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Turkey, Somalia sign economic partnership pact

Turkey, Somalia sign economic partnership pact are


Source: AA ANADOU AGENCY, By Duygu Yener and Mustafa Calkaya
Saturday January 13, 2018


Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Recep Akdag (C-R) and his Somalian counterpart Mahdi Mohammed Gulaid (C-L) sign the Turkey-Somalia Joint Economic Commission meeting protocol at the Ministry of Economy in Ankara, Turkey on January 12, 2018. ( Hayati İkizoğlu – Anadolu Agency )


Turkey and Somalia on Friday signed a pact to boost their strategic economic partnership.

“We wish to deepen relations with Somalia. Turkey’s investment in Somalia stands at over $100 million,” Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Recep Akdag told a signing ceremony alongside his Somali counterpart Mahdi Mohammed Gulaid.

“This figure forms a foundation to prompt bigger cooperation in the days to come.”

He predicted that the bilateral trade volume would rise to $200 million from about $120 million in 2016.

He spoke at the opening of a Turkey-Somalia Joint Economic Commission meeting in the capital Ankara co-chaired by himself and Gulaid.

Akdag added that both countries should carry through 2016 memorandums of understanding in such areas as energy, mines, electricity, higher education, agriculture, and maritime affairs.

He added an expected free trade agreement between the two countries would boost trade ties.

Gulaid, for his part, said the meeting would maintain bilateral economic ties and bolster strategic cooperation in the years to come.

The countries also inked a memorandum of understanding on fishing and fisheries, signed by Turkey’s Food, Agriculture and Livestock Minister Ahmet Esref Fakibaba and Somali’s Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister Abdirahman Mohamed Abdi Hashi.

“Now we have started work on the development of Somalia as well as [it] becoming a major economic power with the support of Turkey,” Hashi said following the signing ceremony, adding that the pact would be the beginning of numerous future cooperation deals between the two countries.

Under the deal, Turkish fishermen will be able to fish in Somalia’s territorial waters.

Turkey and Somalia have long enjoyed friendly relations, as Turkey has invested in many areas to help modernize Mogadishu, the capital of the Horn of Africa country.

Last September, Turkey opened its largest military training academy abroad in Somalia.

Located south of Mogadishu, the training facility took some two years to build.

The facility spans over 4 square kilometers (1.54 square miles), and can train more than 1,500 troops at a time, according to the Somali government.

South Sudan Rebuilt bridge in Upper Nile helping local communities, improving aid deliverey

South Sudan: Rebuilt bridge in Upper Nile helping local communities, improving aid delivery

Source: UN News Center, 12 January 2018

UN peacekeepers of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) have rebuilt the Akoka Bridge in the Upper Nile region, making it possible for local communities to reach Malakal with ease. Photo: UNMISS

12 January 2018 – For Samuel James Ayot, a villager from Akoka in rural north South Sudan, accessing basic services and earning a livelihood does not mean having to make a perilous neck-deep wade across a river, thanks to the tireless efforts of Indian peacekeepers from the United Nations mission there, who rebuilt a bridge and connected his village to a major provincial town.

In addition to Akoka locals, the bridge – built by the ‘blue helmets’ from the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), in record time – has greatly benefited humanitarians, enabling faster aid delivery as well as security patrol and outreach activities by the Mission.

According to UNMISS’ Lt. Colonel Nishkam Puri, in-charge of the Indian engineering company that rebuilt the bridge, the project was vital to allow other critical road repairs in the region.

It was also not without problems.

“The major challenge was reconstructing the bridge through a submerged area with a depth of up to 4 metres in some places,” said Lt. Colonel Puri.

The UN peacekeepers, working in collaboration with the Government, took just 10 days to make the route passable. The bridge had been inoperable since last June when heavy raises washed away a 300-metre-long road segment.

The Akoka Bridge lies between Malakal (the provincial capital) and Melut on a major service road that also reaches Bunj and Renk.

“We are happy because UNMISS has done the work well. We have really suffered here going through the water with our goods, and even our animals. Now, with the road, we can carry even heavy things without walking inside the water. We are all very happy here in Akoka,” says local resident Samuel James Ayot.

Providing for the basic needs of the most vulnerable is essential to empowering themUNMISS spokesperson Ratomir Petrovic

“The road now provides access for life-saving food and supplies to reach the people who need them,” said Ratomir Petrovic, a spokesperson for UNMISS.

“Providing for the basic needs of the most vulnerable is essential to empowering them. Initiatives such as this one demonstrate the power of peacekeepers to make a real difference in the lives of South Sudanese families,” he added.

According to the Mission, the next phase is installing appropriate structures and marram to bolster the bridge’s strength to withstand the next rainy season.

Africans outraged over ‘racist’ Trump remarks

Africans outraged over ‘racist’ Trump remarks hare


Source: APF, Saturday January 13, 2018

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 13 – Africans have reacted angrily after US President Donald Trump reportedly referred to their nations as “shithole countries”, with many accusing the US president of racism and ignorance.

The 54-nation African Union condemned the remarks on Friday, while a statement from ambassadors of all countries from the continent at the United Nations demanded a retraction and apology.

The African Group of UN ambassadors said it was “extremely appalled at, and strongly condemns the outrageous, racist and xenophobic remarks by the president of the United States of America as widely reported by the media”.

Ambassadors unanimously agreed the resolution after an emergency session to weigh Trump’s remarks.The comment was “clearly” racist, said Ebba Kalondo, spokeswoman for AU chief Moussa Faki.

“This is even more hurtful given the historical reality of just how many Africans arrived in the United States as slaves, and also terribly surprising as the United States remains a massively positive example as just how migration can give birth to a nation,” Kalondo said.

He stressed the US was “much stronger than the sum total of one man”.

Trump reportedly demanded to know why the United States should accept immigrants from “shithole countries”, after lawmakers raised the issue of protections for immigrants from African nations, Haiti and El Salvador.

However he later tweeted: “this was not the language used”.

The United Nations slammed the reported remarks as “shocking and shameful” and “racist”.

“You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as ‘shitholes’ whose entire populations, who are not white, are therefore not welcome,” Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN human rights office, told reporters in Geneva.

Botswana summoned the US ambassador to the country to “clarify if Botswana is regarded as a ‘shithole’ country”, according to a foreign ministry statement calling Trump’s comments “irresponsible, reprehensible and racist”.

Senegal followed suit with Foreign Minister Sidiki Kaba saying the government “firmly condemned the unacceptable remarks which undermine human dignity, especially of Africa and her Diaspora”.

– ‘Nothing new’ –

Trump was widely derided last year after twice referring to Namibia as “Nambia”.

Social media users across the continent posted images of modern skylines and beautiful nature from their countries with the hashtag “shithole”.

Many Africans reminded the US of its historic role in the continent’s woes.

“President Trump, One day, I’ll take you to a ‘shithole’ country called Ghana,” wrote Ghanaian Edmond Prime Sarpong on Facebook.

“First stop would be Osu Castle, Elmina Castle, and the over 40 Forts that detained about 30 million slaves, beaten and shipped out like sardine cans and then I will tell you the history of Africa and why people like you made that a ‘shithole’ continent.”

Prominent Kenyan commentator Patrick Gathara told AFP that Trump’s words were nothing new.

“This is no different from what Hollywood and Western media have been saying about Africa for decades. We have consistently been portrayed as shitty people from shitty countries.”

Some acknowledged problems in their countries, but blamed this on their poor leaders as well as Western nations.

“Please don’t confuse the #shithole leaders we Africans elect with our beautiful continent… Our motherland is the most blessed continent that has been raped by imperialists in collaboration with our shitty misleaders for generations,” wrote Kenyan activist Boniface Mwangi on Twitter.

In South Africa, the ruling African National Congress party declared “ours is not a shithole country” and described Trump as “extremely offensive”.

– ‘It’s our shithole’ –

Some Nigerians did not hold back, with many on Twitter saying their country was a “shithole”, but that it was “our shithole” to criticise.

In Senegal’s capital Dakar, administrator Idrissa Fall said “we cannot really say that he (Trump) is wrong”.

“African countries, and sometimes our leaders, do not exactly deal with the problems of the worst-off, that’s what makes people immigrate”.

