Friday, January 19, 2018

South Africa Holds Rates as Inflation Risks Offset Rand Strength
* South Africa holds rates, as expected

* Monetary policy committee votes 5-1

* Bank raises growth forecasts for 2018, 2019 (Adds detail, quotes, context)

By Mfuneko Toyana and Nqobile Dludla

PRETORIA, Jan 18 (Reuters) - South Africa’s central bank kept its benchmark repo rate unchanged at 6.75 percent on Thursday, saying that risks to inflation were still on the upside despite a recent strengthening of the rand currency.

The majority of analysts polled by Reuters last week had predicted the repo rate would stay on hold, but forward markets had pencilled in the possibility of a 25 basis point rate cut.

“The risks to the (inflation) forecast are still assessed to be on the upside, though the degree of upside risk has subsided,” Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago told a news conference.

Kganyago said five members of the bank’s monetary policy committee had voted to hold rates and one member had voted for a 25 basis point cut.

The rand strengthened against the dollar on Thursday’s decision, as some investors had bet that the central bank would cut rates.

In November, when the bank last met on rates, it also kept them on hold.

But since then inflation slowed to close to the mid-point of the bank’s target range of 3 percent to 6 percent and South Africa avoided a potentially damaging double ratings downgrade.

“Inflation is expected to reach a low point below the midpoint of the target range, but then is expected to resume an upward trajectory and measure 5.5 percent in the final quarter of next year,” he said.

The rand has gained more than 13 percent against the dollar since the Nov. 23 rates meeting, lifted largely by Cyril Ramaphosa’s election as leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in December.

Kganyago said on Thursday that the rand was expected to remain sensitive to political developments and that the lingering prospect of a future ratings downgrade would weigh on the currency.

On growth, he said that South Africa’s economic prospects appeared to be improving, though from a low base. He called the outlook for the economy “challenging” and “fragile”, despite the bank raising its growth forecasts slightly to 1.4 percent for this year and 1.6 percent for 2019.

Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana and Nqobile Dludla; Editing by Alison Williams; Writing by Alexander Winning
SACP Brian Bunting District Statement on the Deepening Governance and Administrative Paralysis in the City of Cape Town
The South African Communist Party (SACP) in the Brian Bunting District is appalled by the deepening crisis in the City of Cape Town`s governance and administration. The racially based factional battles inside the Democratic Alliance (DA) for control of resources of the City, has severely compromised governance and service delivery capacity. Cape Town is confronted with a DA instigated severe water crisis yet the DA is consumed by worsening factional fights. It is clear that the DA does not have any coherent strategy to deal with this crisis.

The Mayor, Patricia De Lille, has been sidelined from activities of her own caucus, other Party activities, and more recently controversially stripped off her executive powers in relation to the water crisis facing the City of Cape Town. The DA Federal Executive has interfered with the governance of the City by factionally and unlawfully removing powers conferred upon the Mayor by the Constitution, and the Municipal Systems and Structures legislation. This exposes a failure to differentiate between Party and state. Therefore, we call upon the DA to desist from meddling with the affairs of the City.

It is clear that De Lille is no longer useful to the DA. She is nevertheless not an innocent victim. She collaborated in maintaining the skewed development projects which privileged white middle class suburbs. She also collaborated with private developers at the expense of inclusive development, working class and poor families.

Under the veil of "clean governance" and "world class city", De Lille and her administration concealed the financial irregularities for a number of years. Over 1000 forensic reports conducted by City officials which unearthed corruption and mismanagement of public resources were concealed by the DA government in the City. Therefore, the DA is not only responsible for the massive corruption in the City, but also for the collapse of City`s governance.

We reiterate our call for special investigation unit (SIU) and the hawks to investigate the massive corruption and mismanagement in the City. This is due to collapse of governance in the City and political interference by the DA. Such investigation will restore the public confidence in this important institution.

The resignation of Mr. Ebrahim, as the City Manager, is nothing but a ploy to avoid accountability. As the former Accounting Officer he failed in his fiduciary duties to prevent prejudice to the City`s finances and to disclose to the Council all material facts and breaches behind the maladministration in the City. Mr. Ebrahim must be held liable for the administrative decay in the City.

For general enquiries contact:

Siya Siswana
District Secretary
South Africa Prosecutors Urged to Act in Apartheid-era Death
January 18, 2018 11:01 AM
Associated Press

Imtiaz Cajee, nephew of Ahmed Timol, poses with his book "Timol, A Quest for Justice" in the North Gauteng High court in Pretoria, South Africa, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017 after the court heard the final arguments in the inquest into the death of anti-apartheid activist, Ahmed Timol (portrait on cover). Police say Timol died when he leapt from the 10th floor of the then John Vorster Square police station in Johannesburg in 1971.


The family of a South African anti-apartheid activist who was tortured and killed by police in 1971 is pushing state prosecutors to act against three former police officers linked to the murder.

Ahmed Timol's family said Thursday that it does not want vengeance and would back plea bargains by the men, who are in their 80s, as long as they tell the truth about a case that was ruled a suicide at the time.

A judge last year overturned that ruling and found that Timol, a member of the South African Communist Party, was murdered after his arrest and transfer to a Johannesburg police station where opponents of white minority rule were often held. The judge said one former officer should be prosecuted for allegedly being an accessory to murder, while all three men should be investigated for alleged perjury.

Legal experts say the case could set a precedent for investigating similar deaths.

Other apartheid-era police officers implicated in Timol's death have died over the years. Timol is believed to have been pushed from the building and did not jump as authorities concluded soon after his death.

"As a family, we have run a long, painful and exhausting race to see justice done," Timol's nephew, Imtiaz Ahmed Cajee, said in a statement. However, he warned that "prosecutorial delays would totally undermine" a process seen as a long-overdue effort to hold apartheid-era enforcers to account for their crimes.

