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May. 22nd, 2015

In One Week

In one week Nigeria will inagurate a New President. The Nigerian Press was hopeful that President Obama would attend the swearing in of Gen Buhari. Sadly it has been decided that Secretary of State Kerry will attend in his place. Although over 50 other Heads of State will attend the ceremony according to Nigerian Officials.

Very rarely do American Presidents attend the swearing in of their peers. Protocol usually demands that the Secretary of State attend as the Official Representative of the United States. There have been times where Members of the United States Congress have attended these ceremonies as well. However we do see the Chief Executive of the US at State Funerals.

The reaction of the Nigerians is very similar to the reactions of the Kenyans Regarding President Obama's Most recent trip to Africa. There was great hope and excitement in Kenya over that trip about the possibility of a Official Presidential Visit to Kenya. Sadly that didn't occur. The Kenyans were so upset that they replaced their Ambassador in Washington. However as a sort of consolation prize it was announced that the Power Africa Initiative of President Obama will be run from Nairobi. Kenya is also a recipient of assistance under this program.

It is clear that the Boko Haram issue has driven some wedge between Washington and Abuja. The Administration vetoed two proposed Helicopter deals between the Nigerians and Israel. This in turn has forced the Country to seek assistance again from Russia, The Congress has actually asked the State Department if a Waiver of the Leahy Law Restrictions would actually assist the Nigerian Military in this Operation. Will a new page of US-Nigerian Relations be written soon?

Although the Maghreb is not usually covered by Confused Eagle how about the designation of Tunisia as a Major Non-NATO ally by the administration? That will open up some dollars for some badly needed Aid to the Country. Now to increase the security situation so that both Tourists and Investors can actually return to the Country.

Today is Election Day in Ethiopia. No Western Observers in the Country to observe the polls. Anyone care to guess the results?

The UN is warning that the fighting in Yemen could open a conduit for Foreign Fighters and Jihadists to enter Somalia. Wow the Editor of Confused Eagle warned about this in a LinkedIn note back in Feburary.

May. 14th, 2015

Interesting News

Less then one week after Secretary of State Kerry visited Mogadishu the proposed nominee to be Ambassador to Somalia Katharine S Dhanani has withdrawn her nomination for personal reasons.

This places US Diplomacy in the Horn of Africa in a Bind. Al-Shabaab has been resurgent since the Yemen crisis began back in Feburary. They have launched attacks in both Somalia and in Kenya with their largest effort being the attack on the Christian College in Garissa, Kenya.

The Senate is expected to approve a new African Trade Bill this afternoon (day of posting). There could be African Imports becoming more available to American Citizens.

The United States has urged restraint in Burundi. The Administration has also urged that the Arusha Process be honored. This means that the efforts by the Incumbent to run for a third term has not seen the approval of Washington. There is word that the EU has already suspended some Economic Aid. This happens to be standard procedure after a Coup or perceived Coup takes place. There has been no word of any suspension of United States Aid to Burundi.

The Administration has criticized the Government of Salva Kiir for the resurgence in the Fighting in Unity State. It seems that neither President Kiir or former Vice President Machar or their supports can honor a cease fire at any point of time. Sometimes it seems that the deal is violated before the ink even dries.

At this time AFRICOM is conducting an exercise with Chadian Forces to improve Field Medicine. This exercise known as MEDRETE 15-3 has the goal of improving the Trauma responses and Surgical Techniques of Chadian Medical Personnel as well as helping the US Reservists as well.

The US Contributed to a Small Force of Marines that travelled throughout West Africa last Month training Military Personnel to improve readiness and to take on the contentious issue of Maritime Security. This is an issue that is becoming a major concern to planners and PSCs and several attacks against container ships have occurred in both Nigerian and Ghanaian Waters.

Some of the Stops included the Cameroonian Naval Commando Company base in Limbe, The Sekondi Naval Base in Ghana and in Gabon.

May. 5th, 2015

Surprise Visit

Secretary of State John Kerry is on a Trip to the Horn of Africa. He spent the previous 48 Hours in Kenya where he visited the site of the former US Embassy Compound that was destroyed by Al-Qaeda in 1998 and promised and addition $45 Million to help Kenya deal with the recent influx of Somali Refugees.

This is in addition to the $100 Million (Sh 9.5 Billion) that President Obama has reportedly released to Kenya to assist in its role in the global fight against terrorism. The Kenyan Military has taken on a very prominent role in neighboring Somalia as it deals with a suddenly resurgent and agressive Al-Shabbab Militancy which has launched attacks in both Countries.

