3 Unforgettable Sites in Liberia



3 Unforgettable Sites in Liberia

Liberia is a country with a tumultuous history. The country, founded by freed African American slaves in 1847, is the oldest republic in Africa. However, the last few decades have been marred by conflict. In fact, the Second Liberian Civil War ended just 15 years ago, in 2003.

Despite the country’s recent history, it sits in a beautiful countryside, and there are some striking things to be seen both in the wild and in the country’s urban centers. Here are three unforgettable sites in Liberia that highlight the country’s past, present, and hopes for the future.

Sapo National Park

Credit: Andrew Linscott / iStock

Located in the heart of Liberia’s sparsely populated Sineo region, Sapo National Park is the country’s first and only protected forest. The nature reserve, created in 1983, covers about 700 square miles and is the largest section of the Upper Guinean ecosystem that remains.

The park is rich in biodiversity and is home to some of the rarest mammal species in the world. This includes African Forest Elephants and Pygmy hippos – both of which are listed as endangered. There are also 600 different species of birds living in the park including African Eagles and many species of parrots.

The park’s interior is relatively undeveloped which helps protect it from illegal mining, hunting and logging. Plus, the lack of easy transit across the region helps to preserve the area’s fragile ecosystem but make it difficult to access by all but the most dedicated nature enthusiasts. If you can find your way to the heart of Sapo National Park, however, you will find a vibrant world unlike any other on the continent.

Hotel Ducor

Credit: SAMY SNOUSSI / Shutterstock.com

When Ducor Hotel opened in 1960, it was the first five-star hotel in Liberia’s capital of Monrovia. The hotel welcomed visiting politicians, business leaders and travelers for decades and was the crown jewel of the city.

Hotel Ducor closed its doors when the First Liberian Civil War broke out in 1989. During the conflict, the building was used as a military base of operations. Once the military left, citizens displaced by the conflict took over the hotel.

The hotel now sits in disrepair despite attempts to renovate it in 2007. While Hotel Ducor is not open to the public, it remains one of the most visited tourist destinations in Monrovia because of the striking sight of the towering ruins.

Mount Nimba

Credit: Yakoo1986 / Wikimedia

Mount Nimba is a celebration of the beauty of Liberia. This UNESCO World Heritage Site towers over the surrounding jungle landscape at 5,750 feet in elevation. In addition, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve protects 17,540 hectares forest.

Mount Nimba is the source for many of West Africa’s most important rivers. The ecosystem surrounding the mountain is composed of hundreds of species of mammals, reptiles, birds, and insects.

While the infrastructure of the park cannot handle too much tourism, dedicated travelers can reach the mountain. Those who do will have the chance to see one of the lushest jungle environments in West Africa.

Since Liberia is a country stabilizing from a difficult period, there are necessary safety precautions that must be considered. Make sure permits are in order, guides are arranged, and know when it’s safe to be at various locations. If you can set up a safe journey, Liberia holds some unforgettable sights for you to see.

European Bank for Reconstruction Hails Egypt’s Successful Infrastructure Projects



European Bank for Reconstruction Hails Egypt’s Successful Infrastructure Projects

Saturday, 13 July, 2019 – 11:30
A general view of Cairo, Egypt. (Reuters)
Cairo – Asharq Al-Awsat

Suma Chakrabarti, President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), said that Egypt is achieving great success in infrastructure projects as part of the economic reform program in the country.

During his meeting with Egypt’s Minister of Investments and International Cooperation Sahar Nasser in London on Friday, Chakrabarti expressed the bank’s keenness to cooperate with Egypt to reinforce economic integration in Africa as President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi chairs the African Union for this year.

He noted that the bank is committed to supporting Egypt in its reform efforts. The bank’s investment volume is estimated at USD4.9 billion, with the private sector accounting for 58 percent of the total. Its investments in Egypt account for more than 50 percent of its investments in Africa.

The two officials discussed increasing cooperation between Egypt and EBRD in new fields, such as transportation, amid the bank’s interest in expanding its operations in Egypt.

