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Jun. 29th, 2018

Paying Attention?

Will there be any semblance of free and fair elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo this year? It appears that the Trump Administration has its doubts.

Last week it announced that it was placing several unnamed individuals with the Electoral Commission under sanctions. There have been several questions regarding the upcoming poll such as why did they use a certain Korean Company that caused Seoul to state that this order should not have been placed. Another interesting question is whether or not President Kabila will actually stand for a third term.

Another interesting option is what is being called the Putin Rule. That is President Kabila steps down for a term and acts as Prime Minister. One of his acolytes thens assumes the office for a full term whereupon Mr. Kabila will then reassume the Office of President. This has generated some discussion amongst the Think Tanks here in Washington but it cannot be ruled out.

Another interesting fact is that in the midst of the announcement of sanctions is that the State Department is sending MIchael Hammer a former Ambassador to Chile to take a similar posting in Kinshasa. For far too long this has been a vaccum in any potential dealings with the DRC. This is a positive move although late by Secretary Pompeo.

On June 27th the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Human Rights and International Organizations held a hearing regarding the unfolding and yet underreported fighting that is occuring in Cameroon between the Francophone and the Anglophone Communities.

The images that are been shared on social media are horrific to put it mildly. Mutilated bodies, Women forced to crawl  through mudpits are just some of the lowlights. There are even images of Nigerian Vehicles being used against the Anglophone Community by Cameroonian Government Forces. It is refreshing to note that Congress is not ignoring this rapidly unfolding crisis.

Finally the US working in concert with France and the United Kingdom has been able to prevent a delivery of Chinese Arms to the Central African Republic. The situation in the country remains fluid and chaotic in some areas.

More to come after July 4th

May. 17th, 2018

Update May 18 2018

Earlier this week it was revealed that the United States would transfer 2 ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Recon) Aircraft to Cameroon.

This is an interesting move as Security Forces continue their crackdown against the Anglophile Minority which lives along the border with Nigeria. This effort which has fallen under the radar of most Media outlets for two years now appears to be part of a strategy for the next Cameroonian Presidential Elections.

This move also suggests that there is another concern for this choice of strategy. It may be that Boko Haram which has in the past proven adept at recruiting within Cameroon for attacks in Nigeria also has such a toehold in the country that this drastic step is being used to maintain the structural integrity of Cameroon.

Whatever the motives of the Government are they are also taking the steps to forcibly return Refugees who have fled Nigeria to escape the carnage unleashed by Boko Haram. It is not that much of a stretch of the imagination to sneak the Anglophone speakers into these lines. Problem solved. Or is it?

Ambassador at Large for International Religious Liberty Sam Brownback has revealed that in late June He will be visiting Nigeria.

This will be a Multifaith delegation (Christians and Muslims) and will visit some of the most troubled parts of the Country. The discussions that will be held are vital as Nigeria also prepares to hold Presidential Polls in 2019. Clearly the situation in the Middle Belt States could prove to President Buhari what the States of Borno and Adamawa were to the Jonathan Administration. A factor that led to their defeat at the polls.

Interesting report from Djibouti. It seems that unknown persons from the new Chinese Military facility in the Country have been targeting US Pilots with Lasers. Not sure of what the reaction from the Administration will be at this time.....

Finally to the Niger Ambush, talk about a whitewash.. why is it when an Operation like this goes bad the blame is tossed to the people who had to execute the job and not the geniuses who planned the mission and set the parameters of what could/ could not be done?

It is clear that the US does not have the proper footprint to promote its interests in Africa such as the lack of a response when the call for Air support was made..

Apr. 18th, 2018

Resolving Issues

One of the issues that has been plaguing the Trump Administration and its ability to respond to any unfolding crisis is the poor staffing currently in place at the State Department.

Next week the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to vote regarding whether or not current Nominee and CIA Director Mike Pompeo's nomination should be advanced to the floor of the Senate for a final confirmation vote. 

At the same time the Senate Foreign Relations Committee also held hearings to determine whether or not current nominee Thomas Hushek who is currently the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Conflict and Stablization Operations (CSO) to be the Ambassador to Juba. This post which has been vacant for some time duly needs to be filled as the internal situation remains in a state of morass. It does not show any sign of improvement nor does there seem to be any sign of regression either.

Filling these two posts will be key to getting an adequate US Response to the Crisis in South Sudan.

Has anyone noticed the remarks made by LTC Sean Mcclure? You haven't heard of this Officer?

He is currently the US Military Attache to Nigeria and recently he made some candid and interesting statements regarding the current struggle against Boko Haram.

