United States Africa Command Public Affairs Office 27 April 2010

USAFRICOM - related news stories

TOP NEWS RELATED TO U.S. AFRICA COMMAND AND AFRICA U.N. approves $2.1M to fight piracy off African coast A $2.1 million series of projects to help Somalia and neighboring countries prosecute pirate suspects was approved Friday by a 10-nation board in charge of a new U.N. trust fund for the fight against piracy. Obama to Host East African Muslims At 2-Day U.S. Summit (The East African) As part of his effort to improve US relations with Muslims in East Africa and throughout the world, President Barack Obama is hosting an entrepreneurship summit this week designed to encourage grassroots economic development that can lead to political reforms. U.S. Comes to the Rescue of Country's Troubled Health Sector (The East African) NAIROBI, Kenya — Rural Ugandans without the means to access proper health care can now sigh with relief. An ongoing project dubbed IntraHealth has promised to improve staffing levels in selected districts, from 48 to 65 per cent over the next five years. Japanese Military Joins U.S. And NATO In Horn Of Africa (Eurasia Review) Japanese navy commander Keizo Kitagawa recently spoke with Agence France-Presse and disclosed that his nation was opening its first overseas military base - at any rate since the Second World War - in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa. Morocco dismantles Al-Qaeda linked cell: authorities (AFP) RABAT, Morocco – Moroccan security services have arrested 24 people and dismantled an Al-Qaeda linked network which was preparing to carry out attacks, the interior ministry and police said Monday. Sudan's Bashir Retains Presidency (Voice of America) Sudan President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has been announced the winner of the nation's first multi-party vote in 24 years. Opposition parties have rejected the results, which they say were rigged, but all eyes likely now focus on a southern independence referendum eight months away.

Niger's Consultative Council Calls for 11-Month Transition to Civilian Rule (Voice of America) A consultative council appointed by Niger's military rulers says civilian government should be re-established by March of next year. EU warship destroys pirate vessels (Xinhua) NAIROBI, Kenya - European Union Naval Force said on Monday its warship ESPS Victoria intercepted a pirate action group (PAG) comprising one mother ship, a Whaler, and two skiffs. UN News Service Africa Briefs Full Articles on UN Website Four abducted UN-AU blue helmets released in Darfur UN envoy calls on Somali Parliament to resolve internal disputes ICC rejects appeal against dismissal of charges against Darfurian rebel leader UN food agency steps up response amid growing food crisis in Niger South Africa launches massive UN-backed HIV prevention drive ------------------------------------------------------------------------UPCOMING EVENTS OF INTEREST: WHEN/WHERE: Tuesday through Thursday, April 27-29; Washington, D.C. WHAT: Corporate Council on Africa: U.S.-Africa Infrastructure Conference WHO: Top U.S. and African government officials, seasoned business executives, sector experts and financiers convene at the U.S. Africa Infrastructure Conference. Info: http://www.africacncl.org/(xtahp03q0g1wdb55d42z1w55)/Default.aspx WHEN/WHERE: Wednesday, April 28, 7:45 p.m.; Lexington, VA WHAT: Secretary Clinton’s remarks will discuss smart power one year later, and how the United States is integrating diplomacy, defense, and development together into its day to day foreign policy. Secretary Clinton will also receive VMI's Distinguished Diplomat Award. WHO: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Info: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2010/04/140745.htm WHEN/WHERE: Wednesday, April 28; Washington, D.C. WHAT: U.S. Institute of Peace: U.S.-Relations with the Muslim World WHO: This event will examine U.S. relations with the Muslim world one year after President Obama's pivotal speech at Cairo University. Speakers include Oxford professor Tariq Ramadan, Special Representative to Muslim Communities Farah Pandith, and U.S. Special Envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference Rashad Hussain. USIP specialists Abiodun Williams, Daniel Brumberg and Mona Yacoubian will also participate in the event. Info: http://www.usip.org/events/us-relations-the-muslim-world-one-year-after-cairo WHEN/WHERE: Friday, April 30, 2:00 p.m.; Washington, D.C. WHAT: U.S. Institute of Peace: Creating Long-Term Peace in Cote d’Ivoire

