Yemen Arabian Flex the 3rd front:- “Al-Qaeda is back to its berceau ” while crossing Atlantic !!!

US bombs Yemen provincial governor's house, Houthis sayOmar-Farouk-Abdulmutallab-photo.jpgMain Image

The package of the PETN explosive powder is seen in government photos obtained exclusively by ABC News, released to Reuters, December 28, 2009. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, based in Yemen, said it provided Nigerian suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, with an explosive device to blow up Northwest Airlines flight 253, a Delta-owned Airbus 330, as it approached Detroit on a flight from Amsterdam on Friday with almost 300 people on board.The package of the PETN explosive powder is seen in government photos obtained exclusively by ABC News, released to Reuters, December 28, 2009. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, based in Yemen, said it provided Nigerian suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, with an explosive device to blow upNorthwest Airlines flight 253, a Delta-owned Airbus330, as it approached Detroit on a flight from Amsterdam on Friday with almost 300 people on board

This undated image obtained and provided by ABC News shows the underpants without the explosive packet used on a failed plot to blow up an airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day, Friday, Dec. 25, 2009.

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Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula

Al-Qaeda fighters are said to have found sanctuary with tribesmen in the east of Yemen [File: EPA]

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the wing of al-Qaeda operating in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, is led by a Yemeni who was once a close aide to Osama bin Laden. The group, which has been gaining strength in recent years, represents units from the two neighbouring countries which merged under the leadership of Nasir Wuhaishi in January. Wuhaishi, who’s appointment was confirmed by Ayman Al-Zawahiri, the deputy al-Qaeda chief, in a video posted online, numbers among Saudi Arabia’s most-wanted. In 2006, he was one of 23 al-Qaeda figures who escaped from a Yemeni prison. The group’s deputy leader is believed to be Said Ali al-Shihri, a former prisoner at the United States’ Guantanamo Bay detention facility, who was released from Saudi custody in 2007. Abu al-Hareth Muhammad al-Oufi, another former Guantanamo detainee, has also been identified as a field commander for the group. Experts say that al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula comprises several hundred fighters. The group is said to have found sanctuaries among a number of Yemeni tribes, particularly in the eastern provinces. ‘Strategic significance’ Analysts say Yemen is of huge significance to al-Qaeda.

“Weapons, training, crossing points and the launch of operations have all come from Yemen” Abd Alelah-Haidar, analyst

“Weapons, training, crossing points and the launch of operations have all come from Yemen,” Abd Alelah-Haidar, a “terrorism” specialist who has met Wuhaishi, told Al Jazeera. “This country is seen as having strategic significance, not only by al-Qaeda, but also by others. “[However,] their operations are not confined to the Arabian peninsula but also include Iraq, Afghanistan, Nahr al-Bared [in Lebanon], and Palestine.” Ali al-Ahmed, director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs based in Washington, said Yemen had become the third-largest haven for al-Qaeda, and the group there is perhaps the most stable when compared to units operating in Iraq, North Africa and South Asia. “The one in Yemen now is really the most comfortable … its probably the best funded,” he told Al Jazeera. “Its not the best trained [and] it doesn’t have the best talent – that’s why it hasn’t been able to mount successful attacks. But it will come around in the coming years, and it will become a major threat.” Detroit claim

The al-Qaeda affiliate has claimed responsibility for an attempted attack on a US aircraft in Detroit on Christmas day, saying it was in response to raids in Yemen that it says were carried out by US jets, and had caused civilian deaths.

The Yemen-based al-Qaeda affiliate is said to be one of the best funded [AFP]

The Yemeni government has said that it carried out military raids on December 17 and 24, saying more than 30 al-Qaeda members had been killed. A New York Times newspaper report said Washington gave hardware, intelligence and other support to Yemeni forces for the raids. “We tell the American people that since you support the leaders who kill our women and children … we have come to slaughter you [and] will strike you with no previous [warning], our vengeance is near,” a statement released by the group said. “We call on all Muslims … to throw out all unbelievers from the Arabian Peninsula by killing crusaders who work in embassies or elsewhere … [in] a total war on all crusaders in the Peninsula of [Prophet] Muhammad.” The group has also claimed responsibility for attacks on the US embassy in Sanaa, the Yemeni capital. US presence Joseph Lieberman, chairman of the US senate homeland security committee, acknowledged on the “Fox News Sunday” television programme that the US has a “growing presence” in Yemen which included special operations, Green Beret special forces and intelligence. Before the merger of the two Saudi Arabian and Yemen based groups, previous al-Qaeda incarnations had carried out a number of attacks across the region. An emailed statement signed by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for the 2004 attack on residential and office buildings in Khobar, Saudi Arabia whick left at least 22 people dead. A suicide attack on an Aramco oil complex in Eastern Province in 2006 was also claimed by al-Qaeda. In Yemen, seven Spanish tourists and their Yemeni guides were killed in a car bombing at an archaeological site in 2007. Also an attack on the USS Cole warship in the harbour in Aden in 2000, which killed 17 US soldier, was carried out by al-Qaeda ———————————

Airline Terror Mission Blessed by Radical Imam

Wednesday, December 30, 2009 The Nigerian accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner had his suicide mission personally blessed in Yemen by Anwar al-Awlaki, the Muslim imam suspected of radicalizing the Fort Hood shooting suspect, a U.S. intelligence source has told The Washington Times. The intelligence official, who is familiar with the FBI’s interrogation of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, said the bombing suspect has boasted of his jihad training to the FBI and has said it included final exhortations by al-Awlaki. “It was Awlaki who indoctrinated him,” the official said. “He was told, ‘You are going to be the tip of the spear of the Muslim nation.'” Al-Awlaki, an American-born imam who once led a large Northern Virginia mosque but now lives in Yemen, has gained notoriety in recent months because of his influence on Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, a U.S.-born Muslim accused of killing 13 people at the Texas military base. Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the top Republican on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said he has learned of personal ties between Abdulmutallab and al-Awlaki, though he said he could neither confirm nor deny that the two men had been in the same Yemeni prayer room. “From what I’ve heard, the relationship would have been closer than what Awlaki had with Hasan,” Hoekstra told The Times. “He trusted [Abdulmutallab] more.” Muhammad ud-Deen via AP ———————– US Opens Third Front Of War: Yemen Joe Weisenthal | Dec. 27, 2009, 11:14 PM | 1,450 | comment 4 war The return of terrorism to the US — it really doesn’t matter that the attempt to blow up a DC-bound flight actually failed — is bringing us very close to the days of the so-called “war on terror”. Though the term has been banished by the Obama White House (and thus by extension the mainstream media outside of Fox News), tonight the New York Times is actually talking about the US widening the terror war, this time to Yemen, where Al-Qaeda remains strong. In the midst of two unfinished major wars, the United States has quietly opened a third, largely covert front against Al Qaeda in Yemen. A year ago, the Central Intelligence Agency sent many field operatives with counterterrorism experience to the country, according a former top agency official. At the same time, some of the most secretive Special Operations commandos have begun training Yemeni security forces in counterterrorism tactics, senior military officers said. Immediately after 9/11, everyone knew that the center of the terror world was Afghanistan, even if it took some time to put the pieces of the world together. While Afghanistan is a total mess, we’re pretty sure that there are few forces in the country organized to pull off an attack on US soil. But this time, after the Detroit attack, Yemen was the first country that was identified. The enemy is scattered and disorgnized in one place, and yet organized and capable of attacking (kind of) in another.

‘The US military is exhausted’

FOCUS: OPINION
By Sarah Lazare
The US army is overstretched and exhausted, says peace campaigner Sarah Lazare [AFP]

The call for over 30,000 more troops to be sent to Afghanistan is a travesty for the people of that country who have already suffered eight brutal years of occupation. It is also a harsh blow to the US soldiers facing imminent deployment. As Barack Obama, the US president, gears up for a further escalation that will bring the total number of troops in Afghanistan to over 100,000, he faces a military force that has been exhausted and overextended by fighting two wars. Many from within the ranks are openly declaring that they have had enough, allying with anti-war veterans and activists in calling for an end to the US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with some active duty soldiers publicly refusing to deploy. This growing movement of military refusers is a voice of sanity in a country slipping deeper into unending war.

“They shifted me from one war to the next”

Eddie Falcon, Iraq and Afghanistan veteran

The architects of this war would be well-advised to listen to the concerns of the soldiers and veterans tasked with carrying out their war policies on the ground. Many of those being deployed have already faced multiple deployments to combat zones: the 101st Airborne Division, which will be deployed to Afghanistan in early 2010, faces its fifth combat tour since 2002. “They are just going to start moving the soldiers who already served in Iraq to Afghanistan, just like they shifted me from one war to the next,” said Eddie Falcon, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Soldiers are going to start coming back with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), missing limbs, problems with alcohol, and depression.” Many of these troops are still suffering the mental and physical fallout from previous deployments. Rates of PTSD and traumatic brain injury among troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have been disproportionately high, with a third of returning troops reporting mental problems and 18.5 per cent of all returning service members battling either PTSD or depression, according to a study by the Rand Corporation. Marine suicides doubled between 2006 and 2007, and army suicides are at the highest rate since records were kept in 1980. Resistance in the ranks US army soldiers are refusing to serve at the highest rate since 1980, with an 80 per cent increase in desertions since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, according to the Associated Press. These troops refuse deployment for a variety of reasons: some because they ethically oppose the wars, some because they have had a negative experience with the military, and some because they cannot psychologically survive another deployment, having fallen victim to what has been termed “Broken Joe” syndrome. Over 150 GIs have publicly refused service and spoken out against the wars, all risking prison and some serving long sentences, and an estimated 250 US war resisters are currently taking refuge in Canada. This resistance includes two Fort Hood, Texas, soldiers, Victor Agosto and Travis Bishop, who publicly resisted deployment to Afghanistan this year, facing prison sentences as a result, with Bishop still currently detained.

The war in Afghanistan is losing support in the US [AFP]

“There is no way I will deploy to Afghanistan,” wrote Agosto, upon refusing his service last May. “The occupation is immoral and unjust.” Within the US military, GI resisters and anti-war veterans have organised through broad networks of veteran and civilian alliances, as well as through IVAW, comprised of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. This organisation, which is over 1,700 strong, with members across the world, including active-duty members on military bases, is opposed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and openly supports GI resistance. “Iraq Veterans Against the War calls on Obama to end the war in Afghanistan (and Iraq) by withdrawing troops immediately and unconditionally,” wrote Jose Vasquez, the executive director of IVAW, in a December 2 open letter. “It’s not time for our brothers and sisters in arms to go to Afghanistan. It’s time for them to come home.” No clear progress GI coffee houses have sprung up at several military bases around the country. In the tradition of the GI coffee houses of the Vietnam war era, these cafes provide a space where active duty troops can speak freely and access resources about military refusal, PTSD, and veteran and GI movements against the war. “Here at Fort Lewis, we’ve lost 20 soldiers from the most recent round of deployments,” said Seth Menzel, an Iraq combat veteran and founding organiser of Coffee Strong, a GI coffee house at the sprawling Washington army base. “We’ve seen resistance to deployment, mainly based on the fact that soldiers have been deployed so many times they don’t have the patience to do it again.” As the occupation of Afghanistan passes its eighth year, with no clear progress, goals that remain elusive, and a high civilian death count, this war is coming to resemble the Iraq war that has been roundly condemned by world and US public opinion. The never-ending nature of this conflict belies the real project of establishing US dominance in the Middle East and control of the region’s resources, at the expense of the Afghan civilians and US soldiers being placed in harm’s way. The voices of refusal coming from within the US military send a powerful message that soldiers will not be fodder for an unjust and unnecessary war. By withdrawing their labour from a war that depends on their consent, these soldiers have the power to help bring this war to an end, as did their predecessors in the GI resistance movement against the Vietnam war. And the longer the war in Afghanistan drags on – the more lives that are lost and destroyed – the more resistance we will see coming from within the ranks. Sarah Lazare is an anti-militarist and GI resistance organiser with Dialogues Against Militarism and Courage to Resist. She is interested in connecting struggles for justice at home with global movements against war and empire. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

———————- AGORAVOX - The Citizen Media Yemen’s fight with rebels a regional concern Of course Iran denies it and warns us to mind our own business. Warns those in the region, do not pour oil on the fire ! Saudi combat jets hit rebel targets in Yemen ———————–

By James Joiner

————————— Yemen’s fight with rebels a regional concern Of course Iran denies it and warns us to mind our own business. Warns those in the region, do not pour oil on the fire ! Saudi combat jets hit rebel targets in Yemen Despite threats from Iran warning not to attack the Yemeni militants Iran is backing and supplying :Yemen, Saudi forces continue strikes on Shiite rebels Could this confrontation erupt in war between Iran and at the least US armed Saudi Arabia ? Iran is warningand threatening retribution but they are supplying the Yemeni Rebels who pushed into Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has fired well over a hundred missiles from their fighter jets as they pummel their hideouts. You can not blame them but I had no idea the dissention goes all the way back to the naming of the Gulf. Saudi’s know it as the Gulf of Arabia and I can remember that but Iran calls it the Persian Gulf as the rest of us seem to now. Both Iran and Saudi Arabia have been using Lebanon as their battlefront up to now able to avoid direct confrontation. Iran has pumped millions of dollars in supplies and arms much to the consternation of her suffering people while Saudi Arabia has been supporting the Palestinian Authority. While the world has been engrossed following events in Iran since the election was stolen to keep fascist Ahmadinejad and he fascist agenda in control Iran has been fueling a rebel war in Yemen and what a surprise it has extended into Saudi Arabia. The Hajj has even been threatened. The Hajj as you may know is known as the 5th Pillar of Islam and is associated with the life of Islamic prophet Muhammad from the 7th century, but the ritual of pilgrimage to Mecca is considered by Muslims to stretch back thousands of years. Please read on and learn A propaganda war is also being waged. Egypt and Saudi Arabia have pulled the plug on Iran’s Arabic speaking TV. It makes me wonder why they did not do that during the height of the protests when Iran’s Government sanctioned channel was televising pure lies and propaganda ? I find it hard to believe that Iran is that vulnerable in that area ! So far there has been no direct confrontation. However I absolutely see what I have been warning about since Bush diverted from Afghanistan to attack Iraq and get back in the middle east to create a new middle east (dis)order ! I do not give a damn what anyone says. Bush Chaney and their Democratization program in an already historically unstable middle east set all of this and more in motion ! * The hell on earth Bush created for Iraqi’s will engulf the entire Middle East before it encompasses the entire world if we can not contain it. Under Bush we broke a long standing tradition of not adding fuel to the Middle East fire by supplying weapons. We are now, including advanced weaponry and missile defense systems. The Middle East breakdown Bush started armed and funded will continue under Obama. This up to now proxy war in the middle east is under way. Wait, watch, and listen, this is not good for the world and our future ! James Joiner Despite threats from Iran warning not to attack the Yemeni militants Iran is backing and supplying :Yemen, Saudi forces continue strikes on Shiite rebels Could this confrontation erupt in war between Iran and at the least US armed Saudi Arabia ? Iran is warningand threatening retribution but they are supplying the Yemeni Rebels who pushed into Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has fired well over a hundred missiles from their fighter jets as they pummel their hideouts. You can not blame them but I had no idea the dissention goes all the way back to the naming of the Gulf. Saudi’s know it as the Gulf of Arabia and I can remember that but Iran calls it the Persian Gulf as the rest of us seem to now. Both Iran and Saudi Arabia have been using Lebanon as their battlefront up to now able to avoid direct confrontation. Iran has pumped millions of dollars in supplies and arms much to the consternation of her suffering people while Saudi Arabia has been supporting the Palestinian Authority. While the world has been engrossed following events in Iran since the election was stolen to keep fascist Ahmadinejad and he fascist agenda in control Iran has been fueling a rebel war in Yemen and what a surprise it has extended into Saudi Arabia. The Hajj has even been threatened. The Hajj as you may know is known as the 5th Pillar of Islam and is associated with the life of Islamic prophet Muhammad from the 7th century, but the ritual of pilgrimage to Mecca is considered by Muslims to stretch back thousands of years. Please read on and learn A propaganda war is also being waged. Egypt and Saudi Arabia have pulled the plug on Iran’s Arabic speaking TV. It makes me wonder why they did not do that during the height of the protests when Iran’s Government sanctioned channel was televising pure lies and propaganda ? I find it hard to believe that Iran is that vulnerable in that area ! So far there has been no direct confrontation. However I absolutely see what I have been warning about since Bush diverted from Afghanistan to attack Iraq and get back in the middle east to create a new middle east (dis)order ! I do not give a damn what anyone says. Bush Chaney and their Democratization program in an already historically unstable middle east set all of this and more in motion ! * The hell on earth Bush created for Iraqi’s will engulf the entire Middle East before it encompasses the entire world if we can not contain it. Under Bush we broke a long standing tradition of not adding fuel to the Middle East fire by supplying weapons. We are now, including advanced weaponry and missile defense systems. The Middle East breakdown Bush started armed and funded will continue under Obama. This up to now proxy war in the middle east is under way. Wait, watch, and listen, this is not good for the world and our future ! James Joiner ————————————

Yemen rebel leader ‘may be dead’

The Yemeni military launched an offensive against the Houthi rebels in August [EPA/Yemeni army]

The leader of a rebel group fighting government forces in the north of Yemen may have died after being severely wounded in an air raid, a government website and local media have reported. The website of Yemen’s defence ministry said on Sunday that Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, the leader of the so-called Houthi fighters, may have already been buried. “There are increasing reports about the death of the terrorist Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, who was severely injured in an attack aimed at a gathering with a group of terrorist elements,” it said on Sunday. The Houthi declined to comment on the reports. A purported rebel spokesman had, however, described a defence ministry statement on December 20, which said that Abdul-Malik al-Houthi had been badly wounded, as “baseless”. Power vacuum Abdulghani al-Iryani, a political analyst based in Sanaa, said that if the reports of al-Houthis death were true they could extend the conflict. “It is a complication that comes at the worst possible time,” he told Al Jazeera. “The war in Saada [where Yemeni forces are battling Houthi fighters] could have been stopped by this time because Abdul-Malik al-Houthi had agreed to the five conditions set by the government for a ceasefire. “All he needed to do was make a public statement to that effect. If he is now dead, then there will be a power vacuum in the leadership of al-Houthis that will postpone that possibility.” The fighters, who launched a rebellion against the Yemeni government in 2004, belong to the minority Zaidi sect of Shia Islam and complain of social, economic and religious marginalisation. Government forces launched “Operation Scorched Earth” on August 11 in an attempt to crush the rebels in the mountainous northern region. —————————– ————————- ‘Fabricated lie’ The Yemeni government says the rebels are receiving support from Iran, although Tehran has denied any involvement in the fighting. Sanaa has also recently claimed that the Houthi are working with predominantly Sunni Muslim al-Qaeda fighters in Yemen, but the group has dismissed the allegations. “The allegation about our relationship with what is called the al-Qaeda group is a fabricated lie and defamation,” the group said in comments emailed to the Reuters news agency earlier this week. Meanwhile, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula said in comments posted on a website that it will take revenge against the US over air raids in Yemen that it claims killed about 50 people. “We will not let Muslim women and children’s blood be spilled without taking revenge,” a statement dated December 20 said. The group has said that the raids were carried out by five US warplanes, but the Yemeni government has said that it launched the attacks with aircraft and ground forces to foil planned suicide bombings. —————- —————————————

NEWS AMERICAS
Al-Qaeda group claims US plane plot
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula said it provided Abdulmutallab with an explosive device [AFP]

A group calling itself Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has said it was behind the failed attempt by a Nigerian man to bomb a US aircraft on Christmas day. The group said in statements posted on the internet on Monday that the attempt had been carried out to avenge US operations in Yemen. “We tell the American people that since you support the leaders who kill our women and children … we have come to slaughter you [and] will strike you with no previous [warning],” the statement said. “Our vengeance is near.” The group had earlier said in comments posted on a website that it would take revenge against the US over air raids in Yemen that it claims killed about 50 people. Failed attack Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is accused of trying to to light an explosive device while on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. He was overpowered by passengers on the flight, which had nearly 300 people on board.

According to a charge sheet prepared by prosecutors, Abdulmutallab tried to bring down the aircraft using a device containing the explosive PETN, also known as pentaerythritol.———————————————— Al Jazeera talks to a former CIA agent about the growing threat facing air travel ————————————– The explosive material was allegedly sewn into his underwear. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula said it had provided Abdulmutallab with the device, but that a technical fault prevented it from detonating. Abdulmutallab, who suffered burns in the incident, was moved from a hospital to a federal prison west of Detroit on Monday. Janet Napolitano, Obama’s senior security official, said there was “no indication” Abdulmutallab was acting as part of a larger plot and warned against speculating that he had been trained by al-Qaeda. According to The New York Times, Abdulmutallab told FBI agents he was connected to an al-Qaeda affiliate, which operates largely in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, by a radical Yemeni cleric whom he contacted online. ‘Nothing suspicious’ The Yemeni government said on Monday that Abdulmutallab had lived in Yemen from August to December after obtaining a visa to study Arabic there, but that there was “nothing suspicious about his intentions” to visit the country. “Authorities are currently investigating who he was in contact with in Yemen and the results of the investigation will be delivered to those concerned with investigating the terror plot in the United States,” a statement from the Yemeni foreign ministry said. Ali al-Ahmed, the director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs in the US, said that the attack had similarities with other operations carried out by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a relatively new branch of al-Qaeda formed in 2008. “It has carried out several operations – about a year ago against the US embassy in Sanaa, a failed attempt on the Saudi assistant minister of the interior in September. “In this case, the age of the suicide bomber who tried to kill the Saudi assistant minister – 23 years old – [is] the same age as this young man, Abdulmutallab. And the same explosives [were used]. “In the first attack in Saudi Arabia, the attacker put the bomb inside his body to conceal it. This is very similar.” Security review Abdulmutallab, a former student in London, was added to a watch-list of about 550,000 names last month after his father told US embassy officials in Abuja that he was concerned by his son’s increasing radicalism.

