Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Why are so many military bases in Djibouti? — Quartz

In early August, China became the latest country to open a military base in the Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti, the third smallest country on the continent’s mainland.
Chinese officials said the facility had nothing to do with military expansion and will be a supply center for their peacekeeping and humanitarian missions in the region. For many, the decision signified China’s growing role in Africa and its determination to secure its expanding interests across the continent.
But the move was also indicative of Djibouti’s growing role as an attractive spot for global military superpowers. Located at the southern entrance to the Red Sea, Djibouti is a tiny, barren country, with a population less than one million. Yet since the turn of the century, it has become a base for various European, Asian, and American forces, who have all camped in the region for one reason or another.

As the former colonial power, France still has one of its largest concentration of its overseas forces stationed in Djibouti. After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the United States also established Camp Lemonnier—its only permanent military installation in Africa—in order to combat terrorist threats in Yemen and the Horn of Africa. Japan’s only foreign military base is also based in the capital Djibouti and is now set for expansion as a counterweight to China’s increasing influence. The Italians also have their own base, while troops from Germany and Spain are hosted by the French.
Analysts say Djibouti’s geostrategic location and its stability in a volatile region has made it an important playground for world powers. Located between Somalia, Eritrea, and Yemen, Djibouti occupies a strategic location adjacent to the Bab el Mandab Strait, which is a critical corridor for international shipping.
Over the years, military powers have sent their forces to Djibouti either to carry out surveillance and counterterrorism strikes or to deter the threat of piracyto international shipping lines. More recently, Sunni Arab states like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who are concerned about the expanding influence of the Shiite-led Iran, have been taking an interest in Djibouti as a base to prosecute the war in Yemen and tighten the noose of Houthi rebels.

Djibouti handles an estimated 90% of landlocked Ethiopia’s maritime trade, an important deal given the latter’s 100 million population and exponential economic growth. Ethiopia had to increasingly start using the port of Djibouti after becoming landlocked when Eritrea broke off as an independent nation in 1991.
With very little in the way of natural resources or human capital, Djibouti’s government “has spared no effort to translate geopolitical fortune into commercial and political advantage,” says Matthew Bryden, the director of the think tank Sahan Research.

Ports of call

Djibouti handles an estimated 90% of landlocked Ethiopia’s maritime trade, an important deal given the latter’s 100 million population and exponential economic growth. Ethiopia had to increasingly start using the port of Djibouti after becoming landlocked when Eritrea broke off as an independent nation in 1991.
With very little in the way of natural resources or human capital, Djibouti’s government “has spared no effort to translate geopolitical fortune into commercial and political advantage,” says Matthew Bryden, the director of the think tank Sahan Research.

Bryden says that president Ismael Omar Guelleh has been the fulcrum in opening the country to international powers and renting some of its territory to foreign military bases. Since ascending to power in 1999, Guelleh has been re-elected four times, with his party holding the majority of the seats in parliament. The 70-year-old’s rule over Djibouti has been labeled autocratic, with his government cracking down on opposition members and approving a constitutional amendment that removed presidential term limits.
In 2001, barely two years into power, and as the US-led War on Terror was unfolding, Guelleh started communicating to foreign powers that the microstate was friendly and was ready to punch above its weight.
As a poor country with high unemployment rates and susceptible to spikes in food and fuel prices, the rents from foreign countries’ military bases would essentially prove crucial for economic growth. For instance, the United States pays $63 million annually to lease its base, while the Chinese will be paying $20 million a year besides the billions they are investing in building a railway, a port, an industrial park, and banks.
For Guelleh the situation proved to be a positive sum. “In addition to developing Djibouti’s ports and infrastructure, Guelleh has attracted foreign bases that both provide income and a degree of protection from external aggression,” Bryden said.
Yet Djibouti could be walking a fine line between neutrality and opportunism, says analysts. For instance, a recent spat with the Dubai-based DP World pushed the UAE to fund ports and military bases in both Eritrea and Somaliland. After Djibouti reduced its diplomatic status with Qatar, the latter removed its peacekeeping forces from the Djibouti-Eritrea border, raising tensions of a renewed border dispute. And with the arrival of the Chinese, any friction with Western powers who are just a few miles away from each other might test the limits of Djiboutian diplomacy.
Djibouti might also risk being drawn into other countries’ wars. As Bryden says: “The Horn of Africa and the Middle East are currently rough neighborhoods, and Djibouti may find itself making enemies, not through any action of its own, but as a consequence of the actions of its military guests.”
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Monday, July 3, 2017

