, following days of frantic diplomatic efforts by international envoys to head off another surge in fighting, AFP reports.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Dina Mufti told reporters that one of the conditions for possible talks – which he stressed have not been agreed to – would be for the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) to withdraw from the Amhara and Afar regions bordering Tigray.
Earlier, the United Nations said that at least 70 truck drivers delivering aid to the northern Ethiopian Tigray region had been detained on November 3, 2021, after the government of Prime Minister Ahmed Abiy declared a six-month nationwide state of emergency. Earlier, the organisation said 22 of its Ethiopian national staff were detained by the federal government in Addis Ababa. Six of the UN staffers were later released.
As the crisis in Ethiopia widens, East African mobile network operator Safaricom has announced that it has evacuated some of its employees. The Nation reports that Safaricom, whose consortium aims to start operations in Ethiopia in 2022, got the employees out of the country on November 3rd and 5th, 2021.
A number of nations, including the United States, Denmark and Italy, have asked their citizens in Ethiopia to leave while commercial flights were still available, as Tigrayan rebel forces and their allies advance towards the capital Addis Ababa.In November 2020, forces of the TPLF attacked a federal army base in the region, which led the prime minister to order a military offensive against the rebels, which has left thousands dead.On November 8, 2021 the African Union and United Nations Security Council convened an emergency session under the title ‘update on the situation in Northern Ethiopia’, days after the national defence force called on former army officers to register “to thwart the ongoing assault”. At the session, UN political chief Rosemary DiCarlo said the conflict had reached “disastrous proportions”. The African Union envoy for the Horn of Africa and former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo, warned that “the window of opportunity is closing for a political resolution of the crisis in northern Ethiopia”.
Two people from Democratic Republic of Congo have been arrested in the United States for illegal wildlife trafficking, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Herdade Lokua, 23, and Jospin Mujangi, 31, both of Kinshasa, were arrested last week in Seattle, Washington. They were indicted by a federal grand jury on 11 charges of conspiracy, money laundering, smuggling, and Lacey Act violations for trafficking elephant ivory and white rhinoceros horn.
The Lacey Act is the oldest wildlife trafficking law in the U.S. and prohibits, among other things, falsely labeling shipments containing wildlife.
U.S. officials say the two worked with others to ship about five pounds of rhino horn to Seattle in May. They previously shipped about 49 pounds of ivory to the West Coast city in 2020. They were arrested after returning to Washington state to negotiate the shipment of more than two tons of elephant ivory, a ton of pangolin scales, and a number of intact rhinoceros horns.
Authorities say the ivory was cut into smaller pieces and painted black, and then mixed with ebony wood in order to get the freight through customs. The buyer paid the Congolese defendants US$14,500 for the ivory and $18,000 for the horn. The pangolin deal was never completed with a shipment.
The rhino, elephant and pangolin all are listed as protected species under international CITES treaty.
If convicted, the defendants face a maximum of 20 years’ imprisonment for the smuggling and money laundering charges and five years for the conspiracy and Lacey Act violations.
She is a little-known Somali singer without much of social media presence; fans would be hard pressed to find any information about her online. But Nimco Happy’s catchy song Isii Nafta has conquered the internet this month.The song has been used in more than 98,000 videos on TikTok in the past month and gone similarly viral on Instagram and Twitter, with the likes of the model Bella Hadid and the rapper Cardi B sharing it on their feeds.In the vast majority of clips, people are singing along to the catchy chorus, which switches between Somali, English, Arabic and Swahili. At its heart, Isii Nafta is a love song. The chorus roughly translates as:Ogsoonoo inaan ku jeclahay (Somali for “Know that I love you”)And I love you more than my lifeAna hibak yaa habiibi (Arabic for “I love you”)Nakupenda mimi sana (Swahili for “I love you”)Waa ujeedada caashaqayga (Somali for “You can see my love”)Akafi Ali, a British Somali TikTok star with more than 870,000 followers, saw that the song was being used on the app last month, then in just a few hundred videos, and instantly recognised it. A few years ago his mum would play it all the time.
A video he went on to post of him dancing to the song at a Somali wedding got more than 1m views in a day. Other notable Somali creators also used the sound and soon it was spreading like wildfire.
Nimco Happy music videoNimco Happy singing Isii Nafta. Photograph: Youtube“She’s singing about love. She’s saying, ‘I love you’ in multiple languages to let that person know that she cares deeply about them.
