Egypt uncovers ancient tombs at Luxor

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Egypt uncovers ancient tombs at Luxor

Archaeologists work on a mummy at a tomb at Draa Abul Naga necropolis on Luxor’s west bank, 700km south of Cairo, Egypt, 09 December 2017.Image copyrightEPA
Image captionThe mummy is believed to be that of a senior official from the New Kingdom

Archaeologists in Egypt have displayed items, including a mummy, from one of two previously unexplored tombs in the ancient Nile city of Luxor.

The mummy is believed to be that of a senior official from Egypt’s “New Kingdom”, about 3,500 years ago.

Other items included figurines, wooden masks and richly coloured wall paintings.

The tombs lie in the Draa Abul Naga necropolis, an area famed for its temples and burial grounds.

It is close to the Valley of the Kings where many of ancient Egypt’s pharaohs were buried.

Egypt’s antiquities ministry said that the tombs had been discovered by a German archaeologist in the 1990s, but were kept sealed until recently.

Mustafa al-Waziri, Director General of Luxor's Antiquities, inside the tombImage copyrightAFP
Image captionAntiquities expert Mustafa al-Waziri showed reporters the intricate wall murals inside the tomb
Painted wooden masks on display at a tomb at Draa Abul Naga necropolis on Luxor, Egypt, 9 December 2017Image copyrightEPA
Image captionPainted wooden masks were found inside the excavated tomb

The identity of the mummified body is not known but the ministry says there are two possibilities.

It could be a person named Djehuty Mes, whose name is engraved on one of the walls, or it could be a scribe called Maati whose name – and the name of his wife, Mehi – are written on funerary cones, officials said.

The other tomb was only recently “uncovered” and has not yet been fully excavated, the ministry said.

In September, archaeologists discovered the tomb of a royal goldsmith near Luxor.

The tomb, which also dated back to the New Kingdom, contained a statue of the goldsmith Amenemhat, sitting beside his wife.

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14 UN peacekeepers, 5 soldiers killed in attack in Congo

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

At least 14 UN peacekeepers, 5 soldiers killed in attack in Congo, Guterres expresses outrage

Established in 2010, MONUSCO, the United Nations’s largest peacekeeping mission, has recorded 93 fatalities of military, police and civilian personnel.

WORLD Updated: Dec 08, 2017 23:32 IST

Reuters, United Nations/ Abidjan
Indian soldiers, serving in the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo (MONUSCO), hold up their weapons at their base in northwest of Goma, Congo.
Indian soldiers, serving in the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo (MONUSCO), hold up their weapons at their base in northwest of Goma, Congo.(Reuters File Photo)

Rebels killed at least 14 UN peacekeepers and wounded 53 others in Congo and UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres said on Friday the attack that targeted troops from Tanzania was the worst in recent history.

Guterres said the raid in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo constituted a war crime and he called on Congolese authorities to investigate and “swiftly bring the perpetrators to justice”.

“I want to express my outrage and utter heartbreak at last night’s attack,” Guterres told reporters at UN headquarters in New York.

Three other peacekeepers are missing after a three-hour firefight that broke out at dusk on Thursday evening, said Ian Sinclair, the director of the UN Operations and Crisis Centre.

Suspected militants from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) staged the assault on a base for Congo’s UN mission (MONUSCO) in the town of Semuliki, the mission said.

The ADF is an Islamist rebel group from across the border in Uganda, who has been active in the area. MONUSCO said it was coordinating a joint response with the Congolese army and evacuating wounded from the base in North Kivu’s Beni territory.

Five Congolese soldiers were also killed in the raid, MONUSCO said in a statement.

Rival militia groups control parts of mineral-rich eastern Congo nearly a decade and a half after the official end of a 1998-2003 war that killed millions of people, most of whom died from hunger and disease.

The area has been the scene of repeated massacres and at least 26 people died in an ambush in October.

The government and UN mission have blamed almost all the violence on the ADF but UN experts and independent analysts say other militia and elements of Congo’s army have also been involved.

Increased militia activity in the east and centre of the country and a series of prison breaks have fuelled mounting insecurity in Congo this year amid political tensions linked to President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to step down when his mandate expired last December.

An election to replace Kabila, who has ruled Congo since his father’s assassination in 2001, has been repeatedly delayed and is now scheduled for December 2018.

Established in 2010, MONUSCO is the United Nations’ largest peacekeeping mission and had recorded 93 fatalities of military, police and civilian personnel.

The death toll for the attack varied. A spokesman for Congo’s army, Mak Hazukay, said only one Congolese soldier was missing after the fighting and one had been injured, adding that 72 militants had been killed.

Guterres said most of the peacekeepers were from Tanzania. Tanzania’s defence minister declined to comment.

The Libyan Slave Trade Has Shocked The World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS)

 

By Casey Quackenbush

3:58 AM EST

A video of men appearing to be sold at auction in Libya for $400 has shocked the world and focused international attention on the exploitation of migrants and refugees the north African country.

