Nigeria: Fuel Subsidy Scam: EFCC re-arraigns Ahmadu Ali’s son, others

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Monday, re-arraigned Mallam Nasir Ali, the son of a former chairman the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mallam Ahmadu Ali and three others before a  Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja over an alleged N4.4 billion fuel subsidy fraud.

The four defendants were re-arraigned before Jusice Adeniyi Onigbanjo on a 13-count charge of conspiracy, obtaining money under false pretence, forgery and the use of false documents.

One of the defendants, Abdulazeez Afis, was, however, not arraigned alongside others, as he was said to still be at large.

Others arraigned alongside Ali were Christian Taylor, Oluwaseun Ogunbambo and Nasaman Oil Services.

The anti-graft agency had initially arraigned Ali  alongside Christian Taylor and Nasaman Oil Services on July 26 for an alleged N2.2 billion fuel subsidy fraud before amending the charge to re-arraign the defendants.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges and Justice Onigbanjo ordered that Ali and Taylor should continue to enjoy the N20 million bail earlier granted to each of them by the court in July.

He also fixed November 28 for ruling on the bail application filed by counsel for Ogunbambo, Mr Adebayo Adenipekun (SAN).

Tribune

Zimbabwe targets human rights group

Rights groups voiced fears Monday that the Zimbabwean authorities would launch a crackdown on rights activists ahead of a referendum and elections scheduled early next year.

The “situation of human rights defenders in Zimbabwe remains grim as their operating space can be further shrunk” in the run-up to polls, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders said.

Zimbabwe is due to approve a new constitution next year, and vote in polls to end a power-sharing deal that turned sour between President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled since 1980, and his arch-rival Morgan Tsvangirai.

Rights activists still face intimidation, harassment and torture in the troubled nation, the Observatory said in Johannesburg, launching a report after a fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe.

A recent police raid at a counselling centre for victims of violence shows activists are in for a rough time, said Arnold Tsunga, vice president of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), one of the partners in the NGO coalition.

Three officials of the Zimbabwean Counselling Services Unit, which offers medical and psychological assistance to victims of organised violence, were arrested last month and their office equipment and records seized.

“If you attack the prime human rights defender with impunity in such a brazen way, it shows that potential for human rights defenders to really be squeezed ahead of the election,” Tsunga told AFP.

Lobbyists cannot watch the crucial vote as closely with continued targeting, warned Tsunga.

Lawyers for Human Rights, another partner organisation that produced the report, handle around 1,500 cases of abused rights activists in Zimbabwe each year, said Tsunga.

International mediators, especially regional bloc the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which brokered the power-sharing deal, were losing steam on the Zimbabwean crisis, another commentator said.

“It would seem that SADC is fatigued, because they do not seem to be able to push the (reforms) agenda as quickly and as forcefully and as expediently as should be the case before the next election,” said Thomas Sibusiso Masuku, a former Swaziland high court judge, who was part of a probe team that examined the rights activists situation in Zimbabwe.

Nigeria: Corruption – Between Yulia and Gloria

by SOC Okenwa
Politics is said to be a game of numbers but one must add here that it is one for the strong and the brave — especially in Africa! All around the world the menfolk dominate political spaces because they bear certain things women can’t bear and withstand a lot of pressure that comes with being in public life. Some women have distinguished

themselves nonetheless on global scenes and we owe them appreciation for their ability to be in command in spite of the men. It takes more than mammary glands or gender element for a woman to be in a powerful position surrounded by men and women, some of them her opponents, who wish her nothing but failure. Politics, for the avoidance of doubt, is never a fair game for the faint-hearted!

In Nigeria like elsewhere around the world women are not doing badly in their chosen politico-economic endeavours. Back home you have super Ministers like Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Diezani Alison-Madueke holding out with sound professional backgrounds. And in the Securities and Exchange Commission you have another super-woman with sound connections Arunma Oteh in command. Across the states we have some female Deputy Governors and prominent members of the legislatures. Lest I forgot we have a powerful First Lady who ‘rules’ Nigeria with her husband! In the National Assembly you have some good and bad women doing ‘deals’ in equal terms with their male counterparts and taking home their own part of the ‘national cake’ guaranteed by oil.

In Africa there are two female Presidents: Liberia’s Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Malawi’s Joyce Banda. While Johnson-Sirleaf has been accused by the local opposition of nepotism (having employed her two sons in controversial top positions) Banda is riding high in Lilongwe dismantling the late Mutharika’s dictatorial legacy and taking full charge. These two women are doing well relatively, drawing international sympathy and local solidarity in their respective countries. We wish them more “transformation” agendas in their presidential briefs!

President Barack Obama recently paid a state visit to some Asian countries including the changing Burma, Cambodia and Thailand. In Bangkok Obama was hosted by the Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Ms Shinawatra happens to be the sister of the controversial billionaire-politician living in self-imposed exile in Dubai, Thaksin. The Shinawatra political dynasty has dominated Thai politics for decades drawing its strenght from a combination of factors: systematic corruption, high-wire connection and public hoodwinking and blackmail. But the truth remains evident in Bangkok and elsewhere in Thailand that the Shinawatra’s family pedigree is rooted in grassroots politics and they delivered in the imagination of the majority poor Thais.

In France there is this raging cold war involving the current First Lady Valérie Trierweiler and the mother of President Francois Hollande’s children Segolene Royal who was defeated by the former President Nicholas Sarkozy in the 2007 presidential election in France. While jealousy could be blamed for the animosity and bitter rivalry between the two ‘femmes de Hollande’ the President tends to ‘favour’ the First Lady for some obvious reasons which could include new-found love experiment that worked! As a professional journalist Ms Treiweller is controversial and courts same withingly. She is an audacious woman with sharp intelligence!

In Brazil President Dilma Rousseff is trying to bring back the fond memories of the immediate past President Lula da Silva whose economic transformation placed Brazil in a good stead in the comity of nations. Brazil is hosting both the 2014 FIFA world cup and the 2016 Olympic games. Efforts are being made to make the global events a huge success given Brazil’s international clout in soccer. Her ‘godfather’ Lula (whose rag-to-riches life-story is legendary) is providing quality advice and support as the woman seeks to maintain a democratic hold of a potentially great Latin American nation.

In Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel is working hard to save Euro and Europe from debilitating financial crisis. From Athens to Madrid, Lisbonne to Paris she is always there demonstrating leadership and proving herself worthy indeed of being referred to by Forbes magazine as the world’s most influential woman. Right after her on that list of the powerful women is the out-going US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. We wish Mrs Clinton well in her future endeavours and hope to see her on the Democratic podium in 2016.

