Category Archives: Middle East

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.

Egypt to withdraw from latest Nile dam talks for consultations

6395874_303Egypt fears the $4bn project could lead to water shortages upstream, while Sudan is concerned about dam’s safety.

05 Aug 2020 GMT+3
Egypt has decided to withdraw from the latest round of tripartite negotiations over Ethiopia’s multibillion-dollar dam on the Blue Nile for internal consultations after Addis Ababa proposed a new draft of filling guidelines.
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The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which is being built about 15km (nine miles) from the Ethiopian border with Sudan on the Blue Nile, has become a major sticking point between the three countries.
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Egypt fears the $4bn project could lead to water shortages upstream, while Sudan said it is concerned about the dam’s safety.

The Egyptian water ministry, in a statement on Tuesday, said Ethiopia put forward a draft proposal that lacked regulations on the operation of the dam or any legal obligations.
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Addis Ababa’s draft also lacked a legal mechanism for settling disputes, according to the Egyptian ministry.

“Egypt and Sudan demanded meetings be suspended for internal consultations on the Ethiopian proposal, which contravenes what was agreed upon during the African Union summit,” it said.

The Blue Nile is a tributary of the Nile river, from which Egypt’s 100 million people get 90 percent of their fresh water.

Ethiopia dam dispute: Concerns in Sudan’s Blue Nile state (2:55)
Sudan’s safety concerns
Meanwhile, Sudan’s irrigation ministry said the latest Ethiopian position presented in talks on Tuesday raised new fears over the track the negotiations had been on.

Khartoum also threatened to withdraw from the talks, saying Ethiopia insisted on linking them to renegotiating a deal on sharing the waters of the Blue Nile.

Sudan’s water and irrigation minister, Yasser Abbas, said he received a letter from his Ethiopian counterpart who proposed “the deal under discussion be limited to filling up the dam and any deal concerning its management be linked to the question of sharing Blue Nile waters”.

Egypt and Sudan invoke a “historic right” over the river guaranteed by treaties concluded in 1929 and 1959.

But Ethiopia uses a treaty signed in 2010 by six riverside countries and boycotted by Egypt and Sudan authorising irrigation projects and dams on the river.

“This new Ethiopian position threatens the negotiations under the aegis of the African Union, and Sudan will not participate in negotiations which include the subject of sharing Blue Nile waters,” Abbas said.

“Sudan will not allow the lives of 20 million citizens who live along the Blue Nile to be tied to an agreement on sharing the water of this river.”

The call came after a meeting of technical and legal committees from the three countries aimed at pushing for a deal on the filling and operation of the GERD.

The meeting was also attended by observers from the United States and the European Union as well as experts from the Africa

Somali press media

Things look grim for independent journalism in Somalia. This can also be concluded from the country’s ranking in the World Press Freedom Index: close to the bottom of the list of 180 countries. Still, the local situation does vary from region to region. In the south in particular, journalists work in fear of their life. But in the country’s northern region, Somaliland, our team do everything in their power to support and train local Somali reporters.

Envelope full of money

A journalist is interviewing a politician or businessman. At the end, the interviewee offers the reporter an envelope full of money. And if he doesn’t, the reporter asks for one himself. In Somalia, this practice has a name: Sharuur. And virtually every journalist takes part in it. The result: nearly all media reports in the country are biased and distorted. After all, you don’t bite the hand that feeds you. This means that people in Somalia have next to no access to reliable and factual information.

Journalists in Somalia run tremendous risks. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, in the past four years alone, 21 reporters in Somalia were murdered and dozens arrested in the course of their work. Nevertheless, you can still find people in the country who want to report on what is really going on, people who have the courage to refuse the stuffed envelope. We bring them together, at a location where they are safe, and train them in objective reporting.

Radio Hirad

In addition to organising trainings, at the Media Training Centre we also produce three new editions per week of the news and current affairs programme Radio Hirad. This programme includes contributions from journalists trained at our Centre. The programme is broadcast by over 20 FM stations and websites. While most journalists in Somalia are mainly interested in reporting on political developments, Radio Hirad has a strong focus on social issues. Themes like health, the position of women and adolescents in society and migration feature prominently in the broadcasts. This way, we help people who are seldom heard to share their perspectives and bring sensitive yet important topics up for discussion.

In Somali culture, the name hirad is given to those who offer travellers safe shelter and food. Free Press Unlimited in turn wishes to support the hirads of the Somali media: the journalists who work to keep the public informed in this country torn by war and corruption.

Women and Media

During a training in 2015, a young woman told how she has to hide the fact that she is a reporter from her family. “My father doesn’t know that I’m here. He doesn’t know that I’m working as a journalist. If he did, he would forbid me from doing so.” Women are underrepresented in the Somali media. As a result, subjects that are specifically relevant to them get very little exposure. We try to attract female journalists to our trainings, and support them in their work. And our efforts are starting to bear fruit. Over the past year, many of the women whom we have trained at the Centre have moved up to the position of radio station manager and made a name for themselves as journalists.

Somali media creator and journalist , Shakir Essa

Reports by Shakir Essa

Somaliland rejects proposed visit by Ethiopia PM, Somali president

1024x538_1021479Somaliland rejects proposed visit by Ethiopia PM, Somali president
©AfricaNews
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Somalia

Somaliland has rejected a planned joint visit by Somali president Mohamed Abdulahi Farmaajo and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

A high-ranking official in Somaliland had confirmed a proposed visit to Hargeisa by Abiy and Farmaajo on the initiative of the PM. Hargeisa is capital of Somaliland, an autonomous region of Somalia.
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Voice of America journalist and author of “Inside AlShabab,” Harun Maruf posted a tweet that said Somaliland’s chairman of House of Elders Suleiman Mohamoud Aden as saying PM Abiy Ahmed was “pushing for a joint visit to Hargeisa by him and Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo.”

