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Shakir essa is digital media publisher and PR consultant who is currently consulting at Media allAfrica news, as a radio producer, media relations trainer and digital journalism trainer. He also works as a volunteer youth mentor and freelance …

A Huge Fire broke out in the Hargeisa market, Somaliland, The Hargeysa Somaliland market .

The fire reportedly caused severe damage of millions of dollars in Hargeysa Somaliland and destroyed the 5km market.

A fire in the Hargeisa market, Somaliland, The biggest Somaliland Market. (Waaheen)
The fire reportedly caused severe damage of millions of dollars in Hargeysa Somaliland and destroyed the 5km market.

A Huge Fire in the Hargeisa market, Somaliland, The Hargeysa somaliland market damaged almost nearly 3000 businesses and caused by the fire that broke out at around 8 pm last night in Waheen market in the center of Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland.

A fire in the Hargeisa market, Somalialand, the Somaliland market .

Efforts are also underway to extinguish the blaze, which has now been largely extinguished.

Hargeisa Mayor Abdikarin Ahmed Mooge, speaking in front of the damages, announced that his town’s property had been destroyed.

50 casualties been reported so far, 2 people killed and 50 have been wounded

Basho Bushaaro, a market trader, told reporters that he had burned down 10 businesses in the market and lost $ 400,000.

Somaliland, officially the Republic of Somaliland, is a de facto state in the Horn of Africa, considered internationally to be part of Somalia. Somaliland lies in the Horn of Africa, on the southern coast of the Gulf of Aden

“I live in Waheen Bacdlaha market in Hargeisa. I have lived there for 20 years and 10 businesses have burned down. My business was decorating houses and everything has burned down,” said businessman Basho Bushaaro.

Hargeisa is the capital and largest city of Somaliland. HARGEYSA 2.1 million people residents and located in the eastern border of Ethiopia Horn of Africa. It succeeded Berbera as the capital of the British Somaliland Protectorate in 1941

He added: “Your nation is destitute in the market. The situation of the nation tonight is terrible.

Somaliland officials said the fire could not be contained immediately due to a lack of access to the site, which led to the blaze engulfing the market and causing the situation to deteriorate.

However, the cause of the fire is not known, although reports say that the fire first started in a house in the market which later spread all over Waheen market.

Hargeisa is the capital and largest city of Somaliland. HARGEYSA 2.1 million people residents and located in the eastern border of Ethiopia Horn of Africa. It succeeded Berbera as the capital of the British Somaliland Protectorate in 1941

Reporter by Shakir Essa

Russia, China Drive Africa’s Plan for Nuclear Expansion

The warheads were originally configured to be delivered from one of several aircraft types then in service with the South African Air Force (SAAF),

Russia and China Drive Africa’s Plan for Nuclear ExpansionOfficials in South Africa and across the African continent continue to explore new nuclear power generation projects, and the region provides an opportunity for other countries to export their advanced nuclear technologies.

The Koeberg Nuclear Power Station

South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources and Energy in May said it wants a plan to procure as much as 2.5 GW of nuclear generation capacity within the next five years.

South Africa today has just two commercial reactors, both at the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station north of Cape Town.1.

The Koeberg Nuclear Power Station, which was commissioned in 1984 and is operated by South Africa state-owned utility Eskom, features two pressurized water reactors, each with 970 MW of generation capacity.

Koeberg (Figure 1) is the only nuclear power plant currently in commercial operation on the entire African continent, although the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recently said nearly a dozen other African nations have talked with the IAEA about formulating plans for nuclear power.

Bomb casings at South Africa’s abandoned Circle nuclear bomb production facility near Pretoria. These most likely would have accommodated a gun-type nuclear package for air delivery

The World Nuclear Association said at least seven sub-Saharan African states have signed agreements to deploy nuclear power with backing from Russia.

Rosatom, the state-owned Russian nuclear company, is “currently working with more than 15 sub-Saharan African countries, including Ghana, Zambia, Kenya, South Africa, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania and others; as well as with the following North African countries: Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco,” according to Ryan Collyer, acting CEO of Rosatom Central and Southern Africa, who corresponded with POWER.

Jacob Shapiro, the founder and chief strategist for Austin, Texas-based Perch Perspectives, told POWER that South Africa “will need outside investment” to support an expanded nuclear program, which is likely the case for any African nation. “Investment will come from the same suspects that bid on nuclear projects in South Africa before: Russia, China, France, South Korea, and possibly the United States.

Japan may throw its hat into the ring as well, but they have struggled to be competitive in more reliable markets than South Africa, like the UK and Turkey.”Shapiro continued: “It is hard for me to imagine Russia gaining much traction after [South African President Cyril] Ramaphosa scrapped the previous deal with Rosatom in 2019. That said, domestic politics can change quickly in South Africa and maybe it will be most interested in not getting caught between the U.S. and China, making Russia, South Korea or France better alternatives.

This still ultimately comes down to whichever government thinks South Africa is most important to its strategic interests, and that’s clearly China.”Russia, for its part, said it has a “wide range of technologies to offer” African nations exploring nuclear power.

Collyer told POWER those technologies range “from ‘large’ light water reactors [pressurized water reactors or PWRs] with capacity over 1 GW to small modular reactors [SMRs]. We were first to deploy commercial fast neutron reactors and are likely to be first to deploy high temperature gas-cooled reactors.

For each country we come up with a solution tailored to the features of the regional electricity market, including the readiness of the distribution grid.”The Nuclear Industry Association of South Africa (NIASA) has said there are at least six potential options for financing new nuclear power plants in the country, with Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe telling a parliamentary committee in mid-May he is open to considering innovative funding options in order to develop new nuclear capacity.

Support for new nuclear power plants in South Africa dimmed after the ruling party forced Jacob Zuma to resign as president in 2018, and officials had said the country could not afford to build additional plants. It also had been thought the economic issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic would inhibit government-financed energy projects.However, Mantashe told the country’s lawmakers, “The nuclear build plan will go ahead and we will explore all options.” He said a contract could be awarded to “develop a modular nuclear station on a build, operate, and transfer basis, and that means there will be no immediate call for funding from the state.”Mantashe’s group, in a presentation to a parliamentary committee about its plans for the next five years, said, “The development of the roadmap for the 2,500-MW nuclear new-build program will be commencing soon.” Shapiro told POWER the most likely investor for that development is China. “China is South Africa’s most important trading partner, an important source of investment, and has been making inroads there for a while,” he said. “However, unlike the last time South Africa sought bids in 2016, the U.S. now views China as a strategic threat and I could see the U.S. government getting involved to push either an America alternative or an ‘anyone but China’ alternative. Think of what the U.S. is doing with Huawei—a similar tactic is possible, especially if President Trump wins again.”Though China may have an edge in trade with South Africa,

Russia is actively pursuing export of its nuclear technology across the continent, as it is doing around the globe. Rosatom has secured more than 30 reactor supply deals in recent years, and in 2019 the company said it had international projects worth $202.4 billion in its portfolio. The company also said it has 36 reactor construction projects outside of Russia at various implementation stages, and already has working agreements with Rwanda, Uganda, the Republic of Congo, and Ethiopia. “As for South Africa, we have great respect for the path taken by the country in the development of the nuclear industry.