Abdulmutallab is accused of trying to blow up a flight as it landed in Detroit [Reuters]

But he remained off a short-list of 18,000 names from which the no-fly list of 4,000 is selected and flew from Lagos to Amsterdam on Christmas Eve and on to Detroit the following day with a valid US visa. Barack Obama, the US president, has ordered a review of how travellers are placed on watch lists and the screening procedures of air passengers following the failed bid to blow up the airliner. Speaking while on vacation in Hawaii on Monday, Obama said: “We will not rest until we find all who were involved and hold them accountable.” Obama has also ordered a second review to examine how “an individual with the chemical explosive he had on him could get onto an airliner in Amsterdam and fly into this country,” Robert Gibbs, the White House press spokesman, said. Bob Baer, a former CIA agent who in 2006 warned that a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam could be the target of an attack, said the attempted bombing had shown that security checks are “not effective at all”. “It’s not a question of a gaping hole, it’s a question of the terrorist groups evolving their techniques very quickly,” he told Al Jazeera. “So they’re getting better and better and they’re much faster than our security measures.” Bruce Schneier, a writer on security issues and the author of “Beyond Fear”, said the epoisode illustrated that there were very few effective security measures on flights. He said on his blog: “For years I’ve been saying this: Only two things have made flying safer [since 9/11] – the reinforcement of cockpit doors, and the fact that passengers know now to resist hijackers. “This week, the second one worked over Detroit. Security succeeded.”

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Profile: Yemen’s Houthi fighters

Yemen’s north, where the Houthi  group is based, is inhabited by a number of tribes people [EPA]

Yemen, one of the world’s poorest countries and a crucial US ally in Washington’s fight against al-Qaeda, is in the midst of a series of conflicts that threaten its stability. As well as tackling al-Qaeda fighters and sealing with growing secessionist feeling from south Yemen, the government has for five-years waged a campaign against a group of Shia Muslim fighters in the country’s north. The conflict with the Houthi fighters, which has cost the lives of thousands of people, is a mix of local and tribal concerns stemming from historical roots. Although the current campaign is part of a fight that has been under way since 2004, its roots go back even further. Zaydi rulers toppled In 1962, a revolution in Yemen ended over 1,000 years of rule by Zaydi Hashemites, who claimed descendance from the Prophet Mohammed. Zaydism is a branch of Shia Islam, though its practices often appear closer to Sunni Islam than traditional Shia belief. Saada, in the north, was their main stonghold and since their fall from power the region was largely ignored economically and remains underdeveloped. During Yemen’s 1994 civil war, the Wahhabis, an Islamic group adhering to a strict version of Sunni Islam found in neighbouring Saudi Arabia, helped the government in its fight against the secessionist south. Zaydis complain the government has subsequently allowed the Wahabis too strong a voice in Yemen. Saudi Arabia, for its part, worries that strife instigated by the Shia sect so close to Yemen’s border with Saudi Arabia could stir up groups in Saudi itself. Although it has received little international coverage, the conflict essentially pits Yemen’s Sunni-majority government against Shia fighters, a conflict that has added significance for many Arab countries worried about the rising influence of Shia-ruled Iran. Yemeni officials have frequently accused Iran of funding the Houthi fighters. The last five years of fighting against the armed Houthi group were sparked in 2004 by the government’s attempt to arrest Hussein al-Houthi, a Zaydi religious leader and a former parliamentarian on whose head the government had placed a $55,000 bounty. Little authority The Yemeni government has little authority in the mountainous areas outside the major cities, but amid a sustained campaign, al-Houthi was killed in an attack on his hideout. The movement is now led by al-Houthi’s brothers, including Abdul-Malik al-Houthi. Fighting eased over the years and in 2007 a deal was signed between the government and the fighters, but never implemented. A year later, in 2008, Qatari mediators helped revive the deal and the two sides met in Doha to sign a document outlining procedures for the implementation of the earlier agreement. But on August 10, 2009, Ali Abdullah al-Saleh, the Yemeni president, said the fighters showed no intention of adhering to the peace process and accused them of destroying homes and farms and blocking food distribution. The campaign began again and Yemen’s Supreme Security Committee announced it would crush the fighters with an “iron fist”. ———————— 9 Saudi soldiers missing as Yemen fighting rages

Nine Saudi soldiers are missing in the kingdom’s borders with Yemen amid fighting between the country’s forces and Shia Houthi fighters. A Saudi defense ministry spokesman told the official SPA news agency on Thursday the Yemen-based fighters may have taken the soldiers prisoner, and that Houthis are ‘entirely responsible for their wellbeing.’ The source provided a list of Saudi soldiers reported missing: 1. Lt. Col. Sa’eed Bin Muhammad Bin Ma’toug Al-Amri 2. Corporal Ayidh Bin Ali Bin Sa’eed Al-Shehri 3. Sergeant Ahmad Bin Ali Bin Ali Madadi 4. Staff Sergeant Muhammad Bin Mohsin Bin Sultan Al-Amri 5. Sergeant Ahmad Bin Abdullah Bin Muhammad Al-Amri 6. Staff Sergeant Miflih Bin Jam’an Bin Miflih Al-Shahrani 7. Corporal Ali Bin Salman Bin Ali Al-Hiqwi 8. Sergeant Khalid Bin Saleh Bin Omar Al-Owdah 9. Private First Class Yahya Bin Abdullah Bin Amer Al-Khuza’iy The conflict in northern Yemen first began in 2004 between Sana’a and Houthi fighters, but relative peace had returned to region until August 11, when the Yemeni army began a major offensive, dubbed Operation Scorched Earth, against the province of Sa’ada. The government claims that the fighters, who are named after their leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi, seek to restore the Shia Zaidi imamate system, which was overthrown in a 1962 coup. The Houthis, however, say they are defending their people against government marginalization policies which they believe have been adopted under pressure from Saudi-backed Wahhabi extremists, who consider Shias heretics. The Saudi Arabian government has aggravated the conflict even more by launching its own offensive against northern Yemen based on an allegation that Houthi fighters have killed two of its soldiers on the border. The fighters say Yemeni villages are being targeted with deadly phosphorous bombs, which cause massive injuries among the Shia civilian population. Saudi officials have not given any figures for soldiers or civilians killed in the fighting. Unofficial estimates, however, say at least nine Saudi soldiers and four civilians have been killed since Riyadh began targeting Houthi positions inside Yemen. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that since 2004 up to 175,000 people have been forced to leave their homes in Sa’ada to take refuge at overcrow —————————– Houthis seize full control of Saudi border post Tue, 29 Dec 2009 07:35:17 GMT Houthi fighters in northern Yemen say they have seized control of a Saudi military post along the border between the two countries where Saudi and Yemeni forces are waging a campaign to uproot them. According to a report released by Hezbollah’s al-Manar television network, Houthis have seized “full control of the Al-Jamrah Saudi military post” as well as weapons, communication material, military vehicles and surveillance equipment. The report added that the northern Yemen’s Shia fighters overran the Saudi post on Monday and forced soldiers to flee. The post is said to be located in close proximity to al-Khoba in Saudi Arabia’s southern province of Jizan. Meanwhile, Houthi fighters have managed to repulse Saudi forces trying to infiltrate into the rugged Sa’ada province in northern Yemen, after killing an unspecified number of Saudi soldiers. Houthis said they pushed back Saudi troops from Shada border region in northern Yemen on the border with oil-rich Saudi-Arabia, and also set four Saudi military vehicles ablaze. Houthi fighters also resisted a Yemeni military infiltration into Jebel Dhar al-Hamar region. The conflict in northern Yemen began in 2004 between Sana’a and Houthi fighters. The conflict intensified in August 2009 when the Yemeni army launched Operation Scorched Earth in an attempt to crush the fighters in the northern province of Sa’ada. The Houthis accuse the Yemeni government of violation of their civil rights, political, economic and religious marginalization as well as large-scale corruption. This is while in addition to the Yemeni government, Saudi Arabia also pounds the Houthis. The Houthis say that Saudi forces strike Yemeni villages and indiscriminately target civilians. According to the fighters, Saudis use toxic materials, including white phosphorus bombs, against civilians in northern Yemen. The US military is also said to be involved in bombing Yemen’s northern rugged regions of Amran, Hajjah and Sa’ada. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that since 2004, up to 175,000 people have been forced to leave their homes in Sa’ada and take refuge at overcrowded camps set up by the United Nations. ————————————-

Yemen the first open battleground in the war for the new middle east order!

Yemen conflict worries the entire middle east __________________ ___________ emen as you know is a strategic Middle East nation. where Osama Bin Laden’s father was born. I know that in 2000, al-Qaeda bombers attacked the USS Cole in the southern Yemini city of Aden killing 17 American sailors. Since, militants have attacked U.S. missionaries, foreign tourists and Yemeni security forces. Last year gunmen targeted the American embassy with a car bomb and rockets. The attack killed 16, including six assailants. There is a lot of activity there that has been attributed to Al Qaeda and their interests. I was surprised to learn that Yemen is Middle East nation, where Osama Bin Laden’s father was born. Knowing all that you know my focus has been on Iran’s interference in Yemen as they try to install Shiite dominance there and everywhere else in the middle East. Yemeni air strike kills 30, targets home of cleric linked to Ft. Hood attack Factbox: Who is Anwar al-Awlaki? As many of you know by now my prime concern in Yemen was the interference by Iran in trying to get Shiite dominance there. Bush freed Iran up to pursue her version of new middle East order by interfering wherever she could while Bush was doing the same thing with his Middle East Democratization program. The goal now absolutely is to be the country who decides which direction the new Middle East (dis)order will take. Bush started it by attacking Iraq to get into the middle east to destabilize it and start the new middle east order the idiot said God told him to do now it will be up to Iran and Saudi Arabia at least up front fight it out whether this goes the Iranian Shiite way or the Saudi Arabian Sunni way and do not forget Israel! In Yemen once again the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is the instigator. They are ferrying weapons through Eritrea to Yemen. They are now avoiding the Arabian Peninsula as Saudi Arabia has instituted a blockade along the coast of Yemen. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has also transported Lebanese Hezbollah fighters to fight with the rebels. As you know, Saudi Arabia is also there fighting the Iranian backed Houthi rebels. So far there has been no direct confrontation. However I absolutely see what I have been warning about since Bush diverted from Afghanistan to attack Iraq and get back in the middle east to create a new middle east (dis)order! This is going to bea total middle east war for a new midle east oirder like it or not, Sunni against Shiite. It is looking like Yemen is going to be the first country down! Please watch the video, the Middle East is right to be concerned. Yemen is going through severe domestic turmoil due to the violent activities of Al Qaeda, Houthi rebels in the north and the Southern Movement in the south. The remaining Jews are threatened with slaughter by the Shiite. How much longer can Yemen hold on? What is next? James Joiner ———————– Yemen’s Jews. The End!!! History will record that 2,500 years of Jewish life in Yemen is now over. As The Wall Street Journal reported October 31, the US State Department has completed a clandestine operation which brought 60 of the country’s remaining Jews to America. The newspaper quoted Yeshiva University’s Hayim Tawil, a Yemeni Jewry expert, as issuing the certificate of death: “This is the end of the Jewish Diaspora of Yemen. That’s it.” As Israelis and Jews we earnestly appreciate the efforts of the Obama administration on behalf of our Yemeni brethren. THE RESCUE illuminates an often overlooked aspect of the 60-year-plus Arab-Israel conflict. Whereas the Arab world has purposefully maintained the 700,000 or so Palestinian Arabs made homeless in the course of the 1948 war and their descendants as permanent refugees and political pawns, the State of Israel and world Jewry have worked hard to resettle a roughly equal number of Jewish refugees forced to flee Arab lands. The behavior of Arab leaders toward their Jewish subjects after the creation of Israelwas (with notable exceptions) characterized by scapegoating and marginalization culminating in mass exodus. In 1947, Arab rioters in Aden killed dozens of Jews to protest a two-state solution in Palestine. In 1949 and 1950 the bulk of Yemen’s Jews, some 49,000 souls, were airlifted here in “Operation Magic Carpet.” The broad Arab refusal to accept the legitimacy of Israel as a sovereign Jewish state is partly attributable to Arab attitudes toward their Jewish minorities. Coexistence was possible – so long as Jews knew their place. JEWISH life under Muslim rule was historically neither the utopia Arab propagandists claim nor the purgatory Jewish polemicists assert. As the doyen of Middle East studies Bernard Lewis wrote in The Jews of Islam, the actual state of affairs varied depending on the era, locale, political and economic conditions, the stability of the ruling Islamic regime, and on developments within the Jewish community. Jews were granted Dhimmi or tolerated status. They paid a special jizya tax to underscore their subordinate position in society. If they missed the point, Islamic tradition allowed for the local Muslim authority to deliver a ceremonial slap on the neck to the Jew upon payment of the levy. Jews were required to wear distinguishing clothes; they were expected to deport themselves deferentially in the presence of Muslims. And unlike everyone else, Jews were not permitted to carry weapons. On the other hand, Lewis wrote, Jews were not required to convert to Islam, and could enjoy a high degree of acculturation. (They were certainly better off than their coreligionists living under medieval Christendom.) At any rate, this social contract crumbled in part because the Zionist movement was a direct assault on the Dhimmi principle. The Yemen experience also reminds us that the Arab world’s antagonism to modern values has led it to extended periods of internal instability as well a visceral rejection of Israel for embodying the Western liberal idea. POLITICAL instability is always “bad for the Jews,” and Yemen has long been a volatile mess. The ancestral homeland of Osama bin Laden is burdened by internal strife, poverty and a dysfunctional regime. The north and south (where the oil is) are at odds. The secular-oriented government of Ali Abdullah Saleh, a Shi’ite, is corrupt and undemocratic. He is battling an insurrection by Shi’ite religious extremists who were once his allies against fanatical Sunnis. Extremist Sunnis, supportive of al-Qaida, are also battling the regime and attacking Western targets. Yemen has a Sunni majority with a large Shi’ite minority. On top of all this, there are also tribal tensions; the president’s tribe dominates the security services. But the Yemeni masses were able to put some of these differences aside during Operation Cast Lead… and attack the Jews. With few friends, Yemen’s president sought to stay in Washington’s good graces by trying to protect the besieged remnants of Yemeni Jewry. AS THE saga of Yemen’s Jews now comes to a close, our thoughts are also drawn to Israel’s treatment of its Arab minority. Any one of 10 Arab Knesset members could persuasively argue, Jewish Israelis have nothing to be smug about. Yet if they were fair minded, they might grant that the Jewish state has done a comparatively decent job in bringing its minority citizens into the mainstream.

A family of Yemeni Jewish olim arrives at Ben Gurion International Airport. Photo: AP [file]

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“Land Grab” Ethiopia / Africa New Colonization : Ethiopia 800 million sold in 2009 by Alamoudi & Melese ,they bit the world Record on Land Grab … !!!

“Happy at last !”

making millions  on the back of the starving Ethiopians .

A new form of feudal system and slavery in the 21st century…

The Criminal land Grabber of  Ethiopia

mohammed hussein ali al-amoudi

The Criminal Ethiopian land Grabber Mohammed Ali Al-Amoudi’s recently established Saudi Star Agricultural Development Plc requested, two weeks ago, for an additional 250,000ht of land in Jawi Wereda of the Awi Zone of the Amhara Regional State for sugar beet production from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MoARD).

Al Amoudi receives his guests at the exhibition held inside the Millenium Hall. (Addis Fortume)

Neo-gebbar

The second scramble for Africa starts

BY JULIO GODOY | LAST UPDATED: MAY 5, 2009 – 3:45:49 PM

BERLIN (IPS) – Sub-Saharan African countries have of late become the target of a new form of investment that is strongly reminiscent of colonialism: investors from both industrialized and emerging economies buy or lease large tracts of farm land across the continent, either to guarantee their own food provisions or simply as yet another business.

EU-Africa_gr1_1.jpg

In doing so, investors even deal with warlords who claim property rights, as in Sudan.

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and activists in Europe are denouncing this land grab in Egypt, Sudan, Cameroon, Senegal, Mozambique and elsewhere in Africa as a new form of colonialism.

Uwe Hoering, a German researcher on development policy for several European NGOs, including the news letter Weltwirtschaft und Entwicklung (World Economy and Development), called these investments ‘‘a new form of agrarian colonialism”.

In an interview with IPS, Hoering said that the land grab in Africa became evident in 2008 as a consequence of the recent run to so-called bio fuels and the price inflation and scarcity of food.

Although the investments are also targeting fertile land in other areas of the world, sub-Saharan Africa appears to be these investors’ main destination. The reasons are multiple.

On the one hand, ‘‘Africa possesses enormous land reserves,” Hoering stated. ‘‘According to the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization, only about 14 percent of the suited land in the continent is presently cultivated.”

In addition, he said, many African governments are willing to allow this land grab to happen in their territories.

A list of the land grab investments of 2008 have been put together by the Barcelona-based NGO GRAIN, based on corporate reports.

It confirms that several industrialized countries, like Japan and Sweden, rapidly growing developing nations, like China and India, and oil-rich countries, especially from the Arab Gulf, and even Libya, are buying large estates in Africa.

GRAIN is an international NGO committed to promoting sustainable management and use of agricultural biodiversity based on people’s control over genetic resources and local knowledge.

GRAIN also lists multinational private investors, like the Blackstone Group, Deutsche Bank, Goldman & Sachs and Dexion Capital, as participating in the creation of these new agrarian enclaves in the heartlands of Africa.

Even private industrial conglomerates, such as the South Korean Daewoo, are also investing in land in Africa.

‘‘In July 2008, Daewoo leased 1.3 million hectare in Madagascar to cultivate maize and palm oil,” Hoering said. ‘‘Daewoo paid a symbolic price for the land. Allegedly, as compensation for the land lease, it is going to invest in public infrastructure.”

This deal has since been called off by the country’s new leader, Andry Rajoelina, who replaced Marc Ravalomanana in a coup.

Unsurprisingly, the investors interested in land deals include the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the commercial investment arm of the World Bank.

In Sept 2008, the IFC announced that it would greatly increase investments in ‘‘agribusiness development” in Africa, and South American states and in Russia because of new private sector interest in generating profits from the food crisis.

Part of its spending will be to bring ‘‘under-utilized” lands into production. In 2008, the IFC spent 1.4 billion dollars in the agribusiness supply chain, of which 900 million dollars went directly to agribusiness firms.

GRAIN also reports that the Blackstone Group, one of the world’s largest private equity firms in which China has recently bought a stake, ‘‘has already invested several hundred million dollars in the agricultural sector, mainly in buying farmland in areas like south of the Sahara”.

For Hoering, the land grab in Africa by countries such as Japan, South Korea, China, and Libya serve to guarantee their own national food security. ‘‘After the recent speculation on the cereal and other food markets and the spectacular price hikes, these countries have lost confidence in the world market,” Hoering explained.

‘‘They now want to be independent from speculators and be able tot control production and secure food imports.”

The recent spike in global commodity food prices has also encouraged foreign investors to scramble for control of arable land in Africa.

Obviously, private investors see in the land grab a business with likely high returns. For instance, the Cru Investment Management, a British, Cardiff-based private investor, forecasts earnings of 30 percent for its agricultural fund investing in Malawi.

Duncan Parker, a Cru spokesperson, has said that Africa offers many incentives to investments, such as a strong workforce and the potential to be a top world food producer thanks to its fertile soil and abundant water and sunshine.

However, whether Africans will profit from these investments is another matter altogether. The wave of investments in foreign agricultural enclaves has led to new abuses.

‘‘The most scandalous case yet is that of the U.S. investment banker Philippe Heilberg, who closed a deal with Paulino Matip, a warlord in South Sudan, to lease 4,000 square kilometers,” Hoering argued.

Matip is a notorious warlord who fought on both sides in Sudan’s lengthy civil war. He is one of the profiteers of a dubious 2005 peace agreement, after which he became deputy commander of the army in the autonomous southern region.

Heilberg, now CEO of the New York-based investment fund Jarch Capital, previously worked for the now battered insurance company American International Group (AIG).

Heilberg has been quoted as saying that, in his view, several African states are likely to break apart in the coming years, and that the political and legal risks he is taking will be amply rewarded.

‘‘If you bet right on the shifting of sovereignty then you are on the ground floor. I am constantly looking at the map and looking if there is any value,” he told U.S. media.

While denouncing the scramble for land, human rights groups have called attention to the vagueness and imprecision of laws on land ownership in south Sudan. They cast doubt on foreign investors such as Heilberg being able to claim legal rights over such estates.

The deal, which became public last January but was closed last July, has prompted human rights groups to denounce Heilberg’s venture in South Sudan as a cynical, neocolonial enterprise.

‘‘This is a case that recalls the worse colonial land grabs in Africa,” Hoering added.

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SPECIAL REPORT-Is Africa selling out its farmers?

Ethiopian farmers are now painted as part of the problem, rather than a potential solution.

Ethiopian farmers are now painted as part of the problem, rather than a potential solution.

BAKO, Ethiopia/JOHANNESBURG, Nov 12 (Reuters) – For centuries, farmers like Berhanu Gudina have eked out a living in Ethiopia’s central lowlands, tending tiny plots of maize, wheat or barley amid the vastness of the lush green plains.

Now, they find themselves working cheek by jowl with high-tech commercial farms stretching over thousands of hectares tilled by state-of-the-art tractors — and owned and operated by foreigners.

