United States Africa Command Public Affairs Office 9 March 2012 USAFRICOM - related news stories

Good morning. Please see today's news review for March 9, 2012. This message is best viewed in HTML format. Of interest in today's report: -US on 'KONY 2012': No plans to remove advisors -Sen Chris Coons: In Pursuit of Joseph Kony -Hostages killed in Nigeria rescue attempt -Piracy peril for West Africa's oil boom -Libya militias pose threat to precarious stability U.S. Africa Command Public Affairs Please send questions or comments to: publicaffairs@usafricom.mil 421-2687 (+49-711-729-2687) Headline US on 'KONY 2012': No plans to remove advisers Date 03/09/2012 Outlet MSNBC

The State Department on Thursday dismissed any suggestion that the United States might pull its advisers out of Uganda, a prospect raised by the "KONY 2012" video generating millions of views on the Internet.

Sen. Chris Coons: In Pursuit of Joseph 03/09/2012 Kony

Huffington Post

Fifty million people around the globe have turned their attention to Uganda this week thanks to the tremendous power of social media and the nature of cause célèbres. Together they have catapulted a video about the vicious crimes against humanity committed...

"Kony 2012' Video: The Problem with Invisible Children's Uganda Crusade

03/09/2012

Time Magazine

Most Americans began this week not knowing who Joseph Kony was. That's not surprising: most Americans begin every week not knowing a lot of things, especially about a part of the world as obscured from their vision as Uganda, the country where Kony and his...

Hostages killed in Nigeria rescue attempt

03/08/2012

Financial Times

An attempt by British and Nigerian special forces to rescue two hostages believed held by a terrorist group in Nigeria failed on Thursday when the two detainees were killed by their captors, David Cameron, UK prime minister, announced.

US Congressional Panel Targets Horn of Africa Crisis

03/09/2012

Voice of America

A House of Representatives panel is calling on all U.S. lawmakers to remain focused on the continuing food, refugee and humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa.

Mali rebels strike amid post-Libya anarchy

03/09/2012

UPI

DAKAR, Senegal -- North Africa, never the most placid of places, has been plunged into turmoil in recent weeks by

groups of heavily armed fighters that have fanned out across the Sahara to destabilize the region known as the Maghreb.

Piracy peril for West Africa's oil boom

03/08/2012

UPI

PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria -- A sharp increase in pirate attacks in the Atlantic Ocean off West Africa is threatening plans to double oil production from 4 million barrels a day amid a swelling energy boom in the largely impoverished region.

Libya militias pose threat to precarious 03/08/2012 stability

Los Angeles Times Online

Reporting from Tripoli, Libya - The revolution is long over in Libya, but gunfire still crackles in the night, echoing down empty streets and alleys. Swaggering men in Che Guevara-style berets patrol the outskirts of once-besieged Misurata with antiaircraf...

Libyan Liberator Back Home in Virginia 03/08/2012

National Journal Online

At first glance, Adam Sbita of Falls Church, Va., appears to be an average Washington-area resident. He follows the Redskins faithfully, attended George Mason University, and has lived in the capital region for most of his 22 years. Upon meeting Sbita, not...

New fighting in Sudan's Darfur region

03/08/2012

Thomson Reuters Africa - Online

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan's armed forces and a rebel group clashed in the Western Darfur region, both sides said on Wednesday, the latest violence in the troubled region.

Kenya on US blacklist over terrorism laws

03/08/2012

Africa Review

NAIROBI - The US has put Kenya on a blacklist of countries that do not support the fight against terrorism. And it has given Kenya a three-month ultimatum to enact laws that criminalise financing of terrorist activities.

Army Vet Indicted on Terrorism Charge 03/08/2012

Military.com

A Laurel, Maryland, man was indicted by a federal grand jury Wednesday on a charge of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.

AQIM moves base from northern Mali

03/08/2012

Andkronos-Gruppo

ALGIERS - Al-Qaeda's North African branch has moved its base from northern Mali to Algeria's far south, according to local media.

Djiboutian, U.S. and French Navies Share Best Maritime Practices

03/08/2012

U.S. Africa Command

DJIBOUTI -- Sailors from three nations assembled at the Djibouti National Navy Headquarters in Djibouti, February 27 through 29, 2012, to discuss best practices for ensuring the sovereignty of the seas around the Horn of Africa.

United Nations News Briefs - Africa

03/08/2012

UN News Centre

-New UN adviser on Africa announced -UN envoy for West Africa stresses cooperation to address regional threats

News Headline: US on 'KONY 2012': No plans to remove advisers | News Date: 03/09/2012 Outlet Full Name: MSNBC News Text: By NBC News, msnbc.com staff and news services The State Department on Thursday dismissed any suggestion that the United States might pull its advisers out of Uganda, a prospect raised by the ―KONY 2012‖ video generating millions of views on the Internet. That viral video details the atrocities carried out by Josephy Kony's Lord's Resistance Army, or LRA, and is part of a marketing campaign by the advocacy group Invisible Children to raise awareness about the issue. The jungle militia leader is wanted for atrocities by the International Criminal Court and is being hunted by troops in four Central African countries. Last year, the