WHO: Patrick N'gouan, The Civil Society Collective; Andre Kamate, Ivorian League of Human Rights; Paola Piscitelli, Community of Sant'Egidio, USA; Dorina Bekoe, Moderator, Senior Research Associate (Africa), U.S. Institute of Peace Info: http://www.usip.org/events/creating-long-term-peace-in-cote-divoire WHEN/WHERE: Thursday, May 13, 9:30 a.m.; Washington, D.C. WHAT: U.S. Institute of Peace: Threats to Maritime Security WHO: Donna L. Hopkins, U.S. Department of State; Bruce Averill, Ph.D., Strategic Energy Security Solutions; Michael Berkow (invited), Altegrity Security Consulting; Robert Perito, Moderator, U.S. Institute of Peace Info: http://www.usip.org/events/threats-maritime-security ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------FULL ARTICLE TEXT U.N. approves $2.1M to fight piracy off African coast A $2.1 million series of projects to help Somalia and neighboring countries prosecute pirate suspects was approved Friday by a 10-nation board in charge of a new U.N. trust fund for the fight against piracy. Four of the projects will help strengthen institutions in the Seychelles, which serves alongside Kenya as a regional center for the prosecution of suspected pirates, according to the U.N. The initiative, which also involves the regions of Puntland and Somaliland, will include mentoring of prosecutors and police, constructing prisons, reviewing domestic legislation on piracy and enhancing the capacity of the courts. The U.N. also is planning a public awareness project designed to spread an anti-piracy message within Somalia. The 10-nation U.N. board includes Djibouti, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Kenya, Marshall Islands, Norway, Somalia and the United States. The U.N. board also has established an emergency fund to offset the costs involved in prosecuting piracy suspects arrested at sea, including travel for witnesses, court equipment and the transportation of suspects. -------------------Obama to Host East African Muslims At 2-Day U.S. Summit (The East African) As part of his effort to improve US relations with Muslims in East Africa and throughout the world, President Barack Obama is hosting an entrepreneurship summit this week designed to encourage grassroots economic development that can lead to political reforms.

Four Kenyans are among more than 200 mostly Muslim delegates from 50 countries invited to the event taking place in Washington on Monday and Tuesday. Mr Obama is expected to address the summit which, organisers say, will focus on topics such as "fostering a culture of entrepreneurship" and promoting innovation. Some Muslims see the meeting as a sign of a significant shift in Washington's approach, which was first signaled in President Obama's policy speech in Cairo last June. "What has also changed -- beyond tone and rhetoric -- is the departure from the world view of his neo-conservative predecessors that freedom and progress in the Muslim world was a top-down project: You change the regime and the democratic effect would somehow filter down," Asim Siddiqui, founder of a British Muslim debate forum, wrote recently in London's Guardian newspaper. Mr Obama's is instead projecting the perspective that "trade, not force, may drive democratic reform in that part of the world," Mr Siddiqui observed. Influential analysts in the US, such as New York Times' columnist Thomas Friedman, argue that economic underdevelopment in Muslim societies fuels isolation and resentment on the part of young men unable to find jobs. Some of them turn to radical Islamist groups hostile to American interests and values, Mr Friedman and other commentators say. It is thus suggested that the United States can most effectively help foster political moderation and spur democratic reforms by working to integrate Muslim communities into the global capitalist economy. The summit will "celebrate the risky, exhilarating life of entrepreneurship," according to promotional materials for the event. The Kenyan Muslims invited to Washington were chosen on the basis of their "commitment to community service, and gender, geographic and urban/rural diversity," the summit organisers say. Yusuf Keshavjee, a co-founder of a yoga hotel in Diani Beach, is chairman of White Rose Drycleaners, East Africa's largest chain of dry-cleaning franchises. Mr Keshavjee also serves as board chairman of Honey Care Africa Ltd, a social enterprise that is said to have lifted 9,000 smallholder farmers out of poverty.

Also taking part from Kenya is Rehema Dida Jaldesa, managing director of Yashar Distributors. Ms Jaldesa's construction business has drilled boreholes in northern Kenya. Salim Amin, another summit attendee, owns Camerapix Ltd, which employs 30 media professionals at its Nairobi headquarters and in a London office. Camerapix, founded in 1963 by renowned cameraman Mohamed "Mo" Amin (Salim's father), now provides clients with television production, photography and publishing services. Nuria Sheikh Farah, the owner of Risala Enterprises Ltd, will also be at the summit this week. Ms Farah's company has a fleet of lorries that transport petroleum products and household goods throughout East Africa. She also runs Gargaar Kenya, an NGO in northeastern Kenya that promotes the education of girls. The two-day summit to be attended by about 250 delegates from more than 50 Muslim countries is seen as an opening for Africa's economic boom. -------------------U.S. Comes to the Rescue of Country's Troubled Health Sector (The East African) NAIROBI, Kenya — Rural Ugandans without the means to access proper health care can now sigh with relief. An ongoing project dubbed IntraHealth has promised to improve staffing levels in selected districts, from 48 to 65 per cent over the next five years. The project, funded by the USAID to the tune of $11 million, will help the Ministry of Health advance recruitment and retention rates for health staff by setting up better payroll management systems and promote a healthy work environment.Uganda's decentralised health system has been facing mounting criticism for tribalism and erratic staffing levels that is putting the lives of citizens at risk. The ratios vary widely across districts. The Minister of Health, Steven Malinga said rampant nepotism at the district level had compromised health services delivery. "We can decentralise all other systems but not health. Some districts do not attract health workers and officials end up employing their relatives," said Mr Malinga. He said the biggest challenge was the geographical factor."Health workers prefer urban settings hence the relatively few health workers in the country serve only 12 per cent of the population leaving the rural areas widely neglected." Rural populations are thus forced to travel long distances to access health care.