We are open to cooperation on the widest range, subject to a request from our South African colleagues,” said Collyer. “Despite the shortcomings of the grid infrastructure in Africa, the latest generation of tried and tested ‘large’ PWRs, which are already being built in series across the globe, are still the clear winners in most regions, this in terms of the cost of electricity compared to any other technology.

In Africa, we are able to offer our latest generation PWR-type reactors—the VVER-1200—which is state of the art compared to the previous generation reactors. It is 20% more powerful; the amount of personnel operating the reactor has decreased [by] between 30% and 40%; and the lifetime of the reactor has doubled to 60 years, with the possibility of lasting an additional 20 years.“Considering the energy needs and peculiarities of energy systems of some African countries, Rosatom may offer its new solution—SMR nuclear power plant [NPP]. Rosatom has extensive experience with small-scale reactors that we have been mastering over many years on nuclear icebreakers, making them as safe and efficient as our flagship large reactors. Our RITM series reactors are the most modern ones, and already have references, as they are installed on board icebreakers of a new class, the first of which is undergoing sea trials,” Collyer said.The NIASA group said financing options for nuclear power in South Africa include:

Government funding of the entire project, or government-backed loan guarantees, supported by money from state-owned companies.

South Africa gets 77% of its energy needs from coal right now,” Shapiro said. “If you look at the most recent South African Integrated Resource Plan [IRP], it’s clear that nuclear is a small part of a more general attempt to reduce reliance on coal and fossil fuels, and embrace solar, wind, and hydropower. South Africa substituting some nuclear so it can burn less coal is progress from an environmental perspective.”Mantashe, in a May 7 address to South Africa’s Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy, said his agency is preparing its nuclear power plan as mandated by the country’s 2019 IRP. Mantashe said his department would consider all options for nuclear power, including projects designed around SMRs.

He also said the government is considering replacing the SAFARI-1 research reactor with a multi-purpose reactor. SAFARI-1, which was commissioned in 1965, is a 20-MW light water-cooled, beryllium reflected, pool-type research reactor, initially used for high-level nuclear physics research programs. The reactor is owned and operated by South African Nuclear Energy Corp. at the company’s facility in Pelindaba.“Small modular reactors make more sense for South Africa, especially considering they are just looking for 2.5 GW of power from nuclear,” Shapiro said. “That’s one of the reasons the U.S. or South Korea might actually have an ace in the hole here. NuScale Power in the U.S. and SMART Power Company in South Korea are both at the cutting edge of SMRs. I would be surprised if South Africa didn’t pursue SMRs considering the energy minister specifically said South Africa was looking to develop modular nuclear stations and cost is the primary concern for the South African government.

The bigger question to me is whether South Africa actually goes through with nuclear at all.

I am not convinced South Africa can absorb the cost even if it does go the SMR route. If South Africa does go forward, SMRs are the logical way to proceed.” Mantashe’s agency also is developing an oversight plan for a program to enable Koeberg’s two reactors, which generate about 5% of the country’s electricity, to continue operating until at least 2044.

NIASA has noted that SMRs could be a more cost-effective way for South Africa to achieve its nuclear power goal. “The small units are also quite flexible in terms of location,” the agency said in a recent presentation. “Instead of investing in huge transmission lines where they do not already exist, these units can be sited as close to the load centers as possible.

They can also be located inland as they typically require much reduced cooling water. In the rest of the continent where the transmission infrastructure is limited or the demand is currently limited, the deployment of the SMRs close to load centers such as cities and mines, becomes key. South Africa can become a hub of the nuclear supply chain worldwide, in much the same way as in the automotive and aerospace industries.”The group said that SMRs located in coastal areas, and using high-temperature reactors (HTRs), also could be used for water desalination. Such a design is part of a demonstration project in China, with a reactor known as the HTR-PM, a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor. The HTR-PM differs from currently deployed water-cooled designs; the HTR-PM is cooled by helium and can reach temperatures as high as 750C.Kejian Zhang, chairman of the China Atomic Energy Authority (CAEA), speaking at the International Conference on Climate Change and the Role of Nuclear Power in Vienna, Austria, in October 2019, said, “The HTGR demonstration project with fourth-generation technology has made steady progress, and this reactor will be capable of hydrolytic hydrogen production and high temperature process heat.

We have also recently completed the preliminary design of a pool-type, low-temperature heat reactor, the DHR-400, which may be used for district heating.”2. The Akademik Lomonosov, a first-of-a-kind floating nuclear power plant, was connected to the power grid in Russia in December 2019. The barge is named after a famous academician, Mikhail Lomonosov. Courtesy: RosatomCollyer said Rosatom would be ready to supply SMRs. “We have made a real breakthrough in the small modular reactor.

Last December, our first-of-a-kind floating nuclear power plant Akademik Lomonosov [Figure 2] was connected to the grid in Chukotka, the Russian Far East. Our next priority is an onshore SMR NPP to be built in Russia by 2027. Thus, our versatile flagship SMR design—RITM-200—of 50-MWe capacity will have three key applications: onshore SMR-based plants, floating NPPs, and new icebreakers, which we are currently building for the Northern Sea route. By doing so we’ll secure enough demand to manufacture SMRs in series, which would drive down costs and lead times.”—…Is There a Market for Small Modular Reactors?The nuclear industry has been expecting big things from small modular reactors (SMRs) for a long time, but… WEBINARSSponsored By GE DigitalPower And Utilities: Russia, China Drive Africa’s Plan for Nuclear ExpansionOfficials in South Africa and across the African continent continue to explore new nuclear power generation projects, and the region provides an opportunity for other countries to export their advanced nuclear technologies.

South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources and Energy in May said it wants a plan to procure as much as 2.5 GW of nuclear generation capacity within the next five years.

South Africa today has just two commercial reactors, both at the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station north of Cape Town.1. The Koeberg Nuclear Power Station, which was commissioned in 1984 and is operated by South Africa state-owned utility Eskom, features two pressurized water reactors, each with 970 MW of generation capacity. Source: Creative Commons / Pipodesign Philipp P. EgliKoeberg (Figure 1) is the only nuclear power plant currently in commercial operation on the entire African continent, although the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recently said nearly a dozen other African nations have talked with the IAEA about formulating plans for nuclear power. The World Nuclear Association said at least seven sub-Saharan African states have signed agreements to deploy nuclear power with backing from Russia. Rosatom, the state-owned Russian nuclear company, is “currently working with more than 15 sub-Saharan African countries, including Ghana, Zambia, Kenya, South Africa, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania and others; as well as with the following North African countries: Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco,” according to Ryan Collyer, acting CEO of Rosatom Central and Southern Africa, who corresponded with POWER.Jacob Shapiro, the founder and chief strategist for Austin, Texas-based Perch Perspectives, told POWER that South Africa “will need outside investment” to support an expanded nuclear program, which is likely the case for any African nation. “Investment will come from the same suspects that bid on nuclear projects in South Africa before: Russia, China, France, South Korea, and possibly the United States.