It is the first concrete report of an information that started making the rounds on Twitter on Saturday evening when a post to that effect was made by one Khaalid Foodhaadhi.

A meeting between leaders of Somalia and Somaliland in Addis Ababa was brokered by Abiy last week after the 33rd African Union summit.

The Somali presidential spokesman confirmed that the “ice-breaking” meeting had indeed taken place between Farmaajo and Somaliland’s Muse Bihi.

Days later, Farmaajo made a public admission over excesses by the Siad Barre regime in the late eighties against Somaliland. An admission that received largely good comments on social media.

The planned joint visit to Hargeisa has also received positive traction as many people on social media see it as a positive first step towards finding an amicable solution to the longstanding rift between Somalia and Somaliland.
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Spread of Wahhabism was done at request of West during Cold War – Saudi crown prince

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Spread of Wahhabism was done at request of West during Cold War – Saudi crown prince
Published time: 28 Mar, 2018 11:58
Edited time: 18 Apr, 2018 15:56
Spread of Wahhabism was done at request of West during Cold War – Saudi crown prince
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. © Hamad I Mohammed / Reuters
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The Saudi-funded spread of Wahhabism began as a result of Western countries asking Riyadh to help counter the Soviet Union during the Cold War, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told the Washington Post.
Speaking to the paper, bin Salman said that Saudi Arabia’s Western allies urged the country to invest in mosques and madrassas overseas during the Cold War, in an effort to prevent encroachment in Muslim countries by the Soviet Union.

Read more
3yrs of civilian deaths in Yemen don’t hold US & allies back from selling arms to Saudis – Amnesty 3yrs of civilian deaths in Yemen don’t hold US & allies back from selling arms to Saudis – Amnesty
He added that successive Saudi governments had lost track of that effort, saying “we have to get it all back.” Bin Salman also said that funding now comes mostly from Saudi-based “foundations,” rather than from the government.

The crown prince’s 75-minute interview with the Washington Post took place on March 22. Another topic of discussion included a previous claim by US media that bin Salman had said that he had White House senior adviser Jared Kushner “in his pocket.”

Bin Salman denied reports that when he and Kushner – who is also Donald Trump’s son-in-law – met in Riyadh in October, he had sought or received a greenlight from Kushner for the massive crackdown on alleged corruption which led to widespread arrests in the kingdom shortly afterwards. According to bin Salman, the arrests were a domestic issue and had been in the works for years.

He said it would be “really insane” for him to trade classified information with Kushner, or to try to use him to advance Saudi interests within the Trump administration. He stated that their relationship was within a normal governmental context, but did acknowledge that he and Kushner “work together as friends, more than partners.” He stated that he also had good relationships with Vice President Mike Pence and others within the White House.

The crown prince also spoke about the war in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition continues to launch a bombing campaign against Houthi rebels in an attempt to reinstate ousted Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi as president. The conflict has killed thousands, displaced many more, driven the country to the brink of famine, and led to a major cholera outbreak.

Although the coalition has been accused of a large number of civilian deaths and disregard for civilian lives – an accusation which Riyadh denies – the crown prince said his country has not passed up “any opportunity” to improve the humanitarian situation in the country. “There are not good options and bad options. The options are between bad and worse,” he said.

The interview with the crown prince was initially held off the record. However, the Saudi embassy later agreed to led the Washington Post publish specific portions of the meeting.

Reported by:Shakir Essa

Saudi Arabia with UAE and Turkey with Qatar Are Playing a Dangerous Game in the Horn of Africa

What’s new?

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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been expanding its role in the Horn of Africa. Along with other Gulf powers, it is broadening its ties to the region. Strategic rivalries, including those within the Gulf Cooperation Council pitting the UAE and Saudi Arabia against Qatar, often motivate Gulf powers’ increasing influence.

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Why does it matter? The influence of, and competition among, Gulf states could reshape Horn geopolitics. Gulf leaders can nudge their African counterparts toward peace; both the UAE and Saudi Arabia helped along the recent Eritrea-Ethiopia rapprochement. But rivalries among Gulf powers can also sow instability, as their spillover into Somalia has done.

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What should be done? The UAE, whose Horn presence is particularly pronounced, should build on its successful Eritrea-Ethiopia diplomacy. It should continue backing Eritrean-Ethiopian peace, encouraging both parties to fulfil their commitments. Abu Dhabi should heal its rift with the Somali government, and thus help calm tensions between Mogadishu and its peripheries.

I.Overview

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has emerged in recent months as an important protagonist in the Horn of Africa. Through political alliances, aid, investment, military base agreements and port contracts, it is expanding its influence in the region. A recent manifestation came in the summer of 2018, when Eritrea and Ethiopia announced – after a flurry of visits to and from Emirati officials – that they had reached an agreement to end their twenty-year war. Emirati and Saudi diplomacy and aid were pivotal to that deal. Elsewhere, however, Gulf countries have played a less constructive role. Competition between the UAE and Saudi Arabia, on the one hand, and Qatar on the other, spilled into Somalia beginning in late 2017, aggravating friction between Mogadishu and Somali regional leaders. Abu Dhabi’s relations with the Somali government have collapsed. As its influence in the Horn grows, the UAE should build on its Eritrea-Ethiopia peace-making by continuing to underwrite and promote that deal, while at the same time looking to reconcile with the Somali government.