On Friday, Egypt participated in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)

Minister of Finance Mohammed Moeit represented Egypt at the meeting along with Ahmed Kajuk, deputy Minister of Finance for Financial Policy and Institutional Development.

AIIB discussed possible means to reinforce communication mechanisms with neighboring countries and consolidating the partnership between the Asia and Europe through investing in infrastructure and benefiting from successful international experiences.

Cairo is expected to host on November 4-6 the first edition of the Egy Traffic expo on road, bridge transportation, communications, energy and electricity projects.

Amr Shawky, Chairman of the Board of Directors of EGY TECH Engineering, said that in addition to projects, the exhibition will offer radical solutions to traffic and transportation problems, to serve the people and encourage foreign investment in Egypt.

5 Fascinating Facts About Africa’s “Big Five”



5 Fascinating Facts About Africa’s “Big Five”

Africa is home to some of the most beautiful and iconic wildlife on the planet. Thoughts of the savannah almost naturally cue the sound of tribal African songs and the colorful coats of wild cats. Of the most iconic African mammals, none are more revered than the “Big Five”—lions, elephants, water buffalo, rhinos, and leopards. These are the five beasts that are most commonly sought after by photo-happy tourists on safaris (and among the animals most in need of our protection).

Most are highly social and exhibit fascinating relationships with one another, as well as plenty of other intriguing traits. Keep reading to find out what makes these majestic beasts African royalty.

Female Lions Bond for Life

Credit: rusm / iStock

Lion prides are led by a single male who must ward off challengers for as long as he leads the pride. Male lions don’t have a reputation for getting along very well. Conflicts between male lions are vicious, with much at stake. In fact the impetus for the strength and size observed by the large cat is less an evolutionary adaptation for predation than it is a result of selective breeding from generations of fighting one another. Once male cubs have come of age, they are ousted from the pack by the pride male. Female lions, however, live among one another for the duration of their lives, even in the event that it is taken over by another male.

African Elephants Live in Matriarchal Hierarchies

Credit: Andrew Linscott / iStock

Elephants are social animals that live in herds, and every group needs a leader. From times of crisis to day-to-day squabbles, African elephants turn to the matriarch of their herd for leadership. This elephant is usually the oldest in the herd and often related to the previous matriarch. While being at the top certainly has its appeal, heavy is the head that wears the crown. Matriarch elephants average two hours of sleep per day across several naps and will sometimes go without sleep at all for several days at a time. Undoubtedly, the survival of the herd demands vigilance.

Water Buffalo Live in Democracies

Credit: CarlaMc / iStock

While African buffalo may be dragging their hooves to draft up their version of the Magna Carta, they do exhibit an egalitarian approach to decision-making. Throughout the day, the herd alternates between grazing and seeking water. When it comes time to decide which to pursue, individuals in the herd each turn in the direction of a food or water source – a meadow or a water hole.  One buffalo will serve as an initiator and choose a direction to walk in, but if the other members of the herd aren’t having it, they’ll stay put. Once an initiator moves in the direction preferred by most members, the entire group will mobilize towards their next destination.

Rhinos “Mwonk” When They’re Happy

Credit: WLDavies / iStock

As with most of the animals on this list, rhinos are social creatures that live in groups. A rhino herd is called a “crash,” and the members of the crash interact with one another on a daily basis. In mammals, socialization almost always entails vocalizing, and rhinos make a variety of sounds to communicate with one another. Honks are signals of aggression preceding fights, bleats are signs of submission, and mothers communicate with their calves through moo-grunts. But one of the most surprising sounds to come out of the 2-ton horned land mammal is the sound it makes when it’s happy, which can only be described as a “mwonk.”

Leopards can Beat Your Bench Press, by a lot

Credit: 1001slide / iStock

Two of the most distinctive characteristics of leopards are the rosettes (spots) on their fur and their climbing abilities. Though leopards spend the majority of their time on the ground, they will frequently climb trees to obtain a height advantage for pouncing on their prey, and they like to take their meals back up to the tree limbs to enjoy some privacy. As primates, humans are decent climbers as well, but we’re usually not lugging up the entire body mass of large prey. One leopard was observed in the wild hauling a young 125-kg giraffe into a tree for its meal.

