Archive for category Morocco

many people throwing their weight around

1. India, Bangladesh sign 5 pacts

NEW DELHI - LEADERS of India and Bangladesh met in New Delhi on Monday with talks focused on strengthening the previously difficult ties between the two south Asian neighbours, an Indian official said. Cross-border relations have improved in recent years and Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s delegation signed five cooperation agreements with India in areas ranging from cultural exchanges, security, preventing crime and power supply.

more @ straits times

2. India confers Indira Ghandi Peace Prize to Bangladeshi PM

NEW DELHI, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) — India Tuesday conferred Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina with the prestigious Indira Gandhi Peace Prize in recognition of her contribution to peace and democracy, reported the Indo-Asian News Service. Indian President Pratibha Patil conferred the award at a function in the Rashtrapati Bhavan presidential palace and praised Hasina for “shaping her country’s onward path of progress and development”, said the report.

more @ chinaview

3. Malaysian PM to visit Saudi Arabia

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) — Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak will be making an official visit to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 13-16 to deepen bilateral ties, the Malaysian Foreign Ministry said here on Tuesday. Najib will later attend the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Jan. 18. Malaysia will be working towards enhancing trade and investment relations with the two countries.

source: chinaview

4. Clinton to visit Japan, Pacific region

Since coming to power last year, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) has pushed to see negotiations restart on the SOFA agreement, creating tension between the two countries. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has pledged to decide by May how to proceed on the base issue. Apart from talks with Okada, Clinton will deliver a policy speech focused on Asia-Pacific multilateral engagement in Hawaii, and will be consulting with the Pacific Command. She will be traveling to Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia from Jan. 14 to Jan. 19, her first visit to the region since becoming the secretary of state. In Canberra, Clinton, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and their Australian counterparts Stephen Smith and John Falkner will participate in the 25th Australia-U.S. Ministerial Consultations to discuss key global and regional security challenges.

source: chinaview

5. ASEAN prepares own “Marshall Plan’

MANILA, Philippines—Asean is preparing its own Marshall Plan, the United States program in post World War II to rebuild and create an economically stronger Western Europe to repel the threat of internal communism, the Asean Secretariat said Tuesday….In a working lunch in Jakarta Monday, Asean Secretary General Dr. Surin Pitsuwan described the plan to Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry Masayuki Naoshima. He urged the Japanese official and his delegation to look at the plan and the roles of Asean and Eria as a package….Surin, who coined the “Marshall Plan for Asia” tag for the plan, said his office was collaborating with Eria and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in the development of the plan. The plan aims “to contribute to coordinating, expediting, upgrading, and expanding sub-regional initiatives and promoting private sector participation.”

more @ inquirer

6. incoming EU trade chief sees WTO deal by 2011

BRUSSELS—Would-be new European trade chief Karel De Gucht expressed confidence on Tuesday that a deal to free up international commerce is attainable by next year.… The Doha round began in 2001, with a focus on dismantling obstacles to trade for poor nations by striking an accord that will cut agriculture subsidies and tariffs on industrial goods. Deadlines to conclude the talks have been repeatedly missed. Discussions have been dogged by disagreements on issues including how much the US and the EU should reduce aid to their farmers and the extent to which developing countries such as India, China and South Africa should cut tariffs. “We have to do that deal,” De Gucht added, refusing to concede that the terms of the talks had to change to take account of the aftermath of the global economic crisis.

more @ inquirer

7. China views Ethiopia as major economic trading partner

ADDIS ABABA, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) — China views Ethiopia as its major economic and trading partner in Africa, says Minister of Commerce Chen Deming on Monday….Chen put forward a four-point proposal on further development of bilateral trade and economic cooperation: First, further expanding its imports from Ethiopia through the use of tariff-free policies; Second, strengthening cooperation in investment and engineering contracts and continuing to encourage strong Chinese firms to invest in Ethiopia; Third, fully implementing the eight new measures to enhance cooperation with Africa; Fourth, further promoting cooperation in official development assistance to support Ethiopia’s infrastructure, and projects aimed to improve people’s well-being.

more @ chinaview

8. China, Morocco hold talks on enhancing bilateral ties

RABAT, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) — Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, who is on a five-nation African tour, held talks Monday with his Moroccan counterpart Taieb Fassi Fihri on ways to upgrade relations between the two countries….Yang is on his first official foreign visit of the year that includes five African nations, namely Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Algeria and Morocco, as well as Saudi Arabia. It has been China’s tradition for 20 years that its foreign minister visits Africa in the beginning of the year.

