Tuesday, July 30, 2013

New international peace-keeping training center under construction in Ethiopia

Coletta Wanjuhi, Press TV, Addis Ababa
Africa is to have an international peace-keeping training center by the end of 20-13. The center is located in Ethiopia and is designed to train military missions that will be deployed around the continent whenever needed. Press TV’s Coletta Wanjuhi has the details in this report:
Construction works at the new international peace training centre in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, is gearing up as the government tries to beat the 2013 deadline it has set to begin its operation. With a boost from Japan of 790,000 dollars, the Ethiopian government says it may even begin military operations in the camp by November this year. Upon completion this Centre will give training on disarmament, demobilization, reintegration of conflict-affected people as well as deepening security sector reforms.

The African Union has been in a difficult position to provide military peace keeping missions to African countries when a conflict emerges.

For instance, when military response for Somalia was needed only a handful of countries managed to respond fast.

The location of the international peace training center in Ethiopia is strategic since the country is known for responding to calls for peace keeping missions in Africa.

Ethiopia is one of the biggest contributors to peace keeping missions for the United Nations and the African union. So far it has sent over 7000 peacekeepers for missions and in some countries like Somalia its operations are self-funded.

Apart from readiness for war situations the center will be expected to address the dimensions of post conflict environments such as child protection gender issues, human trafficking , human rights , civil affairs , economic recovery and HIV and Aids issues.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Only financial independence of Upper Nile will tame Egypt

Of all the Nile Basin countries, Egypt is the most advanced technologically, economically, and militarily. In fact on the last score, it is ranked Number 1 on the continent (Global Fire Power, 2013). Ethiopia comes a distant 2nd while Kenya is in 6th position.

 With a military reserve potential of 35 million people; a strongest motivation to fight for the only fresh water in the land; over 5,000 tanks, upward of 1,100 aircrafts and helicopters that can be launched from more than 80 airports, it is easy to understand the temptation for any Cairo government to consider military strikes against upstream water projects. The matter is not helped by the January 2013 Obama government $1b ‘special aid’ in form of F16 fighter jets. I understand this was part of a reward for the democratisation process following the ‘famous’ Arab spring!

But these are only short term apparent advantages. They can only be of some effect if war erupted against Ethiopia or North Sudan as single entities. Greater East Africa (essentially meaning all Blue and White Nile water sources) is the fastest developing region on the continent. It is huge in area and has the biggest young population living in cooler conditions. It is also the one region moving fastest towards economic and possible political integration. In those circumstances, Egypt’s military action may not yield strategic benefits to itself. The prayer for their military strategists might then be that current instability in the two Sudans and mistrusts among East African Community peoples continue unabated. But at one time in future, these will have to end or subside. Any military action before then will have left very bitter relationships and at that time, Egypt could face an irreversible decapitating revenge. That is how the mighty fall. From the Roman to the British empires; the Soviets (and now some want to add) to the US; from Napoleon to Hitler, etc. - they bat at their pole order and overate their successes, eventually falling with a thump.

Interestingly, there can be another self-debilitating feature in military strikes on projects right at the headwaters of the basin - in the Ethiopian highlands and on the East African high plateau. In these areas, it is possible to design dams and canals such that a poorly targeted strike permanently diverts the waters to other basins either to the Atlantic or to the Indian Oceans and the Red sea! Egypt’s ‘luck’ for now is that designs are being done and controlled by ‘foreign’ western engineering firms who would shy away from such schemes. This will not last forever. With resources currently being ‘discovered’ in the region (Oil, Gas, Iron, Uranium, Gold, etc.) and with factors already mentioned above, indigenes could take charge of the designs, constructions and financing by the second half of this century. This ought to concern the military enthusiasts in Cairo. In fact, a 2012 St. Thomas University (US) Law doctorate research by Abadir Ibrahim on the 2010 Nile waters agreement concludes that it is ‘financial independence’ of the upper riparian countries that could force Egypt to yield and sign the agreement. 

Is there an alternative to militarism? Not one, not two - but many. As table 1 in the previous article showed, the Sudans are the least populated and will remain that way for many decades to come. Yet they have the largest farm land on the continent: 55.8 Million hectares (Mn. ha) in the South and 25.2 Mn ha in the North (Baker, 1997; FAO, 2011). These 81 Mn ha are enough to feed the present one billion people on the continent! Figure 3 shows the land resource and its utilisation. Egypt could cooperate with the two countries – especially South Sudan - to grow food for its people and then develop transport along the Nile or jointly build a railway line linking these agricultural areas to Cairo.