The surviving officers "are not young men, and time is therefore of the essence," Cajee said. "The truth will not only provide closure for the Timol family, and the policemen themselves, but also materially assist other families seeking to put the record straight about the deaths of loved ones at the hands of apartheid police."

White minority rule ended in South Africa with all-race elections in 1994. As part of a reconciliation process, a commission chaired by Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu investigated past atrocities and granted amnesty to some accused perpetrators. Today, some South Africans believe more former white officials should have been prosecuted.

The three remaining former police officers implicated in Timol's murder had not applied for amnesty before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The National Prosecuting Authority said after the 2017 inquest that they could be prosecuted.
Extreme Drought Grips Parts of South Africa
by Everton Fox
Al Jazeera

Cape Town confronts looming 'Day Zero' water crisis

South Africa's Cape Town, one of the world's iconic tourist destinations, could run out of water by April as the city's worst drought in a century risks forces residents to join queues for emergency rations.

After three years of unprecedented drought, parts of the city have less than 90 days' supply of water in their reservoirs.

"Day Zero", the date taps are due to run dry, has crept forward to April 22 as city authorities race to build desalination plants and drill boreholes.

Almost two million tourists flock to Cape Town every year, with travel and tourism accounting for an estimated 9 percent or 412 billion rand ($33bn) of South Africa's economic output last year, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.

At a trial water collection site, similar to an estimated 200 the city may introduce, people queued to fill up their water bottles, limited to a maximum 25 litres of water per person, a day, officials said.

Cape Town's mayoral committee member for water, Xanthea Limberg, said the dire situation was being worsened by some people ignoring a push for residents and visitors to use no more than 87 litres of water per person a day.

City officials say dam levels dipped below 30 percent in the first week of the new year, with only about 19.7 percent of that water considered usable. Residents will have to queue for water when dams reach 13.5 percent.

The impact of the drought has been exacerbated by the fact that Cape Town's population has almost doubled over the past 20 years. Despite that, climatologists describe this as a "once in a millennium" event.

This lack of rain over a three year period would challenge even the best-planned water regulations. It could be a taste of things to come. Climate change researchers predict more frequent dry years and fewer wet years to come.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

South Africa: Cape Town Slashes Water Use Amid Drought
18 January 2018
BBC News

Residents of Cape Town carry plastic bottles to collect drinking water from a mountain spring collection point in Cape Town, South Africa, 17 January 2018.Image copyrightEPA

Car washing is banned in Cape Town

The South African city of Cape Town will slash residents' water allowance to 50 litres a day from next month amid fears that it could become the world's first major city to run out of water.

The city had reached a "point of no return", Mayor Patricia de Lille said.

Cape Town, a popular tourist destination, has been hit by its worst drought in a century.

Ms De Lille warned that the city risked reaching "Day Zero" on 21 April, when taps in homes could run dry.

"We can no longer ask people to stop wasting water. We must force them," she said at a press conference.

"Despite our urging for months, 60% of Capetonians are callously using more than 87 litres per day," she added, referring to the current daily limit.

A person uses about 15 litres per minute for a typical shower and the same amount when flushing a standard toilet, according to WaterWise, a South African water usage awareness campaign.

Cape Town has had low rainfall for three years, and its dams are running dry
Current limit per resident: 87 litres; from 1 February: 50 litres

Day Zero (predicted day non-essential supplies to be cut off): 21 April (revised down from 29 April earlier this month). Takes effect when dams reach 13.5% capacity; currently at 28.1%

70% of Cape Town water use is in domestic homes - so:

Fix water leaks on your property
Use drinking water only for drinking, cooking and essential washing
Only flush the toilet when necessary
Cut showers to two minutes
Collect your shower, bath and basin water and re-use to flush toilet, water garden and wash car
Only run washing machines and dishwashers with a full load
Source: Cape Town government

Cape Town had earlier banned car washing and filling up swimming pools as part of efforts to conserve water.

The Indian cricket team was also urged to take showers of no more than two minutes during its tour of the city earlier this month.

However, the measures would "simply not be enough" and the crisis had "reached a new severity necessitating a series of new emergency measures", Ms De Lille said.

Much of southern Africa has been recovering from a drought caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon, following heavy summer rains.

However, Cape Town is still gripped by a drought and has had very low rainfall for the last three years.
South Africa's Companies Regulator Charges KPMG, McKinsey, SAP
By Amogelang Mbatha
January 17, 2018, 5:51 AM EST

Cases opened with police after regulator met companies’ boards
Charges come as prosecutors swoop on Gupta-linked businesses

South Africa’s Companies and Intellectual Property Commission laid criminal charges against the local units of audit firm KPMG LLP, management consultants McKinsey & Co. and software giant SAP SE.

The cases were opened with the South African Police Service between November and December for contraventions of the country’s Companies Act, the regulator’s spokeswoman, Tshiamo Zebediela, said in an emailed response to questions on Wednesday. The CIPC “has been looking into these companies since July 2017,” she said.

The CIPC is one of the first local regulators to bring criminal complaints against the companies for their dealings with entities linked to the Gupta family, who are friends of President Jacob Zuma and in business with his son, Duduzane. Zuma and the Guptas have consistently denied any wrongdoing. It comes as the country’s prosecutors move to freeze assets held by McKinsey and a company linked to the Guptas.

The regulator pushed ahead with criminal charges following the leaking of a trove of emails last year indicating how the Guptas used their relationships with government ministers and officials to profit from state business, including from power producer Eskom Holdings SOC.

“The CIPC engaged with the respective boards of directors of KPMG, McKinsey and SAP regarding the emails that were placed in the public domain,” Zebediela said, “and based on the responses received, took a decision to open criminal cases.”

Below is a summary of the accusations from the CIPC:

McKinsey: The consultant may have contravened the Companies Act by informing Eskom that Trillian Capital Partners (Pty) Ltd. was acting as subcontractor for a portion of a project when McKinsey had never entered into a formal agreement with Trillian. McKinsey spokeswoman Bonita Dordel told Johannesburg-based Business Day that the firm was not involved in bribery or corruption for work related to Eskom.

