Daily Archives: July 30, 2018

US Military in Africa Says Changes Made to Protect Troops

The U.S. military in Africa has taken steps to increase the security of troops on the ground, adding armed drones and armored vehicles and taking a harder look at when American forces go out with local troops, the head of the U.S. Africa Command said Monday.

Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser told reporters the U.S. also has cut the response time needed for medical evacuations the result of a broad review in the wake of last year’s ambush in Niger that killed four U.S. soldiers and four of their Niger counterparts.

Since that happened, there were significant things to change and learn, Waldhauser said. We’ve done a thorough scrub really on every level, whether it’s at a tactical level … or how we conduct business at AFRICOM.

A report is due in mid-August on actions taken in response to the findings, Waldhauser said. He released a report in May on the ambush, which has been blamed on extremists linked to the Islamic State organization.

He said Africa’s challenges remain vast, from Islamic State and al-Qaida-linked groups in the west to al-Shabab in the east.

The U.S. takes a hard look at what is necessary when accompanying local forces on operations, in terms of when it’s necessary; is the threat there going against something that’s significant to the U.S. homeland and our national interests, he said.

Drones are part of the strategy to provide intelligence-gathering for partner nations so they can consider various operations and take on these threats, Waldhauser said.

The U.S. has authority to carry out drone strikes in Libya and Somalia, according to AFRICOM, but Waldhauser confirmed that we have been arming out of Niger, and we’ll use that as appropriate. The U.S. says it started arming drones in Niger earlier this year; they are currently deployed to an air base in the capital, Niamey.

He stopped in Senegal while in the region for an annual senior leader and communications symposium in Cape Verde, according to the U.S. Africa Command.

The U.S. maintains a small site at Camp Cisse in Dakar’s old airport that allows for U.S. military aircraft to land and refuel. It also allows for storage and use during crisis situations in West Africa such as the response to the deadly Ebola outbreak a few years ago or to any threats against embassies.

America’s role on the continent is to build the capacity of local partner forces, Waldhauser said.

The majority, if not all of the combat operations, will be conducted by the partner force, not by the United States. So our whole goal is to get them up to a level that they can deal with the challenges that they face, he said.

In no case are we trying to take the lead. In no case do we want to own the problem, really in all cases and various methods, whether it be kinetic strikes in places like Somalia or working bilaterally with G5 countries in the west, he said, referring to the new five-nation G5 Sahel counterterror force in West Africa.

When the U.S. does step in with strikes, we go out of our way to reach levels of certainty with whom we know we are up against, he said. Officials and residents in Somalia, however, more than once in recent months have accused the U.S. of killing civilians in drone strikes.

Waldhauser also warned that partnership with the U.S. comes with responsibility and mentioned as an example recent reports of extrajudicial killings in Cameroon. The United Nations human rights chief last week said he was utterly appalled at a recent video appearing to show Cameroonian soldiers shooting to death women with small children strapped to their backs as suspected Boko Haram extremists.

We want to have a strong military relationship with Cameroon. But their actions will go a long way toward how that will play out in the future with regards to the transparency on some of these latest allegations. Waldhauser said.

Source: Voice of America

SURPRISINGLY FEW ZIMBABWEANS RETURN HOME TO VOTE IN FIRST POST-MUGABE GENERAL ELECTION

PRETORIA– The South African Department of Home Affairs )Interior) has expressed surprise at the low number of Zimbabweans who have gone through the Beitbridge border post in northern Limpopo province in the past few days to participate in Monday’s general electionm the first to be held in that neighbouring country since the forced retirement of former leader Robert Mugabe after 37 years at the helm.

There are three million Zimbabweans in South Africa and most of them were expected to go home to vote in their country’s historic elections Monday. Beitbridge is the main port of entry/departure after Johannesburg’s O.R Tambo International Airport and during the peak travel periods, especially during the Christmas holidays, more than 20,000 travellers are processed daily at Beitbridge.

Zimbabwean businessman Clever Dube, who currently lives in South Africa, was stationed at the Beitbridge border post to see if his fellow countrymen are really going home to vote. He says people are afraid of losing their jobs just to go and vote for a government they are not sure will fix its economy.

People are afraid to leave whatever they are doing rushing for a vote; they might lose whatever they are doing in terms of jobs.

Dube, a former freedom fighter and soldier in Zimbabwe, says allegations that former president Robert Mugabe and his supporters have formed a new party, the National Patriotic Front, and that Mugabe is financially supporting opposition party campaigns, made some Zimbabweans despondent to go and vote.

Those people who were in ZANU PF, the old ZANU PF, like President Mugabe and the crew, they formed the party NPF and Mugabe sponsored the (Opposition) MDC for the campaign, and we heard most of the people who are in the NPF they said once (MDV candidate Nelson) Chamisa wins the elections. some of the people from the NPF are going to be given posts. Most of the people were willingly with the MDC but now they do not have confidence with the MDC and also with ZANU PF the same applies.

Morris Jones, a shoemaker in Cape Town, wants to vote to bring about change in Zimbabwe. Things are tight in Zimbabwe, as you can see that people are running away from Zimbabwe looking for work, looking for money in other countries like South Africa, or Zambia. So we are now going for elections people don’t have work, all the companies are closed there is no money, there is nothing which is good in Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, the Home Affairs Department Director for ports of entries, Stephen van Neel, said the department was surprised by the low number of Zimbabweans going home to vote.

