• Despite the failed revolution, Egypt’s iron-fisted ruler won’t last

    15/Feb/2016 // 249 Viewers

    By Stephanie Thomas

    Egyptians have always been ill-served, at best, and brutalized, at worst, by their leaders, whether Ottoman, British, Nasserist or under President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule. So instead of asking why Egypt’s revolution of five years ago failed, let’s point a finger at the sorry parade of post-revolutionary leaders who have presumed to lead but failed just as their predecessors did.

     
    Egyptian citizens were ill-served by their first democratically elected leader, President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. Overweening and prone to clumsy power grabs that appeared to have less to do with Islam than stupidity, Morsi was more incompetent than he was evil. He was certainly no “terrorist,” as President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has labeled him and all other Muslim Brotherhood members.
     
    Egyptians were also failed by the liberal and secular politicians whose self-interest took precedence over the hard work of developing strong alliances, parties and platforms. They espoused pluralistic democratic values but applied them selectively — in 2013, for example, they chose to back the violent overthrow of Morsi rather than let him be voted out of office.
     
    Consider Nobel Laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, who played the coy politician for two years, tweeting his fatuous aspirations instead of rolling up his sleeves and building the political process. He then joined Sisi’s interim government, only to resign a month later after the Rabaa massacre, in which some 800 Muslim Brotherhood supporters were killed by security forces.
     
    Egyptians have even been let down by a generation of their own sons and daughters. These young activists often seemed more adept at online organizing and protesting — no matter the cause — than protecting the gains of their protests. After fighting the military throughout 2011 and 2012, many joined the military-backed effort to remove Morsi in the spring of 2013, even protesting when Sisi called for a show of support. Familiar with this pattern, it was inevitable that they would eventually sour on Sisi, which they have.
     
    That said, none of them deserved to be put in prison, where many of them languish.
     
    While covering the protests in Tahrir Square in 2011, I was inspired to leave my television job, move back to Egypt and be a witness to what looked like a promising future. I had lived happily in Cairo as a student studying Arabic in the 1990s and looked forward to working at the American University in Cairo, a campus infused with post-revolutionary energy and potential.
     
    When I arrived in September 2011, the romantic slogans (“The army and the people are one hand”) and alliances forged in Tahrir Square were already fraying badly. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the interim military body that replaced Mubarak, was cracking down on protesters with impunity, most egregiously during what came to be known as the Maspero massacre, in which armored personnel vehicles were caught on camera mowing down fleeing Coptic protesters. When the Muslim Brotherhood swept the parliamentary elections of 2011 and 2012, political demonization become the preferred platform of the feckless secular opposition groups.
     
    Closer to home, I found a giddy array of empowered and politically vocal citizens, a liberated media and a class of public intellectuals sporting shiny new revolutionary personas, and the clothes to match (“revolution chic”). One professor-turned-politician sported long hair, corduroy sport coats and appeared to do a little teaching (sometimes from his car by calling in to a student’s phone that would be set on speakerphone). One former ambassador-turned-dean embodied the values of civil liberty and democracy in elegant suits, then promptly joined the post-Morsi interim military government. A cadre of denim-clad, gel-haired Tahrir activists secretly cooperated with the military to foment a “grass-roots” movement against Morsi.
     
    Even the revolution-anointed leaders were failing Egypt’s citizens. By the time I left Cairo in June 2013, most people I knew at the university supported a return to military rule and seemed to accept as a given the violent and illiberal measures it would take to do so. One self-aware pundit coined the phrase “Egypt’s illiberal liberals.”
     
    Egypt’s current regime, led by Sisi, makes the Mubarak regime look benign. Harsh repression is justified in the name of security and stability, protests are against the law, political groups are banned or emasculated and polarization is promoted by a subservient media.
     
    Sisi’s hold on power has been aided by widening regional chaos. Libya, Syria and Yemen loom conveniently large in case Egyptians forget what premature democracy movements can yield. A spate of recent house arrests and “enforced disappearances” has targeted journalists and civil-rights activists, which has forced the government to acknowledge that hundreds are being illegally detained.
     
