An Update

The  COVID-19 outbreak continues to wreak havoc around the World. Currently this has led the United States to cancel two Military Exercises with its African Partners.

24 hours ago (March 16th) the AFRICAN LION 2020 Exercise was supposed to begin in Tunisia, Senegal and Morocco and wrap up on April 4th. Previously on March 10th it was announced that COVID-19 concerns would result in the exercise being scaled back.

The cancellation was based on the increase of International Travel Restrictions due to the outbreak and to minimize the risk to the US and its partners that would be taking part in the exercise.

This cancellation comes a week after AFRICOM announced that OBANGGAME EXPRESS a naval exercise off West Africa would be cancelled as well. One of the assets that the US allocated for the Exercise the USS Carney paid a weekend visit to Capetown, South Africa en route to the exercise. Instead it will return to patrolling the Area of Operations for the US Sixth Fleet.

Also within the last week an unnamed country in East Africa received some armed Cessna Caravans as well. My take is that the country happens to be Kenya and these are the replacements to those Aircraft destroyed during an Islamist attack on a KDF Base that occured a couple of months ago.

Earlier this Month the United States named a Special Envoy to the Sahel. Dr. Peter Pham the Director of the African Center of the Atlantic Council has been tapped for the post. His mandate is limited to Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger which to the Confused Eagle seems short sighted.

For two years the Christians in Nigeria have been begging the Trump Administration to name one for either Nigeria itself or the Lake Chad Basin. Those who advocate for the situation in Cameroon have been asking for the voice of Washington to assist in their situation. (BTW the Anglophones were supposed to have a conference this coming weekend in Washington but has been postponed due to the virus)

Confused Eagle is still keeping an ear to the ground searching for Non-Virus related News.

Popular By Demand

Some of you may have seen this item on certain blogs over the last few weeks. But since the feedback is so positive I will post it here..

One of the security concepts that has emerged within the United States over the last couple of decades has been the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). In the United States it is rare not to hear accounts in the media regarding actions being taken by the known JTTFs in New York and Washington, D.C.


The concept of the JTTF is unique in the design. Elements of the Federal, State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies work together to detect and respond to major security issues. The major successful operations have been detecting and disrupting potential acts of terrorism that were planned against various targets in their areas of operation. It appears that this idea is becoming more popular in Washington. They are seeking to expand it.


Recently it was decided by the United States to assist Kenya in organizing their own JTTF. This means that for the first time this concept will be utilized outside the United States. This effort will be coordinated from the US side by both the State Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The first group of Kenyans will receive their training at the FBI facility at Quantico, Virginia with the curriculum devised by the FBI under the auspices of the State Department Counter Terrorism Program.


One of the first questions that will be asked is why Kenya? Clearly there is a need for this assistance to be provided. The initiative to launch this program began after the attack against the Dusit2 Hotel in Nairobi in January 2019 which was claimed by the Somali Islamist Group Al-Shabaab. The situation in Nairobi is not the only concern that Kenyan authorities currently have at this time. Another flashpoint is Lamu County along the Indian Ocean coast and along the border with Somalia as well.


One conspiracy theory that will be laid to rest right off hand is that this program is a knee jerk reaction by the Trump Administration to respond to the Manda Bay attack on Jan, 5th which resulted in the deaths of three Americans on the ground (one active duty the other two were contractors) and the destruction of several aircraft in an operation designed to deter the ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) Operations that are active assisting Operations in Somalia.


The next question will be which African Nation should be the next location to stand up such a Task Force? One of the first answers that should be garnered is Nigeria. The failure to address the Insurgency in Borno State by Boko Haram and ISWAP (Islamic State West African Province) has led to the violence in the Middle Belt region of the Country. Most of the Security Apparatus in Nigeria currently rests in the hands of the Federal Government. Therefore there is little input on the State or Local level. Until this issue is resolved Nigeria will suffer.


The Sahel 5 States (Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad, NIger and Mauritania) could provide an interesting chance to host a regional JTTF. These nations have let it be known that they are leery of the current level of French Influence in the region and are actively seeking advice from other partners. This could be an interesting opportunity for the United States to lower fears of a reduced US presence in the region.


But will Washington take this opportunity? That is the question….

How Fast News Changes

First of all Assistant Secretary of State Tibor Nagy is in the midst of a two week visit to Central and East Africa. The stops on this trip which concludes on the 29th of the month are the Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and South Sudan.

The purpose of this visit is to promote a new initiative called the University Partnerships Initiative. This program will directly connect colleges in both the United States and in Africa.  This visit will also highlight the tenth anniversary of YALI the Young African Leadership Initiative. This program engages the next generation of African leaders by connecting them with their peers not only across Africa but also within the United States as well. This is one of the better programs to come out of Washington in recent years.