We are completely surprised because the number of travellers going through Beitbridge is quite low. I mean when we look at the numbers of people who travelled through the port on Thursday and Friday we had actually less than the number of people we normally get during the week compared with last Wednesday and Tuesday. It is lower numbers. That is the same as any other day that few people move through the port into Zimbabwe to go and vote.

Eleven thousand polling stattions in Zimbabwe are expected to open at 7 a.m. on Monday. More than 70,000 police personnel have been deployed all over Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, Mugabe says former defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi should have succeeded him. Addressing the media outside his home in the capital, Harare, on Sunday.

In Zimbabwe’s first election since Mugabe was forced to resign last November, incumbent President EmmersonMnangagwa, Mugabe’s former ally in the ruling ZANU-PF party, faces opposition leader Nelson Chamisa of the MDC.

Mugabe said he had planned to resign at the ZANU-PF congress in December last year. Let the people go and vote. Let them go and vote freely. We have had now a long list of aspirants, 23 is the number of aspirants. I must say very clearly, I can’t vote for those who have tormented me. No. I will make my choice among the other 22, added Mugabe.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

Trump Presses Demand for Wall Along US-Mexico Border

U.S. President Donald Trump pressed Congress again Monday to approve the controversial construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to thwart illegal immigration.

“Border security is national security,” the U.S. leader told a White House news conference after meeting with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, another Western leader who has adopted a hard-line immigration posture. “Strong nations must have strong borders.”

Trump called the U.S. “the laughingstock of the world, with the worst immigration laws anywhere in the world.”

Trump, expanding on the immigration comments he posted on Twitter the day before, said he would have “no problem doing a shutdown” of U.S. government operations at the end of September when current funding expires if he does not win approval for the wall, a key pledge of his during the 2016 presidential campaign.

But when asked whether he wants approval of full $25 billion funding for the wall, as well as other tougher immigration changes he has demanded in order to avert a shutdown, he replied, “I always leave room for negotiation.”

In addition to the wall, Trump has called for the end to a visa lottery allowing migrants from overseas to move to the U.S. Instead, he wants a “merit” system in which job skills and education of the migrants play an important role in whether they are allowed into the country.

“We have laws that don’t work,” Trump said. “We have to end these horrible ‘catch and release’ principles where you catch somebody, you take their name and you release them. You don’t even know who they are. The whole thing is ridiculous.”

Trump praised Conte for demanding that other European countries share the responsibility for handling the thousands of migrants who have descended on Italian shores as they escaped Africa and headed across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.

Trump’s bid for funding a border wall in late September is uncertain.

In recent weeks, the House of Representatives already defeated two immigration proposals Trump supported. Any new action in late September would seem unlikely, coming about five weeks before nationwide congressional elections, a time when most lawmakers are unwilling to debate and vote on controversial issues like immigration.

Source: Voice of America

US Confirms Deployment of Armed Drones in Niger

U.S. forces started deploying armed drones in the west African country of Niger earlier this year to attack Islamist militants, the U.S. military said Monday.

Niger’s government granted American forces permission last November to arm their drones but neither side had previously confirmed their deployment. Before that, U.S. drones had only been used for surveillance.

The U.S. military presence in Niger has expanded in recent years to an 800-strong force that accompanies Nigerien troops on intelligence gathering and other missions, reflecting U.S. concerns about rising militancy in West Africa’s Sahel region.

An ambush by a local Islamic State affiliate in western Niger last October killed four U.S. soldiers. Jihadist groups based in neighboring Mali have also struck military and civilian targets as far afield as Ivory Coast.

“In coordination with the Government of Niger, U.S. Africa Command has armed intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft already in Niger,” a spokesperson for United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) said in an email.

“As a matter of operational security, we do not discuss where strike platforms originate from, nor current or future operations.”

The drones are currently being flown out of a base in the capital Niamey while the military completes construction of a $100 million drone base in the central city of Agadez.

The military views the drones as a cost-efficient way to counter the militants but critics fear that drone strikes will cause civilian casualties and trigger blowback from the local population.

Source: Voice of America

US Confirms Deployment of Armed Drones in Niger

U.S. forces started deploying armed drones in the west African country of Niger earlier this year to attack Islamist militants, the U.S. military said Monday.

Niger’s government granted American forces permission last November to arm their drones but neither side had previously confirmed their deployment. Before that, U.S. drones had only been used for surveillance.

The U.S. military presence in Niger has expanded in recent years to an 800-strong force that accompanies Nigerien troops on intelligence gathering and other missions, reflecting U.S. concerns about rising militancy in West Africa’s Sahel region.

An ambush by a local Islamic State affiliate in western Niger last October killed four U.S. soldiers. Jihadist groups based in neighboring Mali have also struck military and civilian targets as far afield as Ivory Coast.

“In coordination with the Government of Niger, U.S. Africa Command has armed intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft already in Niger,” a spokesperson for United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) said in an email.

“As a matter of operational security, we do not discuss where strike platforms originate from, nor current or future operations.”

The drones are currently being flown out of a base in the capital Niamey while the military completes construction of a $100 million drone base in the central city of Agadez.

The military views the drones as a cost-efficient way to counter the militants but critics fear that drone strikes will cause civilian casualties and trigger blowback from the local population.

Source: Voice of America