Sometimes communication can be very hard and it’s about overcoming that, because there’s multiple ways of saying ‘I love you’, and that person knowing that ‘I love you’ regardless,” he said.AdvertisementThe 25-year-old started making content on social media while he was in school, often comedy sketches about growing up as a British Somali.
He is overjoyed to see the song go viral. “It makes me so proud. It’s like a room is being created for us, a space is being made for us. I feel like this is what we’ve always been waiting for,” Ali said.
Nimco has yet to release the song herself and profit from its virality.
But that is expected to change soon, with BuzzFeed reporting that the singer will be posting her own link to Spotify and other streaming platforms.
TikTok’s popularity exploded during the pandemic, as it became the world’s most downloaded app in 2020. Its influence is most acutely felt in the music industry, where it has transformed the way fans first hear songs and remixes.
Songs that become viral on the app quickly lead to record number of streams on Spotify and elsewhere. It also affects the charts; the app was credited with helping the single Body by Tion Wayne and Russ Millions become the first drill song to claim the UK No 1 spot.
Ali describes Nimco’s emergence as an important moment for the Somali community. Ali was born in Somalia and moved to the UK as a young child.
He says he was bullied at school for initially only being able to speak Somali. It is wonderful to see so many people now singing happily in the Somali language, he says.“This is a cultural reset.
This is definitely a breakout moment. I would love for her to come to Britain and perform at the Brits awards,” he said. “Oh my God, everybody would get their flags out
(afrika-times.com) In its recently-released annual report, Freedom in the World 2021, the watchdog said Somaliland scored 43 on the 100-point Freedom House Index, while Ethiopia scored 19, Djibouti scored 26, Eritrea scored 2 and Somalia also scored 7 on the 100-point Freedom House index.
US-based independent watchdog Freedom House has asserted it’s latest report that the Somaliland enjoys more freedom than other Horn of Africa’s countries like Ethiopia, Djibouti, Eritrea, and Somalia.
The US was rated 86 on the index, closely followed by India at 75.Germany and France scored higher than the US as Freedom House expressed concern over the state of affairs in America.Interestingly, the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir enjoys more freedom than Pakistan and Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK) contrary to allegations leveled by Imran Khan-led government in Pakistan.
Jammu & Kashmir scored 49 on the 100-point Freedom House Index, while Pakistan scored 39 and PoK a paltry 28. The report also labeled PoK as “not free” in terms of freedom enjoyed by its residents and the functioning of local institutes.While the report termed Pakistan as “partly free”, it labeled India a “free” country alongside the US, several European nations, Japan, Australia, South Africa, and several Latin American countries.“Elections in Somaliland have been relatively free and fair, but years-long delays have meant that elected officials serve well beyond their original mandates.
Journalists face pressure from authorities, and police have employed excessive force and engaged in arbitrary detention. Minor clans are subject to political and economic marginalization, and violence against women remains a serious problem,” the report said, adding that “Somaliland’s political rights rating improved from 5 to 4 due to the holding of a long-delayed presidential election.”On the electoral process, the Freedom House had said in its report in 2018 “The president is directly elected for a maximum of two five-year terms and appoints the cabinet.
The electoral mandate of incumbent president Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud “Sillanyo” of the Peace, Unity, and Development Party (Kulmiye) expired in 2015, but the presidential election due that year was not held until November 2017.
Muse Bihi Abdi, the Kulmiye candidate, won the contest with 55 percent of the vote, followed by Abdurahman Mohamed Abdullahi of the opposition Wadani party with 40 percent and Faisal Ali Warabe of the For Justice and Development (UCID) party with 4 percent.International monitors identified some irregularities in the process—including unstamped ballot papers and underage voting—and there was an outbreak of violence while results were being finalized, with police firing on pro-Wadani protesters amid suspicions of fraud. However, the observers concluded that such problems did not significantly affect the final result, which Wadani ultimately accepted in the public interest.Score Change: The score improved from 0 to 3 because Somaliland held a competitive presidential election, ending a two-year period in which the chief executive lacked an electoral mandate.”Be the first to know – Follow us on Twitter @SaxafiThe Freedom House report with a focus on “democracy in retreat” said in 2018, freedom in the world recorded the 13th consecutive year of decline in global freedom. Domestic attacks on key institutions—the judiciary, the media, and electoral mechanisms—are undermining the foundations of democracy, the report said.It said at the same time, a global assault on the norms of democracy, led by an increasingly assertive China, challenges their spread around the world. Only by strengthening democracy at home and standing together in its defense around the world can democracies protect their values and preserve their ability to expand freedom globally, the report said.
