Archive for category Somalia

iran is not the isolated country

1. Lebanon’s Hariri to Abu Dhabi, then to France

Prime Minister Saad Hariri met on Monday with UAE’s Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum at Mushrif palace in Abu Dhabi, Emirates News Agency reported. Sheikh Mohammed is also UAE vice president and Dubai’s ruler. The meeting was attended by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan and National Security Advisor Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed al-Nahyan, according to WAM. Hariri was in the UAE on a two-day official visit. The premier is scheduled to travel to Paris on Wednesday for talks with top French officials.

source: naharnet

note that Erdogan is also in Abu Dhabi, and this links back to the assassination in Cyprus: here and here — Lieberman again

2. Jumblatt: Syria reconciliation nearly complete

“I believe that three-quarters of the road to Syria has opened up and what remains is the final gesture which depends on the right moment,” said Jumblatt in an interview with AFP at his ancestral home in Lebanon’s Shouf mountains, southeast of Beirut.  The 60-year-old hereditary chieftain of Lebanon’s Druze minority has come under fire since defecting in August from the US-backed March 14 ruling coalition he helped create in order to move closer to the Hezbollah-led opposition camp supported by Syria and Iran. The move came as Syria emerges from its international isolation and amid a rapprochement between Damascus and Riyadh, two key regional players. Jumblatt justified his U-turn, saying it was a necessary step to preserve the peace and avoid sectarian bloodshed. “I am willing to sacrifice everything for the civil peace even if my decisions are not popular,” he said. “One must at times swim against the current.” He said the sectarian unrest that brought Lebanon close to civil war in May 2008, when members of his Druze clan fought bitter battles with the Shiite Hezbollah in the Shouf region, had been a rude awakening.

more @ iloubnan

3. meanwhile, Iran seems pretty popular. Iran and Syria, Iran and Georgia, Iran and Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela, etc.

TEHRAN (FNA)- Relations between Tehran and Damascus are invulnerable to third party interference, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki reiterated on Monday .

“Iran and Syria don’t allow any third party to interfere in their ties,” Mottaki stressed.  Mottaki, who was speaking to reporters in a joint press conference with his Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze, further pointed to the relations between Tehran and Tbilisi, and said the two nations enjoy historical, cultural and geographical bonds.

Iran and Saudi Arabia enjoy great potential

Asked on the relations between Tehran and Riyadh, Mottaki reiterated that Iran has designed a framework for the promotion of cooperation and intimate relations with the regional countries and the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) member states, including Saudi Arabia.  “We utilize capacities and potentials to develop cooperation,” he said, and added, “We are in contact with these states.  The two-day conference dubbed as “Persian Gulf: Challenges and Regional Mechanism” was officially kicked off at the ministry’s Political and International Studies Office following an inaugural address by Mottaki. Experts from 15 countries, including Kuwait, Oman, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Romania, France, Germany, Japan, India, China and Russia as well as academics from around the globe are present in the gathering to discuss protection of the environment, PGCC, Iraq’s role in Persian Gulf developments and stability, security of the area as well as the global economic crisis and its impacts on the Persian Gulf.

more @ fars

TEHRAN (FNA)- Venezuela’s oil reserves do not pose a threat to Iran’s position in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) as the two countries cover the two ends of the market, an Iranian oil ministry official said following the discovery of major oil reserves in the Latin American country….Venezuela and Iran are two of the 12 members of OPEC along with Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.  Iran and Saudi Arabia are considered as OPEC kingpins with strong clout on the policies and decisions adopted by the oil cartel.

more @ fars

Georgia welcomes Iran’s presence in Nabucco — yeah this one is a little suspicious

TEHRAN (FNA)- Georgia announced on Monday that it supports Iran’s presence and partnership in the Nabucco gas pipeline project to carry natural gas from Central Asia to Austria via Turkey and the Balkan states, bypassing Russia and Ukraine.

more @ fars

4. Iran to send 5th fleet of warships to Gulf of Aden because of Somali pirates

TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior Iranian commander announced on Monday that the Navy is due to dispatch a fifth fleet of warships to the Gulf of Aden late January to defend the country’s cargo ships and oil tankers against continued attacks by Somali pirates.

5. Japanese envoy underscores Iran’s role in regional security

TEHRAN (FNA)- Japanese Ambassador to Tehran Akio Shirota stressed Iran’s key role in the restoration of security and tranquility in the region.

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

hit the ground running

1. man threatening jews taken off flight, say police — See??? palestinians/arabs are dangerous, especially to jews

A Florida airline passenger who witnesses say proclaimed “I want to kill all the Jews” before police forced him off a Detroit-bound plane has been arrested. Miami-Dade police said in a statement today that 43-year-old Mansor Mohammad Asad of Toledo, Ohio, faces several charges including disorderly conduct. Police say a taxiing Northwest Airlines flight was turned around at Miami International Airport late yesterday. Witnesses told authorities Asad was loud, disruptive and claimed to be Palestinian. They believed he was sometimes speaking Arabic.

