Somalia: Deadly explosion hits Mogadishu

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Somalia: Deadly explosion hits Mogadishu

At least 20 people died and others were wounded in a bombing Saturday in Mogadishu,

Mogadishu, Somalia (CNN)At least 20 people were killed and many more were wounded Saturday in a massive vehicle bomb explosion at a busy junction in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, a senior police officer said.

Security forces had been tipped off about the vehicle carrying explosives and were pursuing it in the busy K5 district of the city when the explosion happened, said Col. Ahmed Hassan of the Mogadishu police.
Another vehicle bomb later went off less than a mile from the first blast. There were no reports of injuries, Hassan said. The driver of the car was arrested before the explosion but it remains unclear what triggered the blast.
No one has claimed responsibility for the bombings. The blasts triggered a heavy security presence in the city, with security forces blocking many major roads.
Wire service news footage showed torn-up buildings and a burning truck at the first blast site.
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Men carried away a stretcher holding a person concealed by a brown material. A large white building collapsed into rubble and other structures appeared blackened and destroyed.
In other instances, it was hard to determine precisely what was destroyed in the devastated streetscape.
Other videos from the scene posted on social media showed a huge plume of black smoke rising from the blast site.
The UK ambassador to Somalia, David Concar, tweeted that the blast was clearly audible from inside the British Embassy. He also posted a video clip showing thick, dark smoke on the skyline.

Mogadishu Somalia

Mogadishu, a large city on the east African nation’s coast, has endured a lot of violence in recent years.
Al-Shabaab, an al Qaeda-linked terror group, carried out several deadly car bomb attacks in the city in just the first few months of this year.
Somalis also face another threat — starvation.
he country is in the midst of a severe drought and 3.1 million people are threatened by famine because of the food shortages and violence, according to reports from the United Nations this year.

Body Of Missing U.S. Soldier In Niger Has Been Found: 4th American

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

(CNN)The body of a US service member who went missing following a deadly ambush Wednesday in southwest Niger has been recovered, multiple US officials told CNN Friday.

The discovery of the missing US service member in a remote area of the northwestern African country by Nigerien troops comes nearly 48 hours after he was first discovered to be missing in the wake of the attack.
The recovery of the missing US service member raised the number of US troops killed in Wednesday’s attack to four.
The Pentagon later confirmed the recovery.
“The body of another US service member has been recovered from the area of the attack bringing the number of US service members killed in this attack to four,” Department of Defense spokesman Col. Rob Manning told reporters at the Pentagon.

The attack

The American service member, who has been identified by US military personnel, went missing after a group of US soldiers near the Niger-Mali border were attacked by up to 50 fighters that are thought to be likely affiliated with ISIS, a US official said.
The 12-member US team was leaving a meeting with local leaders in unarmored pick-up trucks when they began taking fire from small arms, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, according to a US defense official.
With window glass exploding all around them, the US soldiers, including multiple Green Berets, exited the vehicles, ran for cover, and began returning fire, killing some of the attacking militants.
It is unclear how the missing service member became separated during the firefight from the rest of the advisory team he was accompanying. None of the other soldiers involved in the engagement witnessed him being captured or taken away by enemy forces.
The US military does not believe the missing service member was ever in enemy hands.
One reason the US military launched the urgent search and rescue mission was that electronic signals were monitored indicating the possibility that he was still alive in the field.
The US military initially issued a statement Thursday saying the attack left three US service members dead and two wounded.
A large-scale search and rescue operation involving US, French and Nigerien troops was launched soon after US officials realized one of the US service members was unaccounted for.

Coordination of efforts

Elite US Special Operations Forces troops were flown in from the continental US to aid in the recovery effort.
US Navy SEALs were deployed to a US military base in Sigonella, Sicily in anticipation of a possible rescue attempt but never went into Niger.
“We had everything, jets, rotary wings, (Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance), various platforms, human intelligence, signals intelligence, you name it,” US Army Col. Mark Cheadle, a spokesman for Africa Command told reporters at the Pentagon Friday via a phone call. “There was a full-court press by all of (the Department of Defense), the Nigerien government, the Department of State and the French to help us recover our lost one.”
He added that the Nigerien troops who found the body in the vicinity of the attack transferred the remains to a team of US Special Operations Forces who flew the body to the capital, Niamey, where it was identified, Cheadle said.
Cheadle said the Nigeriens were “very respectful” and “fully aware of the need to honor the fallen.”
CNN did not report the details of the search operation while it was ongoing and did not report the deceased service member’s recovery until CNN was assured that his family was notified.