KPMG: The auditor may have failed its own risk management and quality controls when compiling a report for the South African Revenue Service and making legal conclusions that went beyond its mandate and professional expertise. KPMG is aware of the CIPC matter and the legal team isn’t available for comment, spokesman Nqubeko Sibiya said.

SAP: The provider of compliance software’s use of an outside contractor to win business from state-owned transport company Transnet SOC Ltd. may have broken the law because SAP was aware that the contractor was not in the same line of business as SAP. SAP, which suspended its South African management team last year, didn’t immediately respond to emailed requests for comment.

— With assistance by Arabile Gumede, and Renee Bonorchis
Italian House OKs Niger Mission Resolution
Redazione ANSA
17 January 2018

(ANSA) - Rome, January 17 - The Lower House on Wednesday OK'd the continuation in 2018 of Italian missions abroad including a new one to Niger. The chamber approved a majority resolution on the matter, which was also voted by the centre-right opposition Forza Italia (FI) party. The anti-migrant, anti-euro League abstained.

    Premier Paolo Gentiloni tweeted: "the House greenlights international missions. From Afghanistan to Iraq, from Lebanon to Kosovo, from Libya to Niger, Italian armed forces and cooperation work for peace, development and stability, against terrorism and human trafficking". Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti said the Italian armed forces "will continue to fight against terrorism and human trafficking and to foster peace and stability".

    "As Italians, we should be proud of the work our military carries out on a daily basis, in Italy and abroad".

    She would Italy would continue to work on capacity building and training local forces.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Italy Approves Niger Mission to Slow Migrant Flow

Italy is looking to stem the flow of migration and people trafficking from African countries, often through attempted dangerous sea crossings to Europe

Italy’s parliament on Wednesday approved a ramped up military presence in Niger by agreeing to send an initial 120 troops with 350 more to follow as Rome looks to stem migration and people trafficking of African migrants.

“This is a training mission in response to a request from Niger, not a combat mission,” said Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti, elaborating on comments Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni made on the issue last month.

“We are going to Niger following a request from the local government received in early December concerning an Italian contribution to do what we normally do in these countries, such as Libya, for example. That is, reinforce instruments of territorial and border control and reinforce local police forces,” Gentiloni said in December.

Gentiloni said then that Niger is “the main transit country” for tens of thousands of people arriving in Libya, the launchpad for many Europe-bound African migrants, from where they attempt dangerous sea crossings to Europe.

Last year, some 115,000 landed in Italy, a figure down 32 percent year on year, taking arrivals since 2014 to around 600,000.

Gentiloni insisted last month his country could “hold its head high” over its treatment of migrants, after rights group Amnesty International accused Rome and other EU governments of being “knowingly complicit” in abuses of migrants in Libya.
Britain and Italy to Deploy More Troops in Africa’s Sahel

British helicopters will help reinforce French troops running counter-terrorism missions in Mali

Britain is set to send helicopters to bolster a key French counter-terrorism operation in Mali in a package of measures to be agreed at a summit near London on Thursday.
The commitment will come as Prime Minister Theresa May meets French President Emmanuel Macron at an army base near the British capital, with immigration and global aid also on their agenda.

In a separate move, Italy’s parliament on Wednesday also approved a ramped up military presence in Niger by agreeing to send an initial 120 troops with 350 more to follow as Rome looks to stem migration and people-trafficking of African migrants.

European powers are desperate to stem the flow of African migrants crossing the Mediterranean and are spooked by increased militant jihadism across the Sahel region.

May is due to announce the deployment of three RAF Chinook helicopters to provide logistic support to French troops.

The mission is focused on Mali, where the UN, EU and African Union all have military operations countering terrorism and illegal trade in people, drugs, weapons and wildlife.

“Today’s summit will underline that we remain committed to defending our people and upholding our values as liberal democracies in the face of any threat, whether at home or abroad,” May said in a statement ahead of the summit.

May will also discuss with the French president their joint crackdown on online extremism “to ensure that the internet cannot be used as a safe space for terrorists and criminals,” according to the government spokesman.

Britain is also expected to allocate £50 million (56 million euros, $69 million) of additional aid for those affected by epidemics, natural disasters and conflict across west Africa.

Earlier this week five Sahel countries — Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso — launched their second anti-jihadist operation in the troubled region, after talks in Paris with their partner France.

The force has been operating, with heavy French backing, to re-establish control in lawless frontier regions in the Sahel, south of the Sahara, where terror groups have been able to flourish, particularly in the “tri border” area where Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso converge.

Italy’s focus is on Niger, a key transit country for tens of thousands of people arriving in Libya which is itself the launchpad for many Europe-bound African migrants, from where they attempt dangerous sea crossings to Europe.

Last year, some 115,000 landed in Italy, a figure down 32 percent year on year, taking arrivals since 2014 to around 600,000.

“This is a training mission in response to a request from Niger, not a combat mission,” said Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti, speaking about the plan lawmakers approved on Wednesday.

Italian troops, he added, would “reinforce instruments of territorial and border control and reinforce local police forces.”
Italian Imperialism Approves Military Mission in Niger, More Troops to North Africa
ROME (Reuters) - Italy’s parliament approved on Wednesday an increased military presence in Libya and the deployment of up to 470 troops in Niger to combat migration and the trafficking of people toward Europe, many of whom wash up on Italian shores.

At the end of last year, Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said he would redeploy some troops to North Africa from Iraq and Afghanistan, requiring parliament to reopen to give its consent, despite having already closed ahead of the March 4 national election.

Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia (Go Italy!) party, which is in opposition, backed the resolution, while the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement refused its support, saying the measure would prevent whoever wins the election from setting their own foreign policy priorities.

In the resolution on foreign missions for this year, Italy plans to spend 1.5 billion euros ($1.8 billion) on 31 missions in 21 countries. Only a portion of the funding was approved in the budget and additional money will have to be set aside by the end of September.