3 Amazing Dishes You Can Only Get in Mali



More from

3 Amazing Dishes You Can Only Get in Mali

A landlocked country on the western edge of the Sahara Desert, Mali boasts a diverse culinary scene that varies throughout the nation according to tribe and regional ingredients. A traditional Malian meal consists of couscous or rice, or a cereal based porridge topped with a hearty fish or meat sauce garnished with okra, peanuts, sweet potato, or baobab leaves. The meal is also generally accompanied by vegetables, the most easily accessible being tomatoes, onions, plantains, and eggplant. Malian recipes frequently incorporate the use of chicken and lamb – the most popular and readily available meats throughout the nation, as well as an abundance of fresh and smoked fish like catfish and the freshwater Nile perch, due to the Niger River that flows through Mali.

The country’s predominantly Muslim population means fruit juice rather than alcohol is the preferred drink, and the nation’s abundance of fresh mangoes and bananas lend a sweet finish to its meals. Though the opportunity to visit the fabled city of Timbuktu and to explore the grounds of the Great Mosque of Djenné remain top reasons for a journey to Mali, visitors will be pleasantly surprised by its unique only-in-Mali dishes.

Tiguadege Na

Credit: Fanfo/Shutterstock

Rich in texture and robust in flavor, Mali’s peanut butter stew is a national favorite. Its origin lies within the Malian ethnic groups of Mandinka and Bambara, whose existence dates back to the 13th century. Utilizing its longstanding primary cash crop of the peanut, tiguadege na is typically prepared with chicken or lamb, made hearty with the presence of large chunks of carrots and potatoes. Consumed and beloved in various forms by Malians, tiguadege na also graces the menus of tourist-oriented restaurants in its capital of Bamako.

Meni Meniyong

Credit: Claudio Baldini/Shutterstock

A Malian sesame and honey sweet, the meni meniyong is reminiscent of old-fashioned brittle candy and can easily be found at street markets throughout the nation. A generous serving of sesame seeds are roasted and combined with honey brought to a boil to reach a dark caramel color. Then the fragrant blend is cooled and cut into rectangular shapes. Though the ingredients of meni meniyong are few and simple, achieving its distinct crunchy consistency requires practice—the sweet treat will be rock hard if the honey is left boiling for too long, and soft and toffee-like if it’s been boiled too little.

Malian Jollof Rice

Credit: bonchan/Shutterstock

A staple throughout the nations of West Africa, the proper preparation of jollof rice is a fiercely debatedtopic in the region. The origin of the long grain rice is believed to have come from Senegal’s Wolof tribe, and variants of the dish depend highly on regional preferences. Generally, fluffy jollof rice is prepared in a single pot with tomatoes and tomato paste which results in its red hue, with the addition of a type of meat, vegetables, and fragrant spices like nutmeg and cumin. While Ghanaians enjoy their jollof rice with fried plantains, Nigerians cook the ceremonial version of the dish over firewood to achieve a rich and smoky flavor. And in Mali, less tomato is used and the presence of okra and nuts is common. A widespread West African favorite, there are now many interpretations to the jollof rice recipe.

3 Things You Didn’t Know You Could do in the Sahara



More from

3 Things You Didn’t Know You Could do in the Sahara

Deserts seem an unlikely spot for recreation and plush accommodations: harsh and hot by day, frigid and forbidding at night, no water in sight. Despite all of that, areas of the Sahara Desert are tourist oases in the sand. Trekkers must be willing to travel vast distances, but once there, desert-only experiences are at hand. The Sahara is the largest arid desert in the world; it is the third largest on the planet after Antarctica and the Arctic, which are cold deserts.

