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Nine killed in Somali market car bombing: police

Nine killed in Somali market car bombing: police

Source: AFP Monday February 4, 2019

At least nine people were killed and several wounded when a car loaded with explosives blew up near a mall in a busy market in the Somali capital on Monday, police said.

“The blast occurred close to Mogadishu mall and it has caused death and destruction. Nine civilians were confirmed dead and several others are wounded,” police officer Ahmed Moalin Ali said.

“The terrorists parked a vehicle loaded with explosives in the vicinity of the mall to kill the innocent civilians.”

He said some of the victims died in a building that collapsed as a result of the blast in the Hamarweyne market.

“I saw the dead bodies of four people recovered from the debris of a collapsed building and three others were strewn dead outside after the blast had blown them,” said shopper Munira Abdukadir.

“I was not far away from the blast location, but I was lucky to have survived, several people were wounded and some were screaming before the ambulances arrived,” said another witness, Abdulahi Mohamed.

Mogadishu is regularly targeted by the Al-Qaeda affiliated Islamist group Al-Shabaab.

The group was largely driven out of Mogadishu in 2011 and has lost many of its strongholds. But it retains control of large rural swathes of the country and continues to wage a guerrilla war against the authorities.

Gunmen kill head of Dubai-owned P&O Ports’ operation in Somalia’s Puntland

Gunmen kill head of Dubai-owned P&O Ports’ operation in Somalia’s Puntland

Source: Reuters, Monday February 4, 2019

Gunman shot dead the head of Dubai government-owned P&O Ports’ operations in Somalia’s semi-autonomous region of Puntland on Monday, a local government official said, and extremist group Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack.

Yusuf Mohamed, governor of Puntland’s Bari region told Reuters that two men disguised as fishermen had shot Paul Anthony Formosa as he was going to Bosaso port this morning.Al-Shabaab said it had carried out the attack and accused Formosa of being in Somalia illegally. “We are behind the operation … we had warned him but he turned deaf ear.

He was illegally in Somalia,” said spokesman for Al-Shabaab’s military operations, Abdiasis Abu Musab.

This came as a huge blast was heard in the heart of the Somali capital Mogadishu on Monday and clouds of smoke could be seen rising from the scene of the blast, according to a Reuters witness.

It was unclear what caused the explosion.

Sudan PM says protesters’ economic demands are legitimate

Sudan PM says protesters’ economic demands are legitimate

KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudan’s prime minister on Saturday appeared to soften the official stance on more than a month of anti-government protests, describing demonstrators’ calls for better living conditions as “legitimate”.

Students, activists and other protesters have held almost daily demonstrations across Sudan since Dec. 19, calling for an end to economic hardships and mounting a sustained challenge to President Omar al-Bashir’s three decades in power.

Rights groups say at least 45 people have been killed in the protests, while the government puts the death toll at 30, including two security personnel.

In the latest unrest-related death, a school teacher died in detention after being arrested in connection with protests in the east of the country, members of his family said on Saturday.

Bashir has shown no sign of being prepared to concede any power and has blamed the protests on foreign agents, challenging his rivals to seek power through the ballot box.


But Prime Minister Moataz Moussa took a softer tone, saying some of the demands of the protesters were legitimate and must be respected.

“There are problems and we are working on solving them,” he told reporters, referring to Sudan’s economic troubles and lack of services.

“There is a voice that must be heard and must be respected, despite the presence of political parties. There are legitimate demands and demands that must be expressed.”

Sudan has been rapidly expanding its money supply in an attempt to finance its budget deficit. But that has caused spiraling inflation and a steep decline in the value of the country’s currency on foreign exchange markets.

The 36-year-old teacher reported dead on Saturday had been arrested at his home on Thursday after protests in the town of Khashm al-Qirba, in the east of the country, the family members said. They added that security officials had told them he died of poisoning.

He had marks of being beaten on his body, the family said. The man’s funeral took place on Saturday.

Security officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Venezuela’s Guaido says police visited his home

The information ministry said on Tuesday Sudan’s intelligence and security chief had ordered the release of all those detained during the protests. However, the next day security forces detained the daughter of opposition leader Sadiq al-Mahdi, her family said.

Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court over charges, which he denies, of masterminding genocide in the Darfur region. He has been lobbying to have Sudan removed from a list of countries, along with Syria, Iran and North Korea, that Washington considers state sponsors of terrorism.

That listing has deterred the influx of investment and financial aid that Sudan was hoping for when the United States lifted sanctions in 2017, economists say.

New Force Commander takes over at the helm of AMISOM military

New Force Commander takes over at the helm of AMISOM military

Source: Amisom, Friday February 1, 2019

The African Union Mission in Somalia has a new Force Commander.  Lt. Gen. Tigabu Yilma Wondimhunegn from Ethiopia, took up office today, from Lt. Gen. Jim Beesigye Owoyesigire, who has served in that capacity since January 2018.

newsinideThe handover of instruments of power between the outgoing and incoming Force Commanders was presided over by Francisco Caetano Madeira, the Special Representative of the African Union Commission Chairperson for Somalia (SRCC), who is also the Head of AMISOM.