In Argentina the President is one glamorous woman called Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, a cerebral lawyer who succeeded her husband in 2007. The woman is feeling the political heat right now as opposition grows at home over her poor economic management records and cases of corruption. But she is weathering the storm refusing to be intimidated or dictated to by political forces beyond her executive control. The “New Evita” of Argentinian politics is equally receiving sound presidential advice from her husband and ex-President Nestor Kirchner. Ex-President Juan Peron’s third wife Isabel was the first female President of Argentina from 1974-76 after her husband’s death. Eva Peron (Evita) was his second wife.

The 51-year old (still!) unmarried and childless Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is becoming more and more controversial with her failure to embrace domestic life; this has brought some criticisms from the opposition led by the firebrand Tony Abbott. Ms Julia still lives with her glorified boyfriend! (Or should one speculate ‘mischievously’ that a gigolo is at work here?) On a state visit to India last month she stumbled and fell after a visit to the Gandhi Memorial in New Delhi. The lanky PM seems to be happy with her childless situation rationalising it positively and saying nebulously that she chose to concentrate on her job rather than mixing up things with bearing children and managing both — a feminine task she appeared to abhor!

In Manila Philippines former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the US-educated Thatcher-like woman who succeeded the corrupt disgraced former film actor turned president Joseph Estrada in the year 2001 is still standing trial for graft. Philippines as a country has an interesting people-revolution history especially the celebrated one that toppled the dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his shoe-mad wife, Imelda. The current President Benigno Aquino has been accused wrongly or rightly of victimising Gloria in a campaign of vendetta and witch-hunting. He remains till this day her chief political opponent.

Whilst still in a military hospital receiving treating for an ailment (“rare spinal disease”) she was brought to the court in a wheelchair to answer to charges of corruption! It was reminiscent of the image of the Egyptian ex-President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo — brought inside the military tribunal almost in chains and bed-ridden! Power and its high-profile victims, isn’t it?! Mrs Arroyo was principally accused of diverting $8.8m during her presidency! (Peanut, you might say compared to what the late Gen. Abacha or even Gen. Ibrahim Babangida each stole out of Aso Rock!)

Mrs Arroyo was first arrested late last year on charges of allegedly rigging the 2007 senatorial elections as she tried to leave her country for medical trip to the States. (Reminds you of Nigeria, doesn’t it?) And the charges against her has since multiplied: plundering of state resources in millions of US dollars of state lottery funds from 2008 to 2010 and approval of an allegedly anomalous contract to set up a national government broadband system. President Aquino has long accused Mrs Arroyo of massive corruption and other abuses of power and had declared his intention of seeing her jailed!

In Kiev Ukraine, there is one firebrand of a deposed imprisoned Prime Minister in the person of Yulia Tymoshenko. She it was, a heroine of the Orange Revolution, who did political battles with the ex-President Leonid Kuchma and the oligarchs who were holding sway. The glamorous, fiery orator who was one of the prominent leaders of the Ukrainian revolt against a corrupt election in 2004 was convicted of criminally exceeding her powers when she agreed a gas deal with Russia, seen to have disadvantaged Ukraine.

But Mrs Tymoshenko is fighting back declaring that the charges of abuse of power against her were tissues of lies inspired by the man she helped oust in 2004 Viktor Yanukovych — who however returned to defeat her in the 2010 presidential election. Her efforts to remain Prime Minister were frustrated and she was consequently forced to leak her political wounds. She remains defiant even in ‘detention’ and her supporters are making themselves heard loud and clear on the streets.

Madam Tymoshenko also faces tax evasion charges dating back to her time as head of a private energy company in the 1990s. Her lawyers had argued that her opponents in power wanted her to remain in jail for the rest of her life! Her daughter Eugenia is doing everything possible to help her mother regain her freedom and dignity! Though she is currently indisposed, held in her hospital bed by the authorities, she had recently undertaken a hunger strike in protest of her ordeal.

Beaten by her bitter rival Yanukovych in the second round of the 2010 presidential poll and therefore forced to go into opposition she had radically promised to make political life for the President as difficult as possible declaring thus: “We will protect Ukraine from this new calamity that has befallen her”. Yulia, even in solitary confinement, still commands certain popularity among Ukrainians frustrated by years of economic stagnation and corruption.

Trained as an engineer and economist Tymoshenko is also a business tycoon reputed to be one of the richest people in Ukraine. She specialised in the energy and gas sector. And when she served in Yushchenko’s government of 1999-2001 she oversaw some energy reforms that bore fruits. Held in prison for a month on corruption charges, she had vowed to unseat the then President launching a campaign that reached its climax in the Orange Revolution.

Between Gloria and Yulia corruption seems to have broken the gender barrier. In Nigeria corruption knows no gender difference as women are also involved in the fleecing of the common-wealth. The powerful Minister of Petroleum Resources Diezani Alison-Madueke and the Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Ms Arunma Oteh are common examples of women who love money and can do anything, including involvement in unholy liaison with Mr President, to satisfy their cupid egos. When it comes to money matters then some women in Nigeria become ‘men’ — desperate to acquire more and ready to flaunt their ‘special’ biological orifice, in order to ‘belong’.

SOC Okenwa

soco_abj_2006_rci@hotmail.fr

Cyber warfare – Another Element of Modern Combat Revolution

The Gaza flare up has been capturing public attention lately. It appears to be all about rockets, air strikes and horrible pictures of death and human suffering that has no end. But there is one more important aspect of the conflict that somehow misses the radar screen. On November 18, 2012 the Israeli government said it has been hit with more than 44 million cyber attacks since it started. «The war is being fought on three fronts», Camela Avner, Israel’s chief information officer, said on in a press release. «The first is physical, the second is the world of social networks and the third is cyber attacks». The example goes to show the cyber warfare is becoming part and parcel of a contemporary military conflict…

Ramping up efforts for global supremacy

The USA is the leader in the field and it ramps up the efforts to gain global cyber supremacy. On October 11, 2012 Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned of a «significant escalation of the cyber threat» with foreign actors targeting «critical infrastructure networks», including systems that operate chemical, electricity and water plants, as well as transport. He drafted new rules for the military that would enable it to move aggressively against digital attacks. The amended rules of engagement underline the need to defend Defense Department computer networks, «but also to be prepared to defend the nation and our national interests against an attack in or through cyberspace». He also said the Defense Department «has developed the capability to conduct effective operations to counter threats to our national interests». Panetta’s speech clearly implied that the military would be empowered to take the initiative in national cyber security policy. The US Defense Department has developed tools to trace attackers, he added, and a cyber-strike force that could conduct operations via computer networks. And it was now finalizing changes to its rules of engagement that would define when it could «confront major threats quickly». It should be noted the Secretary has experience of cyber warfare. Back In the days Panetta headed the CIA, he was involved in the cyber sabotage campaign that targeted Iran’s uranium enrichment program, described in detail in the book called Confront and Conceal by New York Times reporter David Sanger, which is devoted to a joint American-Israeli offensive cyber-attack operation in 2010 against Iran’s nuclear industry.