Located over a vast swath of Africa, the Sahara covers some 3.5 million square miles, roughly equal in size to the United States or China. Its tremendous size and lack of roads make travel in some remote areas nearly impossible. An exception is the Moroccan Sahara, accessed from the north African country of Morocco to the west. That’s where several unexpected experiences can be found.

Sandboarding Sahara Dunes

Credit: Wallenrock/Shutterstock

Wipeouts might be a little gritty, but sandboarding in the Morocco desert is a thing. The board sport challenges riders to balance on a snowboard-like ‘sandboard’ while sliding and gliding down towering sand dunes. Outfitters will set you up for a day of hucking it down the dunes and carving fluid turns in the shifting sand. According to Saharaexperience.com, your dunes experience will include an overnight stay in a desert camp, or a hotel in M’hamid, a small oasis town in Zagora Province. For your sand-shredding session, you’ll be supplied with the proper safety equipment, instruction and — of course — a sandboard.

Desert Day Spa

Credit: Pavel Szabo/Shutterstock

Native inhabitants in the remote desert town of Merzouga, Morocco, profess the healing properties of Saharan sand. At sunrise, Berber men dig grave-sized holes in the sand outside of town, but they aren’t preparing for burial. Instead, they are getting ready to place paying tourists into the pits and cover them in sand. For up to 30 minutes, these souls will occupy healing ‘sand baths,’ said to remedy aching muscles, limbs, and joints, and even some skin conditions. The powers of the baths are thought to be strongest during the summer months, and the 30-minute sand-submersion sessions include plenty of water to drink.

A small Moroccan town in the Sahara Desert, Merzouga is near the Algerian border. It’s the gateway to Erg Chebbi, a huge swath of sand dunes north of town. West of the oasis town is Dayet Srji, a seasonal salt lake often dry in summer. When it is full, the lake brings a wide range of migratory and desert birds, including desert warblers, Egyptian nightjars and flamingos.

Luxury Glamping

Credit: Elzbieta Sekowska/Shutterstock

Of course, ‘luxury’ is relative to your surroundings. In this case, well-appointed, weather-proof tents in massive Saharan sand dunes qualify. Erg Chigaga is the largest of the untouched Saharan ergs of the Moroccan Sahara; the other is the Erg Chebbi, near Merzouga. An ‘erg’ is an area of shifting dunes in the Sahara, and the Erg Chigaga Luxury Desert Camp has been keeping visitors comfortable and catered to in the dunes since 2011. Options allow for self-contained family units or couples to have privacy, or for individuals to mingle with others. The Main Camp has 12 tents that can sleep up to 24 trekkers. Private Camp’s collection of four tents is meant for small groups and families. The Private Nomadic Camp has just one tent, set in remote dunes for supreme seclusion. No matter which camp, each tent has its own private bathroom with toilet, dressing area and wash area. Refined toiletries and linens are part of the pampering.

Yemen Urges Int’l Pressure to Curb Potential Oil Spill in Red Sea



Yemen Urges Int’l Pressure to Curb Potential Oil Spill in Red Sea

Wednesday, 26 June, 2019 – 08:45
A ship carrying a shipment of grain is docked at the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, Yemen August 5, 2018. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad
Aden – Riyadh – Asharq Al-Awsat
The Yemeni government renewed calls on the United Nations to pressure Houthi militias into allowing international teams to prevent the breakout of a potentially disastrous oil spill at the Safir offshore oil platform, which floats off Hodeidah’s northern coast.

In an address to the UN Secretary General, Yemeni Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdullah al-Hadrami stressed the need to get Houthis to grant the international body’s probing technicians access to Safir.

The facility contains more than one million barrels of crude oil pumped before Houthis staged a nationwide coup four years ago. The Iran-backed insurgents refuse allowing the internationally-recognized government from exporting that oil, and threaten blowing up the naval facility if they are not allowed to sell the oil reserves themselves.

Any explosion at Safir will cause a catastrophic oil spill with irreversible environmental damage.