The investigation

A US official says a full investigation into what happened is underway.
Cheadle told reporters that Africa Command was reevaluation its force protection procedures for its advisory missions.
“This was not expected,” Cheadle said, adding “had we anticipated this sort of attack we would have absolutely devoted more resources to it to reduce the risk and that’s something we are looking at right now.”
A spokeswoman for the French Ministry of Defense told CNN Thursday that French troops from the Barkhane anti-terror force based in neighboring Chad were involved in an operation in Niger. She said the operation was led by Niger with French troops supporting them. US officials told CNN Thursday that French military Super Puma helicopters evacuated the wounded Americans along with those killed in action while also providing covering fire. The wounded were first flown to the capital Niamey and later to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.
French military attack aircraft also flew to the area in an attempt to support US personnel on the ground.
“Our allies the French were very quick to respond,” Cheadle said.
Five Nigerien soldiers also were killed in the attack, according to a Nigerien security official.
About a platoon-sized element of Nigerien troops were accompanying the US team.
“We are resolved and stalwart in our efforts to go after those who attacked us,” Cheadle said, adding that while the US military has “an idea” who was behind the ambush, he declined to identify the group involved.

Advise and assist mission

The US soldiers were part of a team advising and assisting local forces.
The Army issued a statement Friday identifying the three soldiers earlier reported killed in action as being two Green Berets, Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, and Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, and a third soldier, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson.
All three soldiers were assigned to 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Bragg, according to a statement issued by US Army Special Operations Command.
The attack occurred approximately 200 kilometers north of the country’s capital, Niamey, in southwest Niger, according to the statement from Africa Command, which oversees military operations in Africa.
“US forces are in Niger to provide training and security assistance to the Nigerien Armed Forces, in their efforts to counter violent extremist organizations in the region,” the statement from Africa Command said.
There are about 800 US troops in Niger and the US military has maintained a presence in the northwest African country for five years, with small groups of US Special Operations Forces advising local troops as they battle terrorist groups, including, Islamic State in Greater Sahara, the ISIS-affiliated Boko Haram and al Qaeda’s North African branch, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
“US forces are in Niger to provide training and security assistance to the Nigerien Armed Forces, including support for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance efforts, in their efforts to target violent extremist organizations in the region,” US Navy Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Falvo, a spokesman for US Africa Command, said Wednesday, adding, “one aspect of that is training, advising and assisting the Nigerien’s in order to increase their ability to bring stability and security to their people.”
“Niger is an important partner of ours, we have a deep relationship with them,” Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the director of the Joint Staff, told reporters at the Pentagon Thursday. “We are committed to that relationship, we believe that they are as well in fact I think it’s a very good success story.”

Terror group movement

US officials access that these terrorist groups view Chad, Niger and Mali as being particularity important as they serve as bridges between north and sub-Saharan Africa, saying that local al Qaeda and ISIS affiliates use control of these transit routes to gain revenue that helps them recruit, expand and export attacks. ISIS uses these North-South transit routes to move fighters northward, where they can gain more easily access Europe and the West.
One official told CNN that ISIS is attempting to illegally infiltrate the gold mining industry in Niger to sell on the black market and finance world terrorism.
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has maintained a presence in the Mali-Niger border area, despite a multi-year French-led military counterterrorism effort, Operation Barkhane, which began in 2014.
The US military has largely played a supporting role, providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets in support French forces operating in Mali and Niger. The French operation involves thousands of French troops as well as forces from Germany, Mali, Niger and other countries in the region.
And while US troops largely play a supporting role in Niger, military leaders acknowledge the risks they face.
“Clearly there are risks for our forces in Niger,” McKenzie said while declining to discuss the specifics of Wednesday’s attack, citing “ongoing partnered operations.”
“Any time we deploy full forces globally, we look very hard at the enablers that need to be in place in order to provide security for them and that ranges from the ability to pull them out if they’re injured to the ability to reinforce them at the point of a fight if they need reinforcement,” he said.
“Certainly to the soldiers in the fight it was combat,” McKenzie added.
The Pentagon is in the process of establishing a drone base just outside the city of Agadez in Niger in an effort to bolster regional counterterrorism efforts. The US has been using a local Nigerien airport while the base is under construction, according to US Africa Command.

Guinea Sells Its Soul And Freedom To China For 20 Billion Dollars: They Just Don’t Know It Yet

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

A 20 Billion Dollar Trade Agreement Between China and Guinea Raises Concerns

Meeting between President Xi Jinping and the Guinean delegation, via CGTN Africa.

