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  1. US ‘to help Kenya’ fight Al-Shabaab 19th May 2018 John Snow Featured, Kenya 0 MOGADISHU, Somalia – The United States has pledged to help Kenyan government “take on Al Qeada linked Al Shabaab group,” President Donald Trump’s top diplomat Mike Pompeo. Mike Pompeo delivered a message by Donald Trump to Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta during a phone call, according to Spokesperson for the US Department of State, Heather Nauert Nauert says US Secretary of State, Pompeo had thanked Kenyatta for his leadership in calling for an important national conversation to move the country forward following the 2017 election. “Mr. Pompeo and Kenyatta have discussed our shared goals of countering terrorism, promoting regional stability”, she said. Nauert says United States was providing assistance to the Kenyan government, and will continue to partner with them as well as with others in the region to take on the terrorist group Al-Shabaab. The Secretary of State, Pompeo pledged more US support in the war against the Al-Shabaab both within Kenya’s borders and in Somalia, she said. The US has been trying to improve its diplomatic relationship and missions in Africa as US warplanes carried out several drone strikes targeting Al Shabaab and ISIL groups’ bases in south and central Somalia. Reporting by Abdirisak Mohamud Tuuryare from Mogadishu, Somalia
  2. WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Withdrawing US troops from the Korean Peninsula would be discussed with allies if North Korea demanded it as part of reaching a peace agreement, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said during a meeting with Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak at the Pentagon. "Well, that's part of the issues that we'll be discussing in the negotiations with our allies first and, of course, with North Korea," the release said on Friday. US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are scheduled to meet in May or early June regarding the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Both leaders will enter negotiations to permanently shut down the North Korea’s nuclear program. The United States had engaged in a maximum pressure campaign against North Korea and led the international community to impose multiple rounds of sanctions over Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Earlier on Friday, Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in held a summit at the Demilitarized Zone where they signed the Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification on the Korean Peninsula. The document commits the two countries to a nuclear-free peninsula and talks to bring a formal end to the Korean War. The situation on the Korean peninsula escalated in the past two years due to North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile tests, which led to heightened tensions between Washington and Pyongyang.
  3. Give Ethiopia a chance to change; House should reject strongly worded resolution By Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Opinion Contributor — 04/10/18 07:00 AM EDT 24 The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill © Getty Images Today, the House of Representatives will consider a resolution that condemns human rights and governance conditions in Ethiopia. Now is the wrong time to consider this, and it should be rejected. Since being elected to the Senate, I have made 156 country visits to Africa. Eighteen of those have been to Ethiopia, where I have watched first-hand the economic transformation that’s occurred. Their middle class is growing, and they have become a regional superpower, who is a friend of the United States. Their military is professional and capable, and they are punching above their weight in the war against terrorism that continues to plague the continent. They promote regional peace and security by being one of the top troop contributors to UN peacekeeping missions around the world. The last few years have been tough domestically for Ethiopia on a number of fronts, but that’s not surprising for a country that’s continuing to transition from a communist to a democratic nation. The good news is that the Ethiopian government understands that human rights and governance conditions need to improve. That’s why the timing and negative, condescending tone of this resolution could not be worse and would work against the authors’ intent. It would undercut the new prime minister at just the time he needs to be encouraged. Just one week ago, Dr. Abiy Ahmed was sworn in as Ethiopia’s new prime minister on a mandate to improve these exact issues. He is a personal friend of mine; in fact, I was with him on my last visit in October, and we prayed together for Ethiopia’s disunity to be healed. During his inauguration, Prime Minister Abiy stated his commitment to accountability, justice, freedom, and the rule of law. He expressed his commitment to allowing true democracy (and by extension, political parties of all persuasions) to flourish, underscoring why he is the one who has what it takes to bring real change to Ethiopia. We should give Prime Minister Abiy the opportunity to prove himself as a national leader before having the full weight of the United States House of Representatives tossed against him. A heavy-handed, strongly-worded resolution condemning his government, so soon after being sworn in, will severely curtail Abiy’s ability to enact needed reforms. In fact, they could backfire by fueling opposition groups in Ethiopia to undermine his entire administration. Now is not the time to move a resolution with a tone like this. Ethiopia is a key friend, and Prime Minister Abiy deserves a chance at a strong start. The House can give him that by rejecting H. Res. 128. Inhofe is the senior senator for Oklahoma.