Japan may throw its hat into the ring as well, but they have struggled to be competitive in more reliable markets than South Africa, like the UK and Turkey.”Shapiro continued: “It is hard for me to imagine Russia gaining much traction after [South African President Cyril] Ramaphosa scrapped the previous deal with Rosatom in 2019. That said, domestic politics can change quickly in South Africa and maybe it will be most interested in not getting caught between the U.S. and China, making Russia, South Korea or France better alternatives.

This still ultimately comes down to whichever government thinks South Africa is most important to its strategic interests, and that’s clearly China.”Russia, for its part, said it has a “wide range of technologies to offer” African nations exploring nuclear power.

Collyer told POWER those technologies range “from ‘large’ light water reactors [pressurized water reactors or PWRs] with capacity over 1 GW to small modular reactors [SMRs].

We were first to deploy commercial fast neutron reactors and are likely to be first to deploy high temperature gas-cooled reactors. For each country we come up with a solution tailored to the features of the regional electricity market, including the readiness of the distribution grid.”The Nuclear Industry Association of South Africa (NIASA) has said there are at least six potential options for financing new nuclear power plants in the country, with Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe telling a parliamentary committee in mid-May he is open to considering innovative funding options in order to develop new nuclear capacity. Support for new nuclear power plants in South Africa dimmed after the ruling party forced Jacob Zuma to resign as president in 2018, and officials had said the country could not afford to build additional plants.

It also had been thought the economic issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic would inhibit government-financed energy projects.However, Mantashe told the country’s lawmakers, “The nuclear build plan will go ahead and we will explore all options.” He said a contract could be awarded to “develop a modular nuclear station on a build, operate, and transfer basis, and that means there will be no immediate call for funding from the state.”Mantashe’s group, in a presentation to a parliamentary committee about its plans for the next five years, said, “The development of the roadmap for the 2,500-MW nuclear new-build program will be commencing soon.” Shapiro told POWER the most likely investor for that development is China. “China is South Africa’s most important trading partner, an important source of investment, and has been making inroads there for a while,” he said. “However, unlike the last time South Africa sought bids in 2016, the U.S. now views China as a strategic threat and I could see the U.S. government getting involved to push either an America alternative or an ‘anyone but China’ alternative. Think of what the U.S. is doing with Huawei—a similar tactic is possible, especially if President Trump wins again.”

Though China may have an edge in trade with South Africa, Russia is actively pursuing export of its nuclear technology across the continent, as it is doing around the globe.

Rosatom has secured more than 30 reactor supply deals in recent years, and in 2019 the company said it had international projects worth $202.4 billion in its portfolio.

The company also said it has 36 reactor construction projects outside of Russia at various implementation stages, and already has working agreements with Rwanda, Uganda, the Republic of Congo, and Ethiopia.“As for South Africa, we have great respect for the path taken by the country in the development of the nuclear industry.

We are open to cooperation on the widest range, subject to a request from our South African colleagues,” said Collyer. “Despite the shortcomings of the grid infrastructure in Africa, the latest generation of tried and tested ‘large’ PWRs, which are already being built in series across the globe, are still the clear winners in most regions, this in terms of the cost of electricity compared to any other technology. In Africa, we are able to offer our latest generation PWR-type reactors—the VVER-1200—which is state of the art compared to the previous generation reactors. It is 20% more powerful; the amount of personnel operating the reactor has decreased [by] between 30% and 40%; and the lifetime of the reactor has doubled to 60 years, with the possibility of lasting an additional 20 years.“Considering the energy needs and peculiarities of energy systems of some African countries, Rosatom may offer its new solution—SMR nuclear power plant [NPP]. Rosatom has extensive experience with small-scale reactors that we have been mastering over many years on nuclear icebreakers, making them as safe and efficient as our flagship large reactors. Our RITM series reactors are the most modern ones, and already have references, as they are installed on board icebreakers of a new class, the first of which is undergoing sea trials,” Collyer said.The NIASA group said financing options for nuclear power in South Africa include:■ Government funding of the entire project, or government-backed loan guarantees, supported by money from state-owned companies.■ An intergovernmental loan.■ Corporate financing.■ Financing by plant vendors.■ A special investment vehicle to finance the project.■ A “build, own, operate” structure.The NIASA group said South Africa previously has used the special investment vehicle model to build natural gas-fired power plants. “South Africa gets 77% of its energy needs from coal right now,” Shapiro said. “If you look at the most recent South African Integrated Resource Plan [IRP], it’s clear that nuclear is a small part of a more general attempt to reduce reliance on coal and fossil fuels, and embrace solar, wind, and hydropower. South Africa substituting some nuclear so it can burn less coal is progress from an environmental perspective.”Mantashe, in a May 7 address to South Africa’s Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy, said his agency is preparing its nuclear power plan as mandated by the country’s 2019 IRP. Mantashe said his department would consider all options for nuclear power, including projects designed around SMRs. He also said the government is considering replacing the SAFARI-1 research reactor with a multi-purpose reactor. SAFARI-1, which was commissioned in 1965, is a 20-MW light water-cooled, beryllium reflected, pool-type research reactor, initially used for high-level nuclear physics research programs. The reactor is owned and operated by South African Nuclear Energy Corp. at the company’s facility in Pelindaba.“Small modular reactors make more sense for South Africa, especially considering they are just looking for 2.5 GW of power from nuclear,” Shapiro said. “That’s one of the reasons the U.S. or South Korea might actually have an ace in the hole here. NuScale Power in the U.S. and SMART Power Company in South Korea are both at the cutting edge of SMRs. I would be surprised if South Africa didn’t pursue SMRs considering the energy minister specifically said South Africa was looking to develop modular nuclear stations and cost is the primary concern for the South African government. The bigger question to me is whether South Africa actually goes through with nuclear at all. I am not convinced South Africa can absorb the cost even if it does go the SMR route. If South Africa does go forward, SMRs are the logical way to proceed.” Mantashe’s agency also is developing an oversight plan for a program to enable Koeberg’s two reactors, which generate about 5% of the country’s electricity, to continue operating until at least 2044.NIASA has noted that SMRs could be a more cost-effective way for South Africa to achieve its nuclear power goal. “The small units are also quite flexible in terms of location,” the agency said in a recent presentation. “Instead of investing in huge transmission lines where they do not already exist, these units can be sited as close to the load centers as possible. They can also be located inland as they typically require much reduced cooling water.

In the rest of the continent where the transmission infrastructure is limited or the demand is currently limited, the deployment of the SMRs close to load centers such as cities and mines, becomes key.