On energy, the massive hydroelectric potential in Ethiopia could be tapped. Cooperation could make Egypt import from Addis as other options – especially nuclear for sea water desalination – are brought on line. But the Nile waters alone cannot provide the inhabitants with sufficient power to propel them into ‘medium to high’ income societies. The Congo basin has to supplement them. Power plants in the Eastern DRC could thus be linked to the East African power pool to meet most of the needs. This means Egypt needs to look at DRC and neighbouring countries as partners in a shared destiny for survival.

Egyptians – more than anyone else in the basin - need to move away from fossil fuels to reduce the basin’s carbon foot print. In 2011 for example, they produced 190.59 billion tonnes of CO2 (US Energy Information Administration, 2013). This was 16.5% of the total continent’s print and over 90% of the basin’s. Needless to say, this exacerbates the southward advance of the Sahara and threatens the water volumes they so cherish.

They have - fairly well developed: solar, water, construction, chemical, metallurgy and engineering skills. They could leverage these to participate massively in the upper riparian economies – which are now yearning to exploit their newly found resources. Like I keep teasing my South African hosts: Why should Tropical Africa be turning to China, India or the West for technology when they could provide some? It is not simply banking (Stanbic), retailing (Shoprite) and talking (MTN) that Africans need. We want real wealth creation in form of fresh clean water, energy, food, manufactured goods and products foremost. The counting, trading, etc. can follow!

‘Powerful’ Egypt budgets over $4b for its military every year as a way of keeping constantly alert on the waters. Rival Ethiopia budgets $400m. By cooperating with countries as outlined above, the former could slash the military spend by say half – and use the savings on propping Egyptian companies involved in the projects. That way, we could integrate our economies, appreciate each other better and perhaps move closer to our independence fathers’ dream of a United, federated Africa.

Kant is a Pan Africanist Solar Engineer, Member of ASHRAE and South Africa Society of Engineering Education (SASEE). 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Deputy Defense Secretary Travels to Israel, Uganda, Ethiopia -AFPS

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service
ABOARD A MILITARY AIRCRAFT, July 20, 2013 – Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter began a weeklong trip today that will take him first to Israel and then to Uganda and Ethiopia in sub-Saharan Africa.
Click photo for screen-resolution image
Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter and his staff prepare for a three-country trip while en route to Israel aboard a military aircraft, July 20, 2013. Carter also is scheduled to travel to Uganda and Ethiopia in sub-Saharan Africa. During his trip, he will meet with defense and government leaders to discuss issues of mutual importance. DOD photo by U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Aaron Hostutler

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
During Carter’s first official trip to Israel as deputy secretary, he will meet with senior Israeli defense officials to discuss issues of mutual strategic importance and reaffirm the U.S. commitment to the relationship between the United States and Israel.
While in Israel, Carter will meet with Defense Minister Moshe "Bogie" Ya'alon, Deputy Defense Minister Amos Gilad and National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror, and attend an official dinner hosted by Ehud Shani, director-general of the Ministry of Defense.
After leaving Israel, Carter will stop briefly in Uganda to meet with senior Ugandan government and defense officials. The deputy secretary will thank the Ugandans for their continued commitment in maintaining and improving security in the region.
From Uganda, Carter will travel to Ethiopia to meet with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegu and senior defense officials to discuss issues of mutual importance. The deputy secretary also will thank the Ethiopians for the positive and important security role they continue to play in the region.
Ash Carter

Monday, July 15, 2013

Israeli PM threatens to strike Iran - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