Even war-torn South Sudan weighed in, with President Salva Kiir’s spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny slamming the comments as “outrageous”.

However Juba businesswoman Jenny Jore, 31, told AFP that Trump’s remarks were “on point”.

“It is thanks to our African leaders that we are insulted that way,” she said.

The 54-nation UN African Group, which does not include Western Sahara, demanded a “retraction and an apology” from Trump, while thanking Americans “from all walks of life who have condemned the remarks”.

Trump’s latest comments provided ample fodder for talk-show hosts.

South African comedian Trevor Noah, star of “The Daily Show”, described himself as an offended citizen of “South Shithole” and also criticised Trump’s preferred choice of Norway for immigrants.

“He didn’t just name a white country, he named the whitest — so white they wear moon-screen,” he said.

Gulf tension: Are Egypt and Sudan about to go to war?

ulf tension: Are Egypt and Sudan about to go to war?#Sudan

Cairo and Khartoum have allied themselves with opposing power blocs, building on inherent tension between the neighbouring countries

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir visits Bilal in the war-torn Darfur region on 22 September 2017 (Reuters)
Source: Middle East Eye
Mohammed Amin's picture
Last update:
Saturday 13 January 2018 10:54 UTC
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KHARTOUM – Tension between Egypt and Sudan has increased this week amid military build-ups on their borders and fears that the crisis in the Gulf has now spread to eastern Africa.

Turkish media reported on 4 January that Egyptian forces have arrived in Eritrea, which borders eastern Sudan, with backing from the UAE and opposition groups from the region.

That same day, Sudan recalled its ambassador from Cairo, then two days later declared a state of emergency in Kassala state, which neighbours Eritrea, and shut the border without explanation. Eyewitnesses in Kassala have since said that large numbers of troops have passed through, heading towards the border area.

During the past year Sudan and Egypt, which have a long-standing emnity, have increasingly allied themselves with opposing Middle Eastern power blocs

Ahmed Abu Zeid, Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman, said Cairo was “comprehensively assessing the situation with a view to making the appropriate response”.

The increase in tension comes just weeks after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Khartoum, the first visit by a Turkish leader since the Ottoman Empire withdrew from Sudan in 1885. Sudan and Turkey signed 13 agreements during the December visit, including military accords.

Cairo didn’t officially comment on Erdogan’s visit, but pro-government media have accused it as being a conspiracy against Egyptian national security. Khartoum in turn has denied the Egyptian accusations and says that Cairo has no right to interfere in Sudanese issues.

During the past year Sudan and Egypt, which have a long-standing emnity, have increasingly allied themselves with opposing Middle Eastern power blocs. Egypt has the backing of Saudi Arabia and UAE, the key advocates of a months-long blockade against Qatar. Sudan meanwhile has allied itself with Qatar and Turkey, which has a military base in the Gulf kingdom.

This is not the first time the two countries have fallen out.

Reason 1: Disputed borders

Aside from Eritrea, two other territorial disputes have strained Sudanese-Egyptian relations during the past half century.

The province of Darfur, in western Sudan, has been riddled by war for the past two decades, with up to 300,000 dead and at least 2.7 million displaced.

In May last year, President Omar al-Bashir said: “The Sudanese army has captured several Egyptian armoured vehicles in recent fighting in Darfur.” He has also previously accused Egyptian intelligence services of supporting opposition figures fighting his troops in the conflict zones of Blue Nile and South Kordofan.



Member of the Sudan Liberation Army (Abdul Wahid faction) in North Darfur in May 2012 (UNAMID)

However, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi dismissed the accusations and said Cairo was not playing a role in Darfur. Rebel leaders have also rejected Bashir’s comments.

Then there is the Halaib Triangle to the north of Sudan, run in effect by Egypt for the past two decades and which Cairo says is Egyptian territory. The region, rich in minerals and oil, has been disputed by Egypt and Sudan since the latter became independent in 1956.

Cairo has increased its military presence in the area since 1996, despite Khartoum’s repeated complaints to the UN Security Council and calls that the dispute be solved through arbitration.

In January 2016, Sudan put its forces on standby on the border with Egypt, the first time it has done so in 60 years, saying that Egypt’s military was “provoking” the Sudanese army in the disputed area.

Reason  2: Deals with Turkey

Khartoum has been diplomatically and economically impoverished during the past decade. The country is still subject to international sanctions as a result of the conflict in Darfur, while Bashir is still wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes of genocide. South Sudan took three-quarters of the country’s oil revenue when it became independent in 2011.

Small wonder then that Sudan has sought international alliances where it can. During his visit, Erdogan said that the two countries aimed to boost two-way trade from $500mn a year to $1bn in an initial stage and then to $10bn.



Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) is embraced by President of Sudan Omar al-Bashir during an official welcoming ceremony at Khartoum international airport on 24 December (AFP)

Turkey, meanwhile, wants to boost its influence in the region, not least near international trade routes that pass through the Suez Canal to the north and the Gulf to the east.

Ankara has been active militarily in neighbouring Somalia since 2009, when it joined the multinational counter-piracy task force off the Somali coast.

In September 2017, Turkey opened its largest overseas military base in the Somali capital, Mogadishu. It reportedly cost $50mn and will train 10,000 Somali troops, according to Turkish and Somali officials.

Ahmet Kavas, a former Turkish ambassador to the republic of Chad and an adviser to the prime minister on African affairs, told Middle East Eye that Turkey’s presence in Africa made more sense than that of any other country.

“If you were to think of any one country that should be present in Africa, that country would be Turkey,” said Kavas. “The anomaly was the 20th century, when we were largely absent from the continent and the western Europeans stepped in.”



Two of the deals signed during the Erdogan drew particular drew sharp attention from Cairo.

The first leases Sudan’s Red Sea island of Suakin to Turkey for 99 years. Over the centuries the island has been a commercial crossroads between Africa, Europe and the Gulf, as well as a gateway heading to the Arabian peninsula for Hajj. Historically, it is home to several ancient sites, dating back to when the Ottoman Empire colonised Sudan in the 18th century.

Turkey has said that parts of the island will be restored by the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency and the ministry of culture and tourism.

But Asma Al-Hussieni, editor in chief of the Egyptian daily state newspaper Al-Ahram Egyptian, said in early January that Khartoum and Turkey have secretly agreed to establish a military base on the island, threatening the shipping lanes of the Red Sea.

The second deal allows Turkey to have an enhanced presence in in Sudan’s territorial waters across police, security, military and defence ministries, ostensibly to protect Sudanese naval ships as well as fight terrorism.

Sudanese security expert and retired general Alabas Alamin said that Turkey’s increased presence in the Red Sea is a “breakthrough for Turkish ambitions, which worries the Arab countries aligned with Saudi Arabia, especially Egypt”.

There have been complaints about the deals from within Sudan. Abdallah Musa is a leading member of the Beja congress party, which represented a former rebel movement in eastern Sudan that signed a peace deal with the government in 2006.



Reports suggest Khartoum and Turkey have secretly agreed to establish a military base on the island of Suakin (Bertramz wiki commons)

He said the move is “a violation of the Sudanese sovereignty that will put Sudan in a critical situation amid regional conflicts” and that Egypt and Gulf states could be blackmailed if the waters were closed, disrupting oil routes to international markets.

However, the Turkish ambassador to Sudan, Irfan Neziroglu, denied Turkey would become involved in international affairs on Sudanese territories. “Turkey and Sudan have nothing to hide over the Red Sea or Suakin island,” he told MEE. “What we announced openly is what will going to happen in the Red Sea.”

Reason 3: Gulf alliances

The Gulf crisis which began in summer 2016 saw the Middle East divided between a power bloc opposed to Qatar which included Saudi, Bahrain, UAE and Egypt, and supporters of Doha, which include Turkey and Iran.

Emad Hussien, editor in chief of Sudan’s Alshorooq newspaper, said: “Khartoum is clearly pragmatic and opportunistic as it jumps from one camp to another without any strategic goals other than to break the isolation of the regime.”

Alhaj Warag, a political analyst and editor-in-chief of Turkey’s Hurriyat online, said on Egyptian TV that Turkish ambitions have pushed Khartoum to build its current partnership with Ankara –  but that this could put Sudan in a difficult position.