South Africa can become a hub of the nuclear supply chain worldwide, in much the same way as in the automotive and aerospace industries.”The group said that SMRs located in coastal areas, and using high-temperature reactors (HTRs), also could be used for water desalination.

Such a design is part of a demonstration project in China, with a reactor known as the HTR-PM, a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor. The HTR-PM differs from currently deployed water-cooled designs; the HTR-PM is cooled by helium and can reach temperatures as high as 750C.Kejian Zhang, chairman of the China Atomic Energy Authority (CAEA), speaking at the International Conference on Climate Change and the Role of Nuclear Power in Vienna, Austria, in October 2019, said, “The HTGR demonstration project with fourth-generation technology has made steady progress, and this reactor will be capable of hydrolytic hydrogen production and high temperature process heat.

We have also recently completed the preliminary design of a pool-type, low-temperature heat reactor, the DHR-400, which may be used for district heating.”2.

The Akademik Lomonosov, a first-of-a-kind floating nuclear power plant, was connected to the power grid in Russia in December 2019.

The barge is named after a famous academician, Mikhail Lomonosov. Courtesy: RosatomCollyer said Rosatom would be ready to supply SMRs. “We have made a real breakthrough in the small modular reactor.

Last December, our first-of-a-kind floating nuclear power plant Akademik Lomonosov [Figure 2] was connected to the grid in Chukotka, the Russian Far East.

Our next priority is an onshore SMR NPP to be built in Russia by 2027. Thus, our versatile flagship SMR design—RITM-200—of 50-MWe capacity will have three key applications: onshore SMR-based plants, floating NPPs, and new icebreakers, which we are currently building for the Northern Sea route.

By doing so we’ll secure enough demand to manufacture SMRs in series, which would drive down costs and lead times.”—

Afrika-times.com

Somaliland has been de facto independent for 30 years. The U.S. should recognize this and build a facts-based policy that better serves its strategic interests.

US Congressional delegation visit to Somaliland

December 14, 2021 

Joshua Meservey

Joshua MeserveySenior Policy Analyst, Africa and the Middle east

 The U.S. should recognize Somaliland as an independent country. In practice, the territory is not now, nor is likely to be, a part of Somalia. Acknowledging that reality would allow Washington to create more effective policy in an important and contested region.

A strong relationship with an independent Somaliland would hedge against the U.S. position further deteriorating in Djibouti, which is increasingly under Chinese sway.

It would demonstrate the benefits Washington confers on those who embrace representative government and would allow the U.S. to better support the territory’s tenacious, but still-consolidating, democracy.

An independent Somaliland would be a stable partner that has little risk of experiencing the tumult that frustrates American interests elsewhere in the volatile region. Somalilanders deserve the justice of having their decades-long practice of independence recognized and should be allowed to disassociate from the dysfunction of southern Somalia that hinders their development

From Somaliland to Harvard


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

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.

From Somaliland to Harvard: Abaarso School of Technology and Science

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

Author: Shakir Essa
Shakir Essa served as manager at Somali Journalist Association and PR consultant at Allafrica.com

Is Ethiopia’s Window to Solve Conflict Closing?

On November 12, 2021, (Afrika-times.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”.

Ethiopia crisis on Tigray (TPLF)
TPLF

U.S. arrests 2 from DR Congo for illegal wildlife trafficking

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.

U.S. arrests 2 from DR Congo for illegal wildlife trafficking

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.

Nimco Happy Isii Nafta ( I love you more than my life)

Nimco Happy isii

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

Somaliland Has More Freedom Than Ethiopia, Djibouti And Somalia, Says US Report

(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.

Ethiopia freedom score: Somaliland Has More Freedom Than Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti And Somalia,
Djibouti freedom score: Somaliland Has More Freedom Than Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti And Somalia,
Somalia freedom score: Somaliland Has More Freedom Than Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti And Somalia,
Eritrea freedom score: Somaliland Has More Freedom Than Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti And Somalia,
Somaliland freedom score: Somaliland Has More Freedom Than Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti 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.

Author: Africa Times News

China’s Worldwide Expansion Plan Stops in Somaliland

America's Immigration Policy Needs an Overhaul 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 Hearing Aid Advice The Most Powerful Hearing Aids of 2021 (See Why) Sponsored by Hearing Aid Advice See More 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
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
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
Photo: China expansion to africa

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

Here’s a look at TALIBAN AND Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Here’s a look at Taliban and  Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Facts

Started as an al Qaeda splinter group.

Here’s a look at Taliban and Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Here’s a look at Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Also known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Islamic State (IS).

(Afrika-times.com) ISIS aims to create an Islamic state called a caliphate across IraqSyria and beyond.

The group implements Sharia Law, rooted in eighth-century Islam, to establish a society that mirrors the region’s ancient past.

ISIS is known for killing dozens of people at a time and carrying out public executions, crucifixions and other acts.

ISIS uses modern tools like social media to promote reactionary politics and religious fundamentalism. Fighters are destroying holy sites and valuable antiquities even as their leaders propagate a return to the early days of Islam.

In 2014, ISIS controlled more than 34,000 square miles in Syria and Iraq, from the Mediterranean coast to south of Baghdad. In early 2016, the United States calculated that ISIS had lost 40% of its 34,000 square miles of territory.

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.

Leader

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.

Baghdadi made only one known public appearance, in July 2014 when he delivered a sermon in Mosul’s Grand Mosque.

Baghdadi was detained for several months in Camp Bucca, which was a US-run prison in southern Iraq. He was released in 2004.

He killed himself after being cornered by US forces who conducted a daring, two-hour nighttime raid on his compound in northern syria

Timeline

2004 – Abu Musab al-Zarqawi establishes al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI).

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.

May 2014 – ISIS kidnaps more than 140 Kurdish schoolboys in Syria, forcing them to take lessons in radical Islamic theology, according to London-based monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

June 9-11, 2014 – ISIS takes control of Mosul and Tikrit.

June 20, 2014 – The UN announces that more than one million Iraqis have been displaced.

June 21, 2014 – ISIS takes control of Al-Qaim, a town on the border with Syria, as well as three other Iraqi towns.

June 28, 2014 – Iraqi Kurdistan restricts border crossings into the region for refugees.

June 29, 2014 – ISIS announces the creation of a caliphate (Islamic state) that erases all state borders, making Baghdadi the self-declared authority over the world’s estimated 1.5 billion Muslims. The group also announces a name change to the Islamic State (IS).

June 30, 2014 – The Pentagon announces the United States is sending an additional 300 troops to Iraq, bringing the total US forces in Iraq to nearly 800. Troops and military advisers are sent to Iraq to support Iraqi security forces and help protect the US Embassy and the airport in Baghdad.

July 2014 – ISIS takes control of Syria’s largest oilfield and seizes a gas field in the Homs Province, storming the facility and killing dozens of workers. Militants conquer a 90-mile stretch of Syrian towns, from Deir Ezzor to the Iraq border. In Mosul, they blow up Jonah’s tomb, a holy site dating back to the 8th century BC.