The footage and subsequent investigation conducted by CNN last month has rallied European and African leaders to take action to stop the abuses. On Wednesday, the leaders of Libya, France, Germany, Chad and Niger and four other countries agreed on a plan to evacuate thousands of migrants stuck in Libyan detention camps.

The grainy undercover video appears to show smugglers selling off a dozen men outside of the capital city Tripoli.

“Does anybody need a digger? This is a digger, a big strong man, he’ll dig,” said an auctioneer, according to CNN. “What am I bid, what am I bid?”

The report has drawn attention to an issue that aid and migrant groups say has gone on for years.

Why is there a slave trade in Libya?

Libya is the main transit point for refugees and migrants trying to reach Europe by sea. In each of the last three years, 150,000 people have made the dangerous crossing across the Mediterranean Sea from Libya. For four years in a row, 3,000 refugees have died while attempting the journey, according to figures from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the U.N.’s migration agency.

The Libyan Coast Guard — supported with funds and resources from the E.U. and more specifically, Italy — has cracked down on boats smuggling refugees and migrants to Europe. With estimates of 400,000 to almost one million people now bottled up Libya, detention centers are overrun and there are mounting reports of robbery, rape, and murder among migrants, according to a September report by the U.N. human rights agency. Conditions in the centers have been described as “horrific,” and among other abuses, migrants are vulnerable to being sold off as laborers in slave auctions.

“It’s a total extortion machine,” Lenard Doyle, Director of Media and Communications for the IOM in Geneva tells TIME. “Fueled by the absolute rush of migrants through Libya thinking they can get out of poverty, following a dream that doesn’t exist.”

The IOM said in April that it had documented reports of “slave markets” along the migrant routes in North Africa “tormenting hundreds of young African men bound for Libya.”

“There they become commodities to be bought, sold and discarded when they have no more value,” Doyle said in the April statement.

Illegal immigrants are seen at a detention centre in Zawiyah, 45 kilometres west of the Libyan capital Tripoli, on June 17, 2017.
Illegal immigrants are seen at a detention centre in Zawiyah, 45 kilometres west of the Libyan capital Tripoli, on June 17, 2017.
Taha Jawashi—AFP/Getty Images

How is Libya handling the crisis?

According to CNN, the U.N.-backed Libyan government has launched a formal investigation into the allegations. But Libya is largely considered a failed state. Since Muammar Gaddafi, who ran the country for four decades, was ousted in 2011, the country has descended into civil war. A transitional government failed to implementrule of law in the country, which has splintered into several factions of militias, tribes, and gangs. In lawless Libya, many see the slave trade and smuggling as a lucrative industry. Tackling the country’s humanitarian crisis will require international assistance.

On Wednesday, Libya reached a deal with E.U. and African leaders to allow the emergency repatriation of refugees and migrants facing abuse in its detention centers. The government also agreed to open a transit center for vulnerable refugees after months of negotiations, according to Reuters. The center is intended to safely house people before they are resettled or sent to a third country.

How is the international community responding?

Following the publication of the video, there was outcry from all corners of the globe, with some nations recalling their ambassadors from Libya. Protesters rallied outside Libyan embassies across Africa and in Europe.

On Wednesday, African and European leaders met at a summit in the Ivory Coast and agreed on an urgent evacuation plan that would see about 15,000 people flown out of Libya. Most of the migrants will be sent back to their home countries. Speaking at the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron, called the abuse “a crime against humanity” and vowed the summit members would “launch concrete military and policing action on the ground to dismantle those networks,” according to the Guardian. The deal also included initiatives to target traffickers, including setting up a task force to dismantle trafficking networks, the BBC reports.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari expressed shock at how his compatriots were being treated “like goats.” On Wednesday, 242 Nigerian migrants were flown out of Libya back to Nigeria.

The day before, the U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting and said it would be “stepping up its work” to stop the abuses. However, the U.N refugee agency said it faces “dramatic” funding gaps, especially for its operations in sub-Saharan Africa. “Slavery and other such egregious abuses of human rights have no place in the 21st century,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said.

Since 2015, the IOM has repatriated 13,000 people from Libya under a voluntary program. But Doyle, the IOM spokesperson, says more needs to be done to stop migration at its core, particularly from tech companies who own online platforms where traffickers can falsely lure people into paying smugglers.

“They’re being completely misled into thinking that’s a happy future for them and being misled thorough social media,” he tells TIME.

Earlier this week, the foreign ministry of Rwanda said it would extend asylum to 30,000 mainly sub-Saharan Africans stuck in Libya. “Given our own history … we cannot remain silent when human beings are being mistreated and auctioned off like cattle,” the foreign ministry said.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley condemned the abuses, saying: “To see the pictures of these men being treated like cattle, and to hear the auctioneer describe them as, quote, ‘big strong boys for farm work,’ should shock the conscience of us all.”

“There are few greater violations of human rights and human dignity than this.”

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Libyan cleared of most serious charges in Benghazi attack

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF YAHOO NEWS AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

 

Libyan cleared of most serious charges in Benghazi attack

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal jury has found a suspected Libyan militant not guilty of the most serious charges stemming from the 2012 Benghazi attacks that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.