Sudan, Warag observed, had shifted from alliances with Iran to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen to Turkey and Qatar. “Playing the regional axis to draw some benefits will end up having a serious effect on Sudan.”

Musa warned that Sudan risked becoming the next Yemen. There, three years of war between sides backed by rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran have ripped the country asunder.

“To solve its economic crisis, Khartoum is putting the entire country in the middle of the regional polarisation,” Musa said, “but that will lead to serious consequences.”

Reason 4: Africa’s biggest dam

Egypt is deeply worried about the impact on its water supply of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, now being built near the border between Ethiopia and Sudan and set to be the largest on the continent.

Addis Ababa hopes the $5bn project will lift a large segment of its more than 80 million people out of poverty as well as allow it to sell on the energy produced and boost the economy.



Workers build the Grand Renaissance Dam near the Sudanese-Ethiopian border in March 2015 (AFP)

But in Egypt, where around 90 percent of the population live on or near the banks of the Nile, there are fears that there will be less water for irrigating crops. Cairo is also concerned that Sudan, through which the Nile flows, will side with Ethiopia in talks over the dam.

In December, Ethiopian media reported that Egypt wanted to exclude Sudan from the talks and invite the World Bank to arbitrate.

The Egyptian foreign ministry has denied the suggestion, stressing that Sudan is part of the talks that can’t be excluded.

But a Sudanese diplomat asked for anonymous because he is not authorised to the talk to the media told MEE the report was correct, adding: “The Egyptian stance regarding the dam is regrettable. Such moves from Egypt are unacceptable as they will only lead to more complications during the talks over the dam rather than solving the disputes.”

Reason 5: The Muslim Brotherhood

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi came to power after he drove his predecessor, Mohamed Morsi, from office in July 2013. Morsi was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is now banned in Egypt and whose members have been subject to unfair trials and torture, according to human rights groups.



Mohamed Morsi, former Egyptian president and member of the Muslim Brotherhood, is currently in prison (AFP)

In contrast, Sudan’s Bashir rose to power in 1989 amid a military coup backed by the brotherhood and its leader, Hassan Alturabi, whom the current president later ousted when the organisation split in 1999.

Egyptian pro-government media have repeatedly accused Sudan of harbouring Egyptian members of the brotherhood, an accusation which has been denied by the Sudanese authorities.

Under the title of “Al-Bashir and the political suicide” Emad Adib, a columnist for Al-Watan, daily Egyptian newspaper wrote that “Sudan is conspiring with Turkey and Qatar against Egypt”.

Turkey has been supportive of the brotherhood: in February 2017, Erdogan said he did not consider it “an armed group, but is in actual fact an ideological organisation” and that if they had been associated with terrorism then they would have been driven from Turkey.

Hassan Ali, a political science professor at Alazhari University, believes the tension over the brotherhood is a sign of the ideological divide between Khartoum’s Islamist government and the leadership in Egypt, which is increasingly having to deal with attacks in Sinai since the ousting of Morsi.

“These ideological differences are the main cause of tension between the two sides. The remaining issues including Halaib, the Ethiopian dam, and others are pending issues that been used as cards by the two sides to put pressure on each other.”

So will there be war?

Yet despite the disagreements over dams and brotherhoods, islands and power blocs, experts believe it is in neither country’s interest to engage in war.

Abdul Moniem Abu Idriss, a Sudanese political analyst, believes that the current tension is unlikely to descend from diplomatic and media spats into open military conflict.

Both countries, he said, are suffering deep economic crises, which will curtail their ability to fight or engage in escalation.

“Since 2011, these two neighbours have been suffering economic deterioration. Sudan has lost has the majority of its oil revenues since the separation of South Sudan in that year.

The two dictatorships in these two countries actually want to draw the attention of the people away from their domestic crises

– Alhaj Hamad, Sudanese Centre for Social and Human Development

“Meanwhile Egypt’s tourism, which is a vital sector for the Egyptian economy, has been hit by the continuous terror attacks.”

Egypt also goes to the polls in March – and a wave of nationalist fervour, sparked by relations with Sudan, might strengthen the hand of Sisi with his previous background as defence minister, commander-in-chief of the armed forces and director of military intelligence.

Idriss also believes that each side is “attempting to create an imaginary enemy to draw the attention of the two nations from their realistic and daily life needs that they failed to provide”.

“Even the Egyptian military presence in Sudan, especially in Halaib, is old and dates back to 1996, so I don’t think that there is something new in this regard,” he added.

And despite Turkey’s pledges to back Khartoum in any Egyptian attack on the Red Sea coast, both sides are too fatigued for war.

Alhaj Hamad, director of the Sudanese Centre for Social and Human Development, said: “The two dictatorships in these two countries actually want to draw the attention of the people away from their domestic crises.”

He said that neither side could afford even the pretence of engaging in open war. “I don’t think that they will go further. This current situation is best called the balance of weaknesses.”

EU luanches two million Euro technical Assistance project to support Ministers of Agriculture accross Somali States by creating better and more competitive value chains

Home Somali news

EU launches €2 million technical Assistance project to support Ministries of Agriculture across Somali States by creating better and more competitive value chains

EU launches €2 million technical Assistance project to support Ministries of Agriculture across Somali States by creating better and more competitive value chains

EngHomeSomali news

EU launches €2 million technical Assistance project to support Ministries of Agriculture across Somali States by creating better and more competitive value chains

EU launches €2 million technical Assistance project to support Ministries of Agriculture across Somali States by creating better and more competitive value chains

The 18-month project will increase the competitiveness of agriculture value chains through effective public-private-producers partnerships and policy support to federal and regional Ministries of Agriculture, responsible for creating an enabling economic environment.

Creating better policies and a stronger market

The project titled “Technical Assistance for Institutional Capacity Building on Agriculture Value Chain and Public- Private Partnership Development” was launched in Mogadishu today and is a joint initiative by the European Union, the Ministries of Agriculture of the Federal Government of Somalia and all Federal Member States, the Federal Ministry of Planning. Adam Smith International will implement the project in partnership with Somali Agriculture Technical Group (SATG). It will provide technical assistance to the Ministry of Agriculture at Federal and State level in order to strengthen their capacity to manage, support and regulate the sector as well as facilitate partnerships with farmers and the private sector. The Technical Assistance will also develop value

chain analysis engaging private sector and farmers’ communities to define actions and strategies to increase competitiveness of key agriculture products in Somalia. The €2 million project is funded under

the framework of the OUTREACH Programme “Partnership for Inclusive Economic Growth”, also funded by the European Union, and which will subsequently support the implementation of the value chain strategies and actions.

Agriculture in Somalia major employment and largest economic sector

The importance of agriculture and livestock to Somalia’s economy is immense. It provides 60 percent of the country’s GDP, 80 percent of its employment and 90 percent of its exports. The sector has great export potential, especially in banana and sesame, however low levels of productivity, vulnerability to climate change and low product quality hamper this potential. These issues could potentially marginalise small-holder agriculture in Somalia and lead to reduced employment and opportunities for youth and migrant returnees. Finding ways to improve the value chains and the institutional capacity of the Government can have a significant impact on small- folder farmers’ income as well as Somalia’s overall economy.

The meeting was an opportunity to share the project’s objectives and agree on the next steps. Furthermore, it provided an opportunity to discuss the implementation process of the National Agriculture Strategy for Somalia which was undertaken by all Ministries of Agriculture of the country since 2016. The Deputy Minister for Agriculture as well as the Ministers of Agriculture for South-West State, Hirshebelle and Galmudug, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture for Jubbaland and officials from the Ministry of Agriculture of Puntland were in attendance and highlighted the importance of the initiative..

“This project is extremely important to technically prepare all stakeholders and define priorities and partnerships which will facilitate EU and other’s donors’ interventions supporting agriculture value chain in Somalia” said Martino Vinci, EU Programme Manager for Productive Sectors.

Team Leader, Hussein Haji, said: “ASI and SATG are very much looking forward to implementing this project and are confident the project has had a very strong start. We want to bring a new way of working to this sector which is truly participatory and engages everyone involved in Somalia’s most important agricultural value chains.