Leaders of BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) gathered in Xiamen, China as the five rising emerging economies for the ninth annual summit held from 3-5 September 2017. Alongside this conference, Ibrahim Kassory Fofana, Guinean Minister of State in charge of public-private partnerships, announced a framework trade agreement between China and Guinea.

This 20 billion dollar agreement will finance significant infrastructure projects over a 20 year period from 2017 until 2036. The deal constitutes an agreement through which Chinese investment will be repaid in exchange for allowing Chinese companies to undertake mining projects in Guinea, raising concerns among Guineans about its terms.

The Office of the President in Guinea has published a press release in an attempt to clarify the terms of the agreement; however, as noted by Diallo Boubacar on the site Africaguinee.com, details have not yet been made known. Several opposition leaders, including François Bourouno voiced their concern:

The trade deal (worth 20 billion USD) signed last Tuesday between Guinea and China has raised some concerns. Although it is anticipated that this deal will, for the most part, finance infrastructure projects in exchange for mining resources over a 20 year period, we, in the opposition party, have our doubts.

“We understand it is a mixed agreement, consisting of loans and gifts. However what we don’t know is what the loans will entail, such as the repayment rates, the terms and conditions, as well as the compensation details. Nor do we know how the gifts will be defined. As such, there are many questions we need to ask.”

In 2016, the mining sector accounted for 98.97% of Guinea’s exports (compared to 84.12% in 2015). Trains carrying ore can comprise up to 120 cars, emitting an infernal noise as well as dust clouds stretching from the extraction site all the way to the port.

Nevertheless, Guineans hope this sector will bring improvements to their living conditions, unlike the farming sector, which has been almost totally neglected. While Guinea has vast agricultural potential due to its varied climate and many rivers, the country is known as a “geological scandal” due to the disparity between the wealth of untapped resources and the poverty of its citizens.

Guinean blogger Jeanne Fofana from kababachir.com has raised doubts regarding additional debt representing more than 50% of the national debt, which already constitutes 48% of the gross domestic product (GDP). She concludes:

Guineans want to see a marked improvement in their living conditions. Simply providing billions of dollars and extolling the virtues of Alpha Condé [The Guinean President], quite frankly, borders on populism: “when talking about these kinds of amounts of money, the average Guinean remains sceptical, and with good cause! Because for them, this does not translate to an improvement in their daily life. The only way to convert this into bettering their lives is by providing employment.” Guineans are feeling deceived.

In an article by Radio France Internationale, RFI, Amadou Bah from the non-governmental organization (N.G.O.) Action Mine Guinée expresses his concerns:

However there has not been, as of yet, any clarification as to the quantity of the resources allocated.

Will this not just discourage investors from other multinationals from seeking concessions in Guinea? Will this be by mutual agreement? Will the value of the infrastructure be equal to that of the minerals to be exported? At the moment, we are hanging on the government’s every word as they negotiate this without providing many details.

Guinean netizens speak out

Guinean citizens have taken to Facebook to voice their doubts. The first bauxite exploitation in Guinea took place in 1937, but Guineans are still amongst the poorest in West Africa. Siradiou Paraya Bah, a resident of Conakry  joins the debate by posting on the wall of influential Guinean blogger Sidikiba Keita to ask what lessons can be learned from the past:

Can we know exactly what these trade agreements between China and Guinea entail?
What can we learn from previous decades of bauxite exploitation in Guinea?
What lessons can we take away from this?

What concerns Demba Thez Mara, a Guinan netizen in Boké, is the need to process the minerals before exportation:

I would like to see us put in place metallurgical and ore dressing plants so that we can process our unrefined products on site. In terms of the enrichment of AI203 (aluminium), China has the best flotation technologies; therefore in order to better develop our mines, we need on site processing, which will also require sufficient energy production.

Law enforcement officers have clashed with protesters at the centre of the main bauxite extraction site in Boké, Guinea in response to the adverse environmental impact of extraction and lack of economic benefits, particularly in terms of employment. Against this backdrop, blogger Sidikiba Keita responds to active Guinean Facebook user Ibrahim Ghussein’s message and warns Guineans:

1. Let’s not delude ourselves. SMB [Société Minière de Boké, in English: Boké Mining Company]’s current operations are on a small scale compared to what we are expecting, as this should increase tenfold, from 30,000 tons/day (t/d) to 300,000 tons/day. The Chinese have a very clear agenda: an all-out reduction in production costs, from extraction to FOB delivery. The EITI [Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative]’s latest report confirms that the Guinean government expects an average return of $4/t of bauxite, whereas CBG [Cie de Bauxites de Guinée] pay more than double that amount, due to their environmental protection measures. The stripping and blasting phases already create a barely manageable pollution issue. On top of this, the transportation phase will undoubtedly be via lorry, as it is currently. In any case, in light of the traumatic experiences endured by the population who live near to the SMB site, this is simply unsustainable, unless the local population are to be moved out in droves.