Although it was not initially on the iternary the visit by Secretary Kerry to Mogadishu gives a much needed PR Victory to Somali President Mohamud. The Secretary is the highest ranking US Diplomat to be in Mogadishu since the debacle of a Peacekeeping Mission that occured back in 1993. While he was in Mogadishu Secretary Kerry met with the leaders of Puntland and Somaliland as well.

These meetings also give these regions which are autonomous in name but seeking acceptance as Independent States huge PR Victories as well. For the most part Puntland and Somaliland have had their representatives meet with MId-Level Diplomats from several countries and or UN Agencies. Kudos to them.

We need to remember Djibouti which has recently cemented closer ties with the United States and maintains a sizable force of the US Military is the next stop in the Mission by the Secretary.

While Secretary Kerry was in Nairobi the situation in Burundi came up during the talks. The Situation continues to get more dire by the day. Over the weekend the National University was closed and some of the students sought sanctuary at the US Embassy Compound. Now today there is word that Burundian Police fired on a demonstration that was heading towards the Embassy in Bujumbura. It seems that a weekend truce has lapsed and the demonstrations have once again fired up in various parts of the Capitol.

Digressing for a moment back to the US Providing Funds to fight terrorism. Last Week the United States provided $50 Million to France to be allocated for use in Three Countries Mali, Niger and Chad. It is interesting yet again to see Nigeria left of any list of aid being provided to West Africa to fight terrorism. The cynical view is that some of this aid will be restored when General Buhari assumes yet again the Presidency of Nigeria.

Despite recent successful attacks in Niger the Conventional Wisdom is suggesting that Boko Haram or the Islamic State West African Province is on its heels in full retreat. But there are several lingering questions such as how is success defined? Has the group planted stay behinds which itself is a classic tactic in an Insurgency? Are they spreading their efforts beyond Nigeria? those are the questions that need to be asked.....

Apr. 28th, 2015

Must Be an Important Meeting.....

Earlier this week Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was supposed to visit the United States. This trip was cancelled by the Kenyans with the reason being cited being the deteroration of the situation within Yemen. This is an interesting move considering how President Kenyatta recently attended a summit with three other regional Presidents (Somalia, Tanzania and Djibouti) had with the King of Jordan.

There must be either an important message that the Kenyans want to divulge to the Obama Administration or perhaps its a warning or a a request. Whatever the reason later this week Secretary of State Kerry will stop in Nairobi. It has also been announced that He will stop off in Djibouti as well.

In recent posts it has been documented how Djibouti has strengthened its relationship with the United States after the collapse of order in Yemen and a resurgent Al-Shabaab has launched several high profile attacks in both Somalia and in Kenya. The Targets in Somalia have been Government Officials while in Kenya it appears that anyone is a potential target.....

The US has criticized the efforts of the President of Burundi Pierre Nkurunziza and his candidacy to run for a Third Term in office when those elections are held on June 26th. Already reports indicate that 15,000 people have fled the Country fleeing mostly into neighboring Rwanda or the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The State Department statement states that the seeking of the third term violates the Arusha accords which restored order in the country after a decade of uncertainty.

In another interesting twist the Government of Burundi has warned the Diplomatic Corps to stay neutral during this time of growing dissent. Since the announcement was made over a dozen people have been killed in protests around the city of Bujumbura.

As this report is being prepared the Nigerian Military tweeted that they were able to rescue 200 schoolgirls and 93 Women from captivity. The reports did not specify whether or not those released were among those seized a year ago in Chibok. However if this can be verified than this is good news with interesting timing. After all Goodluck Jonathan has been voted out of office by the people of Nigeria.

There are now reports of armed Ugandans in the Kivu Provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Their motives are unclear but I doubt that its positive for the region. The timing is interesting because of the lack of coverage in the Western Media like there was for the offensive against M23.

Apr. 17th, 2015

Briefings

This past week there were two briefings conducted here in Washington. Both of these Briefings concerned crisis spots in West Africa.

First of all an update regarding the Algiers Peace Process was given. These three way talks between the Malian Government, Muslim Fundamentalists and the Tauregs are at a critical juncture at this time. There is a framework for a deal in place however the Tauregs are reluctant to affix their signature to this document and finally end the crisis that began back in 2012.

However there appear to be some elements who do not want an resolution to the crisis. As this update is being prepared word has come that the the suicide attack on a UN outpost in Ansongo that wounded sixteen people with nine of the injured Nigerian Peacekeepers was claimed by an Al-Qaeda Offshoot.

Another reason for concern is the report that an effort to smuggle weapons into Mali from Algeria was interdicted. Some of what was captured were rockets, self-repeating rifles and ammunition.

The other briefing concerns Burkina Faso. In October the country goes to the polls to formally name a civilian successor to replace former President Blaise Comparare who was ousted in late October after a Popular Uprising. However there is concern that the Party of the Former President and their allies have been disqualified from the upcoming plebiscite.