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.

August 8, 2014 – Two US jet fighters bomb ISIS artillery units in Iraq. US President Barack Obama authorizes “targeted airstrikes” if needed to protect US personnel and prevent potential genocide of minority groups.

August 19, 2014 – ISIS posts a video showing the beheading of US journalist James Foley, missing in Syria since 2012.

September 2, 2014 – ISIS releases a video showing the beheading of US journalist Steven Sotloff. The apparent executioner speaks in the same British accent as the man who purportedly killed Foley.

September 11, 2014 – The CIA announces that the number of ISIS fighters may be more than three times the previous estimates.

September 13, 2014 – ISIS posts a video showing the apparent execution of British aid worker David Haines.

September 23, 2014 – The United States carries out airstrikes against ISIS.

October 3, 2014 – ISIS releases a video showing the apparent beheading of British hostage, Alan Henning.

November 3, 2014 – The Iraqi government announces ISIS militants have killed 322 members of a Sunni tribe in a series of executions.

November 14, 2014 – The UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria concludes that ISIS has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

November 16, 2014 – ISIS posts a video that appears to show a dead American hostage, Peter Kassig.

January 22, 2015 – US diplomatic officials say that coalition airstrikes have killed an estimated 6,000 ISIS fighters.

January 24, 2015 – A photo and audio released by ISIS appear to show the beheaded body of Japanese hostage, Haruna Yukawa.

January 31, 2015 – ISIS releases a video that appears to show the decapitated body of a second Japanese hostage, Kenji Goto.

February 3, 2015 – Video and still images posted by ISIS apparently shows Jordanian pilot Moath al-Kasasbeh being burned alive while locked in a cage.

February 5, 2015 – Jordanian fighter jets carry out airstrikes over Syria, reportedly hitting ISIS training centers as well as arms and ammunition depots in Raqqa. The next day, ISIS claims that the airstrikes killed American hostage Kayla Jean Mueller. ISIS posts a picture of a collapsed building and the terror group claims Mueller is buried in the rubble.

February 10, 2015 – Mueller’s family announces she is dead, after receiving confirmation from ISIS, including a photo of her wrapped in a burial shroud.

February 11, 2015 – Obama asks the US Congress to formally authorize use of military force against ISIS.

February 15, 2015 – ISIS posts a video in which militants appear to behead more than a dozen Egyptian Christians on a Libyan beach. The next day, Egyptian warplanes strike ISIS targets in Libya.

February 22, 2015 – ISIS releases a video that appears to show at least 21 Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in cages carried down Iraqi streets.

February 26, 2015 – Jihadi John, the disguised man with a British accent who appeared in ISIS videos as the executioner of Western hostages, is identified as Mohammed Emwazi, a Kuwaiti-born Londoner. On the same day, ISIS releases a video of its fighters destroying antiquities at the Mosul Museum.

March 2015 – ISIS posts images of a man being thrown off a building in Raqqa, Syria. He had been accused of being gay. There are at least a half dozen documented cases of ISIS killing men accused of being gay.

March 1, 2015 – ISIS releases 19 Christian prisoners. All but one are reportedly from a group of 220 Assyrians captured in northern Syria.

March 7, 2015 – In an audio message purportedly from Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, the Nigeria-based radical Islamic group pledges allegiance to ISIS. Days later, an ISIS spokesman claims the caliphate has expanded to western Africa.https://e735dab9039e8657028bb44bda1f5e9a.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

March 12, 2015 – Iraqi forces retake most of Tikrit. In western Iraq, ISIS blows up the Iraqi army headquarters north of Ramadi, killing at least 40 Iraqi soldiers.

April 1, 2015 – Iraqi forces, aided by Shiite militiamen, take full control of Tikrit.

April 8, 2015 – According to Iraqi Kurdistan officials, ISIS releases more than 200 Yazidi women and children, as well as the ill or elderly.

April 19, 2015 – ISIS releases a video that appears to show militants beheading two groups of prisoners in Libya. The Ethiopian government confirms that 30 of the victims were Ethiopian citizens.

May 16, 2015 – A key ISIS leader is killed during a US Special Operations raid in Syria, according to US officials. His wife is captured and the raid yields significant intelligence on ISIS’s structure and communications.

May 17, 2015 – ISIS seizes control of Ramadi, the largest city in western Iraq, after government security forces pull out of a military base.

May 21, 2015 – ISIS takes control of Palmyra, an ancient Syrian city that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, it was the last Syria-Iraq border crossing under control of Syrian troops.

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 26, 2015 – A gunman kills at least 38 people at a beachfront Tunisian hotel and a bomb kills at least 27 people at a mosque in Kuwait. ISIS claims responsibility for the attacks.

July 1, 2015 – ISIS launches simultaneous attacks on five Egyptian military checkpoints, reportedly killing 17 Egyptian soldiers and injuring 30 others. According to the Egyptian military, 100 terrorists are killed in the fighting.

July 4, 2015 – The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports it has received a video showing ISIS militants executing 25 captives in Palmyra.

July 17, 2015 – As Iraqis in Khan Bani Saad celebrate Eid al-Fitr, a holiday marking the end of the fast for RamadanISIS detonates an ice truck bomb in a crowded marketplace, killing at least 120 people and wounding at least 140 more.

August 2015 – ISIS destroys the nearly 2,000-year-old Baalshamin temple in Palmyra. UNESCO, the UN’s cultural organization, calls the destruction of the temple a “war crime.”

October 30, 2015 – The Obama administration announces that it is deploying US Special Operations forces to join the fight against ISIS in northern Syria. Fewer than 50 troops are going to Syria, according to the White House. Over the next 14 months, an additional 450 American troops are sent to Syria to help train the local groups battling ISIS.

November 12, 2015 – The Pentagon announces that it has conducted a remote control drone strike targeting Emwazi, also known as “Jihadi John.” ISIS later confirms the death of Emwazi.

November 12, 2015 – Two suicide bombs hit the Bourj al-Barajneh district of southern Beirut, killing more than 40 people and wounding hundreds. ISIS claims responsibility for the attack.

November 13, 2015 – Kurdish forces liberate the Iraqi town of Sinjar from ISIS after two days of fighting. The Kurds were backed by coalition air power.

November 13, 2015 – Three teams of gun-wielding ISIS suicide bombers hit six locations around Paris, killing at least 130 people and wounding 494 others.

December 10, 2015 – A spokesman for the US-led coalition confirms that ISIS Finance Minister Abu Saleh was killed in an airstrike in late November in Iraq.

December 28, 2015 – Iraqi troops retake the city of Ramadi from ISIS and raise the Iraqi flag on top of the government compound in the city’s center, according to an Iraqi military spokesman.

January 24, 2016 – ISIS releases a video that purports to show final messages from the Paris attackers.

