MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) -- The highest ranking U.S. official to visit Somalia's capital in years landed in Mogadishu on Sunday in another sign of improving security in the Horn of Africa's most chaotic nation.
Johnnie Carson, the assistant secretary of state for African affairs, arrived at the seaside airport Sunday morning, said Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda, the spokesman for the African Union military force in Somalia.
No one on whether he was joined by Ed and Doc...
Carson is scheduled to speak at a news conference in Nairobi -- Kenya's capital -- later Sunday.
The U.S. does not have an embassy in Somalia, though embassy officials from neighboring Kenya have visited Somalia in recent months and years. The last senior U.S. government official to visit Mogadishu appears to have been a visit by Gen. Anthony Zinni in 1997.
Just as the Kenyans take on Shabaab. How interesting...
NAIROBI - Kenyan military and police are at risk of losing United States government funding. A bill in the U.S. Senate Foreign Appropriations Committee says Kenya's history of human rights abuse is alarming and must be addressed.
A sponsor is not named, so we may safely assume him/her to be a Democrat...
After hearing allegations of human rights abuses by Kenyan soldiers, U.S. lawmakers are seeking to end funding for the East African country's military and police, and also have asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to ensure that no training, equipment or any other assistance is provided for Kenyan defense forces and police who are alleged to have violated human rights.
The committee's proposal follows a May 4 report from Human Rights Watch, "Criminal Reprisals: Kenyan Police and Military Abuses against Ethnic Somalis," which says government troops joined guerrilla forces in Mt. Elgon committing murder, torture and rape in 2008. It is estimated that around 750 people were killed and hundreds of others are still missing.
The bill also cites multiple violations between November 2011 to January 2012 in the northeastern province towns of Garissa, Wajir and Mandera, and inside the Dadaab refugee camps.
HRW's East Africa researcher Neela Ghoshal hopes Senate action will be a turning point for the Kenyan military.
"Despite the fact that, for months, we've been bringing these abuses to the attention of the Kenyan security forces and local organizations ... the reaction has essentially been to do nothing," she says. "We're hoping that perhaps the indication that the U.S. Senate is looking at the funding is going to motivate the Kenyan authorities to act, to investigate what has happened and to hold accountable the particular military and police officers who are responsible."
Wonder if HRW supports defunding Shabaab. The latter is getting money from somewhere [cough] Iran [cough]. Where's the outrage for that?
Kenyan military officials will not comment on the actual bill, but Colonel Cyrus Oguna, spokesperson for the Kenyan Defense Forces, calls Nairobi's relationship with Washington cordial, historical and important.
The committee is now asking Secretary Clinton to submit a report on any steps taken by the Kenyan government to conduct thorough, credible investigations of the human rights violations to identify any military units involved.
The bill, which sets the United States' budget for next year's foreign military funding and assistance, needs to pass through the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives later this year before any actions can be taken.
(Sh. M. Network)-The prime minister of Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG),Abdiweli Mohammed Ali, announced plans to eliminate the Al Qaeda-allied Al shabab Death Eaters from the whole country before August 20, the deadline to implement a roadmap for a new government of Somalia.
Speaking with a state run Radio,Somalia PM Abdiweli Mohammed Ali said: "Somali government troops with the help of African Union ...a union consisting of 53 African states, most run by dictators of one flavor or another. The only all-African state not in the AU is Morocco. Established in 2002, the AU is the successor to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which was even less successful... peacekeepers are committed to finish the reign of Al shabab control in Somalia."
Mr. Ali stated that Somali and AU forces have previously secured several key areas in south and central Somalia and now pursuing the Islamist Death Eaters in many fronts in the country as he put it.
"Al shabab lost most of its territory during 18-month offensives involving African Union forces, the hapless Somali government,Ćthiopia and Kenya," Somali Abdiweli Mohammed Ali added.
This comment came as Somali and AU forces made a significant progress in the recent battle took the control of many key areas located on the outskirts of Mogadishu, after driving Al shabab Death Eaters at the end of last month.