According to the Defense News (1), on October 4 General Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency and commander of the US Cyber Command, told a Washington symposium, «The United States needs to develop offensive weapons in cyberspace as part of its effort to protect the nation from cyber-attacks». He pointed out, «If your defense is only to try to block attacks you can never be successful», As to him; «At times, the government has to look at what you have to do to stop an attack – stop it before it happens. Part of our defense has to consider offensive measures».

So the US military take on the responsibility for national cyber security and it is exactly offensive capabilities that the effort presupposes to acquire and enhance. 

Cyber warfare efforts

In 2010 the US military established a new Cyber Command to unify and administer the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DOD) computer networks to bolster capability to counter and launch cyber strikes. It is a unified sub-division of U.S. Strategic Command to operate 15,000 computer networks across 4,000 military bases in 88 countries. The services have their type cyber warfare components as well.

Upon assuming office in 2009, President Barack Obama declared cyberspace a strategic national asset and requested a complete cyberspace policy review. In May 2011 the International Strategy for Cyberspace (2) appeared to outline developing norms of state behavior promoting a secure, open Internet and other critical computer networks. The document marks the first time an administration has attempted to set forth the government’s vision for cyberspace, including goals for defense, diplomacy and international development. It says the US is ready to work with other nations, something that had been resisted previously. As practice shows it was close allies the document had in view. But what is more important it also stresses the right to use force to counter cyber threats.

The US military has started studying various strategies in cyberspace, including offensive weapons. By the end of September the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency asked contractors to come up with ideas on how to create systems and platforms that can engage in cyber combat (Plan X). It asks for innovative research in areas including building «battle units» that can perform cyber warfare and developing «high-level mission plans» that can act as auto-pilot functions. Last month it reported that its Plan has received an «unanticipated and overwhelming response from industry and academia».

In a public procurement document released on August 22 (3) the Air Force announced it was seeking concept papers from attack to mapping networks to cyber warfare support for offensive actions. This is a rare case of open public discussion of the US military’s desire to develop offensive cyber capabilities. The service made public the list of «Cyber Warfare Attack» capabilities detailing «the employment of cyberspace capabilities to destroy, deny, degrade, deceive, corrupt, or usurp the adversaries’ ability to use the cyberspace domain to his advantage». The technologies the Air Force is interested in include network mapping, ways to access networks, denial of service attacks, «data manipulation», and the ability to control «cyberspace effects». Beyond attack techniques, it also wants papers about cyberspace operations, «situational awareness capabilities», technologies to assess and visualize the effects of cyber-attacks, and technologies and methods to rapidly develop cyber capabilities, the procurement documents indicate, «authors whose concept papers are of interest may be invited to submit a formal proposal». Overall, the total value for all awards could reach up to $10 million. While unclassified, the Air Force makes it clear that the procurement is still sensitive. «Every precaution must be taken to protect potentially sensitive or classified material», the announcement said. «Such material should not be transmitted across open-source media like public phone, fax, Internet, or email».

Offensive capability

Talking about offensive capability the US government has stopped short of confirming involvement in cyber weapons such as the Flame and Stuxnet viruses that have targeted Iran, but many analysts say there is evidence of US or Israeli involvement.

In January 2012 Mike McConnell, the former director of national intelligence at the National Security Agency under George W Bush, told Reuters (4) the US has already launched attacks on the computer networks of other nations. McConnell did not add any input as to what countries have been hit with American cyber warfare in the past, but he did confirm that the US has already used the ability. When asked by Reuters if the United States had the capability to destroy the computer system of an adversary, McConnell responded «Yes». When asked if it worked, he confirmed «Yes» as well. Other sources have since all but confirmed America’s involvement in the worm. German cyber security expert Ralph Langner told National Public Radio in 2011 that the US was «the leading force» behind Stuxnet, an assumption that many in other countries believe as well.

According to Associated Press on May 25 US Secretary of State of State Hillary Clinton made a rare public admission of the covert cyber war (5). She was referring to the American hacker attacks on the «al-Qaeda on the South of the Arabian Peninsula» website. Hillary Clinton became the first senior American official, who admitted the fact of the United States waging war in cyberspace. According to her cyber experts based at the State Department hacked Yemeni tribal websites.

Just after computer security labs earlier this year revealed details about the Flame virus, which they said had been infiltrating systems in Iran and elsewhere for years copying documents and recording audio. In the article Obama Order Sped Up Wave of Cyber Attacks Against Iran by David Sanger that saw light on on June 1, 2012, the New York Times (6) revealed that the virus was created through the joint efforts of Israel and the United States and that both countries had probably also been behind the Stuxnet worm that infiltrated the Iranian nuclear infrastructure a few years ago.

In a June 19 follow-up story, the Washington Post (7) confirmed the authorship of the Flame virus. It was designed to collect intelligence about Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon in preparation for possible cyber espionage to slow that development, the newspaper said. Crucially, the article also quoted cyber experts as saying that Flame was «designed to replicate across even highly secure networks».

Flame is modular computer malware discovered in 2012. It attacks Microsoft Windows run computers. The program is used for cyber espionage in the Middle East. Flame can spread to other systems over a local network or via USB stick. It records Skype conversations and turns infected computers into Bluetooth beacons which attempt to download information from nearby Bluetooth enabled devices. This data, along with locally stored documents, is sent on to one of several command and control servers that are scattered around the world. The program then awaits further instructions from these servers. According to Kaspersky, the CEO of the Russian firm, that unveiled the Flame, criticized the use of cyber warfare, calling it terror, not war.