With memories of Ethiopia’s devastating 1984 famine still fresh in the minds of its leaders, the government has been enticing well-heeled foreigners to invest in the nation’s underperforming agriculture sector. It is part of an economic development push they say will help the Horn of Africa nation ensure it has enough food for its 80 million people.

Many small Ethopian farmers do not share their leaders’ enthusiasm for the policy, eyeing the outsiders with a suspicion that has crept across Africa as millions of hectares have been placed, with varying degrees of transparency, in foreign hands.

“Now we see Indians coming, Chinese coming. Before, we were just Ethiopian,” 54-year-old Gudina said in Bako, a small farming town 280 km (170 miles) west of Addis Ababa. “What do they want here? The same as the British in Kenya? To steal everything? Our government is selling our country to the Asians so they can make money for themselves.”

Xenophobia aside, a number of organizations — including the foundation started by Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates — argue that Africa should support its own farmers.

“Instead of African countries giving away their best lands, they should invest in their own farmers,” said Akin Adesina, vice president of the Nairobi-based Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). “What’s needed is a small-holder, farmer-based revolution. African land should not be up for garage sale.”

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Both sides of the debate agree on this much: a stark reality — underlined by last year’s food price crisis — looms large over Ethiopia and beyond. The world is in danger of running out of food.

By 2050, when its population is likely to be more than 9 billion, up from 6 billion now, the world’s food production needs to increase by 70 percent, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation.

In Africa, which for a variety of reasons was bypassed by the Green Revolution that transformed India and China in the 1960s and 1970s, the numbers are even more bleak. The continent’s population is set to double from 1 billion now.

In all, the FAO says, feeding those extra mouths is going to take $83 billion in investment every year for the next four decades, increasing both the amount of cultivated land and how much it produces. The estimated investment for Africa alone is $11 billion a year.

For deeply impoverished Ethiopia, sub-Saharan Africa’s second-most populous nation after Nigeria, even a fraction of those sums is unthinkable.

Yet with 111 million hectares — nearly twice the area of Texas — within its borders, the answer, in the government’s eyes, is simple: Lease ’spare’ land to wealthy outsiders to get them to grow the food. One unfortunate consequence of that thinking is Gudina and his little plot of maize are painted as part of the problem, rather than a potential solution.

“The small-scale farmers are not producing the quality they should, because they don’t have the technology,” said Esayas Kebede, head of the Agricultural Investment Agency, a body founded only in February but already talking about offering foreign farmers 3 million hectares in the next two years.

“There are 12 million households in Ethiopia. We can’t afford to give new technology to all of them,” he said, sitting in an office adorned with maps showing possible sites for commercial farms.

Indian agro-conglomerate Karuturi Global, whose involvement in Ethiopia so far has been exporting cut-flowers to Europe, has taken the hint, branching out into food production with a sprawling maize farm in Bako. Unlike with similar land deals elsewhere in Africa, the company insists crops will be exported only after demand is met in Ethiopia — where 6.2 million people are said to be in need of emergency food aid because of poor seasonal rains.

“Our main aim is to feed the Ethiopian people,” Karuturi’s Ethiopia general manager, Hanumatha Rao, told Reuters, sitting under an awning at the Bako farm as hundreds of labourers harvested maize in the fields stretching up nearby hillsides. “Whatever we produce will go to the stomachs of the Ethiopian people before it goes to the international market.”

ANOTHER AFRICAN REVOLUTION

While many governments have been busy courting foreigners, in most cases from Asia or the Middle East, to increase Africa’s food output, small farmers like Gudina are not totally without friends.

An initiative backed by the Melinda and Bill Gates and Rockefeller foundations is aiming to kick-start an African Green Revolution, carefully avoiding the pitfalls that had engulfed previous such attempts.

In particular, Africa boasts a dazzling array of soil types, climates and crops that have defied the one-size-fits-all solution of better seed, fertilizer and irrigation that worked in Asia half a century ago.

Its perennial tendency to corruption and official incompetence has also played its part in keeping average grain yields on the continent at just 1.2 tonnes per hectare, compared with 3.5 tonnes in Europe and 5.5 tonnes in the United States.

AGRA’s Adesina says sub-Saharan governments are slowly realising the importance of small farmers, who account for 70 percent of the region’s population and 60 percent of its agricultural output. But he urges governments to make good on a pledge six years ago to raise farm spending to 10 percent of their national budgets.

For its part, AGRA is pouring money into research institutes from Burkina Faso in the west to Tanzania in the east to breed higher yielding and more drought- and pest-resistant strains of everything from maize and cassava to sorghum and sweet potato.

Activists worried about African land grab

BY SAEED SHABAZZ -STAFF WRITER- | LAST UPDATED: DEC 21, 2009 – 9:19:54 AM

NEW YORK (FinalCall.com) – A large and enthusiastic crowd recently gathered in the atrium at York College in Queens for a round-table discussion about the “New Scramble for Africa.”

The Dec. 12 event was sponsored by the Institute of the Black World 21st Century, under the leadership of Dr. Ron Daniels and his wife Mary France-Daniels, and the World African Diaspora Union chaired by former Ambassador Dudley Thompson of Jamaica.

The York College forum is a continuation of the work by Institute for the Black World and World African Diaspora Union to forge mutually beneficial bonds amongst people of African descent by encouraging Pan Africanism, which essentially calls for Black efforts to support Africa and each other regardless of geographic locale. Both organizations work diligently in building bridges to promote operational unity between the Black community and continental Africans.

Presenters included Dr. Shelby F. Lewis, professor emeritus, Clark Atlanta University; Dr. Chika Onyeani, a former Nigerian diplomat, newspaper editor and widely recognized advocate of Pan Africanism; Sidique Wai, president of the New York-based United African Congress, an organization that works to preserve and promote the image, heritage and culture of the African continent; Dr. Leonard Jeffries, professor at the City University of New York in the Africana Studies Department and a Diaspora Union vice president; Dr. Adelaide Sanford, a Pan African educator who serves as vice chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents; and Amb. Thompson.

The overview for the dialogue was presented by Dr. Lewis, who serves as an African adviser and consultant to the Diaspora Union. She began by explaining the legacy of imperialism, slavery and colonialism and how these institutions played a role in the modern day “scramble for Africa” to acquire her resources.

“It started back in ancient times, with the theft of Africa’s intellectual property,” Dr. Lewis said, adding, “Again African people are pawns in the scramble for their gold and diamonds. But, more important is the scramble for Africa’s hottest commodity today, Africa’s farmland.”

Dr. Lewis pointed a finger directly at the government of China as a leading nation leasing African farm land. “What is in it for Africans?” she asked.

Critics say the Asian nation has grabbed huge amounts of Africa’s natural resources while at the same time dumping cheaply manufactured products and indulging in an unequal trade policy.

China is not alone in the African farmland grab. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, in May, reported that since 2004, over one million acres of African land has been allocated to foreign entities.

“Most of the land claimed by foreign acquisition was already in use by local people, who were mostly driven out. The results are disheartening as people end up in over-populated urban centers,” the report said. In June, news stories circulated accusing India of “neo-colonialism” in Africa, joining China, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and several Arab nations. These nations are being called “food pirates” who use African land to grow crops such as rice, sugar cane, maize and lentils for domestic markets.

“We sit on gold and yet we are begging for gold,” said Mr. Wai. He echoed Dr. Lewis’ observation that some of African nations leasing farmland are receiving international food aid and the agriculture output of African farmers is the lowest in the world.

Dr. Lewis, Mr. Wai and Amb. Thompson, accused African leaders of mortgaging the continent’s future. “In a sense we in the Diaspora have to go and rescue Africa,” Amb. Thompson said.

Dr. Jeffries told the audience the institute’s call to create a think tank must be further developed. “Africans all over the world are asking where is our plan?” he said. “We can put together our own $100 billion plan. Do not sit here and look at the Chinese action as a negative; they do what they do. We are in the best place we can be strategically. What are we going to do?”

“What we are going to do is recommend that a committee be created to develop a preamble and statement of guiding principles for African nations entering into contracts with foreign powers for the utilization of land and resources,” Dr. Daniels told The Final Call.

The goal is to “offer principles which ensure that the vast wealth and resources of Africa are used first and foremost for the development of the people and that contracts for the use of land and resources are based on fair and equitable exchange of value,” he said.

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Alamudis and Melese’s pretext to Sell the land nationalized  from the farmers .

Ethiopia leases land for agriculture to earn foreign exchange

Bloomberg | 10 November 2009

By Jason McLure

Nov. 10 (Bloomberg) — Ethiopia plans to lease 3 million hectares (7.4 million acres) of land to foreign and domestic investors for agriculture over the next three years to increase productivity and earn foreign exchange, the government said.

The state has already leased land for 15 birr (U.S. $1.19) per hectare per year in some parts of the country in an effort to attract foreign investment, said Eyesus Kebede, an agricultural-investment coordinator in the ministry. The government is also attempting to woo investors by offering incentives such as grace periods on payment.

Razack Munboadan (C), senior manager with Karuturi, an Indian company with four commercial farms in Ethiopia, supervises workers at Karuturi's farm in Bako, central Ethiopia November 6, 2009. (Reuters)

Razack Munboadan (C), senior manager with Karuturi, an Indian company with four commercial farms in Ethiopia, supervises workers at Karuturi's farm in Bako, central Ethiopia November 6, 2009. (Reuters)

“There is ample amount of land which is not cultivated yet,” Eyesus said in an interview in his office in Addis Ababa, the capital, yesterday. “We are preparing the land and we have given the comprehensive support for the agricultural investors.”

Foreign investment in agriculture in Africa has drawn criticism from aid groups, including Oxfam International, that are concerned about the use of farmland to produce food for export from countries with widespread hunger. In Ethiopia, an estimated 13.7 million people, about one-sixth of the population, are dependent on foreign food aid.

Eyesus said such concerns were outweighed by the plantations’ capacity to bring foreign exchange and technology into the Horn of Africa country, as well as creating employment.

Among foreign investors that have acquired land in western Ethiopia are Karuturi Global Ltd., an Indian food processor, and Saudi-based billionaire Sheikh Mohammed al-Amoudi, Eyesus said.

Regional governments have already transferred 1.7 million hectares of land to Ethiopia’s central government and surveyors are in the process of delineating additional land, he said.

Feather Dresses

Among the land currently being advertised on the ministry’s Web site is 180,625 hectares along the Omo River in southern Ethiopia. South Omo Zone, as it is known, is home to pastoralists from the Hamer, Dasenech and Gnangatom ethnic groups, many of whom still dress in feathers and leather garments and are considered among the world’s most threatened indigenous people, according to Survival International, a London-based group that campaigns on behalf of ethnic groups.

Eyesus said the land in South Omo was “empty” and that the government had taken environmental and social considerations into account when allocating land for investors.

“The people and the local governments are very happy,” he said. “We have not seen any conflict between investors and the community.”

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Wealthy nations outsource crops to Ethiopia’s farmland

Trend is driven in part by last year’s global food crisis

Two managers (second from left, center) with Karuturi, an Indian company with commercial farms in Ethiopia, checked=

Two managers (second from left, center) with Karuturi, an Indian company with commercial farms in Ethiopia, checked the corn harvested by workers at Karuturi’s farm in Bako, Ethiopia. (Food/Africa Reuters/ Barry Malone)

BAKO, Ethiopia – In recent months, the Ethiopian government began marketing abroad one of the hottest commodities in an increasingly crowded and hungry world: farmland.

“Why Attractive?’’ reads one glossy poster with photos of green fields and a map outlining swaths of the country available at bargain-basement prices. “Vast, fertile, irrigable land at low rent. Abundant water resources. Cheap labor. Warmest hospitality.’’

This impoverished and chronically food-insecure Horn of Africa nation is rapidly becoming one of the world’s leading destinations for the booming business of land leasing, by which relatively rich countries and investment firms are securing 40- to 99-year contracts to farm vast tracts of land.

Governments across Southeast Asia, Latin America, and especially Africa are seizing the chance to attract this new breed of investors, wining and dining executives, creating land-leasing agencies and land catalogs to showcase their offerings of earth. In Africa alone, experts estimate that about 50 million acres – roughly the size of Nebraska – have been leased in the past two years.

The trend is driven in part by last year’s global food crisis. Relatively wealthy countries are shoring up their food supplies by growing staple crops abroad. The desert kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for instance, is shifting wheat production to Africa. The government of India, where land is crowded and overfarmed, is offering incentives to companies to carve out mega farms across the continent.

Increasingly, though, purely profit-seeking companies are snatching up land, making a simple, if somewhat grim, calculation. As one Saudi-backed businessman here put it, “The population of the world is increasing dramatically, so land and food supplies will be short, demand will be higher, and prices will rise.’’

The scale and pace of the land scramble has alarmed policymakers and others concerned about the implications for food security in countries such as Ethiopia, where officials recently appealed for food aid for about 6 million people as drought devastates parts of East Africa. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization is in the midst of a food security summit in Rome where some of the 62 heads of state attending are to discuss a code of conduct to govern land deals, which are being struck with little public input.

“These contracts are pretty thin,’’ said David Hallam, a deputy director at the UN organization. “You see statements from ministers where they’re basically promising everything with no controls, no conditions.’’

The harshest critics of the practice conjure bleak images of poor Africans starving as food is hauled off to rich countries. Some express concern that decades of industrial farming will leave good land spoiled even as local populations surge. And skeptics also say the political contexts cannot be ignored.

“We don’t trust this government,’’ said Merera Gudina, a leading opposition figure here who accuses Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia of using the land policy to hold on to power. “We are afraid this government is buying diplomatic support by giving away land.’’

But many experts are cautiously hopeful, saying that big agribusiness could feed millions by industrializing agriculture in countries such as Ethiopia, where about 80 percent of its 75 million people are farmers who plow their fields with oxen.

“If these deals are negotiated well, I tell you, it will change the dynamics of the food economy in this country,’’ said Mafa Chipeta, the UN group’s representative in Ethiopia, dismissing the worst-case scenarios. “I can’t believe Ethiopia or any other government would allow their country to be used like an empty womb. The human spirit would not allow it.’’

Few countries have embraced the trend as zealously as Ethiopia, where hard-baked eastern deserts fade into spectacularly lush and green western valleys fed by the Blue Nile. Only a quarter of the country’s estimated 175 million fertile acres is being farmed.

Desperate for foreign currency, the government of former Marxist rebels who once proclaimed “land to the tiller!’’ has set aside more than 6 million acres for agribusiness. Lured with 40-year leases and tax holidays, investors are going on farm shopping sprees, crisscrossing the country on chartered flights to pick out their swaths of Ethiopian soil.

Indian companies have committed $4.2 billion. Anand Seth, director general of the Federation of Indian Export Organizations, described Africa as “the next big thing’’ in investment opportunities and markets.

As he stood on a little hill overlooking 30,000 acres of rich, black soil, Hanumantha Rao, chief general manager of the Indian company Karuturi Agro Products, agreed. He said the Ethiopian government has imposed few requirements on his company.

“From here,’’ Rao said, “you can see the past and the future of Ethiopian agriculture.’’

From there it was possible to see a river designated for irrigating cornfields and rice paddies; it is no longer open for locals to water their cows. Several shiny green tractors bounced across the 6-mile-long field where teff, the local grain, once grew.


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Southern Sudan From Slavery towords National Unity” at What Price ?

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Sudan referendum law endorsed in cabinet, 51% ‘Yes’ vote & 60% turnout required

nafie-amum

Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) secretary general Pagan Amum (R) and Nafie Ali Nafie, presidential advisor and member of the northern ruling National Congress Party, address a news conference in the capital Khartoum December 13, 2009 (Reuters)

Monday 14 December 2009 03:35. Printer-Friendly version Comments… December 13, 2009 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese cabinet today headed by president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir unanimously approved in its extraordinary meeting Sunday evening the draft bill of the Act on Referendum in South Sudan, the Act on Referendum in Abyei and the Act of People’s Consultation in South Kordofan and the Blue Nile. Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) secretary general Pagan Amum (R) and Nafie Ali Nafie, presidential advisor and member of the northern ruling National Congress Party, address a news conference in the capital Khartoum December 13, 2009 (Reuters) Sudan official news agency (SUNA) said that the law package will be tabled Monday before the National Assembly for ratification. The development followed announcement by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the NCP that they have reached an agreement on a number of disputed issues after days of marathonic talks between senior figures on both sides. “We announce an agreement between the two partners on all points, which had been a source of disagreement on the referendum law in south Sudan,” said Nafie Ali Nafie, deputy head of Khartoum’s NCP. The two parties also agreed to “look into the national security and intelligence law in order to reach an agreement,” Nafie said, without elaborating. Under the referendum deal struck, a 60% turnout of registered voters and a 51% yes vote will declare the independence of South Sudan valid. Initially the NCP wanted between 75%-90% yes vote and a two thirds turnout arguing that the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) says that the secession choice should be made difficult. The full details of the agreement will be announced after consultation with all political forces in Sudan, Amum said, adding that the SPLM MP’s who have boycotted parliament for over a month would start attending sessions “within 24 hours”. The SPLM and a coalition of Northern opposition parties have attempted to stage a demonstration last Monday that was curbed by Sudanese authorities leading to the arrest of senior SPLM figures. The agreement throws into doubt the fate of another demonstration planned for tomorrow by the same political parties which was made for the purpose of protesting the failure to agree on a package of democratic reforms bills ahead of next April’s elections and on a procedural law for the south’s referendum scheduled for January 2011. Ibrahim Ghandour, a senior figure in the NCP, warned the SPLM that any attempt to stage a demonstration on Monday will nullify the agreements that were made. He added that the agreement stipulated that the SPLM will not be part of any protest as long as the outstanding issues have been resolved. An unidentified SPLM official told the London based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that they “got what they wanted” adding that the protests plans will be likely be suspended. On Friday the NCP warned that they are prepared to go to war if all fails with SPLM. “We have offered 40,000 martyrs and are prepared to offer 100,000 martyrs,” Nafi said at a rally in the Sudanese capital. ———————- ——————-

splm_supporters

SPLM supporters take part in a pro-democracy rally in Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman on Monday Dec 14, 2009 (AFP

SPLM official slams use of tear gas against demonstrators

Tuesday 15 December 2009 03:30. Printer-Friendly version Comments… December 14, 2009 (KHARTOUM) – Khartoum state minister Mayen Dut who participated in the opposition led demonstration today strongly condemned use of tear gas to disperse peaceful demonstration in the national capital Khartoum today. SPLM supporters take part in a pro-democracy rally in Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman on Monday Dec 14, 2009 (AFP) The use of tear gas to disperse non violent demonstration is unconstitutional, brutal and indeed an act that violates not only provisions of constitution as supreme law of the country but, portrays government intentions to cling to authoritarian kind of leadership, Mayen said. “Where in the world can a responsible and law abiding government use chemicals and other concentrated gases to disassemble peaceful march,” he posed. The official who represents SPLM as minister of local government in Khartoum State government added that police showed lack of respect by beating individual indiscriminately even bystanders. They did not bother to ask, they thought anybody either passing or standing was a protester, he said. Asked why he took part in the demonstration as SPLM already reached an agreement with the National Congress Party (NCP) on southern referendum on Sunday 13, he said “first and foremost he did not take part in the demonstration as southerner but as a Sudanese and SPLM official because SPLM is not a regional party.” He further said he took part in the demonstration because the agreement does not stop SPLM from demanding settlement to security act and democratic reform laws adding “these are crucial elements in the forthcoming elections as required by the peace deal.” Today’s protest was organized by Sudanese opposition parties and the SPLM. Opposition Umma leading member Miriam Al-Mahdi said Sudanese police briefly detained over 100 protesters for five hours. Mariam was among the detained people. Security situation remains tense as there was a heavy presence of security personnel in the capital while all streets leading to the parliament building where the demonstration was planned were closed The Sudanese police was deployed in the capital and all the premises of the opposition parties, including the SPLM headquarters, were surrounded by the well equipped security forces. The Sudanese Human Rights Organisation condemned today the use of prohibited tear gas by the police. (ST) ———————–   ————-