“There is work to be done,” Ambassador Madeira told Gen. Tigabu during the handover ceremony. “The task ahead is enormous, but I am very confident that you can do it,” he added while commending Gen. Owoyesigire for “sharing all his knowledge” to push forward AMISOM’s mandate. He described the outgoing Force Commander as an “extraordinary officer”.

Gen. Tigabu has 34-years experience in the military and has served the Ethiopia National Defence Forces (ENDF) in several capacities, including as Division, Brigade, Battalion, and Company Commander.

“This Mission is a challenging one, but we are up to the task,” the incoming Force Commander made an assurance while assuming office.

Prior to his appointment, he served as a member of the Defence Council and Head of Defence Logistics Main Department, where he was instrumental in planning, delivery, generation and integration of the Defence Capability, among others. He holds a Masters degree in Business Administration, a degree in Leadership and Military Science and a Diploma in Law.

Suicide car bomb explosion in Somalia leaves casualties: police

Suicide car bomb explosion in Somalia leaves casualties: police

Source: Reuters, Saturday February 2, 2019

A suicide car bomb exploded outside a military base for Ethiopian soldiers in southern Somalia on Saturday, leaving an unspecified number of casualties, a police official said.

Islamist group al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the assault and said it had killed 16 Ethiopian soldiers, although the claim could not be independently verified.

A local elder who witnessed the attack told Reuters the explosion had killed 10 people including soldiers and civilians. “The mini bus was very dusty, it must have come from a far region, it was fired (on) as it started speeding up,” he said.

Police officer Major Nur Abdullahi told Reuters from the town of Bardheere where the attack occurred that the vehicle involved was a mini bus carrying vegetables as a disguise.
“It was fired (on) before it reached the gate. We understand there are casualties,” the officer said.

Understaning the significance of the Protests in Sudan

Understaning the significance of the Protests in Sudan

With Sudanese President Omar al Bashir facing unprecedented pressure from a diverse collection of protesters and political parties, mediation is needed to avoid a violent escalation.

Sudan President Omar al-Bashir. (Photo: US Navy/Jesse B. Awalt)

Sudan President Omar al-Bashir. (Photo: US Navy/Jesse B. Awalt)

Popular protests have taken hold in more than 28 towns and cities in Sudan since December. Sparked by a tripling in bread prices and an inflation rate of 65 percent and rising, the protests represent the most sustained challenge to President Omar al Bashir’s 30 years in power. The Africa Center for Strategic Studies talked to Dr. Luka Kuol, the Africa Center’s Professor of Practice and a former National Minister of Cabinet Affairs for the Republic of Sudan, for his insights.

How are these protests different than previous ones that Sudan has experienced?

“The current popular uprising is different from the previous ones in terms of drivers, intensity, popularity, duration, spread, and death toll.”

Sudan is one of the few African countries where citizens pioneered post-independence popular uprisings in 1964 and 1985 that forced the ruling military regimes to step down. Popular uprising has become one of the political norms that Sudanese resort to in redefining their social contract with the state.

The current popular uprising is different from the previous ones in terms of drivers, intensity, popularity, duration, spread, and death toll. Although this uprising was triggered by the decision of the government to lift subsidies on essential commodities (most significantly bread), it is a manifestation of the structural economic, political, and social fragility of the state of Sudan. Unlike previous uprisings, these protests have been engineered by the new forces of youth and middle-class professionals that are well informed, connected, and equipped with enabling technology and social media that the regime is ill-positioned to contain.

What are some of the underlying factors behind the protests?

The political Islam program adopted by the National Congress Party (NCP) in governing Sudan after gaining power through a coup d’état in 1989 has not only resulted in the separation from South Sudan but has also caused enormous human suffering and agony that has contributed to this uprising and relegated Sudan to arguably one of the worst performing states in the world. This peaceful uprising has adopted a chant similar to that of the Arab Spring protests elsewhere in the region: “The people want to overthrow the regime” and calls for President Bashir to step down. The uprising seems to gain more strength and reenergize itself the more the government uses violence to suppress it.

There is no doubt the uprising has weakened the authority of President Bashir and political Islam in Sudan.

How resilient are the protests likely to be?

It is likely the uprising will persist and continue unabated. Meanwhile, elements of the government are determined to repress the protests until the movement is worn out. Indeed, Sudan is at a crossroads. Some observers see President Bashir as having no option but to fight back at any cost, while the protesters are determined to see regime change. If the confrontation continues to escalate in the manner, despite the civility exhibited by the protesters, Sudan is destined for a bloody boiling point and chaos that may deteriorate into a scenario similar to that of Syria or Libya.