Russia’ stance

According to Russian Kommersant newspaper October 18, 2012 edition, the Russian Ministry of Defense has announced tenders for research in the field of computer security. The newspaper’s sources noted that other countries’ military departments were conducting similar studies, and Russia should keep pace with them. This is a defensive step. Actually Russia has been working hard to marshal support in the United Nations for an «arms-limitation» treaty to limit the use of cyber weapons such as software code that could destroy an enemy’s computer systems. On September 12, 2011 Russia and China submitted a letter at the UN General Assembly outlining a proposal for an International Code of Conduct for Information Security. The proposal discusses the security challenges cyberspace presents to the international community and would establish rights and responsibilities of states in protecting information networks and cyber networks. It says states should respect domestic laws and sovereignty, but also calls for a multilateral approach within the framework of the United Nations to establish international norms and settle disputes about cyberspace.

While Russian officials have not commented on the discovery of Flame, the Russian Minister of Telecommunications and Mass Communications Igor Shegolev gave a speech this May calling for an international cyber weapon ban. Russia has also pushed for a bilateral treaty with the United States. Before that came out with a detailed plan for an international cyber security treaty at the international cyber security conference held in London in early November 2011. The United States has long objected to the Russian crusade for an arms control ban. «There is no broad international support for a cyber-weapon ban», says James A. Lewis, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. «This is a global diplomatic ploy by the Russians to take down a perceived area of U.S. military advantage». Still Russia steps up its campaign for a globally binding treaty on cyber security, warning that many states are acquiring cyber warfare capabilities that, if unleashed, could subvert economies and bring down critical infrastructure.

Hosting a gathering of experts at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies (Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany) in April 2012 to rally support for its controversial proposals for a U.N. convention to crack down on Internet crime and terrorism, Russia said 120 countries now conducted online war exercises to test the Internet’s military potential. «We won’t use nuclear weapons – it is a Doomsday weapon. But when we have a situation where we have millions of hacker attacks on our money, on our private computers, it means that it is a new form, a new level of confrontation», said Andrey Krutskikh, Russia’s recently appointed special coordinator on information technology at the Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Russia has been hosting such meetings in Germany for the past six years. This year it called for support for a treaty that would classify «information warfare» as a crime against international peace and security. According to Moscow, governments would aim to «maintain a balance between fundamental human rights and the effective counteraction of terrorist use of the information space». The initiative has made little headway due to reluctance of the part of Western countries. Still Krutskikh said agreeing such a treaty should be «a top priority». Russia’s proposals have already been rejected by the United States and Britain, which says attempts to restrict the free flow of information are doomed to fail. No U.S. officials took part in the forum. Krutskikh said Russia was not discouraged by opposition to its ideas, however, and would try to make progress in other discussions, such as a United Nations expert group on information security that is set to meet at the end of this year.

Conclusion

With all technologic advances in history, this cyber world has also been turned into a weapon that we know little about today. The development is this area is mostly secret and classified. But as time goes by it will become public like any other defense hush-hush technology. The attack capabilities have to be tested; there will be exercises to demonstrate the capabilities to deter attacks. Cyber-attacks are going to continue. They are cheap, near-anonymous and very effective. No coincidence the attacks have intensified in the Middle East now. The region has long become a testing ground for Western military concepts. We are witnessing the beginning of a new stage of arms race. Once so, the issue of cyber disarmament should come to the fore the way it takes place with strategic offensive weapons. History taught us the hard way to see the advantages of putting curbs on weapons of mass destruction. Weapons based on new physical principles, hypervelocity strike arms, UAVs and robots of all kinds, cyber warfare – all these revolutionary technological breakthroughs bode new arms races if not covered by international control agreements. The creation of collective security system supported by international agreements in this sphere is expedient and obvious.

References:
1. The Defense News, October 4: http://www.defensenews.com/article/20121004/DEFREG02/310040008/U-S-Needs-Offensive-Weapons-Cyberwar-General
2. The International Strategy for Cyberspace http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/rss_viewer/international_strategy_for_cyberspace.pdf
3. Broad Agency Announcement, August 22, 2012: https://www.fbo.gov/utils/view?id=48a4eeb344432c3c87df0594068dc0ce
4. Ex-U.S. spy chief says may take crisis for new cyber law: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/23/us-usa-cyber-idUSTRE80M2FZ20120123
5. Hillary Clinton confirms US al-Qaida cyber-attack, the Australian, May 25, 2012: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/clinton-confirms-us-al-qaida-cyber-attack/story-e6frg6so-1226366149846
6. Obama Order Sped up Wave of Cyber Attacks against Iran, the New York Times, June 12, 2012: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/01/world/middleeast/obama-ordered-wave-of-cyberattacks-against-iran.html?pagewanted=all
7. U.S., Israel Developed Flame Computer Virus to Slow Iranian Nuclear Efforts, Officials Say, the Washington Post, June 19: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-israel-developed-computer-virus-to-slow-iranian-nuclear-efforts-officials-say/2012/06/19/gJQA6xBPoV_story.html

Libyan Scenario for Syria

Igor IGNATCHENKO
This September the British Times published an article saying the largest shipload of arms destined for Free Syrian Army came to Turkey from Libya. It stated there were 400 tons of weapons, including an unspecified number of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, grenade launchers and other arms aboard a Libyan ship the Intisaar, docked at the Turkish port of Iskenderun. The ship’s captain was Omar Mousaeeb, a Libyan from Benghazi.

It is far from being the only arms shipment sent to anti-government Syrian gangs in recent months. Back in April this year the Libyan authorities intercepted a cache of weapons aboard the Luftfallah II cargo vessel that supposedly were intended to supply opposition forces in Syria. The shipment included portable anti-tank grenade launchers, mortars, large caliber machine guns, automatic rifles and shoulder-fired air defense systems. According to the Sunday Times, in the period since April till August at least seven arms shipments, including portable air defense missiles, were unloaded from vessels near Lebanon. The ships never entered the port of Tripoli but were anchored in neutral waters 30 km from the Lebanese coast. The boats unloaded the weapons when the night darkness descended.

According to Franklin Lamb, Foreign Policy Journal, at least 24 states are involved in supplying weapons to the insurgents. Two thirds of them are NATO members…. UN’s Syria envoy Lakhdar Brahimi suggested that the United States may be directly or indirectly supplying man-portable air-defense systems to rebels in Syria. As to the BBC news, the Syrian militants have already received two dozen of US-produced shoulder-fired air defense systems transported across the territory of Turkey.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged $40 million to secure and destroy stockpiles of weapons in Libya during her visit to Tripoli in November 2011. As to Mr. Lamb, the Obama administration was fully aware the arms shiploads went to Syria, the fact confirmed by US Congress documents. At the House Oversight Committee hearings held on October 10, Democratic Congressman from Ohio Dennis John Kucinich asked witnesses how many shoulder-fired aid defense systems were stolen from military depots in Libya. Eric Nordstrom, Regional Security Officer at the U.S. Department of State, said in response the figure vacillated from 10 to 20 thousand.