Speaking of Sudan and South Sudan It is understood that the Ambassador at Large for Relgious Freedom Sam Brownback will be travelling to both countries this coming April.

By now the readers have read the reports that the Trump Administration will update the current travel ban. Four African States are expected to be on the updated list. They are Nigeria, Sudan, Eritrea and Tanzania. According to Homeland Security this list update is required for these states failure to update security standards. These standards include the use of Biometrics, information sharing and counter terrorism measures.

Before people fly off the handle it should be noted that most of the restrictions will be placed on Government Officials or specific visas. This means any hysteria that most likely be generated may be misplaced. This is true if it starts before the 28th of January. This is the date when the updated release is expected to be released. The other states that are expected to be placed on the list are Belarus, Myanmar and Kyrgzstan.

US Air Forces Africa has also been hard at work over the previous week as well. Over a four day period in Mid-January (13th-17th) they have assisting Malawi develop its own Air Force.

Since 2018 the United States has been assisting Malawi as the country builds, sustains and stands up its own Air Force. Until 2019 the Malawian Air Service was not a seperate command within the Defense Ministry. The unit also routinely deploys to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to assist with the Peacekeeping missions deployed there.

A key aspect of the training is planning for a center to assist Airmen when they return home from deployment. Reducing the stress that is often felt when they return home is a benefit to the service and their families.

The attack on ISR

Over the weekend of January 5th Al-Shabaab attacked a Kenyan Defense Force (KDF) base in Lamu County that the United States Military currently has access to launch ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) in Somalia.

Three Americans (One Active Duty the other two are contractors) were killed during the assault and six aircraft were destroyed before the attackers were repelled. There are several aspects that this attack brings out in the open.

First of all it appears that the ISR operations have been successful in hindering operations in Somalia that Al-Shabaab have launched. Their movements have closely watched by the US as well. Secrecy is often a key component when any operation is planned and the realization by the group that this was indeed comprised and had to be dealt with as quickly as possible.

This raid could also be a precursor to a much larger operation that may be in the works by the group as well.  Both Kenya and Somalia have lost some of their eyes in the skies for the moment. Perfect time to make a move.

This week a Military Exercise was scheduled to take place of the coast of Morocco. The Exercise Operation African Sea Lion 2020 was abruptly cancelled after a rise in tensions within Iraq. One of the major participants in the exercise the USS Bataan and it support vessels were directed to head into the Eastern Med as part of a potential US contingency plan.

When it comes to Religious Freedom it appears that this is an easy way to incur the wrath of the Buhari Government. The new US Ambassador found out the hard way after the US State Department placed Nigeria on a special watch list over the problems in both the Northeastern Part of the Country and in the Middle Belt States. The Government and others responded by accusing the US of playing the World's Policeman and that no persecutions of Christians actually takes place.

Goodbye 2019

We are approaching the end of 2019. By the end of the week (Dec. 20th) Congress will go on Holiday Recess. But there are several events that could present issues when they return in January.

The situation in the Sahel still remains acute. After the recent attacks in both Niger and Burkina Faso, The US has delivered $21 Million in Equipment to the Military of Niger. Another item of interest is that French TV interviewed several security experts here in Washington over the weekend of December 13th. Almost too a person they described the situation as being out of control.

One can only imagine what will take place over the Christmas Holiday.

In an earlier update Confused Eagle reported that the US State Department was looking into what steps would be taken in their plans to reassess the current relationship with South Sudan. During the week of December 15th the first steps were announced.

Two current members of the South Sudanese Cabinet were sanctioned. They are Kuol Manyana Juuk who is the current Minister of Defense and Veteran's Affairs along with Martin Elia Lomuro who is Minister for Cabinet Affairs. The Sanctions were levied for their roles in the inability of South Sudan to formalize a Government that will allow for elections and end the civil war.

These are not the only Sanctions levied against an African Entity. Saleh Assi who is a known fundraiser for the Lebanese Group Hezbollah and is based in the DR Congo was Sanctioned by the US Treasury.  The US Treasury also alleges that Mr. Assi used his connections to assit in Manipulating the Price of Bread in the Country back in 2018.

Musa Baluku who is the leader of the ADF (Allied Democratic Forces) and 5 other persons were targeted for their roles in recruitment, logistics, administration, financing, intelligence and operations for the group.

In recent weeks the group has kidnapped or killed hundreds of people in the eastern part of the DRC and has hampered efforts to curtail the Ebola Outbreak that remains unchecked at this time. The Group itself was sanctioned by the Treasury back in 2014 for previous acts.