Zimbabweans donate cattle to AU after Robert Mugabe appeal - BBC News

  • 5 hours ago
  • From the sectionAfrica
President Mugabe with the cheque
Image captionThe AU Foundation supports development programmes for young people and women
Zimbabwe has auctioned cattle worth $1m (£770,000) to raise money for the African Union (AU) Foundation to help end the "donor dependency syndrome", President Robert Mugabe has said.
He added that he had donated 300 cattle from his herd, and other Zimbabweans doubled the number as they wanted to contribute towards a "noble cause".
Mr Mugabe handed the $1m cheque to the AU at its leaders' summit in Ethiopia.
The donation comes amid a severe cash and food crisis in Zimbabwe.
Last year, more than four million people were in need of food aid in the southern African state after rains failed.
However, there has been a bumper harvest this year, with the country expected to be self-sufficient for the first time in years.
The opposition blames the government for food shortages, saying its controversial land reform programme has ruined the farming sector.
Zimbabwe has also been forced to introduce so-called bond notes after running out of the US dollar, the main currency people use.
Media captionCash as a gift at Zimbabwe wedding
Hyperinflation forced the government to abandon the Zimbabwe dollar in 2009.
Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said the cattle had been donated mostly by farmers who had benefited from the land reform programme, the state-run Herald newspaper reported.
Their donation was an "expansion" of a 2015 pledge by Mr Mugabe to donate 300 cattle, he added.
Speaking at the summit, Mr Mugabe said it was a "modest contribution" and a "symbolic step" towards helping to end the "donor dependency syndrome" in Africa.
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe speaks during the burial of Brigadier General James Murozvi, who was granted national hero status by President Robert Mugabe, at the National Heroes Acre in Harare, on April 12, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Jekesai NJIKIZANA (Photo credit should read JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP/Getty Images)Image copyrightAFP/GETTY
Image captionRobert Mugabe, 93, has governed Zimbabwe since independence in 1980
"As an African and a farmer, the donation of cattle came naturally to me, given that our continent is rich in cattle and cattle are held as a store of wealth," Mr Mugabe said.
On its website, the AU Foundation says it focuses on development programmes for youth and women, and promoting gender equality.
Mr Mumbengegwi said the donation was significant as it showed that the AU could find innovative ways to raise money for its projects.
Mr Mugabe, during his term as AU chairman in 2015 and 2016, campaigned for the AU to be self-financed as about 60% of its budget came from foreign donors, the Herald reported.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The 13 demands on Qatar from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt | The National

KUWAIT CITY // Acting as a mediator, Kuwait has presented Qatar a list of demands from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt, the four Arab nations that cut ties with Qatar in early June.
Here’s the demands:
1. Curb diplomatic ties with Iran and close its diplomatic missions there. Expel members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard from Qatar and cut off any joint military cooperation with Iran. Only trade and commerce with Iran that complies with US and international sanctions will be permitted.
    2. Sever all ties to terrorist organizations, specifically the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIL, Al Qaeda, and Hizbollah. Formally declare those entities as terrorist groups.
    3. Shut down Al Jazeera and its affiliate stations.
    4. Shut down news outlets that Qatar funds, directly and indirectly, including Arabi21, Rassd, Al Araby Al Jadeed and Middle East Eye.
    5. Immediately terminate the Turkish military presence currently in Qatar and end any joint military cooperation with Turkey inside Qatar.
      6. Stop all means of funding for individuals, groups or organisations that have been designated as terrorists by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, the US and other countries.
      7. Hand over terrorist figures and wanted individuals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain to their countries of origin. Freeze their assets, and provide any desired information about their residency, movements and finances.
        8. End interference in sovereign countries’ internal affairs. Stop granting citizenship to wanted nationals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Revoke Qatari citizenship for existing nationals where such citizenship violates those countries’ laws.
        9. Stop all contacts with the political opposition in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Hand over all files detailing Qatar’s prior contacts with and support for those opposition groups.
          10. Pay reparations and compensation for loss of life and other, financial losses caused by Qatar’s policies in recent years. The sum will be determined in coordination with Qatar.
          11. Align itself with the other Gulf and Arab countries militarily, politically, socially and economically, as well as on economic matters, in line with an agreement reached with Saudi Arabia in 2014.
          12. Agree to all the demands within 10 days of it being submitted to Qatar, or the list becomes invalid. The document doesn’t specify what the countries will do if Qatar refuses to comply.
            13. Consent to monthly audits for the first year after agreeing to the demands, then once per quarter during the second year. For the following 10 years, Qatar would be monitored annually for compliance.
            * Associated Press

              Friday, June 23, 2017

              Ethiopia, Russia sign MoU on peaceful applications of atomic energy - Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan

              IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano met with Afework Kassu Gizaw, State Minister, Ministry of Science and Technology of Ethiopia, at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria on 20 December 2016. (IAEA Photo)

              June 22, 2017 (ADDIS ABABA) - A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on peaceful uses of atomic energy Thursday was signed by the Ethiopian State Minister of Science and Technology, Afework Kassu Gizaw, and Russian Deputy Director General of ROSATOM Nikolai Spasskiy.

              The first deal of its kind between the two countries was signed within the framework of IX International Forum ATOMEXPO 2017

              “It envisages a bilateral cooperation in a wide range of spheres, i.e. development of nuclear infrastructure in Ethiopia, programs for raising public awareness of nuclear technologies and its application, radioisotopes and radio technologies’ application in industrial, medical, agricultural sectors,” said Ethiopian Foreign Ministry.

              The agreement embraces collaboration in nuclear, radiological and physical security, fundamental and applied researches, HR training, nuclear research centres based on multi-functional research reactors.