As it has become known recently, not long before his death, US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens had met with Turkish Consul General Ali Sait Akin in Benghazi to discuss possible arms shipments from Libya to Syria. In March 2011 Stevens was told to establish contacts with the Libyan «rebels» close to Al-Qaeda, who transferred arms to Syria. As to Clare Lopez, the author of books devoted to intelligence issues, Stevens was told to assist in coordinating US assistance to insurgents led by their top military commander Abdelhakim Belhaj, emir of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, an affiliate of Al-Qaeda. Vicky Nissen, a journalist, thinks Stevens received a permission from US State Department and Obama’s administration to assist the groups closely affiliated with Al-Qaeda. Before that the Daily Telegraph had reported Belhaj, an important contact of Ambassador Stevens, «met with Free Syrian Army leaders in Istanbul and on the border with Turkey» He offered them arms, money and assistance from instructors to fight Assad.

The clouds keep on gathering over Syria. French Ambassador to the country Eric Chevallier openly said back in September that France was cooperating with the «opposition» forces there. France’s Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told RMS radio that France assisted the Free Syrian Army. At the beginning of November French President Francois Hollande promised to begin large-scale arms deliveries to Syrian «opposition» in case it united. According to Die Welt French shoulder-fired air systems Mistral, that joined the French Army’s inventory in 1988, got into Syrian militants hands. Not long ago the French parachuted weapons to Libyan militants in violation of the UN Security Council resolution N 1970, imposing embargo on arms supplies to Libya. It’s logical to think Paris is acting the same way now.

Following French example, Great Britain is on the way to recognize Syrian «rebels» as a «lawful government» and unilaterally lift embargo of arms deliveries to Syrian «opposition» to topple the Bashar Assad’s government. In other words, the British and French intend to repeat the Libyan scenario. The Sunday Times reported the UK intelligence uses its Cyprus facility to survey the situation in Syria and then shares the information with Turkey and the United States. In its turn, Turkey shares it with Syrian militants. As a result the «terrorist international» strikes hard the Syrian government forces.

In November the Daily Star published an article that says the Royal Air Force was set for «no-fly» zone in Syria the way it was done in Libya. It says British Special Forces are helping to train «rebel» assassination squads to target President Assad and his warlords. Troops from the SAS, SBS and Paras from the Special Reconnaisance Regiment are in Syria to train militants and instruct them on handling explosives. According to the first phase of Cameron-Obama plan, UK, US and French air forces will patrol the «no-fly» zone.

What will the repetition of US-NATO Libyan scenario in Syria lead to? In its time the Libyan crisis spilled over to Mali to make a «black hole» the way it was done in Libya. Al-Qaeda strengthened its position in the Maghreb countries. The disappearance of «Gaddafi weapons» from storage facilities flooded the Middle East with arms getting into the hands of sundry terrorists.

Now the history repeats itself. Obama appears to write out an order for a political leader assassination, and the French Socialists that came to power continue their predator style foreign policy of Élysée Palace. Francois Hollande shies away from the question where the hordes of hired terrorists will move after Syria’s fall. France may be the next target of «jihadists». That is the country where Arab population is gradually squeezing out the «native French», where the large port city of Marseille lives in the conditions of apartheid since a long time ago being divided into European and Muslim parts.

Can South Africa make an impact in the Horn of Africa?

Berouk Mesfin

Eritea and South Africa formally established diplomatic relations in 1994. Eighteen years later, the two states seem to be strengthening their bilateral relations.

In March, Iqbal Jhazbhay, the new South African ambassador to Eritrea, presented his credentials to President Issayas Afeworki. Significantly, Jhazbhay was warmly received by the president only a week after his arrival, which is a very unusual occurrence. This demonstrates the importance that Eritrea accords to South Africa.

Jhazbhay is a member of the international relations sub-committee of the ANC’s national executive committee. He is also a member of the ANC’s international relations rapid response task team, which steers party-to-party relations, including those with the ruling parties of South Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia.

In May, Eritrea introduced regular flights to South Africa and in July a South African business delegation visited Eritrea and was received at the highest level. This visit was meant to explore additional areas of trade and investment as Eritrea has large deposits of precious minerals such as gold and copper.

More significantly, in August, Osman Salih Mohammed, Eritrea’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, paid an official visit to South Africa, his second since President Jacob Zuma took office in 2009. During this well-publicised visit, he met Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation. They signed a declaration of intent and promised to work towards developing mutual business interests. They also exchanged views on developments in the Horn of Africa, including the stability of Somalia and the negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan.

For Eritrea, building a strategic relationship with South Africa is a top foreign policy priority. Firstly, Eritrea is animated by the long-term economic objective of reviving its declining economy by developing its mining sector, in which South Africa mining companies are increasingly engaged. For instance, Senet, a South African mining infrastructure company, has effectively developed the infrastructure of Bisha, Eritrea’s principal mine. Moreover, South Africa is one of Eritrea’s major trading partners. According to South African sources, in 2010 exports from South Africa to Eritrea amounted to R202m and consisted mainly of mining equipment.

Secondly, from an Eritrean perspective, building an alliance with South Africa has an added value. Indeed, following the loss of diplomatic and financial support from Egypt and Libya, Eritrea views South Africa as a useful African ally. South Africa is serving a second term as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. The Security Council had imposed sanctions on Eritrea in December 2009 over concerns that it supported insurgents seeking to destabilise Somalia. In December 2011 it tightened the sanctions in a resolution cosponsored by Nigeria and Gabon. Eritrea wants South Africa to use its membership to back the lifting of the Eritrean sanctions, which were called for by the AU.

Thirdly, Eritrea is expending great diplomatic energy to reengage with the international community, the AU and regional states. For instance, in August 2011 President Isaias made a three-day visit to Uganda.

Fourthly, Eritrea has taken a calculated risk to counter the perceived influence of Ethiopia in the AU. In July, it lent its support to South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who subsequently was elected the AU Commission (AUC) chairperson.