U.S. sent nearly 100 Special Forces troops to Uganda to train military forces there in an attempt to stop Kony. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland on Thursday applauded the effort to ―shine a light on the horrible atrocities of the LRA.‖ "Hundreds of -- and thousands of people around the world, especially the young people, have been mobilized to express concern for the communities in central Africa that have been placed under siege by the LRA,‖ Nuland said during a daily press briefing. ―So the degree to which this YouTube video helps to increase awareness and increase support for the work that governments are doing, including our own government -- that can only help all of us." (How did 'KONY 2012' video spread so fast? Oprah) Nuland said U.S. is "very much involved" in supporting Uganda and its neighboring states with the Special Forces advisers, who are armed and combat-equipped but only for self-defense. ―They've only been in for a couple of months, and we consider them a very important augmentation for our effort to help the East and Central African countries with this problem," she said. The U.S. troops are armed and combat-equipped, bu their mission is as field trainers, although the military has said they will fight back if attacked. Although there no plans to remove advisers, the mission is not an open-ended commitment, according to one senior defense official. So, while there is no specific timeline for how long American forces will be there, the U.S. constantly reassesses the situation and its effectiveness, that official said. Since 2008, the U.S. has spent approximately $500 million helping to strengthen the Ugandan Army in its battle against the LRA. The Lord's Resistance Army has an estimated 150 to 200 core fighters, with another 600 to 1,000 other supporters or affiliated members throughout central Africa. It arose in Uganda in the 1980s in response to alleged brutality against the Acholi people, but since has been blamed for thousands of mutilations and killings over the last 26 years. The militia abducts children, forcing them to serve as soldiers or sex slaves, and even to kill their parents or each other to survive.
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News Headline: Sen. Chris Coons: In Pursuit of Joseph Kony | News Date: 03/09/2012 Outlet Full Name: Huffington Post News Text: By Sen. Chris Coons U.S. Senator from Delaware Fifty million people around the globe have turned their attention to Uganda this week thanks to the tremendous power of social media and the nature of cause célèbres. Together they have catapulted a video about the vicious crimes against humanity committed by Joseph Kony and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) to the front of our consciousness. I applaud the leadership and initiative of Resolve, Enough and Invisible Children, the groups that have led the grassroots campaign against Kony and the LRA. As chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, I share their goal of ending Joseph Kony's influence on this earth and protecting innocent civilians. I feel passionately that the more people who are watching central Africa, the more likely we can

come together as an international community to save lives in the face of conflict and mass atrocities. As we work toward this shared goal, it is essential to be clear about certain facts that may have been blurred these last few days. Joseph Kony's unconscionable crimes against humanity are not in doubt. Under his leadership, the LRA murdered and kidnapped tens of thousands of people and advanced the use of rape as a weapon of war. Over two decades, they forced thousands of children to become child soldiers, displaced even more people from their homes and destabilized an entire region. That's why President Obama's decisive action to bring Kony and his top lieutenants to justice is such a critical part of the story. The Obama Administration has taken steps to "remove Kony from the battlefield," and it has done so in the right way. In 2010, Congress passed and the President signed legislation authored by former Senator Russ Feingold to express support for increased U.S. efforts to help mitigate and eliminate the threat posed by the LRA. With this authorization, President Obama deployed 100 American military advisors to central Africa to train and assist regional militaries in their pursuit of Kony. The Administration, with the strong support of Congress, has also taken steps to increase civilian protection, support the desertion of LRA combatants, and provide assistance to populations affected by the LRA. By taking action, President Obama rejected the political convenience of sitting idly by and doing nothing to protect innocent civilians from ongoing crimes against humanity. Many of us remember that Rush Limbaugh, in his headlong haste to criticize the President's decision in October, defended the LRA and complained that President Obama was targeting Christians in Africa. Luckily, Limbaugh's dangerous lie was quickly countered by those on both sides of the political aisle, including Senator Jim Inhofe, a conservative Republican from Oklahoma. There is a bipartisan consensus in Congress that Joseph Kony must be captured and held to account for his crimes against humanity. As my colleague, Senator John McCain, said last fall, "the LRA is one of the most atrocious and barbaric organizations in history." Kony's evil has destroyed tens of thousands of lives, but he and what remain of his forces are now on the run. Our priority is now on apprehending Kony, bringing him to justice, and working with our regional partners to build a better, safer future for all of central Africa. President Obama and Congress have taken decisive action against the LRA. The will to bring Kony to justice remains unshakable at the highest levels of the U.S. government, and it supersedes partisan divides. So let's harness the power of the massive groundswell of interest created online this week and use it to do the right thing: support the Obama Administration's decision to deploy military advisors and do everything in our power to ensure their mission succeeds.
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News Headline: "Kony 2012' Video: The Problem with Invisible Children's Uganda Crusade |

News Date: 03/09/2012 Outlet Full Name: Time Magazine News Text: By Ishaan Thardoor Most Americans began this week not knowing who Joseph Kony was. That's not surprising: most Americans begin every week not knowing a lot of things, especially about a part of the