Jurors on Tuesday convicted Ahmed Abu Khattala of terrorism-related charges but acquitted him of murder.

Prosecutors accused Abu Khattala of leading a rampage aimed at killing personnel and plundering maps and other property from the U.S. mission in Benghazi. Defense attorneys said their evidence against him was shoddy.

U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed in the attack, along with a State Department information management officer. Two more Americans died in a mortar attack at a nearby CIA complex.

The Sept. 12, 2012, attack became political fodder in the 2012 presidential campaign.

Sufi Islam: What you need to know after Egypt’s deadly mosque attack

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE EGYPT INDEPENDENT NEWS PAPER)

((oped) Folks, this is a great article to help people to understand the differences within the sects of Islam!)(trs)

Sufi Islam: What you need to know after Egypt’s deadly mosque attack



A suspected “Islamic State” militant attack on a mosque in the Sinai peninsula on Friday was the deadliest terror attack in Egyptian history.

The motive behind the attack that killed more than 300 worshipers remains unclear. But the prospect of IS targeting a mosque frequented by Sufis has raised the specter of further violence against a form of mystical Islam with deep roots in the Muslim world.

What is Sufism?

Sufism is a mystical and acetic Islam practiced by tens of millions of Muslims. Known as “Tasawwuf” in the Muslim world, in the West it is often erroneously thought of as a separate sect.

Sufism is more prominent among Sunnis, but there are also Shiite Sufi orders, or “tariqa.”

Followers of Sufism believe they can become closer to Allah through inner purification and introspection. They do this by meditating and receiving guidance from their spiritual leaders, or “murshid” (guide).

Adherents of Sufism follow the five pillars of Islam just as other practicing Muslims. They declare faith in one God Allah and Mohammed as his messenger, pray five times a day, give to charity, fast and perform the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.

Timothy Winter, an Islamic scholar at the University of Cambridge, describes Sufism as “a broad devotional tendency.”

“There are no practices or beliefs characteristic of all Sufis. It is too diverse for that,” he told DW.

The most well-known “tariqa” in the Western world is the Mevlevi Order, founded by the followers of the 13th Century Persian poet and mystic Rumi after his death in the Turkish city of Konya.

The Mevlevi Order performs the Sufi practice of “dhikr” in a musical ceremony and dance, giving them the moniker “Whirling Dervishes.”

Dhikr is a central practice in Sufism, whereby adherents recite divine verses and intone the name of Allah. It can be performed individually or in a group, and can be quiet or out loud. Dhikr practices vary among Sufi orders.

‘Sufism provides for joy in life’

Sheikh Esref Efendi, the spiritual head of the Germany-based Sufi Center Rabbaniya, which is part of the Naqshbandi Order, described Sufism for DW.

“The Sufis are Muslims and live Islam in perfection with body and soul. The body of Islam is Sharia, the law, and soul of Islam is Sufism, spirituality. For Sufis, Sharia is indispensable, because law provides order in life and Sufism provides for joy in life. The daily remembrance of God in the dhikr and the different forms of meditation in the community, strengthen the conscious feeling of closeness to God and the charity for the other.”

He continued: “Sufis adhere to the prophet’s tradition of loving every creature for the sake of the Creator’s love. So they overlook the mistakes and blemishes of the people they encounter and only look at the light of God in them. By recognizing the light of God, the Sufis practice forgiveness of mistakes of man.”

Origins

Sufism originated after the death of Mohammed in 632, but it did not develop into orders until the 12th Century.

The orders were formed around spiritual founders, who gained saint status and shrines built in their names. There are dozens of Sufi orders and offshoots.

Sufism spread throughout the Muslim world, becoming a central component of many peoples’ religious practice from Indonesia and South Asia to Africa and the Balkans.

Sufi orders were sometimes close to the ruling powers such as the Ottoman Empire, helping their spread and influence.

As it spread, it often adapted to and incorporated local beliefs and customs that made it popular, but would later become to be viewed by Islamic extremist groups as heretical.

Salafism and Wahhabism

The 18th Century saw the emergence of a new puritanical Islamic ideology and movement on the Arab peninsula that would later give birth to violent extremist groups such as al-Qaeda and IS.

Wahhabism sought to purge Sunni Islam of accretions and innovations such as the widespread Sufi practice of venerating saints and visiting tombs and shrines. The goal was to create a “pure” Islam.

The Wahhabi movement allied with the House of Saud, which eventually established the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932.

From the 1960s onward, Saudi and Arab Gulf oil wealth helped fuel the global expansion of Wahhabism ideology, which is often associated with hardline Salafism.

Salafist jihadists have repeatedly targeted Sufis, deeming them heretics. They have also targeted Christians, Shiites and others they deem apostates.

Al-Qaeda linked militants in 2012 destroyed ancient Sufi shrines in Timbuktu, Mali, drawing international condemnation. But IS that has taken the jihadist violent ideology further.

Earlier this year, an IS suicide bomber killed more than 70 people at a Sufi shrine in Pakistan.