[Daily Nation (Kenya)] There is a risk of "terrorist" groups setting up in the deserts of northern Mali, French President Francois Hollande warned Monday after talks with Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou in Paris. Picked right up on that, didn't he? Not much gets by that boy...
"There is a threat of terrorist groups setting up in northern Mali. There is outside intervention that is destabilising Mali and setting up groups whose vocation goes well beyond Mali, in Africa and perhaps beyond," Hollande said. That's the whole Islamic idea, isn't it?
Issoufou, whose country shares a long and porous desert border with Mali, warned last week that jihadi fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan were training Islamist groups there as world powers mull armed intervention.
At the beginning of 2007, the Algerian Islamicist network called Groupe Salafiste pour la Prédication et le Combat (Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat) announced that they were now Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, indicating that their ambitions now extended beyond bringing down the Algerian government to the larger goal of forming a caliphate across all of northern Africa.
Last December they published a photo on a Mauritanian news site showing two European men who had been captured by Tuaregs in Libya, taken to Mali and sold to AQIM. AQIM has been busy in other ways in the area, along with some sympatico/competing groups.
See also TOPIX > NATO AID TO LIBYA REBELS CAUSED MALI CRISIS.
Successful fall of Uncle Muammar + Regime in Libyuh, vee " Libyan Spring", led to his Tuareg soldiers-for-hire returning back home + joining pro-Islamist,Al-Qaeda Militant-Separatist Groups [e.g. MLNA] to destabilize the country.
* RELATED SAME > ANALYSTS WARN NORTHERN MALI COULD BECOME JIHADISTS BASE.
[Yemen Post] The Defense Ministry on Monday said Abdul Rahman Al-Halily started his post as the new commander of the third elite republican guard brigade in the capital Sanaa after two months of the rebellion of the former commander against a presidential decree replacing him.
The ministry said the Military Committee visited the brigade under presidential orders and the new commander has already started his job.
The takeover of this brigade came a day before the UN Security Council meets to issue a resolution, which might include sanctions against the obstructers of the democratic transition in Yemen.
The UN earlier said it would send a strongly-worded letter to the Yemeni officials behind attempts to affect the power-transfer deal, which was brokered by the GCC and backed by the West after the 2011 unrest, hinting at sanctions.
President Abdrabu Mansour Hadi on April 6 issued the decree replacing the former commander, Tariq Saleh, a nephew of the ex-president President-for-Life Ali Abdullah Saleh ... Saleh initially took power as a strongman of North Yemen in 1977, when disco was in flower, but he didn't invite Donna Summer to the inauguration and Blondie couldn't make it... , but Saleh, who already accepted to give up the post, but continued to maneuver until officers in the brigade revolted against the acting commander.
Relatives of the ex-leader, holding senior army posts, backed the rebellion of the commander.
On Sunday, officers in the brigade revolted against the acting commander, who was appointed by the elder son of the ex-leader, Ahmed, the commander of the elite republican guard, and forced him to leave the brigade.
[Dawn] The terrorists were given a free hand by the previous government of Mutahidda Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) but Awami National Party-led provincial government forced them to flee, said Senator Afrasiab Khattak.
Addressing a party meeting at Hajiabad here on Sunday, he said that Pakhtuns were in trouble since they were pitted by the United States against the former USSR.
Mr Khattak said that MMA government had given full freedom to terrorists in the province while ANP government launched massive campaign against them.
"That's why we lost hundreds of devoted workers in the ongoing war against terrorism," he said, adding that despite strong opposition from the US and western world the government implemented Sharia Nizam-i-Adl Regulation in Malakand division.
Iran said it has begun preparations to produce a nuclear-powered submarine, providing an argument for producing weapons-grade fuel, ahead of its next round of international nuclear negotiations.
The U.S., Israel and the United Nations nuclear agency have long worried that Iran would seek such a justification to enrich uranium above the weapons-grade level of 90% purity. Officials have pointed to Iran's deliberations about beginning research and development for nuclear-fueled submarines.