Reports from the Ministry of Health show that Uganda's doctor-to-population ratio stands at 1:36,000, nurse to population ratio is 1:5,000 and the midwife-to-population ratio is 1:10,000. Uganda's health workforce is also beset with several challenges that include job dissatisfaction and poor working conditions. These are linked to inappropriate deployment, low salaries, inadequate supervision, excessive workloads and poor job security. For example, for the year ended June 2009, nursing officers and bedside nurses who handle the bulk of work in hospitals were earning $200-$450 and $130 respectively before taxes per month. A senior medical consultant in Uganda earns $1,000 while a medical officer $300-$600 per month before taxes. This is a drop in the ocean compared with $7,500 that Members of Parliament pocket every month after taxes in salary and benefits. The low earnings for health workers are in spite of long training periods. Graduate nurses, pharmacists, dentists and doctors spend five to six years training, including internships while specialists have to add three to five more years. Posts for medical officers, dispensers, lab technicians and anaesthetic officers remain vacant particularly in rural health facilities. The IntraHealth project will increase allowances and incentives for health workers posted to remote regions.It will also reduce to half the cycle of the recruitment period, which usually takes a full year and establish a database for all applicants. The project also wants to emulate Rwanda where salaries of health workers in HIV projects are aligned with those of government staff. That way the exodus from government health facilities to HIV projects, which pay handsomely, will be minimised. "Some senior health workers were ready to work in remote areas but Aids/HIV projects took them away," said Dr Grace Namaganda, the senior advisor human resource manager at the Ministry of Health.USAID is working with the Ministry of Health, line ministries and professional councils in collaboration with Makerere University School of Public Health, Gulu University and Uganda Management Institute. -------------------Japanese Military Joins U.S. And NATO In Horn Of Africa (Eurasia Review) Japanese navy commander Keizo Kitagawa recently spoke with Agence France-Presse and disclosed that his nation was opening its first overseas military base - at any rate since the Second World War - in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa. Kitagawa is assigned to the Plans and Policy Section of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, as his nation's navy is called, and is in charge of the deployment.

AFP quoted the Japanese officer as stressing the unprecedented nature of the development: "This will be the only Japanese base outside our country and the first in Africa." [1] The military installation is to cost $40 million and is expected to accommodate Japanese troops early next year. Djibouti rests at the confluence of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, across from strifetorn Yemen, and borders the northwest corner of equally conflict-ridden Somalia. The narrow span of water separating it from Yemen is the gateway for all maritime traffic passing between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean via the Suez Canal, the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea. Naval deployments to the Gulf of Aden by several major nations and alliances - the U.S., NATO, the European Union, China, Russia, India, Iran and others - are designed to insure the free passage of commercial vessels through the above route and to protect United Nations World Food Programme deliveries to Somalia. The second concern in particular led to the passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1838 in 2008, which requests that nations with military vessels in the area suppress the capture of ships and their crews for ransom. An anti-piracy mission. However, the above-mentioned Japanese naval officer was more direct in identifying his nation's interest in establishing a military base in Africa. Kitagawa also told AFP that "We are deploying here to fight piracy and for our self-defence. Japan is a maritime nation and the increase in piracy in the Gulf of Aden through which 20,000 vessels sail every year is worrying." The term self-defense is not fortuitous. Article 9 of the 1947 Japanese Constitution explicitly affirms that "the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. To accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized." As such, in the post-World War Two period the nation's armed forces have been called the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF). The Constitution also expressly prohibits the deployment of military forces outside of Japan, stating that it is "not permissible constitutionally to dispatch armed troops to foreign territorial land, sea and airspace for the purpose of using military power, as a so-called overseas deployment of troops, since it generally exceeds the minimum level necessary for self-defense."