2. In any case, in light of the traumatic experiences endured by the population who live near to the SMB site, this is simply unsustainable, unless the local population are to be moved out in droves.

In terms of the environmental impact, Tidiane Sylla highlights the potential consequences of over-exporting, which risks flooding the market and causing the price to fall:

Exporting large quantities of bauxite could cause the price to fall on the international market. In the Boké, Boffa and Télimélé regions, more than ten companies are involved in bauxite production. We need to diversify and innovate so as not to saturate the market.

Guinea’s history of public distrust

A lack of public trust around national mining deals emanates from unfair contracts signed by Guinean Mining Minster Mamoudou Thiam during his term in 2009-10. Thiam has been in prison in the United States (U.S.) since December 2016 after U.S. courts found him guilty of laundering 8.5 million dollars in backhanders.

The Africa Center for Strategic Studies, an academic institution created by the U.S. Department of Defense and financed by Congress to study security issues in Africa, published a study in May 2015 entitled The Anatomy of the Resource Curse: Predatory Investment in in Africa’s Extractive Industries, which analyses problems caused by mineral wealth in certain African countries. In the chapter dedicated to Guinea entitled Exploiting a State on the Brink of Failure: The Case of Guinea, the study details how Mr. Thiam was able to illegally line his pockets while in power.

Trump Talking To Leaders Of African Nations Makes Up A Nation Then Praises Their Healthcare System

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

(IS DONALD TRUMP THE SINGLE BIGGEST IDIOT TO EVER OPEN HIS MOUTH AND SPEAK?)(trs)

President Donald Trump lavished praise on the health care system of Nambia during a speech at the United Nations. But there’s one little problem — there’s no such country.

“In Guinea and Nigeria, you fought a horrifying Ebola outbreak,” Trump told African leaders gathered Wednesday. “Nambia’s health system is increasingly self-sufficient.”
Trump mentioned Nambia twice during the session attended by leaders of several nations, including Ghana, Namibia and Uganda.

Namibia has stunning sceneries such as this private reserve where visitors can see giraffes, baboons, and zebras.

The gaffe lit up social media, with many speculating whether he meant Namibia, Zambia or Gambia, all of which have names that sound similar.
The White House later clarified that Trump was talking about the southwestern African nation of Namibia. Namibia dodged the Ebola outbreak that killed thousands in Africa two years ago and affected several nations, including the United States.
At the time, Namibia revamped its health care system to ward off an Ebola outbreak and treat sudden infections.
Namibia
Map data ©2017 Google, INEGI
The tiny nation of 2.5 million people is one of the world’s biggest producers of uranium. It shares borders with Angola, Zambia, South Africa and Botswana.
Nambia aside, Trump also applauded the continent’s economic progress during the speech.

Trump: My friends go to Africa to get rich

Trump: My friends go to Africa to get rich 00:53
“Africa has tremendous business potential,” he said. “I have so many friends going to your countries, trying to get rich. I congratulate you. They’re spending a lot of money.”
Meanwhile, here are nine reasons to spend your money in Namibia.

Argentinian Hunter Trampled And Killed By Elephant In Namibia

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES’)

 

Argentinian Hunter Trampled And Killed By Elephant In Namibia

An Argentinian man in Namibia was trampled and killed by an elephant Saturday, according to the Namibia Press Agency Monday. Jose Monzalvez, 46, was hunting in a group Saturday afternoon when he was trampled by an elephant in a private wildlife area 70 kilometers (43 miles) from the town of Kalkfeld.

He and four others were following a group of elephants on the farm. One of the elephants charged at the group before they could assemble to shoot it. Monzalvez, who worked for an oil company, was with three Namibians and another Argentine when he was killed, according to Otjozondjupa regional police spokesperson warrant officer Maureen Mbeha. Monzalvez had a hunting permit with him at the time of his death. All five members of the group were professional trophy hunters.

Monzalvez’s family was later informed of his death.