It also said that the internet and other digital technologies have become ubiquitous as a means of accessing information, communicating, and participating in public debates. Consequently, technology and social media companies play an increasingly important role in sustaining—or weakening—democracy.
Somaliland is resisting China’s rapid expansion in Africa through the Belt-and-Road initiative.
After months of pressure, the Somaliland government cut out Beijing and invited Taiwan to open an embassy in the capital, Hargeisa. By Robert C. O’Brien
As America confronts an assertive China across the Indo-Pacific region, it is important to understand the centrality of Africa to this effort. Recognizing a stable and democratic Somaliland in the Horn of Africa as an independent country is a key step in stemming the Chinese Communist Party’s rising tide on the continent, which brackets the western border of the region. Almost unnoticed during the pandemic, Somaliland is resisting China’s rapid expansion in Africa through the Belt-and-Road initiative.
After months of Chinese pressure, the Somaliland government cut out Beijing and invited Taiwan to open an embassy in the capital, Hargeisa. Taiwan now has a scholarship program for Somaliland students to study in Taipei and Taiwanese aid is flowing into the country to assist with energy, agriculture, and human-capital projects. It is often difficult for developing nations, including those in Africa, to resist the economic allure of Chinese loans and investment.
China’s government is pouring money into Africa in a bid to secure energy and raw materials long into the future. Governments often set aside concerns over China’s predatory lending, corruption, human-rights abuses and its high-handed “wolf warrior diplomacy” to provide for their desperate populations.
When a developing nation stands up to China and rejects its tainted aid, the United States should make every effort to help it succeed, particularly in strategically vital geography. Somaliland is one such country and deserves U.S. assistance. Unlike the virtually failed state of Somalia to its south, Somaliland is thriving. It has been peaceful for the thirty years since it declared independence, has a functioning democratic system, manages its own police force, and even issues its own currency and passports.An American-backed independent Somaliland would show other nations that there is an alternative to China’s Belt-and-Road initiative in East Africa. This step could be key as China has marked the area for great power competition by establishing its first overseas military base in neighboring Djibouti.
Somaliland’s location, just south of Djibouti, on a major artery of maritime trade—the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait—is thus of geopolitical significance to the United States and its allies. Somaliland would also be an important partner in the fight against Islamist terrorists in the region.The legal and diplomatic grounds for recognizing Somaliland are strong. In many ways, what we today recognize as modern Somalia is an artificial construct, even by the standards of post-colonial Africa.
During the late-nineteenth century through the mid-twentieth century, Somaliland was controlled by the British, eventually becoming a formal British colony. After its independence from the UK in 1960, thirty-five nations recognized the new Republic of Somaliland.
The country was one of the first fifteen nations on the continent to gain their freedom during that famous “Year of Africa.” As a matter of international law, Somaliland had been and, upon independence, was entirely separate from the Italian colony Somalia Italiana, later Somalia. The two neighboring former colonies were joined together into one nation only after both received their respective independence from different colonial powers. The election that ratified the union creating Somalia was, however, fraught with irregularities.
For example, it was discovered shortly after voting that the documents each newly independent state had voted on were different, thus, making the union technically void. The government in Mogadishu attempted to remedy this problem by announcing a second referendum on an act of union.
But due to significant discrimination against Somaliland, its citizens boycotted the vote. In 1961, a Somali court ruled that the legal mechanisms used to join the two nations were flawed.Over the years, the regime in Mogadishu massively abused human rights in Somaliland.
Somalia’s decades of discrimination, repression, and genocide against Somaliland have been ongoing since the colony’s independence.
Somaliland fought a war against Somalia for its freedom. This decades-long conflict was one of the most brutal wars in post-colonial Africa and included Mogadishu’s genocide against the north’s major clan.
At the conclusion of the conflict, after securing its territory, Somaliland declared its independence anew. If the United States leads on diplomatic recognition, then other nations will certainly follow.
The United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and other states already have offices in Hargeisa, though only Taiwan maintains an embassy.
Even continental power South Africa has flirted with recognition. The time is now for the United States to take the first step—or more accurately, thanks to Taipei, the second step—to bring Somaliland fully into the community of nations. Robert C. O’Brien was the twenty-eighth U.S. National Security Advisor, serving from 2019-2021. He is the Chairman of the Global Taiwan Institute’s U.S.-Taiwan Task Force. Image: Reuters
(afrika-times.com) It started as a largely peaceful religious movement in northern Nigeria. But the violent rhetoric was never inconspicuous. Yet, the government didn’t pay much attention to Boko Haram. Until 2009, when the group’s leader, Mohammed Yusuf, was murdered while in police custody, setting off an inexorable chain of violent events that has threatened the very existence of the Nigerian state. Twelve years later, thousands have died and hundreds of thousands more have been displaced or remain in captivity. Yet, the insurgency is far from over. Here is a timeline of events of Nigeria’s never-ending conflict:
2002: Mohammed Yusuf founds Boko Haram, a group with the aim to ‘purify’ Islam in Northern Nigeria. (Afrika-Times.com)
July 2009: Yusuf is killed in a Boko Haram uprising while in police custody.