Apart from Houthi threats of attack, Hadrami warned against the  Houthis’ continued blocking of assessment teams from examining the reservoir, which he said was in a corrosive condition that could lead up to a shocking environmental disaster that would contaminate Red Sea and regional waters.

Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, President of the Revolutionary Council, a body formed by the militants, had tabled an offer previously to sell the oil reserves stored in Safir and have the freely-elected government and insurgents split revenues.

Hadrami, for his part, stressed the government’s keenness to its long-standing demand for solutions on this particular issue. He underscored that the government has cooperated fully with the UN in this regard and is waiting for experts to evaluate the development of an effective strategy.

The Yemeni deputy foreign minister also placed blame on the militias for causing an environmental disaster in the Red Sea.

According to official sources, Hadrami stressed during a high-level meeting that the Yemeni government was – and still is – very keen on peace, and the full implementation of the UN-brokered peace agreement inked in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, last December.

“The government has made a lot of concessions to this end, despite the continued intransigence of the Houthi militias, their maneuvering to buy time at the expense of suffering Yemenis and the failure of the Swedish agreement,” he said.

Hadrami renewed the government’s condemnation of Houthis’ continued blackmailing of international organizations operating in Yemen and their militias looting of food aid and humanitarian relief.

He also appreciated the efforts and positions undertaken by the World Food Program (WFP) to put an end to such violations.

Sudan’s democratic spring is turning into a long and ugly summer



Sudan’s democratic spring is turning into a long and ugly summer

Protestor’s near the Sudanese army headquarters in Khartoum in April 2019. Photo by M. Saleh (CC BY-SA 4.0)

When protesters forced Omar al-Bashir out of power in Sudan this April after 30 years of dictatorial role, it was an unalloyed good for the world. Bashir has been wanted by The Hague since 2008 for genocide and war crimes in Darfur, and his ouster was a key step towards a free and democratic Sudan, as well as justice for Darfuris.

But what’s followed in Sudan has been far less encouraging. Sudan’s military has promised elections, but not for as much as two years. The Transitional Military Council (TMC), the military leaders now in charge of the country, have included Bashir confidantes like Lt. General Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, who was suspected of leading Janjawid militia massacres in Darfur. Many Sudan observers Believe that Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, is the person really pulling the strings on the TMC, where he serves as vice president. Hemedti not only recruited and led many of the Janjawid fighters who brutally suppressed dissent in Darfur—he has also been accused of having recruited child soldiers from Darfur to fight in Yemen’s bloody civil war on behalf of the Saudis.

Despite the obvious dangers, Sudanese pro-democracy protesters are back out in the streets, demanding immediate transition to a civilian government. Their demands have been met with brutal violence. On June 3, security forces including the Rapid Support Forces (RSF)—whose members are veterans of the Janjawid militias responsible for Darfur’s worst massacres—killed over 100 protesters, dumping bodies into the Nile River, raping and robbing civilians stopped at military checkpoints.

Despite these horrific incidents, Sudanese citizens have continued to fight, launching a mass general strike on Sunday June 9.

The struggle over the internet

As with most conflicts today, there’s an important information component to the struggle between activists and the Sudanese military. The protests that ousted Bashir and have confronted the military have been organized by groups of middle-class Sudanese like the Sudanese Professionals Association and the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors using social media, especially Facebook. Since the June 3 massacre, Sudan’s mobile internet has been largely shut down, making online organizing and reporting on conditions on the ground vastly more difficult. Sudan’s government previously shut down the internet for 68 days to combat the protests that ultimately led to Bashir’s ouster.

Facebook was an especially significant force in bringing women into the streets to protest against Bashir. Tamerra Griffin reported on a set of women-only Facebook groups that were initially used to share gossip, but which were mobilized to identify abusive state security officials, who were then hounded and sometimes chased out of their own neighborhoods. The presence of women in the protest movements and the Zagrounda chant—a women’s ululation—has become a signature of the uprising. Bashir memorably declared that the government could not be changed through WhatsApp or Facebook. His ouster suggests that the power of social networks as tools for mobilization is routinely underestimated by governments.