In May, a South African hunter was trampled and killed by an elephant another member of his hunting group shot. According to Netwerk24, someone in the group shot the elephant. As it fell, it crushed Theunis Botha. The 51-year-old Johannesburg man was a well-known trophy hunter. His death sparked support from his friends and fellow hunters but also led to backlash from critics of big game hunting.

According to ‘Elephant Rage,’ a 2005 National Geographic documentary, about 500 people are killed by elephants a year. Attacks increase each year.

“I do think that elephants are becoming more aggressive towards humans in very compressed areas where they are being shot at and harassed,” Caitlin O’Connell-Rodwell, a biologist at Stanford University, said to National Geographic in a June 2005 phone interview. “It is a difficult dilemma in areas where elephant habitat is shrinking and the human population is increasing such that poor farmers have little choice but to expand their farms to make ends meet.”

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) reported 1.3 million African elephants in 1970 but said that number shrank to 600,000 by 1989. Some areas of Africa took measures to preserve the elephant population, while other areas reduce elephant numbers with controlled hunts and other methods.

WWF listed Asian elephants as endangered and as requiring extreme preservation measures to control their population. WWF listed African elephants as being overall vulnerable, which is one step above being endangered. However, some African elephant populations are still endangered because of the now-illegal ivory trade, for which hunters would cut the tusks off elephants. National Geographic reported on its website the current population trend of African elephants as increasing.

african elephantAn African bush elephant at Masai Mara National Park in Kenya. Jose Monzalvez, the 46-year-old Argentinian trophy hunter, was trampled and killed by an elephant Saturday. He was hunting with four other trophy hunters when the elephant charged them before they could shoot it. Photo: Buena Vista Images

Mali’s Capital Of Bamako: Shots Fired, Luxury Hotel Under Attack

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Shots were fired Sunday at a luxury resort near Mali’s capital city of Bamako, according to a tweet from the UN Mission to the West African country.

The tweet reads: “shots fired at Le Campement #Kangaba, tourist camp in the suburbs of #Bamako #Mali.”
Reuters, sourcing a spokesman at the Security Ministry, reported that the resort came under attack by gunmen. He had no further details of the attack but said it was still going on, Reuters, reported.
The EU Training Mission in Mali tweeted a statement that they were aware of the attack and were assessing the situation.
Earlier this month, the US Embassy in Bamako had issued a travel warning on its website, saying there was an increased security threat to Westerners.
“The U.S. Embassy informs U.S. citizens of a possible increased threat of attacks against Western diplomatic missions, places of worship, and other locations in Bamako where Westerners frequent. Avoid vulnerable locations with poor security measures in place, including hotels, restaurants, and churches,” the warning said.
Le Campement is located on the outskirts of the capital, about 30 minutes from downtown Bamako. The resort is popular with Western tourists and expatriates who use its facilities to host business meetings and team-building exercises.
The grounds include a hotel, bars, restaurant, spa and swimming pools. The resort also offers live entertainment and several outdoor activities, including bike rides and kayaking on the Niger River.

Trump By Ignoring Africa, US Cedes Would Be American Jobs To China: Creating A China first Policy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FORBES)

By Ignoring Africa, US Cedes Jobs To China

Guest commentary curated by Forbes Opinion. Avik Roy, Opinion Editor.

GUEST POST WRITTEN BY

Grant Harris

Mr. Harris is CEO of Harris Africa Partners LLC and was senior director for Africa at the White House from 2011-2015.

It is old news that China has aggressive commercial ambitions in Africa, but fresh numbers reveal the depth of China’s success—and raise the stakes for U.S. dithering.

A recent Ernst & Young report shows that China more than doubled its foreign direct investment (FDI) projects in Africa in 2016, and that the value of these projects outweighs U.S. investments by a factor of 10. Moreover, China’s Commerce Ministry recently announced that China-Africa trade increased by 16.8% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2017. As if that was not enough, various African leaders were courted at a summit in Beijing last month, which promised extensive deals in infrastructure and trade under China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative. All of this serves as an exclamation mark on the following sentence: The United States must step up its game on U.S.-Africa trade and investment.

Moroccan King Mohamed VI (C-L) and Li Biao (C-R), Chairman of the Chinese group Haite, attend the launch of a Chinese investment project in Morocco on March 20, 2017, at the royal palace near Tangiers. (Photo credit: FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images)

Unfortunately, the U.S. has been slow to stake out a serious commercial strategy toward Africa, and U.S. companies by and large continue to overestimate the risks of doing business in the region. In contrast, China has sustained a policy of deliberate engagement and investment on the continent—and is making enviable returns in the process. Across Africa, China’s infrastructure projects generate earnings worth around $50 billion a year, which directly and indirectly translate into numerous jobs for Chinese citizens.