What a Difference a Change can bring

During the last year (Dec 2018-19) it cannot be denied that considerable change has taken place in Sudan.  The long time leader Omar Bashir was ousted from power after protests that began with proposed changes in the price of Bread.

As November came to an end the newly installed Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok travelled to Washington to meet with the IMF and World Bank regarding the debt of $60 Million the country currently has and to meet with Trump Administration Officials over such contentious issues such as whether or not Sudan should remain on the State Department List of State Sponsors of Terrorism and other concerns.

During remarks at the Atlantic Council Mr. Hamdok stated that one of the goals of the Transition is to end the conflicts in both Darfur and in the Nuba Mountains area. Allowing Humanitarian Access to these regions has been stated as another key focal point of the transition as well.

The peers in the region have named Mr. Hamdok as the leader of IGAD for the upcoming year as well. One of the major issues concerning IGAD is the fractured situation within South Sudan. Mr. Hamdok offered a piece of advice to President Salva Kiir. " Don't wait for a perfect deal". It is nice to hear such pragmatic advice uttered in Washington. It would even be better if this actually was said by the State Department as well.

After returning to Khartoum Mr. Hamdok revealed that Sudan will be reducing its committment in Yemen as well. The number of boots on the ground which currently sits at 15,000 will shrink down to around 5,000.

Also during the recent week the President of the Central African Republic Faustin-Archange Tourdera recently met with US Undersecretary of State of African Affairs Tibor Nagy regarding the upcoming elections that are due to take place in the strife torn country.

Contacts within the Civil Society Community have reached out to the Confused Eagle to express their concerns regarding the Electoral Process. CAR has been one country in Central Africa that has had issues with rampant flooding over recent weeks. This will place a burden on the preparation process for the polls.

On December 6th the UN Office on Central Africa urged that the Government of Chad resume its bilateral commission with CAR to discuss critical topics including border management.

Lets end this with some positive news. On December 8th the National Airline of Cabo Verde began service between the Country and Dulles Airport outside Washington, D.C. One of the passengers was the US Ambassador to Cabo Verde Jeff Daigle.

Addressing a Failure

48 Hours ago (November 12th) One of the benchmarks in the elusive seemingly never ending Peace Process in South Sudan was not met. On that date current incumbent Salva Kiir and his long time adversary Riek Machar were supposed to initiate a power sharing Government that would rule until Elections are held.

Sadly this event never took place. It was determined that under the current circumstances that the effort to seat a unity government would have to wait until Feburary 2020. This was sure to anger those peace negotiators who worked so hard to broker this accord.

Yesterday to show its frustration with the current pace of events the US State Department announced that it would reassess its current relationship with Salva Kiir. This does sound ominous but what does it really mean? What actions will the US take? Will it be as simple as recalling the Ambassador? Could their be an Arms Embargo? Could the US simply throw up its hands and just walk away?

Now on November 15th there will be a high level meeting between US Officials and the African Union to be held at the State Department. The situation within South Sudan and the decision to remove Cameroon from the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act 45 days from now are certain to be major topics during these conversations.

During his trip to Seoul Secretary of Defense Esper told reporters that US Airstrikes in Libya knocked out an esitmated one third of the IS Fighters during September. The Administration is not concerned over signs that despite the losses the group appears to be regrouping in Libya.

In recent weeks there have been Islamist attacks in both Mali and Burkina Faso as well. Included in these numbers are an attack on a convoy of workers for a Canadian mining company in Burkina Faso where a substantial number of workers remain unaccounted for.  These incidents should have alarm bells ringing in Ghana, Togo and in Ivory Coast.

There are elections this coming weekend for municipal areas in Nigeria as well.

Surprise Move

Last week as October ended and November began the White House announced two decisions by the President which will highlight African Policy.

First in what has been considered to be a major surprise, The White House issued a Press Release stating that the President was invoking his powers and removing Cameroon from AGOA (African Growth and Opportunity Act).  This action will eliminate the access that Cameroonian Businesses had to the United States.

The legal standing that the Trump Administration has for taking this action is a provision in the act must be working to improve its standing in defending Human Rights (which is the official reason given for the US taking action), improving Rule of Law and respect for core legal standards.

This is the second step taken by the Administration to show its displeasure regarding the current state of events in Cameroon. On Feb. 17th of this year it was announced that the US would be reducing the amount of Military Aid that was being provided to the Country as it deals with the Boko Haram Militancy. Clearly this action will be seen as Washington is not pleased with the situation on the ground.

Recent reports indicate that there has been a spike in violence in the Angolphone region as a result of the National Dialogue breaking down. Sadly it appears that this will not be the last we hear of this.

The other move regards Sudan. This move was actually mandated by Legislation. A deadline of November 4th existed to determine whether or not the Administration would maintain the State of Emergency regarding Sudan.