world as obscured from their vision as Uganda, the country where Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) commenced a brutal insurgency in the 1980s that lingers to this day. A viral video that took social media by storm over the past two days has seemingly changed all that. Produced by Invisible Children, a San Diego-based NGO, ―Kony2012″ is a half-hour plea for Americans and global netizens to pay attention to Kony's crimes — which include abducting over 60,000 children over two decades of conflict, brutalizing them and transforming many into child soldiers — and to pressure the Obama Administration to find and capture him. Within hours of the slick production surfacing on social media, it led to #StopKony trending on Twitter, populated Facebook timelines, was publicized by Hollywood celebrities and has been viewed some 10 million times on YouTube. Suddenly, a man on virtually no Westerner's radar became the international bogeyman of the moment. It's an incredible public relations coup for the NGO, which congratulates itself in the film for spurring U.S. Congress last October to send 100 military ―advisers‖ to aid Ugandan forces in their war against Kony's Lord's Resistance Army. The LRA is without a doubt a nasty outfit, responsible for massacres of civilian populations, mass rapes, contemptible acts of mutilation and, most notoriously, the creation of an army of child soldiers, forced to perform gruesome deeds. In 2005, the International Criminal Court in the Hague put Kony at the top of its most wanted list, indicted on 33 counts including war crimes and crimes against humanity. Sure, the U.S. remains in the minority of nations yet to officially recognize the ICC's jurisdiction, but that, Invisible Children's members would likely argue, ought not change the need for a moral clarion call: Kony must be brought to justice. No sane person would disagree with this. Yet for the video's demonstrable zeal and passion, there are some obvious problems. Others more expert in this arena have already done a bit of fact-checking: the LRA is no longer thought to be actually operating in northern Uganda, which ―Kony2012″ seems to portray still as a war-ravaged flashpoint — instead, its presence has been felt mostly in disparate attacks in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a nation with its own terrible history of rogue militias committing monstrous atrocities. Moreover, analysts agree that after concerted campaigns against the LRA, its numbers at this point have diminished, perhaps amounting to 250 to 300 fighters at most. Kony, shadowy and illusive, is a faded warlord on the run, with no allies or foreign friends (save perhaps, in one embarrassing moment of blustering sophistry, for American radio shock jock Rush Limbaugh.) The U.S. military's African command (AFRICOM) has deployed its assets against Kony since at least 2008 — a fact that goes conveniently unmentioned in Invisible Children's video. In a terrific explainer, Foreign Policy cites a scathing critique of the video by leading Ugandan journalist Angelo Izama: "To call [Kony2012's] campaign a misrepresentation is an understatement. While it draws attention to the fact that Kony, indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court in 2005, is still on the loose, it's portrayal of his alleged crimes in Northern Uganda are from a bygone era. At the height of the war between especially 1999 and 2004, large hordes of children took refuge on the streets of Gulu town to escape the horrors of abduction and brutal conscription to the ranks of the LRA. Today most of these children are semi-adults. Many are still on the streets unemployed. Gulu has the highest numbers of child prostitutes in Uganda. It also has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis. If six years ago children in Uganda would have feared the hell of being part of the LRA, a well documented reality already, today the real invisible children are those suffering from ―Nodding Disease‖. Over 4000 children are victims of this incurable debilitating condition. It's a neurological disease that has baffled world scientists and attacks mainly children from the most war affected districts of Kitgum, Pader and Gulu." This is a crisis of public health and governance that can't be laid at the feet of one vile militia leader, skulking in the jungle. Not once in the half-hour film do we hear the name of Uganda's

President Yoweri Museveni, whose quasi-authoritarian rule has lasted over 25 years. Arab Spring-inspired protests last year were ruthlessly suppressed and the country's opposition complains bitterly about the entrenched corruption of the Museveni state. The U.S. State Department voiced its concern over Uganda's rights record last November. Speaking to the Washington Post, Jedediah Jenkins, a member of Invisible Children, shrugs off charges that the NGO is too much in bed with the status quo in Kampala: "There is a huge problem with political corruption in Africa. If we had the purity to say we will not partner with anyone corrupt, we couldn't partner with anyone." Sure. It'd be churlish to rebuke Invisible Children for wanting to help those afflicted overseas, while moving tens of thousands of previously apathetic Americans (at least to hit the re-tweet button) at home. But there's a thin, perilous line between the organization's brand of righteousness and simple self-aggrandizement. The film makes little mention of ongoing activism by people in northern Uganda. I'm not the only one to feel a bit queasy about the film's perhaps unintended, yet inescapable white man's burden complex, with filmmaker-cumprotagonist Jason Russell framing the horrors wrought by Kony and the need to stop him through an overly precious discussion with his blonde, cherub-cheeked toddler son. In this telling, to simply ―know‖ about Kony — a figure, as others have already written, of Kurtzlike darkness — would be enough to bring him down. That quest takes place in a world of moral simplicity, of good and evil, of innocence and horror. It is a world where governments would supposedly anchor policy on the emotional tides of their citizens. It is a world, as Elliot Ross at the excellent Africa is a Country blog writes, that does not exist: "To ask people to climb down from the soaring heights of ―Kony 2012‖ (remember how we fall down into Uganda from the heavenly realms of Jason Russell's Facebook page?) a place where they get to feel both sanctified and superior, and truly descend into the mire of history and confusion is simply too big an ask. It would be boring and difficult and it would not be about Facebook or Angelina Jolie or coloured wristbands or me. When the euphoria evaporates and the Twittersphere has dried its tears (probably by the end of this week), all that remains will be yet another powerful myth of African degradation." Kony should be found and made to answer for his crimes. But justice is about much more than manhunts and viral video crusades.
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News Headline: Hostages killed in Nigeria rescue attempt | News Date: 03/08/2012 Outlet Full Name: Financial Times News Text: By James Blitz in London and Xan Rice in Lagos An attempt by British and Nigerian special forces to rescue two hostages believed held by a terrorist group in Nigeria failed on Thursday when the two detainees were killed by their captors, David Cameron, UK prime minister, announced. The two hostages, Italian Franco Lamolinara and Briton Christopher McManus, were believed by Whitehall officials to have been seized by the jihadist group Boko Haram in the north of the country. Both men were killed by their captors as the joint operation was under way. There were no indications of any fatalities among British and Nigerian forces involved in the operation, despite the firefight that took place. Mr Cameron said the joint forces intervened to try and free Mr Lamolinara and Mr McManus

