Latest News Regarding
Horn of Africa
Source: The Middle East Eye published on 19 March 2021 a commentary titled “Will Egypt Go to War with Ethiopia over the Grand Renaissance Dam?” by Mustafa Salama.
Egypt and Sudan have agreed, contrary to the wishes of Ethiopia, to pursue a mediation of issues surrounding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam by the AU, EU, US, and UN. Egypt has also aligned its position closely with Sudan’s increasingly hostile approach towards Ethiopia. While the author is not predicting war between Egypt and Ethiopia, he suggests it could be a tactic to rally Egyptian domestic support. 0 commentsLabels: Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt, Ethiopia, GERD, Libya, mediation, Nile waters, Qatar, Sudan, Tigray Region, Turkey
EU slaps sanctions on Eritrea over human rights abuses
Source: Reuters, Monday March 22, 2021
The European Union on Monday imposed sanctions on Eritrea over human rights violations and blacklisted the country’s National Security Office which is tasked with intelligence gathering, arrests and interrogations.
At the beginning of March, the United Nations said Eritrean troops were operating throughout Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region and reports suggested they were responsible for atrocities.
“The National Security Office is responsible for serious human rights violations in Eritrea, in particular arbitrary arrests, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances of persons and torture,” the EU said after foreign ministers of the 27-nation bloc agreed the measures.The sanctions mean an asset freeze in the EU. Additionally, individuals and entities in the EU are prohibited from making funds available, either directly or indirectly, to those listed.
Ethiopia and Eritrea have denied the involvement of Eritrean troops in the fighting alongside Ethiopian forces, although dozens of witnesses, diplomats and an Ethiopian general have reported their presence.
Thousands of people have died amid the fighting, hundreds of thousands have been forced from their homes and there are shortages of food, water and medicine in Tigray, a region of more than 5 million people.
The EU is considering imposing further sanctions on Eritrea. (Reporting by Sabine Siebold; Editing by Bernadette Baum)
Egypt, Somalia FMs discuss cooperation
Source: Xinhua net, , Tuesday March 23, 2021
Somalia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Mohamed Abdirizak (L) and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (FILE PHOTOS)
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Somalia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Mohamed Abdirizak discussed here on Monday means of promoting bilateral cooperation in all fields, the Egyptian foreign ministry said in a statement.The talks tackled the exerted efforts for developing the cooperation between the two sides in a way that reflects the strong mutual relations,” said Ahmed Hafez, spokesperson of the Egyptian foreign ministry.
“Egypt pays full attention to achieving peace and stability in Somalia, and called on all the Somali sides to continue the dialogue for paving the r
Climate change deprives 70% of Somalis of safe water’
Source: Anadolu Agency, Tuesday March 23, 2021
Without immediate humanitarian aid, crisis is likely to peak in June, says Save the Children
ANKARA —Climate change-caused drought in Somalia has left 70% of families in the country without access to safe drinking water and in urgent need of humanitarian support, according to the non-profit organization Save the Children.
“Thousands of children are now reliant on emergency water trucking and unprotected wells or are forced to leave their homes in search of water,” it said in its latest report. rainfall and severe water shortages are also killing livestock, causing crop failures and diminishing household incomes, leaving children in these families with fewer daily meals and less nutritious food, the report warned.
The loss of livestock also further exposes children in Somalia to the risk of malnutrition as they have less access to milk, Save the Children said.
“As the negative impacts of climate change intensify, the frequency and severity of extreme weather events in Somalia are increasing. In the past year alone, Somalia experienced severe floods, the most powerful cyclone to ever hit the country and now a looming drought. Communities are struggling to survive as they have no time to recover before the next crisis hits,” it said.
The report stressed that without immediate humanitarian aid, the crisis in Somalia is likely to peak in June, with the number of children and adults in urgent need of humanitarian support soaring to 5.9 million.
“The international community has been very generous in supporting people in Somalia. However, to reduce support now would be disastrous, as the deadly combination of continuous climate shocks, COVID-19 and conflict are pushing children and their families to the limit and they need urgent support to help them survive,” it warned.
Source: Aljazeera published on 15 March 2021 an article titled “Sudan Formally Requests Four-Party Mediation in GERD Row.”
Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has formally requested that the UN, EU, and US join the AU in mediation of the dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile near the Sudanese border. Sudan says it fears the GERD will increase the risk of flooding in Sudan and will affect the operation of its dams on the Blue Nile–Roseires and Sennar–and possibly the Meroe further downstream on the main Nile.
Sudanese concerns about the GERD’s impact on flooding are somewhat perplexing in that the GERD has the potential to regulate frequent flooding in Sudan caused by the Blue Nile during the heavy rains. When there was no GERD, as was the case for thousands of years, Sudan was periodically impacted by flooding of the Blue Nile with no ability in Ethiopia to help control it. While there certainly needs to be an understanding between Sudan and Ethiopia on release of water from the GERD during strong rainy periods, the GERD should be seen as a positive development for controlling flooding in Sudan. The Carnegie Middle East Center published in February 2021 a useful analysis titled “The Dam that Broke Open an Ethiopia-Egypt Dispute” by Sherif Mohyeldeen that makes this point.
Somaliland President receives credentials of Director of UAE Trade office in Somaliland
Source: Emirates News Agency, Thursday March 18, 2021
Abdullah Muhammad Al Naqbi presented his credentials as Director of the UAE Trade office in Somaliland to Muse Bihi Abdi, President of the Republic of Somaliland.
During the meeting, Al Naqbi conveyed to President Abdi the greetings of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, wishing the people of Somaliland more progress and development.
For his part, the President of Somaliland reciprocated the greeting to the UAE leaders, wishing the government and people of the UAE continued prosperity.
He also wished Al Naqbi a successful tenure to further consolidate the bilateral relations across various fronts, stressing his country’s readiness to provide all that is needed to facilitate his mission.
Al Naqbi highlighted the UAE’s interest in strengthening relations between the two countries in various areas to further consolidate the brotherly relations between the two nations.
During the meeting, areas of cooperation between the UAE and the Republic of Somaliland were reviewed, and ways of developing them were discussed.
Stability at risk as Somalia and Kenya spat over sea border
Source: DW, By Cristina Krippahl
Tuesday March 16, 2021
A dispute between Kenya and Somalia over an oil- and gas-rich area in the Indian Ocean is unlikely to spark an armed conflict. But it may have ramifications for fishing communities, as well as the wider region.
Fishermen go about their day on the Kenyan port of Lamu Island, which lies near the disputed area
The ongoing standoff between Kenya and Somalia over a sizable area of the Indian Ocean has sparked concern among hundreds of thousands of people who depend on the region’s rich fishing grounds for survival.
“We are really worried,” the Kenyan fisherman Adam Lali told DW. “If the border issues are not handled well, they will bring us problems. This will rob us of our fishing areas and will also cause tensions between us and Somali communities.” The disputed area stretches over 160,580 square kilometers (62,000 square miles). Somalia, which lies northeast of Kenya, wants to extend its maritime frontier with Kenya along the line of the land border, in a southeasterly direction. Kenya, however, wants the border to head out to sea in a straight easterly line, which would give it more maritime territory. As well as being an important fishing ground for both countries, the area is also rich in gas and oil.
Kenya backs out of court hearing
After Somalia first brought the case to the table in 2014, the UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) was scheduled to begin the public hearing in The Hague on Monday. The proceedings were expected to run until March 24.
Before proceedings could begin, Kenya’s government announced its intent to withdraw from the case and present its complaints to the UN Security Council, of which it is currently a nonpermanent member.
Based on international maritime law, the court was widely expected to rule in Somalia’s favor.
“Possibly the Kenyans withdrew also because of an expectation that they might just lose,” the political scientist Stig Jarle Hansen, from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, told DW.
No chance for a dialogue
Some Kenyan observers such as Mustafa Ali, an expert on conflict resolution and national security at the HORN Institute for Strategic Studies, do not believe that the ICJ was the best place to settle the dispute in the first place.
“There are so many alternative mechanisms that could be much more effective and would deliver results,” Ali told DW. “One is the Africa Union border mechanism. The second is direct bilateral negotiations between Kenya and Somalia. Which, in my view, would be the best solution.”
Such dialogue is unlikely to take place anytime soon. Relations between Kenya and Somalia, which are no strangers to border disputes, have become increasingly fractured. Tensions spiked after Somalia’s government severed diplomatic ties with Kenya in December, after accusing Nairobi of meddling in its affairs.