While no group has claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack on a mosque attended by Sufis in the Sinai peninsula, it bore all the signs of IS.

It comes as the Egyptian IS affiliate last year beheaded the blind Sheikh Suleiman Abu Heraz, a Sufi figure.  In January, IS’ online propaganda magazine advocated targeting Sufis and warned it would “not permit (their) presence.”

Wahhabism vs everything else

For centuries, most of the Muslim world has accepted Sufism, a stance that has been supported by leading mainstream Sunni Muslim scholars and centers of learning.

“The current disputes in the Middle East are not really between ‘Sufism’ and ‘extremism,’ but between Wahhabism and everything else,” said Winter, adding that mainstream Sunni Islam advocates tolerance and peace.

As Sheikh Esref Efendi explains, IS only sees perceived violations within Islam and “not the people and the light in the people, and therefore call Sufis traitors of Islam.”

“IS thinks that any wrong must be punished. They think and commit even the greatest sin of Islam: They declare themselves Gods who can decide on life and death and use violence to kill.”

Saudi Arabia arrests second richest man in kingdom

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE MIDDLE EAST MONITOR)

 

Saudi Arabia arrests second richest man in kingdom

Mohammed Hussein Al-Amoudi [Capital/Facebook]

Saudi authorities have arrested Mohammed Hussein Al-Amoudi, a dual national with Saudi and Ethiopian citizenship and is reportedly the second richest Saudi, after Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal.

While bin Talal’s arrest has gained most media attention. Al-Amoudi’s arrest is especially important because it could potentially destabilize the economy of an entire country, according to Middle East Eye.

Al-Amoudi, who is also known as “the Sheikh”, has invested in almost every sector of Ethiopia’s economy, including hotels, agriculture and astrology.

According to a leaked diplomatic cable from 2008 “the Sheikh’s influence on the Ethiopian economy cannot be underestimated.”

In the nearly ten years a since then it has become even harder to estimate the exact value of Al-Amoudi’s total investment in Ethiopia, which is among the fastest developing countries in Africa. One analyst estimated the value of the Sheikh’s investment at $3.4 billion, which represents 4.7 per cent of Ethiopia’s current GDP.

Another said his companies employ about 100,000 people, which represent 14 per cent of the Ethiopian private sector, according to the latest Labour Force Survey, 2013. However, World Bank analysts warn that these figures might have markedly increased over the past four years as the sector has developed since then.

Report: Saudi arrests army officers in anti-corruption purge

Al-Amoudi has occupied the front pages of Ethiopia’s most prominent magazines since his arrest. News agencies have covered news of his detention, including the rumours that have been circulating on social media websites, as breaking news.

“They are now panicking” said Henok Gabisa, a Visiting Academic Fellow at Washington and Lee University School of Law in Virginia and an Ethiopian researcher.

In the few days after Al-Amoudi’s arrest, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn felt the need to hold his first press conference in two months. During the conference, he answered questions related to Al-Amoudi and stressed that the government does not believe that this will affect Al-Amoudi’s investments in Ethiopia.

An Ethiopian Investment Authority official rejected the notion that Al Amoudi’s arrest might create chaos in the government, “The country’s economy is not based on one investor. For heaven’s sake, we are 100 million people, how can we depend on one investment?! This is funny.”

#MBS

“Investments outside Saudi Arabia that are owned by the Sheikh have not been yet affected by these changes,” said Tim Pendry, Al-Amoudi’s spokesman in the UK.

Although they acknowledge that Chinese people who are heavily investing in Ethiopia have now a much larger stake than Al-Amoudi in Ethiopia, analysts suggest that even if the government is not in a state of panic at present, there would definitely be future concerns about the extent to which a conflict with Saudi Arabia would affect the Ethiopian economy.

Dr Awol Allo, a law lecturer at the Keele University, said:

He is a person whose presence or absence might affect the country’s economy.

He added: “He has an impact and in light of all the problems that are associated with his investments in the country, this makes him an influential figure.”

Categories

AfricaEthiopiaMiddle EastNewsSaudi Arabia

At Least 15 Women Died In Morocco Stampede Tragedy In Food Line

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

Morocco’s Deadly Stampede Tragedy Incites Anger and Criticism

Protester in Casablanca in 2011 holds a sign that reads: “Boycotting the Elections is a national duty.” Protests have increased in recent years in Morocco on a wide range of issues. Maghrabia CC BY 2.0

On Sunday morning, November 19, at least 15 women died and 10 others were wounded in a stampede during the distribution of food aid in the region of Essaouira in southwest Morocco. The tragedy sparked immediate critique condemning the absence of social welfare and basic rights for Morocco’s poorest citizens.

The stampede occurred in the rural town of Sidi Boulalaam, about 60 kilometers from Essaouira, when the victims were crushed and suffocated as the crowd gathered to collect basic food items at a local market. Approximately 600 people were present when the scramble began to unfold, though the specific circumstances leading to the unrest remain unclear.