But now social media seems to be leveraged at least as much by the military as by the opposition. The internet has not been completely shut down—the government has been able to maintain its presence on Facebook, which features at least four pages controlled by the RSF, which are advertising the militia veterans’ version of events. Sudanese activist Mohamed Suliman is organizing a petition campaign, demanding Facebook remove these pages in recognition that they promote violence against peaceful protesters in Sudan.

In addition to combatting Sudanese propaganda on Facebook, Sudanese activists inside the country and in the diaspora are looking for ways to return internet access to the general population, so they can continue organizing protests and document government violence. Activists are organizing information-sharing networks on top of SMS and voice phone calls, but I’m also getting calls from Sudanese friends who wonder whether technologies like Google’s Loon could be used to put a cloud of connectivity over Khartoum. (The answer: maybe. Loon acts as an antenna for existing telecoms networks, and those networks in Sudan have been forced to cut off connectivity. In addition, a balloon floating 20km over a city is a very attractive missile target.)

Until very recently, the few Sudanese who had access via ADSL had been opening their wifi networks or sharing passwords with friends and inviting them to post messages from their houses. A couple of days ago I was seeing reports—unconfirmed—that even ADSL has been turned off. This may signal the start of a new phase of the crackdown.

Space Cadet@nourality

Last available internet route “Sudani ADSL” is now reported to be down.

This completes a dark ring over sudan as internet are now Almost completely disabled, this gives the TMC milita “janjaweed” enough lack of media attention to continue abusing and killing the Sudan.

Ahmed Abdalla@A_Abdalla

الآن قطع خدمة انترنت سوداني ADSL أيضاً
الخدمة الوحيدة التي استمرت تعمل منذ إيقاف المجلس الانقلابي الانترنت في السودان قبل عدة أيام.
الآن اكتمل التعتيم على جرائم الجنجويد في السودان والعالم يتفرج#العصيان_المدني_الشامل

85 people are talking about this

On the morning of June 10 Yassir Arman, a major figure in the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement, which fought a war against Khartoum leading to the independence of South Sudan, was deported from Khartoum to Juba by military helicopter.

Yassir Arman@Yassir_Arman

I have been deported against my will by a military helicopter from Khartoum to Juba. I was not aware of where they were taking me. I asked them many times. They tied me up in the helicopter together with Comrade Ismail Khamis Jalab and Mubarak Ardol.

1,201 people are talking about this

One major channel for information from Sudan in the future may be from Sudanese who are in touch with organizers on the ground who have been forced to flee the country and report from neighboring countries.

Countries are known by the company they keep, and the military government’s supporters are well resourced: Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have provided $3 billion in aid to the military leaders. Given the Trump administration’s tight ties to the Saudi and UAE governments—which have extended to overruling Congress in selling arms to those regimes—it seems unlikely that a petition to the White House to recognize the RSF as a terrorist organization will meet with approval any time soon. (By contrast the African Union—which has a regrettable history of ignoring misbehavior by African military rulers— has suspended Sudan after this weekend’s crackdown.

A few things we can do to help

It’s hard to know what to do as a private citizen when faced with a situation like the one in Sudan. Some thoughts on what might actually be helpful:

– Pay attention and ask others to do so as well. All governments, including military governments, are limited in what actions they can take by public perception. If Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates understand that people are actually watching what the Sudanese military is doing, it may limit their willingness to support a government run in part by experienced génocidaires. Reporter Yousra Elbagir is reporting from the ground in Khartoum and her Twitter feed is deeply helpful. Declan Walsh, the New York Times bureau chief, is doing excellent reporting from the groundReem Abbas, a Sudanese journalist and blogger, is sharing excellent content, much of it in Arabic. Al Jazeera’s synthesis of the conflict has been excellent, but I worry that their reliance on Skype interviews to cover events may limit their coverage going forward:

– In the spirit of getting people interested in what’s going on in Sudan, I recommend Hasan Minhaj’s occasionally silly but good-hearted Patriot Act episode on Sudan’s pro-democracy movement and the military government’s violent reaction.