because they were fearful their lives were under threat. The two men were working for an Italian construction company in Birnin Kebbi city, in northwest Nigeria, where they were building the state headquarters for Nigeria's central bank. They were kidnapped from their apartment on May 12 last year by unknown gunmen. ―A window of opportunity arose to secure their release,‖ Mr Cameron said. ―We also had reason to believe that their lives were under imminent and growing danger. Preparations were made to mount an operation to attempt to rescue Chris and Franco.‖ Mr Cameron added: ―Together with the Nigerian government, today I authorised it to go ahead, with UK support. It is with great regret that I have to say that both Chris and Franco have lost their lives.‖ Thursday's operation throws a fresh spotlight on Boko Haram, which over the past year has been increasing its ties with al-Qaeda in the Maghreb. The group, whose title means ―western education is forbidden‖, first became active nearly a decade ago in Nigeria's north-east. In recent months, the group has been increasingly seen by western security agencies as one of the fastest growing jihadist groups in the Middle East and Africa. Led by Mohammed Yusuf, a charismatic young preacher who was critical of mainstream Islam and the corruption of state governors in the Muslim north, it has attracted a strong following among the area's impoverished youth. Last August a video of the hostages surfaced in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, with the two men on their knees and blindfolded. Three men wearing turbans and holding guns and ammunition were behind them. ―The terrorists holding the two hostages made very clear threats to take their lives, including in a video that was posted on the internet,‖ Mr Cameron said. There have been a number of foreigners kidnapped while working in Nigeria in recent years. In September 2008 two Britons were held by the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta. A Scottish oil worker was abducted and his guard killed in April 2009, in the Rivers State capital Port Harcourt. Three Britons and a Colombian were kidnapped in January 2010 and in November that same year, four men from the US, Canada and France were taken 7.5 miles offshore on the Okoro field. In January last year two French hostages were kidnapped from Niamey, the capital of neighbouring Niger to Nigeria's north. Kidnapping of foreigners in Nigeria normally occurs in the southern oil-rich delta region, but abductions are extremely rare in the northern part of the country. Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb has kidnapped foreigners further north, in Niger, Mali and Algeria, but never before in Nigeria. Security analysts say that Boko Haram, the Islamist insurgent group that mainly operates in north-east Nigeria, may have links to AQIM. While Boko Haram usually claims responsibility for its attacks, and has not done in relation to the two hostages killed on Thursday, officials believe the kidnappers may have had ties to the insurgents and to AQIM.
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News Headline: US Congressional Panel Targets Horn of Africa Crisis | News Date: 03/09/2012

Outlet Full Name: Voice of America News Text: By Cindy Saine A House of Representatives panel is calling on all U.S. lawmakers to remain focused on the continuing food, refugee and humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa. At Thursday's hearing of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, held jointly with the House Hunger Caucus, Obama administration officials testified that the United States has made a difference in the region, but that there still are millions of people who urgently need assistance. Committee Co-Chairman Representative James McGovern, a Democrat from Massachusetts, said that although the United Nations declared last month that there is no longer famine in Somalia, the crisis in the region is far from over. "As a result of the combination of war and hunger, some 2.5 million Somalis have migrated within Somalia or to a neighboring country in search of security and food. This extraordinary movement of desperate people has created an extraordinary refugee crisis in the region," he said. Nancy Lindborg of the U.S. Agency for International Development said the United States reacted quickly to early warning signs of famine and has led international efforts in the horn of Africa, contributing $935 million to the region during the crisis. "Really the top line in the face of one of the worst droughts in 60 years, we mobilized and we made a difference," she said. Lindborg and the other Obama administration officials who testified called for continued focus and assistance to the region, saying the refugee crisis in the Horn of Africa remains one of the most severe in the world. Margaret McKelvey, director of the Office of Assistance for Africa at the State Department, said that getting neighboring countries to continue to accept refugees is a challenge. "I think, though, the greatest challenge we face in the region is maintaining first asylum for refugees," said McKelvey. "For example, Djibouti continues to be reluctant to accept militaryage Somali males." McKelvey said Kenya continues to push for humanitarian zones inside so-called "liberated" areas of Somalia to accommodate refugees, but added that many Somalis still need to leave the country to find a place where they are protected from violence. Deborah Malac, director of the Office of East African Affairs at the State Department, acknowledged that drought in the region might have sparked the scarcity of food, but laid much of the blame for the suffering of Somalis on extremist militants. "It was al-Shabab's actions in the areas of Somalia that it controls that turned this emergency into a full-blown humanitarian crisis," she said. "Years of conflict and instability have broken down the resiliency of most southern Somali communities." Al-Shabab is fighting Somalia's transitional government in an attempt to impose its strict version of Islamic law on the country. The group has blocked relief agencies from providing food to many in hunger-stricken areas.
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News Headline: Mali rebels strike amid post-Libya anarchy | News Date: 03/09/2012 Outlet Full Name: UPI News Text: DAKAR, Senegal -- North Africa, never the most placid of places, has been plunged into turmoil in recent weeks by groups of heavily armed fighters that have fanned out across the Sahara to destabilize the region known as the Maghreb. The Feb. 8 capture of town of Tinzawatene on Mali's northern border with Algeria rebel Tuareg tribesmen, who served under Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, vividly illustrates the growing scale of the crisis. "A year after the eruption of Libya's spontaneous revolution, there are few signs of progress toward establishing internal security or a democratic government," observed the Jamestown Foundation, a Washington think tank that monitors global security. "The overthrow of the Gadhafi regime has had an enormous impact on Libya's southern neighbors," most notably Mali, Niger and Mauritania, the foundation said. There are growing fears that the Tuaregs' National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad and other armed groups roaming the vast wastelands of the Sahara and the semi-arid Sahel region to the south will join forces with the jihadist al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb that has extended its operations from Algeria to Mauritania, and even as far south as Nigeria. Algeria, a major energy exporter where AQIM is based, fears an eruption of violence across the entire region and its government has raised its security alert to the highest level. "Le Pouvoir, the Algerian political-military-business elite that controls most aspects of Algerian life, fears instability above all else and has tried to shut down any effort within Algeria to emulate the revolutionary unrest in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt," Jamestown noted. Algiers fears the unrest is "intended to pave the way foreign intervention in North Africa but many Algerians worry that the government's inability to extinguish AQIM's low-level insurgency is a means of justifying Le Pouvoir's tight grip on Algerian politics and maintaining high levels of spending in the military and security services." The MNLA seized Tinzawatene after weeks of fighting the Malian military, which is getting counterinsurgency training from U.S. Special Forces along with the security forces of neighboring states grappling with AQIM. It's not clear whether the Tuareg fighters, estimated at more than 1,000 strong and armed with missiles and heavy mortars taken from Libya, will be able to hold onto the town against counterattacks by the Malian army. But if they can, they have access to a network of Saharan smuggling routes running from Algeria that would consolidate links to AQIM's seasoned jihadist fighters as well as provide them with secure supply lines. The Tuareg, a Berber people, inhabit the deserts across the deserts in north and west Africa. Their struggle dates back almost a century and their last rebellion, demanding more autonomy and development, ended in 2008 with little to show for it. But now the MNLA for the first time is seeking outright independence for three northern regions