    The discovery last week of the body of Giulio Regeni, a 28-year-old Italian PhD student, who was left by the side of a road and appeared to have been tortured, was considered particularly unsettling because the Egyptian security forces typically reserve their brutality exclusively for Egyptians. In spite of continuing efforts by Italian authorities, Regeni’s family will almost certainly never find out what happened to their son, just as tens of thousands of Egyptians never learn the truth about the extrajudicial deaths of family members.
     
    Not much is likely to change in the short term. Sisi will probably continue to perform better outside of Egypt than domestically, and he’ll maximize his role as a line of defense against Islamic State in the Sinai. He will likely maneuver for a place in whatever regional coalition is formed to manage the crises in Libya, Syria and Yemen. He will continue to receive international support and military aid in spite of his authoritarian measures. Ninety million Egyptians will continue to struggle with rising food prices, high unemployment, impossible daily commutes, poor healthcare, worse education and an entirely unaccountable government.
     
    Where is the bright side? It is the simple fact of Egypt’s revolution — not its much-debated outcomes. Egyptians have shown that they can depose leaders who serve them badly, whether they’ve done this righteously, cynically or fickly. Egyptians have also shown their capacity for political accommodation and transient loyalties — bad for democracy but useful for getting rid of governments.
     
    With time, as Sisi’s excesses continue, new alliances of convenience and cooperation will form among unexpected allies. Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers may once again align with secular groups; military factions may find the Brotherhood a useful ally against a rogue president. Voices in the media will begin to speak up. Criticism on social media will begin to build up a revolutionary head of steam. One day, Sisi will be replaced — probably not democratically.
     
    I hope whoever replaces him will finally serve Egyptians better.
     


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  • Surprise as MOROCCO joins other W'AFRICAN & WESTERN NATIONS, bans MUSLIM WOMEN from wearing THE BURQA

    15/Jan/2017 // 2230 Viewers

     

    Several European countries have already banned devout conservative Muslim women from wearing the burqa, a head to toe covering, as have several West African nations. Now one more African country appears close to joining the list. 

    In a notice to local retailers and producers on Monday, Morocco appears to have banned the production, sale, and import of burqas for security concerns, Al Jazeera reports. The order is said to be in effect this week, but there has been no official announcement. 

    Copies of the letter sent by Morocco’s Ministry of Interior circulated on social networks, and a high-ranking ministry official confirmed the ban to the local Moroccan news website Le360, saying "bandits have repeatedly used this garment to perpetrate their crime." 

    In an interview with Le360 Tuesday, Morocco’s former Minister of Solidarity, Women, Family, and Social Development Nouzha Skalli said, "The burka is a symbol of enslavement." 

    Yet, it is still unclear if the North African country intends to ban the wearing of the burqa, a long garment that covers the entire face and body and worn by many conservative Muslim women in public. The garment is not widely worn in the country, with most Muslim Moroccan women preferring the hijab, and Morocco's King Mohammed VI embraces a moderate version of Islam.

    The burqa is already unwelcome in many European countries, as well as some Muslim-majority countries in Western Africa, citing security concerns. 

    In 2011, France, with its large Muslim population, was the first nation to ban women from wearing face-covering veils in public, followed by Belgium three months later. More recently, Bulgaria and the Netherlands have also banned the garment, in addition to some towns and cities across Italy and Spain. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel has embraced a proposal to ban the burqa, The Christian Science Monitor reported last month:

    “In interpersonal communication, which plays a fundamental role here, we show our face,” [Merkel] said in reference to the Islamic full-body covering that, while rarely worn in Germany, retains symbolic resonance for much of the public, and has emerged as a touchstone for the far right. “And that’s why a full veil is inappropriate in our country. It should be banned wherever legally possible. It does not belong in our country.”
    Other articles of clothing associated with conservative Islam have also come under recent scrutiny in Europe. Calling it "the symbol of Islamic extremism," some French cities temporarily banned the wearing of burkinis – full coverage swimsuits that cover the head – last summer, until the nation’s highest administration court ruled the ban unconstitutional.