How much support does Bashir have?

The withdrawal of 22 political parties, including Islamist political parties, from the national dialogue initiated by President Bashir and their call on January 1 for him to step down and form a sovereign council and a transitional government is a political blow to the standing of President Bashir.

“With the erosion of Bashir’s political base, the NCP is divided and Bashir retains only a few loyal supporters from his party.”

Many observers also believe that the army has shifted from its absolute allegiance to Bashir to a neutral position and are even siding in some instances with the protestors. The National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), which has been very loyal to Bashir and has been an integral part of his ruling party, the NCP, has started blaming the government for its mismanagement of the economic crisis. This has further weakened the control of Bashir over the affairs of the government. Even the special military force called “The Rapid Support Force” that was formed to protect Bashir and his regime has taken a neutral position toward the uprising. Its leadership has also publicly criticized the government for the economic crisis.

With the erosion of Bashir’s political base, the NCP is divided and Bashir retains only a few loyal supporters from his party. Besides the division within the NCP, there is also friction among the regime’s supporters. The Sudanese Muslim Scholars Association, a body of state-sponsored clerics that is perceived as conservative and loyal to Bashir, has unprecedentedly criticized the government for the economic crisis and has called for the accountability of the officials responsible.

What are the likely paths forward?

A first option is for Bashir to voluntarily resign and hand over power to the national army with a technocratic government to oversee the transition to constitutional democratic governance. Provided that he can find a host country that may ensure his safety and protection from the warrant for his arrest by the International Criminal Court (ICC), President Bashir may choose to leave the country as did the former Tunisian president, Zine el Abidine Ben Ali. With such protections, he may also decide to stay inside the country, as did the former Sudanese president, Ibrahim Abboud, in 1964 and former Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak. Such a move would likely quell the protests and spare the country of the risk of more widespread violence. This option is unlikely, however, as the national army may be too politicized. Moreover, some protesters may not accept Bashir avoiding accountability.

The second option is for President Bashir to pledge to not contest for the presidency in general elections in 2020 and to allow the formation of an inclusive transitional government of national unity to oversee the transition to constitutional democratic governance.

In this option, Bashir would publicly apologize to the Sudanese people for the atrocities committed under his rule and bring charges against those who were responsible for the killing of protestors. As part of the transition process, he would commit to a national dialogue that would help create a conducive political environment for powersharing. This would also ensure the participation of moderate Islamist members, as has been the case in the Tunisian transitional process. This option is likely to be entertained by Bashir and accepted by the protesters if a trusted body facilitates it. However, some protesters may not agree with any option other than Bashir stepping down.

The third option is for President Bashir to defy the uprising, declare a state of emergency, and try to violently suppress it. This option would result in more bloodshed and may trigger a violent response from protesters with some seeing armed struggle as the only way to force President Bashir to step down. This scenario could descend into a protracted and fragmented conflict similar to that of Syria and Libya and would result in massive displacement and immense human suffering. Absent mediation—both internal and external—President Bashir’s instinct and pride may predispose him to this route.

Your scenarios suggest there is a way out of this crisis via mediation. Would you elaborate on this?

A key factor across all of these factors is the potentially determinative role of trustworthy mediation. While calculations over the ICC make his situation different from Ben Ali, Bashir also has to weigh the fate of other leaders in the region who tried to fight their way out of the crisis. So, he may indeed be willing to consider alternatives. Mediation efforts from the UN Security Council or African Union may be seen as representing the honest broker that is needed.

Such a mediation mechanism may also provide a credible platform from which to mobilize the international support needed to stabilize the serious economic crisis facing Sudan, even if Bashir were to step down.

Sudan opposition leader’s duaghter detained as professors protest

Sudan opposition leader’s daughter detained as professors protest

Source: Reuters, 30 January 2019

KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Security forces detained the daughter of Sudanese opposition leader Sadiq al-Mahdi on Wednesday, her family said, as anti-government protests spread to the capital’s main university.

FILE PHOTO: Sudanese leading opposition figure Sadiq al-Mahdi addresses his supporters after he returned from nearly a year in self-imposed exile in Khartoum, Sudan December 19, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/File Photo

Two security vehicles arrived at Mariam Sadiq al-Mahdi’s home in Khartoum in the morning and took her away, her sister Rabah told Reuters, a day after Sudan’s security chief ordered the release of dozens of detained protesters.

There was no immediate comment from the government.


Mariam is deputy head of the opposition Umma Party headed by her father – who is Sudan’s last democratically elected prime minister and was overthrown by President Omar al-Bashir in a coup in 1989.

She has supported a wave of protests that have shaken cities across Sudan since Dec. 19. Demonstrators, frustrated with bread and fuel shortages and other economic hardships, have called for the end of Bashir’s three-decade rule.