On his final remarks, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, H.E. Hamoud Ali Hassan, said: “The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and irrigation with other State Ministers will work to develop unified government policies on the development of agricultural sector of Somalia. I hope this Project will increase the resilience and livelihood opportunities for small farm holders”.

For more information please contact:

Email: Delegation-Somalia@eeas.europa.e

The 18-month project will increase the competitiveness of agriculture value chains through effective public-private-producers partnerships and policy support to federal and regional Ministries of Agriculture, responsible for creating an enabling economic environment.

Creating better policies and a stronger market

The project titled “Technical Assistance for Institutional Capacity Building on Agriculture Value Chain and Public- Private Partnership Development” was launched in Mogadishu today and is a joint initiative by the European Union, the Ministries of Agriculture of the Federal Government of Somalia and all Federal Member States, the Federal Ministry of Planning. Adam Smith International will implement the project in partnership with Somali Agriculture Technical Group (SATG). It will provide technical assistance to the Ministry of Agriculture at Federal and State level in order to strengthen their capacity to manage, support and regulate the sector as well as facilitate partnerships with farmers and the private sector. The Technical Assistance will also develop value

chain analysis engaging private sector and farmers’ communities to define actions and strategies to increase competitiveness of key agriculture products in Somalia. The €2 million project is funded under

the framework of the OUTREACH Programme “Partnership for Inclusive Economic Growth”, also funded by the European Union, and which will subsequently support the implementation of the value chain strategies and actions.

Agriculture in Somalia major employment and largest economic sector

The importance of agriculture and livestock to Somalia’s economy is immense. It provides 60 percent of the country’s GDP, 80 percent of its employment and 90 percent of its exports. The sector has great export potential, especially in banana and sesame, however low levels of productivity, vulnerability to climate change and low product quality hamper this potential. These issues could potentially marginalise small-holder agriculture in Somalia and lead to reduced employment and opportunities for youth and migrant returnees. Finding ways to improve the value chains and the institutional capacity of the Government can have a significant impact on small- folder farmers’ income as well as Somalia’s overall economy.

The meeting was an opportunity to share the project’s objectives and agree on the next steps. Furthermore, it provided an opportunity to discuss the implementation process of the National Agriculture Strategy for Somalia which was undertaken by all Ministries of Agriculture of the country since 2016. The Deputy Minister for Agriculture as well as the Ministers of Agriculture for South-West State, Hirshebelle and Galmudug, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture for Jubbaland and officials from the Ministry of Agriculture of Puntland were in attendance and highlighted the importance of the initiative..

“This project is extremely important to technically prepare all stakeholders and define priorities and partnerships which will facilitate EU and other’s donors’ interventions supporting agriculture value chain in Somalia” said Martino Vinci, EU Programme Manager for Productive Sectors.

Team Leader, Hussein Haji, said: “ASI and SATG are very much looking forward to implementing this project and are confident the project has had a very strong start. We want to bring a new way of working to this sector which is truly participatory and engages everyone involved in Somalia’s most important agricultural value chains.

On his final remarks, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, H.E. Hamoud Ali Hassan, said: “The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and irrigation with other State Ministers will work to develop unified government policies on the development of agricultural sector of Somalia. I hope this Project will increase the resilience and livelihood opportunities for small farm holders”.

For more information please contact:

Email: Delegation-Somalia@eeas.europa.eu

Sudan shut down border with Eritrea

Sudan shut down border with Eritrea are


Source: SUDAN TRIBUNE, Sunday January 7, 2018

The Sudanese government on Saturday has closed its borders with Eritrea amid heightened security.

On Thursday, Sudan deployed thousands of government militia Rapid Support Forces (RSF) fighters to the eastern state of Kassala on the border with Eritrea.

In statements to the official news agency SUNA on Friday, Kassala State governor Adam Jama’a denied that Sudan has decided to close the border crossings with Eritrea.

However, hours after his statements, Jama’a issued a decision to shut down the border crossings with the eastern neighbour, saying the move was based on the presidential emergency order.

The decision provides for “the closure of all border crossings with the State of Eritrea as of the evening of 5 January 2018 and until further directives were issued”.

Sudan Tribune has learnt on Saturday that a high-level security meeting was held in Kassala amidst heightened security.

According to reliable sources, the Sudanese government has assembled a significant number of troops and SRF elements from the various units across the country and dispatched them to the eastern border.

It is noteworthy that the Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir last week issued a decree imposing a six-month state of emergency in North Kordofan and Kassala states.

The government said the decision was prompted by security reasons pertaining to the collection of illicit arms as well as combating illegal drugs and human trafficking.

Sudan’s First Vice-President Bakri Hassan Salih last month paid a two-day visit to Asmara in which he discussed bilateral relations and issues of common concern.

Kenya likely to compensate Somalia over oil exploration on disputed sea area

Kenya likely to compensate Somalia over oil exploration on disputed sea area hare


By Nzau Musau
Source STANDARD Digital, Sunday January 7, 2018

Kenya could be forced to compensate Somalia over oil exploration on a disputed sea area if the neighbouring country wins a case being adjudicated at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The case lodged by Somalia on August 28, 2014 is set to gain full steam after Kenya lost preliminary objections last year. The government was then required to file a substantive response to the main case in December last year.

And although Kenya, through the Office of the Attorney General Githu Muigai, complied with the orders by December 22nd, officials have remained tight-lipped on the content and nature of the defence they gave.

“Unfortunately, it is neither procedural nor possible to release documents in custody of the ICJ. These are confidential documents. It is only the ICJ that can give these documents and this would only be with the concurrence of the other party (Somalia),” an official at the AG office wrote to the Sunday Standard.The Attorney General who put up a spirited fight inside the ICJ courtroom last year but lost, did not respond to our inquiries. His fate in the wake of Friday’s Cabinet purge remains unknown.

In the secretive defense known in court parlance as a “memorial,” Kenya is understood, to have insisted on its boundary with Somalia being along a parallel of latitude as was decreed in the presidential proclamation of 1979.

It is also rooting on a second Presidential Proclamation in 2005 as well as its submission to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UNCLCS) in 2009.

“Kenya asserts that all her activities including naval patrols, fishery activities, marine and scientific research as well as oil and gas exploration are within the maritime boundary established by Kenya and recognised and respected by both parties since 1979,” a statement from AG’s office said.

In the memorial, Kenya is also insisting on a negotiated solution.At stake in the case are seven oil blocks awarded to foreign companies on concession basis. Kenya has since claimed exploratory activities in the area have been suspended as a sign of good faith but Somali insists this is not enough:

“Adjudge and declare that Kenya, by its conduct in the disputed area, has violated its international obligations to respect the sovereignty, and sovereign rights and jurisdiction of Somalia, and is responsible under international law to make full reparation to Somalia,” Somalia says in its claims.

In the past, maritime experts have warned that Kenya could lose the main case if past rulings of the court were anything to go by. Their arguments are based on the fact that the method adopted by Kenya to claim the maritime border — parallel of latitude — is seldom relied on by the court as compared to Somalia’s equidistant line approach.

Last year, Prof Musili Wambua, a maritime law expert said the only way Kenya can avoid losing is by demonstrating existence of “very strong circumstances which warrant a departure from the equidistant line advocated by Somalia.”

“It is only in Nicaragua v Honduras that the ICJ departed from the principle of equidistant special circumstances principle/rule and applied bisector method because equidistant could not produce equitable outcome,” Wambua said.

In its preliminary objections, Kenya had argued that a 2009 Memorandum of Understanding with Somalia acknowledging a dispute and vowing not to challenge each other’s claims pending process of registering borders removed the matter from ICJ scope.

On top of the reparations, Somalia also wants Kenya to hand it over all seismic data acquired in areas that are disputed “and to repair in full all damage that has been suffered by Somalia

Turkey gives weapons to Somali soldiers

Turkey gives weapons to Somali soldiers are


Source: VOA, Friday January 5, 2018
By Harun Maruf


FILE – Somali soldiers march during the 54th anniversary of Somali National Army Day in Mogadishu, Somalia.

Somali State Minister for Defense Mohamed Ali Haga has confirmed to VOA Somali for the first time that the Turkish government has recently supplied weapons to the Somali army.