The Ministry of Interior announced that it had opened an investigation after reporting the incident Sunday afternoon. Later, it issued a statement claiming that the distribution went forward without proper permission from authorities, according to the Moroccan online Arabic news site Lakoum.

However, the online paper Al-Yaoum quoted the organizer Abdelkabir al Hadidi, a jurist in Casablanca, who disputed the remark, claiming that the charity event was legal and carried out under the supervision of local authorities. Al Hadidi added that food distributions organized in previous years saw similar crowd sizes and were handled without any serious incidents.

But according to one witness interviewed by Lakoum, officials in charge of the event had pushed women in the crowd together until an iron barrier collapsed on them. The same witness described how the crowd had been confined to a closed space and when cries for help began to erupt, the screams were ignored and even laughed at by at least one official.

Asma Chaabi, a member of Parliament from Essaouira belonging to the Progress and Socialism Party, posted a Facebook response on Sunday night that her party will follow the appropriate procedures to review the incident in parliament:

The party also announces that it is keen to pursue this issue with great interest and that it will exercise its powers in accordance with the constitution and the laws and through the various institutions, including the legislative, through its parliamentary teams, and demands the allocation of two weekly sessions of questioning on this tragedy.

Tragedy rattles Moroccan netizens upset with officials

Moroccan social media users were swift to respond to the tragedy with critique and condemnation:

On Twitter, a cartoon depicting a bleeding flour sack circulated:

Twitter user Hafida Bachir emphasized that the female victims were killed in collecting food for their families:

To die for food, a shame!

Lamia Bazier, founder of Empowering Women in the Atlas, suggested that government spending projects are not addressing the nation’s inequality levels:

Combien de drames encore pour nous rappeler qu’au delà des beaux forums, des autoroutes et des malls – la réalité marocaine c’est aussi et surtout ça?    

How many dramas still remind us that beyond the beautiful forums, highways and malls – this is the Moroccan reality above all that.

The former director of the banned Demain Magazine (Ali Lmrabet) similarly focused on Morocco’s socioeconomic conditions with a critique of the Kingdom’s elite:

Estampida mortal en . 1er balance : 15 muertos.
Esta pobre gente, hambrienta, buscaba comida durante una repartición de alimentos en Sidi Boualem.
Cuando nuestros ricos dirigentes tienen cuentas en  y sociedades offshore en .😐http://www.lemonde.fr/afrique/article/2017/11/19/au-maroc-plusieurs-morts-dans-un-mouvement-de-foule-lors-d-une-distribution-d-aide-alimentaire_5217261_3212.html 

Au Maroc, plusieurs morts dans un mouvement de foule lors d’une distribution d’aide alimentaire

Le roi Mohammed VI a donné ses instructions pour « apporter l’aide et le soutien nécessaires aux familles des victimes et aux blessés ».

lemonde.fr

Deadly stampede at . 1st count: 15 dead. These poor, starving people sought food during a food distribution in Sidi Boualem. When our leaders’ rich have  accounts and offshore companies in Panama 😐.

Moroccans still struggle, despite advancements

While recent studies suggest that poverty rates in Morocco are declining, many Moroccans, especially those in rural areas, continue to live below the poverty line. An estimated 19% of the rural population lives in poverty, according to the World Bank.

Rural areas like Sidi Boulalaam that depend largely on the agricultural sector have also suffered from conditions of drought. According to a Reuters report, between 2015-2016, as many as 70,000 Moroccans lost work in agriculture as a result of severe drought.

Climate conditions are expected to worsen across the Middle East and North Africa in the coming decade that could greatly impact food security in the region. Morocco experienced protests earlier this autumn in the southern city of Zagora over a water shortage crisis that highlighted the country’s struggle with managing natural resources and its potential consequences.

In the winter of 2015, residents of Tangier protested increasing energy prices for consecutive weekends that drew national attention to Morocco’s dependency on foreign energy. The country depends on imports for nearly 97% of its energy.

The state is hoping to abet these challenges with heavy investment in renewable energy projects and also agricultural reforms designed to assist rural communities by promoting sustainable development, but face significant criticism from activist groups from within Morocco and throughout North Africa.

Meanwhile, Moroccan King Mohammed VI called for local authorities to take all necessary measures to offer support for the families of the stampede victims. The King also pledged to pay the burial expenses for the dead and the hospitalization for those injured, according to a press release from the Ministry of Interior.

China’s Government Loses An Old Friend With Ouster Of Mugabe

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

How Chinese See the Fall of Their Country’s Old Friend Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe

Chinese president Xi Jinping welcomed Zimbabwe President Mugabe's visit in August 2014. Photo from Xinhua.

Chinese President Xi Jinping welcomed Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe during a visit in August 2014. Photo from Chinese state news agency Xinhua.

As political and military forces in Zimbabwe moved to push longtime President Robert Mugabe from power, Chinese were watching the path of removal of a man many described as a dictator with interest.

Mugabe, 93, has ruled Zimbabwe for more than 30 years since the country’s independence from British colonial rule until today. When the majority of western countries started to sanction Zimbabwe for Mugabe’s land seizure policy and human rights abuses in the early 2000s, China stepped in and became Mugabe’s most important ally.