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An array of calculations shapes the UAE’s actions in the Horn. The Gulf port cities have a long history of ties with Africa, centred around maritime trade and dating to the era before the Emirates united as a nation-state. From 2011, however, Abu Dhabi began to look at the countries along the Red Sea coast as more than commercial partners. Turmoil in the Middle East, Iran’s growing regional influence, piracy emanating from Somalia and, from 2015, the war in Yemen combined to turn the corridor’s stability into a core strategic interest. The 2017 Gulf crisis, which saw Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Qatar, pushed leaders on both sides of the divide to double down on their alliances, including in the Horn. Since then, the UAE has nailed down diplomatic relationships and extended its reach, particularly along the Red Sea.

 In places, Gulf rivalries have been destabilising. 

In places, Gulf rivalries have been destabilising. In Somalia in particular, the UAE, perceiving the Somali government of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed “Farmajo” as too close to Qatar and keen to protect years of investment, has deepened its relations with the governments of Somalia’s regions, or federal states. Importing the Gulf crisis into Somalia has contributed to tensions between Mogadishu and the federal states that over recent months have threatened to boil over. Elsewhere, however, Abu Dhabi’s peace-making is evident. The UAE, together with Saudi Arabia, provided critical diplomatic and financial support to help Eritrea and Ethiopia take the first steps toward a rapprochement that could prove enormously beneficial for wider Horn stability. Both Gulf monarchies also appear to have contributed to an easing of tensions between Ethiopia and Egypt.

The UAE, along with its fellow Gulf monarchies, is investing in the Red Sea and Horn of Africa for the long haul. Ideally, its successful Eritrea-Ethiopia diplomacy would provide the basis for that engagement. To that end, it should consider the following:

  • Keep underwriting Eritrean-Ethiopian peace, including by releasing the aid it has promised and pressing Asmara and Addis Ababa to follow through on the September agreement they signed in Jeddah;
  • Seek to end its debilitating spat with Mogadishu, with the understanding that warmer Abu Dhabi-Mogadishu relations are likely a prerequisite for overcoming divisions between President Farmajo’s government and Somali regional leaders. The UAE could encourage allies in the regions to reconcile with Mogadishu and take steps to facilitate their doing so, for example pledging to inform Farmajo’s government of its activities in the federal states, from training security forces to developing ports.

II.The UAE’s Long Involvement in the Horn

When the Eritrean and Ethiopian leaders signed the September agreement, Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s role in brokering it was in full view. The ceremony took place in Jeddah, on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast. The two African leaders sat in an opulent room under the gaze of a metres-high portrait of the founding Saudi king, Abdulaziz. The current king, Salman, looked on, flanked by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Emirati foreign minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed. The traditional regional powerbrokers – Western countries, the UN and the African Union (AU) – were absent.

The Eritrean-Ethiopian rapprochement, as well as a flurry of other Horn of Africa diplomacy, has greatly boosted Gulf states’ visibility as geopolitical actors along the Red Sea. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are now central to conversations about the future of a region still suffering strife and instability. With Washington seemingly in retreat, the Gulf countries appear intent on playing a major role. As one Gulf official put it: “If you look at the future of Africa, it’s clear – China is in. The Arab countries are in. The U.S. is not”. The larger questions are what each Gulf country aims to gain and how each intends to use its newly acquired leverage.

 The UAE itself has a long track record of engagement across the Red Sea. 

The UAE itself has a long track record of engagement across the Red Sea. It hosts large diasporas from Horn countries, some of which were integral to its founding in 1971. Arabic-speaking Sudanese civil servants helped build nascent ministries, and members of the diaspora still swap stories about how President Omar al-Bashir was once Khartoum’s military attaché in Abu Dhabi. Dubai, meanwhile, is the banking hub for many Somali businesses.

The Emirates’ history as a trading coast also informs its contemporary economic outreach. The UAE’s model of economic diversification is built around its role as a logistics hub and regional headquarters. It is a model premised on freedom of maritime navigation, including through Bab al-Mandab, the narrow passage from the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea, and the Strait of Hormuz. Analysts often describe both bodies of water as chokepoints because they are easily closed to oil tankers and other cargo ships. Having cooperative, even like-minded governments along the Red Sea corridor is a strategic priority. Africa is also a natural theatre for trade and logistical ambitions. It comes as no surprise that one of the Dubai-based logistics giant DP World’s first contracts abroad was in Djibouti, where it began to develop Doraleh port in 2006.

III.The Arab Uprisings and a New Emirati Stance Abroad

The 2011 Arab uprisings vested the Red Sea with strategic importance for the UAE beyond core economic interests and led Abu Dhabi to view that corridor, as well as places as seemingly far-flung as Jordan and Libya, as its “neighbourhood”. Those uprisings transformed the Middle East from a zone of entrenched autocracies into a web of conflicts that political Islamists associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, whom the UAE and Saudi Arabia view as enemies, initially seemed to be winning. Abu Dhabi, in particular, views groups affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, which have traction inside the Emirates, as an existential threat. Their ascendancy as far away as North Africa alarmed the Emirates, particularly as conflicts across the Arab world increasingly appeared interlinked, with events in one place shaping those elsewhere.

A growing sense of danger bred a more interventionist foreign policy. The UAE, like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, funnelled support to allies in Libya, Egypt and elsewhere. To explain these actions to citizens at home – used to an economically focused UAE – Emirati leaders invoked an argument still oft-repeated in policymaking hallways in Abu Dhabi: you can’t be safe if your neighbourhood is at war.

Egypt’s future took on particular importance after its first democratic election in modern history brought a Muslim Brotherhood leader, Mohamed Morsi, to the presidency. After Morsi’s ouster in a coup that the UAE and Saudi Arabia lauded and may have actively encouraged, Abu Dhabi and Riyadh, together with Kuwait, poured billions into the new government’s coffers. Abu Dhabi also kept a keen eye on the security of the Suez Canal, including when the scale of piracy in the Red Sea, the canal’s southern gateway, jumped in the mid-2010s. Seeing a risk to its oil shipments and cargo containers, the UAE took an active role in counter-piracy initiatives. In Somalia, it trained a marine police force in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland and began experimenting with counter-terrorism operations against the Islamist Al Shabaab insurgency. The country became a Petri dish of learning for UAE special forces, which Western defence officials describe as the most capable in the Gulf today.