In an interview with VOA Somali, Haga said the Turkish government has equipped a company-sized Somali army unit which graduated from the Turkish military training camp in Mogadishu two weeks ago.

Haga said just over 400 soldiers were supplied with small weapons and machine guns allowed under a partial UN embargo on Somalia. Somalia cannot import certain heavy weaponry.

Turkish media report that the weapons exported to Somalia are the MPT-76, a Turkish-made rifle. Haga confirmed this to VOA Somali.

“They have been equipped with Turkish-made rifles,” he said. “When the soldiers were coming for the training they did not have weapons, Turkey equipped them, and Turkey promised to equip every soldier who is being trained at the camp.

The pledge by Turkey to arm Somali troops will be seen as a massive boost in Mogadishu at a time when the Somali army is in a difficult transitional period – struggling to get trained, preparing to take over from African Union forces, working to protect the government and fighting Al-Shabab, all at the same time.

A recent “Operational Readiness Assessment” conducted by the Somali government found that approximately 30 percent of the soldiers in the bases do not have weapons. The same assessment also found that some of the weapons used by government troops are privately owned by clans. The evaluators said some units also lack medium and heavy weaponry, and some units are “undermanned.”

The Turkish military base in Mogadishu was opened on September 30. Turkey plans to train as many as 10,000 soldiers according to Somali officials.

The first company to receive the training was selected from current members of the army and graduated on December 23. The second company is to start training soon.

In addition, military officers are also given training on command control and leadership skills, Haga said.

“Turkey military is advanced, their training is NATO training,” Haga said. “This is a brotherly country which came to help Somalia at time of need in terms of humanitarian assistance as well as military.”

Weapons from other countries

Apart from Turkey, several other countries have provided training to Somali soldiers. The United States has trained a 500-strong special forces known as Danab or “lightening”, and the United Arab Emirates. UK, EU, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and Uganda have also provided training over the years.

Somali officials say training at Turkish training base in Mogadishu will harmonize all the training given to Somali soldiers to produce an organized force.

Haga, who also chairs the army integration committee, says the training provided at the Turkish base is also part of the army integrating process for soldiers who were selected from different divisions and regions.

Turkish eyes on Africa

Turkish eyes on Africa


Source: ahramonline, Saturday January 6, 2018

 

Late last year, the Turkish authorities opened their largest military base abroad in the Somali capital Mogadishu as a step towards consolidating ties with Somalia and establishing a presence in East Africa. Since then they have been seeking a military base in Sudan as the second Turkish base in Africa.

Turkey signed an agreement with Sudan at a joint press conference in Khartoum this week at the end of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s three-day visit to Sudan. The agreement allows Turkey a military presence on the Red Sea in Sudanese territorial waters.

Sudan is also leasing the Red Sea Suakin Island to Turkey, according to the new deal.

Urgency has been added to Turkey’s push into Africa as the UAE, one of Ankara’s regional foes, is increasing its own military presence on the continent.

The Turkish military base in Somalia is supposed to contain three military schools and other buildings, and Turkish officers are supposed to train more than 10,000 Somali troops at the base.

Mohamed Abdel-Kader Khalil, editor of the Turkish Affairs magazine, said that “the Turkish choice of Somalia was not random but was based on several reasons. Somalia has an important coastline and is a main entrance to the Red Sea. It is free of any other military bases, giving the Turks a relatively free hand in Mogadishu.”

African specialist Hani Raslan said that “the opening of the base is the culmination of a long process and plans set in action many years ago. Turkey started its push into Africa in 2002 from an economic perspective and then moved to a political and a security role.”

“This has made Turkey one of the most important actors in the Horn of Africa and East Africa region. The Turkish moves are also not limited to Somalia, but include Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya. The Turks have also tried to build relations with Eritrea, but they have not been welcomed in Asmara,” he said.

Sub-Saharan Africa is seeing an impressive surge in growth and urbanisation, and it has abundant natural and human resources. The continent recorded an annual average growth rate of five per cent over the last decade and is expected to continue this trend in the coming years. Six out of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world are now in Africa.

Turkey’s Trade and Economic Enhancement Strategy towards Africa lies behind the growth in Turkey’s bilateral relations with the African countries since 2003, when an economic boom in Turkey was accompanied by a renewed interested in Africa and a desire to grow trade volumes between Africa and Turkey.

Trade tripled in value to $16.7 billion in 2016 from $5.4 billion in 2003. The strategy was updated during the Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit in Equatorial Guinea in 2014, and its objectives have been modified to increase Turkish investment in Africa.

Relations between Turkey and the African continent constitute one of the prime orientations of Turkish foreign policy. In 2013, Turkey gave a further boost to its policies in Africa, turning them into a reinforced political-economic partnership. “If we were to think of any one country that should be present in Africa, that country would be Turkey,” commented Ahmed Kavas, a former Turkish ambassador to Chad.

According to a study by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a US think tank, the role of Turkish soft power was emphasised when Erdogan’s AKP Party government began its push into Africa in 2005 and particularly Eastern and Southern Africa.

Educational institutions associated with controversial and now exiled Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen were used to spearhead the Turkish push, only backfiring when Gulen fell out with Erdogan and the AKP.

However, the Gulen Movement is now firmly entrenched in countries such as Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique and South Africa. Ankara has had to resort to a mixture of coaxing and threats to get African governments to shutter Gulen-funded or Gulen-run schools on the continent.

It has been looking to counter these by increasing the number of Turkish government-approved institutions in Africa, both aid-related and educational, and an initiative has been launched to encourage Turkish student volunteers to engage in aid and development projects in 18 African countries.

Turkish universities are also providing scholarships to African students. The hope is that these will benefit Turkey in the future when the students rise to positions of influence in their countries.

In 2009, there were only 12 Turkish embassies in Africa, five of them in North Africa. There are now 39. There is also a growing number of African embassies in Ankara, now standing at 32 and up from 10 some years ago. Guinea Bissau, Cameroon, Tanzania and Mozambique are all planning to open embassies in Ankara.

Of Turkish development assistance to Africa, Khalil said that “Turkey’s approach is based on a combination of humanitarian and development assistance. Turkey has been providing substantial numbers of scholarships to African students. Between 1991 and 2014, the total numbers of scholarships was 4,380, but this has been substantially increased, and in 2015-16 Turkey provided 1,239 scholarships for students from Africa.”

“In addition to technical training programmes undertaken by different ministries and institutions, around 200 junior diplomats have attended the International Young Diplomats Programme” organised by Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 1992. “The Programme also organises exclusive training programmes for individual African countries like Somalia, Madagascar, South Sudan, Sudan, Kenya, Nigeria and Namibia,” Khalil said.

“In the development context, Ankara has taken an active role in settling the conflict in Somalia. It hosted the Istanbul Conference under the auspices of the United Nations in May 2010, which resulted in the Istanbul Declaration as a road map for settling the conflict,” he added.

According to Raslan, “Turkey has chosen to become involved in reconstruction and relief work in Africa. In Somalia, it started with the reconstruction of the Mogadishu port and parliament and built about 10,000 housing units and a large hospital equipped with the latest equipment.”

The Turkish construction industry has been one of the major drivers of Turkish economic growth in recent years, and it was dealt severe blows after losing lucrative markets in North Africa, the Middle East and Russia as a result of various crises.

In line with its increased diplomatic presence in Africa, Turkey has opened commercial consulates in 26 African capitals. The Turkish Foreign Economic Relations Council has established business councils in 19 Sub-Saharan African countries. Turkey has signed trade and economic cooperation agreements with 38 African countries, in line with efforts to establish a sound contractual basis for mutual economic relations.

Turkey attaches importance to peace and stability in Africa and contributes to United Nations missions deployed on the continent. It is currently providing personnel and contributing financially to seven of the existing nine UN peace-keeping missions in Africa.

Turkey has been providing training to military personnel from African countries, and these have increased significantly in recent years, with 570 trainees received in Turkey in 2015.

Khalil commented that “the beginning of the Turkish interest in Somalia was through the idea of training the Somalis. Then it developed into a military base on a 400 hectare site in parallel to security agreements with Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia. The opening of the Turkish military base in Somalia comes in the same framework that aims to promote Turkish influence in Africa.”