where the Tuareg, who make up 10 percent of Mali's population of 13 million, predominate. "This has been simmering for a long time," said Jeremy Keenan, a Tuareg specialist at London's School of Oriental and African Studies. "But this new rebellion would not have happened if all these guys had not come back from Libya." He said there was little indication that the Tuareg in neighboring Niger, where some of Gadhafi's family has found sanctuary, were going to join their cousins in Mali, as has happened in the past. But if that happened again, "the situation could get out of control," Keenan cautioned. Algiers has traditionally mediated between the Mali government and the Tuareg, and its powerful intelligence service, the DRS, is once again seeking to broker a settlement in hopes of containing the current surge in violence. Politically volatile Algeria has largely avoided the upheavals of the Arab Spring over the last year but its elite are nervous because parliamentary elections are scheduled for May and Islamist parties are expected to make sweeping advances. However, this time around, the MNLA, flush with heavy weapons acquired in Libya that match them pretty evenly with Mali's 7,500-strong military, don't appear to be in a conciliatory mood. Indeed, Jamestown's Andrew McGregor said he fears the rekindling of the Tuareg rebellion will infect other militias in northern Mali, "a development that threatens to turn the northern conflict into a more general civil war."
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News Headline: Piracy peril for West Africa's oil boom | News Date: 03/08/2012 Outlet Full Name: UPI News Text: PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria -- A sharp increase in pirate attacks in the Atlantic Ocean off West Africa is threatening plans to double oil production from 4 million barrels a day amid a swelling energy boom in the largely impoverished region. U.S. company Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and oil companies have reported new discoveries off Liberia and Sierra Leone in recent weeks, heightening expectations that the war-scarred region is heading for a major bonanza. Given the region's location on the Atlantic, allowing direct supplies to the United States without the dangers plaguing Middle Eastern exports, the region is expected to provide the United States with about one-quarter of its crude imports by 2015. Most of the attacks involve theft, particularly large amounts of oil, rather than hijackings for ransom, the primary tactic used by the Somali pirates. "Gulf of Guinea attacks have been … targeted almost solely against oil- and diesel-carrying vessels," Oxford Analytica noted in a recent report. So any serious threat to supplies could have an impact in the United States.

On top of all this, there's the problem of increased cocaine smuggling from Latin America to Europe through Guinea-Bissau and other struggling West African states, plus widespread political upheaval in Nigeria, a key African producer and supplier to the United States, involving Muslim militants. The piracy problem centers on the Gulf of Guinea, one of the main offshore oil zones and which stretches along the coasts of a dozen countries from Guinea southward to Angola, another major African oil producer. The scale of the problem hasn't reached the proportions of the crisis in East Africa, where highly organized and increasingly sophisticated Somalia pirate gangs prey on oil tankers and other shipping in the Gulf of Aden and deep into the Indian Ocean. But attacks of West Africa are steadily mounting and becoming more violent, U.N. Undersecretary-General B. Lynn Pascoe warned the U.N. Security Council Feb. 28. Pascoe cited 64 attacks in 2011 off nine countries, including Benin, the Ivory Coast, CongoBrazzaville, Ghana and Nigeria. That compares to 45 attacks off seven countries in 2010. In Nigeria, a long-simmering insurgency in the oil-rich Niger Delta appears to be igniting again, with oil theft a major industry. The Nigerian violence slashed oil production by 40 percent to around 2 million barrels per day before a government amnesty halted fighting in the delta in 2009. The United Nations' International Maritime Organization said it has recorded 10 attacks off West Africa in January-February. Pasco stressed, "We know that not all piracy incidents are systematically reported." Some shipowners are reluctant to report incidents to avoid having insurance premiums hiked, particularly if illegal cargoes are involved. "In Nigeria, it's estimated that approximately 60 percent of pirate attacks go unreported," London security firm AKE Ltd says. The Security Council urged the regional states to develop "a united front to respond effectively to the growing threat of piracy along their coasts." The prospects of that are slim. With the exception of Nigeria, none of these states, where corruption is rife and security forces weak, under-manned and under-equipped, have the infrastructure or the funds to be able to effectively take on the pirates. "Nigerian counter-piracy efforts have been beginning to register success but one result has been to push gangs' activities further along the West African coast -- and further out to sea," Oxford Analytica observed. This is what happened off Somalia. International naval forces deployed to counter the pirates there only resulted in the marauders employing larger deep-water vessels that allow them to operate up to 1,500 nautical miles eastward into the Indian Ocean and in the tanker lanes off the Persian Gulf. No statistics regarding the cost of West African piracy have been released. But the Somali pirates' depredations cost the international community up to $9 billion a year, said Geopolicity Inc., a consultancy that specializes in Middle Eastern and Asian economic intelligence. That could escalate to $13 billion-$15 billion by 2015.