IV.The Yemen Catalyst

By 2015, the tumult in the Middle East – the Islamic State’s rise, Libya’s collapse, the Syria inferno, instability in post-coup Egypt and fear at what some Gulf leaders saw as Iran’s increasing influence across the region – created a siege mentality in some Gulf monarchies. In that context, Saudi Arabia and its primary partner the UAE led a military intervention in Yemen to roll back Huthi rebels loosely allied with Tehran. The Huthis had ousted the president and taken control of the capital and much of the country in late 2014 and early 2015.

In its anti-Iran drive, Riyadh sought assistance from past allies Sudan and Eritrea, both of which had strengthened ties with Tehran while all three countries were under international sanctions. Beginning in the 1990s, Sudan had built its defence industry with Iranian assistance and know-how; Eritrea had offered use of its port, Assab, to the Iranian navy. In 2014, however, both countries ejected Iranian diplomats. A year later, both agreed to contribute troops and resources for the Yemen war.

At the outset of the Yemen conflict, the UAE and Saudi Arabia were alarmed by Huthi rebels’ gains around Bab al-Mandab, raising the possibility that an Iranian-allied group would control such a chokepoint. They prioritised retaking Yemen’s western and southern coastlines. The UAE took de facto responsibility for operations in Yemen’s south and quickly found itself in need of a naval and air base along the Red Sea. The natural candidate was Djibouti, where DP World had built the port. By then, however, Abu Dhabi’s relationship with Djibouti was souring over allegations of corruption related to DP World’s contract (DP World disputes the allegations). Officials from the two countries had a falling-out in April 2015, when the UAE, with DP World’s infrastructure, sought to use Djibouti as a military launching pad into Yemen.

The Saudi-led coalition turned to another port, Eritrea’s Assab. Riyadh signed a security agreement also that April to use Assab, leaving Abu Dhabi to carry out the deal’s terms. By September, the Emirati military was flying fighter-bombers from the Eritrean coastline.

The dispute with Djibouti left the UAE uneasy about its reach along the Red Sea corridor. Abu Dhabi worried that it could not rely on allies in the Horn – even in cases where it felt existential questions were at stake. As UAE-backed Yemeni forces pushed northward along the Red Sea coast, Abu Dhabi sought to expand its strategic depth. DP World and the Emirati military each penned an agreement to develop Berbera port in the self-declared republic of Somaliland. A subsidiary of DP World later signed a contract with local authorities in the Somali federal state of Puntland to develop Bosaso port. The attitude, as one Emirati official put it, became “fill space, before others do”.

V.The Intra-Gulf Crisis

The June 2017 Gulf crisis brought yet more urgency to the scramble along the Red Sea corridor. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with and imposed an embargo on Qatar.

Among the reasons the UAE in particular cited for breaking ties with Qatar was Doha’s alleged betrayal of the Saudi-led coalition efforts in Yemen. The Qataris had sent few personnel to the war theatre, but Abu Dhabi accused them of having revealed the location of a UAE-led operation to al-Qaeda, resulting in Emirati casualties, though they provided no evidence to support that allegation. (Qatar at the time declined to respond to this specific claim, and urged the UAE to provide evidence. ) After they imposed an air and naval blockade on Yemen, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi continued to claim that Doha was working actively against Saudi-led efforts, particularly through the media.

Also at the outset of the Gulf crisis, both sides began a frantic diplomatic push to secure allies, including among countries in Africa. In the Horn, competition was particularly fraught, given this subregion’s strategic value and proximity to Yemen. Djibouti and Eritrea both issued statements of support for the Saudi alliance, prompting Qatar to withdraw 400 observers it had stationed to monitor a border dispute between the two.

In Somalia, Farmajo, who had assumed office only months before the Gulf crisis, reportedly faced intense Saudi and Emirati pressure to cut ties with Doha. Although the president insisted that he wanted to remain neutral, for Abu Dhabi, widespread reports that he had received Qatari funds before his election belied that claim, as did his post-election appointment as chief aide of a former Al Jazeera correspondent with links to Doha. In April 2018, Somali authorities seized from a UAE plane almost $10 million in cash that Abu Dhabi said was intended to fund training of security forces that had long been underway but which Mogadishu alleged would be used to fund its political rivals.

In the aftermath of the spat, Abu Dhabi withdrew some officials from Mogadishu, evacuated a military training camp and shuttered a hospital. The UAE also shored up its alliances with leaders in Somalia’s federal states and the breakaway republic of Somaliland. It stuck to previous port agreements in Berbera and Bosaso, as well as a military base agreement for Berbera, and reportedly is discussing the development of Kismayo, in Jubbaland federal state, over the Somali federal government’s objections. The Gulf powers’ backing of rival factions – notably Emirati support for the governments of Somalia’s federal states and Qatari support for Farmajo – has exacerbated existing tensions between Mogadishu and the regions to the point of near-conflict.

The dust-up in Mogadishu is often described by officials in Abu Dhabi as a “wake-up call” – the most blaring signal that the UAE’s interests were imperilled along the African side of the Red Sea. For Abu Dhabi, the timing was inauspicious as well. Emirati-backed Yemeni forces had been gearing up for an offensive to move toward the Huthi-controlled port of Hodeida – an operation that was to rely heavily on assets parked across the sea in Assab. If past alliances with Djibouti and Somalia could turn on a dime, perhaps other seemingly assured relationships – such as with Eritrea – could do so, too.