That notwithstanding, in the years following the Cold War all post-Second World War proscriptions against the use of military force by the former Axis nations have been disregarded, [2] and in February of 2004 Japan dispatched 600 troops, albeit in a noncombat role, to Iraq shortly after the U.S. and British invasion of the country. The nation's navy, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, supplied fuel and water in support of the U.S. Operation Enduring Freedom campaign in Afghanistan from 20012007 and again from January of 2008 to the beginning of this year, thereby violating another basic tenet of its constitution, the ban on engaging in what the document refers to as collective self-defense, the relevant section of which reads: "Japan has the right of collective self-defense under international law. It is, however, not permissible to use the right, that is, to stop armed attack on another country with armed strength, although Japan is not under direct attack, since it exceeds the limit of use of armed strength as permitted under Article 9 of the Constitution." However, a 2007 Defense White Paper left the door open to further military deployments with a provision on "international peace cooperation activities." It is in the spirit of that elastic and evasive phrase that Japan resumed support for the war in Afghanistan in 2008 and has now secured a military base on the African continent. The Japanese official presiding over the latter project also said that "A camp will be built to house our personnel and material. Currently we are stationed at the American base." Kitagawa added that "We sent military teams to Yemen, Oman, Kenya and Djibouti. In April 2009, we chose Djibouti." A year earlier, the Kyodo News cited an official of the Foreign Ministry as confirming that "Japan and Djibouti reached a status of forces agreement" on April 3, 2009, "stipulating the terms of operations and legal status for the Japanese Maritime SelfDefense Force and related officials who will be based in the African nation during the current antipiracy mission in waters off Somalia." [3] The agreement was signed on the same day by Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada and the foreign minister of Djibouti, Mahamoud Ali Youssouf, in Tokyo. The month before Japan sent two destroyers to the Gulf of Aden. Two months later Japan deployed two new destroyers, the 4,550-ton Harusame and the 3,500-ton Amagiri, off the Horn of Africa. Also last July the Japanese press disclosed that "The U.S....asked Japan to build its own facilities to carry out full-fledged operations," and that at the time "about 150 members of the Ground Self-Defense Force and MSDF [Maritime Self-Defense Force] stationed in Djibouti live in U.S. military lodgings near an airport." [4] The Japanese military announced plans to construct a

runway for Maritime Self-Defense Force P-3C surveillance planes and barracks for its troops. Although Russian, Chinese, Indian and Iranian ships in the Horn of Africa are there to protect their own and other nations' vessels and their missions are understood to be limited to anti-piracy operations and to a prescribed duration, Japan and its American and NATO allies have established permanent land, naval and air bases in the region for use in armed conflicts on the African continent. In early 2001 the U.S. started negotiations with the government of Djibouti for setting up its first major military base in Africa at the former French Foreign Legion base Camp Lemonnier. (Until recently spelled Lemonier by the Pentagon.) This was several years before combating piracy in the Gulf of Aden became the rationale for U.S. and NATO deployments in the region. Djibouti is the last territory on the African continent to achieve independence (excepting Western Sahara, seized by Morocco in 1975 with the connivance of Spain's General Franco), only being granted what independence it has by France in 1977. Its population is less than 900,000. France still maintains its largest overseas military base in the world in the nation and has approximately 3,000 troops stationed there. Since the Pentagon moved into and took over Camp Lemonnier in 2003, it established its Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) on the base and has an estimated 2,000 troops from all four branches of the U.S. military - Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps - stationed there. The Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa's area of operations incorporates Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda and Yemen and increasingly the Indian Ocean island nations of Comoros, Madagascar and Mauritius. As the U.S. was transferring the CJTF-HOA command from the Marine Corps to the Navy in 2005 - to free up Marines for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq - the then commander, Major Marine General Timothy Ghormley, acknowledged that "U.S. forces have been working with militaries in Yemen, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Sudan, Uganda, Kenya and Comoros" [5] and "operate throughout Kenya, Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Yemen and Ethiopia." [6] France has used its base in Djibouti for deadly military interventions in Cote d'Ivoire and Chad and, because of the nation's topography, Djibouti has also been used for

training French troops for the war in Afghanistan, where the nation's contingent is the fourth largest serving under NATO command. Last December the commander of the French army in the country, Commandant Etienne du Fayet, said that "French officers are going to be training a contingent in Uganda next February and we are also going to Ethiopia." [7] During deadly border clashes between Djibouti and Eritrea in June of 2008 France deployed additional troops, warships and aircraft to the region. The U.S. base has been used for military operations in Somalia and Uganda. In 2008 the deputy commander of U.S. forces in the country was cited as revealing that "the Djibouti base facilitates some other military activities he won't talk about. "There have been reports of U.S. special operations forces working from the base on counter-terrorism missions in Somalia and elsewhere....[T]hat approach is the model for the new United States Africa Command...." At the same time Rear Admiral Philip Greene took over as commander of the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa and, speaking over nine months before the formal activation of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), said "There is, I think, great synergy between what CJTF-Horn of Africa does now and what we're about and what AFRICOM will represent as a combatant command." To indicate the range of the operations he envisioned, Greene also said he would "be watching some of the region's hot spots for potential seeds of instability," including "the situations in Kenya, Somalia and Sudan's Darfur region, as well as tension on the Ethiopia-Eritrea border and piracy along the Indian Ocean coastline." [8] In 2006 a Kenyan daily newspaper wrote that (as of four years ago) "direct US arms sales to East Africa and the Horn of Africa countries – Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia – have shot up from under one million dollars in 2003 to over $25 million in 2006. Djibouti leads the list with nearly $20 million in direct arms purchases in 2005 and 2006." [9] The same feature described broader U.S. plans for the Horn of Africa region and further afield being hatched from Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti: "Overall, direct US weapons sales [to Africa] increased from $39.2 million in 2005 to nearly $60 million in 2006. In both years, East Africa and the Horn accounted for nearly 40 percent of US weapons sales to Africa, and this demonstrates the US military’s strategic shift to the region.

