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Jul. 21st, 2016

Obama and Africa

Earlier this week the Brookings Institution held an event with a most interesting topic. The conversation centered around President Obama and his legacy on the Security Situation in Africa.

Obviously the grade has to be a mixed bag. The Administration has done a horrible job sheparding the Independence of South Sudan. The Electorate of South Sudan in their wisdom voted to elect Salva Kiir as their President. The Administration has taken several steps, some covert others blatently obvious to throw their support for Reik Machar. The question has to be will US Policy towards South Sudan change when a new administration takes office in Janurary 2017?

Another issue that people have with this administration is that it has cozied up with several African Despots. The Ethiopians are a shining example of this. Not holding this Government accountable for its repression of Human Rights will be seen as a glaring oversight. Also a glaring oversight is the failure to support the Civil Society and the Political Opposition in Gambia

It is felt that the Pentagon has taken control of the Policy towards Africa. With the horrendus handling of the Libya with the use of Air Strikes to remove the Qaddafi regime should we consider that to be the exception that proves the rule? The Special Ops Command did assist the authorities in both Mali and Burkina Faso in the aftermath of the Terror Attacks that hit those countries over the past winter.

Another area that was not implicity addressed is the failure of the State Department when it comes to Nigeria. This is an issue that Hillary Clinton should have to answer for. The Administration did suspend direct Military to Military contacts. This may be the reason why the drones which were sent to Nigeria after the kidnapping of the Chibok Schoolgirls were removed after a short period of time.

It is felt that the Power Africa Initiative could be a benefit to Africa as well

Switching Gears

A Small Team of US Marines was recently in Cameroon. Their goal was to train the Cameroonian Military in specific tactics that could be used in an effort to rein in the Boko Haram insurgency that plagues the region.

There is a new issue within the Gambia also. Within the last 24 hours several people including one who hold US Citizenship has been sentenced to Prison regarding the protests that occurred earlier this year.

Jul. 8th, 2016

Holiday Info Dump

This 4th of July Holiday here in the United States ended up being what is considered to be a long holiday weekend. That means that the Government will release information that is pertinent but expects nobody to really pay attention to due to distractions.

As the Holiday weekend was beginning the State Department issued not one but two travel warnings regarding Africa. The first one that was issued was regarding Kenya. This was a warning that replaced one that was issued on November 10,2015 covering concerns regarding the border between Kenya and Somalia.

Also concerns were raised regarding the threat of terrorist acts and the rising crime rate that is occuring as well.

Travel to Garissa, Wajir and Madera Counties should be avoided at all costs according to the new warning. Terrorist attacks involving the use of weapons and grenades have been occuring in these locations.

Also Al-Shabaab has been active in the region as well. The Group also launched a High Profile attack in Mogadishu over the Holiday Weekend as well. There was no such warning issued for Somalia as well.

24 hours later another warning was issued regarding Mali. This is interesting as the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has requested an additional 2500 Peacekeepers be sent to the Country to beef up the UN Mission there.

The US Warning which has different syntax than the Kenya Warning is issued to Americans planning on travelling to or are currently living and working in the Country. There is an additional piece of information as well as there is a NOTAM that has been issued by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) advising not to fly below 26,000 feet (FL260) while transiting Malian Airspace.

In recent days a new Militia has appeared in the Central Part of the Country. It appears allied to the Bamako Government as well. Other sporadic attacks have taken place in the restive Northern Part of the Country. Security in that part of Mali is a reason for concern as the current Government has not been able to adequately provide protection for the population there.

The State Department ordered all Dependents under the age of 21 to leave the Country and has authorized the departure of their parents as well. This warning replaces the one that was issued on April 26th.

The State Department issued its TIP (Trafficking in Persons) report. One ommission from the Bad Country List was the Gambia. Did they have advance news that Jammeh was going to make Child Marriages Illegal with a sentence of 20 years? He actually did that this week. There are times where Politics is like Comedy, Timing is Everything.

Quietly there is a move to have a Special Envoy from the United States sent to the Gulf of Guinea to deal with the Boko Haram issue. This is an idea that should have been done some time ago. Hopefully it won't take as long to do this as it took the State Department to declare the Group an FTO (Foreign Terrorist Organization).

Also regarding Nigeria the US is concerned regarding the Security Situation around the commercial capital of Lagos.. More to come regarding this

Jun. 28th, 2016

Benghazi

By now you have heard of the competing reports regarding the Benghazi Attacks that occurred on September 11,2012. This is the attack that resulted in the Deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and 3 Security Contractors. Being within two months of a Presidential Election some underhanded tactics were to be expected.