Throughout the years, relations between Zimbabwe and China have grown closer through loans, construction and investment projects and diplomatic visits. Between 2010 and 2015, China granted Zimbabwe over US$1 billion in loans.

Such financial support has led Zimbabwe’s opposition party to accuse Beijing of aiding Mugabe and stealing billions from the country with illicit trade in the diamond industry. And, in fact, Zimbabwe’s economy has been deteriorating under Mugabe’s regime, and corruption is a serious problem. At the start of November Mugabe sacked his vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, in a move to seemingly position his own wife Grace Mugabe to take over the presidency.

The situation culminated on November 15, 2017 when the military took control of the country. Tens of thousands of Zimbabweans poured into streets of the capital Harare to celebrate and chanted anti-Mugabe slogans like “Mugabe must go” and “No to Mugabe dynasty”. ZANU-PF removed Mugabe as leader of the ruling party, pulling Mnangagwa into the spot, and threatened to impeach Mugabe if he didn’t step down as president.

So far, however, Mugabe has refused to resign till today.

‘Such an old friend was not reliable’

Quite a number of international media outlets have speculated China’s involvement in the Zimbabwean coup as the military action took place just three days after the commander of the Zimbabwe army, Constantino Chiwenga, returned from a visit to China.

On popular social media platform Weibo, many Chinese netizens have also repeated the theory:

The chief of the coup just returned from China. The coup happened soon after the return, draw your own conclusion.

The old friend has become very old and easily influenced by his wife. His wife had many negative remarks about China. Just two years ago, this old friend even said the country’s poor economy was thanks to China. Such an old friend was not reliable. The new guys graduated from the Shijiazhuang Army Academy.

Zimbabwe has sent its military officials to China for training since the 1960s and reportedly, former Vice President Mnangagwa was also trained by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

‘An African version of the crackdown on the Gang of Four’

Beyond possible Chinese influence on the coup, many netizens saw parallels between the situation in Zimbabwe and a certain period of China’s own history — the arrest of the “Gang of Four” by the military on October 6, 1976, a month after former state leader Mao Zedong’s death.

The gang’s leading figure was Mao’s last wife, Jiang Qing. The comment below is one of the most popular on Weibo:

This incident is basically an African version of the crackdown on the Gang of Four.

Just as Mao Zedong was considered a founding father of the People’s Republic of China, Mugabe was viewed as a great leader who played a central role in liberating Zimbabwe from British colonial rule.

Even given the damage inflicted on the country’s economy and the human rights abuses that have happened under Mugabe, he was appointed as the chairman of the 54-state African Union in 2015.

‘The nature of an undemocratic country is like a prison’

Many comments on Twitter said Mugabe’s fall demonstrates the power of the people. For example, @twiqiang08 wrote:

津巴布韦人民撕毀他们曾经的“伟大领袖、伟大舵手、伟大导师、红太阳”穆加贝的巨幅画像。

评: 人民一旦觉醒,所有的“伟大”都会荡然无存,独裁者就会像垃圾一样被扫进历史垃圾堆!

People in Zimbabwe tear down huge portrait of Mugabe, their once “great leader, great captain, great teacher and red sun”. Comment: When people wake up, all “greatness” will vanish, the dictator will be relegated to the dustbin of history.

The description of “great leader, great captain, great teacher and red sun” were used to describe Mao Zedong. Recently, Chinese-state affiliated media outlets have started calling President Xi Jinping as “great leader” after the 19th national congress of the CCP and recently used more than 15,000 Chinese words to explain why “Xi is the unrivaled helmsman who will steer China toward this great dream”.

On Weibo, one user was skeptical of the euphemism of “people’s power” as dictators are often endorsed by “people” in the first place:

The so-called “people” are just cheering squads, people throughout the whole world are the same. When Mugabe came into power, they cheered and took him as savior. Eventually he turned them all into billionaires (because of the devaluation of currency) and their average lifespan was reduced from 60s to 30s. [According to World Bank report, the life expectancy of Zimbabwe had dropped from 62 years in mid-1980s to 40 years old in 2002 and 2003. In recent years the figure is back to 59.] Now that he has fallen, they cheer again.

But Twitter user @huangmeijuan pointed out that the cheering crowds are forced to endorse dictators because there is no room for dissent:

今天的津巴布韦街头,到处是”穆加贝滚蛋‘’ 的口号!人民不需要伟大领袖。
伟大领袖消失了,并没有天下大乱,也没有军阀混战,以前专门镇压示威游行的警察,早就躲得远远的,一个都没有出来。因此,不是民主的国家本质就是一座大监狱,所谓的伟大领袖只是监狱狱长而已。

Today, slogans like “Mugabe must go”, “People don’t need a great leader” have occupied Zimbabwe’s streets. Now that the great leader has gone, the country has not fallen into chaos or warlordism. The police responsible for the rally crackdowns of the past have run away, no one has shown up. The nature of a undemocratic country is like a prison and the great leader is just a prison guard.