Stability in Burkina Faso is crucial for the region as it sits on the intersection of several trade routes. Issues of Political Instability in the Region can be excarbated if there is not a peaceful transition in Burkina. So like in Mali there are signs of Optimism but the road for restoration of Democracy will be long.

The United States has taken the next  crucial step for reengagement in the Central African Republic. He has sent forward to the Senate the name of Jeffrey Hawkins, Jr to be the next ambassador to Bangui. Since 2012 Mr Hawkins has been the US Consul General in Lagos, Nigeria. Before that He was posted in Brunei, Afganistan, Angola, France, Ivory Coast, India and Pakistan. No date for the Confirmation Hearings has been set yet.

Apr. 3rd, 2015

A Phone Call

Earlier this week President Obama called his counterpart in Kinshasa Joseph Kabila. The topic of conversation was reported to be regional politics and the upcoming Elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

It is widely reported that President Kabila will circumvent the Congolese Constitutional Term Limits of two terms for the President and run for a third term next year. His allies in Parliament are already in the works of preparing Legislation to do just that. Earlier this year an attempt to delay the elections until a census was completed was met with widespread protests.

Last May Secretary of State Kerry promised $35 Million to the Congo to provide badly need funds to plan and organize these elections with the caveat that President Kabila would respect the Congolese Constitution. A Government Spokesman did say that President Kabila would do what is best for the Congo. This response was not well received at the White House.

Why does this matter? The DRC is not the only country where a President who is facing term limits wants to remain in power. In Brazzaville Denis Sassou Nguesso seeks a third term but reportedly has announced that He will only do so if the people of Congo- Brazzaville approve of his doing so. The President of Togo is reportedly making similar plans as well. When President Obama said that Africa needs Strong Institutions not Strong Men it appears that some of the leaders think of themselves as institutions.

Speaking of institutions: It appears that efforts to defeat the FDLR have hit a snag after some form of initial success.

Also earlier this week the US issued a travel warning for Uganda. It appears that Al-Shabaab is preparing to launch an attack there. This was days before the Massacre at the College in Garissa, Kenya that left over 140 people killed. At the same time the US was issuing the warning regarding Uganda both Australia and the UK were issuing Warnings advising their people not to venture close to the Somali Border. Makes you wonder what the Brits and Aussies knew before hand doesn't it?

The Elections in Nigeria went to former General Buhari of the APC. Already there is some blowback on K St in Washington. It appears that the power shift in Nigeria could affect Lobbying Interests on Capitol Hill and other areas of the Administration. This is some serious money being affected running into hundreds of millions of dollars. There is expected to be some change eminating from Abuja.

The Commanding General of AFRICOM Gen David Rodriguez recently testified in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He testified about how his command assisted in the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa that began last fall, the response to regional crises, combating violent extremism and the efforts to apprehend Joseph Kony among other topics.

Mar. 20th, 2015

Other Crisis Spots

Even though other crisis spots have driven off of the Front Pages of the World Media Outlets there are two pieces of news regarding the Central African Republic that need to be addressed.

First of all there is the report that most of the 436 Mosques that were in the Country have been destroyed during the conflict. This is a disturbing trend that could sprout in other countries in Africa.  But there is an underlying issue here. When Seleka launched their drive to oust then President Francois Bozize from Power back in 2012 there was hardly any International outcry about how the Insurgents destroyed Municipal Buildings and Churches.

An effort by the African Union, France and others have been unable to control the violence during its mandate. The UN Security Council recently held a meeting after sending a mission to the Country. Several Elements have begun a withdrawal of assets that some feel will lead to a Power Vaccum in the Country.

Also it has been Announced that the United States will be providing $ 850,000 i
n Equipment to Zambia to equip its Peacekeepers currently serving in the Central African Republic. The US is providing Helmets, Uniforms and Boots to ZAMBATT ` or Zambian Battalion 1 which is tasked with serving with and supporting Peacekeeping Missions.

It should also be noted that this week AFRICOM is hosting Miliitary Lawyers from 17 Countries in Africa. They are discussing key legal issues and there will be an update on Confused Eagle later on

Mar. 13th, 2015

Points to Ponder

Earlier this week two senior Nigerian Counterterrorism Officials were here in Washington to give a brief about the recent Military Operations against Boko Haram.  In recent weeks these operations have been considered to be a success.

What has happened since the delay of the Elections? We know that several regional neighbors Niger, Chad and Cameroon have sent troops into Northeastern Nigeria to conduct Operations against the Group. The Group itself has launched reprisal raids into these three Nations as well. Overall most of the territory seized by BH has been liberated.