Kenya’s meddling in the spotlight
Decades-old resentments have recently come to the fore, including Kenya’s support for the semiautonomous Somali state of Jubaland.
“There is a large conflict within Somalia between the opposition and President [Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed] Farmajo,” Hansen said. “And one of the most crucial actors is the Juba state.”
Many international observers agree with the accusations from Somalia’s government. In January, at least nine people were killed in fighting in Jubaland. Somalia blamed the deaths on Kenyan troops and militias backed by Nairobi. Kenya currently has a contingent of almost 3,500 troops in the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), deployed to fight the terrorist group al Shabaab.
A fragile state weakened further
Kenya’s government has denied any wrongdoing, accusing Mogadishu of seeking a scapegoat for domestic problems.
Hansen said there could be some truth to that. “I think there is a greater will now to face off with Kenya to distract from the country’s internal strife,” he said.
Last year’s removal of Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire, who was in the middle of successful negotiations with Kenya, fits this hypothesis, he added.
Tensions have also been rising within Somalia, as Farmajo continues ignore calls to step down and hold elections that were originally scheduled for 2020 and later rescheduled for February 2021.
A constitutional crisis is now unfolding in the fragile state. Last Friday, the UN Security Council urged Somalia’s government to organize elections “without delay” in a resolution that stressed the pressure al-Shabaab and armed opposition groups were placing on the country’s already-poor security.
A win for al-Shabab?
The militant group al-Shabab is capitalizing on the situation by focusing its propaganda on attacks against the president. There are also concerns that the resources meant to combat terrorist groups will be redirected toward resolving internal political frustrations.
“We’ve seen that already with the Somali special forces being deployed inside Mogadishu,” Hansen said. “And so there will be much less pressure on al-Shabab, which will give it the possibility of further expansion.”
Potential for regional disruption
Hansen said there was the potential for further political turmoil in the wider region, where many conflicts are deeply intertwined.
Ethiopia, where Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is currently fighting a war in the Tigray region, supports Farmajo’s government and has offered to train his troops. .
Sudan and Egypt are joining forces to oppose Ethiopia’s building of a giant dam along the Nile. There’s also the possibility that Sudan could intervene in Tigray.
“So you have a strange conflict brewing from Cairo in the north to Kenya in the south, which can create a lot of trouble for the world in the near future,” Hansen said.
Andrew Wasike contributed to this article
ICJ hears maritime dispute despite Kenya boycott
Source: Hiiraan Online, Tuesday March 16, 2021
Members of the Delegation of the Somalia on the first day of the hearings / Thursday 18 March 2021 / Copyright: UN Photo/ICJ-CIJ/Frank van Beek. Courtesy of the ICJ.
Mogadishu (HOL) – The International Court of Justice began oral hearings in the maritime dispute between Somalia and Kenya, despite the latter refusing to participate in the legal proceedings brought against it.
The presiding judge in the case, Joan Donoghue, confirmed that Kenya has pulled out. Kenya was not present in court or via videolink.”Kenya informed the court by letter, dated March 11 received March 12, that they would not participate,” presiding Judge Joan Donoghue said. She added that “the court regrets the decision of Kenya not to participate in the oral proceedings.”
Despite Kenya’s boycott, the ICJ will still proceed with the hearing. Donoghue said that the court would rely on Kenya’s written submissions.
The court refused Kenya’s request to address the court for 30-minutes at the start of the hearings.
Kenya newspapers revealed the bombshell decision to not attend the weeklong hearings on Sunday citing the court’s bias and its refusal to grant Kenya a fourth postponement. Kenya’s Attorney General argued that their new legal team did not have adequate time to prepare in light of COVID-19.
Deputy PM: Kenya has no grounds to complain
Somalia’s Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Mohamed found fault with Kenya’s reasoning for pulling out.
“We are deeply concerned that Kenya has decided not to appear at these hearings,” said Mahdi Mohammed Gulaid, opening Somalia’s case. He said it was “inconsistent with the rule of law” and Kenya’s commitment to the court.
Somalia’s Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Mohamed addressed the International Court of Justice on the first day of hearings in the Kenya-Maritime dispute. Copyright: UN Photo/ICJ-CIJ/Frank van Beek. Courtesy of the ICJ.