Rights groups say at least 45 people have been killed. The government puts the death count at 30.

Around 250 professors from the University of Khartoum protested on campus on Wednesday, demanding a new transitional administration to replace the current one.

About 510 of the university’s professors signed a memo calling for the creation of a “sovereign body” to form a new government and oversee a four-year transitional period.

The university educated many of Sudan’s leading politicians and has been the scene of protests and unrest throughout the country’s tempestuous history.

“The University of Khartoum’s role as an academic institution is to find solutions for the peaceful transfer of power,” Montasser al-Tayeb, one of the professors, told reporters.

Sadiq al-Mahdi returned to Sudan last month from nearly a year in self-imposed exile and called for a democratic transition before thousands of supporters.

He was overthrown by an alliance of Islamists and military commanders, led by Bashir, that still forms the nucleus of the ruling National Congress Party.

More than 130 African migrants feared drowned off Djibouti: U.N.

More than 130 African migrants feared drowned off Djibouti: U.N.

Source: Reuters, Wednesday January 30, 2019

GENEVA (Reuters) – More than 130 African migrants were missing off Djibouti after two overloaded boats capsized in rough seas on Tuesday, the United Nations migration agency said.

The vessels were heading to Yemen, a gateway to Gulf countries where many migrants hope to find jobs and better lives, said Joel Millman, spokesman for the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).Alerted by local residents, a team of gendarmes found two survivors and the bodies of five migrants. The boats were believed to have capsized off Godoria, in Djibouti’s Obock region.

IOM staff identified an 18-year-old male survivor believed to have among 130 passengers on the first boat, but he had no information on the second craft, the IOM said.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Kevin Liffey

Somalia named as world’s most corrupt country, Denmark the least, while US is ‘one to watch’

Somalia named as world’s most corrupt country, Denmark the least, while US is ‘one to watch’

Source: MailOnline, Tuesday January 29, 2019

Somalia is the most corrupt in the world, Denmark the least, while America’s falling score is a ‘red flag’, according to a global corruption watchdog.

Transparency International highlighted Hungary and the United States in their Corruption Perceptions Index for 2018, with America being knocked from the top 20 ‘cleanest’ list.

Trump’s America lost four points and dropped out of the top 20 least corrupt nations for the first time since 2011, while Hungary’s politics has taken on more autocratic overtones, according to the researchers.

‘A four point drop in the CPI score is a red flag and comes at a time when the US is experiencing threats to its system of checks and balance, as well as an erosion of ethical norms at the highest levels of power,’ the Berlin-based organization said.
‘If this trend continues, it would indicate a serious corruption problem in a country that has taken a lead on the issue globally -this is a bipartisan issue that requires a bipartisan solution.’

Zoe Reiter, the watchdog’s acting representative to the US, said they had serious concerns over the Trump administration but that corrupution had been a mounting problem for years.

‘Conflict of interest wasn’t a new problem, but it was illuminated in its glory when you have someone who is basically breaking norms.

‘Trump is a symptom not a cause. His presidency is illuminating some of the problems.’

The US, Hungary and Brazil were all listed as countries to watch.
The most improved were Estonia, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Guyana; and decliners included Australia, Chile, Malta and Mexico.

Somalia was rated the most corrupt with a score of 10, followed by Syria, South Sudan, Yemen, North Korea, Sudan, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Afghanistan and Libya.

Many of the most corrupt regions are in throws of warfare which has ravaged government and any prospect of democracy.

The Corruption Perceptions Index showed more than two-thirds of countries scoring below 50, on its scale where 100 is very clean and zero is very corrupt.

In a cross-analysis of its survey with global democracy data, Transparency said a link could be drawn between corruption and the health of a democracy.

Full democracies scored an average of 75 on the corruption index, flawed democracies averaged 49, and autocratic regimes averaged 30, the organization said.

The US score dropped from 75 to a below average 71.

It noted that Hungary dropped eight points and Turkey nine over the past five years, to scores of 46 and 41, respectively.
At the same time, the report cited Freedom House’s annual democracy survey, noting Turkey was downgraded from ‘partly free’ to ‘not free,’ while Hungary registered its lowest score for political rights since the fall of communism in 1989.

The ratings reflect the ‘deterioration of rule of law and democratic institutions, as well as a rapidly shrinking space for civil society and independent media,’ the organization said.

‘Our research makes a clear link between having a healthy democracy and successfully fighting public sector corruption,’ said Delia Ferreira Rubio, the head of Transparency.

‘Corruption is much more likely to flourish where democratic foundations are weak and, as we have seen in many countries, where undemocratic and populist politicians can use it to their advantage.’

Overall, Denmark led the survey as the least corrupt nation, with a score of 88, followed by New Zealand, Finland, Singapore, Sweden and Switzerland.

Rounding out the top group were Norway, Netherlands, Canada, Luxembourg, Germany and Britain.