SPLM and opposition planned demonstration

Sunday 6 December 2009 05:30. Printer-Friendly version Comments… By Justin Ambago Ramba December 5, 2009 — Judging by the turn of events, it is clear that the Sudanese politics has no doubt entered its crucial stages. While the peace agreement between the north and the south still holds, it is no longer true to continue to hold any one of the peace partners responsible for the present chaos without the other. However as it stands right now whatsoever camp you stand in, you just have to shift your mind to the evolving tripartite negations that is about to replace the current bilateral talks between the National Congress Party (NCP) of the fugitive president al Bashir and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) who are both beginning to doubt the very comprehensiveness of the agreement they signed 5 years ago. It is true that the implementation of the CPA wasn’t taken seriously and so much as the NIF/NCP is the only northern political party in the Sudan to ever come this far in addressing the Sudanese problem which has its root cause in the chronic marginalization policies adopted by the successive governments that alternated in Khartoum, but unfortunately due to its intrinsic evilness, it was the first to start relegating the whole peace settlement. The NCP is no longer a credible party to make sound and binding decisions in the Sudan after the kind of showdown that it continues to experience in the world arena over the Darfur crisis, culminating in the indictment of its leader, the incumbent Sudanese president Omer al Bashir, now wanted by the internal Criminal Court for his roles in the crimes committed there. The indictment of President Al Bashir was a missed opportunity that was not well exploited by the leading political party in southern Sudan, the SPLM. Had the SPLM played its cards wisely by diversifying the way it did business with the NIF/NCP, they would have walked away with more gains from a system that was too ready to make consensus as it was shook down its toes, when the ICC prosecutor Louis Moreno Ocampo was tying his noose on the Sudanese president. Anyway all those are now history and the latest evidence shows beyond doubt that any bilateral talks between the CPA partners are doomed to fail since the SPLM is now in the lead of the political forces that are working to change the present regime though of course officially it remains the second biggest partner in the so-called government of unity (GoNU). As a proof that it is all over between the two, the SPLM with the support of the other Sudanese opposition parties have planned to carry out a rally, which is meant to be “a peaceful demonstration” in the Sudanese capital city Khartoum, and they intend to march to the national parliament building in Omdurman and present their protest to the speaker of the parliament demanding the adoption of the laws related to democratic transition which are embodied in the National Security Law, Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure Law, the Trade Unions Act, the law of immunities, the law of personal status, press and publications law, the laws of public order as a condition for taking part in the coming elections. Otherwise…………………… Of course before even going any further in this, it is necessary to shade light on the position of the dominant NCP to which the Speaker belongs. And as should be expected, any moves by the SPLM following the Juba Conference remain to be very disturbing to the NCP and views it with much scepticism. And though the SPLM’s initial motives might have been to pressurize the NCP into living to the spirit and letters of the CPA and implementing the agreement in its timely manner without the current foot dragging, only that sooner than expected it (SPLM) has found itself working side by side with the Sudanese opposition in a broad policy of regime change, something naturally disturbing to the NCP. But as the date for the peaceful demonstrations closes in, the SPLM and the Opposition supporters are going to be faced with the fact that the very laws that they are about to demonstrate against are still in action, and accordingly for the demonstration to go ahead they need to get an approval from the security organs………..which is controlled by the NCP. This would be the first time since the NIC/NCP came to power to allow such an opposition move should the SPLM and the opposition take to the streets to protest the NCP’s foot dragging over the CPA implementation, reviewing of the census results and the contested undemocratic laws. However all depends on whether the Sudanese Security organs will approve the demonstrations or not and this will be the first test for this newly forged alliance in confronting the NCP. The second important issue to consider would be how peaceful the so-called peaceful demonstration would turn out to be in an atmosphere loaded with much popular resentments due to the prevailing soar prices of basic essential commodities like sugar, bread and sorghum (Dura ……the Sudanese staple food) . It can not also be ignored that the voter’s registration process as reported by the local and the international observers, have been much flowed, adding yet another discontent. Now putting all these together with the new dissident group that calls itself “We are Disgusted”, which emerged in Khartoum during the registration process, things can easily be pushed off limits. While on the other hand, the security organs on their side are much concerned about protecting the regime, especially so after the indictment of president Omer al Bashir by the ICC which means that the slightest match stroke can send the whole country ablaze. However as I have already stated somewhere else in this article, the coming few days would real mark one of the most crucial moments in every concerned Sudanese’s’ life, as we are to face yet an exceptional test in as to how much the Sudan is prepared to embrace democracy. But should things be allowed to slip into a purely partisan political confrontation, a thing more likely to happen, and then the legacy it might leave may remain to be recalled with much bitter memories throughout our coming history. Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba, MB, BCh, DRH, MD. Secretary General of the United South Sudan Party (USSP). The party that stands for the independence of South Sudan. Can be reached at either justinramba@doctors.org.uk or justinramba@aol.co.uk ————-   ————

Slavery

FLASHPOINT FOR CONFLICT
Slavery in the Sahel region of Africa is hundreds of years old, and Sudan was a very active participant in the slave trade until early this century. The south-western region of Bahr al-Ghazal was one of the most prominent centres of slave trading on the African continent in the late 19th century.

South-western Sudan, on the border with the Central African Republic, is divided by the Bahr-al-Arab and Bahr-al-Ghazal rivers into two zones. With followers of Islam in the north and of Christianity and traditional religions in the south, it is a microcosm of the way the country itself is divided. It has long been a flashpoint for conflicts, often spurred by competition for resources, and compounded by racial, religious and cultural differences.

For centuries northern Sudanese and Turco-Egyptian traders raided along the Nile, deep into Upper Nile, Equatoria and into the vast lands of Bahr al-Ghazal. Here African villagers were caught, beaten and roped together. Then they were walked and shipped great distances to be sold on as domestic servants, farm hands or concubines, in Northern Sudan, neighbouring countries like Egypt and Libya, or across the Red Sea.Top

ENCOURAGING HOSTILITY
Raiding and hostage-taking, slave-like conditions and child trafficking among rival Sudanese tribes existed before the arrival of invaders from the north. From the niid-1800s, however, foreign traders encouraged hostile tribal groups to raid each other for booty including ivory and slaves. The Baggara, Muslim cattle-herders who regard them- selves as Arabs, penetrated south into Bahr al-Ghazal, the land of the Dinka and other African, non-Arabised tribes.Top

RISE OF THE JALLABA
In the early 19th century, the “Jallaba”, a group of northern Muslirn traders mostly from the Ja’aliyyin and Danagla tribes of the Nile valley, came in increasing numbers to southern Sudan, especially northern Bahr al-Ghazal, which became an important source of slaves. The Jallaba made their fortunes in the slave trade, although some also worked as boatmen and soldiers. They sent the slaves overland to markets in the north, and kept them in enclosures with thorny fences, called zaribas, en route. The Jailaba prospered, and became a powerful and wealthy community – with vested interests in slavery. To this day, Southerners sometimes refer to Northerners as “Jallaba” as if, to them, the merchant class represents the entire society. Top

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Slavery in Sudan13478

“The most comprehensive account of the practice of slavery in contemporary Sudan.”—Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

“A distressing account of the tragic phenomenon of slavery and forced labor emerging from the civil war in Sudan.”—Anthropos

“A shocking account of Sudanese slavery.”—Crime and Justice International

Slavery has been endemic in Sudan for thousands of years. Today the Sudanese slave trade persists as a complex network of buyers, sellers, and middlemen that operates most actively when times are favorable to the practice. As Jok Madut Jok argues, the present day is one such time, as the Sudanese civil war that resumed in 1983 rages on between the Arab north and the black south. Permitted and even encouraged by the Arab-dominated Khartoum government, the state military has captured countless women and children from the south and sold them into slavery in the north to become concubines, domestic servants, farm laborers, or even soldiers trained to fight against their own people. Also instigated by the Khartoum government, Arab herding groups routinely take and sell the Nilotic peoples of Dinka and Nuer.

A Terrorist Law , by A Terrorists regime, for A Terrorist Act … “One man’s Terrorist is no more another’s Liberators”

Human Right Watch 2009 Report

Human Rights in Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

News and Publications

Report 2009

  • Head of state Girma Wolde-Giorgis
  • Head of government Meles Zenawi
  • Death penalty retentionist
  • Population 85.2 million
  • Life expectancy 51.8 years
  • Under-5 mortality (m/f) 151/136 per 1,000 Adult
  • literacy 35.9 per cent

Restrictions on humanitarian assistance to the Somali Region (known as the Ogaden) continued. The government engaged in sporadic armed conflict against the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and both forces perpetrated human rights abuses against civilians. Ethiopian troops fighting insurgents in Somalia in support of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) committed human rights abuses and were reported to have committed war crimes. Security forces arrested members of the Oromo ethnic group in Addis Ababa and in the Oromo Region towards the end of the year. Independent journalists continued to face harassment and arrest. A number of political prisoners were believed to remain in detention and opposition party leader Birtukan Mideksa, who was pardoned in 2007, was rearrested. A draft law restricting the activities of Ethiopian and international organizations working on human rights was expected to be passed by parliament in 2009. Ethiopia remained one of the world’s poorest countries with some 6.4 million people suffering acute food insecurity, including 1.9 million in the Somali Region. Background The Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission completed its mandate in October, despite Ethiopia failing to implement its ruling, and the UN Security Council withdrew the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) in the wake of Eritrean obstruction of its operations along the Eritrea/Ethiopia border. Thousands of Ethiopian armed forces remained in Somalia to support the TFG in armed conflict against insurgents throughout most of the year. Accusations of human rights violations committed by Ethiopian forces continued in 2008. Insurgent factions stated that they were fighting to force Ethiopia’s withdrawal from Somalia. A phased plan for Ethiopian withdrawal was included in a peace agreement signed by the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia-Djibouti and TFG representatives in late October. Ethiopian forces began to withdraw late in the year, but had not withdrawn from Somalia completely by the end of the year. The government faced sporadic armed conflict in the Oromo and Somali regions, with ONLF members also implicated in human rights abuses against civilians. Ethiopian opposition parties in exile remained active in Eritrea and in other countries in Africa and Europe. “Ethiopian forces attacked the al-Hidya mosque in Mogadishu killing 21 men…” Divisions split the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) party, leading to the emergence of new opposition parties, including the Unity for Democracy and Justice Party (UDJP) led by former judge Birtukan Mideksa. She was one of more than 70 CUD leaders, journalists and civil society activists convicted, then pardoned and released in 2007. Suicide bombers attacked Ethiopia’s trade mission in Hargeisa, Somaliland, on 29 October killing several Ethiopian and Somali civilians. Prisoners of conscience and other political prisoners A number of political prisoners, detained in previous years in the context of internal armed conflicts or following contested elections in 2005, remained in detention. Bekele Jirata, General Secretary of the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement party, Asefa Tefera Dibaba, a lecturer at Addis Ababa University and dozens of others from the Oromo ethnic group were arrested in Addis Ababa and parts of the Oromo Region from 30 October onwards. Some of those detained were accused of financially supporting the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). Sultan Fowsi Mohamed Ali, an independent mediator, who was arrested in Jijiga in August 2007 reportedly to prevent him from giving evidence to a UN fact-finding mission, remained in detention. Tried for alleged involvement in two hand grenade attacks in 2007, he was sentenced to 22 years’ imprisonment in May 2008. On 15 January Birtukan Mideksa, Gizachew Shiferaw and Alemayehu Yeneneh, then senior members of the CUD, were briefly detained by police after holding party meetings in southern Ethiopia. Birtukan Mideksa was rearrested on 28 December after she issued a public statement regarding the negotiations that led to her 2007 pardon. Her pardon was revoked and the sentence of life imprisonment reinstated. Prisoner releases Many released prisoners faced harassment and intimidation, with some choosing to leave the country. Human rights defenders and lawyers Daniel Bekele and Netsanet Demissie were released on 28 March. They had been detained since November 2005 together with hundreds of opposition parliamentarians, CUD members and journalists. Unlike their co-defendants in the trial who were pardoned and released in 2007, Daniel Bekele and Netsanet Demissie remained in detention, having refused to sign a document negotiated by local elders. They mounted a defence and were convicted by the Federal High Court of criminal incitement (although the presiding judge dissented) and sentenced to 30 months’ imprisonment. When it became evident they would not be released, even after they appealed, they chose to sign the negotiated document, and were subsequently pardoned and released after serving 29 months of their sentence. Charges of conspiring to commit “outrages against the Constitution” faced by Yalemzewd Bekele, a human rights lawyer who had been working for the European Commission in Addis Ababa, were dropped, without prejudice, before trial. Abdirahman Mohamed Qani, chief of the Tolomoge sub-clan of the Ogaden clan in the Somali Region, was detained on 13 July after receiving a large public welcome when he returned from two years abroad. He was released on 7 October, and his relatives who had also been detained were reportedly released several days later. CUD activist Alemayehu Mesele, who had suffered harassment since his release from prison in 2007, fled Ethiopia in early May after he was severely beaten by unknown assailants. The editor of the Reporter newspaper Amare Aregawi was severely beaten by unknown assailants on 31 October in Addis Ababa. He had previously been detained by security officers in August. In September, the government announced that it had released 394 prisoners and commuted one death sentence to life imprisonment to mark the Ethiopian New Year.

Freedom of expression

Independent journalists continued to face harassment and arrest. At least 13 newspapers shut down by the government in 2005 were still closed. Independent journalists were reportedly denied licences to operate, although others did receive licences. Serkalem Fasil, Eskinder Nega and Sisay Agena, former publishers of Ethiopia’s largest circulation independent newspapers, who had been detained with CUD members, were denied licences to open two new newspapers. In February the Supreme Court upheld a decision to dissolve the Ethiopian Teachers Association (ETA) and hand over its assets to a rival union formed by the government, also known as the Ethiopian Teachers Association. This action followed years of harassment and detention of union members. In December the union, under its new name, the National Teachers’ Association, had its application for registration as a professional organization rejected. On World Press Freedom Day (3 May) Alemayehu Mahtemework, publisher of the monthly Enku, was detained and 10,000 copies of his publication impounded. He was released after five days without charge and copies of the magazine were later returned to him. In November a Federal High Court judge convicted editor-in chief of the weekly Enbilta, Tsion Girma, of “inciting the public through false rumours” after a reporting mistake. She reportedly paid a fine and was released.

Human rights defenders

A draft Charities and Societies Proclamation was revised several times by the government in 2008, but remained threatening to the rights of freedom of assembly, association and expression. Its provisions included severe restrictions on the amount of foreign funding Ethiopian civil society organizations working on human rights-related issues could receive from abroad (no more than 10 per cent of total revenues). It would also establish a Civil Societies Agency with sweeping authority over organizations carrying out work on human rights and conflict resolution in Ethiopia. It was expected to be passed into law by Parliament in early 2009.

Ethiopian troops in Somalia

Ethiopia maintained a significant troop presence in Somalia which supported the TFG until the end of the year. Ethiopian forces committed human rights abuses and were reported to have committed war crimes. Ethiopian forces attacked the al-Hidya mosque in Mogadishu killing 21 men, some inside the mosque, on 19 April. More than 40 children were held for some days after the mosque raid before being released . Many attacks by Ethiopian forces in response to armed insurgents were reported to have been indiscriminate and disproportionate, often occurring in densely civilian-populated areas.

Internal armed conflict

The government continued counter-insurgency operations in the Somali Region, which increased after attacks by the ONLF on an oil installation in Obole in April 2007. These included restrictions on humanitarian aid which have had a serious impact on conflict-affected districts of the region. The government did not allow unhindered independent access for human rights monitoring. Reports, dating back to 2007, of beatings, rape and other forms of torture, forcible conscription and extrajudicial executions in the Somali Region were investigated by a government-contracted body but not by an independent international body. Torture and other ill-treatment Reports of torture made by defendants in the trial of elected parliamentarian Kifle Tigeneh and others, one of several CUD trials, were not investigated. Conditions in Kaliti prison and other detention facilities were harsh – overcrowded, unhygienic and lacking adequate medical care. Among those detained in such conditions were long-term political prisoners held without charge or trial, particularly those accused of links to the OLF. Mulatu Aberra, a trader of the Oromo ethnic group accused of supporting the OLF, was released on 1 July on bail and fled the country. He had been arrested in November 2007 and reportedly tortured and denied medical treatment for resulting injuries while in detention.

Death penalty

While a number of death sentences were imposed by courts in 2008, no executions were reported. In May the Federal Supreme Court overturned earlier rulings and sentenced to death former President Mengistu Haile Mariam (in exile in Zimbabwe) and 18 senior officials of his Dergue government. The prosecution had appealed against life imprisonment sentences passed in 2007, after they were convicted by the Federal High Court of genocide and crimes against humanity perpetrated between 1974 and 1991. On 6 April a court sentenced to death five military officers in absentia. They served under Mengistu Haile Mariam, and were held responsible for air raids in Hawzen, in the Tigray Region, which killed hundreds in a market in June 1980. On 8 May a court in Tigray Region found six people guilty of a bus bombing in northern Ethiopia between Humora and Shira on 13 March and sentenced three of them to death. On 21 May the Federal Supreme Court sentenced eight men to death for a 28 May 2007 bombing in Jijiga in the Somali Region. On 22 May a military tribunal sentenced to death in absentia four Ethiopian pilots , who sought asylum while training in Israel in 2007. —————————- ——————- ————–

An Analysis of Ethiopia’s Draft Anti-Terrorism Law

Summary

This paper analyses Ethiopia’s draft Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and assesses to what extent the proposed law on its face conforms to international human rights standards. The draft law has been submitted to Parliament by the Council of Ministers and may be passed into law before the end of the current legislative session in July 2009. A first unofficial draft of the law obtained by Human Rights Watch earlier in the year contained numerous provisions that fundamentally contravened human rights guaranteed by Ethiopia’s constitution and international law. Only one of those provisions has been substantively revised, leaving the current draft law dangerously broad and inimical to fundamental human rights. The draft law is premised on an extremely broad and ambiguous definition of terrorist activity that could permit the government to repress a wide range of internationally protected freedoms, and contains provisions that undermine fundamental due process rights. If implemented as currently drafted, this law could provide the Ethiopian government with a potent instrument to crack down on political dissent, including peaceful political demonstrations and public criticisms of government policy that are deemed supportive of armed opposition activity. It would permit long-term imprisonment and even the death penalty for “crimes” that bear no resemblance, under any credible definition, to terrorism. It would in certain cases deprive defendants of the right to be presumed innocent, and of protections against use of evidence obtained through torture. The draft Proclamation is even more alarming when placed in the context of concerns over political repression, suppression of free speech and independent civil society, the impunity conferred on security forces, and the potential for consolidation of ruling party power in the run-up to national elections in 2010. Human Rights Watch takes no position as to whether anti-terrorism legislation is needed to fill gaps in Ethiopia’s existing criminal code. But even if that need exists, the draft Proclamation requires more than a substantial revision. Given the ways in which its provisions on their face violate fundamental due process rights of individuals and unlawfully restrict basic freedoms due all Ethiopians, the law’s drafters should revise the legislation so that the protection of human rights is recognized as essential for the prosecution of genuine acts of terrorism, not as an obstacle.

Background

In recent years, armed groups have committed a number of bombings and other attacks in Ethiopia or on Ethiopia’s diplomatic missions. A May 2008 explosion on a minibus in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, for which a little known group called the Islamic Guerrillas claimed responsibility, killed three people on the eve of national celebrations.[1] In October 2008 the Ethiopian trade mission in Hargeisa, Somaliland, was one of the targets of multiple suicide bombings that killed at least 20 people; the attacks were blamed on al-Shabaab, a Somali armed group with alleged links to al Qaeda.[2] Ethiopia reportedly considered adopting anti-terror legislation in 2006,[3] and a law was said to be in preparation in 2008.[4] In June 2009 Human Rights Watch obtained an English-language translation of the draft as submitted to parliament by the Council of Ministers. This analysis is based on that draft. An earlier version of this analysis was based on an unofficial draft of the Proclamation dated January 2009. To date the draft anti-terrorism legislation does not appear to have been publicly circulated or discussed, including with civil society, although a public debate took place in parliament on June 25, 2009. Analysis of the Draft Anti-Terrorism Legislation The provisions of Ethiopia’s draft Anti-Terrorism Proclamation can be broadly grouped under the following categories: defining terrorism and terrorist acts and imposing penalties (parts I and II); expanding police powers, including powers of arrest and detention (part III); modifying trial procedures and evidentiary rules (part IV); designating terrorist organizations and freezing assets (part V); designating institutional and judicial jurisdiction over terrorism crimes (part VI); and miscellaneous provisions (part VII).

Defining Terrorism

The draft Proclamation provides an extremely broad and ambiguous definition of terrorism that could be used to criminalize non-violent political dissent and various other activities that should not be deemed as terrorism. The draft Proclamation states that anyone who-with the purpose of “advancing a political, religious or ideological cause” and intending to “influence the government;”[5] “intimidate the public or section of the public;” [or] “to destabilize or destroy the fundamental political, constitutional, economic or social institutions of the country”-commits: an act that causes death or serious injury; an act that creates risk to the safety or health of the public; kidnapping or hostage taking; serious damage to property; damage to natural resources, the environment, or the historical or cultural heritage; or “endangers, seizes or puts under control, causes interference or disruption of any public service”-is subject to punishment by “rigorous imprisonment from 15 years to life or with death.”[6] This definition of terrorism includes acts that do not involve violence or injury to people, such as property crimes and disruption of public services.[7] The United Nations special rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights has stated that the concept of terrorism should be limited to acts committed with the intention of causing death or serious bodily injury, or the taking of hostages, and should not include property crimes. In addition, permitting the death penalty for property crimes would violate the requirement under international law that the death penalty only be imposed for the “most serious crimes.”[8] The broad and ambiguous definition of terrorist acts under the draft Proclamation could readily be used to criminalize acts of peaceful political dissent that result in “disruption of public services”-as public demonstrations sometimes do. A non-violent march that blocked traffic could qualify as a terrorist act, subjecting protestors to 15 years to life in prison, or possibly even the death penalty. The law might also permit prosecutions on terrorism charges for minor acts of violence committed in the context of political activism: thus a political protestor who damages a police car or breaks the window of a government building could conceivably be prosecuted as a terrorist. Furthermore, an individual need only “threaten to commit” any of the relevant acts, including property crimes and “disruption of public service,” to be prosecuted as a terrorist and punished with a minimum 15 years’ imprisonment, or death.[9] The overly broad definition of terrorist acts has implications for other parts of the Proclamation. For instance a “terrorist organization” is defined as “a.) a group, association or organization which is composed of not less than two members with the objective of committing acts of terrorism or plans, prepares, executes acts of terrorism or assists or incites others in any way to commit acts of terrorism, [or] b.) an organization proscribed in accordance with this proclamation.”[10] As noted above, the definition of “acts of terrorism” could include acts of political dissent. Therefore a group of two or more individuals who engage in peaceful political protest could be deemed a “terrorist organization,”[11] and membership deemed a crime, subject to five to 20 years’ “rigorous imprisonment.”[12] The draft Proclamation also contains broad and ambiguous language prohibiting material support for terrorism. Those providing “moral support or … advice” or “provid[ing] or mak[ing] available any property in any manner” to an individual accused of a terrorist act could be deemed a terrorist supporter under the law.[13] Someone who advised, or even just offered water and food to a political protester might find themselves charged with terrorism under this provision. Possessing or using property knowing or intending that it be used to commit a terrorist act (as defined by the draft statute) is a crime subject to five to 20 years’ imprisonment.[14] Possession of property that a person “ha[s] reason to know” are proceeds of terrorism is punishable by five to 15 years’ “rigorous imprisonment”.[15] Coupled with the broad and ambiguous definition of terrorist acts, these provisions open the door to a wide range of ways in which individuals seeking to express political dissent could find themselves prosecuted for terrorism and imprisoned for five to 20 years. For example, someone who held a sign used in a non-violent political protest that blocked traffic could arguably be found guilty of possession of property used to commit a terrorist act.