Kenya “has no grounds to complain about its treatment by the court” after the ICJ granted three previous requests for delays that held up the case by 18 months, he said.
Guled said that Somalia found itself at the Hague after a failed attempt at settling the maritime dispute amicably with Kenya.
“We hoped that it would be possible to settle our dispute with Kenya bilaterally, through negotiations. Unfortunately, that proved impossible.”
The international court will decide who has legal jurisdiction over a potentially lucrative, triangular stretch of 100,000 square kilometres of offshore territory believed rich in hydrocarbons and fish. The ruling cannot be appealed, but its enforcement relies on the UN Security Council, of which Kenya is a non-permanent member.
The conflict’s origins date back to early April 2009 when both countries agreed to have a UN commission determine the maritime border and decide to work on a diplomatic, out-of-court solution. Kenya registered with the MOU with the Secretariat of the United Nations on June 11, 2009.
On June 23, 2009, barely three months after entering the MOU with Somalia, Kenya reached a favourable agreement with Tanzania. The two countries decided their maritime border would lie line parallel to the line of latitude.
Somalia is arguing that the maritime boundary should follow the direction of the land border and run diagonally. Conversely, Kenya wants it to run parallel to the latitude, as it negotiated with Tanzania in their 2009 agreement.
A maritime border will determine which nation holds the exclusive right to energy resources beneath the sea.
In 2012, Somalia accused Kenya of awarding exploration rights to two European multinational oil and gas companies, Total and Eni.
The Somali government sued Kenya at the ICJ in August 2014 after no progress was made in meetings to settle the conflict.
The dispute has fuelled the deteriorated diplomatic relationship between the two East African neighbours. Mogadishu cut ties off with Nairobi in December 2020, accusing it of interfering in Somalia’s internal affairs. Kenya denied the charge.
Somalia will continue its oral presentation on Tuesday between 3 PM and 4:30 PM.
You can watch the full hearing below:
Maritime Delimitation in the Indian Ocean (Somalia v. Kenya) – Public hearings – Monday 15 March 2021 (3 p.m.-6 p.m.) – First round of oral argument of Somalia – PART 1https://players.brightcove.net/1362235914001/B1J3DDQJf_default/index.html?directedMigration=true&videoId=6240723288001&
Maritime Delimitation in the Indian Ocean (Somalia v. Kenya) – Public hearings – Monday 15 March 2021 (3 p.m.-6 p.m.) – First round of oral argument of Somalia – Part 2
Somalia says ‘deeply concerned’ by Kenya’s withdrawal as maritime case resumes
Source: Hiiraan Online, Tuesday March 16, 2021
THE HAGUE (HOL) – Somalia has said it is ‘deeply concerned’ by Kenya’s decision to pull out of the maritime case but argued Nairobi had no grounds to take such a move since the International Court of Justice had aceeded to most of its demands,
In his opening remarks at the Hague Monday, Somalia’s principal agent Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Guled said the Court had been fair to Kenya and should not have pulled out.
“We are deeply concerned that Kenya decided not to take part in this proceedings. Kenya has no ground to complain about its treatment by this court,” Guled said.
Guled also told the Court, Somalia had decided to pursue justice at the UN court after bilateral and diplomatic channels to resolve the case with Kenya failed.
Guled who led the Somali legal team also pocked holes at Kenya’s argument that its sea boundary should run on a parallel of latitude contrary to international practices of the law of the sea. The argument, Mahdi said ‘was made in Kenya’.
Mahdi added that Somalia had forfeited its claim for ‘compensation for the violation of our maritime rights’ but was focused on securing its territorial rights.
Earlier, the Court rejected Kenya’s request to address the Court. Attorney General Kihara Kariuki had sought the Court’s leave to address it to explain Kenya’s reason for withdrawing from the case.
Somalia’s first advocate Professor Alaine Pellet, a French lawyer was first to take the stand via vidoelink.
Two others lawyers, Paul Richler (US), Prof. Philippe Sands (UK) are representing Somalia.
The case continues tomorrow.
Delays in negotiations between EU and AfDB slows €42 road project in Somalia
Source: Hiiraan Online, Tuesday March 16, 2021
MOGADISHU (HOL) – Delays in negotiations between the European Union and the African Development Bank have hindered a EUR 42 million road construction project in Somalia approved in 2019.