Lloyd's Market Association, a London umbrella for a group of insurers, listed Nigeria, Benin and nearby waters in the same risk category as lawless Somalia. That could signal higher insurance rates for shipping, including oil traffic, off West Africa.
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News Headline: Libya militias pose threat to precarious stability | News Date: 03/08/2012 Outlet Full Name: Los Angeles Times - Online News Text: By Glen Johnson Reporting from Tripoli, Libya - The revolution is long over in Libya, but gunfire still crackles in the night, echoing down empty streets and alleys. Swaggering men in Che Guevara-style berets patrol the outskirts of once-besieged Misurata with antiaircraft guns affixed to the back of their pickup trucks, stalking those they believe are responsible for their city's misery. A militia based in mountainous Zintan refuses to hand over Moammar Kadafi's son and once heir-apparent, Seif Islam Kadafi, and encirclesTripoli's airport, holding both as bargaining chips to extract concessions and avoid being marginalized in the country's emerging political order. Six months after Kadafi was ousted, well-armed militias made up of former rebels present an increasing threat to Libya's precarious stability. Amnesty International describes the militias as "largely out of control." Others view them as a temporary scourge in a country torn by retribution and tribal rivalries. Traveling in reckless caravans across deserts and through cities, the militias defy easy categorization and represent a direct challenge to the overwhelmed Transitional National Council. The distrusted and opaque interim authority lacks the muscle to rein in the armed groups numbering in the hundreds, which have become a law unto themselves. "The core issue is legitimacy," said William Lawrence, the North Africa director of the International Crisis Group. The transitional council "is not representative of the Libyan people." The secrecy surrounding the council's decision-making and membership has provided little incentive for Libya's militias, still traumatized by the uprising and fearing political marginalization, to disarm. "When we have security, a new president and government, we will put our weapons away," said Ayman Kikly, from a Tripoli militia. Rising inter-tribal violence has left scores dead. About 100 people were reported killed last month when rival tribes battled with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades in the remote southern town of Kufra, probably for control of lucrative arms-smuggling and human-trafficking routes in the vast empty spaces near the Chadian and Sudanese borders. The surge in violence has raised fear of spreading chaos as weapons continue to flow out of the country to Egypt, Tunisia, Chad and Algeria. The militias' actions and "the refusal of many to disarm or join the regular forces are threatening to destabilize Libya," says a recent report by Amnesty International. The report

says armed gangs "hinder the much-needed building of accountable state institutions based on the rule of law, and jeopardize the hopes of millions of people who took to the streets a year ago to demand freedom, justice and respect for human rights and dignity." A spate of torture, arbitrary arrests, wanton destruction of property and summary execution has beset the country, engendering an environment of impunity while ensuring that Libya's people remain trapped within the violent logic of last year's insurgency. "The blanket impunity afforded to militias is sending the message that such abuses are tolerated and is contributing to making such practices accepted practice," Donatella Rovera, a senior crisis response advisor at Amnesty, said in a statement. In one recent attack that spotlighted the chaotic violence, Khaled Nouri and five other militiamen guarding an abandoned naval compound on the outskirts of Tripoli came under fire from a convoy of 20 pickup trucks carrying another militia, believed to be from Misurata. They scattered as more gunshots rang out. By the assault's end, a 63-year-old woman had been shot in the head and two boys, their bodies riddled with bullets, were lying face down on a nearby beach. Four other bodies lay strewn in the compound, where 2,600 Tawurghans, African descendants of black slaves suspected of collaborating with the Kadafi regime, had taken shelter after their town had been burned and looted. "They came for one thing," said Nouri: "To kill the Tawurghans." "I am afraid they will come back after dark," said Abdul Raouf, who guards the compound by night, while nervously clutching his rifle. "We are six people with Kalashnikovs, how can we stop them?" Moves to integrate militia members into the armed forces have met some success. Yet 100 militias recently formed a collective, establishing a rival power center that challenges the transitional council's authority. Many people prefer to place their faith in local military councils and the militias. Both have legitimacy and superior knowledge of the local context, and often residents feel the militias are best-equipped to provide security. "Everything is perfect," said Ali Mohammed, a taxi driver who shuttles passengers from Zintan to Tripoli and from Misurata to Benghazi. "The militias have made the country safe. You can walk down the streets at night." Most analysts agree that the militias, none of whom can decisively defeat their rivals, will not tear Libya apart just yet. People are focused on elections, scheduled for June. As with other uprisings throughout the region, the promise of a tangible barometer of democratic gain has done much to defuse tension. But elections may have a flip side. As Ahmed Musrati, a fighter from Misurata who laid down his weapons after the fall of Tripoli in August, said: "The people have seen a lot of blood, so elections are a big thing for us. We have to be very careful about the government we choose. "If it's no good, I still have my guns."
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News Headline: Libyan Liberator Back Home in Virginia | News Date: 03/08/2012 Outlet Full Name: National Journal - Online News Text: By Barrett Holmes Pitner At first glance, Adam Sbita of Falls Church, Va., appears to be an average Washington-area resident. He follows the Redskins faithfully, attended George Mason University, and has lived in the capital region for most of his 22 years. Upon meeting Sbita, nothing unusual stands out apart from his necklace, a bullet with rope coiled around it. The necklace was given to him by Atif Muhammed, one of Sbita's fellow rebel soldiers in the Tripoli Revolutionary Brigade. Muhammed and Sbita went through training together, where they learned to clean, disassemble, reassemble, and fire a Belgian FN rifle along with an AK47. Now the FN bullet dangling from Sbita's neck symbolizes his journey from American civilian to Libyan soldier. Sbita said he wears it to honor his fallen friend, Muhammed, who died from a single shot to the head when their brigade was leaving Zawiya on the outskirts of Tripoli during their offensive to liberate the Libyan capital from the forces of dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi. A year ago, as a college student in Falls Church, Sbita never would have guessed the path his life would take. He is the youngest of three children of Libyan parents and the only member of his family born in the United States—everyone else was born in Tripoli. And he never thought the Arab Spring that began early last year would spread to Libya. After the uprising in Egypt, ―people said that Libya would be next. Me being Libyan, I kind of laughed at that.... I said that wasn't going to be possible,‖ Sbita said. ―And it wasn't that I had doubt in the people. I had more of a fear of Qaddafi himself.‖ Once fighting broke out and people started to die, Sbita started ―calling people back home in Libya, trying to figure out what's going on—what's going on in Tripoli, what's going on in Benghazi.‖ Eventually, he decided that phone calls weren't sufficient and that he needed to leave his American home to fight for his Libyan one. ―I felt like I wasn't doing enough,‖ he said. Under the guise of volunteering as a humanitarian aid worker to keep his friends and family from trying to discourage him, Sbita packed up boxes of medical supplies and left for Libya via Germany, then Egypt. His parents did not find out that their son was volunteering for battle until he reached Tripoli—roughly six months later. ―The first time when he go over there, he told me he want to take the medicine,‖ said Khairya Said, Adam's mother. After arriving in Cairo last spring, Sbita said he paid a driver to take him and a friend across the border to Libya. They arrived in Benghazi two days later with the objective of joining the rebel fighters. His friend eventually returned home without enlisting. Sbita said he spent just under a month in Benghazi before joining the Tripoli Revolutionary Brigade, which consisted mostly of Libyan expatriates who had family in Tripoli and knew the city. In addition to learning to use an AK-47 and a Belgian FN, he said he received heavy-artillery training and close-combat training—including how to disarm a Qaddafi soldier—and learned basic military protocol and how to treat captured fighters. He had never received military training before joining the brigade. ―I knew nothing about war,‖ he said.