more @ chinaview

9. China VP meets Pakistan’s opposition party chief

BEIJING, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) — Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping met Tuesday in Beijing with Nawaz Sharif, chief of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), saying party exchanges would help facilitate bilateral relations….Highlighting the friendship between China and Pakistan, Xi said China had treated bilateral ties from a long-term and strategic perspective and would make efforts with Pakistan to lift pragmatic cooperation. Sharif expressed his admiration for the achievements China had made, saying the political parties in Pakistan shared the view of improving friendly cooperation with China.

more @ chinaview

10. experts discuss NATO’s future at Prague meeting

An international conference has opened in Prague, aiming to help redefine NATO’s mission for the 21st century. The international panel is led by former U.S. State Secretary Madeleine Albright. About hundred other experts are also participating. The group is working to update the alliance’s mission statement, which was written in 1999. Albright is present at Tuesday’s gathering. The draft will be submitted for consideration to the leaders of NATO’s member nations at their spring summit in Lisbon, Portugal. NATO started the process to update its outdated mission statement last year to focus on handling new challenges such as piracy, terrorism and cyber attacks as well a resurgent Russia.

source: taiwan news

11. new EU foreign chief criticized for lack of specifics

Under its previous holder Javier Solana, the post of top EU diplomat focused on smoothing relations and boosting Europe’s influence in such places as the Middle East, Iran, and the Balkans. But the job has greater powers under the new Lisbon Treaty of reforms, even though the EU’s 27 nations remain well in charge over foreign and defense policy, with Ashton set to be their mouthpiece. Despite the pressure, Ashton appeared relaxed throughout, confidently responding to questions mainly focused on institutional concerns and how the former EU trade commissioner saw the future of EU foreign policy. She gave answers that demonstrated an understanding of the issues, but would not be drawn into diplomatic minefields like her stance on sanctions against Iran and was cautious on Middle East policy. More broadly she urged Europe to play a greater role on the world stage. “I am convinced there is a clear call, inside the EU and around the world, for greater European engagement—to promote peace, protect the vulnerable, fight poverty ,and address the many problems of our time,” she said. “We have to answer this call.”

more @ inquirer

12. Kazakh minister visits Vienna, Austria

Secretary of State - Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, Kanat Saudabayev began his official visit to Vienna yesterday… According to the press release, the visit on part of OSCE Chairman Saudabayev, to Austria will take place on January 12 - 15. Saudabayev will meet with President of Austria, Heinz Fischer, and the Federal Minister for European and International Affairs of Austria, Michael Spindelegger, to discuss the further development of Kazakhstan-Austrian cooperation as part of international organizations. … According to the press release, Astana considers Vienna a key political and economic partner in the EU, and is interested in developing bilateral dialogue in all areas and levels. During the visit, the Minister of Foreign Affairs will hold meetings with UN structures administration based in Vienna – including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and Universal Prohibition of Nuclear Tests to discuss cooperation with these organizations, according to Kazakhstan Today.


13. Austrian president to visit China next week

BEIJING, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) — Austrian President Heinz Fischer will pay a state visit to China from next Tuesday to Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry announced Tuesday.  Fischer will make the visit as guest of Chinese President Hu Jintao, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu told a regular briefing.   This will be Fischer’s first China trip since he took office in 2004.

source: chinaview

14. China very very very unhappy with US weapons sales to Taiwan — in diplomatic language this is a full-blown fit

BEIJING, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) — The U.S. Defense Department announced on January 6 the approval of a plan of Lockheed Martin Corp. to sell Patriot III missiles to Taiwan. Although it was a step to implement the huge-scale arms sales package announced by the George W. Bush administration in October 2008, such a move only about one month after U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to China tarnished the China-U.S. ties….the U.S. arms sales to Taiwan fully justified any suspicion about the United States’ sincerity to take concrete actions to “respect each other’s core interests.”

Undoubtedly, the U.S. arms sales to Taiwan seriously violated the principles established in the three Sino-U.S. joint communiques and the spirit of the Sino-U.S. Joint Statement, breached the U.S. promise to respect the core interests of China and disobeyed the mainstream wish shared by the people across the Straits.  This move clearly showed the dual character of the United States in dealing with the major issues related to China’s core interests, especially at the moment that the cross-Straits relations have embarked on a path of peaceful development.