Infringement of Freedoms of Speech and Expression

Many national counterterrorism laws contain provisions criminalizing speech that incites or supports terrorism. But important international standards on freedom of speech require that such restrictions be limited to speech that directly incites-or is likely to result in-an imminent crime.[16] The draft Proclamation states that “whosoever writes, edits, prints, publishes, publicizes, disseminates, shows, makes to be heard any promotional statements encouraging, supporting or advancing terrorist acts stipulated under … this Proclamation, or the objectives of [a] terrorist organization; […] is punishable with rigorous imprisonment from 10 years to 20 years.”[17] Such a provision would violate the right to freedom of expression under international law even if the definition of “terrorist act” were in conformity with international standards.[18] In addition to relying on the overly broad definition of “terrorist acts,” this provision is problematic because the provision criminalizes speech ambiguously “encouraging,” “advancing,” or “in support” of terrorist acts even if there is no direct incitement to violence. Individuals who merely speak in favor of any of the “terrorist acts” could be convicted for encouraging terrorism, and sentenced to 10 to 20 years of “rigorous imprisonment.” For example, students participating in a peaceful demonstration seeking to influence government policy-or even someone merely voicing support for such a demonstration without participating-could be subjected to a 10- to 20-year prison term. Human Rights Watch is also concerned that the inclusion of the references to writing and editing may be aimed at the nation’s media. If the government were to place longstanding armed opposition groups such as the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) (which have already been banned) on the list of proscribed terrorist organizations, even a mundane newspaper article describing an Oromo student protest could be deemed “encouragement of terrorism.” This scenario is quite likely given that the Ethiopian government has repeatedly sought to characterize the attacks of the ONLF and other insurgent groups as “terrorist” activities. The government already imprisons government critics and opposition figures and accuses them of supporting the OLF, ONLF, and other opposition groups. Ethiopia has sought-so far unsuccessfully-to place the ONLF and other Ethiopian armed opposition movements on the US and UN sanctions lists for supporting terrorism. A journalist interviewing an opposition politician or a supporter of an armed opposition group could be deemed to be “encouraging” terrorism merely by publicizing the views of the interviewee.

Expansion of Police Powers without Due Process Guarantees

The draft Anti-Terrorism Proclamation expands police powers in significant ways. Despite Ethiopian constitutional protections, the police and armed forces have long been implicated in arbitrary arrest, incommunicado detention, and torture and other mistreatment of persons in custody.[19] Thus, the expansion of police powers without a serious effort to improve protections for those detained raises serious concerns that the law may facilitate further abuses.

Powers of Arrest, Search, and Seizure

The draft Proclamation distinguishes between a “sudden search” and a “covert search.”[20] A covert search requires a court-approved search warrant if an officer “has reasonable grounds to believe that a terrorist act has been or is likely to be committed.”[21] However a “sudden search” of “body and property” can be authorized by the director general of the Federal Police or his designee, without judicial oversight, if a police officer has “reasonable suspicion that a terrorist act will be committed and deems it necessary to make a sudden search.”[22] This gives the police and other security services almost unlimited power to conduct body searches, and search or seize property based solely on the belief that terrorist activity “will be” or has been committed. The provision contains no warrant requirement or any requirement of exigent circumstances that would make a warrantless search or seizure justified. The National Intelligence and Security Services is also provided authority to “intercept or conduct surveillance on the telephone, fax, radio, internet, electronic, postal, and similar communications of a person suspected of terrorism,” and to enter any premise to install and intercept communications after obtaining a court warrant.[23] Should a police officer believe a terrorist act “will be” committed in a particular place, he has the power to destroy property or restrict movement, even without any requirement of exigency.[24] Those who fail to cooperate with the police are subject to three to 10 years’ imprisonment.[25] The police also have the power to order “any government institution, official, bank, or a private organization or an individual” to provide information or evidence “which [the police officer] reasonably believes could assist to prevent or investigate terrorism cases,” without any warrant.[26]

Detention without Charge

The draft Proclamation grants the police the power to make arrests without a warrant, so long as the officer “reasonably suspects” that the person is committing or has committed a terrorist act.[27] The Ethiopian constitution requires that a person taken into custody must be brought before a court within 48 hours and informed of the reasons for their arrest-a protection that is already systematically violated.[28] The draft Proclamation reiterates the constitutional protection to be brought before a court within 48 hours of arrest, but then permits the police to request additional investigation periods of 28 days each from a court before filing charges, up to a maximum of four months.[29] Currently, Ethiopian police routinely detain people without charge for months, and sometimes ignore judicial orders for release.[30] Providing a statutorily-permitted period of four months whereby individuals may be detained without charge is likely to lead to even further abuses.[31] International law requires that anyone arrested shall be promptly brought before a judicial authority and criminally charged.[32]

Violation of the Right to Bodily Integrity

The draft Proclamation gives the police the power-without a warrant-to order a suspect in their custody to provide samples of blood and other body fluids, handwriting, hair, fingerprints, and undergo medical tests, and states that “if the suspect is not willing for the test, the police may use force.”[33] Evidentiary Rules and Use of Evidence Obtained by Torture The draft Proclamation sets new evidentiary standards for terrorism cases under the legislation that are far more permissive than the rules covering ordinary cases. Under these new rules, hearsay or “indirect evidences” can be admitted in court without any limitation.[34] Official intelligence reports can also be admitted “even if the report does not disclose the source or the method it was gathered.”[35] By making intelligence reports admissible in court even if the sources and methods are not disclosed, the law effectively allows evidence obtained under torture (if defense counsel cannot ascertain the methods by which intelligence was collected, they cannot show that it was collected in an abusive way). The draft Proclamation deems confessions admissible without a restriction on the use of statements made under torture.[36] The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment explicitly prohibits the use of any statement made as a result of torture as evidence in legal proceedings.[37] The Ethiopian constitution also bars the use of statements obtained through coercion.[38]

Additional Provisions of Concern

The draft Proclamation makes the failure to disclose information or evidence that may assist to “prevent terrorist act before its commission” or may contribute to “arrest, prosecute or punish a suspect” a crime that carries a sentence of three to 10 years’ “rigorous imprisonment.”[39] Also, any person who knowingly provides false information about a terrorist act, or “believing that the information is false” (a standard that falls short of actual knowledge) also faces punishment of three to 10 years’ imprisonment.[40] Such provisions could put citizens in an impossible position: On the one hand they could be charged with a crime for providing information that turns out to be false. On the other hand, they could be convicted of a crime for failing to provide information. The law also imposes an obligation to notify police within 24 hours if a foreigner is living in one’s house, and to provide the police a copy of the foreigner’s passport.[41] This violates the right under international law not to be subjected to arbitrary interference with privacy, family, or home.[42] Changes from the January 2009 Draft of the Proclamation There were very few substantive changes from a January 2009 draft of the law and the version that was ultimately submitted to parliament. Those worth noting here are as follows: The only major positive change to the current draft is that a provision in the January 2009 draft that allowed for shifting the burden of proof onto suspects who confess has been eliminated altogether. This was one of the worst provisions of the first draft, as it could have led to confessions extracted under torture being used to shift the burden of proof onto criminal defendants. The draft Proclamation’s definition of “terrorist acts”-one of the most alarming aspects of the first draft of the law-is even broader than it was in the January 2009 draft. The new draft expands the intent element of the crime. The first draft provided that carrying out one of the enumerated acts “with the intention of coercing or intimidating the government” was an act of terrorism.[43] The new draft changes this to “intending to influence the government.”[44] There is some uncertainty as to whether this was a deliberate change or an issue of translation from the Amharic version of the draft law, which is not currently available to Human Rights Watch. Section 14 of the draft Proclamation now requires that surveillance and interception of communications requires a court warrant; the first draft did not. However as noted above most of the other search and seizure provisions in the draft remain without any kind of warrant requirement. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Anti-terrorism legislation further restricts Ethiopian press

¨ July 23, 2009 His Excellency Prime Minister Meles Zenawi c/o Embassy of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia to the United States 3506 International Drive, NW Washington, D.C. 20008 Via facsimile: (202) 587-0195 Dear Prime Minister: We are writing to express our serious concerns about legislation that would further restrict press freedom in Ethiopia and about an ongoing pattern of criminal prosecutions, administrative restrictions, and Internet censorship. We are concerned that these measures, which official rhetoric has publicly justified as policies to safeguard the “constitutional order,” actually criminalize independent political coverage and infringe on press freedom as guaranteed by the Ethiopian Constitution. We call on you to use your influence to reverse this trend. On July 7, the Ethiopian House of Peoples’ Representatives passed the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation despite concerns raised by legal experts, lawmakers, and the private press about sweeping statutes that restrict fundamental constitutional rights, including press freedom. Several journalists, who asked that their names be withheld for fear of government reprisals, told CPJ they received phone calls and warnings from officials and government supporters to censor coverage scrutinizing the law. The proclamation contains far-reaching statutes giving the executive branch sweeping powers to imprison for as long as 20 years “whosoever writes, edits, prints, publishes, publicizes, disseminates” statements deemed “encouraging, supporting, or advancing” terrorist acts. This statute effectively institutionalizes censorship of reporting the government deems favorable to groups and causes it labels as “terrorist.” Worse, the law grants the federal police and national security agency exclusive discretion to carry out warrantless interception of communications, and search and seizure solely on the basis of “reasonable belief” that a terrorist act is in progress or “will be” committed. The law also provides for terrorist suspects to be held for up to four months without charge. However, in nearly 27 months, the government has yet to take to court Eritrean state television journalists Saleh Idris Gama or Tesfalidet Kidane Tesfazghi since identifying them among 41 people “captured” in Somalia on suspicion of terrorism. The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry has consistently declined to comment to CPJ’s requests for information about these imprisonments. Commenting on the legislation prior to passage, government spokesman Bereket Simon dismissed concerns of potential abuse. “This is a government that is committed to the constitutional provisions, and in the Constitution, any abuse of power is not allowed,” he told U.S. international broadcaster Voice of America (VOA). Despite these assurances however, the potential for abuse of this law is all the more troubling in light of the government’s long-standing pattern of criminal prosecution of the independent press over critical coverage, and the practices of Ethiopian judges and prosecutors in such cases. In principle, the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and the existing criminal code have high requirements for government prosecutors to prove intent in charges against the press, according to legal experts and CPJ analysis. In practice, however, Ethiopian judges have leniently interpreted these requirements, giving them little or no consideration. CPJ continues to document cases where government prosecutors charge journalists with the criminal code charge of “inciting the public through false rumors” for reporting allegations contradicting or questioning government’s positions or statements. Ethiopian judges have allowed such cases to proceed without questioning the positions or statements of the state, as the plaintiff in these cases, placing a disproportionate burden of proof on the defendant journalists, according to Ethiopian legal experts. We have also documented cases where judges have used “contempt of court” charges to detain journalists and censor coverage of sensitive cases, including the trial of pop singer Tewodros Kassahun. Last year, in an interview with Newsweek, you expressed hope that Ethiopia’s newly passed press reform legislation would be “on par with the best in the world.” The law intended to “ensure media diversity and provide adequate legal protection for the operational independence of media in general,” according to a February 26 press release from the Office for Government Communication Affairs. However, by all accounts, the Mass Media and Freedom of Information Proclamation fell well short of international standards. The law stiffened existing penalties for libel and granted government prosecutors the exclusive discretion to summarily block any publication for national security, but bans pretrial detentions of journalists, at least in principle. Four editors of Amharic-language weeklies have been detained this year on criminal charges, according to CPJ research, for anywhere from three to 16 days; two are still facing charges. In addition, several other journalists are facing charges and the possibility of criminal prosecutions, police interrogations, or government warnings over coverage deemed favorable to political dissidents, according to our research. The government is continuing its long-standing practice of reviving criminal prosecutions of journalists on charges dating back several years. Asrat Wedajo, former editor of the defunct Sefe Nebelbal newspaper, appeared in March before federal court in a criminal case over a story that appeared four years ago, according to local journalists. The official February 26 press release stated the administration’s commitment to “ensure the free flow of diverse ideas and information.” However, in January, a government agency, the Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority, was given exclusive authority over media regulation. The authority immediately issued directives not included in the press law stripping any media executive with more than 2 percent ownership share of any editorial authority in order to “avoid homogeneity of news and viewpoints,” according to local news reports. In April, the agency denied licenses to three journalists–award-winning publisher Serkalem Fasil, her husband, columnist Eskinder Nega, and publisher Sisay Agena–because their now-banned publishing companies were convicted on anti-state charges in 2007. In June, it ordered private Sheger Radio to stop carrying programs from VOA, after briefly revoking the accreditations of correspondents Eskinder Firew and Meleskachew Amaha. Amaha was imprisoned this year on spurious, years-old tax charges. He was later acquitted. In addition, your government continues to filter Web sites, particularly foreign-based independent sites and blogs discussing political reform and human rights, including our site. We urge you to amend statutes in the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and the Mass Media and Freedom of Information Proclamation that undermine constitutional rights to press freedom. We ask that you conduct an independent review of judicial practices and the application of criminal statutes used to prosecute journalists, and ensure the creation of an independent media regulatory body. We call on you to lift all restrictions on the free exercise of journalism in your country. Sincerely, Joel Simon Executive Director Human Rights Watch (Washington, DC) —————————

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Ethiopia: New Anti-Terrorism Proclamation jeopardizes freedom of expression

7 July 2009 Reacting to the news that the Ethiopian Parliament has today passed an Anti-Terror Proclamation in Ethiopia, Amnesty International warns that the law could restrict freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and the right to fair trial, with serious implications in the run up to Ethiopia’s 2010 parliamentary election. Although the Ethiopian government faces legitimate security concerns, any anti-terror legislation must be in accordance with international human rights standards. “The Government of Ethiopia has a history of stifling dissent and it is worrying that this law now risks further violating Ethiopia’s obligations under international human rights law,” said Erwin van der Borght, Amnesty International’s Africa programme director. “The Anti-Terror Proclamation is expected to provide Ethiopian authorities with unnecessarily far reaching powers which could lead to further arbitrary arrests”. Based on earlier drafts of the law previously made available to Amnesty International, “acts of terrorism” are vaguely defined and could encompass the legitimate expression of political dissent. The law defines “acts of terrorism” as including damage to property and disruption to any public service, for which an individual could be sentenced to 15 years in prison or even the death penalty. Thousands of protesters, political party leaders, journalists and human rights defenders were arrested and detained following the disputed November 2005 elections in which the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) retained political power. Ethiopia
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Ethiopia: Fears Over New Anti-Terror Law

Omaeyr Rado 23 July 2009 Addis Ababa — A little over 18 years ago, when the ruling Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) came to power, people were so eager to exercise democracy that even children started to challenge their parents saying “this is my democratic right”. Perhaps it was too good to last. Earlier this month a new anti-terror law was passed, granting sweeping powers to the state to detain people it deems threatening. It follows closely on the heels of legislation that severely restricted the operations of NGOs working human rights issues. When 17 years of armed struggle finally ended the dictatorial rule of Mengistu Haile Mariam and the Derg in 1991, the EPRDF started preaching democracy, equality and human rights. The party soon proved impatient with opposition of any kind. In January 1993, the government carried out a brutal crackdown on students at the Addis Ababa University (AAU) who were demonstrating against the referendum on Eritrea’s independence. The incident led to the death of at least one student and 85 injuries when live ammunition fired into a crowd of unarmed students by security forces. In April of the same year, the government dismissed 40 professors from the AAU, reportedly because they were deemed too critical. There followed the harassment of the Ethiopian Teacher’s Association (ETA), its top leaders imprisoned. Human Rights Watch accuses the police of gunning down the ETA’s acting director, Assefa Maru, in 1997. More recently, the 2005 election campaign – preceded by a loosening of controls that saw opposition political parties able to freely debate issues live on even state media – was followed by violent repression, despite the EPRDF scoring a resounding victory. The opposition won a record number of seats, but in limited parts of the country; elsewhere, they alleged, government repression and intimidation had prevented them from winning even more. Street protests in the capital, Addis Ababa, led the deaths of nearly 200 at the hands of security forces. Hundreds more were wounded and thousands arbitrarily detained, including many leading opposition politicians. A number of prominent private newspapers were closed, their owners and editors charged with genocide and treason. Several were sentenced to lengthy jail terms. Over almost two decades in power, the ruling party has maintained a tight grip on power. Its latest moves suggest this is not about to change. Several months ago, the Civil Society Organisations (CSO) law was approved despite an uproar from local activists and the international community. This law expressly limits “foreign” and “Ethiopian resident” CSOs – the latter defined as any Ethiopian CSO that obtains more than ten percent of its funding from sources outside the country – from doing any work related to human rights, governance, and a range of other issues. The law makes it easy for the state to refuse to register organisations. The Ethiopian government this week suspended 42 NGOs for “exceeding their mandate” in the southern part of the country. Kenyan newspaper The Daily Nation reported that the organisations had their licence revoked because, according to the local officials, they had supplied information to the United States State Department about human rights abuses in the area. The names of the organisations were not released, but are understood to include two local gender rights organisations and international humanitarian agency Médécins Sans Frontières.

Anti-terrorism law

With the ink barely dry on the CSO law, parliament has now approved the Anti-Terrorism Law, first crafted by the National Intelligence and Security Agency and experts from the Ministry of Justice and the Federal Police four years ago, and approved by the Council of Ministers in early June. The law is premised on an extremely broad and ambiguous definition of terrorist activity that could permit government to repress wide range of internationally-protected freedoms, and contains provisions that undermine fundamental due process rights, according to Human Rights Watch. The United Nations special rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights has stated that the concept of terrorism should be limited to acts committed with the intention of causing death or serious bodily injury, or the taking of hostages. Ethiopia’s new law defines terrorism in such a way that it includes acts that do not involve violence or injury to people, such as property crimes and disruption of public services. The penalties range from 15 years to life imprisonment or even a death sentence. The law also gives police powers of arrest, search and seizure without guarantees of due process. The law also contains ambiguous language against material support for terrorism. An analysis by HRW suggests that who even offered water or food to a political protester might find themselves charged with aiding terrorism under the new legislation. “This [law] is a legal cover for every unlawful action the government has been and is taking against political dissent and free press,” said Beyene Petros, chairman of the opposition United Ethiopian Democratic Forces (UEDF) party, which voted against the legislation. But, Beyene argues, even without this law, the “security forces have been above the law. They already make arbitrary arrests and stifle freedom of expression; yet the law intensifies this practice. “We objected to the fact that the law is against the country’s constitution and the issues it is planned to address are under the jurisdiction of the existing criminal codes of the country,” he said. “The country does not need this law.” Though his Ethiopian Democratic Party also voted against the law, Lidetu Ayalew, another opposition leader, believes Ethiopia needs some kind of anti-terror law because it has been a victim of various terrorist acts. In 2007, the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) took responsibility for an attack on Chinese run oil exploration field in Ogaden killing 74 people. Numerous people have been killed in other bombings and grenade attacks in Addis Ababa, Dire Dawa, and elsewhere in the country in recent years. The Ethiopian government has alleged that these attacks were carried out by armed opposition groups like the ONLF, the Oromo Liberation Front – both fighting for autonomy of various regions – as well as groups like Al-Itihad, which springs from Ehtiopia’s volatile neighbour Somalia. The government alleges all these groups are terrorist. However, aside from the ONLF’s attack on the oil installation, the popular view is that the government itself orchestrates these attacks to incriminate its oppositions; a charge government officials of course deny. Shimeles Kemal, deputy head of the Government Communication Affairs Office, told IPS that in the current globalised world, no country is insulated from the threat of terrorism. Fears Over New Anti-Terror Law in Ethiopia NEWS — Ethiopia: Govt Suspends 42 NGOs As Hunger Worsens PRESS RELEASE — Ethiopia: Anti-Terrorism Legislation Further Restricts Press “The normal court procedures will take the police more time than they have to put terrorist threats under control,” said Kemal. “By the time the police seek a court warrant, the damage might have taken place. This law is preventive and the police need the legal provision to effectively do their job. Besides, terrorist acts are very different and highly sophisticated from other crimes,” he said. The concerns of the EDP and the most of the rest of the opposition centre on the very broad definition of terrorism at the heart of the bill, which Lidetu says could serve to incarcerate opposition. “This means the police can simply arrest opposition members for choosing their preferred way to express their dissent including armed struggle or demonstration,” Lidetu told IPS ————————– Please Correct in the Video it is not the Derg regime that ruled Ethiopia since 1991  but that of Woyane, thank you..

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Nile Damming is the Best way of Killing it!!!

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Historic map of the River Nile by Piri Reis

The Nile came form the  semetic  “nahal” which means “river valley” , later “neilos” in Greek and “nilus” in Latin. Coptic piaro or phiaro in Ethiopian Abaye or the   Felege Gihon (Ghion river)according to the Bible. The Ancient Egyptians called the river Ar or Aur (black) because of the color of the sediment left after the river’s annual flood.