– Pressure organizations that are helping legitimate the military government. That includes Facebook, which should not be hosting pages for the Rapid Support Forces, or for any entities associated with the transitional military government.

Sudan’s two telecom operators—MTN and Zain—are international companies which could (in theory) be pressured to violate the military’s demands that they shut down. Zain is a Kuwaiti company, which means they are heavily influenced by Saudi Arabia, but MTN as a South African company might be susceptible to shareholder pressure, lawsuits, etc. The Internet Society has released a statement calling for Sudan to turn the internet back on. It’s unclear whether they would be an organizing point for protests to pressure MTN.

– It can be difficult to get money to the ground in Sudan. While the Trump administration removed some financial sanctions on Sudan in 2017, other sanctions stemming from the Darfur conflict remain in place. My friends in Sudan have pointed me to Bakri Ali and the University of Khartoum Alumni Association USA, a US 501c3 which is using their tax-exempt status to deliver aid to democracy protesters.

It can be hard, in retrospect, to remember the excitement and enthusiasm that accompanied the Egyptian revolution and the broader Arab Spring. But after only a year of a democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood government, a military dictatorship took over. The fear right now is that Sudan could go directly from one dictatorship to another—from one Arab winter to another without an intervening Spring. Some Sudanese protesters have been using the slogan “Victory or Egypt”, looking at the return to dictatorship as the worst possible outcome. The worse outcome is even worse—it’s the prospect of systemic military violence like in Darfur, without intervention by the international community. The same folks are in charge, and we are already looking away.

5 Reasons to See the Ivory Coast for Yourself



More from

5 Reasons to See the Ivory Coast for Yourself


Are you up for an off-the-beaten-path African vacation? If so then the Ivory Coast (officially Côte d’Ivoire) could be for you. This West African nation is a bona fide tropical utopia, home to miles of shimmering golden-sand beaches, unspoiled rainforests and lush green countryside. Cities thrive with African and French traditions and majestic wildlife roams freely across national parks. Having broke free from the shackles of a civil war, the Ivory Coast of today has a sanguine outlook and is witnessing modernization while clinging firm to its cultural identity. Here’s five great reasons to make it your next destination on the continent.

The World’s Largest Basilica

Credit: Fabian Plock/iStockphoto

Whether you are a devotee or not, you’ll be blown away by the majesty of the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro. Finished as recently as 1990, this elaborate church spreads across an area of over 300,000 square feet and according to the Guinness World Records is the world’s biggest basilica. The dome is an impressive 500-feet-tall and the interior can accommodate some 18,000 worshippers at one time. Making it more dramatic is the fact that is rises up in the middle of a desolate and dusty landscape on the outskirts of the nation’s capital city, Yamoussoukro.

The Beaches

Credit: Roman Yanushevsky/Shutterstock

Pack your bathing suit because there’s a 320-mile-long coastline to explore along the shores of the Gulf of Guinea. The beach at artsy Grand Bassam is a stunning combination of white sand and swaying palm trees while easy-going Assinie is the place for swimming and surfing. Monogaga Beach boasts clean, crystalline waters, food shacks and live music. San Pédro blends low-key beach life with rainforests treks and Sassandra is a treasure trove of secluded fishing villages, decaying mansions and hippo-inhabited rivers.

The National Parks

Credit: Jake Brooker/Shutterstock

Burnt orange roads take you away from the cities to the country’s eight national parks, where boundless opportunities for trekking and wildlife watching await. Explore one of the last-surviving primary rainforests of west Africa, spot nut-cracker chimpanzees and see pygmy hippos in Tai National Park. The grasslands, rainforest and savannah of Comoé National Park provide a natural habitat for chimps, dwarf crocodiles and exotic bird species. Get up close with buffalos, elephants and mongoose in Marahoué National Park. Don’t miss a tour of the lagoon islands and beaches of Iles Ehotile National Park.