Since 2012, only 20 nations had significantly improved their scores, including Argentina and Ivory Coast, which scored 40 and 35 respectively, up from 35 and 29.
At the same time, 16 have declined significantly in that time, including Australia, which slipped from a score of 85 to 77, and Chile, which dropped from 72 to 67.

The index is calculated using 13 different data sources that provide perceptions of public sector corruption from business people and country experts.

These include the African Development Bank Country Policy and Institutional Assessment, the World Bank Country Policy and Institutional Assessment, the World Economic Forum Executive Opinion Survey and the World Justice Project Rule of Law Index Expert Survey.

Madaxweynaha Soomaaliya oo kulan la qaatay madaxda dowlad gobolleedyada

Madaxweynaha Soomaaliya oo kulan la qaatay madaxda dowlad gobolleedyada
Source Hiiraan Online Axad, Janaayo, 27, 2019

Axad, Janaayo, 27, 2019 (HOL)- Madaxweynaha dowladda Soomaaliya Maxamed Cabdulaahi Farmaajo ayaa kulan wadatsshi ah kula qaatay xarunta madaxtooyada Puntland madaxda dowlad gobolleedyada.

Madaxweynaha cusub ee Puntland Saciid Cabdullaahi Deni  ayaa ku martiqaaday madaxweyne Farmaajo iyo madaxda dowlad gobolleedyada kulan quraac ah oo dhinaca kale la sheegay in lagu lafaguray arrimaha siyaasada dalka gaar ahaan sidii loo hagaajin lahaa xiriirka dowladda dhexe iyo dowlad gobolleedyada.

Khudbad uu xalay ka jeediyay madaxweyne Farmaajo munaasabadii calleemo saarka hoggaanka cusub ee Puntland ayuu ka sheegay in uu diyaar u yahay hagaajinta xiriirka dowlad gobolleedyada, isaga oo dhinaciisa dalbada in la cafiyo, lagana gudbo wixii khilaaf ah ee jira.

Kulanka saakay ayaa waxaa ka qeybgalay madaxweynayaasha Galmudug, Jubbaland,  Koofur Galbeed, iyo Hirshabeelle, iyadoo la filayo marka uu kulanka soo  dhamaado in laga soo saaro war murtiyeed.

Madaxwynihii hore ee dowlad gobolleedka Puntland islamarkaana hadda ah xildhibaan ka tirsan Aqalka sare Cabdiraxmaan Faroole oo ka qeybgalay kulanka quraacda ah ayaa khudbadiisii xalay ku dalbaday in deg deg loo dhameeyo khilaafka dowladda dhexe iyo dowlad gobolleedyada dalka iyada oo la tixraacayo Dastuurka iyo Sharciga

Iman Mohamed Jama, Hiiraan Online

Qatar, Somalia to strengthen military ties

Qatar, Somalia to strengthen military ties

Source: XINHUANET, Sunday January 27, 2019

Qatari Deputy Prime Minister for Defense Affairs Khalid al-Attiya met here on Thursday with Somalian Defense Minister Hassan Ali Mohamed and discuss ways to boost bilateral ties in the military fields.

The two sides discussed means to bolster military and defense cooperation, according to a statement tweeted by the Directorate of Moral Guidance at the Qatari Ministry of Defense.

The Somali minister attended ceremonies in Doha marking the graduation of the 14th batch of officers of the armed forces, interior ministry and other security agencies at the Ahmed bin Mohamed Military Academy.

The Qatari defense ministry had announced on Jan. 17, 2019 that Somalia has received at the seaport of Mogadishu a grant of 68 advanced military vehicles provided by the Qatari armed forces.

The ministry said the grant came within the framework of Qatar’s support for the Somali people and government.

The grant would hopefully help the institutions of the state and the internationally-recognized central government to bolster security and combat terror and extremism.

Somalia has been the scene of bloody conflict for years between the central government and the Islamist al-Shabaab Movement, which wages attacks on military as well as civil installations in and outside the capital Mogadishu.

The United Nations’ envoy to Somalia Nicholas Haysom warned on Jan. 3 that the al-Shabaab was still the largest source of insecurity in the Horn of Africa country.

Al-Shabaab is a Somalia-based Islamist group, which has split into two groups, with one still pledging allegiance to Al-Qaeda, the other to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). 

Security Program in Somalia Is Not Working

Security Program in Somalia Is Not Working

Source: Abukar Arman
The Elephant posted on 24 January 2019 a commentary titled “Rebranding Al Shabaab: Geopolitics, Greed, Ineptitude and the Losing Battle against Terror” by Abukar Arman.

Somalia has outsourced to foreign actors almost every aspect of its security and none of them is accountable to the Somali government. The author argues that sustainable security will not exist so long as the international community continues its AMISOM-focused initiative at the expense of rebuilding robust Somali military and security forces that are capable of dealing with extremists and securing Somalia’s borders.