The focus on Africa comes as Italy is seeking to stop migrants from reaching its shores. The mostly African immigrants first cross the Sahel states to reach Libya, where they set off in boats for Italy. More than 600,000 have come in the past four years.

The Niger mission was announced on Dec. 28 as Italy joined France and the United States, which already have troops there, in efforts to help President Mahamadou Issoufou better control Niger’s territory and borders.

Gentiloni said the mission would “guarantee stability in the area and fight illegal trafficking of migrants”.

Some 400 soldiers are expected to work in Libya, up from about 370, and, as a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Italy will send 60 troops to Tunisia to improve border control and fight terrorism.

The number of troops in Afghanistan will be halved to about 750, while about 200 soldiers will be withdrawn from Iraq.

Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Robin Pomeroy
Chinese FM Ends Africa Visit, Confident in Closer China-Africa Ties
2018-01-18 04:36:04
Editor: Liangyu

SAO TOME, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- China and African countries will certainly become closer cooperative partners through cooperation in the Belt and Road initiative, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said.

The official made the remarks to the media here on Tuesday as he concluded his first New Year visit to four African countries including Rwanda, Angola, Gabon and Sao Tome and Principe.

Wang said that Africa has always been the first destination for a Chinese foreign minister's visit during each new year for the past 28 years. "It's a good tradition that shows the international community that China always stands together with its African brothers," he said.

He said that no matter how China has developed, economically and politically, China always seeks a partnership with Africa built on mutual trust and sincere cooperation.

Briefing on his visit to the four African nations, Wang said that leaders of the countries had all sent their congratulations to the success of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. They also hoped to draw on China's development experience because they appreciated the great achievements in China's development, he said.

He said that as African countries are trying to diversify their economies and shift from a development mode that relies on raw materials and resources exports, China will have great strength in helping them achieve the economic diversification and industrialization goals.

"In response to Africa's strong request, China will later this year host the summit of Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing," Wang said, adding that leaders of the four nations he visited are ready to attend the event and they have also shown great interest in the Belt and Road initiative proposed by China.

"African countries shall not be excluded from the initiative, rather they could play a very important role in pushing forward the initiative," he said.

China and Africa last held the FOCAC summit in late 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa, which has served as a major force driving China-Africa cooperation in various areas in recent years.

"I believe, through efforts by both sides, the Beijing FOCAC summit this year will be another historical event," Wang said.

During his visit Tuesday to Sao Tome and Principe, the last leg of his New Year visit in Africa, Wang met the country's President Evaristo Carvalho and Prime Minister Patrice Trovoada.

Carvalho said he is convinced the resumption of diplomatic relations with China was the right decision the Sao Tome and Principe government made. He assured that the country will adhere wholeheartedly to the one-China policy, and looked forward to ever deepening bilateral friendly cooperation.

Trovoada said the fact that China is ready to develop friendly relations with Sao Tome and Principe shows once again that China treats all countries on an equal footing, regardless of their size, and that China is a sincere friend and reliable partner of Africa.

He said that cooperation with China will help his country onto a path of sustainable development.

For his part, Wang said that Sao Tome and Principe's decision to resume diplomatic relations with China serves the interests of the country and its people, adding that both countries should beef up friendly cooperation for mutual benefits.
Trump's Insults Will Nudge African Nations Closer To China
January 16, 201810:02 AM ET
National Public Radio

Last week President Trump reportedly singled out Haiti, El Salvador and African nations as "shithole countries" whose people were not the kind of immigrants the United States wanted. At the time, I happened to be in Serekunda, Gambia's largest urban area, as Trump's slur shocked people across Africa. The anger was palpable.

Trump denied saying it, but the reports led to a cascade of swift condemnation, including a United Nations spokesman describing the president's comments as "racist." The African Union, an organization of 55 nations, expressed "outrage" and said it "strongly believes that there is a huge misunderstanding of the African continent and its people by the current [U.S.] administration."

But as the fallout continues, there is something missing from the conversation: Trump's alleged vulgar insult comes at a time of strategic shift in Africa — toward China. In the past few weeks I have been on the ground in West Africa, and everywhere I have gone I have seen the presence of China.

As America has become an increasingly unwelcoming place for young Africans, they look elsewhere in search of a better life. Last week I visited the Confucius Institute in Dakar, a huge building located on the grounds of Senegal's University of Dakar. I spent time with students from across Africa coming to learn Mandarin as a way to land a dream job in China or take a slice from the growing Chinese presence in every corner of the continent.

In the past, they might have sought to study in Europe or the United States. But those places have put up barriers that make it tough to get student visas. Mamadou Fall, the director of the Dakar Confucius Institute, says that the roughly 500 students it teaches find it nearly impossible to get student visas to the U.S. or Europe. But China is happy to oblige them — it now offers Senegalese students free visas and offers 60 of the brightest students from the institute full scholarships to China each year.

China's mammoth investment in infrastructure is a key part of its arsenal. As part of the One Belt, One Road strategy, the Chinese are building roads, ports, dams, railways and other infrastructure across Africa. These include a metro system in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and a vital railway connecting landlocked Ethiopia's 100 million people to Djibouti's Red Sea port, where the Chinese plan to open their first military base outside China. In Kenya, they financed the biggest post-colonial infrastructure project in the country: a nearly $4 billion railway linking Nairobi with the country's main Indian Ocean port in Mombasa. China is also building a major train network in Nigeria.

China's mammoth investment in infrastructure is a key part of its arsenal.

Attitudes toward the U.S. have changed in Africa since Trump took office, according to a Pew poll in June. Although Trump's strongman act remained popular in Nigeria, the pollster said, "the intensity of positive opinion has waned" in other sub-Saharan countries surveyed, compared with 2015. What's more, Trump's popularity is nowhere near that of previous Republican President George W. Bush.