VI.The Ethiopia-Eritrea Peace Deal

As the UAE’s relations with the Somali federal government soured, a new prime minister emerged in Ethiopia whose reformist economic views appealed to Abu Dhabi. Both countries had already begun laying the groundwork for closer ties some years ago. In March 2013, the two agreed to form a joint commission to discuss economic, political and other cooperation. In April 2018, the selection by Ethiopia’s ruling coalition of a new and charismatic prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, paired with Abu Dhabi’s desire for a new partner in the Horn, catalysed a quicker alignment. As Abiy spoke of privatisation and development to unleash the potential of the Horn’s most populous country, the UAE saw a strategic and investment opportunity. Among the many constraints on Ethiopia’s growth has been its lack of sea access and consequent reliance on Djibouti as the sole outlet for its exports. The UAE’s newly signed port contracts could help. In March 2018, DP World announced that Addis Ababa would take a 19 per cent stake in the Berbera port’s development.

Now, with an energetic partner and a cornucopia of potential commercial opportunities lying in wait in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia, Abu Dhabi launched a series of meetings and mutual delegations in a bid to forge strong ties with Abiy. Abu Dhabi’s and Riyadh’s relationships with Eritrea positioned them well to help facilitate rapprochement between Asmara and Addis Ababa, once leaders in those capitals were ready. Abu Dhabi pledged $3 billion to Ethiopia, an amount that puts the country on par with Egypt as a recipient of UAE assistance. The two Gulf countries assured Eritrea, meanwhile, that they would help lobby for the lifting of international sanctions in the coming months. If sanctions go, Assab – which has been modernised for military sorties but not for container ships – will almost certainly be the next port to go to market for commercial development.

 As seen from the Gulf, the Ethiopia-Eritrea peace deal has both economic and strategic layers. 

As seen from the Gulf, the Ethiopia-Eritrea peace deal has both economic and strategic layers. Amid the UAE’s strategic setbacks in Djibouti and Somalia, the Ethiopia-Eritrea deal in many ways cements Abu Dhabi’s role as a player in Horn politics. In the weeks since the agreement was announced, Ethiopia’s prime minister also has helped spearhead efforts to improve relations with Somalia, which may in turn help smooth the rough patch between Mogadishu and Abu Dhabi – though for now little suggests rapprochement will come any time soon.

Both Abu Dhabi and Riyadh also appear to have helped behind the scenes Prime Minister Abiy’s efforts to improve relations with Egypt, another old foe. Abiy visited Cairo in June and publicly reassured Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi that Ethiopian development projects – notably the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which Egypt fears could severely curtail its supply of Nile water – would not harm Egypt. Sisi has also taken a conciliatory approach, saying he recognises that there is no military solution to the dispute. At the same time, Saudi Arabia has helped start a dialogue between Eritrea and Djibouti over a decade-long border conflict. Though that dialogue is still in its early days, after an initial meeting between the two countries’ leaders in Jeddah in September 2018, Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh told Saudi media that relations had “entered the normalisation phase”. In a sense, both Abu Dhabi and Riyadh are creating facts on the ground in the Horn. In the process, they are becoming forces that cannot easily be ignored.

The payoff could be enormous for regional integration, infrastructure development and connectivity across the Red Sea. Just with regard to ports, the Horn remains one of the most underserved areas of the world relative to population, with a single modern multi-use deep-water port at Doraleh, in Djibouti.

Yet because competition with adversaries also drives the push into the Horn, risks are at least as prominent as opportunities. The contrast between the roles played by the Gulf powers in Ethiopia and Somalia is instructive. At one moment, Gulf involvement in the Horn, even if motivated in part by rivalry between two Middle East axes, can move things in the right direction, as it has with Abiy’s push for peace with Eritrea. At another, those same rivalries can destabilise and divide.

VII.Conclusion

The UAE signals repeatedly that its engagement with Africa is here to stay. In 2018, it is opening an additional six embassies on the continent, adding to the more than a dozen already there. As one Emirati official put it: “We need to diversify and strengthen our relationships outside our own region. If we only pay attention to the Middle East and North Africa, we will be bogged down in crisis. We could miss a lot of opportunities around the globe”.

While credit for the Ethiopia-Eritrea deal lies primarily with the leaders of those two countries, clearly Gulf powers, especially the UAE, played an important role in helping push forward the initial steps of a rapprochement that could be significant across the Horn. The deal demonstrated that the UAE and Saudi Arabia can play important peace-making roles. Abu Dhabi and its peers can encourage regional economic integration and help give leaders in the Horn the extra boost, including both political and financial support, they might need to make peace. Such was the story of Eritrea and Ethiopia – two countries that saw domestic interests in making peace but needed the right economic and diplomatic assurances from abroad.

The months ahead will be crucial for the success of that deal. Abiy faces enormous hurdles in his quest to reform the economy and consolidate political support. Eritrea’s reopening to the world will undoubtedly encounter unexpected challenges. For the Jeddah deal to succeed, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi will need to work proactively to keep the parties on track. They can begin by promptly following through on their aid commitments.

 Despite the bright spot of Eritrea-Ethiopia peace-making, intra-Gulf competition colours Emirati involvement across the Horn. 

Yet despite the bright spot of Eritrea-Ethiopia peace-making, intra-Gulf competition colours Emirati involvement across the Horn. Whether the killing of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate will lead to some form of rapprochement within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), as some reports suggest might happen, remains unclear. But even if so, the Saudi-UAE alliance is still likely to view actors such as Qatar and Turkey as competitors in strategic theatres like the Horn. Moreover, while for now Tehran’s influence is largely limited to the Yemeni side of the Red Sea, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi’s engagement in the Horn is likely to remain informed by their determination to ensure Iran does not regain a foothold, including by winning back its former allies Sudan and Eritrea.