"Access to strategic airfields and ports has also increased for the US military. Beyond Camp Lemonier in 2003, the US had an agreement with Kenya that allowed it access to the port of Mombasa and airfields at Embakasi and Nanyuki. "Zambia and Uganda have joined Kenya in this unique arrangement. At Entebbe, the US has constructed two K-Span steel buildings to house troops and equipment. The so called 'Lily Pad' arrangement will allow the US military to use the base when needed in times of conflict or as a staging area for a conflict within the region." The article also stated, "Strategically, the US military has developed a regional operations plan that centres on Djibouti to support the Horn countries. It anchors the southern flank with bases in Kenya, Zambia and Uganda to the west....[L]ike in Nigeria, it can be used to ensure an uninterrupted flow of oil from the newly discovered fields of Uganda and Kenya, and it opens the door to the construction of a well-protected oil pipeline carrying oil from the interior of Central Africa to the port of Mombasa. It also provides a strategically located airbase to support future military operations to the north in Sudan or to the west." [10] In 2006 the Pentagon expanded Camp Lemonnier by almost five times its original size, from 88 to 500 acres. Late last year it completed an airfield project in the country to provide parking spaces for C-130 Hercules and CV-22 Osprey aircraft and to support C17 Globemaster III and C-5 Galaxy military transport planes. Four years ago the Reuters news agency reported "the United States is already providing Ethiopia and Kenya with logistical support and U.S. special forces had been observed on the Kenya-Somalia border," [11] and shortly afterward the U.S. Air Force divulged that U.S. airmen were operating out of Contingency Operating Location Bilate (also known as Camp Bilate) in Ethiopia in conjunction with the the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa headquarters at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti. [12] The U.S. military headquarters in Djibouti is in charge of three smaller downrange bases, known as Contingency Operating Locations, at Bilate and Hurso in Ethiopia and Manda Bay in Kenya. An Ethiopian newspaper revealed at the time that "The United States would continue providing training and other assistance to the Ethiopian Defence Forces as per the Ethio-US bilateral cooperation" [13] during the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia in 2006. Ethiopian troops were being trained in infantry tactics by soldiers with the U.S. Army's 1st Infantry Division’s 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment at the Training Academy in Hurso as jets from the country bombed the Somali capital and ground forces invaded

their eastern neighbor. The U.S. Army conducted training at the base starting no later than 2003. "U.S. military personnel with the Combined Joint Task Force—Horn of Africa...have spent the last four years training the Ethiopian National Defense Forces in basic military tactics." [14] The effects of that preparation were seen in the 2006 invasion of Somalia. The Pentagon's role in Somalia was not limited to training and arming Ethiopian invasion forces, as in early 2007 it was reported that "recent military operations in Somalia have been carried out by the Pentagon's Joint Special Operations Command, which directs the military's most secretive and elite units, like the Army's Delta Force. "The Pentagon established a desolate outpost in the Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti in 2002 in part to serve as a hub for special missions...." [15] As U.S. special forces were operating in Somalia and Washington's military client was launching air and ground attacks there, the U.S. deployed the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier, which "has an air wing of about 75 aircraft, including F/A18 Hornet and SuperHornet strike fighters, E-2C Hawkeyes, EA-6B Prowlers, and SH-60 Seahawks," [16] to join the the guided-missile cruisers USS Bunker Hill and USS Anzio and the amphibious landing ship USS Ashland off the coast of Somalia. An "AC-130 gunship, operated by the Special Operations Command, flew from its base in Djibouti to the southern tip of Somalia" [17] where it "rained gunfire on the desolate village of Hayo" on January 8. A local official was quoted as saying "There are so many dead bodies and animals in the village." [18] "Officials with CJTF-HOA, based in Djibouti, declined...to comment on the reported AC-130 attacks; media reports said the plane was based at Camp Lemonier." [19] Also in early January of 2007 a major Kenyan newspaper reported "The US counterterrorism task force based in Djibouti acknowledges that American troops are on the ground in northern Kenya and in Lamu," the latter on the Indian Ocean. [20] In March of the same year two U.S. soldiers were killed in Ethiopia in what was attributed to an accident. They were assigned to a unit that was "part of the U.S.-led Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, headquartered at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti." [21] Late last year U.S. Africa Command deployed lethal Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), 133 military personnel and three P-3 Orion anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft to Seychelles in the Indian Ocean east of Kenya. The Pentagon now has its second major African military base.