There are several issues that are not being raised. One of them is the fact that Benghazi was and still a known hub for both Weapons and more recently Human Trafficking. At that time Benghazi was a known transit point for weapons heading from Sudan into the Gaza Strip. The question of whether or not this was point of US interest is not covered in the report. But it should be.

The Concerns about Human Trafficking are a more recent concern with the recent flow of Migrants from Syria and Northern Iraq. But it is still a valid concern nonetheless.

There were over 200 requests for improved security at the facility at the annex. Why didn't these requests reach Secretary Clinton's Desk? This does raise questions about the Machinations of the Bureaucracy within the Department under her watch. She may have some deniability as to the requests but her not getting them could be a sign of a level of mistrust in her leadership or being to mundane for her to deal with.

The Timeline from when SECDEF Panetta ordered the Military to prepare a response at 1900 hrs DC Time to when the initial response finally reached the annex at 1430 the next day. WTF is going on with this? A Marine Officer stated in the report that in that time that the Soldiers were told to change clothing 4 times. The State Dept had concerns about Marine Cammies offending the people in Benghazi. And Active Duty Military conducting an Operation wearing Civilian Clothes violates the Geneva Convention. Marines with High and Tights do have a habit of standing out in the Crowd. BTW Soldiers in Civilian Clothes will be considered to be Spies.

This item has to be one of the greatest pieces of Irony I have ever seen. The Libyan Forces that actually went in and secured the Complex were Qadaffi Loyalists. We had bombed them a little more than a year ago and at the request of a CIA Officer on the scene They showed up with enough force to drive away the Islamist Rebels.

Clearly there were failures to take in the Security Concerns at the facility in Benghazi. The Administration in particularly the State Department and the Agency did not request for any assistance whether from the Military when necessary or seeking funding to actually accomplish this from the Congress.

The response and the aftermath were pure political posturing by an Administration seeking reeelection. Now a key member of that Administration now seeks to hold this high office. Can the United States afford to do so for the next four years?
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Jun. 18th, 2016

Quiet Struggles

Denis Soussu-Nguesso is on a Charm Offensive. At least that is while he seeks international support for his rigged reelection earlier this year. It has been revealed that his effort to reach out to the French have been rebuffed.

So he has been reaching out to another friendly government. That being the United States. But he has not been reaching out to the Obama Administraton but one which in the past has been very favorable to the African Liberation Movements in the final decades of the Cold War.

Just which group is this? Well its the Congressional Black Caucus. Last Decade they were the group within Congress that pushed back against any sanctions against President Mugabe in Zimbabwe during the period of seizing Farmland from Commercial White Farmers and cracking down on a growing Political Opposition as well.

So why are He reaching out to them now? He could be telling the CBC that he is providing Stable Leadership in a region where strife and its after effects run rampant. This could be a slick attempt to tell Washington He is willing to work with them to promote regional stability.

Bear this in mind as the Main Opposition Candidate and the Individual who won the election if you believe the independent figures that were available is now under arrest for Compromising State Security.

General Mokoto a Man who actually decided to stand up against what is turning into another Kleptocracy has now been arrested. Now the cynical question is was he arrested for winning the election? Or was he arrested for not going to meet with DSN? Or is it Both?

Some more interesting news regarding Nigeria. Earlier this week it was announced that a major financial annoucement would be coming from Abuja. What could that announcement be?

The decision to uncouple the Naira from the Dollar was announced. This is a devaluation of that struggling currency. All this amounts to is a Hail Mary.

The Drop in Oil Prices to around $50 a Barrel and Corruption are two major factors for the Economic Malaise the Country finds itself. However the Ag sector is not doing that badly as the Cashew Crop brought in just under 51 Billion Naira in sales. Its not enough but its a good shot for an Economy that is Oil Driven and seeking new sources of revenue.

The Insurgency in the NIger Delta seems to be taking a pipeline out daily and operations against Boko Haram are draining the Economy as well.

Speaking of Boko Haram Chad has sent 2000 Troops to Niger to plan for Operation against the Islamic Militants that could be launched any day now.

Jun. 6th, 2016

News and Notes

It has been no big secret that this year in Africa one of the major goals has been the eradication of the Illegal Ivory Trade. Do you remember seeing the images in Kenya of the Bonfires using large stacks of confiscated Elephant Tusks.