The damage that external rivalries can inflict on the Horn was made clear in Somalia, where friction among Gulf powers, and in turn between the UAE and Farmajo’s government, has exacerbated pre-existing tension over how power and resources are divvied up between the capital and the regions. Abu Dhabi says that it wants a stable Somalia, but the country is likely to remain volatile unless strong Emirati ties to Somali regional leaders are paired with a reconciled UAE relationship with Mogadishu. Abu Dhabi could pledge to inform Farmajo’s government of its activities in the federal states – whether training security forces or developing ports – and ensure that its investment and aid benefit the country and not only its regions. The UAE also might encourage its allies in the federal states to repair their own ties to Mogadishu.

Abu Dhabi faces a choice in how much its Middle Eastern rivalries shape its Horn engagement. If competition remains a primary driver, results will almost certainly be mixed. In some places the UAE may still help bridge divides, even if partly motivated by shoring up its own influence at the expense of rivals. Elsewhere, however, competition could put Horn governments in a difficult spot, forcing them to choose between the two Gulf axes or exacerbating local conflicts in new ways. Ultimately, zero-sum competition in the Horn risks upsetting both the internal politics of the region’s diverse states and the balance of power among those states. Outside powers may win short-term gains, but over time everyone stands to lose from greater Horn instability.

Ethiopia bloodshed at least 88 were killed

Africa Times: At least 88 people were killed during a weekend of ethnic violence in Ethiopia’s capital, an Amnesty International researcher told AFP on Wednesday, citing a figure more than double the government estimate of 23 dead.

Another source involved in the investigation, who saw and counted the corpses, told AFP a total of 88 people had been killed, mostly in the city’s western suburbs.

“The 65 cases are from Burayu, Ashewa Meda, Kolfe and Kirkos,” said the source on condition of anonymity, referring to three western areas and one in the centre.

The victims were either stabbed or died after being beaten with sticks and rocks. None had been shot and the toll does not include five alleged looters killed by police on Monday.

Fisseha Tekle, a Nairobi-based researcher with Amnesty International, said he had compiled a similar tally of 58 dead.

Residents told Amnesty International they saw “eight dead bodies on Friday, 21 on Saturday, on Sunday they saw about 11 people and on Monday the number of dead bodies they’ve seen were 18,” Fisseha said.

Government spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment.

The violence began last week in the run-up to Saturday’s return of the once-banned Oromo Liberation Front, a rebel group that returned to Ethiopia following political reforms introduced by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Qatari Tribes writes to Human Rights Commissioner on Violation of Human Rights

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Qatar comes under scrutiny when the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights received a letter on Monday regarding discrimination from the Qatari Regime. The tribe is not just a small group but rather a well known, powerful and large tribe residing in Qatar.

The Al Ghurfan tribe filed an official complaint to the Arab Federation For Human Rights and requested the federation to refer the complaint to UN Human Rights council about the violations committed by the Qatar regime against its very own members.

The tribe then approached the UN to charge the Qatari Authorities with Human Rights violation because they have been subject to torture, racial discrimination, treated as prisoners, put to death and even denied of their rights to Qatari citizenship and denied to return their homeland when they travelled outside.

The tribe ( Al Ghurfan clan ) have substantial proof of such arbitrary acts to more than 54 members of their tribes. The members of the clan claimed they started facing such treatment ever since they opposed the Qatari regime’s destabilising policies and in relation to the dispute between Qatar’s neighbouring states. They estimate this behaviour from the Qatari authorities to

Qatari authorities had revoked citizenship of another tribe called the Al Murrah tribe, while 6000 members of Al Ghurfan were forcibly displaced, confiscated properties, called for systematic persecution against all clans that belonged to larger tribes such as senior members of the Shaml al-Hawajer tribe and famous poet Mohammed al-Marri belonging to the al-Murrah tribe, majority of the members were deprived of national rights.

The delegation that is representing the tribe has said “Through your unique mandate to promote and protect human rights, we ask your esteemed commission to see and stand up to the suffering of our citizens who have been deprived of their citizenship in Qatar and to the crimes committed against them and to alleviate the conditions and suffering of our displaced people in the villages and deserts of border areas in neighboring countries”

Support from neighbours

Hearing the case of the Al Ghorfan Clan, EOHR also known as the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights announced solidarity in regards to their case and said that the Al Ghorfan tribe makes up about 40 percent of the people of Qatar and are indigenous to the country.

EOHR stated that they believe in universality of human rights principles and need to establish and maintain those rights in the Arab region. With the country’s support they addressed the letter to United Nations High Commissioner the President of the Arab Federation informed the commission to protect the members of the tribes and pursued to restore their lost rights and punish the Qatari regime for the misconduct with their own citizens.

The Tribe received support from the World Aid Organization in New York when they adopted their case and declared their solidarity with the tribe;s case.

The World Aid Organization collectively sought to raise the awareness of the international community and shoulder the tribe with humanitarian support and that it will follow up with them on the status .

The Head of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, Hafez Abu Seada “The Egyptian Organization calls upon the High Commissioner for Human Rights, her excellency Mrs. Michel Bachelet, to open an extensive investigation into this tragedy. EOHR also calls upon Mrs. Bachelet to assist it in its efforts to restore the rights of the clan of Al Ghofran as indigenous inhabitants who have been robbed of their nationalities and forcefully displaced enmasse for political reasons, in violation of all international human rights instruments. Finally EOHR expresses its readiness to provide any documents or evidence that the honorable Commission may need in any of the efforts we hope it will take to stop the suffering of the people of forgiveness.”