On Tuesday, a senior Iranian naval official told state media that his country had already begun the process.
"Right now, we are in the initial phases of manufacturing atomic submarines," the deputy commander of the Iranian navy for technical affairs, Rear Adm. Abbas Zamini, told Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency.
Adm. Zamini "further reminded that using nuclear power to fuel submarines is among the civilian uses of the nuclear technology and all countries are, thus, entitled to the right to make such a use," the report said.
The Fars News Agency is associated with Iran's elite military unit, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which the U.S. believes is a driving force behind Iran's nuclear program. Tehran says its nuclear program is peaceful and solely focused on civilian applications.
Iran is seen to be far from capable of building a nuclear-powered submarine. The State Department said it was aware of the report and remains worried about Tehran's intentions.
The Obama administration said Tuesday that Russia is sending attack helicopters to Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime and warned that the Arab country's 15-month conflict could become even deadlier.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the U.S. was "concerned about the latest information we have that there are attack helicopters on the way from Russia to Syria."
She said the shipment "will escalate the conflict quite dramatically."
So escalate it: send Stingers to the rebels.
Clinton's comments at a public appearance with Israeli President Shimon Peres augured poorly for a peaceful solution to Syria's conflict. Officials from around the world are warning that the violence risks becoming an all-out civil war, with Middle East power brokers from Iran to Turkey possibly being drawn into the fighting.
Diplomatic hopes have rested on Washington and Moscow agreeing on a transition plan that would end the 4-decade-long Assad regime.
But Moscow has consistently rejected outside forces to end the conflict or any international plan to force regime change in Damascus. Despite withering criticism from the West, it insists that any arms it supplies to Syria are not being used to quell anti-government dissent.
But Kristof at the NYT thinks we should bargain with the Russians...
With diplomacy at a standstill, the reported shipment of helicopters suggests a dangerous new turn for Syria after more than a year of harsh government crackdowns on mainly peaceful protests and the emergence of an increasingly organized armed insurgency.
Russia and Syria have a longstanding military relationship and Syria hosts Russia's only naval base on the Mediterranean Sea. But in light of the brutal violence, the U.S. has repeatedly demanded that any further deliveries of weaponry be halted. Russian military support in the form of materiel as advanced as attack helicopters would deal a serious blow to efforts to starve the Syrian army of supplies.
Some 13,000 people have died, according to opposition groups, but the U.S. and its allies have been hoping that sanctions on Assad's government and its increased isolation would make it increasingly difficult to carry out military campaigns..
On Monday, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland decried what she called "horrific new tactics" by Syrian forces, including the use of helicopters to fire on civilians from the air. She called the attacks a "very serious escalation" and said Syrian commanders would be held responsible for any crimes against humanity.
Clinton, as well, warned about a massing of Syrian forces near Aleppo over the last two days, saying such a deployment could be a "red line" for Syria's northern neighbor Turkey "in terms of their strategic and national interests."
IMO this move is Moscow using the Assad Regime to break the Caucasus insurgencies "over there", i.e. the flow of $$$, arms, + fighters = support to Caucasus Militants from the Middle East proper. DITTO ALSO FOR PREVENTING ANY ESCALATION IN THE SYRIAN CRISIS VEE DE FACTO IRANIAN MIL INTERVENTION TO PROTECT ITS SYRIAN ALLY + [overland]STRATEGIC ACCESS TO THE MED.
IIUC, in MOSCOW'S MIND, any Iranian intervention in Syria will undoubtedly extend to the CAUCASUS + EX-SSRS in CENTASIA [CAR]. There is also WEST ASIA = Iran BFF Nuclear-armed Pakistan to consider.
NEO-OTTOMANISM [Turkey], vs. NEO-PERSIANISM [Iran], wid lots of overlapping ex-Territories, Ethno-similar Peoples claimed by One or Both.