Chinese political dissidents on Twitter expressed wishful thinking about which authoritarian leader would fall next. @BaiqiaoCh said:

又一个臭名昭著的大独裁者被轰下台了。津巴布韦发生政变,93岁的总统穆加貝被赶下台。穆加貝跟中共关系非常密切,2015年还闹剧般地获得过中共颁发的孔子和平奖。下一个被政变下台的会是谁呢?北朝鲜的金胖子还是西朝鲜的习包子?太令人期待了!

Another notorious dictator has fallen. 93-year-old Mugabe was forced to step down in a coup in Zimbabwe. Mugabe has close relation with the Chinese Communist Party and in 2015 he was even awarded with the Confucian Peace Prize. Which [dictator] would be the next to step down in a coup? North Korea Fatty Kim or West Korea [meaning China] Xi the bun? Am so eager to see this happen.

After Coup, Even Mugabe’s Own Party Is Dumping Him

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

Photo

President Robert Mugabe, center, appeared on Friday, under tight security, at a graduation ceremony at a university in Harare. Credit Ben Curtis/Associated Press

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe’s governing party moved on Friday to expel President Robert Mugabe from its ranks, taking the first step in legally ousting the 93-year-old leader following a military intervention two days earlier.

A majority of the leaders of the party, ZANU-PF, recommended Mr. Mugabe’s expulsion from the very organization that he had controlled with an iron grip since independence in 1980, according to ZBC, the state broadcaster.

Military officers have insisted that their takeover was not a coup, but the party’s leaders appeared on Friday to be providing political cover for the intervention. The party’s central committee, Parliament, and Mr. Mugabe’s cabinet could now take steps to officially end his presidency if he does not resign.

The military arrested Mr. Mugabe early Wednesday, effectively ending his 37-year rule, although it allowed him to appear in public on Friday to address a university graduation.

Later on Friday, party members endorsed the military’s efforts to stabilize the economy and defuse political instability. They echoed military commanders in arguing that the intervention was aimed at rooting out a cabal of corrupt interlopers who had clouded Mr. Mugabe’s judgment and his ability to govern.

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“Many of us had watched with pain as the party and government were being reduced to the personal property of a few infiltrators with traitorous histories and questionable commitment to the people of Zimbabwe,” the party leaders said in a resolution. “Clearly, the country was going down the wrong path.”

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An armored personnel carrier in Harare on Friday. credit agency France-Presse — Getty Images

The resolution recommended that Mr. Mugabe be removed for taking the advice of “counterrevolutionaries and agents of neo-imperialism”; for mistreating his vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, whom Mr. Mugabe abruptly dismissed last week; and for encouraging “factionalism.” It urged the “immediate and unconditional reinstatement” of Mr. Mnangagwa, who appears poised to succeed Mr. Mugabe, at least until national elections scheduled for next year.

Party members also moved to schedule a march for Saturday in support of the military.

Over the past few days, the military has been in negotiations to find a peaceful and face-saving way for Mr. Mugabe to exit the scene, in talks mediated by South Africa and other countries in the region, and by the Roman Catholic Church.

The military has insisted that its intervention was not a coup. The Herald, the state-run newspaper, said the military “had taken action to pacify the degenerating political, social and economic situation in the country,” which “if left unchecked would have resulted in violent conflict,” and said the action was intended “to flush out reactionary and criminal elements around the president.”

On Friday, Mr. Mugabe was freed — if only temporarily — to address a university graduation ceremony. It was his first public appearance since the military placed him under house arrest — an illustration, perhaps, that this was no ordinary attempt to oust a despot.

Mr. Mugabe, 93, has dominated his country since independence from Britain 37 years ago, surviving through a blend of political skill, brutality, manipulation and patronage dispensed among a corrupt elite.

Those days “are numbered,” though, said Chris Mutsvangwa, the leader of Zimbabwe’s influential war veterans’ movement, which was founded to represent those who fought in the seven-year liberation war in the 1970s but has emerged as a powerful political force.

At a news conference, Mr. Mutsvangwa cranked up pressure on Mr. Mugabe, saying the longtime leader would face huge calls for his ouster at a rally on Saturday. 

 

In Zimbabwe Crisis, Is Mugabe’s Reign Over?

Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s 93-year-old president who has ruled for almost four decades, has been put under house arrest by the military.

By CAMILLA SCHICK and CHRIS CIRILLO on Publish DateNovember 15, 2017. Photo by Aaron Ufumeli/European Pressphoto Agency. Watch in Times Video »

At his news conference, Mr. Mutsvangwa said several key regions in Zimbabwe’s Shona-speaking heartlands — the base of ZANU-PF’s support — had approved calls for the president’s expulsion. Mr. Mugabe himself has in the past used orchestrated maneuvering in the provinces to undermine national figures in Harare.

The talks involving the Catholic Church and South African mediators are intended to devise some form of transition that would have the appearance of constitutional legitimacy while providing a decorous departure for a leader whose role in the pre-independence liberation struggle is central to the national narrative.