LTC Mcclure states that the group is shifting tactics. The group is more focused on using Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and hiding amongst the civilian population necessatite a change away from the current strategy and tactics currently being employed by the Nigerian Military.

The Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai stated within the last twenty four hours that there was "No Doubt Boko Haram Terrorists have been defeated, They don't have the Capacity." This mantra has been repeated not only by the Nigerian Military but also by President Buhari himself. It seems that within weeks of remarks similar to those of the General are made that the Group makes its presence felt in the Country either by kidnapping a number of schoolgirls or setting off a series of suicide bombings.

So what is the problem of the Nigerian Security Forces? They currently lack the trust of the Population. Those that they are currently training to protect and ultimately failing to do so. There have been several reports of Security Forces Kidnapping and Torturing Civilians as they try to deal with this insurgency.

A key element in this failure is the lack of Human Intelligence that is available and used by the Military. Currently the FNG (Federal NIgerian Government) has ceded control of the three Northeastern States (Borno, Adamwa and Yobe).

Sadly Reform of the Military will take time. But the question of whether or not Nigeria has it or not cannot be answered at this point in time.

But when the civilian population feel caught in the middle between an insurgency and an out of control security forces they will opt for what they feel is the lesser of two evils. Right now they feel that its the insurgents...

Bad News for Nigeria

Also Flintlock 18 is underway...

Mar. 24th, 2018

(no subject)

There is a current perception amongst the Africa Watchers here in Washington that the Administration has placed Africa on the Back Burner. But behind the scenes things prove otherwise.

Late on the evening of March 23rd  the Parliament of Ghana ratified a deal with the United States despite the Main Political Opposition boycotting the deal allowing the US Military unfettered access to Ghanian Facilities. Not only will the US Military gain access but also those contracting their services out to the USG will be allowed to access these facilities.

The US will receive a decent deal for the $20 Million in training and equipment that it will pay to the Ghanians. The US will gain access to the Radio Spectrum of the Country and will gain tax exempt status for any equipment that it imports into the Country.

On a Geopolitical sense this is a good move for the US. It will allow for the US to have a presence in two main flashpoints in Africa. One the Gulf of Guinea is a major route in Human, Drug and Arms Trafficking as well as having an increase in the acts of Piracy over the last couple of years.

Secondly it will allow for AFRICOM to increase its programs to support the Sahel 5 and Operation Barakhane in the region. There will be some armchair quarterbacking to suggest that this is indeed a reaction to the Ambush of the Green Berets in Niger. If the presence in Ghana was already in effect there most likely would be an improved response by the US Military to the event while it was currently occurring.

The Administration has taken a step to highlight its current displeasure with the state of the Peace Process that has been unfolding in South Sudan.

This past week the State Department placed the names of 15 South Sudanese Petroleum Companies on the Deparment of Commerce Entry List. That means that the Government believes that the Revenues that have been generated by these Enterprises have been used to further violence in South Sudan.

This means any exports, reexports or transfers to these entities originating from the United States will require a licence after March 22nd. There were be more about this move in the near future.

Finally a group of the UPDF (Ugandan People's Defense Force) has completed a training program at Fort Polk, Louisiana. This program which ran from the 3rd of Feburary until the 26th of Feburary

The training was conducted by 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 25th Infantry Division and will allow the Ugandans to improve Recon Missions, forward passages of lines and even partnered with the 1st Battalion of the 75th Ranger Battalion. A key component was training to deter a complex attack launched by a Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device.

It appears that the Ugandans are preparing for something. Whether its in Somalia, or the DRC or even within their own borders has yet to be seen.

Feb. 26th, 2018

Old Crises reemerging

We start with the crisis that has been simmering for a long time in Ethiopia. The TPLF Government in power since 1991 when it drove the Mengistu Goverment out of Power has itself had a brutal reign.

Over the couple of years there have been protests in the Oriomo region. This is in the southeastern part of the Country adjoining Somalia. Earlier this month the Government decided to release thousands of political prisoners after a series of protests took place in the region. By the way the protests still continue today.

Instead of putting out the fires the release has had the opposite effect. It was akin to throwing gasoline on the proverbial fire. The protests then spread nationwide even reaching the Capital of Addis Ababa. The result was a surprise to most people. The Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned. This move has thrown the Government into chaos. Whereupon the Government has declared a six-month State of Emergency.

Some of the reactions have been interesting. The US Embassy in Addis has stated the situation does not meet the criteria to meet the Declaration. After this statement the silence from Washington and the State Department has been deafening. Contrast this to the reactions from Germany, Britain and the United Arab Emriates who have issued Travel Warnings for their citizens travelling to Ethiopia.

In a short period of time Ethiopia is expected to have a new Prime Minister who will be from the Oriomo region. Will this be a Charade? That is the question to ponder.