The Food

Credit: Frank11/Shutterstock

Like its neighboring countries, Ivorian cuisine has its roots in grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, chicken, pig and seafood. Mouthwatering dishes to try include kedjenou (spicy slow-cooked chicken or guinea fowl stew) and attiéké (cassava ground into a couscous-like consistency). Feast on aloko (fried bananas) and fufu (boiled cassava and plantain). Be sure to stop at a maquis, which are traditional street side restaurants for quick snacks and meals. Garba is the king of street food, a combination of attiéké and tuna often served wrapped in a banana leaf.

The Festivals

Credit: Mustapha GUNNOUNI/Shutterstock

Music flows freely through the veins of Ivorians and they grasp every chance to express themselves through song and dance. November’s Fêtes des Masques tops the bill of the annual festivals and is a celebration of the Dogon culture in the villages around the city of Man. Festival goers dress up in flamboyant masks and costumes and dance to honor the spirits of the forests. Head to Bouaké in March for the week-long Bouaké Carnival. In Gomon in April, the Fête du Dipri brings the community together for drumming and parades that exorcise evil spirits.

Egypt: Sisi Calls For Countering Extremism With Enlightened Thinking



Sisi Calls For Countering Extremism With Enlightened Thinking

Monday, 3 June, 2019 – 10:45
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi giving a speech during his swearing in ceremony on June 2, 2018, for a second four-year term in office, at the parliament meeting hall in Cairo. | Egyptian presidency / AFP
Cairo- Mohamed Nabil Helmy
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called for strengthening efforts to confront extremism through an enlightened religious and intellectual discourse.

Speaking during a celebration of the Night of Decree (Laylat al-Qadr), Sisi the people’s behaviors could affect the image of their religion negatively or positively in other nations’ views.

“Strong religion could be weakened by its believers’ behaviors,” the Egyptian president said, adding that Muslims should represent Islam in a good way through their practices.

Sisi warned against the dangers of Islamophobia and called on religious scholars to raise the moderate religious awareness and combat extremism among the youth, adding that the enlightened religious discourse was the best way to fight extremist ideology.

Since his accession to power in 2014, Sisi has focused on the issue of “renewing religious discourse.” His official speeches and interventions at public events often include a call to religious scholars to use moderate rhetoric.

The president expressed his regret at the presence of some hardline and extremist intellectuals, who make Muslims feel insecure.

“We have been killed by our own people for years and we spent a huge amount of money on our security [to be protected] from this ideology,” he stated.

“Our main objective is to preserve the essence of religion and to educate young people to understand the dangers of radical thought on the one hand and the magnitude of challenges and risks on the other,” Sisi added.

Tunisian Security Forces Arrest 3-Member Terror Cell



Tunisian Security Forces Arrest 3-Member Terror Cell

Monday, 3 June, 2019 – 11:15
Tunisia’s counter-terrorism forces uncovered a three-member takfiri terror cell. (Reuters)
Tunis – Mongi Saidani
Tunisia’s counter-terrorism forces uncovered a three-member takfiri terror cell that was plotting operations in the central-eastern areas between the Mahdia and Sfax regions.

It was headed by an ex-convict affiliated with the banned radical Ansar al-Sharia group and who was indicted in what is known as the Suleiman 2006 terror case.

Counter-terrorism task forces succeeded in arresting all members of the group while they were attempting to rob a wealthy residence.

Well-informed sources said that the terrorists had accused the rich figures of the eastern coast of Tunisia with apostasy and plotted to systematically plunder and pillage their assets.

During preliminary investigations, the suspects confessed to plotting multiple robberies against a host of victims.

They also confessed to abducting a wealthy resident and demanding a ransom from their family in return for their safe release.

After legal proceedings are concluded, it is likely that the suspects will be convicted and face jail time.

Separately, a Tunisian man in his thirties was tried in a criminal court on terror-linked charges.

Investigations revealed that he was in contact with senior leaders in the terror group, ISIS, and was involved in provoking attacks against security forces.