    These bans have ignited heated debates on freedom of religious expression, multiculturalism, and fears of extremism in nations facing what they perceive as Islamic terrorist threats.

    "[The ban is an] arbitrary decision that is an indirect violation of women's freedom of expression and wearing what reflects their identities or their religious, political or social beliefs," the Northern Moroccan National Observatory for Human Development said in a statement, according to the BBC.

    Hammad Kabbadj, a preacher whose candidacy for parliamentary election was rejected because of his alleged extremist views, also denounced the ban. 

    "It is unacceptable to forbid citizens from wearing the oriental niqab or to interfere in its marketing," he said, according to Al Bawaba, a Jordanian news site.


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  • Yellow fever death toll rises to at least 250 in Angola

    15/Mar/2016 // 148 Viewers

     

    Luanda (AFP) - A yellow fever epidemic in Angola has killed at least 250 people since the end of December and continues to spread, stretching limited resources, doctors and officials said Tuesday.

     

    The head of the Luanda pediatrics hospital, Mateus Campos, said 27 children died there on Monday alone, with 900 suspected cases turning up each day.

    "We don't have the human resources to cope," Campos added.

    Health ministry spokeswoman Adelaide de Carvalho told AFP that the ministry registered 76 suspect cases and 10 deaths in three days alone this month, but gave no overall toll.

    A week ago the World Health Organisation put the death toll at 250 but some doctors believe the situation may be far worse.

    There is no specific treatment for yellow fever, a viral hemorrhagic disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes and found in tropical regions of Africa and Latin America's Amazon region.

    Authorities launched a mass vaccination campaign in February and the government urged residents to sterilise stagnant water before drinking it.

    Luanda remains the worst-hit area, with nine of every 10 deaths registered in the city over the last days.

    Critics such as surgeon Maurilio Luyela have blasted authorities for failing to upgrade public health facilities or pay doctors good wages.

    "Doctors who graduate from university don't join the public health sector because there isn't enough money to pay them," he told journalists.

    Yellow fever vaccinations are routinely recommended for travellers to Angola, though the country had not previously seen a significant outbreak since 1986.

    World Health Organization figures show there are an estimated 130,000 cases of yellow fever reported yearly, causing 44,000 deaths worldwide each year, with 90 percent occurring in Africa


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  • US to send 300 troops to aid fight against Boko Haram

    15/Oct/2015 // 518 Viewers

    The United States is sending 300 U.S. troops, along with surveillance drones, to Cameroon to bolster a West African effort to counter the Nigerian militant Islamist group Boko Haram, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.
     
    In a notification to Congress, President Barack Obama said an advance force of about 90 military personnel began deploying on Monday to Cameroon, with the consent of the Yaounde government.
     
    The troops will “conduct airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations in the region,” Obama said. “These forces are equipped with weapons for the purpose of providing their own force protection and security, and they will remain in Cameroon until their support is no longer needed.”
     
    U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the troops would provide intelligence to a multi-national task force being set up to fight Boko Haram and composed of troops from Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, Chad and Benin.
     
    Boko Haram, which wants to carve out an Islamist caliphate and has allied itself to Islamic State, earlier this year stepped up cross-border attacks on Nigeria’s neighbors.
    On Sunday, two female suicide bombers killed nine people in the town of Mora in Cameroon’s Far North region, employing a tactic increasingly favored by Boko Haram.
     
    The American officials said the U.S. soldiers would deploy initially to the city of Garoua in northern Cameroon, not far from the Nigerian border. The force will include Predator drones for surveillance, they said.
     
    The White House said the move was not in response to any changed assessment of threat in the region.
     
    The United States has no combat troops in Africa, but has been increasing support to allies in the region battling Boko Haram.
     