Undeniably, Eritrean–South African relations have received renewed impetus as a result of this tightly contested AUC election. South Africa’s courting of Eritrea was partially informed by the short-term benefit of gaining Eritrea’s vote in the election. The election also unseated Jean Ping, the incumbent from Gabon, who had spearheaded the vote for the sanctions against Eritrea. According to sources in Addis Ababa, South Africa was visibly exasperated by Ethiopia’s backing of Ping. In fact, during the diplomatic campaign it mounted to get Dlamini-Zuma elected, South Africa faced stiff challenges from Nigeria and Ethiopia. These two states did not approve of South Africa’s breaking of the gentlemen’s agreement that the chairperson position should not be contested by the larger African states.

At the forefront of South Africa’s foreign policy seems to be the conviction that there ought to be an AU chairperson who can chart a distinctly independent course in African affairs and become the only voice of the continent on issues of mutual concern. South Africa felt the AU was marginalised in the conflicts in Ivory Coast and Libya. Moreover, the AUC chairperson election betrayed South Africa’s growing ambition to use the AU to enhance its soft power. Indeed, South Africa wanted to gain more visibility as the continent’s leader and more influence in AU decision-making.

Predictably, economic necessity, not altruism, motivated South Africa to befriend Eritrea. It wants to ensure that its companies get a sizeable share of Eritrea’s potentially lucrative mining concessions and agreements. Yet South Africa’s relations with Eritrea extend beyond AU power politics and economic motivations. South Africa has started focusing on what is happening in the stormy and polarised Horn of Africa and on achieving lasting peace and stability there.

The ANC’s international relations policy discussion document explains that “the damage that the current stalemate (between Ethiopia and Eritrea) has caused to the region and to relations between these related peoples is huge”. It demonstrates that South Africa is prepared to diplomatically engage with the two states and help them negotiate an amenable agreement that could break the stalemate and ultimately lead to an all-inclusive regional security arrangement.

However, it seems South Africa has not fully considered the deep-rooted factors underlying the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea. It also does not seem to have realised that a too-intimate embrace of Eritrea may raise Eritrean expectations unfairly. Its relations with Ethiopia could also become strained. Any leaning towards Eritrea, a near-pariah state in the region and continent, will inevitably upset the regional balance and further complicate the Ethiopian–Eritrean conflict.

Berouk Mesfin is a senior researcher with the Institute of Security Studies. This article was first published on www.issafrica.org

Re: Dutch courage? A TPLF warlord denounces the 1998 ethnic cleansing campaign

Berihu

I think Bereket has to work to make things better than worse. The deportation of Eritreans is not the heart of the problem. It is how their property is treated. When you say you have a country where other people’s property is sold by simple cadres and generals in the broad day light, everyone in his/her mind know that something is wrong with the country. For your surprise even simple thieves in Ethiopia were able to sell hard earned Eritrean property, including houses, in the market. I do not remember hearing news anywhere in the world where street thieves sold houses that did not belong to them. So the deportation of Eritreans is a symptom to what is going on in Ethiopia with regard to Eritreans who lived in Ethiopia. In nutshell that is what it makes it ethnic cleansing than deportation. You deport a person who broke the law of the country. Even if Bereket claims they had an intention to break the law, first it is a suspicion and second 70,000 people cannot be classified under that category. So it was ethnic cleansing masked by an interest by TPLF cadres to loot the property.
The second issue what Bereket raised in his discussion was Badme. Bereket knows Badme is given to Eritrea and there is no way can argue against that decision directly. However he chose to do it indirectly. His argument is the boarder decision divides families in to two and it is about the people. I believe the fous of his argument is the badme area. Berket knows 99 % of the people who lived in the badme area were Eritreans. But he and his warlord friends uprooted the Eritreans and resettled Ethiopians. For instance only five families of Ethiopians lived in Badme before the war and they were laborers with no land ownership. What makes him silly Politian is when he talks about people he is talking about the people who were brought from the center of Tigrai and resettled in Badme and its surroundings. He does not consider the 99% Eritreans who were uprooted from the area as people. My conclusion is Ether he is not normal or he is simply blinded by the belief that he and his warlords can still inflict more wounds on Eritrea so that Eritrea should agree to their demands. In short he is threatening Eritrea with war. In fact that is what he is doing. He is going to Every Eritrean pal talk and acting foolish. The bad news for him is Eritreans know his evil intentions and have already started arming themselves.
Finally I feel sorry to those Eritreans who are hosting Bereket Simon. For them to expect that something good will come up from Bereket and his company is simply hopelessness. The truth is after the death of the master liar Meles, Bereket is feeling like as an orphan. Now he is trying to inflict that sorrow and anger on Eritreans. His strategy to use the pal talk as one type of therapy and if it is possible to win the Eritrean hearts and minds by claiming is that he is Eritrean too. Bereket has made a choice. He sided with the clique that deported Eritreans, occupied their land and still threatening to unleash another war. So let alone Bereket who inflicted a lot of wounds on Eritreans no one can win the Eritrean hearts and minds. The solution is to accept defeat in the court of law, remove your soldiers from sovereign Eritrean territories and work to normalize diplomatic relations. Sehat Nega’s new philosophy that we should say the Eritrean people belongs to us so is the land is simply another garbage that Eritreans will give a deaf ear. We know that things are not going well in Ethiopia. When things are not going well in Ethiopia the previous Ethiopian rulers use Eritrea as a scapegoat. What is different this time is Ethiopians know their enemy and if they are going to fight they will fight the clique that made them slaves in their country. Not the Eritreans.

Somalia and the Dam Al Jadid in Villa Somalia

In late 2011, the International Community – led by Britain – called for an unprecedented conference on Somalia. And in the run up to that conference in London, excitement and expectation gripped the Somali people everywhere. More than fifty states and international organisations attended the two days London Conference on Somalia on February 23, 2012. Live satellite television pictures from Lancaster House, the Conference venue, were beamed to Somali homes from Houston to Hargeisa. And on the concluding evening, the Cool Britannia Union flags were intermittently planted on dusty sands around the Internally Displaced People’s Camps (IDPs) on the outskirts of Mogadishu. I wondered which shop in Mogadishu sold such flags, including the Union Jack, as I watched the spontaneous celebrations from my cousin’s apartment in Djibouti.

Somali women and children with no roof over their heads and who had very little to eat chanted and danced in the open air. Having firsthand experience of death and destruction for more than two decades, I don’t normally show emotions these days when tragedy occurs to someone I know or even within my family. But watching the TV footage in that evening in past February, I held back tears from eyes. The world community, it seemed, have had enough, and Somalia must rise from the ashes. ‘The Transition must end’, Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, declared at a press conference shortly after the international gathering in London, England ended.