February 21, 2016 – Multiple attacks in Homs and southern Damascus kill at least 122 and injure scores, according to Syria’s state-run SANA news agency. ISIS claims responsibility.

March 22, 2016 – Attacks on the airport and a subway station in Brussels, Belgium, kill more than 30 people and wound about 270 more. ISIS claims its “fighters” launched the attacks.

March 25, 2016 – The Pentagon confirms that US forces have killed ISIS’ finance minister, Abd al-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli. A US official tells CNN that special operations forces intended to capture Qaduli alive but the plan was modified at the last moment.

June 26, 2016 – A senior Iraqi general announces on state TV that the battle for Falluja is over, as Iraqi troops retake the final ISIS holdout in the city.

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.

July 1-2, 2016 – Attackers invade the Holey Artisan Bakery cafe in a diplomatic enclave of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Gunmen kill 20 hostages and two police officers before authorities raid the restaurant and end the nearly 11-hour standoff. ISIS claims responsibility for the attack, but Bangladeshi officials say the attack was carried out by homegrown militants. US officials focus on ISIS as the perpetrator after photos purportedly showing the inside of the cafe and dead hostages are posted on an ISIS-affiliated website.

July 3, 2016 – A suicide car bomb detonates in a busy shopping district in Baghdad, killing at least 292 people and injuring another 200. It is the deadliest single attack in Iraq since 2003. ISIS claims responsibility.

August 30, 2016 – According to a statement from the terror group and its Amaq news agency, ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani has been killed in the area of Aleppo, Syria. Without confirming Adnani’s death, the Pentagon confirms that coalition forces conducted an airstrike in al Bab, Syria, targeting him.

September 16, 2016 – Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook says a US air strike targeted and killed Wael Adel Salman, aka Abu 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.

October 17, 2016 – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi makes a televised statement announcing the start of the mission to retake the key city of Mosul, the last remaining ISIS stronghold in Iraq.

October 24, 2016 – Suicide bombers attack sleeping cadets at a police training academy in Pakistan, killing 61 and injuring 117. ISIS claims responsibility, releasing a photo of the three purported attackers but Pakistani military leaders say they believe a Pakistan-based group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi carried out the attack.

April 9, 2017 – ISIS claims responsibility for two deadly bombings targeting Coptic Christian churches on Palm Sunday in Egypt. At least 49 people are killed and 119 others are injured in the blasts.

April 13, 2017 – The US military drops its most powerful non-nuclear bomb on an ISIS compound in Afghanistan. An Afghan official later tells CNN that 94 militants were killed in the blast.

May 26-28, 2017 – More than 200 civilians are killed by ISIS militants in Mosul, according to the UN.

May 26, 2017 – Buses carrying Coptic Christians in Egypt are attacked by assailants, who fatally shoot at least 29. ISIS claims responsibility.

July 10, 2017 – Mosul is liberated from ISIS.

October 17, 2017 – ISIS loses control of its self-declared capital, the Syrian city of Raqqa. US-backed forces fighting in Raqqa say “major military operations” have ended, though there are still pockets of resistance in the city.

December 6, 2017 – The Pentagon announces that there are 5,200 American troops in Iraq and 2,000 troops in Syria. Troop levels are trending down, according to the Pentagon, as Iraqi forces and the Syrian Democratic Forces have liberated about 97% of the territory and people in the caliphate declared by ISIS.

December 9, 2017 – The Iraqi military says it has “fully liberated” all of Iraq’s territory of “ISIS terrorist gangs” and retaken full control of the Iraqi-Syrian border. The campaign to defeat ISIS in Iraq took more than three years and about 25,000 coalition airstrikes.

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.

August 25, 2018 – The leader of ISIS in Afghanistan, Abu Sayed Orakzai and 10 other ISIS fighters are killed in an airstrike in Nangarhar province, according to provincial spokesman Attaullah Khogyani.

September 6, 2018 – The US special representative to Syria says American troops will continue their mission until there is an “enduring defeat” of ISIS in Syria.

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.

March 23, 2019 – The Syrian Democratic Forces announces that ISIS has lost its final stronghold in Syria, bringing an end to the so-called caliphate declared in 2014.

April 2019 – For the first time in five years, ISIS releases what it says is a new video message from Baghdadi.

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.”

August 21, 2019 – US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper states that ISIS is not “in a resurgent state in Syria” despite the Pentagon report.

October 27, 2019 – Trump announces in a televised address at the White House that the “world’s number one terrorist leader” is dead.

October 31, 2019 – ISIS releases an audio message confirming the death of Baghdadi and announcing its new leader is Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi.

January 5, 2020 – The US led military coalition fighting ISIS announces that it’s temporarily stopping its counter ISIS missions in order to focus on protecting Iraqi bases and coalition forces from Iranian backed militias.

March 29, 2020 – Several ISIS members escape from Syrian prison, Ghweran, during a riot.

July 21, 2020 – The US military conduct an airstrike in Somalia targeting ISIS fighters. The fighters had attacked US backed local forces that were being advised by US troops.

August 18, 2020 – The Trump administration informs the British government that it will not seek the death penalty for two high profile ISIS members known as “the Beatles” in an effort to convince the UK to provide critical evidence that can be used to prosecute the operatives in US courts.

September 2, 2020 – Omer Kuzu, a US citizen who had traveled to Syria to join ISIS and was captured, pleads guilty to supporting ISIS.

Somalia Rejects Diplomatic Resolution of Maritime Dispute with Kenya

(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.

somalia and Kenya Maritime disputes

Ethiopia: UN – Deaths From Starvation Reported in Tigray

(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

Somaliland elections: Opposition parties win majority of seats

Supporters hold banners of candidates during a rally of the opposition Waddani Party on May 25 [File: AFP]

(Afrika-times.com) Two opposition parties in Somalia’s breakaway Somaliland region have won a majority of seats in the region’s first parliamentary election in 16 years, according to the National Electoral Commission.Out of parliament’s 82 seats, the Somaliland National Party, called Waddani, won 31 and the Justice and Welfare Party (UCID), won 21 seats. The ruling Peace, Unity and Development Party, Kulmiye, secured 30 seats, the electoral commission said on Sunday.The vote had been stalled for a decade by a dispute among the three major parties over the makeup of the electoral commission, which was finally resolved.KEEP READINGSomaliland: Breakaway Somali region votes in parliamentary pollsKenya suspends Somalia flights for three monthsSomalia restoring ties with Kenya after nearly six months

“Following the announcement of the election results, we have announced a political alliance to get the speaker of the Somaliland parliament,” Waddani and UCID said in a joint statement, suggesting they would appoint a speaker together.The parties, which together also won a majority of the seats in municipal races, said that they aim to collaborate on city councils across the region and select mayors together.None of the 13 women who ran for parliament won their races.‘Relative stability’Politicians in the region had described the poll as an example of the relative stability of Somaliland, which broke away from Somalia in 1991 but has not gained widespread international recognition for its independence.
The region has been mostly peaceful while Somalia has grappled with three decades of civil war.The three main parties put forward a total of 246 candidates. More than one million out of roughly four million residents had registered to vote, according to the electoral commission.Presidential elections have taken place in Somaliland, despite the stalled parliamentary vote, most recently in 2017 when President Muse Bihi, from the Kulmiye party, was elected. The next presidential vote is planned for next year.
 Afrika-times.com

Millions of Young South Africans Jobless – What Are the Answers?