“The establishment of the base indicates Turkish objectives in an area that has extreme political, military, security and economic importance. Turkey is imposing itself as a powerful force in the strategic balance of the security of the Red Sea and the Straits of Bab Al-Mandab and in the Gulf of Aden, which is especially important for Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Sudan.”

“Turkey also aims to find markets for its military industries on the African continent, aiming to increase its economic and trade exchanges and to expand its influence in this region at the expense of the Arab states,” Raslan said.

Turkish Airlines, the country’s flag carrier, has played an important role in helping Turkey’s expansion into Africa. The airline flies to 51 destinations on the continent, more than any other international airline.

But there has been a dark side to this vast African network, as the EU has reportedly quietly been using Turkish Airlines flights to forcibly return African migrants to their countries of origin. The forced returns are being made under the re-admission agreement signed between Brussels and Ankara in 2013, which allows the EU to send migrants back to Turkey for deportation.

According to Raslan, the Turkish push into Africa should “draw our attention to the importance of allocating our own national security resources through long-term plans. Otherwise, we will miss out on developments elsewhere and will remain the prisoners of inward-looking movements and speeches that do not produce anything.”

Ethiopia to release political prisoners, says prime minister

Ethiopia to release political prisoners, says prime minister hare


Source: BBC, Wednesday January 3, 2018

In a surprise move, Ethiopia’s prime minister has announced the release of political prisoners and the closure of a notorious detention centre, allegedly used as a torture chamber.

Hailemariam Desalegn told a press conference the move was designed to allow political dialogue.

But it is unclear exactly who will be released – or when it will take place.

Ethiopia, a staunch ally of the West, is accused by rights groups of using mass arrests to stifle opposition.

Amnesty International welcomed Mr Hailemariam’s announcement, saying it could signal “the end of an era of bloody repression in Ethiopia” – although warned the closure of Maekelawi detention centre should not be used to “whitewash” the “horrifying” events which took place under its roof.

Who are the political prisoners?

Those held in jails across the country include opposition activists from the Amhara and Oromia regions, which were at the centre of anti-government protests in 2015 and 2016, as well as the Southern Nations and Nationalities Peoples Region, and journalists who have criticised the government, says BBC Ethiopia correspondent Emmanuel Igunza.

The prisoners also include UK citizen Andargachew Tsege, who was seized in 2014 when changing planes in Yemen and forced to go to Ethiopia, where he had been sentenced to death in absentia for his political activities against the state.

It is difficult to know exactly how many “political prisoners” there are, but our correspondent estimates there are about 1,000 held under the country’s anti-terrorism proclamation, including high profile leaders from the opposition.

However, there are another 5,000 cases still pending, made up of those arrested after a state of emergency was declared in October 2016, he adds.Will they actually be released?

The government has given no timeline on the release of the prisoners – including those still awaiting trial – or explained exactly who is considered “political” and who is not.

Our reporter notes a number of cases have political backgrounds, but are also linked to groups the government considers to be terrorists. Nineteen people linked to Ginbot 7 – deemed a terror group – were sentenced to prison terms just this week.

Whether they will all be released remains to be seen.

Any dialogue would have to include legitimate opposition groups like the Oromo Federalist Congress, whose leaders would have to be freed to fully participate in the process, our correspondent says.

What about the detention centre?

As well as releasing the prisoners, Mr Hailemariam announced the closure of Maekelawi – a detention facility in the capital, Addis Ababa, which Amnesty International described as a “torture chamber used by the Ethiopian authorities to brutally interrogate anybody who dares to dissent, including peaceful protesters, journalists and opposition figures”.

“A new chapter for human rights will only be possible if all allegations of torture and other ill-treatment are effectively investigated and those responsible brought to justice,” Amnesty International added.

The government strongly denies the torture allegations, but it has now decided the prison will become a “modern museum” – a move the privately-owned Addis Standard newspaper called for in an editorial in 2016.

A new detention centre will be opened, Mr Hailemariam said, which would comply with international standards.

Why now?

Our correspondent says the detention of political prisoners has always been a major concern. In December, social media users staged a day of action to remember those held behind bars.

But this decision comes hot on the heels of a meeting between the parties which make up the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition.

Over the past months, infighting within the coalition, which has been in power for more than 25 years, has led the prime minister to acknowledge the need for change.

The Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Organization and the Amhara National Democratic Movement, which are part of the coalition, have been pushing for increased political space and the “respect of their people” following the massive anti-government demonstrations that have been witnessed in the country.

Who is Hailemariam Desalegn?

A trained engineer, Mr Hailemariam took the reins of power in 2012, after the death of Meles Zenawi, who had ruled since 1991.

However, while the former deputy prime minister was a close ally of Mr Meles, he struggled to gain approval of the other EPRDF leaders in order to assume his new role.

He is not known for tolerating dissent well, despite statements to the contrary, his critics say.

In 2016, he blamed “anti-peace forces” for the violence in the Oromia region, a year after he told the BBC that bloggers and reporters arrested were not real journalists and had terror links.

More US Airstrikes, Executions to Start New Year in Somalia

More US Airstrikes, Executions to Start New Year in Somalia are


Source: VOA, Thursday January 4, 2018

Somali government officials say al-Shabab militants have executed five men accused of spying for the Somali government, Kenyan and Ethiopian forces.

The five men were publicly executed by a firing squad in the town of Kuntuwarey in Lower Shabelle region.

“The men, innocent civilians, were paraded in an open ground in Kuntuwarey town late Tuesday and a firing squad carried out the execution,” said Aden Omar, the district commissioner of nearby Barawe.

Radio Andalus, al-Shabab’s official mouthpiece, broadcast the voice of an al-Shabab judge announcing the sentence against the men. “The judge who announced the verdict did not show any evidence of the accusations against the victims,” Omar said.

Omar told VOA Somali that some 500 residents watched the executions — the first carried out by al-Shabab in the new year.

Last month, the militants executed five people, including a 16-year-old boy, for similar accusations. The group executed 22 people in all last year — nine based on spying allegations, with the others accused of crimes ranging from rape to sodomy to financial mismanagement.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military says it carried out an airstrike Tuesday that killed two al-Shabab extremists and destroyed a vehicle carrying explosives.

“U.S. forces conducted an airstrike against al-Shabab militants in the early morning hours of Jan. 2, 2018, approximately 50 kilometers west of the capital, killing two terrorists and destroying one vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, preventing it from being used against the people in Mogadishu,” said the statement, released Wednesday.

Last year the U.S. carried out more than 30 drone strikes against al-Shabab targets.

Implications of China’s Base at Djibouti

Implication of China’s Base at Djibouti

Source: Posted: China Brief , 01 Jan 2018 10:41 AM PST

China Brief published on 22 December 2017 an analysis titled “China’s Overseas Military Base in Djibouti: Features, Motivations, and Policy Implications” by John Fei.

The author says it is unclear whether China’s military base in Djibouti represents an effort by China just to enhance its peacekeeping and humanitarian and disaster relief capabilities, or suggests greater ambitions. China will probably use the base, however, primarily to support its economic engagement in the region, increase its abilities to provide humanitarian and disaster relief, and conduct anti-piracy and counterterrorism operations.

Turkey’s Policy in Somalia

Turkey’s Policy in Somalia

Source: The Istanbul Policy Center, Posted: 02 Jan 2018 06:18 AM PST

The Istanbul Policy Center, an independent policy research institute, at Sabanci University published in December 2017 an analysis titled “From Benign Donor to Self-assured Security Provider: Turkey’s Policy in Somalia” by Pinar Akpinar.

At a cost of $50 million and with a goal of training 10,000 Somali soldiers, Turkey established a military training facility in Mogadishu that demonstrates Turkey’s support for the government of Somalia. The author concludes that a prudent approach by Turkey could enable it to secure a long-term presence in Somalia both as a benign donor and a self-assured security provider.

UN Chief Warns World Faces More Dangers in Year Ahead

UN Chief Warns World Faces More Dangers in Year Ahead hare


Source: VOA, Monday January 1, 2018

U.N. Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres warns the world is likely to face many complex and new dangers in 2018. In a year-end message, Guterres appeals for greater unity to overcome these threats and create a more peaceful world.