Profound lessons should be drawn from history. All previous U.S. arms sales to Taiwan have caused great damage to the Sino-U.S. relations and blocked their stable and smooth development.  This time is no exception, since the arms sales to Taiwan are rootless and absolutely harmful, whether from the perspectives of legal, moral and justice principles, or from the perspectives of joint interests of the two countries and the long-term development of their relations.

more @ chinaview

out of africa

Click here for political map of Africa (source: UTexas).

A quick news tour of the African continent:

Northern Africa:

Ten suspected terrorists killed in northeastern Algeria on Saturday night. Police seized an “important quantity” of weapons during the ambush, the result of a tip off.

Morocco politely turns down US requests to detain and arrest Guinean President Dadis Camara, trying to stay out of other countries’ affairs while maintaining a “terror-free atmosphere.” Good luck with that.

West Africa:

Confusion over Guinea’s interim leader, Sekouba Konate, as multiple news outlets reported that he was flown out for emergency medical treatment (for cirrhosis of the liver), which was later denied.

It is reported that when Dadis Camara was declared leader of the 32-member junta in December 2008, Konate who was then head of an elite unit of specially trained commandos did not even appear on the list. Someone who witnessed the event at the main barracks said Konate initially challenged Camara over the presidency, which led to Konate, Camara and a third officer agreeing to draw lots from a mayonnaise jar to settle who would get to be president. Camara won but disputed the mayonnaise-jar story, saying soldiers threatened him and Konate with death unless they agreed to lead the country. Konate was then named vice president, and in a period of one year moved through the military ranks from colonel to general, while Dadis Camara remained a captain.

Be our leader or we kill you? O-kay. Who am I to argue with such logic?

Moving right along to Nigeria…

The radical Jamaican cleric who was deported to Gambia last week has been spotted in Kenya, officials reported on Sunday. Abdullah Al-Faisal, a Jamaican Muslim cleric was flown to Lagos, Nigeria, on Thursday in a private jet after airlines decline to have him board their planes. It was the second time the east African nation had tried unsuccessfully to deport the cleric. On Tuesday, the Kenyan authorities reportedly drove him to the border of Tanzania because he had entered Kenya from there, but Tanzania refused him entry as well. According to a Muslim and human rights group in Kenya, Al-Faisal is being held in a remand prison in the Kenyan capital Nairobi. How he found his way back in Kenya remains un-clear….Kenyan officials have said Al-Faisal had traveled to Kenya from Nigeria through Angola, Malawi, Swaziland, Mozambique and Tanzania. Kenyan Immigration Minister Otieno Kajwang pointed out that Al-Faisal is in the watch-list of persons not allowed to visit the East African nation since 2007. Mr. Faisal was convicted in Britain in 2003 of inciting racial hatred for urging his followers to kill Hindus, Christians, Jews and Americans. Britain deported him to Jamaica in 2007.

Hmm. I bet we haven’t heard the last of him.

French metals firm Eramet will spend almost $300 million and employ 1,000 people in Gabon to build a manganese plant in the central African country, it and the Gabonese government said on Friday.

Southern Africa:

Angolan rebels attack Togo soccer team “by mistake.”

Rodrigues Mingas, secretary general of the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (Flec), said his fighters had meant to attack security guards as the convoy passed through the Angolan province of Cabinda, which sits wholly inside Congo. Today, Angolan state media reported two arrests in connection with Friday’s attack, which came as the Togo team travelled to the Africa Cup of Nations. Three people were killed ? the team’s assistant coach, its official spokesman and the bus driver….Through a spokesman Zuma dismissed ­speculation that the incident raised ­questions over security for the World Cup in South Africa five months from now. Sajjan Gohel, the international security director of the Asia-Pacific Foundation, a London-based thinktank, said many ­people had been looking to the Angola tournament as a litmus test for the World Cup. “Although it is not in South Africa it is in southern Africa, so I suppose many people were looking at it in a similar light,” he said.

I suppose.

An opinion of Angola:

The profile of Angola’s new elite are people who studied abroad, in Europe or the USA, who have no connection whatsoever with the people they are supposed to represent and who turn their backs on their African origins, native languages and culture. Yet despite the flagrant lack of democracy in Angola, despite the dreadful living conditions of vast swathes of the population while the corrupt elite perpetuates its existence through a system of bribes and commissions (in collusion with Europeans), countries and companies are lining up to sign lucrative contracts with one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.

Zimbabwe’s liberation fighters demand 20% cut of land, residential and business stands in all cities, and mineral resources.