    (Reuters with DailyGlobeWatch)


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  • Guinea's main opposition leader Diallo exits presidential race alleging election fraud

    15/Oct/2015 // 360 Viewers

    Guinea's main opposition leader Celloun Dalein Diallo withdrew on Wednesday from a presidential election, alleging fraud, and will not recognize the outcome, his campaign director said.
     
    His decision came as the national election commission began to announce early results from a vote held on Sunday that is expected to return incumbent Alpha Conde to a second five-year term in the West African country.
     
    Figures from three of the capital Conakry’s five communes showed Conde won 55 percent, 60 percent and 49 percent of the vote. All results must be ratified by the constitutional court.
     
    Guinea has a history of political violence linked to ethnic tension, including protests during the 2010 campaign that brought Conde to power. On Wednesday police fired tear gas at protesters in the capital and the government called for calm.
     
    “However the results turn out, we will see that they have nothing to do with reality. In any case, we will not recognize them,” said Diallo campaign director Aboubacar Sylla.
     
    Early radio announcements had Conde with a sizeable lead. Most analysts, though, expected results to be close enough to require a second round, most likely against Diallo. It was not clear how his withdrawal would affect the process.
     
    Millions of voters, around 75 percent of the population, cast their votes in Guinea’s second free election in nearly 60 years since independence.
     
    Conde spent years in opposition to military leaders and was imprisoned and exiled. His election in 2010 ended two years of military rule. A year earlier, security forces killed over 150 people in a stadium in Conakry and raped dozens of women.
     
    Tensions high
     
    Sunday’s voting was calm and won praise from international observers, though one monitor urged caution in declaring the whole election fair before results had been announced.
     
    Tension has been mounting amid allegations by Conde’s challengers of fraud. Last Friday, at least two people were killed and 33 injured in fighting between supporters of Conde and his main rival Diallo.
     
    On Wednesday, anti-riot police in the suburb of Koloma Soloprimo fired tear gas and warning shots as protesters began building street barricades, residents said.
     
    “It is heating up over here. We are all hiding in our houses,” said resident Souleymane Bah.
     
    A Reuters reporter on Monday saw three people with gunshot wounds at a local clinic after security forces and the opposition clashed overnight.
     
    One of the injured, Bachir Barry, said he was hit in the hip as he was walking from the market.
     
    “We are calling on everyone to give up on the street (protests). If the institutions are not respected, then there is no rule of law,” Foreign Minister François Lonseny Fall said at a meeting attended by media and foreign diplomats on Wednesday.
     
    Justice Minister Cheick Sako said at the same meeting that those caught protesting would face criminal charges.
     
    Dozens of anti-riot police vehicles patrolled opposition neighbourhoods, where burnt-out tyres and rocks littered the streets following the clashes late on Tuesday.
     
    (REUTERS)


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  • Nigerien portion of Sahara Desert to be shut to migrants as EU offers 610 million euros to block routes

    16/Dec/2016 // 2443 Viewers

     

    The European Union offered 610 million euros ($635 million) to Niger on Thursday for keeping a lid on migration from Africa through the Mediterranean to Europe. 

    The bloc, anxious to curb immigration after some 1.4 million refugees and migrants arrived this year and last, is stepping up cooperation with key African countries of origin and transit to ensure fewer people get to European shores.

    The latest money announced for Niger comes from the bloc’s new Africa fund, as well as from Germany, France, and Italy.

    Niger is a Western African country where the desert city of Agadez is a popular way station for migrants attempting to traverse Sahara to reach Libya and eventually Europe via Italy.

    The EU has also offered increased assistance to Senegal, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Mali, as well as Afghanistan, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, among others, in similar money-for-migration deals.
     


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  • Breaking: President orders service providers , AIRTEL, others, to block social media

    16/Dec/2016 // 6441 Viewers

     

    Social media users' access to social media sites would soon be shut throughout the country as telecommunication companies such as  AIRTEL and others have been given marching orders to block social media networks commencing from Monday, DailyGlobeWatch reliably gathered. 

    President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo gave this order apparently to stop protests against his plans to stay in power beyond the end of his mandate.