When Guterres assumed office one year ago, the world was in the midst of a hopeful moment. Negotiations to end more than four decades of division on the island of Cyprus appeared to be moving toward a successful resolution.

Guterres jumped into the fray and worked tirelessly to produce that outcome. Unfortunately, the Greek and Turkish Cypriots were unable to bury their differences and live as one nation together.

The UN chief acknowledges his hopes for a peaceful 2017 have not materialized. Unfortunately, he says the world in many ways has gone in reverse. Reflecting this darkened mood on the eve of the New Year, Guterres says he is issuing what he calls a red alert for our world.

“Conflicts have deepened and new dangers have emerged. Global anxieties about nuclear weapons are the highest since the Cold War and climate change is moving faster than we are. Inequalities are growing and we see horrific violations of human rights. Nationalism and xenophobia are on the rise and as we begin 2018, I call for unity,” he said.

During this past year, Guterres has had many catastrophic events landing on his desk begging for resolution. These include:

Yemen — the world’s worst humanitarian crisis with some eight million people on the brink of famine, and one million infected with cholera.
Persecution and violence in Myanmar that forced more than 650,000 Rohingya refugees to flee for their lives to neighboring Bangladesh.

Syria, approaching its seventh year of civil war, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced more than 11 million.
Conflicts in South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Iraq and many others that continue to take a heavy toll in lives and property.

As the world’s leading diplomat, Guterres must retain his sense of optimism that things can get better. He says the world can be made safer and more secure; conflicts and hatred can be overcome. But, only, he adds if world leaders unite to bridge divides and bring people together around common goals.

Somalia: Why Somalia Is Alshabab Playground

 Somalia: Why Somalia Is Al Shabaab Playground

Photo: Damien Glez/This Is Africa

Source: AllAfrica, 2017-12-30
#MogadishuMourns, #PrayforSomalia cartoon.

column

On the second day of my visit to Mogadishu, within a couple of days of the October 14, 2017 truck bombing, I visited the site of the explosion in the company of Prof Abdullahi Shirwa, the chairman of the National Emergency Operation Centre.

At some point, the man explaining things to me, glanced nervously around, and bent down and picked up “something.” He said to me, “Here,” offering me whatever it was that he had picked up from under a piece of wood.

I didn’t like his bothered look and so I asked, “What is it?”

“These are pieces of human flesh.”

Shocked, I averted my eyes, not ready to accept the man’s extended hand and was relieved when Prof Shirwa assured me that they were fragments of charred metal strewn by the massive explosion.

Of the numerous assaults and bomb attacks that will haunt every Somali’s mind, none has been more dastardly than this one. A heinous act of incomparable devastation, nearly 400 souls lost and an equal number of people suffered serious injuries, many needing major surgery, with many others either unaccounted for or missing.

The local terrorist group Al Shabaab had just served notice on everyone that it was still capable of striking panic into the nation’s heart, despite its territorial loss. As we mourned the dead, we sought answers to the question we have been asking for the past decade.

Now we ask again if this would be the watershed event that would drive the African Mission in Somalia (Amisom) and the Somali National Army towards a decisive final push to rid the country of Al Shabaab once for all.

‘Lies have short legs’

The terrorist organisation — masters in the dark arts of stonewalling — did not claim ownership of the attack, fearing a popular backlash.

It is worth remembering that the terrorists did not own up to the December 4, 2009, Hotel Shamo blast in which a male suicide bomber disguised as a woman by wearing a hijab, detonated a device killing three government ministers, two professors of medicine and nine students at a medical school graduation ceremony. But even without taking credit for the killings, everyone suspected them of being the perpetrators.

A Somali proverb says; Lies have short legs. And sooner or later, the truth will catch up with them.

And so it was something of a relief when the truth caught up with Al Shabaab’s taciturnity: The Somali Minister for Internal Security released the names of the six men behind the October 14 truck bombing a month after the deadly incident and two weeks following the Hotel Naasa Hablood assault, in which 17 people died and 23 were wounded, which Al Shabaab claimed to have carried out.

Mohamed Abukar Islow, the minister for Internal Security, identified Osman Hajji aka Maadey as the suicide bomber and driver of the truck. He also named five other individuals, who are now in custody, accused of having had a hand in the bombing: Hassan Adan Isack, the driver of the second car; Ali Yussuf Wacays, aka Duaale, thought to be the second suicide bomber; Abdiweli Ahmed Dirie, aka Fanax, the group’s head of explosive experts in Mogadishu; Mukhtar Mohamed known as Gardhuub, a senior leader of the team; and Abdullahi Abdi Warsame.

The minister added, “Apart from those in custody, our forces are hunting down the owner of the truck who is on the run.”

The government also shared the CCTV recording showing the truck at the moment it started colliding with other vehicles near the intersection, with security cars in pursuit.

There is a lot we do not know and maybe we will never know. I questioned both the recently fired National Security chief Abdullahi Mohamed Sanbalolshe and the minister of internal security about how a truck loaded with about a thousand kilogrammes of explosives was allowed to pass through numerous checkpoints, skirt the capital’s security cordons, and enter the city without it being stopped.

Djibouti would welcome Turkish military base, Djiboutian ambassador says

Djibouti would welcome Turkish military base, Djiboutian ambassador says hare


Source: DAILY SABAH, Saturday December 30, 2017

By ÖZGENUR SEVINÇ

Djiboutian Ambassador Aden H. Abdillahi with Daily Sabah's Özgenur Sevinç (R).
Djiboutian Ambassador Aden H. Abdillahi with Daily Sabah’s Özgenur Sevinç (R).


Djibouti is open to any kind of approach from Turkey such as building a military base to secure the Red Sea, Djiboutian ambassador to Ankara Aden H. Abdillahi has said, pointing to possible steps that could be taken to strengthen military ties between the two countries.

Citing the Red Sea as the second-busiest sea way in the world, Abdillahi said: “This international sea way must be secured and the international community needs to ensure that this area is safe from all kinds of threats.”

In line with efforts to enhance the security of the region, the ambassador said that “possible steps from Turkey to build a military base in the country would be welcomed.”

Djibouti has become home to key military bases due to its strategic location on the Horn of Africa. The small country on the Red Sea hosts the largest permanent U.S. military base in Africa as well as military bases of France and China and Japan’s only foreign base. The country lies on the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, which is one of the busiest shipping routes.

Djibouti Ambassador Aden H. Abdillahi welcomed Turkey’s increased attention on Africa and its recent initiatives.
Djibouti Ambassador Aden H. Abdillahi welcomed Turkey’s increased attention on Africa and its recent initiatives.


Commenting on the recent graduation of Somali troops from the Turkish military base, the ambassador said that as a neighbor of the country, “Djibouti feels gratitude for Turkey for providing help to the government of Somalia.” He added that Somalia should be supported in its fight against threats of terrorism that affect the daily lives of the people, pointing to the recent terrorist attack in the Somali capital of Mogadishu.

He said the bilateral ties between the two countries have enhanced since the opening of a diplomatic mission in Djibouti in 2012, and that friendly relations between Turkey and Djibouti go back to the 16th century. Abdillahi also welcomed Turkey’s increased attention on Africa and its recent initiatives. “Turkey already started opening up to Africa in 2005, and in 2008, we had a Turkey-Africa summit. I think this new approach will boost ties further.”

Touching on the visit of Djiboutian President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh to Turkey, Abdillahi said: “Omer Guelleh’s visit to Turkey will completely change the relationship between the two countries.” He said that the visit will pave the way for further cooperation in various fields, including education, health and economy. The two countries signed many agreements while he was in Turkey.

In relation to the economic relations between the countries, the ambassador said that Turkey and Djibouti agreed on establishing a Turkish special economic zone that will enable Turkish business to establish industries.

“The business community can reach out to the region having a special economic zone with many facilities that will also allow Turkish business to target the whole region,” he said. He added that the port facilities in Djibouti rank among the best in Africa and that the economic zone provided to Turkey is close to the port.

Pointing out that Djibouti is the entry point of the region, he said many investments have been made in the port facilities, railways and highways to connect the whole region.