Beta says it is their right to claim 20 percent of all national resources claiming that the “war veterans are some of the poorest people around despite the work that they have done for this country.”…In the last decade, the veterans were in the forefront of farm invasions that left scores of people, mostly white’s, dead.

Long time ruler President Mugabe started the often-violent seizure of white-owned farms in 2000, after he suffered his first defeat at the polls over a referendum to entrench his presidential powers. He said the farms would go to poor blacks but many of the 5,000 seized farms went to his friends and cronies, however. The seizures touched off an economic collapse in the southern African country that used to thrive on exports of food, minerals and tobacco….During colonial times, white settlers who came to what was then called Rhodesia to seek their fortunes in agriculture and mining forced blacks off ancestral lands. Mugabe insists he is trying to correct the wrongs of Zimbabwe’s colonial past.

East Africa:

Al-Qaeda’s proxy in Africa stationed in Somalia, Al-Shabaab, has suffered a big blow as one of its top-ranking commanders has been reportedly executed by another rebel group in the fight for control of the central regions of Somalia….Sheikh Abdullahi Sheikh Abu Yusuf a spokesman for the group told reporters “We don’t normally kill al Shabaab members. We arrest them and make them understand that Islam means peace. We have detained and then released many of them,”

The Spokesman went on to say “This commander insisted that all people were infidels except his group, We will execute Al-Shabaab members who insist that it can be right to kill the innocent. What else are we supposed to do to those who believe they will go to paradise for killing us and the whole human race?” This was the first known execution by the Ahlu Sunna Waljamaca which is aligned with Somalia’s pro-west government.

US embassy raises coy warning for aviation travel between Sudan and Uganda:

A warning has been issued by the U.S. embassy in Khartoum, Sudan that terrorists in the East Africa region were planning a deadly attack on Air Uganda flights that ply the routes between southern Sudan and Uganda. Embassy officials in Khartoum did not name the potential attackers but has said in the past that terrorist groups were active in Sudan. They published a warning late on Friday on the embassy website of potential threats against commercial aviation transiting between the two countries.

Returning to North Africa:

Egypt is the latest country to purchase large tracts of Ethiopian agricultural land:

Ethiopia’s policy shift made last year, allowing foreign entities to grab huge commercial farmlands, has attracted a lot of attention from both foreign companies and countries. The Government of Djibouti was the first to obtain 3,000 hectares of farmland in Bale, a suitable agricultural zone in the Oromia region located some 400 kilometers south of Addis Ababa. Karaturi, an Indian company, and Saudi Star, established by Sheik Mohamed Al Amudi, a Saudi national billionaire, have equally obtained lands with the aim of growing export crops for their respective countries. The land deals were made directly with the central government.

news from africa, land of valuable minerals with poor people living on top

1. US and Morocco to work on common interests

The Moroccan government, chaired by the Prime Minister Abbas El Fassi, met the US Congress Delegation, led by Senator Jude Gregg, on Tuesday in Rabat to discuss their common interests and bilateral relations. The meeting shed light mainly on three issues: Morocco’s territorial integrity, the Palestinian cause, and the bilateral cooperation between the United States and Morocco. Both sides agreed on the importance to advance forward the US-Morocco Free Trade Agreement that was signed in 2004.

read more @ newstime africa

2. as US piles pressure on Morocco, Dadis Camera’s future becomes uncertain

The United States Government recently sent a high powered delegation including Johnny Carson, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, to try and influence the Moroccan government to stop the Guinean President Dadis Camara from returning to Guinea. The delegation also seized the opportunity to hold talks with Guinea’s Interim Leader and Minister of Defence, Sekouba Konate who was in Rabat to do an assessment of the leaders medical condition. Western diplomats in Rabat expressed confidence in the Moroccan administration and said they believe Rabat will join hands with them to keep Camara away from Guinea and bolster efforts in Conakry to return the country to a civilian government….Sekouba Conate is keen to present a clean image to the International Community and indeed to the Guinean people. Whether this is an attempt to camouflage his true intentions to become leader in any future administration is yet to be discovered….Possible opposition candidates for prime minister in a transitional government are Jean Marie Dore, Francois Lonceny Fall and Sidya Toure. Dore hails from Guinea’s Forestiere region where Dadis Camara also comes from and home to several minority ethnic groups that have long felt under-represented in power.

read more @ newstime africa

3. UN warns of “potential threat” by unconstitutional changes in West Africa

UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) — The resurgence of unconstitutional changes of government and undemocratic practices in West Africa constitutes a potential threat to sub regional peace and stability, according to a UN report released on Wednesday….Also last month, President Moussa Dadis Camara survived an assassination attempt, which led to further violence and human rights abuses by security forces, the secretary-general said. He warned that the “deteriorating” situation in Guinea could jeopardize the fragile peace processes underway in the nation’s Mano River Basin neighbors — Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and threaten the stability of the greater subregion.