7 September 2010: Boko Haram members launch an attack on a federal prison in Bauchi, freeing up to 721 prisoners, including up to 150 affiliated with the group.
16 June 2011: A suicide bomber drives a car bomb into the Nigeria Police Force headquarters in Abuja and kills up to six people.
26 August 2011: A car bomb explodes at a United Nations building in Abuja, killing at least 21 and wounding 60.
25 December 2011: A series of bomb attacks on Christmas Day kills about 40 people and injures many others.
31 December 2011: President Goodluck Jonathan declares a state of emergency in parts of the North-East and orders the borders with Cameroon, Chad and Niger shut.
8 January 2012: President Jonathan says Boko Haram members have infiltrated his government, including the military and police.
20 January 2012: At least 178 people are killed after Boko Haram executed a series of bomb blasts and shooting sprees mostly targeting police stations in Kano.
11 October 2012: Human Rights Watch accuses Nigerian security forces of gross human rights abuses in the fight against Boko Haram.
14 May 2013: President Jonathan extends the state of emergency to cover Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states.
11 August 2013: Boko Haram kills 44 worshipers at a mosque in Konduga, Borno.
November 2013: The United States designates Boko Haram as a terrorist organisation.
26 February 2014: Boko Haram murders at least 59 boys at the Federal Government College in Buni Yadi, Yobe state.
14-15 April 2014: About 276 female students are kidnapped from Government Girls Secondary School at the town of Chibok in Borno State.
May 2014: The United Nations’ Security Council adds Boko Haram to its financial sanctions and arms embargo list.
29 October 2014: Boko Haram seizes the Adamawa town of Mubi, forcing thousands to flee.
January 2015: Boko Haram seizes a Nigerian military base in Baga, a key town in Borno state.
February 2015: Nigeria postpones presidential elections for six weeks as a coalition of military forces including those from Chad, Cameroon and Nigeria begin a campaign against Boko Haram.
March 2015: The Nigerian army recovers Bama from Boko Haram, halting the group’s incursion.
(Afrika-times.com) Just weeks ahead of the planned pullout of American troops, the American flag at the U.S. embassy in Kabul had been taken down and most embassy staff had been relocated to the city’s airport. The chaotic reports emerging from Kabul cap more than two decades of American efforts in the country to root out terrorism and transform the nation into a functioning democratic state.
Thousands of American lives and nearly $830 billion in official spending, those efforts have resulted in failure.
How Afghanistan, a country that has been torn by conflict for decades, arrived at this place is a long and arduous journey.
Explained with maps and graphics Here is a timeline of Afghanistan’s more late 20th century, what led to the U.S. invasion in the first place, through the most recent action there:
April 1979: In the Saur Revolution, or April Coup, the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan assassinates Afghan President Mohammed Daoud Khan.
December 1979: Soviets invaded Afghanistan in order to prop up the government, which faced internal rebellion.
Early 1989: As the Soviet Union disintegrated, the army withdrew, leaving the Afghan forces to take the lead in fighting an American-funded insurgency. US intelligence estimates over 15,000 Soviet troops died in the decade-long war. The Soviets kept advisers with the Afghans and continued financing the military.
1992: The American CIA, which backed Afghan rebel groups, withdrew its aid. The Russians also cut its funding. The pro-Russian government was overthrown, and Afghanistan was plunged into a bloody civil war, setting the stage for the Taliban to assume power four years later.
1994: The Taliban, or “students” in the Pashto language, emerges from Islamist fighters in Pakistan and Afghanistan who fought against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan for over a decade. That conflict ended in 1989.
1996: After a two-year civil war, most of Afghanistan comes under the control of the Taliban, who institute fundamentalist policies and widespread repression of human rights.
Aug 15 (Reuters) – Taliban insurgents began entering Kabul on Sunday after taking control of all of Afghanistan’s major cities apart from the capital.
Following are some of the major milestones in the Islamist militant movement’s advance in recent months. Other deadly attacks occurred, some blamed on the Taliban and some on other jihadist groups including an offshoot of Islamic State.
Talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government on a political understanding that could lead to a peace deal, backed by the United States and its allies, have failed to make significant progress.
– April 14 – President Joe Biden announces U.S. troops will withdraw from Afghanistan starting on May 1 and ending on Sept. 11, bringing America’s longest war to a close. It was an extension of the previous withdrawal deadline of May 1 agreed between the United States and the Taliban.Report ad
– May 4 – Taliban fighters launch a major offensive on Afghan forces in southern Helmand province. They also attack in at least six other provinces.
– May 11 – The Taliban capture Nerkh district just outside the capital Kabul as violence intensifies across the country.
– June 7 – Senior government officials say more than 150 Afghan soldiers are killed in 24 hours as fighting worsens. They add that fighting is raging in 26 of the country’s 34 provinces.
– June 22 – Taliban fighters launch a series of attacks in the north of the country, far from their traditional strongholds in the south. The UN envoy for Afghanistan says they have taken more than 50 of 370 districts.Report ad
– July 2 – American troops quietly pull out of their main military base in Afghanistan – Bagram Air Base, an hour’s drive from Kabul. It effectively ends U.S. involvement in the war.
– July 5 – The Taliban say they could present a written peace proposal to the Afghan government as soon as August.
– July 21 – Taliban insurgents control about a half of the country’s districts, according to the senior U.S. general, underlining the scale and speed of their advance.
– July 25 – The United States vows to continue to support Afghan troops “in the coming weeks” with intensified airstrikes to help them counter Taliban attacks
– July 26 – The United Nations says nearly 2,400 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in May and June in escalating violence, the highest number for those months since records started in 2009.
– Aug. 6 – Zaranj in the south of the country becomes the first provincial capital to fall to the Taliban in years. Many more are to follow in the ensuing days, including the prized city of Kunduz in the north.
– Aug. 13 – Four more provincial capitals fall in a day, including Kandahar, the country’s second city and spiritual home of the Taliban. In the west, another key city, Herat, is overrun and veteran commander Mohammad Ismail Khan, one of the leading fighters against the Taliban, is captured.
– Aug. 14 – The Taliban take the major northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif and, with little resistance, Pul-e-Alam, capital of Logar province just 70 km (40 miles) south of Kabul. The United States sends more troops to help evacuate its civilians from Kabul as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani says he is consulting with local and international partners
– Aug. 15 – The Taliban take the key eastern city of Jalalabad without a fight, effectively surrounding Kabul.
– Aug. 15 – Taliban insurgents enter Kabul, an interior ministry official says, as the United States evacuate diplomats from its embassy by helicopter.
In 2015, ISIS was believed to be holding 3,500 people as slaves, according to a United Nations report. Most of the enslaved were women and children from the Yazidi community, but some were from other ethnic and religious minority communities.
ISIS’s revenue comes from oil production and smuggling, taxes, ransoms from kidnappings, selling stolen artifacts, extortion and controlling crops.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was the leader of ISIS from April 2010 until his death in October 2019. After his death, ISIS announced its new leader would be Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi.
2006 – Under Zarqawi, al Qaeda in Iraq tries to spark a sectarian war against the majority Shia community.
June 7, 2006 – Zarqawi is killed in a US strike. Abu Ayyub al-Masri takes his place as leader of AQI.
October 2006 – Masri announces the creation of Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), and establishes Abu Omar al-Baghdadi as its leader.
April 2010 – Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi becomes leader of ISI after Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Masri are killed in a joint US-Iraqi operation.
April 2013 – ISI declares its absorption of an al Qaeda-backed militant group in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as the al-Nusra Front. Baghdadi says that his group will now be known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS).
January 2014 – ISIS takes control of Falluja.
February 3, 2014 – Al Qaeda renounces ties to ISIS after months of infighting between al-Nusra Front and ISIS.
August 6, 2014 – ISIS fighters attack the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar, home of a religious minority group called the Yazidis. More than 30,000 Yazidi families are stranded in the Sinjar Mountains. A Yazidi lawmaker says that 500 men have been killed, 70 children have died of thirst and women are being sold into slavery.
June 14, 2015 – A British teen, Talha Asmal, is reportedly one of four ISIS suicide bombers who attack the headquarters of a Shia militia group in Iraq, killing at least 11. Before the bombing, ISIS posted photos of Asmal, 17, posing next to their black flag on social media. According to the BBC, Asmal left England in March to join the Islamic fundamentalists.
June 19, 2015 – The US State Department issues its annual terrorism report, declaring that ISIS is becoming a greater threat than al Qaeda. The frequency and savagery of ISIS attacks are alarming, according to the report.