DEFENCE.PK/FORUMS > RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV HAS MADE IT CLEAR IRAN SHOULD NOT BE EXCLUDED FROM INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON SYRIA -PUTTING IT [Russia] ON A COLLISION COURSE WID THE US ON THE STALLED PEACE PROCESS | [RT.com] RUSSIA INSISTS ON IRAN ROLE OVER SYRIA.
* TOPIX > [USA] BRINGING AL-QAEDA TO SOUTHEAST MEDITERRANEAN [Syria + Lebanon] A GRAVER THREAT TO EUROPE THAN [Iranain?]NUCLEAR WEAPONS: IRANIAN GENERAL.
Iran JCS Chair MGEN Hassan Fairouzabodi.
ARTIC > IRAN = US + ARAB ALLIES CREATED AL-QAEDA + TALIBAN, thus are directly responsible for the on-going chaos in the Middle East + Muslim World + Globe in general.
* SAME > IRAN PLANS TO BECOME [Electrical]POWER TRANSIT HUB [Exports] TO EUROPE + MIDDLE EAST: OFFICIAL.
* TOPIX > TURKEY'S PRESIDENT ABDULLAH GUL INVOKES INSHALLAH, SAYS ALL TERRITORIES OF AZERBAIJAN OCCUPIED BY ARMENIA WILL BE LIBERATED.
* SAME > PRESIDENT: TURKEY IS MAKING EVERY EFFORT TO LIBERATE AZERI LANDS.
* WAFF > ARMENIAN EXPERT RICHARD GIRAGOSIAN: AZERBAIJAN WILL DECLARE WAR [agz Armenia] IN 2014.
* WAFF > GREECE'S "FUHRER" WANTS INSTANBUL [+ other ancient Greek-Hellenic-Macedon] BACK,
as in TURKO-MUSLIM INSTANBUL FKA GRECO-ROMAN CONSTANTINOPLE/BYZANTIUM, preferably under
"sole" Greek sovereignty, but may be willing accept a more realistic Greco-Turkic national "sharing" of common heritage places???
"Golden Dawn" ultra-Right Party Leader NIKOS MIHALOLIAKOS.
Lest we fergit, 1990's NET > rise of the "YELLOW/YELLOW-RED DAWN" Group-Movement in Asia.
Accused of the most barbaric massacres since the start of the revolt in Syria, the shabiha are feared Death Eaters and tools of a regime seeking to dissociate itself from atrocities, experts and activists say.
While there is no hard evidence of the involvement of these gunnies in the repression, United Nations ...an idea whose time has gone... officials have expressed "strong suspicions" about their role, notably in the Houla massacre that left 108 dead on May 25 and 26.
The regime of Hereditary President-for-Life Bashir Pencilneck al-Assad has denied any connection with the carnage, which it blames on "armed terrorist groups."
"The shabiha are those who carry out the regime's dirty work. The government can say 'this is not me, I am not responsible'," said Fabrice Balanche, director of the French Research Center Gremmo.
"They provide cover for the regime when massacres are committed," said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The word "shabiha" alone is enough to make people tremble. These men, often in plain clothes, are also accused of arbitrary arrests, summary executions and torture.
"I do not think the Damascus ...Capital of the last overtly fascist regime in the world... regime actually says 'now is the time to commit massacres'," said one analyst in Damascus on condition of anonymity.
"But for 15 months, the authorities have not only tolerated, but exploit the phenomenon of the shabiha, contributing greatly to the deterioration of the crisis."
According to experts, this phenomenon is not unique to Syria, but has thrived in countries dominated by totalitarian regimes or experiencing unrest.
"It's like death squads in Latin America. It is also a way to terrorize people," said Balanche.
The word shabiha dates to the 1980s when it referred to narcos who sped through the port of Latakia in Mercedes cars and who, activists say, worked for the Assad clan's personal circle.
They reappeared when the anti-regime revolt broke out in mid-March 2011, this time to quell protests.
Members of the militia are mostly "young, unemployed men from the suburbs who, given money and a Kalashnikov, feel they are all-powerful," said Balanche.