Trump's comments disparaging Africans, along with his administration's travel ban and the threat to cut aid to African nations that voted in the U.N. against Trump's Jerusalem decision, send a clear message: The United States is retreating from the post-1945 international system it created, taking an "America First" position on global issues. China is stepping into the vacuum created by Trump in Africa — and almost everywhere else.

The danger for the U.S. is that Trump's insulting words make China an even more enticing partner for African nations. This is a moment of opportunity for the Asian giant. Trump's apparent disrespect may push African nations — and the young Africans who represent their future — further into China's arms.

The one area in Africa where America has shown growing interest is the military and counterterrorism front. Trump might be uninterested in Africa's potential, but he has ramped up America's military engagement on the continent. Trump is playing by the usual Africa playbook, which frames the continent as a place of wars, famines and disease rather than a tapestry of nations and cultures. We Africans have long faced the idea of being from an undesirable continent — a place caricatured for centuries for its nightmares and beauty. The Chinese, however, seem to recognize the potential of the fastest-growing continent on the planet.

I felt the sting of the president's words last week. I am from Somalia — one of the "shithole countries." But being on the ground in Africa the past few days, I also felt something else, something that may one day be understood as a turning point. Years from now, when you ask Africans when they lost faith in America, don't be surprised if they tell you it was the day a U.S. president labeled their country a "shithole."

Ismail Einashe (@IsmailEinashe) is a British-Somali freelance journalist.

Editor's note: NPR has decided in this case to spell out the vulgar word that the president reportedly used because it meets our standard for use of offensive language: It is "absolutely integral to the meaning and spirit of the story being told."
Next Steps to Getting Africa’s Protocol on Women’s Rights Implemented
January 17, 2018 9.45am EST
 Ashwanee Budoo
The Conversation

The African Union has taken several initiatives to demonstrate its commitment to eliminating injustices against women in Africa. The most recent has been a meeting ahead of the African Union (AU) summit scheduled for later this year to highlight the continent’s commitment to gender equality.

Other examples include the African Women’s Decade (2010-2020), adopting the African Union Gender Policy and creating a fund for African women. In addition, the AU declared 2016 the year of human rights with a particular focus on the rights of women.

Fifteen years ago the AU adopted the Maputo Protocol under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to boost the protection of women. Its implementation was meant to be overseen by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, a human rights body set up under the African Charter. And the process was meant to be monitored by the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa.

Despite the protocol’s adoption, the violation of women’s rights is still widespread across the continent. The list is long. But some of the more egregious acts include violence against women, child marriage, gender-based discrimination and exploitative widow rites. The reasons for these range from culture, to tradition, ignorance, lack of education and patriarchy.

The problem is that the protocol’s provisions remain mere words on paper. This is because its potential has been stifled by a weak monitoring and evaluation function.

There is a solution to the problem: the creation of an institution whose sole purpose is to protect women’s rights. But it will require political will and a commitment to make the necessary funds available.

Turning point for women’s rights

The protocol was considered the turning point for the protection of women’s rights in Africa. It is a comprehensive document that contains several innovative provisions to curb violations of women’s rights.

Some of its ground breaking provisions include the prohibition of female genital mutilation and child marriage, the right to abortion in certain cases, the obligation to punish perpetrators of violence against women, and the allocation of budgetary resources to realise women’s rights.

If put into practice, the Maputo Protocol would go some way in ensuring that women’s rights are realised. But states aren’t doing enough. And they are rarely held accountable for their failures.

The African Commission, as the monitoring body, has been trying to do its bit. For example, the protocol is considered when states do their reporting. The Special Rapporteur is also required to popularise the protocol’s provisions.

But the Commission has its hands full trying to keep up with all the other human rights listed in the African Charter.

I would argue that to fully realise the rights set out in the Maputo Protocol, a separate institution needs to be established to oversee its implementation. An example of how this could work is already in place when it comes to children’s rights. Children are protected by the African Children’s Charter. The African Committee of Experts oversees implementation. Women need similar protection mechanisms.

A separate institution would focus only on women’s rights. It would draw its inspiration from the children’s committee. This committee has taken huge strides since its inception including conducting child-specific research, the adoption of general comments and the frequent consideration of state reports on the implementation of the African Children’s Charter.

Establishing a new institution, however, will face resistance. The fact that the Maputo Protocol was adopted as a supplement to the African Charter demonstrates that the drafters of the Protocol did not want the document to be read separately. This could become the basis of the argument against the creation of a new and separate body to oversee the Maputo Protocol because the Charter is implemented under the auspices of the African Commission.

However, the Protocol is a stand alone document that should not depend on Charter’s provisions. An alternative option would be to strengthen current mechanisms instead of establishing yet another institution. But reinforcing existing mechanisms would not be as effective as creating a a separate entity with a singular focus.

Because the African Commission has several other mandates to focus on, the creation of a new institution would free the Commission of its obligations in the area of women’s rights, allowing it to use its resources to champion universal human rights.

Indeed, resources are likely to be the biggest challenge to the establishment of an African women’s rights body. But, expensive or not, Africa cannot escape the importance of women’s rights in the contemporary world. The African Union must be encouraged to dedicate itself to raising funds to ensure that those rights are properly protected. Declarations, meetings and protocols will be futile unless the African Union drastically reforms the current system to ensure that women’s rights are realised.
UK Helicopters Join French Imperialists in Purported Counter-terrorism Operation
Jan 17, 2018, 6:09 PM ET

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks with soldiers during his visit to Calais, northern France, Tuesday, Jan.16, 2018. Macron traveled Tuesday to the epicenter of France's migrant crisis, the northern port of Calais, to lay out a "humane and tough" immigration policy that involved better behavior by security forces and closer cooperation with Britain. (Denis Charlet/Pool via AP)more +

Britain said Wednesday that it will send three Royal Air Force helicopters to join France's military mission against Islamic militants in Africa's Sahel region as part of closer U.K.-French intelligence and military cooperation.

The two countries will promise to step up efforts against violent extremism during a Thursday meeting between British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron at the Sandhurst military academy near London.

