03/04/08 (B441-B) Guardian avec AFP / Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, l’un des leaders islamistes somaliens exilés appelle au développement d’un nouveau plan de paix pour la Somalie mais informe que la pression islamiste ne cessera qu’avec le départ des troupes éthiopiennes – Somali Islamist leader commits to new peace plan. (En Anglais – Info lecteur)

Somalia’s top exiled Islamist leader on Wednesday pledged his camp’s commitment to a new peace drive but warned the movement would keep up its struggle against what it calls Ethiopian occupation.

"Members of the international community are trying to help Somalis overcome their differences and we will do all we can to be flexible and achieve a lasting peace," Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed said in an interview.

Sheikh Sharif (44) is the chairperson of the executive council of the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS), an opposition umbrella group dominated by Islamists and based in the Eritrean capital, Asmara.

"The ARS met United Nations officials and other members of the international community in Nairobi; our engagement with them is encouraging," he said.

Sheikh Sharif was the head of the Islamic Courts Union, a militia that ousted United States-backed warlords from Mogadishu in 2006 and briefly ruled large parts of the country before being defeated by Ethiopian forces last year.

Ethiopian-backed Somali government troops are still battling the movement’s military wing and allied clans, in a year-old guerrilla war that has left thousands dead and displaced hundreds of thousands.

The impoverished Horn of Africa country has seen more than 14 peace initiatives fail since the 1991 ouster of former president Mohamed Siad Barre.

Sheikh Sharif warned that his movement remained committed to its struggle against Ethiopia, which it accuses of conducting a Christian crusade in Muslim Somalia.

"Somalis are fighting a legitimate war, in order to gain their independence," the cleric said.

"The fighting will continue until we achieve the result of a free Somalia. Our people are currently being colonised and are experiencing the worst living conditions in the world." — AFP

27/06/07 (B401) The Guardian (GB). Les pays africains s’opposent à la création du nouveau commandement militaire US pour l’Afrique. African states oppose US presence (En Anglais – Info lectrice)

______________________________________ Note de l’ARDHD

L’ARDHD lance un pari : si les Américains mettent assez d’argent sur la table, le seul qui va craquer, c’est …. ? c’est ….. ? Guelleh ! Eh oui, vous avez gagné !
______________________________________________________________

Simon Tisdall in Washington

The Pentagon’s plans to create a new US military command based in Africa have hit a wall of hostility from governments in the region reluctant to associate themselves publicly with the US "global war on terror".

A US delegation led by Ryan Henry, the principal deputy undersecretary of defence for policy, returned to Washington last week with little to show from separate consultations with senior defence and foreign ministry officials in Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Egypt, Djibouti and with the African Union (AU).

An earlier round of consultations with sub-Saharan countries on providing secure facilities and local backup for the new command, to be known as Africom and due to be operational by September next year, was similarly inconclusive.

The Libyan and Algerian governments reportedly told Mr Henry this month that they would play no part in hosting Africom. Despite recently improved relations with the US, both said they would urge their neighbours not to do so, either, due to fears of future American intervention. Even Morocco, considered Washington’s closest north African ally, indicated it did not welcome a permanent military presence on its soil.

"We’ve got a big image problem down there," a state department official admitted. "Public opinion is really against getting into bed with the US. They just don’t trust the US."

Another African worry was that any US facilities could become targets for terrorists, the official said. Dangled US economic incentives, including the prospect of hundreds of local jobs, had not proven persuasive.

Mr Henry said African officials had agreed during the talks that counter-terrorism was "a top security concern". But he added: "The countries were committed to the African Union as the continent’s common security structure. They advised us that Africom should be established in harmony with the AU."

The US talks with Libya appear to have been frank. "In the area of security, they are looking for Africa-only solutions… I wouldn’t say we see eye to eye on every issue," Mr Henry said. "I wouldn’t say we see eye to eye on every issue."

Mr Henry emphasised the US was not seeking to supplant or supersede African leadership but rather to reinforce it. He said the creation of Africom would not entail the permanent stationing of large numbers of US troops in Africa, as in Asia and Europe.
Its overall aim was to integrate and expand US security, diplomatic, developmental and humanitarian assistance in collaboration with regional allies, not increased interventionism, he said.

Unveiling the plan in February, president George Bush said Africom would advance "our common goals of peace, security, development, health, education, democracy and economic growth".

But African opposition appears to have modified Washington’s approach. Mr Henry said the latest plans envisaged "a distributed command" that would be "networked" across several countries, rather than a single, large headquarters in one place.

"There will be a staff headquarters… with a four-star in-theatre commander," he said. "(But) information technology allows us to bring people at dispersed geographical locations together. We are investigating the possibility of having the command distributed in a number of different nodes around the continent."