There is no Egypt without the Nile. Since “Egypt is the gift of the Nile.This epigram of Hecataeus, quoted first by Herodotus.

The Nile has a length of about 4,160 miles (6,695 kilometres).  Its average discharge is 3.1 million litres (680,000 gallons) per second. 87.13%  this water comes from Blue Nile of Ethiopia. he rest 13% comes from Ethiopia

In ancient Egypt, the Nile, and its delta, were worshiped as a god. The god Hapi, who came in the shape of a frog, represented the Nile delta. Several times throughout history, Egyptians have tried to unify the Nile valley under their rule by conquering the Sudan. The lands to the south of them that bordered the river were in constant danger. The Sudan was a part the reign of Queen Sheba later named Meroe,  The Romans  tried to invade the source of the Nile during the rule of Nero, and countless other times. This is because the Egyptians have always feared that one day the Nile’s waters would no longer reach their country. People believed, that since the flow of the Nile was so unpredictable, something had to have been affecting it. A legend says that during one particularly bad famine in Egypt, the Egyptian Sultan sent his ambassadors to the king of Ethiopia in order to plead with him not the obstruct the waters. A Scottish traveler in the 18th century recounted a story that the King of Ethiopia had sent a letter to the pasha in 1704 threatening to cut off the water. Given this fear it is quite natural that the Nile countries desire to secure their water supplies.

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As we move into the 21st century, attention has shifted to the question of how to best us the 80 cubic kilometers of water that the Nile annually transports from Equatorial Africa across the Sahara to the Mediterranean Sea. The answers to these questions will most affect Egypt, with its rapidly growing population of 65 million people almost totally dependent on the Nile. Population growth in Egypt is expected to outstrip the water resources of the Nile early in the 21st century. This problem will be greatly complicated by population and economic growth in the upstream nations of Sudan, Ethiopia, and Eritrea.

The Nile basin  includes parts of Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Congo (Kinshasa), Kenya, Uganda. Ancient Egypt could not have existed without the river Nile. Since rainfall is almost non-existent in Egypt, the floods provided the only source of moisture to sustain crops.nile1

Every year, heavy summer rain in the Ethiopian highlands, sent a torrent of water that overflowed the banks of the Nile. When the floods went down it left thick rich mud (black silt) which was excellent soil to plant seeds in after it had been ploughed.

The ancient Egyptians could grow crops only in the mud left behind when the Nile flooded. So they all had fields all along the River Nile.

Length: (From White Nile Source to Mouth) 6695km (4184 miles).

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Sources:

The White Nile: Lake Victoria, Uganda. The Blue Nile: Lake Tana, Ethiopia.

Countries: The Nile and its tributaries flow though nine countries. The White Nile flows though Uganda, Sudan, and Egypt. The Blue Nile starts in Ethiopia. Zaire, Kenya, Tanzanian, Rwanda, and Burundi all have tributaries, which flow into the Nile or into lake Victoria Nyanes.

Cities: The major cities that are located on the edge of the Nile and White Nile are: Cairo, Gondokoro, Khartoum, Aswan, Thebes/Luxor, Karnak, and the town of Alexandria lies near the Rozeta branch.

Major Dams: The major dams on the Nile are Roseires Dam, Sennar Dam, Aswan High Dam, and Owen Falls Dam.

Flow Rate: The Nile River’s average discharge is about 300 million cubic metres per day. To get a more accurate idea about how much water actually flows in the nile look at this image:
Atbara is the first town on the Nile, when no more smaller rivers join the nile futher down it.

To find out where Atbara is have a look at the maps on the maps page. Or click here to go directly to the correct map.

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Cubic metres * 35.31 = cubic feet.
Cubic feet * 7.481 = USA gallons
600 cubic metres = 21,186 cubic feet.
21,186 cu.feet = 156,776.4 USA gallons.

Flow Direction:

It puzzled the ancients why the amount of water flowing down the Nile in Egypt varied so much over the course of a year, particularly because almost no rain fell there. This puzzlement was compounded for the ancient Romans and Greeks because the Nile’s minimum flow was in winter and maximum flood occurred during summer.  This is in contradiction to  the European river flooding.

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The White Nile maintains a constant flow over the year, because its flow is doubly buffered. Seasonal variations are moderated, first because of storage in Central African lakes of Victoria and Albert and second because of evaporative losses in the Sudd, the world’s largest freshwater swamp. The Sudd is especially efficient in reducing annual variations in streamflow. Unusually wet years increase the area of the Sudd which leads to larger evaporative losses than during dry years, when the area of the Sudd is reduced. This even modulates the seasonal variations of the Sobat, which is a seasonal stream that flows west into the Sudd from Ethiopia. The result is that the White Nile issuing from the Sudd – south of Malakal – flows at about the same rate all year long. This steady stream keeps the Nile downstream from Khartoum flowing during the winter months, when the Blue Nile/Atbara system has dried up.

The Blue Nile-Atbara system is a completely different hydraulic regime. It responds to the wet season/dry season variation of the Ethiopian highlands. In the winter, when little rain falls in the highlands, the Atbara and Blue Nile dry up.But in the summer, when moist winds from the Indian Ocean cool as they climb up the Ethiopian highlands, bringing torrential rains to Ethiopia. Day after day the monsoon drenches the highlands, quickly filling the dry washes and canyons with red rushing water, which pours over the cliffs and down into torrents that ultimately join the Blue Nile or the Atbara. Look at the graphs for Rosieres, on the Blue Nile, and Atbara, at the mouth of the Atbara River. The Blue Nile and Atbara are some of the best examples that we have of seasonal streams. Notice how little water issues from these streams during winter and early Spring – most of the water during this time of year comes from the White Nile – but see how the Ethiopian streams increase in volume during the summer monsoons! During the summer, the White Nile’s contribution is insignificant, a drop in the bucket. The annual flood in Egypt is nothing more or less than the distant echo of the annual monsoon in Ethiopia. In this sense, Egypt is really the gift of the Indian Ocean.

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The same pattern is evident in the pattern for Aswan, only there is less water here due to evaporation of the Nile waters during its leisurely passage through the Sahara Desert. Water is lost due to evaporation – not to mention human usage – so that progressively less water flows in the Nile from Arbara, the Nile’s last tributary, all the way to the Mediterranean Sea.

800px-aswan_damThe Aswan High Dam is 3,830 metres long, 980 metres wide at the base, 40 metres wide at the crest and 111 metres tall. It contains 43 million cubic metres of material. At maximum, 11,000 cubic metres of water can pass through the dam every second. There are further emergency spillways for an extra 5000 cubic metres per second and the Toshka Canal links the reservoir to the Toshka Depression. The reservoir, named Lake Nasser, is 550 km long and 35 km at its widest with a surface area of 5,250 square kilometres. It holds 111 cubic kilometres of water. owenfall

Unfortunately this dam has caused a big change to the lifes of farmers downstream from the dam. Usually when the river flooded once a year before the dam was built. It deposited fertile soil from upstream on its banks downstream. This washed up soil was extremely furtile, and renewed itself every year at in flood season. But now, since the dam was built the annual flood has been stopped. Causing all the farmers downstream to have to use fertilizers to grow their crops, which makes it more expensive.

The Merowe High Dam, also known as Merowe Multi-Purpose Hydro Project or Hamdab Dam, is a large construction project in Merowe Town in northern Sudan, about 350 km north of the capital Khartoum. It is situated on the river Nile, close to the 4th Cataract where the river divides into multiple smaller branches with large islands in between.merowe_dam1 Merowe is a city about 40 km downstream from the construction site at Hamdab. The main purpose of the dam will be the generation of electricity. Its dimensions make it the largest contemporary hydropower project in Africa.500px-merowe-sm

The creation of the reservoir lake of Marawe  will increase the surface area of the Nile by about 700 km². Under the climatic conditions at the site, additional evaporation losses of up to 1,500,000,000 m³ per year can be expected. This corresponds to about 8% of the total amount of water allocated to Sudan in the Nile Waters Treaty

The Wrong Climate for Big Dams

December 1, 2009

by Lori Pottinger
Why Africa Should Shun Hydropower Megaprojects
From World Rivers Review December 2009

Africa is the least electrified place in the world. An estimated 550 million Africans have no access to electricity. Nearly half of African countries have a power crisis. Solving this huge problem is made more difficult by widespread poverty, and because most Africans live far from the grid, greatly adding to the cost of bringing electricity to them.

In late October 2009, Africans joined a global day of protest to call attention to the need to keep carbon at 350 ppm. (350.org)
Under these challenging conditions, there are no second chances for electrifying Africa: it must be done right the first time. Yet many of the continent’s energy planners are pinning their hopes for African electrification on something as ephemeral as the rain, by pushing for a grid of large hydro dams across the continent. The World Bank has joined the fray, with its latest World Development Report calling for a major hydropower rollout for the continent. And dam-building nations like China and Brazil have descended, on the hunt for lucrative contracts.

The failure of this vision lies in the unpredictable nature of Africa’s rivers, a situation that will be made worse by a changing climate. New dams are being built with no examination of how climate change will impact them. Many existing dams are already suffering from drought-caused power shortages. Climate change is expected to dramatically alter the hydrology of African rivers, creating both worse droughts and more dangerous floods (the latter causing safety concerns for poorly maintained or operated dams). At the same time, many African nations face huge water-security problems. In this climate, the proposed frenzy of African dam building could be literally disastrous.

The oft-repeated sound-bite that only 5-8% of the continent’s hydro potential has been tapped is an incomplete message at best. The other side of the coin is that Africa is already dangerously hydro-dependent. Meanwhile, Africa has not developed even a tiny fraction of a percent of its available solar, wind, geothermal, or biomass power. While large dams have done little to bridge the “electricity divide” that has left so many Africans in the dark, renewable energy projects can be scaled to meet the needs of the average village (or, for that matter, urban area). At a time when global warming threatens to make the continent’s rivers even less reliable for large hydro projects, and their waters more precious for other uses, donors and governments should be looking to diversify the energy mix.
Risky Rivers

In late October 2009, Africans joined a global day of protest to call attention to the need to keep carbon at 350 ppm.
Past hydrological records, upon which dozens of new large dams are being planned, unfortunately has little bearing on future hydrology. The economic impacts of hydro-vulnerability will be felt both in the costs of power cuts upon industrial output, and the cost of wasted investments in non-performing dams. The economic risks of unviable dams will compound the risk already being taken by so many African nations: that of over-dependency on hydropower to supply electricity. Already, the majority of sub-Saharan states get most of their electricity from rivers. (At least two nations have begun to reverse this dependency: Tanzania, which is now developing its gas fields, and Kenya, which has become an African leader in geothermal power, and is looking to develop wind farms.) The other climate risk is that many large dams seriously harm downstream riverine communities and ecosystems, which will make climate adaptation that much harder for the many millions of Africans who depend directly on rivers and lakes for their livelihoods, food and water supply. Like the fairy tale that warns of “killing the goose that lays the golden egg,” African dam planners are putting at risk irreplaceable “golden egg” resources such as clean water supply, agriculturally important sediments that replenish floodplains, riverine forests and fisheries. Some dam planners agree that African hydroelectric schemes may be plagued by variable rainfall patterns, but believe that they can “play the odds” and just build more dams, across a wider region, and connect them all with transmission systems that would allow power to be traded to places where drought has crippled the power supply. Yet it’s hard to sell electricity from empty reservoirs.

Climate scientists predict truly alarming changes to various African waterways. UK government researcher Sir Nicholas Stern recently predicted that a 3-6 degree Celsius increase in temperature in the next few years will result in a 30% to 50% reduction in water availability in Southern Africa. Scientists have discovered evidence that droughts in West Africa lasted centuries in the past. Their 2009 study suggests global warming could create conditions that favor extreme droughts across much of Western Africa, home to Africa’s biggest reservoir (Akosombo’s Lake Volta), among others. East Africa has been drying since the mid-1980s, a trend that is already shaving percentage points off GDP for the region’s states. A new report, “Large Scale Hydropower, Renewable Energy and Adaptation to Climate Change” by AFREPREN states, “Kenya’s GDP is equivalent to US$29.5 billion; the estimated loss during the aforementioned drought-induced power crisis was about 1.45% of GDP. This translates to US$442 million lost which could have been used to install 295 MW of new renewable power capacity.”

Most of the Nile Basin states get more than 70% of their electricity from hydro. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change notes that there has already been “a reduction in runoff of 20% between 1972 and 1987” in the Nile, and “significant interruptions in hydropower generation as a result of severe droughts.” Even though some parts of Africa are expected to receive more rain, that increase is expected to be overwhelmed by an increase in temperature across the continent, which will lead to higher evaporation rates.

A 2006 study by climate experts at the University of Cape Town revealed that even a small decrease in Africa’s rainfall could drastically reduce river flows, affecting a quarter of the continent. For example, a 10% reduction in rain over the Johannesburg area could lead to a 70% drop in the Orange River’s levels. In parts of northern Africa, river water levels would drop more than 50%. “It’s like erasing large sections of the rivers from the map,” said Maarten de Wit, who headed up the study.

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Nile from the space 2008

Energy Insurance

African nations have many better alternatives to large-scale hydro. A few examples:

Geothermal: As the UN notes, Africa has an abundance of geothermal potential. Says Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director: “There are least 4,000MW of electricity ready for harvesting along the Rift. It is time to take this technology off the back burner in order to power livelihoods, fuel development and reduce dependence on polluting and unpredictable fossil fuels. From the place where human-kind took its first faltering steps is emerging one of the answers to its continued survival on this planet.” UN figures show that Africa has tapped less than 0.6 percent of its geothermal. Kenya is the exception, with 10% of its electricity now coming from geothermal.

Solar: Africa’s potential is nearly limitless. A new study co-sponsored by Justiça Ambiental and International Rivers shows that Mozambique’s huge and virtually unexploited solar potential is about 1.49 million GWh – thousands of times more than the country’s current annual energy demand. And this power is distributed evenly across the country. Exploiting this energy would benefit the more than 80% of Mozambique’s population that is now off-grid.

Wind: Wind potential is also high in many parts of Africa, and is finally beginning to be developed (new large projects are underway in Kenya and Egypt, for example). Co-gen: The production of electricity from steam, heat, or other energy sources as a by-product of another industrial process is well-suited to many African nations. AFRPREN estimates that Africa could get 20% of its electricity from co-gen. Mauritius now gets almost half of its electricity from co-gen plants using mostly sugar cane waste.

Efficiency: Energy efficiency is critical for all nations but – perhaps surprisingly – even more so for poor nations where energy use is just starting to grow. Setting efficiency standards early can help make every dollar invested in energy supply go that much farther, by reducing the cost of systems needed to power villages and towns, and freeing up existing power supply for other uses. The McKinsey Institute estimates that developing countries could save an estimated $600 billion a year by 2020 by investing $90 billion a year in energy efficient cars, appliances and production methods.

In late October 2009, Africans joined a global day of protest to call attention to the need to keep carbon at 350 ppm. (350.org)
Diversifying Africa’s energy sector would help its climate-adaptation efforts in key ways: it would de-emphasize reliance on erratic rainfall for electricity, reduce conflict over water resources, and protect river-based ecosystems and the many benefits they bring. And it would share the energy wealth with the half a billion Africans now living in the dark.

The world’s richest, highest-carbon-emitting nations owe it to Africa to help it develop its clean energy resources – projects that will help in climate-change adaptation efforts, rather than hinder them. Healthy rivers are priceless. Let’s not let Africa learn that the hard way.

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New Report Confirms Dams are Draining Lake Victoria

International Rivers Network

A new report by a Kenya-based hydrologic engineer confirms that over-releases from two dams on the Nile in Uganda are a primary cause of the severe drops in Lake Victoria in recent years. The report, Connections Between Recent Water Level Drops in Lake Victoria, Dam Operations and Drought (1), finds that about 55% of the lake’s drop during 2004-05 is due to the Owen Falls dams (now known as Nalubaale and Kiira dams) releasing excessive amounts of water from the lake. The natural rock formation controlling Lake Victoria’s outflow was replaced by the first Owen Falls dam in the 1950s. The second dam was built with World Bank funding in the 1990s.

The lake, which has dropped 1.2 meters since 2003, was, at the end of 2005, at its lowest level since 1951. The receding shoreline has caused serious harm to water supply systems, boat operators and farmers. It is estimated that the lake catchment supports about one-third of the total population of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. (2)

The new study, which analyzed recent reports produced for the Government of Uganda and other publicly available information, comes to the following conclusions: The Owen Falls dams have been releasing more water than allowed by the operating rule agreed by Uganda and Egypt. This “Agreed Curve” is intended to ensure that the releases through the dams correspond to the natural flow of the river before damming. The dam operators’ permits dictate allowable flows based on this agreement. Based on the current Lake Victoria hydrology, as well as observations from the past 100+ years, the Owen Falls dams are likely over-sized. The lack of public information on dam releases, dam operations and river flows makes it difficult for independent experts to soundly judge the performance of existing and proposed hydroelectric projects on the Victoria Nile. With experts concluding that the future climate will likely involve drier conditions, lower lake levels, and lower downstream river flows, the lack of adequate stream flows will be exacerbated, making it increasingly more difficult for Victoria Nile dams to produce their projected power. This calls into question Uganda’s reliance on hydropower on the Victoria Nile as its primary source of electricity.

Possible climate change must be a major consideration in the development of more dams on the Nile. As the report states, “It is unknown if Lake Victoria will recharge to the high levels and outflow experienced during 1961-2000, and if such a recharge could occur, whether it would be in the next years or only in 100 years. Viable non-hydro, or at least hydro not on the Victoria Nile, power generating alternatives must therefore be considered for Uganda.” Until the recent addition of emergency fossil-fuel plants, Uganda has been almost entirely dependent upon hydropower for its electricity needs.

The World Bank insisted in the 1980s that a second dam at Owen Falls, called the Owen Falls Extension Project, was Uganda’s “least-cost option,” and provided funding for the second dam and repair of the original dam (3). The extension project was engineered by the Canadian firm Acres International, which based its design on hydrological analysis that was considered too optimistic by many other experts at the time. The project did not undergo an environmental impact assessment; indeed, World Bank documents stated: “Extension of the existing plant at Owen Falls will have minimal environmental impact because the project will not affect downstream hydrology or fisheries.” (4)

Frank Muramuzi, of the Ugandan NGO National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE), said: “This dam complex is now pulling the plug on Lake Victoria, with implications for millions. The blame is on three parties: The government for refusing to listen to any views about problems with these dams; Acres International, for suspect technical advice, and the World Bank for backing the project in the first place.”

Lori Pottinger of the US group International Rivers Network said: “The amazing incompetence of the World Bank and Acres reveals the kind of hubris that fuels so many large dam projects. Africa cannot afford the Bank’s brand of high-risk projects any longer.” For more information:


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Ethiopia Plagued: By World Acclaimed Dictatorship, Climate Change, disease … land grab

Governments across Africa are leasing land to foreign investors who use it to grow food to compensate for their own deficit, or for export. Officials in Ethiopia hope that the investment can help improve agriculture, replacing ox-and-plough with tractors, but some are concerned about whether the deals benefit the lessors.———- ————————–

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Nearly 5 million Ethiopians will need food aid in first half of 2010, UN reports


8 December 2009 – Some 4.8 million Ethiopians will require emergency food and related aid costing $270 million for the first six months of 2010 in a country already plagued by prolonged drought and crop failure, according to United Nations estimates released today.“Despite the collaborative efforts of the Government and humanitarian partners to address ongoing humanitarian challenges in Ethiopia, humanitarian needs are expected to remain,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said, citing a joint plan led by Ethiopian authorities, UN agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and donors.Food requirement stands at 529,148 tons. Considering the possible carry-over stock from 2009 and confirmed pledges available for 2010, totalling to 272,612 tons, the net food requirement for regular relief is estimated to be 256,536 tons, at $195.2 million.A further 26,500 tons of supplementary food, amounting to $24 million, is also required, while $50.9 million is needed for non-food requirements in heath and nutrition, water and sanitation, and agriculture and livestock sectors.In October this year Ethiopia needed an additional $175 million to help feed 6.2 million people, a number that had risen steadily from 4.9 million in January. The food security situation had already been weakened by poor rains in 2008 and the impact of the high food prices globally. 

Ethiopian millions ‘risk hunger’

By Martin Plaut Africa analyst, BBC News

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Malnutrition rates among children are rising quickly

Six million children in Ethiopia are at risk of acute malnutrition following the failure of rains, the UN children’s agency, Unicef, has warned. More than 60,000 children in two Ethiopian regions require immediate specialist feeding just to survive, Unicef says.The situation is expected to worsen in the next few months as crops fail.Aid agencies in Ethiopia say they are short of funds as donors concentrate on the emergencies in China and Burma.’Massive effort needed’The agencies have fresh pictures showing listless children with distended stomachs – the tell-tale signs of acute malnutrition.”In just one clinic we have more than 250 children who will only survive with immediate treatment,” said David Noguera, head of the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) emergency unit.”This is absolutely alarming, we need a massive effort,” he said.Paulette Jones, of the World Food Programme (WFP), said a combination of events had led to the situation.”We have drought – a really poor rainy season – and, of course, we have high food prices worldwide.”The WFP estimates it needs to raise $147m (£75m) to tackle Ethiopia’s needs.”We are hopeful that donors will be forthcoming,” said Ms Jones.Other aid workers are not so confident. They say the money just is not arriving, with donors concentrating on the disasters in Burma and China.The UN estimates it currently has a shortfall of 180,000 tonnes of food – and presently has no promises to meet this target.