Building on a strong legacy of bipartisanship regarding U.S.-Africa policy, the Obama Administration deepened commercial ties on the continent, including through initiatives like Power Africa (designed to double electricity access in the region) that garnered broad Republican support. Indeed, U.S. FDI in Africa surged by over 70% from 2008 to 2015, on a historic-cost basis. Yet, in absolute terms, much more remains to be done to fully capitalize on Africa’s potential to contribute to U.S. growth.

Worryingly, the Trump Administration is so far heading in exactly the wrong direction. The policy signal to increase U.S. investment in Africa is no more. Whereas President Obama called for stronger U.S.-Africa economic ties—as did key Cabinet-level champions—the Trump Administration has shown no senior-level interest in this agenda. The raft of vacant positions across key federal departments compounds the problem.

Worse, President Trump is actively trying to eviscerate some of the vital tools needed to promote a serious commercial agenda. Though the “budget wars” are ongoing, fortunately Congress has so far rejected President Trump’s shortsighted proposals to eliminate funding for the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA). Both are important for trade and investment globally, and in Africa in particular. Between 2009 and 2016, OPIC’s commitment of about $7 billion in financing and insurance to secure projects in Africa catalyzed an additional $14 billion in investments in the region. Over that same time period, USTDA more than doubled its Africa portfolio of grants and technical assistance for infrastructure projects, boosting U.S. exports by at least $2.5 billion.

These and other tools should be strengthened—not demolished—to support U.S. businesses in Africa and to successfully compete with China. This includes the U.S. Export-Import bank, which has been outpaced by the China Export-Import Bank (some estimates say by a factor of 37 for loans to Africa) despite having a Congressional mandate to prioritize helping U.S. exporters compete for business in Africa.

The Trump Administration still has the opportunity to advance a serious commercial agenda in Africa, but we are reaching an inflection point, beyond which it will be increasingly difficult to make up for lost ground. As a dynamic continent of over one billion people (who will comprise one quarter of the world’s population and workforce by 2050), Africa’s role in the global economy will certainly increase over time. As the U.S. economy looks for new global growth to fuel domestic jobs, Africa represents a critical commercial frontier. Seizing this opportunity, however, depends on the interest and capacity of American companies to do business in Africa. There is still time to change course but, failing that, middling policy and weakened tools to promote U.S. investment in Africa essentially constitute a “China First” policy.

The Songhai Islamic Empire Of Sunni Ali

(I GOT THIS ARTICLE FROM GOOGLE PLUS, IT IS AN EXCELLENT HISTORY LESSON ON ISLAMIC KINGDOMS)

Songhai Empire
Jenne mosque

The Songhai Empire was the largest empire in the history of western Sudan. It grew from the small state of Gao, which was founded between 500 and 700 a.d. However the empire did not become a major force in the history of empire building and territorial expansion until 1464 when Sunni Ali, also known as Ali Beer, became the king.

In 1469 and 1470, his military campaigns led to the incorporation of Timbuktu and Azawad, located northward and northeast, respectively. In 1473, he attacked Jenne, a great Islamic center located southward, and in 1483, he was able to drive the Mossi out of Walata-Baghana.

Within 28 years of his ascendancy, Sunni Ali had converted the little state of Gao into a magnificent empire stretching from the Niger in the east to Jenne in the west, and from the Timbuktu in the north to Hombori in the south. He was said to be a ruthless ruler who maltreated all those who opposed his administration and did all that was possible to keep vassal states under firm administrative control by appointing governors who administered his orders.

Payment of tributes, which were in form of goods and contribution of workforce for further territorial expansion, placed the empire on a powerful economic and political footing.

The death of Sunni Ali in 1492 was followed by a 40-month reign by his son Sunni Baru, who was deposed in 1493 by Askia Muhammad Touré. Askia Muhammad Touré, popularly known in history as Muhammad the Great, completed the process of nation building and conquest initiated by Sunni Ali by extending territories of Songhai Empire to Baghana and Taghaza, a significant caravan route and salt producing area.

While Sunni Ali’s reign was characterized by ruthlessness and dislocation of commerce, that of Askia Muhammad the Great was known for the pacification of the subjugated people and the promotion of commerce, Islamic scholarship, and general tranquility.