Mr Henry said this approach matched that of Islamist terrorists. "Al-Qaida is working in a distributive structure itself. It’s establishing nodes throughout the region and there’s been an establishment of al-Qaida in the Maghreb."

The state department official said the US remained confident that partners for the Africom project would eventually be found, although concerns persisted about political stability, misgovernance and corruption issues in some potential sub-Saharan partner countries.

The official added that the command’s security focus would include suspected terrorist training camps in Mali and southern Algeria, the spread of Islamic fundamentalist ideas and violence in the Maghreb, northern Nigeria and the Horn of Africa, suspected uranium smuggling in the Sahel region – and addressing the political instability and economic deprivation that fed extremism.

Energy supply is another factor sparking heightened US interest, notably in west Africa. Gulf of Guinea countries including Nigeria and Angola are projected to provide a quarter of US oil imports within a decade.

US aid and development projects in Africa are expanding rapidly. Mr Bush asked Congress this month to double to $30bn (£15bn) over the next five years US funding for Aids relief, plus $1.2bn to fight malaria. Washington has also broadened its involvement in efforts to end the Darfur crisis. Laura Bush, the First Lady, embarked on a five-day consciousness-raising tour today, to Senegal, Mozambique, Zambia and Mali.

06/03/07 (B385-B) Guardian / Vehicles found at Ethiopia kidnap site.

Search teams have
finally reached the remote site in Ethiopia where five Britons and 13 Ethiopians
were kidnapped last week.

Three vehicles were discovered in the village of Hamedela, all of which appeared
to have been damaged by an explosion, but there was no sign of the missing
group.

Elite SAS forces are believed to be on the ground in remote north-eastern
Ethiopia to help secure the release of the five Britons, although the Ministry
of Defence would not officially confirm reports.

Residents of the regional capital, Mekele, said they had seen and spoken to
SAS operators in the region working to secure the Britons’ release.

The kidnapped group went missing on Thursday while travelling in Ethiopia’s
Afar desert, a barren expanse of salt mines and volcanos 500 miles north-east
of the capital, Addis Ababa.

The Britons are employees of the British embassy in Addis Ababa and their
relatives, while the Ethiopians are drivers and translators.

The Associated Press news agency said one of its cameramen had seen two abandoned,
shot-up British embassy vehicles today in Hamedela, a remote village that
is the last staging post before the area’s famous salt lakes.

The vehicles – a Toyota Land Cruiser and a Land Rover Discovery – still had
luggage, shoes and mobile phones inside.

Diplomats have been working frantically in Addis Ababa and remote towns in
the Afar desert.

Foreign Office minister Geoff Hoon said that every effort is being made to
ensure the safe return of the kidnapped Britons.

A team of 10 experts, known as a rapid deployment team, flew in to Ethiopia
yesterday to join the operation.

Eritrea dismissed claims that its soldiers had snatched the westerners in
the Afar desert region of Ethiopia and marched them to a military camp.

The information minister, Ali Abdu, said the claims, made by senior Ethiopian
officials, had been fabricated to make Eritrea look bad.

The Foreign Office said it was in contact with senior members of both the
Ethiopian and Eritrean governments.

Meanwhile, a group of French tourists, who had been missing since Thursday,
returned and said they had not been kidnapped, as previously feared.

The group arrived in Mekele, the Afar region’s capital, and said they did
not have a satellite phone to check in with their tour company.

It was also reported that five of the 13 missing Ethiopians had been found
near the border.

Relations between Ethiopia and its neighbour have been strained since Eritrea
gained independence in 1993 after a 30-year guerrilla war.

Bandits and a small rebel group operate in Afar, where the famous Ethiopian
fossil of Lucy, the earliest known hominid, was discovered in 1974.

The Ethiopian government requires tourists to travel with armed guards when
visiting the region.

The BBC correspondent Adam Mynott said diplomats had been forced to negotiate
by satellite phone from the village of Berahle to gain access to the site,
which is in a restricted zone.

He said British diplomats were carrying out interviews with witnesses in an
effort to find out what happened.

Witnesses spoke of about armed 50 men bursting into the small settlement close
to the Eritrean border in northern Ethiopia.

There was « pandemonium » and a group, along with a number of guides,
were walked north out of the village towards the Eritrean border. Since then
there has been no word from them or their kidnappers.

06/03/07 (B385-B) GUARDIAN : Ambassador pleads for help in search for kidnap Britons as wrecked vehicles found – L’Ambassadeur britannique en Ethiopie lance un appel pour obtenir des informations sur les personnels kidnappés, sur un mode émotionnel. (Info lectrice – En anglais)

Britain’s
ambassador to Ethiopia made an emotional appeal for information about the
five Britons snatched from a remote border area last night as efforts to negotiate
their safe release were stepped up.