The prime minister said the new leader of Iran was not to be trusted[Reuters]
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Iran is moving "closer and closer" to building a nuclear weapon and warned that his country may have to act against Tehran to curb it from achieving its goal before the United States does.
"They're edging up to the red line. They haven't crossed it yet," Netanyahu said on Sunday on CBS News's "Face the Nation."
"They're getting closer and closer to the bomb. And they have to be told in no uncertain terms that that will not be allowed to happen."
Netanyahu went on to say that Israel had a more narrow timetable than Washington, implying it may have to take unilateral action to halt Iran's controversial nuclear programme.
"Our clocks are ticking at a different pace. We're closer than the United States. We're more vulnerable. And therefore, we'll have to address this question of how to stop Iran, perhaps before the United States does," he said.
Netanyahu said Tehran has been building "faster centrifuges that would enable them to jump the line, so to speak, at a much faster rate -- that is, within a few weeks."
No change of policy
Netanyahu said Iran's nuclear policies were unlikely to change under its next president, moderate cleric and former nuclear negotiator Hassan Rowhani, who will assume power on August 3.
"He's criticising his predecessor (President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) for being a wolf in wolf's clothing. His strategy is be a wolf in sheep's clothing. Smile and build a bomb," Netanyahu said.
He urged the United States to make clear to Rowhani that it will not allow Iran to build a nuclear weapon, and that military force "is truly on the table."
"We've spoken many times, President Obama and I, about the need to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons," Netanyahu said.
"What is important is to convey to them -- especially after the election -- (is) that (the) policy will not change," he said.
"If sanctions don't work, they have to know that you'll be prepared to take military action -- that's the only thing that will get their attention," he added.
Iran for years has been at loggerheads with world powers over its nuclear drive, which Western nations believe is aimed at developing an atomic weapon capability.
Tehran insists its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful, but the sanctions imposed over the standoff have isolated it internationally.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Patricia Haslach A next Ambassador to Ethiopia: Who Is Patricia Haslach? - AllGov - News

The next ambassador to the northeast African nation of Ethiopia, which was the only African nation to successfully maintain its independence during the Age of Empire, will be Patricia Haslach. If confirmed by the Senate, Haslach would succeed Donald Booth, who served in Addis Ababa from 2009 to 2012. In her most recent position, Haslach served as principal deputy assistant secretary in the State Department’s newest bureau, the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, starting January 24, 2013.

Born in Rockville Center, New York, in 1956, Haslach moved with her family to Lake Oswego, Oregon in 1971, Her father, Frank Haslach, was an asset and recovery manager for Evans Products and Oregon Bank. She graduated St. Mary’s Academy in 1974, earned her B.A. in Political Science at Gonzaga University in 1978, and her M.A. in International Affairs at Columbia University in 1981.

Haslach began her career with the federal government in 1986 as an agricultural attaché with the Foreign Agricultural Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, assigned to India from 1987 to 1990. Transferring to the State Department as an economic officer, she was posted to the U.S. Mission to the European Union managing assistance to the Group of 24 countries. In the years following, Haslach served as resource officer at the embassies in Jakarta, Indonesia, and in Lagos, Nigeria. From 2000 to May 2002, she served as economic counselor at the embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, while her husband, David Herbert was the embassy’s general services officer. As Pakistan became part of the front line in President George W. Bush’s war against Islamic terrorism, Haslach gave up her post to move her two daughters back to the United States..

In her next stateside post as director of the Office of Afghanistan Reconstruction from 2002-2004, Haslach oversaw the multi-billion-dollar reconstruction program intended to fix some of the damage caused by war. Haslach then served two straight stints as an ambassador, first as ambassador to Laos from 2004 to 2007, and then as ambassador to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum, headquartered in Singapore, from 2007 to 2009.

She served as assistant chief of mission for assistance transition at the embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, from July 2009 to June 2010, and as deputy coordinator for diplomacy for the U.S. Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative from June 2010 to March 2011. From then until late 2012, Haslach was the State Department’s coordinator for Iraq transition in the Office of the Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources.

Patricia Haslach and her husband, David Herbert, have two adult daughters, Shereen and Kiran Herbert.
-Matt Bewig

On a Mission (by Cliff Newell, Portland Tribune)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Alleged Israeli spies charged in Egypt | Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Alleged Israeli spies charged in Egypt | Jewish Telegraphic Agency: "JERUSALEM (JTA) — Six Israelis will be tried in absentia in Egypt for spying for Israel.
Egypt’s prosecutor-general on Wednesday referred the six Israelis, as well as three Egyptians, for prosecution for working with the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, according to reports in the Egyptian media. Two of the Israelis have been identified by the Egyptian media as Israeli-Arabs.
The three Egyptians are charged with giving Israel information about Egyptian military positions and terror groups active in the Sinai Peninsula. The Egyptians also are accused of meeting with their Mossad handlers in southern Israel, where they passed on additional information and received instruction.
The Israelis are charged with passing on sensitive information to a foreign country on security centers in the Sinai Peninsula and about tunnels running from the Sinai to Gaza."