The proposed sale of aircraft to Kenya is a no-go now. The deal which was first announced back in January 2017 fell apart after the Kenyatta Administration failed to meet two deadlines to enter into a binding transactional contract for the manufactuer.

There was controversy at the time as IMOAXX one company that also provides the airframe in question filed a complaint to Congress stating that its bid was ignored in favor of the group that won the bid L3 and Air Tractor.

This failure of paperwork will most likely hinder the Kenyan efforts to deal with Al Shabaab in both Somalia and in Northeastern Kenya.

Finally the group that Ambushed the US Green Berets in Niger has been formally declared as a FTO (Foreign Terrorist Organization) by the US State Department. Ansural Islam (AI) which carried the attack last fall is now considered to be part of Ansar Dine. This group which has ties to Al-Qaeda has caused some of the chaos that is currently taking place in Mali.

It is interesting that a group that has caused chaos in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso is considered to be an FTO and the US does very little to improve the infrastructure on the ground in these three nations. Can we Say Cause and Effect?

Feb. 7th, 2018

Embargo and Sanctions

Within the last week the Trump Administration has taken a couple of actions regarding some long standing crisis spots in Africa.

First of all is the decision to impose an Arms Embargo on South Sudan. The motive for this action was to encourage both the Government led by President Salva Kiir and the Rebels lead by former First Vice President Riek Machar to accept and implements the terms of the ceasefire agreed to in December 2017.

However there is an interesting sidenote currently at play here. It seems that the supporters of President Kiir are not happy with the Arms Embargo. When the news of this Embargo broke there were demonstrations at both the US Embassy in Juba and at the US Mission to the United Nations in New York.

Attendees of the protest in Juba handed over a petition which accused the US Government of supporting the Rebels instead of the Government. This criticism was also levied against the Obama Administration as well. It has been alleged that Machar has excellent PR contacts in Washington and their efforts are bearing fruit at the State Department and it appears to be having the same impact on Capitol Hill and possibly the National Security Council as well.

Just the other day the US Treasury announced that it was sanctioning 4 individuals for their role in the never ending violence that plagues the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

These individuals Muhindo Akili Mundos a General in the Armed Forces who has been accused of brutally repressing civilians in his sector and 3 Militia Leaders as well. Gedeyon Kyungu Mutanga, Guidon Shimiray Mwissa and Lucien Nzbamwita.

The US decision came within days of the UN Security Council blacklisted these men for planning, directing or committing acts taking place within the DRC that constitute human rights violations or abuses or violations of international humanitarian law.

The timing of this decision is critical. Ethnic violence claimed over 30 lives this past weekend in the seemingly lawless and unrest filled eastern part of the Country.  It should be noted that the current incumbent Joseph Kabila was supposed to have left office in December 2016 but still remains in power.

Recent moves against the Catholic Church in Kinshasa and other cities are additional reasons to show concern regarding the internal Political Climate in the Country. Reports also indicate that the Church will be joining the protests calling for Kabila to vacate his office on a weekly level as well.

Jan. 27th, 2018

Off to an interesting Start

Already 2018 is off to a rousing and interesting start when it comes to US Policy towards Africa.

On Jan 7th of this year the 635th Material Maintainence Squadron based at Holloman Air Force Base deployed to N'Djamena Chad to assist the Chadian Air Force in constructing Shelters for their aircraft and to provide maintainence training for them. The previous facilities were destroyed as a result of a windstorm. Therefore the Chadian Government made a formal request to AFRICOM for assistance.

It is only a matter of time before Chad receives the Cessna 208Bs that it had ordered and the Aircraft that received repairs included the only PC-12 in the arsenal and three of the AS350/AS550C which were damaged during the storm that took place on July 1, 2017

Speaking of Aircraft the Nigerians are reported to be planning to protest the conditions of sale regarding the acqusition of 12 A-29 Super Tucano for a total price of $494 Million.

The row concerns reports that the transfer will not occur until 2020, Nigerian Maintainence crews will not be trained by the Americans, Nor can the study the production of the planes. Since these aircraft are Brazilian made they can contact Brasilia for assistance regarding these Aircraft.

However the initial proposed sale of this platform during the Obama Administration was held up due to concerns regarding the Human Rights Record of the Nigerian Military. The sale was reinstated by the Trump Administration during its first year in office.

This deal and the initial payments are expected to concluded on Feb 20th.

Finally there are reports that US Special Forces assisted Somali Government Forces in rescuing 30 Children from Al-Shabaab after a recent operation. This is a chilling story at the very least to read. It seems that Jihadists and Insurgents are seeking to use the most vulnerable in society as weapons to further their agenda.