In addition to the 5,000 U.S. and French troops stationed there, Djibouti also has been home to what in 2005 Agence France-Presse disclosed were "several hundred German, Dutch and Spanish soldiers." [22] That is, the diminutive state is for all practical purposes not only the headquarters for U.S. Africa Command but also for NATO in Africa. In late 2005 Britain announced that it was also deploying troops to Djibouti. Starting in March of 2009 NATO started rotating its Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG 1) and Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG 2) warship fleets off the coast of Somalia, first with Operation Allied Provider until August of last year and since with Operation Ocean Shield, which continues to the present day and which in March was extended until the end of 2012. The current fleet consists of warships from the U.S., Britain, Greece, Italy and Turkey. Its area of operations includes one million square kilometers in the Gulf of Aden and the Somali Basin. (The current name of the naval groups are NATO Response Force Maritime Groups 1 and 2.) NATO does not intend to leave the area soon if at all. Even before the NATO Allied Provider and Ocean Shield operations began, the Italian destroyer MM Luigi Durand De La Penne, "a 5,000-ton multi-role warship capable of air defence, anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare operations," [23] part of the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2, at the time comprised of warships from the U.S., Britain, Germany, Greece and Turkey, visited the Kenyan port city of Mombasa in October of 2008. Of the current NATO deployment, last December then German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung said that it was "the most robust mandate we have ever had," adding, "There may be combat situations, and in this respect it would of course be a combat deployment." [24] The NATO flotillas joined warships of the U.S.-led Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150) with logistics facilities in Djibouti. Formerly the U.S. Navy's Task Force 150, starting in 2001 it became a multinational operation with the inclusion of NATO allies and those from an emerging Asian NATO. Full participating nations are the U.S., Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany and Pakistan, and others who have been involved are Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Singapore, Spain and Turkey. CTF-150 has 14-15 warships near Somalia at any given time and is coordinated with the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, under the Combined Forces Maritime Component Commander/Commander US Naval Forces Central Command in Bahrain.

In January of 2009 the U.S. Navy inaugurated Combined Task Force 151 (CTF-151), which will include warships from 20 nations, NATO and Asian NATO states. European NATO nations are also "double-duty" participants in the European Union Naval Force Somalia – Operation Atalanta, the first naval operation conducted by the EU and run under the auspices of the European Security and Defence Policy. It was launched in December of 2008 and is based at the Northwood Operation Headquarters in Britain, which also houses NATO's Allied Maritime Component Command Northwood. Current participants in Operation Atalanta are Britain, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Spain, and "a number of Cypriot, Irish, Finnish, Maltese and Sweden military personnel supplement the team at the Northwood Operation Headquarters." [25] Starting no later than September of 2009 NATO commanders have visited and in essence established a headquarters in Somalia's autonomous Puntland state. Last autumn British Commodore Steve Chick, commander of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2, met with Puntland authorities on board the HMS Cornwall. "The talks ended successfully with NATO and Puntland officials agreeing to cooperate in combating pirates operating along the Somali coast." [26] This January Admiral Pereira da Cunha, commander of Standing NATO Maritime Group 1, hosted Puntland officials on the Portuguese flagship Alvares Cabral, and the meeting "focused on human intelligence gathering, capacity building and counter piracy cooperation between NATO and Puntland authorities." "NATO...has established a close working relationship with the Puntland Coastguard....This is just a start. With 60 years of experience and coalition building, NATO is well placed to make things happen." [27] In March ministers of the Puntland government met with Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 commander Commodore Steve Chick on board the HMS Chatham, current flagship of the NATO naval group in the region. The talks "covered ways in which further cooperation between NATO and the Puntland authorities could be developed in the future." [28] According to a Puntland news source, NATO's activities aren't limited to operations in the waters off Somalia: "NATO has a working relationship with Puntland authorities in a bid to enhance its fight against the piracy scourge along the lawless waters of the Horn of Africa. Puntland has offered its help in terms of dealing with the gangs in the mainland." [29]