  4. Djibouti Is Dangerously Becoming a Trigger for Transregional Destabilization By Andrew Korybko Global Research, March 09, 2018 Oriental Review 8 March 2018 The delicate balance of power in the Horn of Africa might soon be broken by the developing situation inside of Djibouti surrounding the future ownership of its main port, with the possible American-Emirati reaction to this potentially serving as a trigger for militarily activating the complex transregional alliance system that’s formed in this part of the world over the past couple of years. Making A Mountain Out Of A Molehill The tiny state of Djibouti is once again making global headlines after its government ended a contract with an Emirati port operator late last month that was in control of the country’s most important container terminal. The move followed a multi-year dispute that culminated in what Abu Dhabi decried as an “illegal seizure” of its asset, but which the national authorities said was a necessary action to end the stalemate. This seemingly insignificant commercial spat would have remained irrelevant to international politics had the US not decided to weigh in earlier this week in supporting its Emirati ally. Reuters reported that the top America military official in Africa, Marine General Thomas Waldhauser, responded to speculation in Congress that Djibouti was supposedly planning to “give [the port] to China as a gift” by ominously warning that “If the Chinese took over that port, then the consequences could be significant”. Republican Representative Bradley Byrne went even further by speculating that “If this was an illegal seizure of that port, what is to say that government wouldn’t illegally terminate our lease before its term is up?” These statements have thus turned an ordinarily uneventful dispute that’s destined for the Court of International Arbitration into a full-fledged geopolitical scandal. Djibouti’s Transregional Dimensions Djibouti is of global importance because of its location at the Bab el Mandeb strait that connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden and serves as the maritime transit location between Europe and Asia. Apart from the US, China, France, Italy, Japan, and soon even Saudi Arabia all have bases in the country, with India being able to utilize America’s by means of the summer 2016 LEMOA deal that gives each country access to the other’s military facilities on a case-by-case “logistics” basis. Furthermore, Djibouti is the terminal location for the Djibouti-Addis Ababa Railway (DAAR) that basically functions as “China’s CPEC” or the Horn of Africa Silk Road, thus explaining one of the unstated strategic reasons why Beijing chose the country for hosting its first-ever overseas military base. Ethiopia, however, is at the center of a transregional alliance system that’s sprung up in the area over the past couple of years as a result of its ambitious efforts to construct the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile River that provides most of the more famous Nile’s water. The balance of forces has seen Ethiopia band together with Sudan while Egypt – which claims that GERD will adversely affect its water supplies and therefore make it strategically dependent on Ethiopia – has sought out Addis Ababa’s nemesis, Eritrea. Moreover, the Gulf Cold War has expanded to the region, with Qatar siding more closely with Ethiopia and the UAE partnering with Eritrea, in which it has a military facility that it uses in connection with the War on Yemen. Saudi Arabia is impartial because it has military relations with Eritrea but agricultural ones with Ethiopia, even though its Egyptian partner (which practically functions as a subordinate or client state at this point) wishes that it took a stronger stand against Addis Ababa. Djibouti’s situation is much more complex than any of these parties’ because it has close relations with each of the countries that have or will have military bases within its territory, and it had previously enjoyed positive relations with the UAE prior to the port dispute. Qatar used to station peacekeepers along the Djiboutian-Eritrean border since their brief 2008 border conflict but withdrew them last summer after both states sided with Saudi Arabia in the Gulf Cold War. Approaching The Breaking Point Even though Djibouti has historically harbored suspicions of much larger Ethiopia’s intentions, especially since it became landlocked following Eritrea’s 1993 independence, its fears have been allayed ever since China got involved in DAAR and apparently convinced it that Addis Ababa has no interest in behaving aggressively towards the de-facto city-state so long as its Silk Road access to the People’s Republic is ensured. In fact, the “African CPEC” did more for building trust between these two lopsided countries than anything else could have ever done, though it wasn’t a solution for regional stability in the geopolitical sense, as is evidently seen by the transregional alliance system that was earlier described. In fact, the structural instability that now characterizes the Horn of Africa might reach a breaking point with the potential destabilization of Djibouti that might be brought about if the US and its Emirati ally join forces in pressuring this tiny country to reverse its takeover of the disputed port. Washington is already hinting that it might consider this to be a ‘national security threat’ to its interests, while Abu Dhabi is alleging that what happened is no different than the strong armed robbery of one of its most prized global assets. The groundwork has now been established for these two countries to cooperate in making Djibouti pay for what it did. Policy Toolkit The reason why this has any importance to the outside world is because it may lead to the Horn of Africa becoming a 21st-century version of the pre-World War I Balkans in the sense that a far-reaching alliance network could once again be on the brink of being militarily activated due to an unexpected and seemingly insignificant event. The two most realistic and potentially interconnected options that the US-UAE “alliance within an alliance” have at their disposal for use against Djibouti suggest that a larger conflict could easily explode by miscalculation alone, to say nothing of Machiavellian intent, thus making the historical-regional