The President issued his notifcation later 48 hours earlier than mandated. (Who likes to work on a Sunday?) stating that He determines that the Emergency needs to be extended.

We all know that Bashir is no longer officially on the scene and is in fact on trial for embezzlement and other crimes. A New Government has been sworn in but the Rapid Support Forces maintain a leering presence over this Government. As long as the bad actors within the RSF are in Government they do have a shield of immunity from prosecution for the time being.

There are some key benchmarks that need to be met in order to have the sanctions against Sudan removed. It is also known that lifting of these sanctions is now a key plank in Saudi Foreign Policy. The Government is also a key party to the Nile River Dam talks along with Egypt and Ethiopia.

The situation in Khartoum needs to be scrutinized.

Mixed News

This starts off with the proverbial line there is good news and sadly there is bad news. Both items cover the same country that being Somalia.

First for the good news. After an absence of 28 years, The United States has officially reopened the Embassy in Mogadishu. The timeline began with the ouster of former President Siad Barre in 1991 and subsequent collapse of the Somali State until the Trump Administration.  The historic events which passed notably including the event that led to the Night of the Rangers aka Black Hawk down warfare by proxy as the US encouraged both Ethiopia and Kenya to intervene, supporting the AMISOM Mission, Special Forces Raids and Drone Strikes. Alot took place over the years.

Now the bad news. Al-Shaabab reportedly launched an attack against what they called a US Military Installation. The facility at Baledogle is known to be a facility from which UAVs are launched from to support AMISOM and Somali Government Forces. There was one reported American Casualty but the injuries were reported to be minor.

The Second piece of Mixed News pertains to Chad. In late September the South African Arms Manufacturer Denel missed a delivery of 40 Armored Vehicles to the Central African Nation. What is interesting is the fact that the Chadian Government paid a down payment of R 100 Million on a R 340 Million contract.

On September 30th the US Delivered 80 Toyota Land Cruisers as part of a $15 Million package. The delivery also included Comm Gear and Supporting Equipment. This gear will be used by Chadian Forces that are supporting the Sahel 5 Initiative.

Finally there is some news regarding Cameroon. Officially when it comes to the National Unity Conversation the US is maintaining a position of Neutrality. It should be noted that earlier this year Undersecretary of State for African Affairs Tibor Nagy stated that the way to resolve the crisis in Cameroon is through Mediation.

Sadly this is tinged by reports of a death of a Cameroonian Asylum Seeker in ICE custody in San Diego. This sad event should have people focused on resolving the political morass in Cameroon. Sadly this will be exploited by some for profit or political gain.

Travels

The New Commanding General of AFRICOM has been travelling the Continent in recent weeks. Paying visits to two nations that have serious struggles with Insurgencies.

General Stephen Townsend has made visits to both Somalia and to Mali. There has been an increase in US activity in the country with a reported US Air Strike launched against targets on September 17th. This comes twenty four hours after an attack by Al-Shaabab against Somalia Government Forces and their supporters from AMISOM.

The visit by General Townsend to Bamako where he met with senior Malian Political and Military leadership was part of a regional visit where He is scheduled to meet with other leaders of the Sahel 5 coalition.  Recent incidents including attacks against Churches in Burkina Faso and new reports of Farmer Herder Conflicts in Chad are reasons for concern.

That is why the US effort dealing with improving the Military Capabilities of the Sahel 5 countries are a key focus of AFRICOM at this point in time.

Back to Somalia for a moment

In late August of 2019 the Government reached a deal with SPG (Sonoran Policy Group) a lobbying firm based in Arizona to lobby the Trump Administration to increase the amount of Foreign Aid the Country will receive. The contract will cost $400,000 for the rest of the calendar year. (Not bad for roughly 90 days of work)

It should be noted as well that SPG has represented both the Kenyan Government and Current DRC President Felix Tshishsekedi before he won the Presidency. Key members of the firm have worked for the Trump Administration as well.

One of the goals is to lift the freeze levied on the Somali National Army covering both food and fuel that was imposed after increasing concerns regarding corruption.  The firm is also committed to arranging talks between the Somali Government and the Trump Administration and Lawmakers as well.

Also within the last two weeks the Confused Eagle was able to attend two events regarding two African Countries seeking to have more US Investors invest in these countries.

These Countries are Guinea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The pitch on behalf of Guinea was made by President Alpha Conte at the Brookings Insitution. just a week before the Congolese made their pitch for US investors.

Both countries have highlighted the ease at which it is now able to to acquire a business licence and tax number online without the redtape that it previously had taken in order to invest.

President Conte also stated that although his country is not tied up with France, the US or China that American Investors should not be frightened of the Chinese either.