Ethiopia’s farmland in high demand

The ultimate crop rotation

Lured by a new business model, wealthy nations flock to farmland in Ethiopia, locking in food supplies grown half a world awayph2009102103304_stmb Ethiopia’s farmland in high demand Governments across Africa are leasing land to foreign investors who use it to grow food to compensate for their own deficit, or for export. Officials in Ethiopia hope that the investment can help improve agriculture, replacing ox-and-plough with tractors, but some are concerned about whether the deals benefit the lessors. » LAUNCH VIDEO PLAYER By Stephanie McCrummen Washington Post Foreign Service Monday, November 23, 2009BAKO, ETHIOPIA — In recent months, the Ethiopian government began marketing abroad one of the hottest commodities in an increasingly crowded and hungry world: farmland. This Story The ultimate crop rotation Crop-sourcing———————————————–“Why Attractive?” reads one glossy poster with photos of green fields and a map outlining swaths of the country available at bargain-basement prices. “Vast, fertile, irrigable land at low rent. Abundant water resources. Cheap labor. Warmest hospitality.”This impoverished and chronically food-insecure Horn of Africa nation is rapidly becoming one of the world’s leading destinations for the booming business of land leasing, by which relatively rich countries and investment firms are securing 40-to-99-year contracts to farm vast tracts of land.Governments across Southeast Asia, Latin America and especially Africa are seizing the chance to attract this new breed of investors, wining and dining executives and creating land-leasing agencies and land catalogues to showcase their offerings of earth. In Africa alone, experts estimate that about 50 million acres — roughly the size of Nebraska — have been leased in the past two years.The trend is driven in part by last year’s global food crisis. Relatively wealthy countries are shoring up their food supplies by growing staple crops abroad. The desert kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for instance, is shifting wheat production to Africa. The government of India, where land is crowded and over farmed, is offering incentives to companies to carve out mega farms across the continent.Increasingly, though, purely profit-seeking companies are snatching up land, making a simple, if somewhat grim, calculation. As one Saudi-backed businessman here put it, “The population of the world is increasing dramatically, so land and food supplies will be short, demand will be higher and prices will rise.”The scale and pace of the land scramble have alarmed policymakers and others concerned about the implications for food security in countries such as Ethiopia, where officials recently appealed for food aid for about 6 million people as drought devastates parts of East Africa. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is in the midst of a food security summit in Rome, where some of the 62 heads of state attending are to discuss a code of conduct to govern land deals, which are being struck with little public input.”These contracts are pretty thin; no safeguards are being introduced,” said David Hallam, a deputy director at the FAO. “You see statements from ministers where they’re basically promising everything with no controls, no conditions.”The harshest critics of the practice conjure images of poor Africans starving as food is hauled off to rich countries. Some express concern that decades of industrial farming will leave good land spoiled even as local populations surge. And skeptics also say the political contexts cannot be ignored.”We don’t trust this government,” said Merera Gudina, a leading opposition figure here who accuses Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of using the land policy to hold on to power. “We are afraid this government is buying diplomatic support by giving away land.” But many experts are cautiously hopeful, saying that big agribusiness could feed millions by industrializing agriculture in countries such as Ethiopia, where about 80 percent of its 75 million people are farmers who plow their fields with oxen. “If these deals are negotiated well, I tell you, it will change the dynamics of the food economy in this country,” said Mafa Chipeta, the FAO’s representative in Ethiopia, dismissing the worst-case scenarios. “I can’t believe Ethiopia or any other government would allow their country to be used like an empty womb. The human spirit would not allow it.”

Somalian Syndrome V :- Famined, Damned & Hopeless of the Horn transformed themselves to Bagdadi type suicide bomb :- The Horn of Africa Dictators in High Alert !!!

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AL-Shabab fighters outside Mogadishu, Somalia (file image)A man injured in the explosion is assisted.

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Islamists deny Somali bomb claimsInjured man led from the scene of the attack

Friday, 1 December 2006, 14:48 GMT

A government official has blamed al-Qaedasomalia-dec-2009

The Islamist group which controls much of southern Somalia has rejected accusations that it was behind the car bomb on the government base, Baidoa.

Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) leader Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys has condemned the attack, in which at least nine people died.

Government officials have accused the UIC of organising Thursday’s blast.

There are fears of widespread conflict between the government and the UIC and their regional allies.

The government says they have arrested three more suspects following raids in houses and hotels in Baidoa, after three people were arrested on Thursday.

A government source says one of those arrested lost a leg in the explosion and another is a woman.

Police have tightened security around the town and several cars from the Islamist-held capital, Mogadishu, were not allowed to enter Baidoa.

Evidence

A policeman told the BBC that a female suicide bomber wearing a veil blew herself up at a check-point on the outskirts of the only town under government control.

“There were flames everywhere,” an eye-witness said.

Ethiopian convoy ‘ambushed’

Two of those killed were police officers.

The government says it was a suicide bombing but there is no independent verification of this.

“All indications are that they were trying to bring the explosives into Baidoa and their motive could be killing government officials, but we expect to get a clearer picture from the interrogation,” Information Minister Ali Jama told the AFP news agency.

Some officials have suggested that the attackers were foreign members of the al-Qaeda network.

But Mr Aweys denied the charges.

“This is a baseless allegation. They have no evidence to say the Islamic courts are behind this,” he told the AP news agency.

Ethiopia resolution

Interim President Abdullahi Yusuf survived a suicide car bomb attack in Baidoa two months ago, which killed his brother.

He said they were foreign members of al-Qaeda.

The UIC denies links to al-Qaeda but is opposed to the government and has threatened to launch a holy war to drive Ethiopian troops out of the country.

Ethiopia admits it has hundreds of military trainers helping the government but denies they are taking part in any conflict.

The Ethiopian parliament on Thursday passed a resolution authorising the government to take all necessary and legal steps against any invasion by UIC.

The resolution said there was a clear and present danger to Ethiopia from the UIC.

Ethiopia’s rival Eritrea denies claims that it backs the UIC.

At least 19 people have been killed including three government ministers after an explosion ripped through the Shamo Hotel in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, during a graduation ceremony.

A suicide bomber disguised as a woman carried out Thursday’s attack at the hotel during a crowded graduation ceremony for medical students from a local university, Dahir Mohamud Gelle, the Somali information minister, said.

Witnesses said the attack appeared to have targeted government officials.

It is the deadliest attack to hit Mogadishu for several months. No-one has yet claimed responsibility.

Of the three ministers killed in the blast, one was a woman – Qamar Aden Ali, the health minister. Ibrahim Hassan Adow, the minister for higher education, and Ahmed Abdullahi Wayel, the minister for education, also died.

Also among the dead were two journalists and two professors. At least 50 students were reportedly injured.

Saleban Olad Roble, the Somali sports minister, was also injured in the explosion.

Thursday’s attack is the second time this year members of government have been killed in a suicide bombing.

In June, the national security minister died in a suicide bombing that killed at least 24 people. Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for that attack.

Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnston’s reports.

Somali Bomb Kills Government Ministers

In Mogadishu…

MOGADISHU, Somalia — A suicide bomber disguised as a woman attacked a graduation ceremony in Somalia on Thursday, turning a rare reason to celebrate into carnage that killed at least 22 people – including medical students, doctors and three government ministers.

The blast was blamed on Islamic militants who have shown a rising ability to carry out sophisticated large-scale bombings against high-profile targets – and highlighted the inability of Somalia’s weak government to protect even the small section of the capital it controls.

“Today should have been a day of celebration – not mourning,” said Somalia’s ambassador to Kenya, Mohamed Ali Nur. “The hopes of many parents who eagerly awaited their sons’ graduation were recklessly dashed … cutting short the lives of ambitious Somalis.”

Several hundred people had gathered in the Shamo Hotel to watch the 43 medical, engineering and computer science students from Benadir University receive their diplomas when the blast ripped through the festively decorated ballroom.

Amateur video of the attack obtained by AP Television News showed the dead, including at least three journalists, lying in pools of blood amid the sound of wails and screams from the wounded. Soldiers, their AK-47 rifles slung over their shoulders, picked through the wreckage with their hands as survivors climbed over the debris of the bombed-out room.

The attack targeted one of Somalia’s most important efforts to extricate itself from anarchy and violence, explaining the presence of so many top government officials. The graduating medical students were only the second class to receive diplomas from the medical school.

“The loss of our ministers is disastrous, but it is an outrage to target the graduation of medical students and kill those whose only aim in life was to help those most in need in our stricken country,” Somali Prime Minister Omar Sharmarke said.

Before last year’s graduation, almost two decades had passed since anyone earned a medical degree in Somalia. At the December 2008 ceremony, graduates proudly hoisted their diplomas into the air.

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——–(CNN) — A male suicide bomber dressed in women’s clothing killed three members of Somalia’s U.N.-backed interim government and 16 others Thursday when he detonated at a medical school graduation ceremony in Mogadishu, government officials and witnesses said.

The Transitional Federal Government said Education Minister Abdullahi Wayel, Health Minister Qamar Aden and Higher Education Minister Ibrahim Hassan Adow were among the dead after the bomber attacked Banadir University’s medical school commencement. The African Union, which leads a peacekeeping mission in Somalia, put the death toll at 19.

The victims also included nine students and two doctors, according to a professor at Banadir University, while journalists said two of their colleagues died in the blast. In addition, Sports Minister Suleman Olad Roble was hospitalized in critical condition, his relatives told local media.

Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed blamed the Islamist rebel group Al-Shabaab for the attack and displayed what he said was the body of the bomber for reporters, a local journalist who attended the news conference told CNN.

The body the president displayed had a beard. The president also showed the remains of the suicide belt and shreds of a hijab — a garment worn by some Muslim women to reflect modesty — at the news conference, according to the journalist, whom CNN is not naming for security reasons.

At the United Nations, the Security Council condemned the bombing as an act of terrorism against “people dedicated to building a peaceful, stable and prosperous future for the people of Somalia.” It urged a “thorough investigation” and expressed hope that those responsible would “be brought swiftly to justice.”

“The Security Council expresses its deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of those killed and to those injured in the attack, as well as to the Transitional Federal Government and the people of Somalia,” the council’s current president, Burkina Faso’s U.N. Ambassador Michel Kafando, said Thursday.

Video of the graduation ceremony showed Dr. Osman Dufle, the country’s former health minister, speaking as the camera begins to shake — apparently from the explosion. Afterward, Dufle told journalists that he saw a person dressed in black moving through the audience just before the blast, according to the Radio Mogadishu journalist.

Al-Shabaab is made up of former allies of Ahmed, once a leader of the Islamist movement that briefly held power in Mogadishu in 2006. Adow, a Somali-American, served as the foreign secretary of the Islamic Courts Union when it held Mogadishu.

But while Ahmed and other former members of the ICU accepted a U.N.-brokered peace agreement with the government they once fought, Al-Shabaab — which the United States says has links to al Qaeda — has rejected the peace agreement and has waged a bloody campaign against the transitional government.

The African Union’s peacekeeping mission AMISOM condemned Thursday’s attack. It vowed to “spare no efforts to ensure that the perpetrators of this act and such heinous crimes against humanity being carried out in Somalia” will be brought to justice.

The journalists killed were Mohamed Amiin Abdullah of Shabelle Media Network and freelance cameraman Hassan Ahmed Hagi, who worked closely with the network.

CNN regularly works with Shabelle Media.

The African Union condemned the attack, saying it would “spare no efforts to ensure that perpetrators of this act and such heinous crimes against humanity being carried out in Somalia” will be brought to justice.

The National Union of Somali Journalists also condemned the attack and said it brought the number of journalists killed in the country this year to eight.

Eritrea, in the Horn of Africa’s fallen states Kaleidoscope…

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Friday November 20, 2009

Move at U.N. to sanction Eritrea over Somalia links

By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – A draft U.N. Security Council resolution calls for an arms embargo against Eritrea and travel bans and asset freezes for members of its government and military for aiding Islamist insurgents in Somalia. The resolution, obtained by Reuters on Thursday, was drafted by temporary Security Council member Uganda and has been circulated to other members of the 15-nation panel, U.N. diplomats said. The United States and other council members accuse Eritrea of supplying al Shabaab rebels with money and weapons as they fight to topple the fragile U.N.-backed transitional government of Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, the official leader of the virtually lawless Horn of Africa nation. The fighting in Somalia has killed nearly 19,000 civilians since the start of 2007 and driven 1.5 million from their homes. Among the measures called for in the draft is a ban on all sales to Asmara of “weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment, and spare parts.” The draft also calls for a ban on providing Eritrea with “technical assistance, training, financial and other assistance, related to the military activities.” The Security Council, African Union (AU) and United States have all warned Asmara against destabilizing Somalia. Eritrea denies supporting al Shabaab and has said that the threat of U.N. sanctions is of “no concern at all.” A U.N. arms monitoring body — which was set up to record violations of a 1992 arms embargo on Somalia — has said Asmara was sending plane- and boatloads of munitions to Somali rebels, as well as providing them with logistical support. It was not clear when the council would vote on the resolution. Diplomats said it would need to be revised if it was to avoid a veto from China and Russia, which dislike sanctions in general. The resolution would authorize U.N. member states to inspect “all cargo to and from Somalia and Eritrea” via land and sea if there were grounds to suspect that the cargo included banned items. It would also impose a travel ban and freeze the assets of the “Eritrean political and military leadership” and other Eritrean individuals and firms suspected of supporting the hard-line Islamist rebels. Somalia has been mired in chaos for nearly two decades and there is little sign the latest attempt to establish central government is proving any more successful than the 14 previous efforts since a dictator was ousted in 1991.

Eritrea warns West against imposing sanctions

Thu Nov 26, 2009 1:16pm GMT
* U.N. reviewing sanctions against Asmara * Isaias says Somalia efforts are failing By Jeremy Clarke ASMARA, Nov 26 (Reuters) – Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki said the international community would regret moves to impose sanctions on the country, a government website said on Thursday. The U.N. Security Council is reviewing draft plans for punitive measures against the Red Sea state, which could include an arms embargo, travel bans and asset freezes for members of Eritrea’s government and military. The Asmara authorities are accused of backing an insurgency in Somalia by funnelling funds and weapons to rebels battling that country’s U.N.-backed transitional government. “The distorted and baseless anti-Eritrea accusations and intended measures in connection with the Somali issue would be a resort the authors and implementers stand to regret,” state-run website shabait.com quoted the president as saying. “There is no reason at all for Eritrea to send arms to Somalia where there exists huge arsenal of armaments for a long time and is still the centre of arms sales.” The president was critical of recent attempts to impose peace in the anarchic country. “The course being pursued by the international community in general and the forces directly involved in the Somali issue in particular has failed to bear any fruitful outcome,” he said. The draft proposes a ban on all sales to Asmara of “weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment, and spare parts”. It would also impose a travel ban and freeze the assets of political and military leaders and other Eritrean individuals and firms suspected of backing the hardline Islamist rebels. Some analysts fear sanctions would punish a population already hit by drought and the global economic crisis, and that it may prove a rallying cry for the government. But one Western diplomat defended the proposed measures. “They strike the right note between being too egregious to enforce upon a poor country, and being too soft to put any pressure on the government,” the diplomat said. “We shouldn’t underestimate the travel bans and asset freezes, this economy relies on the financial and moral support of the diaspora, which requires local officials drumming up support in other countries and carrying money back in.” Fighting in Somalia has killed nearly 19,000 civilians since the start of 2007 and driven 1.5 million from their homes. (Editing by Daniel Wallis and Victoria Main) ((Email: nairobi.newsroom@reuters.com; tel +254 20 222 4717)) (For more Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: africa.reuters.com/)

———- ————– Mail & Guardian Online Oct 08 2008

Eritrea slams US over arms ban

Eritrea — in a government statement sent to Agence France-Presse on Wednesday — slammed the United States for imposing an arms ban over concerns that the Red Sea state was aiding terrorists in the region. Washington announced the ban on Monday, accusing Asmara of supporting “terrorist groups” in Somalia. “This unwarranted measure is purely prompted by the frustration of the US administration with the misguided policies it has been pursuing in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and the Sudan,” the Eritrean Foreign Ministry said. Washington has in the past threatened to add Eritrea to its list of rogue states, which includes countries such as Iran, Syria, North Korea and Cuba. “US authorities could not substantiate the unfounded accusations they levelled against Eritrea in the past as a sponsor of terrorism. In the event, they have concocted this indirect ruse as a last-ditch effort to cover up their blunder,” the statement added. Ties between the two have been frosty over the past few years, with Asmara accusing the US of backing arch-foe Ethiopia in its border dispute with Addis Ababa, and Washington arguing that the small African state was backing Islamist groups in the region, an allegation denied by Eritrea. “In our region, groups and elements that the United States often dubs as terrorists are, in reality, those that Washington itself, and its surrogates in the Horn of Africa, employ for subversive activities,” it said. Last year, Eritrea banned USAid from operating in the country and imposed curbs on US diplomats in the country. In response, Washington closed Eritrea’s consulate in Oakland, California. — Sapa-AFP —————– ————-

Eritrea: Africa’s version of North Korea?

November 10, 2009

In this lonely corner of the world, the first sign of distress is the luggage. When one of the few international flights that are still operating here touched down one recent afternoon, the returning passengers emerged from baggage claim as if from a big shopping trip. Old metal trolleys squealed under the weight of mundane items: tires, a laptop computer, tubs of detergent and duffel bags crammed so tightly with food that tincans bulged through the fabric. The needs are acute in Eritrea, a narrow shard of sand and rock along the Red Sea that’s presided over by one of Africa‘s most secretive regimes. As its quixotic experiment in economic self-reliance falters, the Ohio-sized country of 5 million has slipped into its deepest political isolation in its 16 years of independence. The United States and others accuse President Isaias Afwerki of funneling arms and money to Islamist insurgents in Somalia and have threatened to slap him with sanctions. Analysts say Isaias is bent on wresting influence from Ethiopia – Eritrea’s large southern neighbor and adversary in a 30-year liberation struggle – and is backing several rebel groups across the chaotic Horn of Africa. Who needs allies? In a rare interview, Isaias dismissed the allegations as “fabrications” by Western interests – including his favorite bogeyman, the CIA – that traditionally have sided with Ethiopia. The pariah label has reinforced his belligerent attitude toward a world that long ignored Eritrea’s cries for independence, and one in which he now seems to have just one remaining friend, the wealthy Persian Gulf emirate of Qatar. “Why would you want to have allies?” the 63-year-old president told McClatchy. “It’s a sign of weakness.” A gruff, imposingly tall former guerrilla with a college professor’s wardrobe and a Ron Burgundy moustache, Isaias helped lead the liberation war and has never let go of power. A decade after a devastating border flare-up with Ethiopia that remains unresolved, he’s never held elections, banned opposition groups and independent media, and reportedly banished thousands of people to remote desert prisons where they languish without trial in “harsh and life-threatening conditions,” according to a State Department human rights report last year. In recent years, Isaias has seized U.N. World Food Program stockpiles and expelled or blocked most international relief organizations, claiming that his arid nation could produce enough food to feed all its people. Yet after consecutive poor harvests, and amid one of the worst hunger crises in East Africa in decades, the U.N. Food andAgriculture Organization warned last month that as many as two-thirds of Eritreans may be malnourished. Isaias rejected the report – “We have no shortage,” he said – but humanitarian groups say the government blocks them from accessing the areas that are thought to be the most affected. In the capital, Asmara, more and more children in frayed clothes and splotchy skin are begging on the streets, hinting at desperation in the countryside. “A year or two ago, you never saw that,” a diplomat said. “It means the safety net is failing.” Indefinite military service Perched atop a 7,600-foot plateau, sun-bathed Asmara is one of the continent’s safest and most alluring capitals, with wide, palm-fringed streets and splashes of colorful modernist architecture left over from Italian colonial rule. Below the surface, however, beats constant fear. No Eritreans would be quoted by name criticizing the president. The government, which some have likened to an African North Korea, controls people’s lives through a program of forced national service that requires all citizens to undergo military training and then assigns them indefinitely to army posts or civilian jobs, paying token wages. Men and women younger than 50 rarely get permission to leave the country, effectively meaning that the entire able-bodied population is on reserve duty. People who resist the service routinely are imprisoned and tortured, as documented in a 96-page report this year by Human Rights Watch, which found that Eritrean authorities had issued shoot-to-kill orders for anyone caught trying to jump the border without permission. “It’s for generations that we’re trying to build a nation and build an economy, and that requires sacrifice,” Isaias said. “National service may not be liked by everybody, even by the government, but it’s a necessity.” Surviving on remittances Yet even with these draconian measures, the country remains far from self-reliant. One-third of the economy, according to some estimates, consists of money sent home by Eritreans living overseas. The prodigious shopping on display at the airport – all carried by elderly travelers, the only ones eligible for exit visas – also suggests that Isaias’ gambit is failing. “People are losing patience everyday ”

Eritrea president says no hunger in 2010

13 Nov 2009 08:36:00 GMT
Source: Reuters
* All trade and investment permits reviewed next year * Aid agencies dispute President’s no hunger claim By Jeremy Clarke ASMARA, Nov 13 (Reuters) – President Isaias Afwerki said Eritrea would not suffer from hunger and food shortages in 2010, a government website reported. Hunger levels in Eritrea are ranked among the worst in the world by humanitarian organisations, with the agriculture-based economy affected by irregular rainfall. But the president said Asmara would meet the demands of those regions hardest hit. “The Government has drawn up plans towards ensuring no-hunger situation nationwide,” the state website Shabait.com reported the president as saying. “(The president) said that a time when the greater portion of the Horn of Africa is expected to face acute food shortage, there would exist no hunger in Eritrea in 2010,” it said. But the president, who was speaking in the coastal town Massawa, warned living standards in Eritrea could still fall due to illegal trade, black market currency exchange, and a lack of regular payment of taxes and customs duties. Isaias said all trade and investment permits currently in place would be reviewed in 2010. Projections made by various experts and humanitarian organisations are at odds with the claim that the Red Sea state will be free from hunger next year. Last month, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation estimated as many as two in every three Eritreans were malnourished, the second highest percentage in the world after the war-ravaged Democratic Republic of Congo. Analysts fear any widespread acute hunger in the country would be difficult to arrest because of the travel restrictions Asmara places on humanitarian organisations. East Africa is facing a devastating drought. Aid agencies estimate 23 million are in danger, with 13.7 million in neighbouring Ethiopia at risk of severe hunger. (Editing by Giles Elgood)