June 24, 2015 – The Syrian government reports that ISIS militants have destroyed two Muslim holy sites in Palmyra. The group attacked a 500-year-old shrine and a tomb where a descendent of the Prophet Mohammed’s cousin was reportedly buried.
June 28, 2016 – At least 44 people die and more than 230 are injured when three attackers arrive at Turkey’s Istanbul Ataturk Airport in a taxi, then open fire before blowing themselves up. US officials believe the man who directed the three attackers is Akhmed Chatayev, a terrorist from Russia’s North Caucasus region and a well-known ISIS lieutenant.
September 16, 2016 – Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook says a US air strike targeted and killed Wael Adel Salman, akaAbu Muhammad al-Furqan, ISIS’s chief spokesman. Salman was the ISIS minister of information, responsible for overseeing the production of “terrorist propaganda videos showing torture and executions,” Cook says.
July 25, 2018 –At least 166 people are killed in a suicide bombing and other attacks in the southern Syrian province of Suwayda, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Syria says. ISIS claims responsibility.
August 23, 2018 – ISIS releases what it says is an audio message from Baghdadi. In the 55-minute recording, a man admits that ISIS groups are losing and urges his followers to carry on with the fight.
December 19, 2018 –US President Donald Trump sets the stage for a rapid withdrawal of American troops from Syria with a tweet falsely claiming that ISIS has been defeated. Although coalition forces have been successful taking back territory that was once part of the ISIS caliphate, militants continue to control a small swath of land near the Euphrates River. Estimates vary as to how many ISIS fighters are left in Syria. A Defense Department inspector general report puts the number of ISIS members in Iraq and Syria as high as 30,000.
January 16, 2019 – A deadly explosion kills four Americans and at least 10 other people in the Syrian city of Manbij. ISIS claims responsibility for the attack.
August 6, 2019 – The Pentagon issues a report saying that ISIS is “re-surging” in Syria, less than five months after Trump declared the terror group’s caliphate there had been 100% defeated. An accompanying message to the report, written by Glenn Fine, the principal deputy inspector general, notes that, “The reduction of US forces has decreased the support available for Syrian partner forces at a time when their forces need more training and equipping to respond to the ISIS resurgence.”
With 155 of 156 constituencies reporting, official results showed Hichilema had garnered 2,810,757 votes against President Edgar Lungu’s tally of 1,814,201.
“I therefore declare the said Hakainde Hichilema to be president-elect of the Republic of Zambia,” electoral commission chairman Justice Esau Chulu said in a televised address.
The 59-year-old veteran opposition politician beat his long-time rival Lungu following a bruising race held against the backdrop of deteriorating standards of living.
This is the sixth time Hichilema, who is 59, has run for the top job and the third time he has challenged 64-year-old incumbent Lungu.
In 2016, Hichilema narrowly lost to Lungu by around 100,000 votes.
Lungu, who has been in office for six years, faced the electorate amid growing resentment about rising living costs and crackdowns on dissent in the southern African country.
Hichilema enjoyed the backing of 10 opposition parties at Thursday’s vote under the banner of his and the largest opposition United Party for National Development (UPND).
Lungu began crying foul before a winner was declared, claiming the election was neither free nor fair due to incidents of violence reported in what are traditionally Hichilema’s stronghold.
In a statement issued through the president’s office, he alleged that his party’s polling agents were attacked and chased from voting stations.
But even as results were still being tallied, street celebrations erupted in parts of the capital Lusaka with several hundred in party regalia waving flags and rallying outside Hichilema’s house, AFP journalists saw. Others danced and honked car horns.
‘Victory in sight’
Hichilema, popularly referred to by his initials ‘HH’ or as Bally (slang for dad), on Sunday called for peace.
“With victory in sight, I’d like to ask for calm from our members and supporters,” he tweeted.
“We voted for change for a better Zambia that’s free from violence and discrimination.”
“Let us be the change we voted for and embrace the spirit of Ubuntu (humanity) to love and live together harmoniously.”
He later tweeted an image of a silhouette of his raised hand superimposed on a background bearing the inscription “change is here”.
Hichilema also tweeted a picture of himself and former president Rupiah Banda at the latter’s residence, saying they had just concluded a meeting.
“We discussed a wide range of issues bordering on the welfare of our people. We remain committed to ensuring a united and prosperous Zambia for all,” he wrote on Twitter.
Parties that backed Hichilema on Sunday scoffed at Lungu’s “unsubstantiated” claims of a marred vote, and urged him to concede.