The European Union Delegation in Somalia and the Ministry of Planning said in a joint statement talks with the African Development Bank which is supposed to implement the project had delayed construction works under the Somalia Regional Corridors Infrastructure Programme (SRCIP).“There have been delays to the process due to ongoing negotiations between the EU and the AfDB regarding the overall framework arrangement,” the statement read in part. It however noted the delays are not limited to Somalia but across Africa.
The EU and Somalia signed the SRCIP deal in June 2019. The contract involves the rehabilitation and construction Beled Weyne – Galkayo covering 327 km, Galkayo – Garowe (240km) and Galkayo – Hobyo which stretches for 241km.
The SRCIP also covers the Luuq, Ganane – Dolow which is a distance of 80km.
The second part of the project-Jalam-Harfo Road Rehabilitation Project billed at EUR 6 million and signed in December 2019 is ongoing under the implementation of the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS). This is part of the Gaalkacyo – Garowe Road Project.
“UNOPS has begun the implementation process of this road, and the process is fully on course. So far, the feasibility study has been concluded and material testing has been conducted,” the joint statement added.
Source: CNBC posted on 12 March 2021 an article titled “Ethiopia’s ‘Simmering Civil War’ Threatens to Erode Economic Recovery Prospects” by Elliott Smith.
A combination of COVID-19 and civil war in Ethiopia have led the IMF to forecast zero percent GDP growth in real terms in 2021. Moody’s placed Ethiopia’s B2 credit rating–meaning it’s viewed as speculative and high-risk–on review for downgrade.0 commentsLabels: Abiy Ahmed, Antony Blinken, AU, civil war, COVID-19, credit rating, debt, ENDF, Eritrea, Ethiopia, EU, GDP, Germany, IMF, Tigray Region, TPLF
Ethiopia rejects US claims of ethnic cleansing in Tigray
Source: Xinhuanet, Sunday March 14, 2021
The Ethiopian government on Saturday rejected US allegations of ethnic cleansing in the northern Tigray regional state as “completely unfounded”.
“(The accusation) is a completely unfounded and spurious verdict against the Ethiopian government,” the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said in a statement, referring to allegations made by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier in the day in a congressional hearing.
“Overblowing things out of proportion while the Ethiopian government has made its position unequivocally clear on the need for thorough investigation in collaboration with regional and international partners does not serve the purpose of justice other than unnecessarily politicising the issue,” the statement said.
Months of fighting between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which used to rule the Tigray regional state, and the Ethiopian National Defence Forces, have reportedly left thousands of people dead, hundreds of thousands of others displaced, and millions in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
According to Ethiopian government figures, the conflict has displaced around 2.2 million people, while 4.5 million people are in need of emergency aid.
The Ethiopian government has recently allowed humanitarian access to Tigray, stressing that all entities operating in the state should abide by the laws of the land.
UPDATE: Kenya pulls out of maritime case with Somalia, cites bias and COVID-19 impact
Source: Hiiraan Online, Sunday March 14, 2021
NAIROBI (HOL) – Kenya has notified the International Court of Justice that it will not participate in the maritime case against Somalia just a day before it is scheduled to begin. Kenya has cited the court’s perceived bias and its unwillingness to delay the case – for a fourth time – due to the pandemic as the main reason for withdrawing from the legal proceedings.
Kenya’s Attorney General, Paul Kihara Kariuki, notified the ICJ of the decision to pull out in a letter written on March 11 to Phillippe Gautier, the court’s registrar.”Kenya wishes to inform the court, through the Registrar, that it shall not be participating in the hearings in the case herein, should the same proceed from March 15, 2021, as presently scheduled,” the letter from Kenya’s attorney general states.”
Despite Kenya’s withdrawal, the ICJ can still proceed with the case and render a verdict since Kenya has already submitted its written arguments to the court.
Kenya, who referred to the move as “unprecedented in its history in relation to any international adjudication mechanism,” told the court that its latest legal team did not have adequate time to prepare for the case. Various Kenyan media outlets reported that top-level international lawyers were brought in to lead the maritime case in late February 2021, just weeks after the court rejected Kenya’s request to have the maritime delimitation case with Somalia postponed for the fourth time. Kenya added that the global pandemic had stripped it of financial resources to fund the case.