comparison an apt one: Eritrean Border Skirmish: The UAE’s Eritrean underling already has a preexisting border disagreement with Djibouti, and it wouldn’t be difficult for the wealthy patron state to tempt its impoverished client to make a move against Abu Dhabi’s new regional adversary. Color Revolution: Djibouti was briefly rocked by pro-Islamist Color Revolution unrest at the end of 2015 that was quickly quelled by the authorities, though there’s no saying that such a scenario couldn’t be “encouraged” to repeat itself in the near future as “phase one” of an American pressure campaign. Hybrid War: The merging of conventional Eritrean aggression, Asmara’s asymmetrical use of the Al Shabaab terrorist group that the UNSC sanctioned the country for supporting, and American-backed Color Revolution unrest in the urban center would constitute a classic Hybrid War in the Horn of Africa. Realistic Responses Scenario forecasting is a difficult art so it’s with a grain of salt that one should approach this exercise, though nevertheless understanding the utility that it has in allowing one to envision the most likely responses to each of the two primary options that the US and UAE have for use against Djibouti: The Second African World War: Eritrean aggression against Djibouti could prompt Ethiopia and Sudan to take action against it, thereby drawing in Asmara’s Egyptian ally and its GCC partners, all of which might create a situation that compels the US and China to intervene at different stages and in varying capacities to uncertain ends. An Ethiopian Collapse: Ethiopia is in the throes of its second state of emergency in just as many years, and the Color Revolution blockage of DAAR might be all that’s needed to provoke the Oromo into reviving their Hybrid War campaign and possibly pushing the country past the edge of collapse. Pro-Beijing Blowback The American-Emirati destabilization of Djibouti might intentionally or unwittingly produce consequences that endanger China’s interests in the Horn of Africa, but there’s also the chance that the blowback that they produce conversely strengthens Beijing’s role in this region instead: The People’s Republic And Peacekeeping: So long as China can avoid the “mission creep” scenario that the US is pushing it towards, it might be able to manage any Eritrean-Djiboutian border tensions (and possibly others) through a peacekeeping mission like the one that it proposed last summer, therefore stabilizing the region. Diplomacy And Deal-Making: China is the best suited out of any country to mediate between all conflicting parties within the region, especially if it commits peacekeepers to the cause, and this might see its diplomacy producing the Silk Road fruit of more “win-win” deals that sustain the peace that its soldiers first attained. Peace Isn’t Possible Without The People’s Republic: The aggregate consequences of China’s military and diplomatic efforts at obtaining, securing, and advancing peace in the Horn of Africa could enable Beijing to become a stabilizing force in one of the world’s most unstable regions and consequently assist its integration into the Multipolar World Order. Concluding Thoughts The latest developments in the tiny Horn of Africa country of Djibouti might seem uninteresting for most outside observers, but upon closer examination of the broader strategic dynamics at play and the delicate balance of power between the two transregional alliances there, it becomes apparent that these unresolved and escalating events might serve as a catalyst for a larger conflict. At the risk of sounding cliché, the “stage is set” and all of the local actors are ready – and almost eager, one could argue – to “play their role” in the upcoming “drama”, with only China having any realistic chance of stabilizing the situation before it gets out of control. That said, China must also remain cognizant of the US’ desire to trap it in the quagmire of “mission creep” as a proxy means of “containing” its influence in Africa, and Beijing’s relatively ‘conservative” decision makers aren’t predisposed to overtly intervening in other countries’ affairs, though the recent case of Myanmar stands out as a notable exception and might portend a change in policy. In any case, it’s clear to see that the destabilization of Djibouti will inevitably have negative consequences for China’s regional and Silk Road interests, thereby making the most recent developments yet another example of how the US-Chinese proxy struggle is rapidly reaching every corner of the world. * Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare.
  5. http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/03/22/556272/Saudi-Pentagon-US-bin-Salman-Mattis-Yemen “As you discussed with President (Donald) Trump on Tuesday, we must also reinvigorate urgent efforts to seek a peaceful resolution to the civil war in Yemen and we support you in this regard,” the US defense secretary told his Saudi counterpart. “We are going to end this war; that is the bottom line. And we are going to end it on positive terms for the people of Yemen but also security for the nations in the peninsula,” Mattis added.
  6. Like Mattis, Nicholson sees a window open for the U.S. and Afghan governments to reach a peace deal with some members of the Taliban. He cited Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s recent invitation to the Taliban to talk without preconditions, the Taliban not rejecting it out of hand and the ongoing U.S.-led military campaign among the factors that could force a negotiated settlement. "All Wars must come to an end" at some point or another. “Yes, the Taliban is in the city,” Nicholson said. “Yes, there are facilitation networks in the city. These networks need to be identified and destroyed, and then the safe houses or whatever locations they have developed need to be identified and eliminated.” U.S. and Afghan governments plan to build the number of Afghan special forces from 19,022 to 33,896 by 2020, according to a Pentagon report to Congress released in December. http://nationalpost.com/news/world/as-taliban-bombs-cause-kabul-mayhem-secretive-raids-part-of-u-s-effort-to-stop-attacks
  7. http://www.thereporterethiopia.com/article/prince-eagle-bear
  8. http://www.thereporterethiopia.com/article/american-companies-propose-build-usd-2-bln-gas-refinery