U.S. Developing Supply Route Along Dangerous Stretch From Djibouti to Somalia

U.S. Developing Supply Route Along Dangerous Stretch From Djibouti to Somalia

Saturday January 26, 2019

The U.S. Defense Department is in the early stages of a project to develop land-based supply routes from the main American military base in Africa, Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, to other U.S. camps across the eastern part of the continent, according to contractors involved with the project and officials familiar with the deliberations.

The first part of the trail is intended to link Lemonnier to Baledogle, the U.S. camp in Somalia. The passage traverses areas controlled by the al Qaeda-affiliated group al-Shabab; swaths of land controlled by warlords with private militias; and a tense border region with Ethiopia.

This project will further entrench the U.S. military presence in Africa. It might also be part of a broader American approach to countering China in places across the continent where the U.S. has vital interests, including the strategic Horn of Africa, though one former official said the plan is more likely driven by logistical considerations.

Sending U.S.-affiliated convoys through these territories is generally considered highly dangerous. Foreigners tend to move in Mogadishu in armored cars with private security. If they leave the Somali capital, even to go short distances, they generally travel by air. U.S. military personnel usually make the 60-mile trip from the Mogadishu International Airport complex—which acts as the base for most internationals—to Baledogle in a helicopter.

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As such, a plan to create a passable route that runs through about three-quarters of the country is a hugely ambitious and expensive undertaking. The sources told Foreign Policy that carving out the routes in Somalia alone would cost at least $75 million.The project falls under the purview of the Virginia-based defense contractor Pacific Architects and Engineers, one of a few companies that support the United States African Command (the body also known as Africom that oversees U.S. military operations in Africa) in Somalia. Neither Africom nor the defense contractor would confirm the project, citing security concerns.

Pacific Architects and Engineers is so invested in Africom’s work in Somalia that last January it opened up a new subsidiary, the Mogadishu-based Africa Expeditionary Services. At least one other company the subsidiary sought to hire for help with the project turned down the job, saying it would be too difficult.

Some Somali and American stakeholders also questioned the viability of investing in this treacherous route.

Hussein Sheikh-Ali, who served as a counterterrorism and security advisor to the current and former Somali presidents and is the founder of the security think tank, the Hiraal Institute, suggested that given the immense security and logistical challenges posed, building a ground route between two U.S. bases might not be the best use of American money and time. “They should focus [on] capacitating local forces on counterinsurgency tactics and help local authorities on good governance,” he told FP.

One Somali security official called the project “adventuristic” but said with a grin that any U.S. investment was welcome.

But the security official also commented that part of the point of building out the route is to create a “mental shift.” The Somali government wants to demonstrate that it is possible for foreign governments and companies to work across the country. He also said that maintaining supply chains was a tenet of the Security Pact that Somalia developed with the support of international partners and the United Nations in May 2017.

Sudanese professionals emerge as new force defying Bashir

Sudanese professionals emerge as new force defying Bashir

Source: AFP, Saturday January 26, 2019

For decades, Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has kept dissenting voices low and opposition groups in disarray creating a political vacuum that a group of professionals has recently rushed to fill.

Public anger against worsening economic hardship and deteriorating living conditions has pushed doctors, engineers and university professors to come together under the umbrella of the “Sudanese Professionals Association” and lead nationwide calls for Bashir to step down.

Although the association remains unknown to many, its calls have echoed across the country bringing thousands of protesters onto the streets, including in the capital Khartoum.

The protests were initially triggered by the tripling of bread prices. But they have swiftly evolved into deadly confrontations with the security forces.

“The Sudanese scene has been lacking a leader on political, economic, security and social levels,” an SPA spokesman Mohamed Youssef al-Mustafa told AFP, speaking from Khartoum.THE PEOPLE

Sudan has about 100 political parties, but none have sought to steer the protest movement.

So the association has sought to organise protests. But in the end, Mr Mustafa says, “it’s the people who lead.”

It started when back in 2012, in response to new laws restricting the freedom of political parties, a group of 200 professors at the University of Khartoum formed a group, prompting other professionals in the capital to form similar gatherings, Mr Mustafa says.

Groups of veterinarians, media workers, pharmacists, teachers, lawyers and others were later created making up the main eight separate gatherings of the Sudanese Professionals Association by 2016.

“Now every city in Sudan has a gathering of professionals,” Mr Mustafa said.


Unlike political parties, SPA has no organisational structure and holds no records of the number of its members, he added.

“It’s not recognised by the government, but its setup is in line with Article 40 of the constitution,” he said.

The article stipulates “the right of peaceful assembly” as well as the “freedom of association” including forming and belonging to political parties, associations, trade unions and professional federations.

SPA has for years been concerned with resolving the issues of the professionals, gathered under its umbrella.