And the Somali people the world over took to heart that their misery and the protracted conflict in their country may almost be over soon. They thought that the warlords would be confined to the history shelves; and they also hoped for a terrorists-free Somalia. And with the upcoming good governance and the unshakable support from the international community, most Somalis were convinced that Wahhabi extremism would be kept at bay. The Somali people concluded that a new dawn has arrived in their country.

Following the successful Conference in London, some of Somalia’s finest diaspora men and women – and numbering in their thousands – defied the serious threat to their lives and poured into Mogadishu, ready to rebuild their Homeland. Most of these diaspora Somalis left their colourful careers and comfortable lives behind.

After the second Conference on Somalia earlier this summer in Istanbul, Turkey, the Somalia State making process started in earnest.  Mr. Augustine P Mahiga, the United Nation’s Special Representative for Somalia, was given the supervision task of ending the political transition in Somalia. The plum Tanzanian who had no previous experience of State reconstruction projects got bogged down in the Somali political chaos right from the start.

As expected, many Somali people from all walks of life vied for positions in the soon-to-be instituted Somali Parliament; and close to hundred people wanted to sit in the top seat. The Madarassa teacher, the local charity worker, the Sheikh in the Mosque, the former warlord, the active Sea Pirate, you name it. They all wanted to become Members of Parliament or the President of the country. And there were the diaspora Somalis: a large number of academics of political science and governance. There were the economists and bankers. And there was even a successful veteran of the IMF’s flagship but controversial Structural Adjustment Programme for East Africa.

Candidates for the Somali Presidential elections

To the surprise of Somalia observers, however, the conference organisers were nowhere to be seen arm twisting – as we all hoped – the inhabitants of the world’s most failed state. Under the supervision of Mr Mahiga, a ‘Selections Committee’ was set up, supposedly to check the credibility of those standing to be selected for Members of Parliament. Initially, all seemed to be fine and running smoothly as the Selections Committee made the decision to disqualify all the former warlords and the hardened anarchists. But when the warlords complained that they are being excluded from their country’s political process, the inexperienced Mahiga relented and things went disastrously wrong right from there. Mr Mahiga tore up the established guidelines coupled with the vetting process. And when the Selections Committee was sidelined, the flood gates swung wide open.

Bribing machines roared to full throttle and the ex-warlords – who should have been behind bars rather than in parliament – gained membership to Somalia’s legislative assembly, just as they did eight years earlier in Kenya. And under this cloud of uncertainty, the election process for the executive branches of the new Somali government began. However, there was no contest between the highly educated and experienced diaspora Somalis and those who helped wage the long civil war, many of them with blood on their hands. And to guarantee that the status quo is maintained, the Somalia Conference organisers remained silent, giving the rigged process the green light.

The hands-on academics, the technocrats, the economists and the governance experts who acquired their skills while working for some of the greatest democracies in the world were rejected in the first round by the largely warlord parliament. But when the unknown candidate, Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud, defeated the incumbent president and the former Madarasa teacher, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, the Somali people breathed a temporary sigh of relief.

Hassan Sh. Mohamud

The Somali people believed – despite his lack of experience – that the new president-elect would at least understand on how to lay the foundations for a new Somalia by appointing an experienced prime minister and a cabinet almost entirely made up of technocrats including those from the diaspora. Remember that Israel and Liberia were founded and built by their diaspora returnees. Many Somali people had also entertained the notion that the new president would grab the opportunity in tapping into the diaspora pool of talent. But that became a wishful thinking as the new development was not to turn out that way.

The new Somali president got his cake and ran with it; so naive that he believed that the cake is properly baked and ready to eat. But President Mohamoud turned the process of state building upside down, exactly as hoped by those plotting to keep Somalia in a permanent state instability and conflict. Initially, some people thought that President Mohamoud has what it takes to accomplish the task of ending the Somalia conflict; others believe that his leadership style is tantamount to the continuation of the Somalia quagmire by other means, and increasingly the later group are being proved right.

The Somali parliament unanimously gave their vote of confidence for Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon on October 17th. Photo: Sabahi

As speculated and after unusually long wait, the new president appointed his close friend and former colleague, Abdi Farah Shirdoon, as his prime minister. And with the blessing of a secret Shura council called the Dam Al Jadiid, a new cabinet consisting of ten members from the president’s former colleagues during the days of their NGO businesses inside Somalia were appointed, and they were immediately approved by the new and mainly ineffective parliament. I can’t discount the rumours that say cash from the Arabian Gulf had changed hands on the eve of the day the new cabinet was to be presented to the parliament. The stage managed process (I don’t know who was in charge), however, ended another half-empty promise from the IC in shambles, thus sealing the fate of Somalia, perhaps, for another decade.

A word for the diaspora Somalis and my farewell to the new political arrangements

In my latest assessment of the new Somali political dispensation, I concluded that the stage is set for yet another cycle of governance and social stability gridlock and the early signs are already showing. In her first interview as Somali foreign minister, Fozia Yusuf . Aden, hinted while on air on the BBC Somali Service that Somalia could be divided into two separate states, sending shockwaves through the veins of Somali unionists around the world. And despite Fozia running on a secession ticket in Hargeisa a few weeks earlier, that was not good enough for president Mohamoud or the new parliament to reprimand or exclude her from the new cabinet. After Fozia’s BBC interview, a close aid of Mr Mohamoud was quoted as saying that the new president had not lost a night’s sleep over her treacherous remarks.

Now it’s time to salute the Somali diaspora returnees for their courageous decisions in trying to help rebuild their country: It was not your choice, and as you leave Somalia to her fate, I am confident that you will be able to pick the pieces up and put back your lives together. But I urge everyone not to give up hope as alternative routes to peace and stability can still be found for Somalia in the near future.

And as I write this in my hotel room with disappointment – one by one – the suitably qualified diaspora Somalis are heading back to their second home countries in droves, depressed and with little hope for Somalia. I saw three of them last night: Ibrahim was heading to California; and Zamzam and Ismail booked a flight to Austin, Texas. And last week, Adam left for Edinburgh, Scotland and Ahmed departed for Berlin.

The new kids on the block in Villa Somalia are the same breed as their predecessors, and they could even be more corrupt and nastier; just may be, that their modus operandi could be slightly different. But I can’t, for one minute, differentiate between the Union of Islamic Courts and the Dam Al Jadiid (the New Blood). As Ali Daa-uun, a member of former Somali parliament from the North of Somalia put it: “the way things are designed, it looks as though the new Dam Al Jadiid may well be on the road to shedding a new blood in Somalia”.