Songhai people

His 1496 pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca had far-reaching consequences for the promotion of Islam as it attracted Muslim clerics and commerce to the empire. Islamic religion flourished in the great Islamic centers such as Timbuktu and Sankore. The University of Sankore produced the likes of Mahmoud Kati and Abdulrahman As Sadi, whose books are valued sources for the reconstruction of the history of Songhai and western Sudan in general.

Askia Muhammad the Great relied on the advice of Muslim clerics in governing the empire and made Islamic law the instrument of political and administrative machinery in western parts. In the eastern territories of Gao and Kikiya he allowed traditional religion to exist by granting non-Muslims of the region the freedom they needed to practice their religion.

As had his predecessor, Askia Muhammad divided the entire kingdom into provinces administered by governors, or kio. The central administration consisted of a council of ministers predominantly from his immediate and extended families. While Jenne controlled internal commerce, Gao and Timbuktu served as link to other economic centers in the east and northeast and west and northwest, respectively.

Songhai map

Short-lived Prosperity

The prosperity of the empire was however short-lived. Starting in the middle of the 16th century, internal problems hindered the government and provided an enabling condition for its invasion and destruction by the Moroccans in 1651. At the top of the list of the internal factors that led to the fall of Songhai Empire was the succession dispute among the sons of Askia Muhammad the Great.

Aside from allowing hitherto subjugated states to assert their independence, this development inhibited economic prosperity and further territorial expansion. The Civil War of 1588 had its origin in poor internal control exemplified in the succession dispute between Ishaq and Sadiq, two sons of Askia Daud, and the crises between the western parts, which was under strong Islamic influence, and the east, under the firm control of the non-Muslims.

The last straw was the Moroccan invasion of 1591. The defeat by the Moroccans can only be appreciated against the backdrop of the fact that the empire on the eve of the invasion was in the throes of an internal convulsion. Al-Mansur, the sultan of Morocco, who had failed in two early expeditions, wasted no time to invade the empire during its most turbulent period.

View of Timbuktu
View of Timbuktu

In 1591, he attacked Songhai with 4,000 professional soldiers and another 2,000 armed with arquebus, a gun with three legs. Askia Ishaq II raised an army of 18,000 cavalry and 9,700 infantry to resist the invasion of the Moroccan army.

The overwhelming numbers of the Songhai army could not defeat their Moroccan counterparts in the battle, known to history as the Battle of Tondibi; the Moroccan army was more professional, disciplined, and equipped with sophisticated weaponry.

The Moroccan invasion led to the demise of the Songhai, the largest empire to have emerged in western Sudan. The guerrilla warfare initiated after 1591 was not formidable enough for the reassertion of political freedom.

The invasion led to loss of lives and property and the extension of Moroccan political hegemony over Songhai. Islamic scholars and clerics fled to other parts of the western Sudan and the great Islamic centers of Timbuktu and Sankore lost their hitherto prime position.

Nairobi Kenya: 7 Story Apartment Building Collapses

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC AND REUTERS)

Nairobi building collapse: People missing as residents join search

Rescue workers at the scene after a building collapsed in a residential area of Nairobi, 13 June 2017Image copyright REUTERS
Image caption Witnesses said the building had been condemned

Several people are reported missing after a seven-story building collapsed on Monday night in an eastern suburb of the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

The Kenya Red Cross tweeted that response teams were at the scene, in the Kware Pipeline Embakasi area.

The Star newspaper said dozens of people had been evacuated moments before the collapse.

Witnesses told the paper that the building had been condemned after cracks appeared in its walls.

The co-coordinator of the rescue efforts, Pius Masai, said that more than 100 people had been accounted for, but added that some people may still be trapped.

“Rescue efforts are ongoing,” he said in a statement, and appealed for people with access to “cutters, drillers and any other extrication equipment” to help with the search.

Emergency personnel at the scene of a collapsed building in a residential area of Nairobi, 13 June 2017Image copyright REUTERS
Image caption Rescuers appealed for help from the public in the search for the missing

The National Disaster Management Unit said that most families acted when ordered to leave the building prior to its collapse, with 121 people making it to safety.

Local media reports that some people re-entered the building apparently to collect their belongings when it caved in, possibly trapping them. Police said they do not know how many people are trapped.

Rescue teams at the scene of a building collapse in Nairobi, 13 June 2017Image copyright ANNE SOY/BBC
Image caption Authorities said 121 people had made it to safety before the collapse

Building collapses are a problem in Kenya with many people in Nairobi living in low-income areas or slums. Housing is in high demand, and developers often bypass regulations.