Dating back to 2017…

The matter on deprivation of unfair detention and unscrupulous behaviours towards tribes was the agenda of the conference held by Qataris that were exiled in London, September. At that time the tribe called on the United Nations Commissioner’s Office and tried to regain their rights.

The tribe described their ordeals to the High Commission and requested them to stand up against the suffering of the citizens who were denied the right to their own homeland and that they would alleviate the conditions of suffering and help them regain their displaced villages.

The requested the council to not only resolve the matter at hand but also create a path where people of the clan did not fear the government and tolerate oppression in silence to protect their parents, relatives back home in Qatar.

The tribe at that time also said the National Human Rights Commission of Qatar was doing more harm then good and becoming an obstacle in receiving justice as the commission of Qatar mostly covers up evidence and spreads false information

Djibouti ‘Shocked’ By Somalia’s Position on Eritrea Sanctions

Djibouti ‘Shocked’ By Somalia’s Position on Eritrea Sanctions
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africatimes| August 1, 2018

Djibouti has formally responded to a recent call by Somalia that United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanctions on Eritrea be lifted. According to Djibouti it was ‘deeply shocked’ by that position.

Somali president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed on a three-day official visit to Asmara said the sanctions imposed since 2009 had to be lifted given the current political and diplomatic developments in the Horn of Africa region.

But in a statement in reaction to the Somali president’s view, the Djiboutian Embassy in Somalia wrote in an August 1, 2018 statement:

… it is unacceptable to see our brotherly Somalia supporting Eritrea which is occupying part of our territory and still denying having Djiboutian prisonsers.

“As a sovereign state, there is no doubt that Somalia has the right to establish diplomatic relations with the countries of the region, however, it is unacceptable to see our brotherly Somalia supporting Eritrea which is occupying part of our territory and still denying having Djiboutian prisonsers.”

It continued that the wiser line of action would have been for President Mohamed to call for peaceful resolution of the border crisis that has strained relations between the two neighbours.

The statement accused Somalia of historic less support of Djibouti which it said had led to blinded supported for Eritrea plus an advocacy that Eritrea be free despite its stubborn nature.

“We will not tolerate with ruthless talks while our young men and women are yet here defending Somalia’s peace and stability,” the statement concluded.

Eritrea’s 2009 UN sanctions, Gulf crisis and Doumeira impasse

An arms embargo imposed on Eritrea since 2009 was chiefly to do with its alleged support for Somali insurgent group Al-Shabaab but also because of its agression against Djibouti and refusal to enter any form of mediation over the disputed regions.

The disputed land in question is the Dumeira mountain and Dumeira island which Djibouti claims is being illegally occupied by Eritrea. The issue of Eritrea’s continued holding of Djiboutian prisoners has also been central to the dispute.

The last time tensions between the two came to the fore was in June 2017 when Qatar withdrew its peacekeeping force in the area at the height of the Gulf Crisis. Djibouti at the time accused Asmara of deploying soldiers to the disputed areas.

Djibouti ‘shocked’ by Somalia’s position on Eritrea sanctions

Eritrea has been in the news recently over the peace deal it entered into with neighbouring Ethiopia after two decades of severed ties and hostility over a border ruling. Addis Ababa through PM Abiy accepted to respect the 2002 border ruling and by that agreed to restore all ties with Eritrea.

Abiy signed a five-point end of war agreement with Eritrean leader Isaias Afwerki during a historic visit to Asmara. Afwerki reciprocated the gesture with a three-day visit to Addis Ababa.

Source: http://www.africanews.com/2018/08/01/djibouti-shocked-by-somalia-s-position-on-eritrea-sanctions/

Ethiopia’s state of emergency could destabilise the Horn of Africa

Former Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn sent shock waves through the region when he abruptly tendered his resignation.

Desalegn said that he had made the decision to facilitate efforts towards political reforms which started with the release of political prisoners. But rather than pursue a reform agenda, the Ethiopian government followed his announcement by declaring a state of emergency. This not only jeopardises the regime’s apparent intent to institute democratic reforms, it also pits citizens against the security forces. And it’s already led to more violence, not stability.

The state of emergency is being defied in a number of regions. Citizens have protested in Gondar, which is in the opposition Amhara region, as well as the opposition stronghold of Nekemte which is in Oromia. Much of the Oromia region is also defying the emergency measures.

As a result, the regime has targeted the Oromia region, and its protesting youths who are collectively known as Qeerro in the Oromo language.

Despite the release of thousands of political prisoners and talk of reforms, the political climate remains more uncertain than ever. It’s now feared that any government measures to suppress ensuing chaos could result in more violence, and deaths.

Instability in Ethiopia could have repercussions across the region. Unrest in the country could have a domino effect in what is an already volatile part of the continent. It could also affect regional peace efforts because instability in one corner of the Horn of Africa could spread and destabilise the entire region. This is especially the case because Ethiopia is home to so many cross border communities.

Implications for the region
Ethiopia is influential in the region and across the continent. It is the second most populous country in Africa and one of the fastest growing economies in the world. It also hosts the African Union’s headquarters in its capital, Addis Ababa.

But its standing has been diminished by the political turmoil of the last few years when two of its largest ethnic groups, the Oromo and Amhara both started demanding political and economic equality. The ruling coalition’s responses to these demands has highlighted the fact that it isn’t committed to democratisation.

The risks for the region are significant. Unless the regime acts on political reforms to entrench democracy, equal distribution of resources and freedom of the press, Ethiopia – with more than 100 million citizens – could emerge as the largest politically unstable nation in an already volatile region.

An unstable Ethiopia could also affect peace efforts in neighbouring countries. For example, it’s role as a long standing mediator in the South Sudanese peace talks could suffer a setback.

And its army is also the only peacekeeping force in Abiye, an oil rich region that has been at the centre of the conflict between Sudan and South Sudan since 2011.