The European Union will soon begin training 2,000 Ugandan troops for deployment to Somalia to aid the Transitional Federal Government, which is fighting for its life even in the nation's capital. Last October a Kenyan newspaper announced that Kenyan troops sailed to Djibouti to receive military training along with the armed forces of other regional nations. At the same time military officers from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden were in Kenya to "assist the region in the ongoing establishment of a united military force to deal with conflicts on the continent." "The experts from the European countries, which are part of the Nordic Bloc, are based at the EASBRIG headquarters, at the Defence Staff College in Karen, Nairobi." [30] EASBRIG, the East African Standby Brigade, "will be deployed to trouble spots within 14 days after chaos erupts, to restore order....The brigade will have troops from 14 countries....The military unit will comprise 35,000 soldiers and 1,000 police officers plus 1,000 civilian staff. Kenya is already training 2,000 soldiers to be seconded to the force once it is in place." [31] Japan's destroyers off the coast of Somalia and the nation's first foreign military base in the post-World War Two era in Djibouti are in line with the geostrategic plans of Tokyo's allies in North America and Europe. Plans which are embodied most fully in the creation of the first U.S. regional military command outside North America in a quarter of a century, Africa Command. Long after pirates, al-Qaeda affiliates and other threats have ceased to serve as their justification, the Pentagon, NATO and Japan will retain their military footholds in Africa. -------------------Morocco dismantles Al-Qaeda linked cell: authorities (AFP) RABAT, Morocco – Moroccan security services have arrested 24 people and dismantled an Al-Qaeda linked network which was preparing to carry out attacks, the interior ministry and police said Monday. "The security services have recently dismantled a terrorist network linked to Al-Qaeda and composed of 24 members," the north African kingdom's interior ministry said in a statement. It said the network "was preparing to commit crimes and acts of sabotage against the security services and interests of Morocco."

The arrests took place around mid-April in several towns, notably Casablanca, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) southwest of Rabat, according to a police source contacted by AFP. The group recruited Moroccan "activists" to send to locations such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and the Sahel-Saharan zone, the ministry said, citing initial details from an inquiry led by a prosecutor. "Candidates were preparing to leave for these regions," the ministry said. Al-Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is active in the Sahel-Saharan region, a vast desert territory covering the south of Algeria and the north of Mali and Niger, as well as northeastern Mauritania. AQIM is notorious for seizing Western hostages and killed one of them, Edwin Dyer, on May 31 last year when Britain refused to pay a ransom. Some suspects were found in possession of a pistol and ammunition that they had taken after attacking a police officer in Casablanca, the statement said. Police also seized knives. The network included four Moroccan former detainees convicted of acts of terrorism in the kingdom, the statement said, without giving details on the other suspects. The detainees will be transferred before the anti-terrorist tribunal at the end of the inquiry, the ministry said. Since March 2, Moroccan security services have reported the arrest of 30 suspected terrorists, including those announced on Monday. Generally, Islamic activists arrested in Morocco belong to the extremist movement, Salafia Jihadia, according to local press reports. However, the six presumed terrorists whose arrest was announced on March 2 were reportedly Takfirists. The Takfirist ideology is upheld by a violent Islamist movement forming a tiny minority in Morocco, who argue that society and its rulers have strayed from the true path. Takfirism first appeared in Egypt in the 1970s. More than 2,000 Islamists have been arrested and sentenced in Morocco since the Casablanca bombings of May 16, 2003. Five separate suicide bomb attacks, the most deadly inside a restaurant, claimed 45 lives, including those of 12 bombers, and wounded many people in the northern port city. --------------------

Sudan's Bashir Retains Presidency (Voice of America) Sudan President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has been announced the winner of the nation's first multi-party vote in 24 years. Opposition parties have rejected the results, which they say were rigged, but all eyes likely now focus on a southern independence referendum eight months away. Sudan's election commission says Mr. Bashir won 68 percent of the nation's votes. Under electoral law, he needed to surpass 50 percent in order to avoid a run-off vote against his nearest competitor. Yasir Arman, the northern secular Muslim slated by the southern-based Sudan People's Liberation Movement to challenge Mr. Bashir, came in second with 22 percent, most of which came from the southern states. His strong showing was made despite announcing his withdrawal from the race days before polling began, citing electoral fraud. In Southern Sudan, the president of the semi-autonomous region and head of the SPLM, Salva Kiir, retained his seat with 92 percent of the votes from the region. Some international observers, such as the Atlanta-based The Carter Center, have said the election will fall short of international standards. Northern opposition groups widely boycotted the elections, citing what they called an unfair campaign environment and allegations of vote rigging. Following the five days of chaotic polling, the charges of vote rigging have only escalated from the opposition forces. But with the results final, the international community has indicated its efforts will be focused on securing the final implementation of a 2005 peace deal signed between Bashir's government and the southern SPLM rebels. The accord includes a January referendum in the South on whether to remain part of the country or to secede and form its own state. The lead-up to the referendum is contentious, with a number of outstanding issues analysts warn could derail the peace process. With no major change in the leadership of either of the two peace parties, these negotiations are expected to begin hitting their final sprint, and logistical planning for the referendum starts almost immediately. -------------------Niger's Consultative Council Calls for 11-Month Transition to Civilian Rule (Voice of America)