“The consequence of this is that Kenya and its legal team were deprived of the opportunity of having necessary preparatory meetings and engagements, ” Mr. Kariuki states.
In addition to the refusal to postpone the proceedings further, the letter to the ICJ cited further causes to justify its withdrawal from the international court.
Kenya objects to the hybrid format the hearings will be held in due to the current COVID pandemic, although some members of the court will attend the oral proceedings in person. Kenya argued that since its defence is based on demonstrations, the current format is “unsuitable for the hearing of a case as complex and as important as the present one.” The court said that the representatives of the parties involved in the case would participate either in person or by video link.
“Since the case is not urgent for any reason, Kenya least expected that the court would make this into the first cause to heard on its merits via video link, despite one party’s sustained, well-grounded objections, Kenya stated.
In building its case for withdrawal, Kenya wrote to the ICJ that one of its jurists, Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, could potentially curry favour in support of Somalia. Yusuf, a Somali national was President of the Court until February this year .
“Kenya’s concerns and perception of unfairness and injustice in this matter are exacerbated by the inexplicable rejection of Kenya’s preliminary objections to this court’s jurisdiction and the dismissal of the request for the recusal of Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, given his past exposure, on behalf of Somalia, o the issues in this case. This is notwithstanding the fact that Kenya has taken extensive measures that are illustrative of its good faith and seriousness in defending this case, including by filing pleadings within the timelines directed by the court.”
Somalia launched legal proceedings against Kenya at the international court based in The Hague in August 2014 after talks with Kenya failed to settle the dispute. The case has fuelled the diplomatic fallout between the two East African neighbours.
Somalia dispatched its team led by Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Guled last week. Guled expressed confidence that his country was winning the case.
“Our duty is to unite and defend our land and our real estate, which is a historic responsibility and the most precious legacy we will leave to future generations of Somalis,” said the deputy prime Minister before departing from Mogadishu.
The ICJ is tasked with deciding who has jurisdiction over the 62,000 square-mile triangle in the Indian Ocean, which is believed to be rich in hydrocarbons. Neither party can appeal the decision. The court will then rely on the UN Security Council, of which Kenya is a non-permanent member, to enforce the ruling.
Source: US Senate, March 9 2021 Tuesday, March 9, 2021
The U.S. Senate has introduced a bipartisan resolution calling on the government of Ethiopia, the TPLF, and other belligerents to cease all hostilities, protect human rights, allow unfettered humanitarian access, and cooperate with independent investigations of credible atrocity allegations pertaining to the conflict in Tigray Region of Ethiopia.0 commentsLabels: Abiy Ahmed, AU, elections, ENDF, Eritrea, Ethiopia, human rights, humanitarian access, IDPs, national dialogue, refugees, Sudan, Tigray Region, TPLF, UN, US, US Senate, WFP
Source: The International Crisis Group posted on 9 March 2021 a 25 minute podcast titled “The Horn: What Does Reconciliation among Gulf States Mean for Africa?” with Alan Boswell and Elham Fakhro, the Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Gulf States.
The January 2021 al-Ula declaration ends the blockade of Qatar and promises an end to the rift between them. The question is whether it will lead to a de-escalation of their rivalries in the Horn of Africa and elsewhere. Fakhro suggests the agreement does not resolve the underlying disagreements among the Gulf States but will help restore the mechanisms for resolving disputes.
‘Somali political tension fuels humanitarian crisis’
Source: Anadolu Agency, Wednesday March 10, 2021
Armed conflict remains major concern in Horn of Africa country, says UN office
The current political tension in Somalia threatens to exacerbate the country’s humanitarian crisis, the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned Tuesday.
“Ongoing political tensions in Somalia will escalate the humanitarian crisis and negatively affect response operations,” OCHA Somalia tweeted.“Armed conflict remains a major concern in Somalia. Violence costs lives, disrupts livelihoods and displaces families,” it said, adding that civilians suffering from the conflict “must be protected.”
The Horn of Africa country hit a political stalemate after presidential and parliamentary elections were delayed and the president’s constitutional mandate expired on Feb. 8.
Recent clashes between government forces and opposition protesters have claimed the lives of at least four people, including soldiers.
Somali President Mohamed Abdullah Mohamed has called on regional leaders to hold talks to end the political deadlock.