              The joint working group of Russia and Ethiopia will define the scope of work for implementation of the initiatives mentioned above.

              The parties agreed to cooperate in the feasibility of implementing common projects referred to the development of collaboration in peaceful uses of atomic energy was agreed to be developed under the Memorandum.
              Among others, atomic energy could be used in the areas of power generation, healthcare, agriculture, food preservation, industry and research.

              The State Atomic Energy Corporation ROSATOM is a Russian publicly-owned corporation, which is the leader in the global nuclear technologies market.

              It brings together nuclear power and power engineering assets, as well as NPP design and construction. ROSATOM is the largest electricity generating company in Russia, producing 196.37 billion kWh of electricity in 2016 (or 18.3% of the country’s total generation of electricity).

              ROSATOM holds first place for the largest portfolio of foreign construction projects (34 NPPs in 12 countries). ROSATOM produces annually approximately 3,000 tonnes of uranium domestically, and some 5,000 tonnes in other countries.

              ROSATOM with its 1/3 world market share takes the lead in global uranium enrichment services and covers 17.7% of the global nuclear fuel market

              ROSATOM brings together over 300 enterprises and organisations, including the world’s only nuclear icebreaker fleet. ROSATOM is tasked with implementing the uniform state policy on the uses of atomic energy as well as fulfilling the Russian Federation’s international obligations on the peaceful uses of atomic energy.


              Thursday, May 4, 2017

              Bill Funds Border Security--in Libya, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Egypt...

              Terence P. Jeffrey
               By Terence P. Jeffrey | May 3, 2017 | 4:19 AM EDT
              The 1,665-page spending bill the Republican-controlled Congress is planning to pass this week includes multiple measures that seemingly demonstrate a commitment to securing the border — in Libya, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.
              It does not include the $1.4 billion President Donald Trump requested to begin building the wall he promised to build along the U.S.-Mexico border.
              But, the bill makes clear, Jordan's border must be secured.
              The section that appropriates money for the "Global War on Terrorism" provides: "That these funds may be used to support the Government of Jordan, in such amounts as the Secretary of Defense may determine, to enhance the ability of the armed forces of Jordan to increase or sustain security along its borders..."
              Imagine if the part of the bill that appropriates money for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said: "That these funds may be used to support the Government of the United States, in such amounts as the Secretary of Homeland Security may determine, to enhance the ability of the Border Patrol to increase or sustain security along the southwestern border of the United States by building impenetrable walls along that border."
              Would that have been an outrage? Would it have justified Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer in leading a move to shut down the government of the United States to ensure no such walls were built?
              Had the Republicans included money in the bill to fund Trump's border wall, Schumer would have needed to explain to Americans why he is happy to spend their tax dollars to aid Jordan's military in securing Jordan's border while refusing to give the U.S. Border Patrol all the resources it needs — including walls — to secure the borders of the United States.
              While the Republican leadership would not appropriate the $1.4 billion needed to start the wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, it is appropriating $1.3 billion for aid to Egypt. The bill even gives a special status to the part of this aid Egypt will use to secure its border.
              "Of the funds appropriated by this Act under the heading 'Foreign Military Financing Program,'" the bill says, "$1,300,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2018, may be made available for assistance for Egypt."
              Fifteen percent of these foreign aid dollars, the bill says, can be withheld from Egypt if the secretary of state does not certify that Egypt's government is "taking effective steps" to "advance democracy and human rights."
              But even if the secretary of state does not certify that Egypt is advancing democracy and human rights, it will not impact that part of U.S. aid to Egypt that is aimed at improving Egyptian border security.
              The bill says: "That the certification requirement of this paragraph shall not apply to funds appropriated by this Act under such heading for counterterrorism, border security, and nonproliferation programs for Egypt."
              In the United States of America, the Bill of Rights still applies. But Congress has not ensured that our own border is secure.
              House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi argues it would be "immoral, expensive and unwise" to fund construction of a wall to protect this freedom-loving nation from those who try to cross our border in a calculated violation of the law. Does she, at the same time, think it is wise, moral and worth the cost to take money from Americans and give it to the government of Egypt to protect Egypt's borders?
              Under the terms of the funding bill, U.S. taxpayer money will also go to Ethiopia "for border security and counterterrorism programs." It will go to the Lebanese Armed Forces "to professionalize the LAF and to strengthen border security and combat terrorism, including training and equipping the LAF to secure Lebanon's borders." It will go to Libya to "improve border security." And it will go "to support programs to train border and customs officials in Pakistan and Afghanistan."
              But thanks to the deal that Republican and Democratic leaders made in Congress, it will not go to fund the border wall President Trump vowed to voters he would build if he were elected.
              When Trump held a rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday, the crowd chanted at him: "Build that wall! Build that wall! Build that wall!"
              "Don't worry, we're going to have the wall," he said. "Don't worry about it."
              "We'll build the wall, folks," he said.
              Whether Donald Trump does or does not build that wall will be a major measure of whether his presidency is a success or a failure.
              Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of CNSnews.com.