International election observers have commended the transparent and peaceful organisation of the polls, but condemned the restrictions on freedom of assembly and movement during campaigning.
Security forces blocked Hichilema from campaigning in several areas, including the strategic Copperbelt Province, citing breaches of coronavirus measures and a public order act.
Lungu also deployed the military following pre-election clashes and reinforced the army presence in three provinces after two deaths were reported on election day.
Social media access, restricted in the capital Lusaka just as Hichilema cast his vote, was restored on Saturday following a court order.
Turnout at the polls was estimated at just over 70 percent.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says the Ministry of Health of Cote d’Ivoire has confirmed the country’s first case of Ebola since 1994. The Institut Pasteur in Cote d’Ivoire confirmed the presence of Ebola Virus Disease in samples collected from a patient who was hospitalised in the commercial capital of Abidjan, after arriving from Guinea. The patient had travelled to Cote d’Ivoire by road and arrived in Abidjan on August 12, 2021.
Guinea experienced a four-month long Ebola outbreak, which was declared over on the 19 June 2021. There is no indication that the current case in Cote d’Ivoire is linked to the earlier outbreak in Guinea, WHO says. Further investigation and genomic sequencing will identify the strain and determine if there is a connection between the two outbreaks.
“It is of immense concern that this outbreak has been declared in Abidjan, a metropolis of more than 4 million people,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “However, much of the world’s expertise in tackling Ebola is here on the continent and Cote d’Ivoire can tap into this experience and bring the response to full speed. The country is one of the six that WHO has supported recently to beef up their Ebola readiness and this quick diagnosis shows preparedness is paying off.”
While Cote d’Ivoire borders Guinea and Liberia which were struck hard by the 2014-2016 West Africa Ebola outbreak, the country has had no confirmed cases reported since 1994, when an outbreak among chimpanzees infected a scientist.
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(Afrika-times.com) Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has urged all eligible citizens to join the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) and its allied regional forces and militias to fight against Tigrayan rebels. The appeal from his office follows the government’s unilateral declaration of a cease-fire in June 2021 as its military retreated from Tigray. The national call comes as TPLF fighters continue to advance further deep in neighbouring regions, gaining territorial victories.
Fighting between the national government and the TPLF broke out in November 2020, leaving about 4 million people in the Tigray, Amhara and Afar regions facing emergency or crisis levels of food insecurity, according to the United Nations. Both sides have been accused of atrocities.
Amnesty International has released a new report in which it says women and girls in Tigray were targeted for rape and other sexual violence by fighting forces aligned to the Ethiopian government. The report says members of the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF), the Eritrean Defence Force (EDF), the Amhara Regional Police Special Force (ASF), and Fano, an Amhara militia group were part of a pattern of acts of sexual violence, indicating that sexual violence was widespread and intended to terrorise and humiliate the victims and their ethnic groups.
The Ethiopian foreign ministry has responded in a statement, saying the Amnesty report is based on flawed methodology and relies heavily on interviews conducted in refugee camps in Sudan and remote interviews facilitated by “community workers”. The ministry says Amnesty International “seems bent on engaging in sensationalized attacks and smear campaigns against the Government of Ethiopia,
Nima Elbagir is an award-winning senior international correspondent for CNN based in London. She joined CNN in 2011 as a Johannesburg-based correspondent before moving to the network’s Nairobi bureau and later London.
Elbagir was named the 2020 Royal Television Society ‘Television Journalist of the Year’ and received the prestigious 2019 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award in the Investigative category for her reporting on human rights abuses, with the jurors citing her “fearless reporting across Africa, from a modern day slave market in Libya, to child labor in Congo, and a smuggler’s network in Nigeria, documented rarely seen exploitation and corruption.”
Opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema has been declared the winner of Zambia’s presidential election, defeating incumbent Edgar Lungu, Al Jazeera reports. With 155 of 156 constituencies reporting, official results on Monday (August 16, 2021) showed Hichilema had secured 2,810,757 votes against Lungu’s 1,814,201.Amid fears that Lungu will not recognise the results, the African Union’s election observer mission, led by former president Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, called for peace and calm. “The Mission urges all political leaders and their supporters to not undertake any action that will undermine the peace and stability of the country,” he said.Zambians voted on August 12, 2021 after a tense campaign dominated by economic woes, a debt crisis and the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
(Afrika-times.com) Somalia has rejected pressure for a diplomatic resolution to a longstanding maritime dispute with Kenya, maintaining the matter will be decided by the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Despite a charm offensive by Kenya, Somalia reckons the ICJ must provide the final verdict on the dispute that has been running for close to a decade in which the neighbouring countries both claim ownership of large territories of the Indian Ocean with prospects of vast oil and gas deposits.
Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Minister Raychelle Omamo made a maiden visit to Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, where she held talks with Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble and sought to push the agenda of an out-of-court settlement with a deal brokered by the African Union. However, Somalia stuck to its guns saying that the maritime dispute between both nations will be decided by The Hague-based court whose ruling is eagerly awaited after formal hearings in March this year. Kenya boycotted the hearings after accusing the ICJ of unfairness and unwillingness to delay the proceedings as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Somalia has underscored that an existing maritime dispute between both nations will be decided by The Hague-based International Court of Justice, or ICJ, despite several requests by Kenya to reach a settlement out of court,” said a statement from the prime minister’s office.
The two east African neighbors dispute over 38,000 square miles of territory in the Indian Ocean with prospects of vast oil and gas deposits, a matter Somalia wants the ICJ to arbitrate. The dispute has also led to frosty diplomatic relations over accusations and counter-accusations about interference with domestic affairs, territorial integrity, trade and security.
The statement noted that the two ministers “emphasized the importance of taking concrete measures to show respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence, which are the cornerstone of the relationship between the two countries.”
Somalia filed the case at the ICJ in 2014 on the basis that Kenya was encroaching on its marine territory and has repeatedly rejected calls to withdraw it and allow for a diplomatic resolution to the dispute.
Both countries are claiming ownership to the territory and have gone ahead to invite international companies to explore for gas and oil.
(Afrika-times.com) New York — The United Nations humanitarian chief warned Tuesday that the 1984 famine that killed more than 1 million Ethiopians could occur again if aid access to that country’s northern Tigray region is not quickly improved, scaled up and properly funded.”There is now famine in Tigray,” aid chief Mark Lowcock told a private, informal meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday, according to a copy of his written remarks seen by VOA.He said the Tigray administration has reported deaths from starvation.”The situation is set to get worse in the coming months, not only in Tigray, but in Afar and Amhara, as well.”
Last week, urgent calls went out from the U.N. and partner aid agencies for a humanitarian cease-fire. It came on the heels of a report warning that 350,000 people were already in famine conditions in Tigray and that 2 million more were just a step away.The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, or IPC as it is known, reported that more than 5.5 million people overall were in crisis levels of food insecurity in Tigray and the neighboring zones of Amhara and Afar.The U.N. children’s agency UNICEF has also warned that 33,000 severely malnourished children in currently unreachable areas of Tigray are also at high risk of death.The scope of the problem is massive. Lowcock said there were 123 humanitarian agencies operating in the area and 10 times as many aid workers in Tigray today than at the start of the crisis in November.
“But substantial further scale-up is urgently required if we are to make a significant impact on growing needs,” Lowcock said.The United Nations has appealed for $853 million to assist 5.2 million people until the end of the year, with almost $200 million needed before the end of July.Access to people in remote and hard-to-reach areas has been an ongoing problem since the conflict erupted in November between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and the government of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
Ethiopia’s U.N. ambassador, Taye Atske Selassie Amde, said the situation did not warrant security council attention. He added that his government “vehemently disagreed” with the humanitarian assessment, saying data was collected in a “very botched” way.”Having said that, using humanitarian issues, particularly famine and starvation, in order to exert undue pressure on Ethiopia is completely unacceptable,” he told reporters after the meeting.
It’s not a drought or locusts that are causing this hunger, but the decisions of those in power,” British Ambassador Barbara Woodward said. “That means those in power could also end the suffering.”She added that Eritrean forces need to leave Ethiopia.”We were told in March that Eritrean forces would be withdrawing. It’s now June. There can be no further delay,” she told reporters.The Ethiopian envoy said the delay was due to “sorting some technical and procedural issues.””Our expectation is that they will definitely leave soon,” he said.U.S. envoy Jeffrey DeLaurentis told council members that “we have to act now” to prevent a famine, according to a diplomat familiar with the council’s discussion.DeLaurentis also called for an urgent end to hostilities, unhindered aid access and a political dialogue to resolve the crisis, as well as accountability for those responsible for human rights abuses.The U.N. Security Council has held a handful of private meetings on the growing crisis but has failed to take any serious action to pressure the parties to stop the fighting, allow aid workers safely in and get Eritrea’s troops to leave.In April, the council issued a statement calling for better humanitarian access, but it has taken no action to pressure spoilers to comply. Afrika-times.com