A consultative council appointed by Niger's military rulers says civilian government should be re-established by March of next year. After more than one week of debate, Niger's 131-member Consultative Council called for the return of democratic rule by March 1, 2011. Council President Marou Amadou now passes on that proposal to the military's ruling Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy, which toppled President Mamadou Tandja in a February coup. Military rulers are likely to accept that proposal since they are represented on the consultative council and have already pledged to restore civilian rule within a year. The council made no formal recommendation on the dates of presidential and parliamentary elections, but Amadou says a referendum on a new constitution should come sometime in October. Maman Nassirou Garba, a member of the council's political commission, says it is not necessary to have a long transition to civilian rule. He says the council thinks it is essential that this happen in the shortest possible time to restore democracy and return to constitutional order. Garba says the council will propose having a national independent electoral commission in place by May 5. There will then be a review of the voter lists and registration of voters living outside Niger. Military ruler Major Salou Djibo last week established a committee to draw up a new constitution within 45 days and named an 11-member council to ensure the "transparency and sincerity" of the constitutional referendum and presidential and legislative elections. Mr. Djibo has appointed a civilian prime minister and says no one in the transitional government or on the ruling military council will be eligible to run in the next election. Regional diplomats believe he is serious about returning to democracy, in part, because many of the soldiers behind this coup were also involved in a 1999 coup that organized elections won by former President Tandja. Garba says Niger has past experience with this process following the 1999 coup that also restored civilian rule within one year. He says restoring internal and external credibility means having a transition of no more than 12 months.

Niger's external credibility was badly damaged by President Tandja, who refused to step down at the end of his second five-year term last December. He organized a constitutional referendum to remove term limits and give himself another three years in office. When Niger's parliament and constitutional court said that was illegal, he dismissed both bodies and ruled by decree. Since the February coup, the former president has been under house arrest in Niamey. -------------------EU warship destroys pirate vessels (Xinhua) NAIROBI, Kenya - European Union Naval Force said on Monday its warship ESPS Victoria intercepted a pirate action group (PAG) comprising one mother ship, a Whaler, and two skiffs. EU Naval Force spokesman John Harbor said the suspected pirates were detected by the frigate's helicopter, about 40 miles from the Somali coast northwest of the Seychelles on Sunday. Harbor said the helicopter crew saw that the mother ship was carrying a large number of fuel drums, and also the normal paraphernalia for hijacking ships (ladders, hooks, among others) as there was no fishing gear on board. "EU NAVFOR warship closed the PAG position and, following the orders of the EU NAVFOR Force Commander Jan Thornqvist, a search was conducted with no opposition from the pirates," Harbor said a statement. He said the boarding party confirmed the suspicions that these vessels were being used with the intent to carry out acts of piracy. "All the suspects were then put into one of the skiffs and given the necessary equipment to reach the Somali coast. Victoria then proceeded to destroy the other vessels," he said. The incident came barely a week after the Somali pirates hijacked three Thai vessels almost 600 miles outside the normal operation area for the EU Naval Force. The Somali pirates have expanded their range south and east in response to an increase in patrols by European and American warships off the Somali shore. This was the second event in four days of patrolling in the area. Two whalers were lifted on board of Johan de Witt and five crew members of the whaler were sent safely back to the shore. The Horn of Africa nation is at the entrance to the Gulf of Aden, which leads to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, one of the world's most important shipping channels.

The country has been plagued by factional fighting between warlords and hasn't had a functioning central administration since the 1991 ouster of former dictator Mohammed Siad Barre. The Gulf of Aden, off the northern coast of Somalia, has the highest risk of piracy in the world. About 25,000 ships use the channel south of Yemen, between the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea. -------------------UN News Service Africa Briefs Full Articles on UN Website Four abducted UN-AU blue helmets released in Darfur 26 April – Four peacekeepers serving with the joint African Union-United Nations Mission in the war-ravaged Sudanese region of Darfur (UNAMID) were released today after having spent more than two weeks in captivity. UN envoy calls on Somali Parliament to resolve internal disputes 26 April – The top United Nations envoy to Somalia today appealed to members of the nation’s Parliament to put aside their infighting and to instead focus on meeting the population’s needs and bolstering security. ICC rejects appeal against dismissal of charges against Darfurian rebel leader 26 April – The pre-trial chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has rejected an appeal by prosecutors to overturn an earlier decision declining to confirm charges against a rebel leader accused of directing the September 2007 attack that killed a dozen African Union peacekeepers in Sudan’s strife-torn Darfur region. UN food agency steps up response amid growing food crisis in Niger 26 April – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said today it will more than double the number of hungry people it feeds in Niger, despite its own funding gap, as the food crisis in the African country worsens. South Africa launches massive UN-backed HIV prevention drive 26 April – South Africa – home to the one-sixth of the world’s population living with HIV – today unveiled an ambitious campaign to prevent and treat the virus, a move hailed by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

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