Biden administration temporarily suspends drone strikes outside of war zones
Source: Middle East Eye, Wednesday March 10, 2021
Pentagon says any strikes planned outside of Afghanistan, Syria or Iraq will have to be approved by the White House
During his time in office, former President Donald Trump rolled back a number of limits on the use of drone strikes (AFP/File photo)
US President Joe Biden has temporarily suspended the use of drone strikes outside of war zones where American forces are operating, reversing a Trump-era policy that had given the military and CIA greater authority in countries such as Somalia and Yemen.
Any drone strikes planned against militant groups outside of Afghanistan, Syria or Iraq will have to be approved by the White House, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said on Monday.
He described the measure as an “interim guidance” that was issued “to ensure that the president has full visibility on proposed significant actions””It’s not meant to be permanent and it doesn’t mean a cessation” of strikes, he told a news conference.
“We are clearly focused on the persistent threat of violent extremist organisations. And we’re clearly still going to be committed to working with international partners to counter those threats,” he said.
During his time in office, Donald Trump had rolled back a number of limits on the use of drone strikes, including a rule that required US intelligence officials to report how many civilians were killed in a drone strike outside of a war zone.
Drone strikes quickly multiplied after that, becoming the only form of operations in some countries where only a handful of US special forces were deployed in support of local governments, such as in Somalia, where the US has been battling the al-Shebab Islamist group, or in Libya, where they have targeted Islamic State (IS).
Human rights groups criticised the move at the time, saying that the lack of transparency could “lead to an increase in unlawful killings and in civilian casualties”.
In January, 34 relatives of Yemenis alleged to have been killed in US operations, including six drone strikes, filed a petition to an international human rights body in order to determine whether the deaths were unlawful.
Reviewing military strike policy
The number of US air strikes, including drone strikes, conducted in Somalia had more than doubled in Trump’s first year of office in 2017, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. In Yemen, the number of US strikes more than tripled that year.
The New York Times reported on the new guidelines last week, citing unnamed officials. The newspaper said that they had been secretly passed on to military commanders after Biden came to office on 20 January, but were only revealed in recent days.
The Times said that the administration’s review of its drone strike policy was still in its early stages and officials were currently gathering data, such as official estimates of civilian casualties in both military and CIA strikes outside of war zones during Trump’s time in office.
It also said the White House was assessing whether to restore an order requiring the government to disclose how many civilians were killed in strikes each year, which was invoked by former President Barack Obama in 2016 but revoked by Trump in 2019.
The CIA does not publish data on its strikes, while the military does.
During her confirmation hearing in January, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said she would advocate for a new order that would report “on strikes taken by and civilian casualties caused by all US government agencies”.
Biden has also signalled a willingness to repeal the Authorisation for Use of Military Force (AUMF) measures that Congress passed hastily after the 9/11 attacks, which allowed the White House to authorise military strikes without congressional approval.
Somali diplomat named IGAD spokesman
Source: The EastFrican, Thursday March 11, 2021
By AGGREY MUTAMBO
Nuur Mohamud Sheekh during a past event. PHOTO | POOL
Somali diplomat Nuur Mohamud Sheekh has been named the spokesperson for the regional bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad).
Mr Sheekh will be the official spokesman for the Igad Secretary-General Workneh Gebeyehu and the eight-member organisation.
Dr Workneh said in a statement that the decision to appoint Mr Sheekh followed his shown ability to build links between Igad and other organisations as well as “strengthening collaborations” with member governments.“Nuur’s professional career has seen him engage with the full spectrum of policy and practice interventions at sub-national, national and regional levels with leading multilateral organisations,” Dr Workneh said on Tuesday, referring to Igad’s partners including the African Union, European Union and United Nations.
Mr Sheekh, 51, holds an advanced degree in Conflict and Development from the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London. He has been in the diplomatic field for three decades. The brief profile provided by Igad said he has served as a diplomat, mediator, campaigner for refugees and humanitarian worker.
Before his appointment, he worked as Senior Advisor at the Office of the Igad Special Envoy for the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Somalia. The bloc seeks to secure the waters of the Horn from security and environmental threats.
Igad member states are Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda. Eritrea suspended itself in 2007 although it is still technically a member.