The British government says May will announce she is sending three Chinook heavy-lift helicopters and dozens of personnel to Mali to provide logistical support for thousands of French troops fighting alongside African forces in a counterterrorism mission. France has led efforts to fight al-Qaida and IS-linked jihadi groups in the vast Sahel region south of the Sahara desert.

The leaders of the five main U.K. and French spy agencies are also meeting for the first time Thursday, as the two countries seek to increase intelligence-sharing. France and Britain have both faced a string of violent attacks by extremists inspired or directed by the Islamic State group.

May said U.K.-French summit "will underline that we remain committed to defending our people and upholding our values as liberal democracies in the face of any threat, whether at home or abroad."

One topic not high on the agenda is Brexit. Britain wants the meeting to underscore how the close relationship between the two neighbors won't suffer when Britain leaves the EU in 2019.

In the crisply martial surroundings of Sandhurst, where army officers have been trained since the days of the British Empire, senior ministers from the two countries will sign agreements on everything from space exploration to tackling online extremism.

In a boost to Macron, Britain is throwing its backing behind the European Intervention Initiative, a multinational European military force that the French president has proposed. He also wants a common European defense budget and security doctrine.

The plan is in its early stages, but British officials don't see it as an "EU army," an idea on which the U.K. has long been cool.

One point of tension between the countries is a 2003 deal that placed British border controls in Calais, on the French side of the English Channel. The town has become a magnet for migrants hoping to reach Britain, and the accord puts the burden of blocking their entry to the U.K. on France.

Macron wants Britain to take a bigger share of the burden by taking in more child migrants from Calais and paying more into development projects.

Britain hasn't said whether it will agree. But May's spokesman, James Slack, said the existing agreement had been "very beneficial to the U.K."

"If there were a request for further help in terms of security, we would look at (it)," he said.

Macron, on his first visit to Britain since winning the presidency in May 2017, brought a gift: an agreement for France to loan Britain the Bayeux Tapestry, an 11th-century panorama depicting the Norman conquest of England.

The medieval masterpiece depicts a key moment in British history — one with particular resonance as Britain prepares to leave the EU.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Patrice Lumumba: Commemorating 57th Anniversary of His Assassination
January 17, 2018
Sam Ditshego Correspondent

JANUARY and February are two of the saddest months for most Africans and people of African descent on the continent and in the African Diaspora. The source of this melancholy is Europe and the United States of America. The recent utterances attributed to one of the leaders of these countries rubs salt into our wounds at a time when we want to reflect on the pain Europe and the United States of America has inflicted on us through centuries of white supremacy (racism), slavery, colonialism, capitalism and imperialism.

In his 1952 book, Black Skin White Masks, Frantz Fanon wrote that racism originated in Europe. Fanon continued, “At the risk of arousing the resentment of my coloured brothers, I will say that “the black man is not a man.” In this statement Fanon is not arguing that black people are inhuman. Instead, he is making the point that Western ideas of humanity have been built on the foundation of anti-black racism. “Man” is supposedly a universal term, but the image of “man” created in Western culture is white. In other words, in racist societies only white people are human and people of colour are instead ‘Other’ to human, or beasts and animals. Black people don’t even get to be considered human in racist societies. That’s what it means to say “the black man is not a man.”

“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalise, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.”

The quote above from Black Skin White Masks describes how white people react when it is proven to them that white superiority is a myth as PAC founding president Robert Sobukwe said in his 1959 inaugural address.

I wonder why Fanon’s Black Skin White Masks was not made required reading in schools in South Africa after 1994. Sobukwe’s speeches and the 1970 interview with Gail Gerhard should also have been made required reading in schools. I guess it depends on the state of mind of those who were handed a crown without the jewels in 1994.

A noted white historian, Basil Davidson wrote in 1987, “The racism that we know was born in Europe and America from the cultural need to justify doing to black people, doing to Africans, what could not morally or legally be done to white people, and least of all to Europeans.

To justify the enslavement of Africans, in short, it was culturally necessary to believe, or be able to believe, that Africans were inherently and naturally less than human, but were beings of a somehow sub-human, non-human, nature. That was the cultural basis, in this context, of the slave trade and of the modern imperialism in Africa which followed the slave trade.

“The consequence of this need to condemn Africans as less than human — and how otherwise justify enslaving and then invading them? — have been many and various.

“Among these consequences, logically enough, has been a denial of the Africans’ possible possession of histories of their own, and thus of common humanity with other people’s elsewhere. Not surprisingly, this denial began to be heard from eminent spokesmen (such as Hegel in 1830) in Europe as soon as Europe’s modern imperialism imposed a corresponding need to structure and systematise its attitudes to overseas conquest and imperialist enclosure.”

Dr Cheikh Anta Diop writes that “imperialism, like the prehistoric hunter, first killed the being spiritually and culturally, before trying to eliminate it physically. The negation of the history and intellectual accomplishments of Black Africans was cultural, mental murder, which preceded and paved the way for their genocide here and there in the world.”

This article raises the issue of the dehumanisation of Africans in order to demonstrate that even in their brutal assassinations of African leaders, western leaders and their spy agencies convince themselves that “the black man is not a man.” But listen to the same hypocrites criticising suicide bombers as ‘brutish beasts.’

On the 17th January 1961, Africa lost one of its greatest sons, Patrice Lumumba, the first Prime Minister of what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. On the 20th January 1973, Amilcar Cabral of Guinea Bissau was assassinated in Conakry, Guinea.

On the 3rd February 1969, Dr Eduardo Mondlane, the founder in 1962 of Frelimo and Samora Machel’s predecessor, was assassinated by a parcel bomb in Dar es Salaam. On 21st February 1965, Malcolm X succumbed under a hail of bullets at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem, New York. On the 1st February 1974, Onkgopotse Tiro, a young Black Consciousness Movement leader was assassinated by a parcel bomb in Gaborone, Botswana. On the 27th February 1978, the founding President of the PAC, Robert Sobukwe died of what PAC members believe was a cancer induced disease. On 7th February 1986, well renowned scholar Cheikh Anta Diop died in his sleep in Senegal.