The Gulf Arab states and their handlers in the West are partly responsible for creating the new stalemate in Somalia. However, what boggles the mind and makes harder for people to understand the new developing events in Somalia: why did they not support the Union of Islamic Courts which was headed by Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed back in 2006. It’s obvious that we circled around the globe and stopped at point zero? For goodness sake, at least Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed had good listening skills.

And where do I stand in all of this? If there would be another foreign organised Somalia theatrics somewhere in the world in a few years, I, for one, won’t be persuaded or convinced in anyway by the after conference shenanigans. However, I will tirelessly pursue the other possible avenues in order to help bring Somalia to come back from the brink. And whoever pulled the strings in the latest setback for Somalia? We shall all watch for the latest Wikileaks discoveries!

Abdul Ghelleh
E-Mail: abdulghelleh@gmail.com

The SPLM-N factor in Sudan-South Sudan border hostilities

By Machien Luoi

The September 27, 2012 – Addis Ababa Cooperation Agreement signed by Sudan and South Sudan is getting undermined by Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement-North Sudan (SPLM-N) activities and presence along the common border of the two countries. The movement claims control over 40% percent of the agreement’s Safe Border Demilitarize Zone (SBDZ) and vows the agreement will not work without its involvement or consent. Its strength to sabotage the whole agreement and undermine the security arrangement was either under-estimated or ignored by the two neighboring states in Addis Ababa deliberations. SPLM-N’s influence along the border is significant to be overlooked. Instead, Sudan need to negotiate with SPLM-N or the two countries agrees to incorporate the SPLM-N in the Cooperation Agreement implementation process, at least to secure its consent or else no arrangement will work with current state of affairs at the border in which the SPLM-N is an active actor.

After South Sudan officially seceded on July 09, 2011, a new South of the Sudan emerged at war with Khartoum led by SPLM-N. The movement aims at realization of the “New Sudan,” an idea championed by SPLM/A prior to South Sudan secession. Yasir Arman, the Secretary General of SPLM-N believes, “crisis emanating from the lack of an inclusive national project of nation-building and a correct national formation process based on the objective realities of Sudan and on the historical and contemporary diversities; building a society for all regardless of ethnic, religious and gender background; and based on democracy, social justice and a balanced relation between the centre and the peripheries” is what cause his movement to fight Khartoum. SPLM-N fighters and loyalists are pressing the Sudan government to “Change or it will be changed.”

During the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) negotiations in Kenya, views and aspirations of the people who reverberate with SPLM-N vision were represented by SPLM. CPA promised Popular Consultations for the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile State. The consultations were to help the respective communities confer with one another about their future in Sudan after South Sudan left. SPLM-N task itself with responsibility to ensure interests of the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile citizens maintained and their dreams for peace and development recognized. However, Khartoum government admonishes existence of SPLM-N wish it disappear from the two border regions, culminating to exclusion of SPLM-N in the Addis Ababa cooperation agreement discussions in which security; trade, four-freedoms, and oil transport resumption were agreed amongst other items. In paper the agreement worked. Practically, it will not without SPLM-N contribution or consent since they claim authority and are working in areas bordering South Sudan. The movement is fighting to liberate the same people security arrangement were to protect, and who trade and four freedoms are expected to benefit. Besides, SPLM-N leaders signed Popular Consultation clauses (Abdel Aziz Adam El Hilu signed for Nuba and Malik Agar signed for Blue Nile) as part of the CPA. If South Sudan could not negotiate on behalf of SPLM-N and Sudan does not want to see it involved, who will follow up the Popular Consultations or post CPA issues in which the two areas are part of?

Addis Ababa Cooperation Agreement was intended to safe the two countries from economic collapse. In reality it is to the detriment of SPLM-N. The oil resumption agreement could worsen the SPLM-N case particularly if the Sudan acquired more money out of the oil deal to enhance its capacity to fund initiatives to end the SPLM-N insurgency in Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile. Sudan could also see it the other way, particularly with its consistent accusation of South Sudan’s support to SPLM-N. The trade agreement could be viewed in the same context. Sudan traders may cooperate with SPLM-N to secure permission to trade with South Sudan, but Sudan government will view such traders as danger to its security. From the security stand point SPLM-N may also look at Sudan traders as spies for government particularly if they knew areas of Sudan where SPLM-N hides and operates. It is a difficult game to play with SPLM-N dictating the situation.

To conclude, if the SPLM-N cannot disembark from the above issues, Sudan and South Sudan will continue to have hostilities between them; Sudan will continue to bomb South Sudanese civilians deep into South Sudan territories like it did on November 20-21 in Kiir Adem area of Northern Bahr El Gazel State, where Sudan’s Antonov killed 6 and injured 20 civilians and Sudan government claimed it operated inside its jurisdiction to smoke SPLM-N and allied rebels out; South Sudan oil flow will continue to be on halt leaving both countries to economically struggle; Trade between the two countries will depend on illegal smuggling of goods; and regrettably the Addis Ababa agreement will not be implemented. Therefore, Sudan need to negotiate with SPLM-N or the two countries agree to incorporate the SPLM-N in the cooperation agreement , at least to secure its consent or else no arrangement will work with current situation at the border in which the SPLM-N is an active actor.

The writer is a South Sudanese residing in Bentiu, Unity State and can be reach at mjluoi@yahoo.com or dhuretingting@gmail.com.

Attack on Nigerian police unit

Abuja: Gunmen on Monday attempted to attack a special police unit in the Nigerian capital Abuja, but police claimed to have repelled it and details were still emerging, a police spokesman said.

“I can confirm that there was an attempted attack on the [special anti-robbery squad] this morning which was repelled,” spokesman Frank Mba said, adding that the attackers were “suspected gunmen”.

Local media reported that gunmen attacked the unit. Members of Islamist extremist group Boko Haram have carried out scores of attacks in northern and central Nigeria, including against police stations and sometimes with the intent of freeing jailed members.

It was not immediately clear whether suspected Boko Haram members were being held at the police unit.

In June 2011, a suicide bomber sought to attack police headquarters in Abuja. That attack saw a powerful explosion rip through the car park inside the police headquarters compound, leaving at least one police officer dead.

The special anti-robbery unit is in Abuja, but not at the headquarters compound.

Boko Haram has also been blamed for the August 2011 attack on UN headquarters in Abuja which killed at least 25 people as well as the April 2012 bombing of an office for a prominent newspaper in the capital.