Jan. 9th, 2018

A New Year

2018 is now here. Its a new start for the year. However will there be any major policy shifts continuing regarding US Policy most likely be done in a covert manner not accessable to the general public.

However there is one country that already is generating positive interest. Senegal was visited during the Christmas Break by the Emir of Qatar. The Confused Eagle has also learned that the World Bank will be recapitalizing its projects in the Country at the end of the month. Not only will Senegalese President Macky Sall be attending the conference but French President Macron will attend as well. The timing of the visit is the last week of the month (Jan 28th)

A new MCC (Millenium Challenge Corporation) Compact for Senegal is also expected to be announced sometime during the second half of the current fiscal year. So there is also some interest by the United States as well for the future of Senegal. This could be a benefit not only for Senegal but West Africa as well.

Contrast this to Central Africa. Uncertainty still reigns supreme in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as Security Forces moved against the Catholic Church for planning to protest against President Kabila reneging on a deal that would have resulted in a new President for the Country.

Also this week efforts to allow long serving President Museveni of Uganda to remain in State House move forward despite opposition protests.

A Peace Deal in South Sudan hangs on at best very tenously. It could crack under the strain of people not being able to determine who is an ally one moment and an adversary the very next second.

Remember this is only January

Dec. 7th, 2017

The More things Change....

The next several months are going to be crucial for Somalia. AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia) began the process of withdrawing from the Country on December 2,2017.  Now that this step is being taken what will happen next?

This past week (beginning on December 4th) there were two major meetings in the region attended by acting Undersecretary of State for African Affairs Donald Yamamoto.

The first meeting occurred in Addis Ababa. This was a meeting of the Somalia Security Pact Review. This meeting was chaired by Somalia President Farmaajo and was to discuss the development of the Somalia Security Forces. There have been a series of high profile car bombings in ogadishu with one killing more than 500 people..

There is some interesting conversation taking place regarding whether or not the withdrawal of AMISOM will lead to an increased role by the US. There has been an increase in the number of UAV and Special Ops Missions in the Country in recent weeks. Could it be that this is an effort by the Trump Administration to head off the potential security vaccum in the Country?

While in the region Mr. Yamamato will have talks with both Ethiopian and Kenyan Officials regarding concerns that Washington currently has in both countries.

A recent report by a Canadian Firm has documented how the Ethiopian Government has been using spyware to keep tabs on dissidents overseas and Kenya is trying to reemerge from a highly controversial electoral cycle that resulted in another term of office for President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Nov. 9th, 2017

Fixing Things

While the President is travelling throughout Asia trying to build a coalition that will develop a consensus regarding what to do with North Korea and to improve trade with the region one can ask just how much attention is being paid attention to Africa.

It appears on the surface that the answer may be not much. However deep down there are a couple of issues that are not an overt threat to the National Security of the United States but will have some form of impact in the future.

First off is Somalia. There have been at least two high profile Air Strikes attacking what have been reported to be ISIS outposts in the Northern Part of the Country. These kinetic events could be the harbinger of a future increased involvement by the United States. Earlier this week it was announced that AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia) would be leaving Somalia sometime next year.

Clearly the country is in transition as Al-Shabaab increases its use of VBIEDs(Vehicle Based Improvised Explosive Devices) in the Capital of Mogadishu. One recent attack resulted in the deaths of over 300 people. However there are competing factions within the Government as one faction seeks close ties with Saudi Arabia and the other faction supports the Qatari-Turkish alignment.

It is clear now that Somalia will have some impact on US Policy towards Africa.

Judging by the reactions by both the vitriol eminating from the Congress and a recent decision by the State Department  to issue a Travel Warning for the border area of Niger and Mali where the Green Berets were ambushed on October 1st it appears that the position of the Administration regarding the Sahel runs from Apathy to Confusion.

But there are several pieces of data that cannot be refuted:

1.) Despite the ambush the US cannot walk away from the region. It will most likely leave a vacuum that will needs to be filled

2.) When it comes to regional stability including Mali, Burkina, Nigeria and CAR no resolution will occur until a functioning Government is restored in Libya. The problem is what that will look like and where will it be headquartered.

3.)  Whatever con job that the Sudanese Government told the US regarding its concern in Libya its activities were not sufficent enough to warrant the lifting of sanctions

More impact from this region is coming as well

Finally the DRC has another entity seeking a presence in Washington. Already this year former Speaker of the House Robert Livingston signed a deal to represent the Country as well as the wife of former CIA Director James Woolsey

CENI (Independent National Electoral Commission) is now reported to have inked a deal with a firm on K St. Anyone care to guess who it is?

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