Launched in 1986 as a regional body mainly focused on drought resilience, Igad morphed in 1996 to tackle general problems of the Horn including conflict and political stability.
Mr Sheekh joined Igad in 2014, having arrived from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre based in Geneva, which promotes permanent solutions for displaced people.
In 2018, he was part of Igad’s mediation team for South Sudan and has recently helped establish the Task Force on the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.
Mr Sheekh had worked for various UN agencies between 2014 and 2018 including the refugee agency UNHCR and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).
Igad said it was banking on his wide diplomatic networks in the Horn to help make the organisation reachable and communicate better.
Somalia: UN, African Union offices hit in Mogadishu
Source: Hiiraan Online, Tuesday March 9, 2021
A suspected mortar attack targeted the offices of United Nations and African Union peacekeeping mission in the Somali capital Mogadishu on Tuesday.
The offices are located inside the heavily-protected Adan Adde International Airport and the compound houses several western diplomatic missions in Somalia.
sources told Anadolu Agency by phone that at least three explosions hit the compound.
However, eyewitnesses at the airport told Anadolu Agency by phone they heard over five explosions in and around the airport.
There are still no reports of casualties as investigation is underway.
Somali-based terror group al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack. The group had targeted the UN compound several times in the recent past.
International Women’s Day marked with increased hardships for women
Source: Monday March 8, 2021
For more than 100 years, International Women’s Day has been celebrated by honoring the achievements of women globally.
But this year, because of lost jobs and increased burdens of care at home, women have fared worse economically than men.
According to data from the International Labour Organization, a United Nations agency, globally women have suffered more job losses related to the pandemic than men. About 5% of women in 2020 lost work, which could mean losing a job or experiencing reduced hours, compared with 3.9% of men.
“Every time something happens in the world, women are hit with twice the violence,” Anchia Mulima, coordinator of Lemusica, an organization supporting women and girls in Mozambique, told VOA. Throughout the pandemic, the United Nations has highlighted the disparities between how women have been affected by the crisis compared with men.
“Gender inequalities have increased dramatically in the past year, as women bear the brunt of school closures and working from home,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.
According to U.N. Women, 58% of employed women globally work in “informal employment,” or jobs without much regulation and often without taxes or benefits. Women are also more likely to work in industries hardest hit by the pandemic, such as hospitality and child care.
In the United States, Black and Latinx women faced more layoffs in 2020 and have seen slower gains in recent months than their white counterparts.
According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 8.9% of Black women and 8.5% of Latinx women were unemployed in February — compared with 5.2% of white women.
“It’s easy for us to make general sweeping statements of COVID-19 is affecting women in the workplace, but it’s affecting different groups of women disproportionately,” Minda Harts, an author and advocate for Black women in the workplace, told VOA.
“Hospitality, leisure — some of those industries have a very high concentration of Black and brown women. And so in 2020, we realized that a lot of those industries were heavily affected,” Harts said.
Even as women around the world have faced economic challenges, higher unemployment, and the burden of child care as schools close, they have found ways to use their skills and inspire others.
Nubia Rocío Gaona Cárdenas, a farmer in Colombia, said it broke her heart to see mothers struggling to feed their children in the capital of Bogota. She and her son had an idea.
“My son told me, ‘Mom, let’s do something productive. Some YouTube channels … don’t teach anything, let’s teach them how to farm, or teach them something. Let’s give them hope,’” Cárdenas told VOA.
Their channel on YouTube, which they launched in April 2020, now has more than 700,000 followers.
Across the globe, women working as tailors and seamstresses answered the surge in demand for face masks to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
“We believe that women are strong and can make a change. We too have abilities and can work alongside men,” Niga Mohammed, an Iraqi tailor, told VOA.
With so much work shifted to remote employees, Harts sees an opportunity for industries to diversify their workforce.
“I do believe there will be a lot more opportunities for Black and brown women to work at the high-tech companies, to work at the Fortune 500 companies from rural places that they might live, or from certain areas where they just don’t have the capacity to up and move to a big city,” she said.
But as numbers from the BLS indicate from the past few months, those changes may be slow to arrive.
This year, the theme of International Women’s Day is “Choose to Challenge.”
“A challenged world is an alert world. And from challenge comes change,” according to the International Women’s Day website.
For many women around the world amid the pandemic, the immediate challenge may be staying afloat economically.