——————–

-Eritrea denies aiding Somalia’s Islamist rebels

01 Dec 2009 18:24:49 GMT
Source: Reuters
* Eritrean envoy says no justification for UN sanctions * Envoy urges UN council to take up its Ethiopia dispute By Louis Charbonneau UNITED NATIONS, Dec 1 (Reuters) – Eritrea’s U.N. envoy denied that his country has been supporting Islamist rebels intent on toppling neighboring Somalia’s fragile government and said there was no reason to sanction Asmara. Ambassador Araya Desta was reacting to a Ugandan-drafted resolution circulated to members of the U.N. Security Council that would impose sanctions against the Red Sea state, including an arms embargo, travel bans and asset freezes for members of Eritrea’s government and military. [ID:nN19531413] The United States and other council members accuse Eritrea of supplying al Shabaab rebels with money and weapons as they fight to topple the U.N.-backed transitional government of Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, the official leader of the virtually lawless Horn of Africa nation. “The draft resolution is based on unfounded accusations against Eritrea on the issue of Somalia,” Desta said in a letter to the Security Council made public on Tuesday. “Eritrea does not favor or support a military solution, as it is convinced that there can be no military settlement in Somalia,” he said. “Nor does Eritrea favor one party as opposed to another. It does not work with one against others.” Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki said last week that the international community would regret any moves to impose sanctions on the country. In his letter, Desta hinted that Eritrea believes al Shabaab should be part of any future political solution for its neighbor in the Horn of Africa. “Eritrea firmly holds that a durable and sustainable solution requires the participation of all key Somali actors in an inclusive political process,” he said. It is unclear when the council will vote on the resolution, if at all. Diplomats say changes will be needed to avoid a veto from China and Russia, which dislike sanctions in general. Fighting in Somalia has killed nearly 19,000 civilians since the start of 2007 and made 1.5 million homeless. A U.N. arms monitoring body, set up to record violations of a 1992 arms embargo on Somalia, has said Asmara is sending plane- and boatloads of munitions to Somali rebels, as well as providing them with logistical support. Somalia has been mired in chaos for nearly two decades and there is little sign the latest attempt to establish a central government is proving any more successful than the 14 previous efforts since a dictator was ousted in 1991. Desta also urged the Security Council “not to ignore the real issue behind many conflicts in our region” — namely its long-running border dispute with Ethiopia, with which it fought a 1998-2000 border war that killed 70,000 people. The envoy said council members must act against breaches of international law by Ethiopia and take steps “to ensure that Ethiopia … withdraws its troops from sovereign Eritrean territories that it is illegally occupying.” (Editing by Vicki Allen) ((louis.charbonneau@thomsonreuters.com; +1 212 355 6053; Reuters Messaging: louis.charbonneau.reuters.com@reuters.net))

US Threatens to Invade Eritrea

“President Obama Cannot Afford to Look Weak on Terrorism” by Jason Ditz, April 17, 2009 The United States has reportedly threatened to invade Eritrea and subject it to “the same fate as Taliban-controlled Afghanistan in the wake of the September 11 attacks” for providing support to the al-Shabaab resistance movement in Somalia, which the US has since attempted to link with al-Qaeda. The Daily Telegraph quotes one source as saying “There are consequences for working with al-Shabaab when President Obama cannot afford to look weak on terrorism.” Situated along the Red Sea, the State of Eritrea is a nation of under 5 million people with a long history of foreign occupation. Bought by an Italian shipping company in 1869, the region remained under Italian rule until 1941, when Britain took control of them. British control was formalized under UN auspices in 1947, and the United Nations ceded the region to Ethiopia. What followed was a particularly bloodly 30-year long battle of secession between Ethiopia and an Eritrean rebel faction (the Eritrean Liberation Front), which ended in 1993 when Ethiopia finally gave in to demands for an independence referrendum, which passed with 99.79% of the votes in favor. Eritrea has remained on poor terms with Ethiopia since, fighting a border war which ended with the installation of a UN commission to establish the still tenuous border between the two. In 2006, Ethiopia invaded Somalia with American support, vowing to crush the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) movement and prop up the self-proclaimed Transitional National Government (TNG) of Somalia, which had recently been chased from a Kenya hotel for failing to pay their bills and was attempting to assert control over the stateless region. Eritrea backed the ICU, and later the al-Shabaab movement ostensibly to repay Somali support for their own independence bid. Though the TNG remained on the verge of collapse, Ethiopia declared “mission accomplished” in December of 2008, withdrawing its troops and claiming it had foiled a “plan orchestrated by Eritrea.” The Bush Administration attempted to have Eritrea declared a “state-sponsor of terrorism” numerous times for backing forces in opposition to the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia. Eritrea publicly denounced “foreign intervention” in Somalia and said the Ethiopian pullout had vindicated their position that military occupation would not stabilize the nation. Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki remains defiant, saying he will continue to oppose the Western-backed TNG’s attempt to assert control over the nation. “There is no government, there is not even a naiton of Somalia existing,” the president insisted, calling for a peace conference in which all parties, including those branded by the US and Ethiopia as “extremists” would have a voice. “Peace is not guaranteed without a government agreed by all Somalis.”

Eritrea, in the Horn of Africa’s fallen states Kaleidoscope…



Friday November 20, 2009

Move at U.N. to sanction Eritrea over Somalia links

By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – A draft U.N. Security Council resolution calls for an arms embargo against Eritrea and travel bans and asset freezes for members of its government and military for aiding Islamist insurgents in Somalia. The resolution, obtained by Reuters on Thursday, was drafted by temporary Security Council member Uganda and has been circulated to other members of the 15-nation panel, U.N. diplomats said. The United States and other council members accuse Eritrea of supplying al Shabaab rebels with money and weapons as they fight to topple the fragile U.N.-backed transitional government of Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, the official leader of the virtually lawless Horn of Africa nation. The fighting in Somalia has killed nearly 19,000 civilians since the start of 2007 and driven 1.5 million from their homes. Among the measures called for in the draft is a ban on all sales to Asmara of “weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment, and spare parts.” The draft also calls for a ban on providing Eritrea with “technical assistance, training, financial and other assistance, related to the military activities.” The Security Council, African Union (AU) and United States have all warned Asmara against destabilizing Somalia. Eritrea denies supporting al Shabaab and has said that the threat of U.N. sanctions is of “no concern at all.” A U.N. arms monitoring body — which was set up to record violations of a 1992 arms embargo on Somalia — has said Asmara was sending plane- and boatloads of munitions to Somali rebels, as well as providing them with logistical support. It was not clear when the council would vote on the resolution. Diplomats said it would need to be revised if it was to avoid a veto from China and Russia, which dislike sanctions in general. The resolution would authorize U.N. member states to inspect “all cargo to and from Somalia and Eritrea” via land and sea if there were grounds to suspect that the cargo included banned items. It would also impose a travel ban and freeze the assets of the “Eritrean political and military leadership” and other Eritrean individuals and firms suspected of supporting the hard-line Islamist rebels. Somalia has been mired in chaos for nearly two decades and there is little sign the latest attempt to establish central government is proving any more successful than the 14 previous efforts since a dictator was ousted in 1991.

Eritrea warns West against imposing sanctions

Thu Nov 26, 2009 1:16pm GMT
* U.N. reviewing sanctions against Asmara * Isaias says Somalia efforts are failing By Jeremy Clarke ASMARA, Nov 26 (Reuters) – Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki said the international community would regret moves to impose sanctions on the country, a government website said on Thursday. The U.N. Security Council is reviewing draft plans for punitive measures against the Red Sea state, which could include an arms embargo, travel bans and asset freezes for members of Eritrea’s government and military. The Asmara authorities are accused of backing an insurgency in Somalia by funnelling funds and weapons to rebels battling that country’s U.N.-backed transitional government. “The distorted and baseless anti-Eritrea accusations and intended measures in connection with the Somali issue would be a resort the authors and implementers stand to regret,” state-run website shabait.com quoted the president as saying. “There is no reason at all for Eritrea to send arms to Somalia where there exists huge arsenal of armaments for a long time and is still the centre of arms sales.” The president was critical of recent attempts to impose peace in the anarchic country. “The course being pursued by the international community in general and the forces directly involved in the Somali issue in particular has failed to bear any fruitful outcome,” he said. The draft proposes a ban on all sales to Asmara of “weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment, and spare parts”. It would also impose a travel ban and freeze the assets of political and military leaders and other Eritrean individuals and firms suspected of backing the hardline Islamist rebels. Some analysts fear sanctions would punish a population already hit by drought and the global economic crisis, and that it may prove a rallying cry for the government. But one Western diplomat defended the proposed measures. “They strike the right note between being too egregious to enforce upon a poor country, and being too soft to put any pressure on the government,” the diplomat said. “We shouldn’t underestimate the travel bans and asset freezes, this economy relies on the financial and moral support of the diaspora, which requires local officials drumming up support in other countries and carrying money back in.” Fighting in Somalia has killed nearly 19,000 civilians since the start of 2007 and driven 1.5 million from their homes. (Editing by Daniel Wallis and Victoria Main) ((Email: nairobi.newsroom@reuters.com; tel +254 20 222 4717)) (For more Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: africa.reuters.com/)

———- ————– Mail & Guardian Online Oct 08 2008

Eritrea slams US over arms ban

Eritrea — in a government statement sent to Agence France-Presse on Wednesday — slammed the United States for imposing an arms ban over concerns that the Red Sea state was aiding terrorists in the region. Washington announced the ban on Monday, accusing Asmara of supporting “terrorist groups” in Somalia. “This unwarranted measure is purely prompted by the frustration of the US administration with the misguided policies it has been pursuing in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and the Sudan,” the Eritrean Foreign Ministry said. Washington has in the past threatened to add Eritrea to its list of rogue states, which includes countries such as Iran, Syria, North Korea and Cuba. “US authorities could not substantiate the unfounded accusations they levelled against Eritrea in the past as a sponsor of terrorism. In the event, they have concocted this indirect ruse as a last-ditch effort to cover up their blunder,” the statement added. Ties between the two have been frosty over the past few years, with Asmara accusing the US of backing arch-foe Ethiopia in its border dispute with Addis Ababa, and Washington arguing that the small African state was backing Islamist groups in the region, an allegation denied by Eritrea. “In our region, groups and elements that the United States often dubs as terrorists are, in reality, those that Washington itself, and its surrogates in the Horn of Africa, employ for subversive activities,” it said. Last year, Eritrea banned USAid from operating in the country and imposed curbs on US diplomats in the country. In response, Washington closed Eritrea’s consulate in Oakland, California. — Sapa-AFP —————– ————-

Eritrea: Africa’s version of North Korea?

November 10, 2009

In this lonely corner of the world, the first sign of distress is the luggage. When one of the few international flights that are still operating here touched down one recent afternoon, the returning passengers emerged from baggage claim as if from a big shopping trip. Old metal trolleys squealed under the weight of mundane items: tires, a laptop computer, tubs of detergent and duffel bags crammed so tightly with food that tincans bulged through the fabric. The needs are acute in Eritrea, a narrow shard of sand and rock along the Red Sea that’s presided over by one of Africa‘s most secretive regimes. As its quixotic experiment in economic self-reliance falters, the Ohio-sized country of 5 million has slipped into its deepest political isolation in its 16 years of independence. The United States and others accuse President Isaias Afwerki of funneling arms and money to Islamist insurgents in Somalia and have threatened to slap him with sanctions. Analysts say Isaias is bent on wresting influence from Ethiopia – Eritrea’s large southern neighbor and adversary in a 30-year liberation struggle – and is backing several rebel groups across the chaotic Horn of Africa. Who needs allies? In a rare interview, Isaias dismissed the allegations as “fabrications” by Western interests – including his favorite bogeyman, the CIA – that traditionally have sided with Ethiopia. The pariah label has reinforced his belligerent attitude toward a world that long ignored Eritrea’s cries for independence, and one in which he now seems to have just one remaining friend, the wealthy Persian Gulf emirate of Qatar. “Why would you want to have allies?” the 63-year-old president told McClatchy. “It’s a sign of weakness.” A gruff, imposingly tall former guerrilla with a college professor’s wardrobe and a Ron Burgundy moustache, Isaias helped lead the liberation war and has never let go of power. A decade after a devastating border flare-up with Ethiopia that remains unresolved, he’s never held elections, banned opposition groups and independent media, and reportedly banished thousands of people to remote desert prisons where they languish without trial in “harsh and life-threatening conditions,” according to a State Department human rights report last year. In recent years, Isaias has seized U.N. World Food Program stockpiles and expelled or blocked most international relief organizations, claiming that his arid nation could produce enough food to feed all its people. Yet after consecutive poor harvests, and amid one of the worst hunger crises in East Africa in decades, the U.N. Food andAgriculture Organization warned last month that as many as two-thirds of Eritreans may be malnourished. Isaias rejected the report – “We have no shortage,” he said – but humanitarian groups say the government blocks them from accessing the areas that are thought to be the most affected. In the capital, Asmara, more and more children in frayed clothes and splotchy skin are begging on the streets, hinting at desperation in the countryside. “A year or two ago, you never saw that,” a diplomat said. “It means the safety net is failing.” Indefinite military service Perched atop a 7,600-foot plateau, sun-bathed Asmara is one of the continent’s safest and most alluring capitals, with wide, palm-fringed streets and splashes of colorful modernist architecture left over from Italian colonial rule. Below the surface, however, beats constant fear. No Eritreans would be quoted by name criticizing the president. The government, which some have likened to an African North Korea, controls people’s lives through a program of forced national service that requires all citizens to undergo military training and then assigns them indefinitely to army posts or civilian jobs, paying token wages. Men and women younger than 50 rarely get permission to leave the country, effectively meaning that the entire able-bodied population is on reserve duty. People who resist the service routinely are imprisoned and tortured, as documented in a 96-page report this year by Human Rights Watch, which found that Eritrean authorities had issued shoot-to-kill orders for anyone caught trying to jump the border without permission. “It’s for generations that we’re trying to build a nation and build an economy, and that requires sacrifice,” Isaias said. “National service may not be liked by everybody, even by the government, but it’s a necessity.” Surviving on remittances Yet even with these draconian measures, the country remains far from self-reliant. One-third of the economy, according to some estimates, consists of money sent home by Eritreans living overseas. The prodigious shopping on display at the airport – all carried by elderly travelers, the only ones eligible for exit visas – also suggests that Isaias’ gambit is failing. “People are losing patience everyday ”

Eritrea president says no hunger in 2010

13 Nov 2009 08:36:00 GMT
Source: Reuters
* All trade and investment permits reviewed next year * Aid agencies dispute President’s no hunger claim By Jeremy Clarke ASMARA, Nov 13 (Reuters) – President Isaias Afwerki said Eritrea would not suffer from hunger and food shortages in 2010, a government website reported. Hunger levels in Eritrea are ranked among the worst in the world by humanitarian organisations, with the agriculture-based economy affected by irregular rainfall. But the president said Asmara would meet the demands of those regions hardest hit. “The Government has drawn up plans towards ensuring no-hunger situation nationwide,” the state website Shabait.com reported the president as saying. “(The president) said that a time when the greater portion of the Horn of Africa is expected to face acute food shortage, there would exist no hunger in Eritrea in 2010,” it said. But the president, who was speaking in the coastal town Massawa, warned living standards in Eritrea could still fall due to illegal trade, black market currency exchange, and a lack of regular payment of taxes and customs duties. Isaias said all trade and investment permits currently in place would be reviewed in 2010. Projections made by various experts and humanitarian organisations are at odds with the claim that the Red Sea state will be free from hunger next year. Last month, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation estimated as many as two in every three Eritreans were malnourished, the second highest percentage in the world after the war-ravaged Democratic Republic of Congo. Analysts fear any widespread acute hunger in the country would be difficult to arrest because of the travel restrictions Asmara places on humanitarian organisations. East Africa is facing a devastating drought. Aid agencies estimate 23 million are in danger, with 13.7 million in neighbouring Ethiopia at risk of severe hunger. (Editing by Giles Elgood)

——————–

-Eritrea denies aiding Somalia’s Islamist rebels

01 Dec 2009 18:24:49 GMT
Source: Reuters

* Eritrean envoy says no justification for UN sanctions * Envoy urges UN council to take up its Ethiopia dispute By Louis Charbonneau UNITED NATIONS, Dec 1 (Reuters) – Eritrea’s U.N. envoy denied that his country has been supporting Islamist rebels intent on toppling neighboring Somalia’s fragile government and said there was no reason to sanction Asmara. Ambassador Araya Desta was reacting to a Ugandan-drafted resolution circulated to members of the U.N. Security Council that would impose sanctions against the Red Sea state, including an arms embargo, travel bans and asset freezes for members of Eritrea’s government and military. [ID:nN19531413] The United States and other council members accuse Eritrea of supplying al Shabaab rebels with money and weapons as they fight to topple the U.N.-backed transitional government of Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, the official leader of the virtually lawless Horn of Africa nation. “The draft resolution is based on unfounded accusations against Eritrea on the issue of Somalia,” Desta said in a letter to the Security Council made public on Tuesday. “Eritrea does not favor or support a military solution, as it is convinced that there can be no military settlement in Somalia,” he said. “Nor does Eritrea favor one party as opposed to another. It does not work with one against others.” Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki said last week that the international community would regret any moves to impose sanctions on the country. In his letter, Desta hinted that Eritrea believes al Shabaab should be part of any future political solution for its neighbor in the Horn of Africa. “Eritrea firmly holds that a durable and sustainable solution requires the participation of all key Somali actors in an inclusive political process,” he said. It is unclear when the council will vote on the resolution, if at all. Diplomats say changes will be needed to avoid a veto from China and Russia, which dislike sanctions in general. Fighting in Somalia has killed nearly 19,000 civilians since the start of 2007 and made 1.5 million homeless. A U.N. arms monitoring body, set up to record violations of a 1992 arms embargo on Somalia, has said Asmara is sending plane- and boatloads of munitions to Somali rebels, as well as providing them with logistical support. Somalia has been mired in chaos for nearly two decades and there is little sign the latest attempt to establish a central government is proving any more successful than the 14 previous efforts since a dictator was ousted in 1991. Desta also urged the Security Council “not to ignore the real issue behind many conflicts in our region” — namely its long-running border dispute with Ethiopia, with which it fought a 1998-2000 border war that killed 70,000 people. The envoy said council members must act against breaches of international law by Ethiopia and take steps “to ensure that Ethiopia … withdraws its troops from sovereign Eritrean territories that it is illegally occupying.” (Editing by Vicki Allen) ((louis.charbonneau@thomsonreuters.com; +1 212 355 6053; Reuters Messaging: louis.charbonneau.reuters.com@reuters.net))

US Threatens to Invade Eritrea

“President Obama Cannot Afford to Look Weak on Terrorism” by Jason Ditz, April 17, 2009 The United States has reportedly threatened to invade Eritrea and subject it to “the same fate as Taliban-controlled Afghanistan in the wake of the September 11 attacks” for providing support to the al-Shabaab resistance movement in Somalia, which the US has since attempted to link with al-Qaeda. The Daily Telegraph quotes one source as saying “There are consequences for working with al-Shabaab when President Obama cannot afford to look weak on terrorism.” Situated along the Red Sea, the State of Eritrea is a nation of under 5 million people with a long history of foreign occupation. Bought by an Italian shipping company in 1869, the region remained under Italian rule until 1941, when Britain took control of them. British control was formalized under UN auspices in 1947, and the United Nations ceded the region to Ethiopia. What followed was a particularly bloodly 30-year long battle of secession between Ethiopia and an Eritrean rebel faction (the Eritrean Liberation Front), which ended in 1993 when Ethiopia finally gave in to demands for an independence referrendum, which passed with 99.79% of the votes in favor. Eritrea has remained on poor terms with Ethiopia since, fighting a border war which ended with the installation of a UN commission to establish the still tenuous border between the two. In 2006, Ethiopia invaded Somalia with American support, vowing to crush the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) movement and prop up the self-proclaimed Transitional National Government (TNG) of Somalia, which had recently been chased from a Kenya hotel for failing to pay their bills and was attempting to assert control over the stateless region. Eritrea backed the ICU, and later the al-Shabaab movement ostensibly to repay Somali support for their own independence bid. Though the TNG remained on the verge of collapse, Ethiopia declared “mission accomplished” in December of 2008, withdrawing its troops and claiming it had foiled a “plan orchestrated by Eritrea.” The Bush Administration attempted to have Eritrea declared a “state-sponsor of terrorism” numerous times for backing forces in opposition to the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia. Eritrea publicly denounced “foreign intervention” in Somalia and said the Ethiopian pullout had vindicated their position that military occupation would not stabilize the nation. Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki remains defiant, saying he will continue to oppose the Western-backed TNG’s attempt to assert control over the nation. “There is no government, there is not even a naiton of Somalia existing,” the president insisted, calling for a peace conference in which all parties, including those branded by the US and Ethiopia as “extremists” would have a voice. “Peace is not guaranteed without a government agreed by all Somalis.”