According to Karl Evanzz’s The Judas Factor: The Plot to Kill Malcolm X — based on more than 300 000 declassified CIA and FBI documents — which I reviewed for the Times Colonist in Victoria, Canada in 1992, Lumumba was killed for his country’s resources and for fear by Dwight Eisenhower’s administration that Lumumba could expel the Rockefeller and Morgan families who controlled the Congo’s economy by virtue of their joint monopoly of the banking system.

The second reason Lumumba was killed was that under pressure from other African nations, he nullified the agreement giving Detwiler carte blanche over his nation’s critical resources.

Following the revocation of the Detwiler contract, Eisenhower apparently concluded that American control of the Congo Central Bank could evaporate as quickly as the Detwiler contract. After his visit to the White House, Ambassador Claire Timberlake, Richard Nixon, Eisenhower and others who had attended the meeting with Lumumba concluded that he could not be trusted. During a National Security Meeting shortly after Lumumba’s visit, Eisenhower indicated that it would be in America’s best interest to remove Lumumba from power, (p.101).

Lumumba’s trouble began the day that he and Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana signed an agreement they regarded as another step toward the creation of the United States of Africa.

A year earlier, Nkrumah had signed an agreement with Sekou Toure of Guinea asking their respective parliaments to ratify a similar agreement. White supremacists held that another man had no right to do what he pleased with his country’s resources and to decide the destiny of his country. This is what Fanon refers to when he says in racist societies a black man is not regarded as human.

Africa was regarded as a big zoo which one of them recently described as a “sh*thole.”

But they are after the minerals and other resources that come from that “sh*thole.” They kill and die for the minerals that come from that “sh*thole.”

Who would believe that the CIA contracted the Mafia and criminals such as Belgian national Colonel Huyghe to execute Lumumba? Lumumba’s two aides, Maurice Mpolo and Joseph Okito, were also killed. Lumumba’s body was placed in a vat of concentrated acid supplied by the CIA and it has never been found — Britain’s MI6 spy agency which Nelson Mandela went to thank for protecting after becoming South African president and the Belgian government are accomplices in the demise of Lumumba. It’s not true that Lumumba escaped, he was lied to that his daughter was on her death bed only to be trapped, caught and killed. UN Secretary-General at the time Dag Hammarskjold was privy to the plot against Lumumba and did nothing to protect him. He would later die in a mysterious plane crash.

According to (kiko-unplugge.blogspot), declassified Portuguese archives and testimonials it is clear that the conspiracy behind Amilcar Cabral’s assassination was a plot involving the Portuguese secret police force PIDE-DGS (Policia Internacional De Defesa do Estado) similar to US CIA and several Guineas PAIGC members led by Momo Toure and Aristides Barbosa, who were both imprisoned in the 60s and later released by the Portuguese. The report continued to state that Amilcar Cabral was murdered by Inocencio Kani a fellow PAICG naval commander at approximately 10:30pm on January 20th 1973 in front of the PAIGC office in Conakry upon his return from a dinner at the Polish embassy accompanied by his then wife while unarmed and unprotected.

Shortly after Cabral’s death with the help of Guinea Conakry’s Sekou Toure, Kani and the rest of the plot leaders were captured and interrogated. About 10 were executed including Kani. At the time of Mondlane’s assassination, the Portuguese government was not as weak as it was during the assassination of Cabral. The Portuguese government probably carried out Mondlane’s assassination without ruling out collaboration by his fellow comrades just like in the case of Cabral and Herbert Chitepo of Zimbabwe.

Africans must revisit this history and protect our genuine leaders and the continent’s resources. We must determine our destiny.

— African Executive
$4,1m Boost for Parastatal Reform in Zimbabwe
January 17, 2018

Photo: Finance and Economic Planning Deputy Minister Terrence Mukupe

Darlington Musarurwa Deputy News Editor
Zimbabwe Herald

The African Development Bank (AfDB), through the African Development Fund, has extended a $4,1 million grant to Zimbabwe, part of which will be used to reform three State-owned enterprises (SOEs) — Agribank, IDBZ and SMEDCO. Government is now scouting for a consultant that is expected to assist in reviewing and providing turnaround plans for the three SOEs which fall under the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.

Parastatal reform is among key result areas being pursued by Government as it is envisaged to lessen the burden on Government finances and facilitate economic growth. In an announcement at the weekend, the AfDB said the grant was specially meant to finance the Institutional Support for State Enterprise Reform and Delivery Project (ISERDP).

“The Government of Zimbabwe has received a grant from the African Development Fund to finance the Institutional Support for State Enterprise Reform and Delivery Project (ISERDP) and intends to apply part of the agreed amount for these grants to payments under the contract for consultancy services to provide technical assistance to undertake performance reviews and develop turnaround strategies for State enterprises and Parastatals (SEPs) in the banking sector, namely Agribank, the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ) and the Small to Medium Enterprises Development Corporation (SMEDCO),” said AfDB in a statement released on Saturday.

It is believed that the consultancy work will help inform Government on how it can intervene to make the entities more efficient and deliver on their mandate.

“The main objective of this assignment is to undertake a detailed assessment of the SEPs governance and technical operating systems, processes and procedures in order to determine the possible quantified and time framed interventions by Government (in terms of governance, systems, capitalisation , et cetera) to improve on the SEPs’ performance in order for them to deliver on their respective mandates, vision and objectives in the most economic, efficient and effective way for the realisation of national socio-economic objectives,” said the Pan-African and Ivory Coast-based development bank.

Government opines that enabling the three SOEs to perform will help to stimulate key sectors of the economy. Agribank is supposed to provide financial support for the agriculture sector, while the IDBZ’s mandate is to provide funding to critical infrastructural projects that are expected to underpin local economic growth.