Imagine hearing that the number 2 Diplomat representing the United States in Malawi was taken into custody for doing what? Ivory Smuggling. The Person in Question Michael Gonzalez actually was at Kamuzu International Airport when an inspection of his luggage turned up having one piece of ivory. Although the Arrest was confirmed by Malawian Police the details were not specific.

Ivory Smuggling is a good source of revenue in East Africa. Most of the Traders in fact end up having ties of some sort with China. Most of the Foreign Nationals Arrested at the Airport tend to be Chinese Nationals. This is not only an embarrassment to the United States Diplomatically it also tarnishes the efforts by US Law Enforcement to assist in eradicating the trade.

Meanwhile in South Africa the US Embassy in Pretoria issued a Security Alert over the weekend. The alert for US Citizens warned against a potential threat eminating from Shopping Centers and Malls. The Alert mentioned that Terrorist Groups were planning on attacking High End Facilities in both Johannesburg and Cape Town. This Alert sounds very eerily like the incident which occurred at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.

Johannesburg has a reputation for being a center for Crime. That is a given. However its has been suggested that there are several Mosques in Cape Town that are considered to be very Pro-ISIS. It is also suspected that the city could be a base of Operations by Islamic Radicals for Operations in the Region.

It should be noted that ISIS has called for attacks against Western Interests to be Carried out during Ramadan.

There is also some interesting news regarding the upcoming (if they occur) Elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. If the Elections do not meet the Constitutionally Mandated Timeline of 30 November 2016 it is widely rumored that the United States will impose Sanctions.

Three Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Ed Markey (D-MA) and Richard Murphy(D-CT) have introduced a non-binding Resolution in the Senate that gives the Sense of the US Senate that if the Elections do not happen on time than the US Should Impose Sanctions on the Central African Country.

Already the US has allocated $35 Million in Election Assistance (most of which has already been distributed) so that this cycle can be held. But if the US imposes Sanctions how will they be targeted? Will those mentioned in the Panama Papers be targeted? What about the Security Forces which have been adept at targeting the Political Opposition? So Many Questions to answer in a period that will be less than 180 days.

Going to be an interesting way for the Obama Team to transition out of the White House.......

May. 28th, 2016

Walking Away?

Within the last two weeks the UN Security Council has voted to end two Peacekeeping Missions in Africa. Both were longstanding Missions in West Africa.

The first decision was to remove the Peacekeepers from Ivory Coast. This Mission which was highlighted by the forced removal of former President Gbagbo to the International Criminal Court after his loss in a highly controversial and contested election will end officially in June 2017.

Just this week the Decade long Mission in Liberia was ended by a unanimous vote by the Security Council as well. This was after a 14 year long Civil War that cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of people as well. There were a couple of reasons why this mission had success. A combination of targeted sanctions against individuals who were responsible for the most serious abuses, an Arms Embargo and close scrutiny of the Timber Industry and Rough Diamonds were key planks to success.

The violence in Liberia is also one of the reasons why the Kimberley Process was initiated as well.

The Authorities in Monrovia were also successful in addressing one of the key concerns of the United States as well. That is Border Security. West Africa has been awash in Small Arms for more than two decades now. The Ability to interdict these illicit arms as well keep violence from other states from spilling over into Liberia has to be considered a success. The Same can be said about Ivory Coast as well. That is until the Jihadist attack against the Hotel.

One can also hear the questions now regarding MONUCSO. How can these missions be successful why there is more chaos in the Democratic Republic of the Congo? That is a good question with a somewhat simple answer. That is Governance. These two States had a willingness to take the necessary steps for Democracy to advance. Meanwhile the DRC resembles a Kleptocracy more and more on a Daily Basis.

Just this week Opposition Supporters had Demonstration in Kinshasa while a Police Officer was stoned to death in Goma. The incident in Goma is interesting for two reasons. First Goma is the HQ for the UN Peacekeeping Mission. Secondly the City is considered to be the Hometown of Want to Be President for Life Joseph Kabila.

Actions by the AWR against presumptive Opposition Candidate Moise Katumbi has forced him to seek Medical Treatment in South Africa. The Term presumptive is used in this case if there will be Constitutionally Mandated Presidential Elections on November 30th. The Independent Electoral Commission and the Constitutional Court have made statements and decisions that actually place this deadline in jeopardy.