The military’s ultimate intention has apparently been to effect a transfer of power without the appearance of illegality that might draw further opprobrium from outside Zimbabwe or frighten off potential investors.

“The army is trying to keep people guessing” while talks continue, said Frank Chikowore, a Zimbabwean journalist.

The ZANU-PF resolution on Friday singled out the G-40, a faction of politicians aligned with Mr. Mugabe’s wife, Grace Mugabe. It denounced four of them as “criminals and counterrevolutionaries”: Jonathan N. Moyo, the minister of higher education; Ignatius M. Chombo, the finance minister; Saviour Kasukuwere, minister for local government; and Patrick Zhuwao, the minister for public services, labor and social welfare.

The party did not, however, explicitly condemn Mrs. Mugabe, whose recent aspirations to succeed her husband appear to have been a trigger for his downfall.

Outside the main cities on Friday, the military set up roadblocks on main highways, apparently to thwart any attempt at organized resistance. Buses traveling from Bulawayo, the second city, to Harare, the capital, were pulled over and boarded by soldiers who checked documents and asked passengers about their business. Sometimes, travelers reported, the soldiers ordered passengers off the buses for inspection. Some were asked if they were carrying weapons.

 

Video

Grace Mugabe’s Fierce Battle for Power in Zimbabwe

Grace Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s first lady, is in the middle of the fight for the country’s presidency. Her rising power may have prompted the military to take over.

By BARBARA MARCOLINI and CAMILLA SCHICK on Publish DateNovember 15, 2017. Photo by Joao Silva/The New York Times. Watch in Times Video »

Such was the official concern to maintain an appearance of normalcy that the state broadcaster devoted the first 10 minutes of its news bulletin on Thursday to interviews with people across the land — traders in Bulawayo, tourists at Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River — and, as if scripted, all repeated the same refrain: “It’s business as usual.” Mr. Mugabe’s appearance at the graduation ceremony — however surreal — seemed to be part of the same stratagem.

Some Zimbabweans suggested that the officers’ calculation might offer Mr. Mugabe a chance to play hardball in closed-door talks.

In the annals of Africa’s many uprisings and coups, the script often involves the strongman fleeing into exile or being imprisoned or even shot.

Instead, Zimbabwe’s military allowed Mr. Mugabe to return to State House, his official residence, and on Friday, he appeared in a bright blue cap and gown, under tight security, to oversee the graduation ceremony in Harare. At one point, he appeared to doze, his head lolling.

By appearing at the ceremony, Mr. Mugabe wanted to give “the impression that he is still in charge,” Mr. Mutsvangwa said. “He is finished.”

“He is defying the population, trying to give a semblance of normality when things are not normal,” Mr. Mutsvangwa said. “That’s why we are saying: Don’t lie to yourself; it’s a delusion. You know he has been deluding himself — he is deluded.”

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Mr. Mugabe — in official portrayals at least — has maintained power as an enduring emblem of the fight to expunge colonial influence in Africa.

But he has presided over a precipitous economic decline that began with the seizing of white-owned farms starting in 2000. Joblessness has soared, and a shortage of foreign currency has driven up the price of imports. At the same time, a loyal elite around him has amassed villas, farms and high-end automobiles.

Don Jr. And Eric Trump Are Trophy Hunters: Now You Know Why: Play Dates

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘CARE2 PETITIONS’)

 

Save Elephants and Lions – Stop Trump’s Trophy Hunting Plan

  • by: Care2 Team
  • target: US Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)
57,544 SUPPORTERS
60,000 GOAL

President Donald J. Trump just opened the door to expanded sport hunting of some of the world’s most beloved — and imperiled — animals: Africa’s elephants and lions. We need your signature today to help stop him.

Near the turn of the 20th century, Africa was home to between three and five million elephants. Now less than half a million remain. Africa’s lions have seen similar declines, with lion numbers declining by 42 percent in just the last 20 years.

To save these iconic animals from extinction, the Obama administration banned the importation of elephant trophies from Zambia and Zimbabwe and made importing lion pelts and other trophies more difficult.

Now President Trump — whose sons have boasted publicly of killing rare animals in Africa — has reversed this animal-saving ban.

This reversal will almost inevitably increase poaching of these rare animals. According to Jeffrey Flocken of the International Fund for Animal Welfare:

“When a species’ greatest value is as a dead trophy, its days will inevitably be numbered, just as they are when the value of their parts — like ivory tusks, tiger skins, or rhino horn — make protection from poachers nearly impossible.”

The move is also squarely at odds with public opinion in the US. 82% of Americans surveyed support banning lion trophies, and 83% support banning elephant trophies.

That’s why Care2 is calling on Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva, one of the most stalwart animal defenders in Congress, to introduce legislation to reverse the Trump administration’s trophy import decision as soon as possible.

By adding your name today you’ll show Congressman Grijalva that conservation-minded people around the world reject sport hunting of our imperiled species. And you’ll provide the public support we’ll need to restore vital protections for whales and lions.

Speak out for our imperiled elephants and lions. Please sign the petition now to stop new imports of elephant and lion trophies.

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