“In East Africa, the potential that we have is huge, and Turkey has great potential, as well. Building a strong partnership will benefit both sides. Today, this area is booming,” he said.

In relation to the U.S’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Abdillahi said: “We need to thank Turkey for its leadership for emphasizing that the decision cannot be accepted.”

Turkey condemned the decision from U.S. President Donald Trump, and Erdoğan urged world leaders to oppose the decision in an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit in Istanbul. The OIC announced that it recognizes east Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.

The U.S. decision was rejected in the United Nations General Assembly, which has isolated the country.

“We need to express our solidarity with the people of Palestine who have been suffering, and accept the two-state solution,” Abdillahi said. He added that the decision to reject the U.S.’s steps was a wakeup call and Turkey’s decision to open an embassy in east Jerusalem would be a game changer.

Djibouti signs $bn gas project deal with China’s POLY-GCL

Djibouti signs $bn gas project deal with China’s POLY-GCL

Source: East Africa Monitor
Friday December 29, 2017

ShEast Africa Monitor
Friday December 29, 2017are
ShareEast Africa Monitor
Friday December 29, 2017

Djibouti has signed a preliminary deal for a $4bn gas project with Chinese firm POLY-GCL Petroleum Group Holdings Ltd.

The Horn of Africa nation has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Chinese company for a large-scale energy project to be constructed in Damerjog, close to the country’s border with Somalia.

Djibouti sign $4bn MoM

The project includes a natural gas pipeline, a liquefication plant and an export terminal to be located in the eastern village. The gas pipeline will transport 12 billion cubic metres of natural gas from Ethiopia to Djibouti per year. the liquefication plant will start with a target of producing 3 million tonnes of liquefied gas per year, starting from 2020, but this target will eventually rise to 10 million tonnes.

POLY-GCL has already finished drilling appraisal wells for gas deposits in southwest Ethiopia – a project linked to the export terminal plans in Djibouti.

Djibouti’s energy minister Yonis Ali Guedi says further negotiations over concession agreements for the project will happen within the next six months with construction scheduled to start next year.

Corruption rife in Somalia, UN says in year-end assessment

Corruption rife in Somalia, UN says in year-end assessment

Shareare


Source: DAILY NATION, Friday December 29, 2017

United Nations officials are offering a mixed but mainly negative year-end assessment of conditions in Somalia, while warning of a “grim” humanitarian outlook for 2018.

Progress towards stability is being impeded by extreme drought and hunger, by Al-Shabaab’s continued ability to slaughter large numbers of civilians, and other “enormous challenges,” said Michael Keating, head of the UN Somalia Mission.

“These include pervasive corruption, most obviously in politics, and powerbrokers’ willingness to use violence, or the threat of violence, against opponents,” he said in a review of Somalia’s status.

AL-SHABAAB

Noting that Al-Shabaab remains capable of launching devastating attacks, Mr Keating said the militant Islamist group “thrives, among other things, on the absence of functional local government and on the many conflicts around the country”.

And it is not only Al-Shabaab that threatens the country’s future, he added.

“Somalis deserve better than to watch as the most privileged compete for personal gain at a time when they face so much adversity and insecurity,” Mr Keating said.

In a bulletin issued on Wednesday, the UN’s humanitarian agency cited a 10-fold increase in the number of Somalis classified as on the brink of famine — from 88,000 in January 2017 to 866,000 in November.

HUMANITARIAN AID

Overall, 6.2 million Somalis require humanitarian aid, the UN body said.

“More than half of these require urgent life-saving assistance.”

Projections of below-average rainfall for the coming year indicate that Somalia’s “unprecedented drought” is likely to persist, the bulletin added.

“The prospects for recovery in 2018 remain grim,” it said.

ACHIEVEMENTS

Some achievements did occur during the past year, Mr Keating noted.

He pointed to a coordinated effort by the government, business sector, civil society, the diaspora and international donors that succeeded in averting famine.

A peaceful transfer of presidential power took place in 2017, Mr Keating pointed out.

In addition, “80 female members of parliament took their seats, accounting for a remarkable 24 percent of both houses”.

Mr Keating concluded his assessment with an expression of personal optimism, saying he is “encouraged by what has been achieved, while aware of how difficult the situation remains”.

Egypt FM to head to Ethiopia after Nile dam talks stall

Egypt FM to head to Ethiopia after Nile dam talks stall


Source: REUTERS, Sunday December 24, 2017

 

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry will visit Addis Ababa next week for talks with his Ethiopian counterpart, a foreign ministry spokesman said, in a bid to end a standoff over a multi-billion dollar dam project on the Nile river.

The dispute, which also involves Sudan, centres on control of a share of the waters of the Nile that stretches 6,695 km (4,184 miles) from Lake Victoria to the Mediterranean and is the economic lifeblood of all three countries.

Cairo says the dam would threaten water supplies that have fed Egypt’s agriculture and economy for thousands of years.

Ethiopia says the Grand Renaissance Dam, which it hopes will help make it Africa’s largest power exporter, will have no major effect on Egypt. It accuses Cairo of flexing its political muscle to deter financiers from backing other Ethiopian power projects.

Delegations from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia met in Cairo in November to approve a study by a French firm commissioned to assess the dam’s environmental and economic impact.

But negotiations stalled when they failed to agree on the initial report with each blaming others for blocking progress.

Sudan’s Irrigation Minister Moataz Moussa said Egypt was unwilling to accept amendments to the report put forward by Khartoum and Addis Ababa.

Sudan and Ethiopia had expressed concern over several points, especially the proposed baseline from which the study would measure the dam’s impacts, Moussa said in November.

Another source of disagreement is whether Ethiopia plans to complete construction before negotiations over water flows have finished.

“It’s clear they don’t want to reach conclusions quickly. We believe they probably want to start filling the dam and complete construction while there are still some ongoing discussions,” said Mahmoud Abou Zeid, Arab Water Council Chair and former Egyptian irrigation minister.

He said this would violate an agreement signed by all three countries in Khartoum in 2015 meant to ensure diplomatic cooperation and stem fears of a resource conflict.

Cairo fears the 6,000-megawatt dam, being built by Italy’s largest construction firm, Salini Impregilo SpA, and due for completion next year, will reduce the flow it depends on for drinking water and irrigation.

Egyptian officials say safeguarding the country’s quota of Nile water is a matter of national security.

“No one can touch Egypt’s water … (which) means life or death for a population,” President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said last month.

AU says insufficient funding threatens peacekeeping in Somalia

AU says insufficient funding threatens peacekeeping in Somalia hare


Source: XINHUANET, Friday December 22, 2017

Lack of funding is threatening the operations of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), an African Union (AU) official said Thursday.

Francisco Madeira, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission for Somalia and Head of AMISOM, said the inadequate funding threatened the operations of peacekeepers and the Somali security forces.

“Without funding, little can happen to move forward with certain undertakings already made on the security front,” he said during a media briefing in Nairobi.

Madeira said AMISOM needs support to conduct the last leg of military operations to recover territory that remains under the control of Al-Shabaab militants.

“We are planning elaborate offensive operations next year mainly in the Jubba valley, Gedo region and Middle Juba regions, areas that still harbor pockets of Al-Shabaab militants,” said Madeira.

He revealed that AMISOM has been unable to undertake military operations in the recent past due to limitations in personnel, logistics and others.

“We need urgent support to recover the territories that are currently under Al-Shabaab,” the envoy noted.

The Envoy observed that the Somali security forces need to be capacitated to take over the security responsibilities since the drawdown of AMISOM troops from Somalia entails the handover of some of the Forward Operating Bases in the sectors to the Somali National Army.

“A stable Somalia is critical for stability across the East African region and beyond. If we do not decisively address the threat of Al-Shabaab, they will continue to pose a danger to the whole world,” he warned.

A review of the AU Mission in Somalia that was carried out by the African Union and the UN, during the course of the year, recommended a gradual and phased reduction and re-organization of the AU Mission.

The UN Security Council Resolution 2372(2017) extended AMISOM’s mandate to 31 May 2018 and authorizes troop reduction, starting this December, as the Somali government progressively takes over AMISOM’s tasks.

1,000 peace keepers have already left Somalia while a similar number will leave by May next year.