Foreign Office officials said that progress was being made in the search for
two women and three men who were kidnapped at the end of a adventure tour
on Thursday, with senior diplomats engaged in round the clock talks with the
Ethiopian and Eritrean governments.

All five victims – who cannot be named due to a government reporting restriction
– are members of staff from the British embassy in Addis Ababa, relatives
of diplomats or officials from the Department for International Development.

Speaking yesterday as investigators examined the group’s shrapnel-damaged
vehicles, the ambassador, Bob Dewar, said there were local people who were
« willing and able to facilitate their safe return. »

« We stand ready to hear from anyone with information relating to the
group’s disappearance, » said Mr Dewar, who knows the missing Britons
personally and was speaking publicly for the first time since the kidnapping.
« They are husbands, fathers and sons; wives, mothers and daughters. Their
families miss them terribly and want them home. »

The group had been travelling through the remote Afar region, which is popular
with European adventure tourists, when they were taken by an armed gang from
their compound in Hamedela, a small village just south of the Eritrean border.
A dozen local Ethiopians, including the group’s cook and guide, were also
kidnapped.

When British investigators reached the site around midday yesterday, they
found three partly charred four-wheel-drive vehicles, including a Toyota Landcruiser
and Land Rover Discovery belonging to the tour party. The findings appeared
to corroborate reports from witnesses in Hamedela on Friday that said the
kidnappers had sabotaged the empty vehicles to stop them being used in a chase.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, said the
discovery of the vehicles was « distressing ».

« It underlines the gravity of the situation, » she added.


In Hamedela yesterday, villagers repeated earlier accounts of how dozens of
men in military uniforms had marched the group across the desert towards Eritrea
at 2am on Thursday.

A man who claimed to have been released by the kidnappers was presented to
journalists by local officials. He said his captors wore Eritrean army uniforms.

Like earlier reports that the Britons had been sighted at an Eritrean military
camp, the account could not be verified.

As concern grows about the hostages condition – Afar is one of the hottest
and most inhospitable regions in the world – British officials said it was
still not clear who had taken the group or where they were being held.

SAS liaison officers are on the ground in the region although a Foreign
Office source said there were no plans for a rescue attempt.

Mr Dewar said the abduction may have been a case of mistaken identity
and the investigating team was still « exploring every possibility ».
More staff may be flown out from London to assist with the investigation,
he added.

Although UK officials are in close contact with the Ethiopian and Eritrean
governments, hopes of cooperation between the neighbours is thought unlikely.
Officials from both countries, who fought a border war just seven years ago
and took opposites sides in the recent conflict in Somalia, have accused each
over the kidnapping.

The president of the Afar region in Ethiopia has publicly blamed the Eritrean
military. While the government in Addis Ababa had been more circumspect, it
has done little to dispute the theory that its northern neighbour had planned
the mission as a stunt to attract world attention to the disputed border.
Eritrea claims that Ethiopia broke international law by refusing to allow
an independent boundary commission to demarcate a new border.

Eritrea, which maintains a perpetual state of war readiness due to the continuingh
border dispute, has described accusations of its involvement in the kidnapping
as « crazy ».

Speaking on BBC radio, Eritrea’s information minister, Ali Abdu, said: « They
[Ethiopia] have that kind of habit, to blame Eritrea for whatever things that
happen. I would not rule out that this is some kind of staged drama cooked
up by the regime in Addis Ababa. »

A third theory is that the kidnappers were Afar separatist rebels
who did not realise the value of their hostages.

07/09/04 (B262) Les efforts de Djibouti dans la coopération contre le terrorisme seraient-ils limités à des annonces médiatiques de La Nation et de l’ADI, sans contenu ? Et alors, pour protéger qui ? (Extrait du Guardian en Anglais – info lecteur)

The Director of Criminal
Investigations, Adadi Rajabu, has accused Burundi, Djibouti and Eritrea of
derailing international efforts to combat crime in the Great Lakes and Horn
of Africa regions.

He said the countries
were doing the region a disservice by staying away from regional forums called
to discuss crime.

Rajabu made the remarks
yesterday when presenting a report in an international conference on crime
in the two regions.

The participants in the
regional meeting included directors of criminal investigations from Burundi,
Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and the
Seychelles.

The meeting, which followed
conferences involving permanent secretaries and ministers for home affairs,
discussed the use of computer technology in crime, cross-border theft of vehicles,
drug abuse and trafficking, terrorism and cattle rustling.

Adadi said since combating
international crime required international efforts, there was a need to strengthen
unity and co-operation among countries to tackle the problem.