…To tackle the threat posed by drug trafficking and cross-border organized crime, Ban stressed the need to enhance UNOWA’s police capacity.  There has been a decline in seizures of narcotics at European airports on flights originating in West Africa. However, that is not necessarily a result of a dip in trafficking, but rather due to a “tactical repositioning” by traffickers, who are no longer using the region only as a transit point.   Traffickers, he said, may be trying to produce narcotics in West Africa, constituting “a most alarming trend and a potentially serious destabilizing factor and threat to West African populations.”

read more @ chinaview

4. Somalia’s ambassador to Djibouti dies

The Somali embassy in Djibouti has confirmed Thursday morning that ambassador Muse Hussein Fahiye has perished at a hospital here in Djibouti last night at about 10:00 PM local time. Deputy ambassador Abdurahman Mohamed Hirabe told reporters at the embassy building this morning that after three days of illness Fahiye died last night and will be buried in Djibouti later on the day. “He was in his late 50s and was appointed as Somali ambassador to Djibouti in December 2008 by the former Somali president Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed”Hirabe said during a press conference Thursday….Djibouti which is a brother nation of Somalia is one of the few countries which have embassies in Somalia’s lawless capital Mogadishu and since Somalia descended into chaos Djibouti was a leading nation in the peace making efforts and reconciliation to end political disagreements and create a functioning central government in Somalia.

can’t have that… - ed.

source: newstime africa

5. Zimbabwe auctions 300,000 diamond carats from controversial fields — at airport

About 300 000 diamond carats from the controversial Chiadzwa diamond fields are to be auctioned in a first formal trade of the precious mineral since Government moved in to normalise mining at the minefields. Mbanda Diamonds Mining, a firm authorized by government to mine diamonds in Chiadzwa is conducting the auction at the newly converted diamond processing facility at the Airport.

“International diamond buyers from as far as the Americas, Europe and Asia have already started arriving for today’s sales, which are expected to run for the next three days,” said Robert Mhlanga, Mbanda’s chairman.

The Zimbabwean government would earn 75 percent of the total sales revenue through a 50 percent weekly dividend, a 10 percent royalty fee, 15 percent taxation and a five percent resource depletion fee. “In order to ensure maximum security and compliance with the Kimberly Process, the first consignment of the diamonds on sale were airlifted from Chiadzwa diamond fields under guard from the police”, said Mhlanga.

International community has been extensively lobbying for a ban on Zimbabwe diamonds, claiming human rights abuses. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights claim that about 5,000 people were arrested during the army operation, with three quarters of them showing signs of having been tortured severely.

Also the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which shares the unity government with Zanu-PF, claimed that hundreds of people were buried in mass graves “to hide the regime’s (Zanu-PF) murderous activities,” and that the soldiers sent to ’guard’ the fields had become illegal diamond dealers themselves. During a visit by Kimberly Process (the regulatory body tasked with ending the global trade in conflict diamonds) last year to investigate the reports of rights abuses, the team met with a key witness, Chief Newman Chiadzwa. Chiadzwa offered up testimonies and eye witness accounts of beatings, torture and even murders at the hands of the military controlling the diamond fields. He also detailed how he had been arrested and harassed before the Kimberley Process delegation’s visit.

read more @

6. oh look, over there, South Sudan — lots of poor people and NGOs struggling — time to “internationalize” the situation, that always works. NOT.

LONDON - Christian and Animist southern Sudan could descend into a new war unless the world community takes action to salvage peace there, aid agencies warned Thursday.  The 10 agencies said a lethal combination of rising violence, crippling poverty and political tensions has left the peace deal close to collapse.”It is not yet too late to avert disaster, but the next 12 months are a crossroads for Africa’s largest country,” said the report’s co-author, Maya Mailer, from Oxfam.  “Last year saw a surge in violence in southern Sudan. This could escalate even further and become one of the biggest emergencies in Africa in 2010,” she added.

read more @ middle east online