But last month, it took on a more political role as the protests swelled, strengthening the spirit of revolt, announcing schedules for demonstrations and organising marches on the presidential palace.

It has even proposed a plan to form a transitional government if President Bashir quits.


And on Friday, the country’s main opposition leader and former prime minister Sadiq al-Mahdi threw his support behind the demonstrators.

“This regime has to go immediately,” Mahdi, leader of the Umma Party, told hundreds of worshippers at a mosque in Omdurman.

“A period of transition will come soon… we are supporting this (protest) movement,” Mr Mahdi said, adding more than 50 people have been killed in the protests.

Officials say 30 people have died in the protests, while rights groups have put the death toll at more than 40.

“The way protesters follow this group is strange,” said Sudanese journalist Faisal Mohamed Saleh, pointing out that the protests always start exactly at the time designated by the group.

“It’s an achievement for this group, considering that the protesters don’t even know who the main leaders of this association are. Protesters just trust them.”


But Mr Mustafa dismissed plans that SPA would turn into a political party.

“There is no thought of turning the professional entity into a political party,” he said, adding many members already belong to some political parties.

But since December 19, the group has joined forces with Bashir’s main opponents.

Opposition groups including the National Consensus Forces Alliance and Nidaa al-Sudan have signed a document with regime change being the main objective.

It also outlines a post-Bashir plan including rebuilding Sudan’s justice system and halting the country’s dire economic decline.

Mohamed al-Asbat, another SPA spokesman living in Paris, says the association will continue to use peaceful means to bring about political change.

“The reason people are flocking to us it the association’s ability to maintain peacefulness and use of soft communication,” he said.

Will Sudan’s Protest Movement Bring Down the Government?

Will Sudan’s Protest Movement Bring Down the Government?

Source: The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) posted on 21 January 2019
The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) posted on 21 January 2019 a commentary titled “Will Sudan’s Latest Protests Bring Down Bashir?” by Andrews Atta-Asamoah, ISS Addis Ababa.

The author concluded that if the loyalty of the army, the National Intelligence and Security Service, and other security apparatus starts changing, President Omar al-Bashir’s days will be numbered. But until that happens, he will remain defiant and could survive this round of protests.

A plot to overthrow the president of Ethiopia’s Somali region?

A plot to overthrow the president of Ethiopia’s Somali region?

Source: Ethiopian Observer, Thursday January 24, 2019

There is a secret plot to force the resignation of Ethiopia’s Somali region, Mustafa Omer, and his cabinet, amidst the infighting that split the regional party, it was said. Legal and human rights advisor to the President, Jamal Diriye told DW Amharic that certain former officials of the region, federal government lower officials, are preparing to restore the previous administration, led by Abdi Mohamed Omer, commonly known as Abdi Illey, who is currently behind bars.

Chairperson of the  the ruling party in the region, Somali People’s Democratic Party (SPDP), Ahmed Shide, is involved in the plot, Jamal told DW Amharic. Since stepping up as the region’s leadership six months ago, the current leadership has started to reform the region by cracking down hard on maladministration and corruption, and by putting new structures in place to ensure peace and stability, Jamal added. Ahmed Shide didn’t respond to a request for comment when Ethiopia Observer contacted him on WhatsApp.

No official reason is given yet for the infighting and split in the party. According to some accounts, serious differences started to surface when the president Mustafa Omer made a move to re-structure the region’s party which is still dominated by members suspected to be allied with previous admin. Some top brass of the region and the party, including the region’s communication bureau chief Guled Al Ali Kaahin, opposed the move and started calling call for the president to go. Addis Standard reported that Guled has been removed from his position since yesterday afternoon.Juweria Ali, a PhD Candidate in Politics and International Relations in London’s Westminster University and an activist from the region, reacted in a Twitter saying that it is a travesty that President Mustafa is being forced to resign by “high-level EPRDF officials in collaboration with remnants of Abdi Iley’s regime & other co-opted anti-reformist elites.” This will undoubtedly place the Somali Region in a state of turmoil, she warned.

A rebel group in the area , the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) released a statement calling upon the ruling party in the Somali state to resolve any difference internally in an amicable and transparent manner.

Source: Ethiopia Observer

Wave of protests rock Sudan, at least one dead

Wave of protests rock Sudan, at least one dead

Source: DW, Friday January 25, 2019

More than a month of protests represent the biggest challenge yet to President Omar al-Bashir’s three-decade rule. Rights groups say more than 40 people have been killed since protests erupted in December.

Thousands of people rallied across Sudan on Thursday and at least one protester died in the latest demonstrations calling on President Omar al-Bashir to step down.

The northeast African nation has been rocked by more than a month of protests first triggered by a threefold increase in bread prices. They have since developed into an expression of broader discontent over worsening economic conditions and Bashir’s three-decade, autocratic rule.