In April 2017, 49 people died after a building collapsed in heavy rain in Nairobi.

At the height of Kenya’s rainy season in April 2016, a six-storey building collapsed killing 52 people in Nairobi’s poor Huruma district.

Collapsed building in NairobiImage copyright KENYA RED CROSS
Image caption Rescue workers are searching the rubble for survivors

Egypt And U.S. Share Comprehensive Efforts To Combat Terrorism

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

Cairo – Conflicts in the Arab region, most notably in Syria, Libya and Yemen, should be resolved, stressed Egyptian Foreign Affairs Minister Sameh Shoukry.

The minister added there is a possibility to contain terrorism through Western intelligence agencies, not just military operations.

Speaking to Asharq al-Awsat, the FM said that certain known factories are providing terrorist organizations with arms and equipment, calling for serious and effective cooperation to end this.

Shoukry pointed out that the US administration shares the same vision as Egypt in countering terrorism. He also discussed the situation in the region and the importance of giving people a chance to end their struggles and solve their problems.

When asked if there were any initiatives for a solution in Yemen, Shoukry replied that they are monitoring the UN envoy and other countries’ efforts to establish a resolution according to the agreed bases, such as the outcomes of the national dialogue, the Gulf initiative and supporting the legitimacy.

On terrorism, the FM stressed that Egypt will continue to fight it, especially after the two attacks on the Tanta and Alexandria Churches earlier in April.

Shoukry stated that he believes terrorism is expanding because the international effort that has been established did not succeed in containing terrorism, except in Iraq recently.

He added that the situations in Syria and Libya are complicated and terrorist organizations are spreading in Africa. He also cited the frequent attacks in Europe and Egypt that are evidence of the continued presence of these terror organizations.

According to the minister, the international community should “credibly tackle the matter because it is impossible that these organizations receive weapons and support unbeknownst to the western intelligence.”

Shoukry said: “If there a real international will to fight terrorism, then the international community should begin with determining how these terrorist organizations receive all these advanced weapons and equipment.”

The FM said it is “impossible” that intelligence agencies are unable to trace and determine the parties and states responsible for backing terrorist organizations. He added that this is crucial for the credibility of anyone who says they are fighting terror.

Commenting on Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi’s recent trip to the US, Shoukry explained that it took place shortly after US President Donald Trump came to office and when the US policy was still being shaped.

He did say however certain concepts were agreed upon, like fighting terrorism.

When asked whether Egypt will continue to unite all three Libyan parties, Shoukry stressed that his country never did and never will stop trying to unite Libyan parties. He explained that there are three institutions in Libya: presidential council, the parliament and the state’s council, which will form a committee to agree on the amendments needed to the Sukhayrat agreement.

He added that this constant effort with Libyan leaderships, which have met with Egyptian officials in Cairo, will continue until they are successful.

The minister stressed that Egypt aims to have natural relations with regional countries according to certain bases, which include mutual respect for sovereignties.

Furthermore, Cairo does not interfere in internal affairs and does not support organizations that back terrorism.

The FM was in Sudan recently on a visit, which he described as having “positive outcomes”.

He stated that it was an opportunity to review bilateral relations and the outcomes of the meetings of the joint high committee. He also explained that Egypt and Sudan agreed on a mechanism for political dialogue and discussed the regional situation.

The minister stated that bilateral relations might have had some misunderstandings or misinterpretations, which drove brotherly relations off their track.

When asked if the past has been forgotten, Shoukry stressed that Cairo is committed to a strategic ties with Sudan, which goes beyond any special relationships, adding: “Egypt does not conspire against or interfere in the affairs of any state.”

On Ethiopia, Shoukry said that both Cairo and Addis Ababa requested better coordination and asked for more frequent meetings. He explained that this could make it clearer to the public that issues are being discussed frankly and openly.

When asked about the Egyptian-Ethiopian relations, Shoukry said that Ethiopian FM Workneh Gebeyehu conveyed his country’s prime minister’s message to Sisi during his recent visit to Cairo. He added that the visit was an opportunity to discuss the importance of the mutual relations which are based on respect and common interests.

The Ethiopian FM stressed publically that his country will not take any move that could harm Egyptian interests. Meanwhile, Shoukry confirmed that Egypt is concerned with the Ethiopian development efforts, expressing Egypt’s willingness to be part of it through investments.

Shoukry said that the two countries agreed on dialogue to reach an ongoing mechanism to hold meetings every two months in order to discuss any misunderstanding or misinterpretation that could lead to wrong assumptions.

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