The media frequently portray young people excluded from wage work as inactive, aimless and alienated from mainstream society. This image feeds into fears of crime, violence and social unrest in which people who are jobless are cast as a “ticking time bomb” that poses a threat to a country’s stability, reports The Conversation.African countries are experiencing an unprecedented level of unemployment among young people. The unemployment numbers are expected to increase given the booming youth population in Africa. The problem is particularly acute in South Africa. World Bank statistics show that in 2019 the youth unemployment rate in South Africa stood at 58%, which is one of the highest in sub-Saharan Africa. For South Africa, the unemployment numbers are expected to increase. Over 60% of the unemployed at the start of 2020 were aged 15-34.A gender gap is also evident in the unemployment figures among people with advanced education. The unemployment rates of 2.3% in 2007 and 12% in 2019 for males with advanced education were lower than those of their female counterparts, which grew from 4.7% to 15%. This status risks long-term scarring effects for young people along with increases in informal working and social isolation

Horn Of Africa Is The Most Militarized Region On Earth

The combination of external actors has made the Horn the most militarized and complex security region, housing the largest number of foreign military bases in the world. The massive presence of six foreign military bases in Djibouti, and more in Sudan, Somalia and Somaliland, underlines the strategic importance of the Horn. Dawit W. Giorgis, a visiting scholar at the African Studies Centre at Boston University.

Horn Of Africa Is The Most Militarized Region On Earth

The Horn of Africa is witnessing far-reaching changes in its external security relations. It is simultaneously experiencing an increase in the build-up of foreign military forces – on land and at sea – and a broadening of the security agendas pursued by these external actors.

The combination of these factors has made the Horn the most militarized and complex security region, housing the largest number of foreign military bases in the world. Though Egypt and Yemen are not in the Greater Horn, they are however part of the security complex of the Red Sea arena. It is known as the “choke point,” because much of the world’s commerce goes through this maritime route. At one point, when Somali pirates ruled the sea, the area was identified as the most dangerous naval zone in the world, notoriety now claimed by the Gulf of Guinea.

Those who control the Horn of Africa control a significant chunk of the world’s economies. The massive presence of six foreign military bases in Djibouti, and more in Sudan, Somalia and Somaliland, underlines the strategic importance of the Horn.

This situation would have inspired or forced the countries of the Horn to be more united and have common strategic and security policies. Each of these forces has a stake in the development of events in the Horn and an agenda that puts their interests at the forefront.However, there are notable rivalries between the countries of the Horn of Africa, which has not enabled the forging of the necessary harmony in their relationships.

Eritrea and Djibouti have not put their border conflict of 2007 behind them. However, they agreed to normalize their relationship two years ago, although Djibouti still considers Eritrea an enemy, considering a recent statement in relations to the prosecution of a pilot that allegedly tried to run away to an “enemy” territory.But a conference call between the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and East African countries on March 30, 2020, was made to forge a regional plan to combat the Novel Coronavirus pandemic.

Four presidents from Somalia, Uganda, Kenya and Djibouti were joined by the prime ministers of Ethiopia and Sudan and the first vice-president of South Sudan. Eritrea did not participate, because its membership has not yet been regularized since it left IGAD in 2007.

This is while Kenya-Somalia relations have escalated in the last few years. It stems from the security concern related to the terror group Al-Shabaab and the maritime border dispute between the two states.

The terror group has been continuously launching attacks across the border at Kenyan military outposts and against civilians in the area.The maritime boundary dispute between Nairobi and Mogadishu further complicates the relationship between the two. Somalia instituted proceedings against Kenya before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) about their maritime boundary in the Indian Ocean, on August 28, 2014. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has approved a request by Kenya to delay the public hearing of its maritime boundary case with Somalia.

The case is still pending.Taking the matter further, Kenya has started negotiating the withdrawal of its forces the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) by 2021, making Ethiopia carry the bulk of troop contributions of the five countries that will remain.

These are bad signals of souring relationships, which can contribute to the overall destabilization of the fragile region.Neither are Ethiopia and Sudan on the best of terms. The borders between the two countries are the scene of occasional fighting, with recent skirmishes having turned deadly. It is unnecessary and preventable incidents that only add to the burden of stress the two countries have on their very sensitive and fragile relationship.“It is not clear exactly what triggered a flare-up of this long-standing border dispute,” stated the International Crisis Group (ICG). “Sources suggest that Sudanese security forces may have responded to incursions by Ethiopian troops.”Sudan is in the unique position of being a member of the Arab League, which makes it close to Egypt, but a generally close ally of Ethiopia as well. It has to play high stakes diplomacy not to be seen as siding with either.

Despite enormous pressure from Egypt and the United States, Sudan has held its ground. The bold and calculated decision manifested this in voting against other members of the Arab League on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).Sudan expressed “reservations” that the resolution does not serve its interests and might lead to confrontations between the Arab League countries and Ethiopia. This support of Sudan should not be taken for granted though. Last week, Sudan called for the United Nations Security Council`s intervention regarding Ethiopia’s plan to fill the Dam.“While acknowledging Ethiopia’s right to utilize its natural resources, Sudan has stressed the need for consultation and cooperation among the three countries to avoid the harm lower stream countries could suffer as a result of Ethiopia’s activities,” read Sudan’s memorandum to the Security Council.Concerning the GERD, Sudan highlighted the benefits and threats that could follow the construction. It acknowledged the benefits the Dam could have in helping manage periodic flooding and in raising Sudan’s capacity to generate electric power.“On the other hand, Sudan claimed that the construction of the Dam could change the flow line of the river and that it could affect Sudanese citizens negatively if the design, construction and filling works are not followed daily and closely.”This should be of great concern to Ethiopia, especially considering that a new regional organization with suspect motives – Council of Arab and African States Bordering the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden (CAASBRSGA) – has already been established on January 6, 2020. Although Egypt first initiated the idea, it was later taken over by Saudi Arabia.Its members are the coastal states of the Red Sea, including Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen (the internationally recognized government), Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia.

The stated goals of this new organization are to improve cooperation and coordination among the members in matters related to politics, economy, culture, the environment and security. The Council is an unnecessary organization and one loaded with an Arab and Egyptian agenda. The Arab League is installing its subsidiary branch closer to home.“One of the most important issues is the one of membership. Currently, the criteria to be a member of the Council are to be a Red Sea coastal state.