There is a point of contention however. Both officials were highly critical of the process by which they receive Intelligence from the United States. They want to have it delivered realtime not four hours later as appears to be the normal Method of Delivery. They state that they have consistently informed their American Counterparts of this.

If they have a problem with how they receive information then the issue is that somewhere in the Decision Making process whether its at the Embassy in Abuja or here in Washington has concerns about how the information will be used. It may be that there is some risk that this info could actually land into the hands of the Islamists. So there is some vetting process that is currently being used to determine how the intel will be delivered to the Nigerians.

Here is an interesting point. We all know how that in the aftermath of the Coup in Mali the United States and several other Countries suspended Economic and Military Aid. It appears that there was an MCC (Millenium Challenge Corporation) Compact with Mali that was suspended as well. According to sources that spoke with the Confused Eagle 15% of the funds from this deal HAVE NOT been delivered to Mali. It is no surprise to realize that there is going to be a Peace Deal in Mali. The Question is if there is a New MCC Compact signed with Mali will the suspended funds be released?

Rumors also indicate that there was a US Drone Strike in Somalia. Apparently one of the victims was a planner of the Westgate Mall attack that occurred in Nairobi. If this is confirmed then it is a small victory against Al-Shabaab

Feb. 28th, 2015

A New Warning

The Situation in Central Africa continues to heat up. Earlier this week the State Department saw fit to issue a Travel Warning targeting Chad. What is interesting is that the warning covers two specific areas.

First is the Area around Lake Chad. Since Mid Janurary Chadian Forces have taken a key role in the effort to defeat Boko Haram. If Media Outlets and Government Spokespeople from the region can be believed then Hundreds of Islamist Fighters have been killed by the Chadian Army. Boko Haram has also launched a couple of attacks within Chad as well.

The Other area of concern is the Eastern Border. The Situation in Darfur remains tense according to reports. Also within 30 Days Presidential Elections are scheduled for Sudan. In recent days there have been several ominous comments originating from Khartoum in regards to the Political Opposition.

That covers some of the external issues. There are some internal issues that need to be pointed out as well. While there has been no specific threats made against US Nationals the US Embassy in the Country only has limited ability to provide Consular Services in the remote and rural parts of the Country. The Warning urges American working for International Aid Agencies to follow the protocols set up by their host agencies and to even have an evacuation plan set up.

Incidents of robbery, carjacking at gunpoint and murder have been reported throughout the Country including the Capital N'Djamena. Another point of concern is that large crowds appearing at the scene of traffic accidents and then becoming hostile to those who were involved in the incident. The Embassy has taken the step to authorize caution for movement around the Capital with an emphasis on movements conducted during the evening.

In other news the US has donated a C-130 Hercules Transport to Ethiopia to assist in future deployments for Peacekeeping on behalf of missions for both the UN and the AU. It should be noted that the Ethiopian Air Force which has flown C-130s since 1998 has had an issue with Pilots and Aircraft due to the desertion of Pilots to neighboring Eritrea and Kenya and losses in Somalia.

The United States formally wrapped up its Ebola Mission in West Africa this week. However 100 troops will remain in Liberia to monitor the disease. President Sirleaf-Johnson was in Washington this week to thank the US for its support during the deadly pandemic that killed thousands of people last year.

Feb. 21st, 2015

A Sudden Departure

There is word that current Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region (Central Africa) Russ Feingold will officially tender his resignation sometime within the next 21 days. Why this change is occurring has not been officially made clear.

The timing of the resignation is interesting. A new offensive is in the works in the Eastern Part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This time the target is the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) or the former Armed Forces of the Government that was driven out of Power during the horrific genocidal period in 1994. The UN itself has withdrawn support for this mission over the status of some senior officers of FARDC (Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo) who they wanted removed due to their suspected War Crimes.

Also Burundi is preparing for their Elections in May of this year. Tensions within the country are high as well with reports this week of the removal of the Nation's Intelligence Chief just 90 days after being appointed to the job. Also a prominent Radio Personality who supported the opposition was released from jail as well. This runup is proving to be very interesting.

There is speculation that Mr. Feingold is considering a return to the US Senate. During the time he served in that body African concerns were one of his major concerns while he served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Could he feel that returning to Capitol Hill may actually increase his influence while addressing African Concerns and Issues?

There are two elections coming up on the Electoral Calendar. First of all one Feb 28th the small landlocked Kingdom of Lesotho goes to the polls to elect a new Parliament. Then days after that the West African Nation of Togo itself holds a poll to determine who will be its President.

There is also word that the US is scaling back its deployments to Liberia to deal with the horrific Ebola Outbreak as well. Troops are being recalled as well as Helicopters. Now there is a gradual closing of the Labs and Hospitals that were set up as the Health Care Systems of these nations were severally overtaxed.

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