We also have some Mozambique News as well. It is expected that the Country will miss its next payment to the IMF. There were reports that the Bank refused to grant a new loan to the Country due to reports of faulty numbers from the Central Bank.

The Presidential Elections last year left a somewhat sour taste within the Ruling Party. Also a matter of concern is the Railroad from the Port of Beira. The Rebel Group RENAMO which was supported by the Reagan Administration back in the Day has been able to cut the Railroad on more than one occasion in an effort to address grievances.

This Railroad is of vital importance to both Malawi and Zimbabwe. It is a vital mode of transport for their Economies especially when it comes to importing goods. Zimbabwe planned an intervention last year just to protect the Railroads. Could an event occur where they actually do that? It is possible.

May. 13th, 2016

Some Friendships

We Begin with two pieces of News regarding Uganda. Both are interesting and show how the Administration views the relationship with the Central African Country.

First of all President Museveni took His Oath of Office of President of Uganda. After a somewhat chaotic Campaign some semblence of order has been restored to the Country. However one of the guests to the Ceremony was Omar Al-Bashir President of Sudan and an Indictee of the International Criminal Court for actions committed in Darfur.

Can you guess what the US Delegation did when they saw him? Well along with the Represenatives of the EU and Canada they walked out of the ceremony. There must have been some consternation among the Ugandans to see this little drama play out.

Meanwhile a little drama also played out in Somalia as well. It seems that a Ugandan Unit which had US Military Elements along as trainers came up on an Al-Shabaab Checkpoint. A firefight then ensued and a US Airstrike was called in with the result being 5 Dead Islamic Terrorists.

One has to wonder with the optics of a US Withdrawal from both the Middle East and Africa underway if this will lead to some form of reengagment?

Also there are reports that the US has transferred some MRAPs to Egypt and Humvees and other vehicles to Tunisia as well. Could there be some form of International Support coming for the UN Backed Government of National Unity in Tripoli? There are two other pieces of Information that point to some potential intervention.

1.) The Reichstag was taking up a measure this day stating that Migrants from Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco are not a threat.

2.) Since the route Migrants have been taking through Turkey and the Greek Islands has been cracked down upon it appears that Libya is now morphing into a major point of embarkation for Migrants. Surely the Europeans will want this pipeline closed down as well.

It appears that there are now sentences being delivered in Minneapolis regarding the Gambian Nationals residing in the US who launched a Coup attempt on New Years Eve 2014.

What is interesting is that the driving force for this indictment was not the Justice Department but the State Department. They have criticized the Country for brutal treatment of the LGBT Community and the Independent Media but yet they are friends of the United States?

Houston We have a Problem.......

May. 5th, 2016

New Concerns

There is a Country in Southern Africa that people should pay attention to. The Country in question is Mozambique and below the reasons for concern will be listed.

In Recent Weeks the IMF and other major donors have announced that they will be freezing Foreign Aid to the Country. The reason for this is that the Country has hidden some of its debt. So there are questions regarding the ability of Mozambique to pay back it's loans let alone be forthright in how it keeps the internal fiscal matters.

The Country has had some benefit from Oil and Natural Gas in recent years. So the fall of oil to roughly $45 a Barrel will have some impact. But there is another factor that appears to be ready to rear its ugly head.

RENAMO the Pro-Western Militia Group that fought the Marxist FRELIMO Group that would ultimately emerge victorious in the Civil War that took Place after Independence was granted by Portugal in 1975 is reportedly back out in the field and conducting Operations in both the North and the Central Part of the Country.

During the Presidential Elections last fall the Group Cut the Railroad that runs North from the Port of Beira. This Railroad is a major lifeline for both Zimbabwe and Malawi as both Countries use the Port for Trade Purposes. At one point last year there were reports that units of the Zimbabwean Army were not only deployed to the border area but in some instances were on board the trains to ensure their safe passage.

The situation in Mozambique and the Close Ties that it has with South Africa could promote Mozambique as a leverage point in dealing with President Zuma. After a series of Scandals the President just narrowly defeated a impeachment resolution. So Zuma is now in a weakened position.

There will be more to this crisis in the next few weeks.

There is also late breaking developments from the Democratic Republic of the Congo as well.

There are reports that Security Forces have the Home of Governor Katumbi of Katanga surrounded and that there is in fact a warrant for his arrest. Furthermore the arrest warrant "Documents" His recruitment and use of Mercenaires.

Just within the last hour of this posting there was a statement released by the US Embassy in Kinshasa. Calling the Person an unarmed Private Consultant this appears that this is the latest move in a thinly veiled effort by Kabila to remain President of the DRC.