During combat, Sbita, along with a handful of other fighters, said he would drive a white Toyota Tundra or Ford F-150 with a 106-mm M40 recoilless rifle mounted to the bed of the truck with the objective of destroying buildings where snipers hid, as well as large combat vehicles such as tanks. ―If a sniper is hiding in a building, it is next to impossible to take him out, so what we did is we take the whole building out,‖ Sbita said. ―Aim for the middle [of the building], so hopefully he's in the top and falls down, or he's in the bottom and it falls down on him.‖ In Zawiya, about 20 miles from Tripoli, they destroyed their first tank on Aug. 21 as they continued an offensive toward the capital, he said. It had been six months of deceiving his parents that he was merely doing humanitarian work, six months involved in battles in nearly a dozen cities across Libya. NATO was bombing Tripoli at the time, so his battalion was told to paint a large ―N‖ on top of all their vehicles so they wouldn't be blown away by friendly fire. He said he rode into Tripoli in a Toyota pickup riddled with bullet holes and with the windows broken out. ―The welcome we got was overwhelming, beyond overwhelming,‖ Sbita said. ―Men, women, and children were running out into the streets. People were yelling and screaming, and just extremely happy. Everybody was crying. ―It was really emotional. We didn't know whether to be happy for getting into Tripoli ... or sad because you just lost around 10 of your best friends.‖ With the death of Qaddafi on Oct. 20—killed by a bullet to the head—things began to settle down in the Libyan capital, according to Sbita. He returned to his real home in Virginia last month, still a young man but now a veteran of war.
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News Headline: New fighting in Sudan's Darfur region | News Date: 03/08/2012 Outlet Full Name: Thomson Reuters - Africa - Online News Text: KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan's armed forces and a rebel group clashed in the Western Darfur region, both sides said on Wednesday, the latest violence in the troubled region. Mostly African insurgents in Darfur took up arms against the Arab-dominated government in 2003, accusing the government in Khartoum of neglecting the remote territory. Khartoum mobilised troops and allied Arab tribes to quell the rebellion, unleashing a wave of violence that the United Nations and other observers estimate may have killed hundreds of thousands of people. International efforts to broker an end to the conflict have failed to produce lasting peace, hampered by rebel divisions, continuing military operations and other difficulties. Army spokesman Sawarmi Khalid Saad told Reuters that on Tuesday the army had attacked fighters of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) in the area of Baashim in North Darfur.

"The operation was part of efforts to clean the area (of JEM fighters). The army managed to destroy the enemy troops," he said. JEM spokesman Gibreel Adam Bilal confirmed fighting in the area but said the rebels had launched an attack and destroyed several army vehicles. "A large number of soldiers got killed," he said, a claim that was dismissed by the army spokesman. Violence in Darfur, where the United Nations and the African Union maintain a huge joint peacekeeping operation, has subsided since its peak in 2003 and 2004, but rebel and tribal fighting and banditry has continued to plague the territory. Some 300,000 people may have died in the conflict, the United Nations has estimated. The International Criminal Court has indicted Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and issued last week also an arrest warrant for Defense Minister Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein for war crimes in the region. Khartoum has put the death toll at 10,000 and dismissed the charges as politically motivated and baseless. Last year, Khartoum signed a peace deal with an umbrella of smaller rebel groups, but JEM and other major rebel groups refused to sign. JEM is part of a rebel alliance that wants to topple Bashir.
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News Headline: Kenya on US blacklist over terrorism laws | News Date: 03/08/2012 Outlet Full Name: Africa Review News Text: NAIROBI - The US has put Kenya on a blacklist of countries that do not support the fight against terrorism. And it has given Kenya a three-month ultimatum to enact laws that criminalise financing of terrorist activities. However, Washington did not indicate what measures it will take if Kenya fails to fully implement the Proceeds of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering Act and pass other legislation that criminalises terrorism and its financing within three months. Justice minister Mutula Kilonzo on Tuesday said that the Financial Action Task Force, a US team, had disclosed that Kenya had fallen short of some measures to ensure that the legislation was up to date. The absence of the laws risks the lives of Kenya Defence Forces soldiers in Somali as it leaves a window for terrorists to raise money at a time when KDF is trying to weaken the militants by curtailing their sources of income. This is also considered as the driving force behind several travel advisories usually issued against the country. Tourists will also be hesitant to visit the country until the relevant laws are passed. ―This undermines our ability to attract investors who maybe afraid of using our banks,‖ Mr Kilonzo said.