This is the criterion defended by Egypt,” wrote the Middle Eastern business and financial news outlet MENAFN. “This position seeks to keep Ethiopia outside of Red Sea affairs, a position not shared by many of the members, who believe that despite its lack of access to the sea, Addis Ababa is a key player in Red Sea affairs. The reason for this absence is the litigation that Egypt and Ethiopia maintain over the construction of the Renaissance Dam in the Nile.”The stated goals of the Council include matters related to the Nile, an issue vital for Ethiopia. The strategy of Egypt and its allies is to choke Ethiopia through myriad projects. Ethiopia must vigorously fight such moves, but it does not seem that the Ethiopian government is aware of the dangers. At the same time, it flirts with the very countries that are active partners on the other side of the debate.

There has been a flurry of activities between South Sudan and Egypt as well since the crisis between Ethiopia and Egypt intensified over the GERD. Some of these activities are suspicious.

South Sudan had submitted its application in 2018, for a second time, to join the Arab League. There have also been diplomatic moves led by Egypt within the Arab League emphasizing the importance of South Sudan joining the organization, given Juba’s strategic geographical position serving as the Arab gateway to Africa.

With steadily and warmer relations with Ethiopia’s new neighbor, South Sudanese President Silva Kiir and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi have exchanged visits followed by several others at ministerial levels.Bringing South Sudan into the Arab League completes the strangulation of Ethiopia by Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia, Djibouti and Eritrea.

Seen together with the Council on The Red Sea Coast, the threats directed at Ethiopia are real and severe.This is the result of the failure of Ethiopia`s diplomacy.

Its fractured unity and volatile internal security situation have resulted in establishing a fertile ground for Egypt and other extremist and hostile forces to recruit people and spread propaganda that will further destabilize the country.Ethiopian diplomacy suffered a big blow when the 23 Arab League members, except Sudan, supported the draft resolution prepared by Egypt.

This must have been a clear sign that there was little effort from Ethiopia’s side.“The draft agreement proposed by the United States and the World Bank is fair and serves the interests of the three countries,” affirmed The Arab League.Somalia and Djibouti, Ethiopia’s “close allies,” voted for it. Eritrea, an observer, said nothing.

Although its president, Isaias Afwerki, has come out as an elder statesman and mentor of Ethiopia`s Prime Minister, we have yet to see him as “a friend in need, a friend indeed.”This diplomatic spat is occurring in a region that should otherwise be banding together to address challenges that affect every member.

Besides the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN Food & Agricultural Organization (FAO) has warned East African countries about the outbreak of the desert locust, which has already placed around 20 million people in acute food insecurity in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania.

Ethiopia and the region are facing three-pronged attacks: pandemics, possible famine and regional and internal security challenges. A vital organ in such a time would have been IGAD, which until 1996 was preceded by the establishment of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Drought & Development (IGADD) was initiated in the mid-1980s.This was after Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda took action through the United Nations to establish an intergovernmental body for development and drought control in their region in 1983 and 1984.

The Assembly of Heads of State and Government met in Djibouti in January 1986 to sign the agreement, which officially launched IGADD with its headquarters in Djibouti. Eritrea became the seventh member after attaining its independence in 1993.

Then the focus was drought and food security.The recurring and severe droughts and other natural disasters in the decade beginning 1974 caused widespread famine, ecological degradation and economic hardship in the Eastern Africa region.

Although individual countries made substantial efforts to cope with the situation and received generous support from the international community, the magnitude and extent of the problem argued strongly for a regional approach to supplement national efforts.IGAD has never solved any political crisis. But it serves as a forum where leaders can meet and discuss their shared concerns.

However, IGAD can only be what its members want it to be. It can be an excellent tool if external agendas do not subvert it.

Members must first be committed to peaceful resolution through bilateral negotiations.

Creating other layers of organizations for the Horn will not help achieve any of the development, security and cooperation goals, but merely makes IGAD redundant. The regional body must be supported and reinforced to be a relevant organization. The spirit of cooperation needed here is one that President Isaias, Somalia’s Mohamed Farmajo Abdullahi and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) showed when they agreed on a joint plan of action for this year after the third edition of a tripartite summit in Asmara. This was in February 2020.

The alliance also adopted a new Joint Plan of Action for 2020.The plan focuses “on two main and intertwined objectives of consolidating peace, stability and security, as well as promoting economic and social development,” as Yemane Gebremeskel, Eritrea`s Information Minister, explained.“They also agreed to bolster efforts for effective regional cooperation.”On the security front, the leaders formulated a strategy to combat common threats, such as terrorism, arms and human trafficking, and drug smuggling. These efforts are leading “to some sort of Horn of Africa coalition,” even a “Cushitic Alliance,” according to the East African newspaper.Such an alliance will overlap with the mandate of IGAD.

It remains ambiguous what is in the minds of these leaders. But to an outsider, this looks like more of a problem than a solution.How can the three countries, in exclusion of Djibouti, Sudan and Kenya, forge an alliance that can bring peace to the region?Beyond the long-term ambition of Saudi Arabia and the UAE to control the Horn of Africa, the immediate goal of Egypt is to secure its interest on the Nile. Many Ethiopians are expressing their anger and showing patriotism through a rhetoric of war.

War in this politically charged, highly militarized strategic region would be destructive beyond our imagination.

If anyone “wins,” it will only be at enormous cost. Even that will be a preparation for the next round of war.The case of Egypt needs wisdom and patience.

War should be the ultimate exercise to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of any country. Heroes are those who prevent war and not make war.

There is an attempt to resuscitate discussions between Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt, but tripartite talks should not be the preferred way for Ethiopia. This case is about the Nile and the rights of the Nile Basin countries. Sudan is not a reliable partner in this case for Ethiopia.

The issue is best served if brought before the Nile Basin countries and not a tripartite meeting where the odds do not favor Ethiopia.The only viable option for Ethiopia and Egypt is to bring back their case to Africa, call an emergency meeting of the heads of state of the Nile Basin countries and continue the dialogue and, if necessary, bring it to the level of the African Heads of State.

But before this can be done, the Ethiopian government has to do the legwork by approaching each of the Nile Basin countries and presenting its case and a possible solution that will serve the interests of both Egypt and Ethiopia. These discussions should be led by knowledgeable people that understand the intricacy of the problem at hand.

In the meantime, unilateral actions on both sides should be avoided as much as possible.The foundation for stability in the Horn begins with bilateral efforts to solve their differences in the face of mounting political, security and pandemic crisis. It is not patriotism not to compromise but is expressed best when the crisis between countries are solved through bilateral negotiations, including compromise.Give and take is the essence of diplomacy. But leaders need to know what to give and what to take. This requires a grasp on history and debate.

The building blocks for sustainable peace in the region begin with a capacity of each leader to discern the truth and not to mistake information as knowledge.

For the latter, leaders have people who have a sense of history and can see the big picture through the lenses of current affairs.The fact that the Horn of Africa is the most militarized region on earth is not a coincidence. Let us encourage our leaders to take stock of the situation on the area and trek carefully in this treacherous minefield: what the Horn has become.

Author Publisher: @shakiressa