    Service providers including Vodacom, Orange and Airtel were silent on the mandate whether they would comply or not. But one industry executive said all companies had signed an agreement to respect national security injunctions.

    The country’s top court has extended Kabila’s tenure beyond the end of his two-term limit in the wake of a deal between the government and some opposition leaders to delay a vote in November to choose a successor until April 2018.

    The government blocked social media networks and the Internet during protests in January 2015, justifying the measure as necessary to prevent rumors that could fuel violence. Human rights groups criticized the decision.

    Kabila took power in 2001 and a campaign by the opposition to force him to step down has led to years of sporadic demonstrations and arrests. More than 50 died in protests in September and a similar number died in January 2015.

    The request to block social media was made in a letter by the Regulatory Authority of the Post and Telecommunications of Congo (ARPTC). Social media listed in letter are Facebook, Twitter, Skype, YouTube and LinkedIn as services that should be blocked temporarily.


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  • EU countries struggle to return migrants to other countries

    16/Feb/2017 // 1842 Viewers

     

    Countries in the European Union struggled with returning migrants to third countries with less than 60 per cent of return decisions implemented in 2016, the EU border protection agency, Frontex, said in a report on Wednesday.

    “Of more than 305,000 migrants who were ordered to leave EU countries, only about 176,000 actually returned to their countries of origin or other non-EU countries,’’ the report said.

    It noted that the total number of return decisions was most likely even higher than 305,000 due to divergent reporting by four EU countries for part of 2016.

    It added that difficulties in implementing return decision arise from problems in identifying returnees and obtaining the necessary documents from non-EU authorities.

    “Migrants expected to voluntarily return often decide to stay illegally in the EU,’’ it said.

    Frontex’s report showed that by the end of 2016 most migrants arrived to the EU through the central Mediterranean with a total of 180,000 people coming to Italy, mostly via Libya.

    “We have to be ready to face the same number,’’ Fabrice Leggeri, Frontex Executive Director, said with a view to 2017.

    He said that smugglers from Libya try to get migrants to international waters where they are picked up by EU rescue operations and are brought to Europe.

    The small boats used by smugglers have been getting increasingly crowded: while an average of 100 people were crammed on one boat during 2015, the average figure now stands at 160 people. (NAN)

     


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  • At least 20 dead in ongoing Burkina Faso hotel siege

    16/Jan/2016 // 280 Viewers

     

    AFP - Burkina Faso troops supported by French special forces were battling Al-Qaeda linked gunmen in the early hours of Saturday in a Ouagadougou hotel where at least 20 people have been killed.

    Sixty-three hostages were rescued, 33 of them wounded, from the Burkinabe capital’s four-star Splendid hotel about two hours after the assault began and heavy gun battles were still being waged on the top floors of the hotel, popular with UN staff and foreigners.

    Twenty people have been confirmed dead, but the toll could rise further as interior minister Simon Campaore told AFP that firefighters had seen 10 bodies on the terrace of a restaurant opposite the hotel.

    It was not clear how many people remained trapped.

    We don’t yet have a total tally of the dead. The Burkinabe forces are still combing the hotel,” Campaore told AFP

    He said it was unclear how many attackers were still inside the 147-room hotel.

    The assault is ongoing with the Burkinabe forces supported by French special forces,” communication minister Remis Dandjinou told AFP.

    The attack comes less than two months after a jihadist hostage siege at the luxury Radisson Blu hotel in the Malian capital Bamako left 20 people dead, including 14 foreigners — an attack claimed by the same Al-Qaeda affiliate behind the unfolding Ouagadougou assault.

    – ‘Revenge against France’ –

    A fire raged at the main entrance of the hotel and screams could be heard from inside, while on the street outside about 10 vehicles were set alight.

    The head of the city’s main hospital confirmed prior to the start of the counter-assault at least 20 people had been killed and another 15 injured.

    A restaurant opposite the hotel was also attacked and a staff member, reached by telephone, said several people had been killed, but was not able to give an exact toll.

    Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility for the attack saying it was “revenge against France and the disbelieving West”, according to US-based monitoring group SITE.

    The “mujahideen brothers” of AQIM “broke into a restaurant of one of the biggest hotels in the capital of Burkina Faso, and are now entrenched and the clashes are continuing with the enemies of the religion”, SITE quoted the group as saying.

    The attackers were members of the Al-Murabitoun group based in Mali and run by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, SITE said.

    An AFP reporter at one point saw three men clad in turbans firing at the scene on Avenue Kwame Nkrumah, one of Ouagadougou’s main thoroughfares.

    A witness also reported seeing four assailants who were of Arab or white appearance and “wearing turbans”.

    – Unprecedented attack –

    The French embassy said on its website that a “terrorist attack” was underway and urged people to avoid the area. An Air France flight from Paris to Ouagadougou was diverted to neighbouring Niger.

    A US defence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Washington could provide drone-based surveillance.

    The Burkinabe army, meanwhile, said a heavily-armed group of about 20 people had also carried out an attack on Friday near the border with Mali, killing two people — a gendarme and a civilian — and leaving two others wounded.

    Several attacks have taken place in Burkina Faso in recent months, but no such assaults had hit the capital.

    In April the Romanian security chief of a mine in northern Tambao was kidnapped in a move also claimed by Belmokhtar’s Al-Murabitoun group.

    Burkina Faso is part of the G5 Sahel grouping that counts the fight against terrorism as part of its remit.

    It has also offered support to France’s Barkhane counter-terror mission, spanning five countries in Africa’s restive Sahel region, and French special forces are stationed in Ouagadougou’s suburbs.

    Last month, Burkina Faso swore in Roch Marc Christian Kabore as president, completing the troubled West African state’s transition after the overthrow of its longtime ruler Blaise Compaore in 2014 and a failed coup attempt in September.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    AFP


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  • Ivory Coast toll rises to 19 with body found on beach

    16/Mar/2016 // 250 Viewers

     

    Grand-Bassam (Ivory Coast) (AFP) - The toll from a deadly attack in Ivory Coast by an Al-Qaeda affiliate rose to 19 on Wednesday, with the body of a young man shot in the head found on the beach.

     

    State-run RTI television showed images of the body and quoted the person who had found it as saying it had been "washed back by the waves".

    Citizens from Burkina Faso, Germany and France were among those killed when gunmen stormed three hotels and sprayed a beach with bullets at the Grand-Bassam beach resort, an unprecedented jihadist assault in Ivory Coast.

    The sleepy town, with its pristine beaches and UNESCO-listed French colonial-era buildings, is packed with visitors on weekends from nearby Abidjan, Ivory Coast's main city and commercial capital.

    A security source said it was possible that some corpses had been washed away from the beach following the assault.

    Several witnesses had reported seeing the attackers firing on people bathing in the sea or swimming.

    Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb (AQIM) said the shooting rampage was one of a series of operations "targeting dens of espionage and conspiracies".

    It directly threatened France and its allies in the region in warning that nations involved in the anti-insurgent Operation Barkhane and the 2013 French-led Operation Serval in Mali would "receive a response", with their "criminal leaders" and interests targeted, according to the SITE group which monitors extremist groups.

    Ivory Coast, the world's leading cocoa producer, was France's star colony in Africa.

    On Tuesday the visiting French foreign and interior ministers pledged to step up anti-terrorism cooperation in the region and deploy crack GIGN special operations troops specialising in counter-terrorism and hostage rescue missions.

    France has a permanent military base in Ivory Coast under a deal with the country's founding president Felix Houphouet-Boigny.

    French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said about 10 GIGN troops would be stationed in the capital of neighbouring Burkina Faso and could even intervene if needed.

    Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara meanwhile held a cabinet meeting in Grand-Bassam on Wednesday to show "our unity and our strength," adding: "Ivory Coast will not be intimidated."

    He said he hoped the town's numerous hoteliers would resume business soon, adding: "We will do everything possible so that normal life resumes."


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