The minister said that Kenya had been advised to come up with proper legislation on terrorism to cover five critical areas. The first are laws to adequately criminalise terrorism financing. The other is to ensure that a fully operational Financial Intelligence Unit is established while the third one is to establish a legal framework for identifying and freezing terrorists' assets. They are also expected to raise awareness within the law enforcers and also implement effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions to anybody who does not comply with this legislation.
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News Headline: Army Vet Indicted on Terrorism Charge | News Date: 03/08/2012 Outlet Full Name: Military.com News Text: A Laurel, Maryland, man was indicted by a federal grand jury Wednesday on a charge of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. Craig Benedict Baxam, 24, is accused of trying to travel to Somalia last year to join alShabaab, an al-Qaida linked group that U.S. officials say is responsible for assassinations, suicide bombings and other attacks on the central government, civil society leaders, aid workers, peace activists and journalists. Baxam, an Army veteran who served in Iraq, was detained by police in Kenya in December and interviewed there by FBI agents. He was arrested on his return to the United States in January. Prosecutors say Baxam converted to Islam shortly before he left the Army in July 2011 and decided to travel to Somalia to join and fight for al-Shabaab. They say the 2005 Laurel High School graduate was carrying between $600 and $700 that he intended to give to al-Shabaab when he was arrested near Mombassa. Baxam allegedly told investigators that he would defend al-Shabaab if it were attacked by the United States and that he was "looking for dying with a gun in my hand." During a court appearance in January, Baxam's public defender said any statements his client made about defending al-Shabaab came in response to leading questions. Public defender John Chamble said Baxam wanted to move to territory controlled by alShabaab only so that he could live under Sharia law. Chamble called Baxam "naive" and "impulsive," and said the likeliest outcome had he reached Somalia is that al-Shabaab would have "put a bullet in his head." If convicted, Baxam faces up to 15 years in prison. No court appearance was scheduled on Wednesday. He has been held since his arrest Jan. 6.
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News Headline: AQIM moves base from northern Mali | News Date: 03/08/2012

Outlet Full Name: Andkronos-Gruppo News Text: ALGIERS - Al-Qaeda's North African branch has moved its base from northern Mali to Algeria's far south, according to local media. The Al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), headed by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, moved because of the fighting between Tuareg rebels and Malian soldiers that has displaced thousands of people, Algerian daily Echourouk said. AQIM moved to a camp 90 kilometers from the town of Timiaouine in southern Algeria in a mountainous area. According to investigators, a new wave of violence is due to the group's movement.
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News Headline: Djiboutian, U.S. and French Navies Share Best Maritime Practices | News Date: 03/08/2012 Outlet Full Name: U.S. Africa Command News Text: By U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Andrew Caya DJIBOUTI — Sailors from three nations assembled at the Djibouti National Navy Headquarters in Djibouti, February 27 through 29, 2012, to discuss best practices for ensuring the sovereignty of the seas around the Horn of Africa. This was the first time the Djiboutian Navy coordinated and executed an event of this type together with the American and French navies. In this exchange, the three navies shared best practices on building support operations and raising maritime domain awareness. In addition, Djiboutian Navy Lieutenant Junior Grade Ali Elmi Bouh, Djibouti National Navy Headquarters operations officer, said all participants discussed the ability to intervene in and take responsibility for the area of operation. "The Djiboutian Navy is a young navy, only three years old," Bouh said. "We want to grow and be fully operational." The Djiboutian Navy has numerous pre-planned responses for emergency maritime situations already documented and in place. These responses include search and rescue, illegal activity and shore incursion, U.S. and Djiboutian naval officers said. To expand on their maritime knowledge, U.S. Navy Lieutenant Troy Hanson, Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa military engagements planner, said the Djiboutians plan on using a hybrid of the U.S. and French systems to "better their understanding of what is out in their territorial waters." "We're working here with the Djiboutians to help their understanding of what maritime awareness is," Hanson said. "These are very important waters to them, and they are looking to understand the best naval practices of U.S. and France." "These meetings have been very helpful and very instructive to us," said Bouh. "The Djiboutian Navy would like to have a strong ethos of maritime domain awareness fostered in this facility, and these meetings help us achieve that concept," he said.

To keep that ethos strong, Bouh and the sailors said they would like to continue these exchanges. "This has been an awesome experience to see the Djiboutians work with both the French as well as the U.S., working the same water space together--sharing some of our procedures--it's been very valuable," said Hanson. French Navy Captain Eric Mignot, liaison officer to the Djiboutian Navy, said it's important to work together as the Djiboutians share the same objective as their U.S. and French partners— to ensure the sea is a safe place for trade and freedom.
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News Headline: United Nations News Briefs - Africa | News Date: 03/08/2012 Outlet Full Name: UN News Centre News Text: New UN adviser on Africa announced 8 March 2012 – The United Nations today announced a number of senior-level appointments, including a new Special Adviser on Africa. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has selected Maged Abdelaziz of Egypt, who has served as that country's Ambassador to the UN since 2005, as his new Special Adviser on Africa. Mr. Abdelaziz, who brings to the position over 30 years of experience in multilateral diplomacy, will focus on ―revitalizing the agenda of the special needs of Africa,‖ according to the announcement. UN envoy for West Africa stresses cooperation to address regional threats 8 March 2012 – The United Nations envoy for West African today underlined the Organization's determination to strengthen partnership with countries in the region to effectively combat threats to stability, including piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, drug trafficking and organized crime, as well as the food crisis and insecurity in the Sahel belt.
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