According to Dany Hamwi, an activist in the central city of Hama, the regime uses the shabiha to spare the army from direct involvement in crimes and thus reduce the chance of mass desertions.
"An officer or soldier might refuse orders to kill, but a 'shabih' is loyal to the end," he said.
A number of activist videos show men in civilian clothes, armed with sticks or Kalashnikov assault rifles, attacking protesters and chanting: "Shabiha forever, for your eyes, Bashar!"
According to the Syrian Observatory, the number of shabiha is estimated at nearly 6,000, some of whom have been integrated into the security services.
By fighting for the regime, they are also battling for their own survival, in part because they are predominantly Alawites -- the confession of the Assad clan -- facing Sunni opponents, the majority religious community in the country.
Activists have accused Alawite shabiha from neighboring villages of committing last month's massacre in the small central Syrian Sunni farming community of Houla.
"These are the biggest supporters of the regime," said Balanche. "And the Alawites are terrified of Sunni vengeance" if the regime falls.
According to activists, a Mafia mentality now prevails.
"The regime used to pay them wages. But with the economic crisis, it has given them the green light to plunder neighborhoods," said Omar Shakir, an activist in Homs.
Kidnappings and robberies have become commonplace in increasingly beturbanned goonAleppo ...For centuries, Aleppo was Greater Syria's largest city and the Ottoman Empire's third, after Constantinople and Cairo. Although relatively close to Damascus in distance, Aleppans regard Damascenes as country cousins... , Syria's second city.
"The 'contract' was: 'You make sure there are no demonstrations, and in return, you do as you please'," said the Damascus-based analyst, adding that "this has been a large factor in turning Aleppo against the regime."
The risk, he said, is that the regime can no longer control "the Frankenstein that it alone has created."
Activists have accused Alawite shabiha from neighboring villages of committing last month's massacre in the small central Syrian Sunni farming community of Houla.
Meanwhile, the majority Sunni Arab inhabitants of Houla are still there, celebrating (1) the deaths of the Alawites they slaughtered in the Koranic manner and (2) their success in pinning the murders they committed on the Alawites themselves. It's like 9/11 all over - on the one hand Sunni Arabs get to kill thousands of infidels, and on the other, Sunni Arabs like Thierry Meyssan (described as "French" in every media article you might read) get to convince half of the world that the atrocity wasn't planned and carried out by Sunni Arabs. And every rebel fighter killed by the government is described as a demonstrator or a civilian. The Communists were amateurs at propaganda, compared to Sunni Arabs.
[An Nahar] U.N.-Arab League ...an organization of Arabic-speaking states with 22 member countries and four observers. The League tries to achieve Arab consensus on issues, which usually leaves them doing nothing but a bit of grimacing and mustache cursing... envoy Kofi Annan ...Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh and so far the worst Secretary-General of the UN. Annan and the UN were the co-recipients of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize for something or other that probably sounded good at the time. In December 2004, reports surfaced that Kofi's son Kojo received payments from the Swiss company Cotecna, which had won a lucrative contract under the UN Oil-for-Food Program. Kofi Annan called for an investigation to look into the allegations, which stirred up the expected cesspool but couldn't seem to come up with enough evidence to indict Kofi himself, or even Kojo... is "gravely concerned" by a step up in fighting by Syrian government forces and the opposition, his front man said on Monday.
Annan "is gravely concerned by the latest reports of violence coming out of Syria and the escalation of fighting by both government and opposition forces," said Ahmad Fawzi in a statement.
Fawzi said Annan, who brokered the faltering six-point plan to end 15 months of bloodshed in Syria, cited recent shelling in Homs and the reported use of mortar, helicopter and tanks in the town of al-Haffa in Latakia.
"There are indications that a large number of civilians are trapped in these towns," said Fawzi.
"The Joint Special Envoy demands that the parties take all steps to ensure that civilians are not harmed, and further demands that entry of the U.N. Military Observers be allowed to the town of al-Haffa immediately."