In addition, Ethiopia is second only to Bangladesh in the number of its troops involved in international peacekeeping. Across its South Eastern borders, it also maintains thousands of troops inside Somalia.

And although its role in Somalia has drawn criticism Ethiopia remains a critical ally to the US’s counter terrorism strategy in the region. Instability could also create a power vacuum that could affect the US-led anti-terror strategy.

Ultimately, an internal crisis in Ethiopia will affect the power balance with its arch rival Eritrea. After the Ethiopia-Eritrea war which ended in 2000, the two countries have remained engaged in a proxy war by supporting each others’ political opposition groups.

Cross-border communities
Most African states share cross-border societies. The Horn of Africa is no different. The Oromo for instance are a majority ethnic group in Ethiopia and also a minority in Kenya. The Nuer are South Sudan’s second largest ethnic group and also a minority in Ethiopia’s western Gambella region.

There are also Somalis in Ethiopia. They m

10 important thing you need to know about the agreement between UAE and somaliland

Here are ten important things you need to know about the agreement.

The Government of the Republic of Somaliland has leased an undisclosed amount of land to the UAE in the northern part of Berbera city – close to the shores of the Gulf of Aden. The UAE will build their own port for the military base. All military equipment to arrive through the their port will be exempt from taxes.
The UAE’s military will have full access to Berbera International Airport.
The lease agreement between both countries is valid for 25 years – and will come into full effect when both governments officially sign the agreement. After 25 years, the military base and all investments made by the UAE will be taken over by the Government of the Republic of Somaliland.
The military base can not be used by any other country except the UAE and can not be sub-leased by either the Government of the Republic of Somaliland or the Government of the United Arab Emirates. The agreement also states that the military base can not be used for any other purpose outside of the agreement.
The UAE will implement the following projects in Somaliland: a modern highway between Berbera and the border town of Wajaale, a modern renovation of Berbera International Airport for civillian and cargo flights, and numerous social development projects (Education, Health, Energy & Water) for the citizens of Somaliland.
The UAE will provide job opportunities for Somaliland’s citizens during the 25-year stay. The UAE will also ease travel barriers for Somaliland’s citizens.
The UAE will provide full cooperation with the Republic Somaliland on matters relating to Somaliland’s national security. This includes: cooperation on protecting Somaliland’s waters from illegal activities at sea (piracy, waste dumping etc).
The UAE pledges to the respect the rights and independence of Somaliland’s citizens and promises to not conduct any activities that will put Somaliland’s national security at risk. The UAE also will also be fully responsible for preserving and protecting the current equipment and construction of Berbera International Airport.
The Government of the Republic of Somaliland is not responsible for any natural disaster that might affect the implementation and/or activities of the military base. In the event of a natural disaster, both governments will jointly provide necessary relief efforts.
In the event of a dispute, both governments will be given 30 days to resolve the dispute. If the dispute is not resolved within 30 days, the dispute will be arbitrated by the London Court International Arbitration (LCIA). Both Governments also have the absolute right seek a dissolution agreement. If one side does not want to dissolve the agreement, the case will be heard by the London Court of International Arbitration.

Emirates to train Somaliland Air forces, army Forces

UAE to Train Somaliland Forces Under Military Base Deal:
Somaliland President

ABU DHABI — The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will train Somaliland security forces as part of a deal to establish a military base in the semi-autonomous region, Somaliland’s president said on Thursday.

UAE government officials could not immediately be reached for comment – but the UAE has committed to invest hundreds of million dollars in recent years in the territory on a strategically important stretch of coastline on the Gulf of Aden.

The UAE began construction last year of a base on a site at the airport of the Somaliland port city Berbera, and will be allowed to maintain a presence for 30 years. Berbera is less than 300 km (190 miles) south of war-torn Yemen, where UAE troops are fighting rebels as part of a Saudi-backed coalition.

President Muse Bihi Abdi said the UAE would train police and military in Somaliland, which wants independence from war-torn Somalia but is not recognized internationally. He said he expected the agreement to be finalised within two months

“They have the resources and the knowledge,” Abdi told Reuters in an interview in Abu Dhabi.

UAE has become more assertive in its foreign policy in recent years. The UAE Armed Forces have been fighting in the Yemen conflict since 2015 and in the past deployed in international operations including Kosovo and Afghanistan.

Abdi said the military base, which he expects will be completed this year, will guarantee economic development and security for Somaliland and act as a deterrent to extremist groups in the region.

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Somaliland’s Foreign Minister, Saad Ali Shire, who was present during the interview, declined to disclose how many UAE soldiers would be stationed at the base.

“POLITICAL MISTAKE”

Several regional powers have set up military bases along the Horn of Africa coastline, including Turkey in Somalia’s capital. The United States, China, Japan and France all have bases in neighboring Djibouti.

“It’s safer to have a lot of military in the area,” Abdi said.

Abdi said he hoped UAE investments, including a new civilian airport and a road connecting Berbera to landlocked Ethiopia, will lead to a “huge creation of employment” in Somaliland where unemployment is rampant.

“The biggest threat to Somaliland is poverty,” he said.

Dubai’s DP World is also developing Berbera port and building a free trade zone nearby.

This week, Somalia’s parliament voted to ban DP World from the country, an act that it said had nullified the agreement.

Abdi said the vote was a “joke” and a “political mistake” that would have no impact on the DP World agreement that includes the government of Ethiopia

Somaliland broke away from Somalia in 1991 and has acted as a de-facto state since then..

Abdi also said he expected the UAE would make a hard currency deposit into Somaliland’s central bank but added that there had been no agreement between the two sides.

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(Reporting by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Maggie Fick and Andrew Heaven

Shakir Essa