The Transportation Security Administration says three of his companions were taken off the plane and questioned. The plane departed after a search. A phone number for Asad rang unanswered. Police didn’t return a message.

source: the independent

2. F15s escort US airliner back  after “disturbance” — see? look at that response that is working it, baby. US airforce — ON IT.

WASHINGTON - TWO F-15 fighter jets intercepted an airliner bound for Hawaii on Wednesday and escorted it back to Portland, Oregon after a passenger caused a ‘disturbance,’ the North American Aerospace Defense Command said….’Shortly after take-off, a passenger caused a disturbance on the plane and the pilot decided to return the aircraft to Portland,’ it said. The fighter aircraft led the plane back to Portland airport at about 1.15pm and law enforcement officers were investigating the incident, according to the statement, which offered no other details. Norad, a joint US-Canada mission, scrambles fighter jets to respond to possible terrorist threats from the air, after the attacks of Sept 11, 2001 involving hijacked airliners.

source: straits times

3. Gulf warned of attacks — SEE??? boats too, under threat, but hey they have the names of the new aq honchos and command post in Somalia

KUWAIT CITY - WESTERN intelligence has warned energy-rich Gulf states that Al-Qaeda is on the verge of launching attacks mainly on ships after regrouping in the past few months, the Al-Qabas daily reported on Thursday. Citing unnamed Kuwaiti security sources, the daily said that Al-Qaeda has trained operatives in the region to carry out attacks on war, commercial and passenger vessels in the Gulf and Arabian Sea. Western intelligence has urged Gulf states to boost security measures to provide protection for ships, especially oil and gas tankers, the Kuwaiti security sources said.

The Al-Qaeda network has been able to regroup over the past few months, taking advantage of deteriorating security in Somalia and Yemen, and has successfully established command and control bases in the two countries, the sources said. They added that Qaeda operatives in Somalia have in recent weeks captured advanced weapons from government forces and transferred them to their counterparts in Yemen. Western intelligence also provided Gulf states with names and locations of new Al-Qaeda command posts in Somalia and names of field commanders and members in Gulf states most of whom unknown previously, the added. — AFP

4. Mumbai Chabad House gets letter warning of attack — SEE??? the poor jews can’t catch a break…

The Chabad House in Mumbai, India, that was the site of a terror attack one year ago has received an anonymous letter warning of another attack.  Israeli media reported that the hand-written letter included a picture of Hitler and included the message “Israel is dogs. We will strike again ? heil, Hitler.”…The Bureau on Thursday had warned Israelis in mid-October about a concrete threat of a possible terror attack, particularly in the Goa area.

5. in stunning prescience - Ottawa ordered airline scanners months ago — that must have made Chertoff so happy. SEE?? we *knew* something like this was gonna happen just knew it…

On Wednesday morning, Baird told CTV’s Canada AM that Canada chose to pursue the high-tech scanner technology months ago, putting an order in to manufacturers “before the United States were in the queue…and before some of the countries in Europe.” “We’re taking the leadership in this. We have to move quickly and expeditiously, we’re confident that these are the best machines available on the market and they are the only ones recognized by the (U.S.) Transportation Security Administration, so that was an important part of our decision,” Baird said during an interview from Ottawa.

source: toronto ctv

“security” costs the poor, the young

1. more people go hungry in Somalia due to “rising threats”

NAIROBI, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) — The UN World Food Program (WFP) said Tuesday it has been forced to suspend its operations in southern Somalia due to rising insecurity.  WFP said in a statement issued in Nairobi said rising threats and attacks on humanitarian operations, as well as the imposition of a string of unacceptable demands from armed groups, have made it virtually impossible to continue reaching up to one million people in need in southern Somalia.

read more @ chinaview

2. cargo delivery delays

KUWAIT: Undue delay in customs clearance and strict documentation following alleged terror threats at Indian ports have created huge backlogs of goods at various airports in India, resulting in a virtual standstill of cargo movements from Kuwait and other Gulf states to the country, industry sources revealed. “The door-to-door cargo business to India, a popular and viable service for Indian expats, especially laborers, has been severely affected following new restrictions at the Indian ports,” said P N J Kumar, General Manager, Ceasars Travels Group….He explained that low-paid income groups and unskilled laborers rely mostly on door-to-door cargo service as it is cost-effective for them.

read more @ kuwait times

3. airport scanners face delays as it is pointed out that they breach child protection laws

The introduction of full-body scanners at British airports faces being delayed further after it emerged that the devices could breach child protection laws. Legislation forbids the creation of indecent images of children and privacy campaigners and civil liberties groups say the images are so graphic the process amounts to ‘virtual strip searching’….The Government will now have to exempt under-18s from the scans or delay a roll-out of the technology while legislation is amended. Four of the £80,000 units are currently in storage at Heathrow airport….There are also concerns that images of celebrity passengers could end up on the internet. [oh well *that* does it! - ed.]