Apr. 29th, 2016

Return of Evil

Finally Riek Machar has returned to Juba. Let's ponder that for a second. The former and returning First Vice President of South Sudan has returned to one of the scenes of his various crimes.

After all it was his actions while negotiating with President Bashir of Sudan over Oil Transfer Fees and the reports of his walking away with a Briefcase with $3 Million in US Currency that precipitated this most recent crisis in Africa's Newest State. The White Army a Neur Militia did receive some new weapons to highlight their role in the round of fighting.

The Return of Vice President Machar delays for now the threat of Sanctions that are to be levied by the United States, the UN and other donors if a Government of National Unity was not installed in Juba. After all a temporary GNU worked so well back in Zimbabwe and in Kenya so the Geniuses that claim to be Diplomats wanted to impose one here.

Machar has been no friend of the South Sudanese People let alone the Dinkas. When Salva Kiir was acting as First Vice President for a unified Sudan Guess who was running affairs in Juba? Gen. Machar was. Did he undertake any projects to improve the infrastructure of the County? The answer is no. Did he line his own pockets with copious amount of cash? Most Likely.

The US House of Representatives held a hearing about South Sudan earlier this week. The tone of witnesses was pessimistic at best. It is clear that the Obama Administration wants Machar as President of South Sudan. They have taken it to the point where its believed that the Administration is supporting the World Bank Efforts to depress the South Sudanese Pound.

This is a policy blunder by the US. After sheperding the events that allowed for the emergence of South Sudan as an Independent State the actions by Obama have pushed South Sudan potentially into the Arms of China which is now the largest investor in the Oil Sector of South Sudan. There will be more to be heard from regarding this story.

The State Department has also come out with a statement regarding the actions of the Congolese Police in Katanga Province last weekend. One of the actions taken reportedly was the raid on the House of Governor Katumbi.

President Kabila wishes to remain in power in Kinshasa. The actions against Opposition Supporters and the reported sabatoge of an Offshore Oil Deal with Angola can be seen as acts of Desperation.

Picking a fight with Luanda is not a good idea at this point in time. There is still some resentment by Angola regarding the actions of Former President Mobutu allowing Jonas Savimbi to launder Diamonds in Kinshasa in order to procour weapons to carry on his Western Backed Insurgency during the latter days of the Cold War.

Tensions between the DRC and Rwanda continue to fester with the DRC leveling charges of Rwandan Troops once again entering the Country. The Main Border Crossing with Zambia seems to be open and closed on a whim.

But there is some semblance of good news. The UN has rescinded the Arms Embargo placed on Ivory Coast during their Civil War back in 2004. It is hoped that a Stable Ivory Coast will lead to stability in the region.

Also in recent weeks the State Department has issued Travel Warnings to both Mali and Chad. Terrorist Attacks and Criminal Activities are the reasons listed. But why nothing regarding the Unrest in The Gambia?

Surely they have to be watching this right?

Apr. 16th, 2016

Springtime in Africa

You can tell when its springtime in Africa. It seems that when this occurs that the militants grow emboldened and youth get frustrated as entrenched leaders remain in power.

At this time the USNS Spearhead which is currently acting as the APS (Africa Partnership Station) was most recently in Libreville,Gabon. A couple of weeks ago the vessel paid a visit to the Naval Base at Sekondi, Ghana.

In recent weeks there has been a spike in the reports of acts of Piracy that are being committed in the Gulf of Guinea. So much so that Equatorial Guinea has taken two steps to address this.

First of all they have recently concluded an Anti-Piracy Pact with Nigeria. Nigerian insecurity and poor infrastructure are driving forces in regional Piracy. Secondly it was announced on the day of this posting that Obiang has formally reestablish Defence ties with Russia.

How this action will be seen by AFRICOM has yet to be determined. It appears that several states do not know what to expect from the Next President of the United States when they take over the Oval Office in 2017.

Another concern will be the security of the Brazzaville Oil Fields. The Main Railroad between Point Noire and Brazzaville has been severed as part of the protests against the controversial Reelection of DSN.

In contrast the status of Tunisia as a Main Non-NATO ally continues to be cemented by this Administration. Tunisia faces its own Militancy as well as bordering a restless Libya with a shiny new Government of National Unity. The Tunisian PM issued a statement recently stating that any Foreign Intervention into Libya will be Counterproductive.

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