Protesters chanting “Freedom, peace, justice” took to the streets of multiple neighborhoods in the capital Khartoum, where they were confronted by riot police firing tear gas.

The Sudanese Professionals’ Association (SPA), a union leading the protests, had called the nationwide demonstrations and urged people in the capital to march on the presidential palace.There were also reports of protests in the eastern cities of Port Sudan and al-Qadarif as well as at least a half dozen other towns.

One protester was killed in Omdurman, a city across the Nile from Khartoum, said Amer Ibrahim, who heads a government committee that is investigating protest violence.

Sudan Proteste gegen Präsident Al-Baschir (Reuters/M. N. Abdallah)

That brings the death toll since the protests erupted on December 19 to 29, Ibrahim said.

However, rights groups put the number of deaths at more than 40.

A doctors committee linked to SPA said one protester was killed by “live ammunition” on Thursday and another died in detention. It did not specify when the individual was detained.

The mushrooming anti-government movement is the biggest challenged to the rule of Bashir, who has labeled protesters “infiltrators.”

Security forces have brutally suppressed the protests using tear gas, stun grenades and live ammunition as well as arresting hundreds of protesters and opposition figures.

The United States lifted a two-decade trade embargo on Sudan in October 2017, a move that had promised to alleviate the country’s economic woes after it lost a third of its oil wealth when South Sudan gained independence in 2011 following a decades-long civil war.

On Wednesday, Washington warned that excessive use of force by Sudan against demonstrators would damage relations.

Robert Palladino


The U.S. is concerned about the increasing number of arrests, detentions, injuries & killings following protests across . We support the Sudanese people’s right to gather peaceably to voice their demands for political & economic reform and a more peaceful & inclusive Sudan

“A new, more positive relationship between the United States and Sudan requires meaningful political reform and clear, sustained progress on respect for human rights,” US State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said in a statement.

Sudan has meanwhile reached out to gas-rich Qatar and Turkey for economic assistance.

cw/rc (AFP, AP, Reuters)

Joint press release by the European Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)

Joint press release by the European Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)

Source: EU, Bruxelles, 22/01/2019 – 19:26, UNIQUE ID: 190122_15
Press releases

Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Ministers and High Representative/Vice President Federica Mogherini together with Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica met on the margins of the African Union-European Union Ministerial in Brussels.


Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Ministers and High Representative/Vice President Federica Mogherini together with Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica met on 22 January 2019 on the margins of the African Union-European Union Ministerial in Brussels.

During the meeting, the two sides strongly condemned the dreadful terrorist attack in Nairobi Kenya. The EU and IGAD welcomed the historic developments in the Horn of Africa with the normalisation of relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia, the tripartite agreement between Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia, as well as the engagement of Eritrea and Djibouti and Eritrea and Sudan towards normalisation of relations. Together, these provide major new openings for regional cooperation and economic integration. The EU expressed its readiness to accompany this process in close coordination with other actors.

The EU also reiterated its commitment to the region as a whole and underlined its support to the IGAD cooperation framework while encouraging swift decisions on IGAD institutional arrangements. Both sides stressed their desire to consolidate regular dialogue between the EU and IGAD countries and focused their exchanges on peace and security, red sea and mutually beneficial economic cooperation. IGAD Ministers on their part expressed their appreciation for EU’s continued and constructive role in the region, welcome the initiative for such high level engagement and encouraged future engagements on deliverables in the region’s priority agenda such as job creation.

The EU and IGAD countries expressed support for the reform agenda of the Federal Government of Somalia and underlined the need for concrete implementation of the political, security and economic reforms critical for Somalia’s stability. In this context, it is essential that the Federal Government and the Federal Member States overcome differences and collaborate in a close and coordinated manner. The EU also reiterated its commitment to support Somalia’s Recovery and Resilience Framework (RRF) and to support African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) in line with AMISOM’s mandate [UNSCR 2432 (2018)] and the internationally agreed Somalia Transition Plan.

The two parties also reiterated their support for the peace process in South Sudan and the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS). They underlined the importance of its implementation in full and as per the agreed time frame. IGAD invites the EU to consider further support to the South Sudan Pre-transition activities, beyond current EU support to the mechanisms of monitoring and implementation.

The EU and IGAD countries agreed to use all opportunities to promote and strengthen inclusive regional and cross-regional cooperation and dialogue between all relevant stakeholders across the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea on a wide range of issues of mutual interest, such as trade, migration, climate change, food security, peace and security as well as maritime security. In this connection, they agreed to promote regional cooperation, training and capacity building, port security, coastal development as well as blue economy.

The EU underlined the importance of sound economic strategies and long-term political will to sustain the current positive dynamics in the region.  In this context, while remaining a strong partner of the region with cooperation programmes currently amounting to over EUR 3 billion, the EU is preparing for further substantial support to economic integration and trade, notably in the context of EU Africa Alliance for investment and jobs.