Apart from raising funds for various local housing projects, IDBZ also provided some resources for the Kariba South expansion project, which is already feeding 150 megawatts (MW) to the local grid. But reforms will cover all the country’s 93 parastatals. Government, through various line ministries, has begun evaluating SOEs, as part of an exercise to identify firms that can either be retained or disposed of.

Failing parastatals, including companies under their portfolio that are beyond redemption, will be shut down. The initiative is part of the 100-day target set by President Mnangagwa. Finance and Economic Planning Deputy Minister Terrence Mukupe this month said line ministries had been directed to come up with comprehensive and exhaustive information on how the SOEs had been faring, including recommendations on the way forward.

Worryingly, the 2016 financial audits show that 38 out of 93 parastatals incurred a combined $270 million loss due to weak corporate governance practices and ineffective control mechanisms.
Davos Beckons •Zimbabwe Set for Maiden Appearance •Turnaround Efforts Pay Dividends
January 17, 2018
Herald Reporter

Zimbabwe will next week make history when President Mnangagwa joins other Heads of State and Government and luminaries from all over the world at the prestigious World Economic Forum’s 48th meeting set for Switzerland. Secretary for Finance and Economic Planning Mr Willard Manungo said the invitation to Davos was in recognition of President Mnangagwa’s efforts in turning around the economy. “The invitation made to His Excellency the President, Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa, is viewed as recognition of the impact he is making in fostering economic reform in Zimbabwe.

“The World Economic Forum meeting is where leaders of various countries exchange views in terms of economic development. The President’s thrust of economic reform, obviously, caught the attention of other countries,” said Mr Manungo. This will mark the first time Zimbabwe attends the forum, with President Mnangagwa being one of only 10 African leaders to grace the prestigious indaba scheduled to run from January 23 to 26 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland.

The invite could not have come at a better time as the message from the new administration has been Zimbabwe is open for business amid positive vibes and engagements efforts from the Western hemisphere. This year the WEF brings together a record number of Heads of State, Government and international organisations alongside leaders from business, civil society, academia, the arts and media, offering the perfect platform for Zimbabwe to relay its message.

Running under the theme, “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World”, the meeting will focus on finding ways to reaffirm international cooperation on crucial shared interests, such as international security, the environment and the global economy. Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA) chief executive Richard Mbaiwa told The Herald that the invitation to the forum was key as it would afford the President a chance to market Zimbabwe and to explain the country’s new policy thrust.

“I am sure that he (President Mnangagwa) will be given an opportunity to speak on the new direction that we are taking as a country, the re-engagement process and the policy thrust. “(He will also speak on) the reforms that are taking place in terms of the laws, I am sure indigenisation will also come up, I think it’s a key policy issue that has always been an area of concern to investors, so I am sure it will be articulated.

“So generally it’s an opportunity to us as a country to showcase what we offer and say to investors, you are welcome to invest in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is open for business,” said Mr Mbaiwa. Attending the conference is also set to improve the country’s risk profile going forward as Government will be able to articulate its position to a wider audience in line with their new approach to doing business.

The Annual Meeting will feature over 340 top political leaders with 10 heads of state and government from Africa, nine from the Middle East and North Africa and six from Latin America. These include; Hailemariam Dessalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia; President Mnangagwa; Yemi Osinbajo, Vice-President of Nigeria; Saad Al Hariri, President of the Council of Ministers, Lebanon; His Majesty Abdullah II Bin Al Hussein, King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan; Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel; and Juan Manuel Santos, President of Columbia.

Alongside international cooperation, an additional priority of the meeting will be to overcome divisions within countries. These have often been caused by breakdowns in the social contract as a result of failure to protect societies from the transformational impacts of a succession of shocks, from globalization to the proliferation of social media and the birth of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Collectively, these shocks have caused a loss of trust in institutions and damaged the relationship between business and society.

“Our world has become fractured by increasing competition between nations and deep divides within societies. Yet the sheer scale of the challenges our world faces makes concerted, collaborative and integrated action more essential than ever. Our Annual Meeting aims to overcome these fault lines by reasserting shared interests among nations and securing multi-stakeholder commitment to renewing social contracts through inclusive growth,” said Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum.

Opening address will be delivered by Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India. Donald Trump, President of the United States of America, will deliver a keynote address before the close of the meeting.

This year a record number of leaders from G7 economies will participate, including Paolo Gentiloni, Prime Minister of Italy; Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission; Emmanuel Macron, President of France; Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; and Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, in addition to President Trump. As well as Prime Minister Modi, other leaders from the G20 include Liu He, Member of Political Bureau and General Director of CPC Central Committee of the People’s Republic of China.
Zimbabwe Government Protests Trump’s ‘Hurtful, Prejudicial Language’
January 17, 2018
Takunda Maodza News Editor—
Zimbabwe Herald

GOVERNMENT yesterday protested recent utterances by US President Donald Trump branding Africa a “sh*thole” and urged Washington to dump its hurtful and prejudicial language, saying it had no place in contemporary times. Mr Trump last week referred to African countries as “sh*tholes” in remarks that ignited protests across the developing world. In statement yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade said the statement by Mr Trump “has shocked and dismayed us”.

“The statement which was attributed to the USA’s President, Mr Donald J. Trump, on 11 January 2018, has shocked and dismayed us. “The USA is a prominent country of which the world expects the best example in its projection of democratic values, commitment to the fight against bigotry, upholding the civil rights of all of its people and generosity towards the less fortunate countries in the world,” said the ministry.

“We join fellow African countries and others in rejecting this unfortunate characterisation of our peoples and countries. “We all desire the amplification of positive relations with the USA, and would hope that care will be taken going forward to avoid jeopardising prospects for those relations through such hurtful and prejudicial language from any official quarter in the USA.”

The ministry said international relations must be based on mutual respect. “Zimbabwe, and we believe the majority of countries in the world, desire relations based on mutual acceptance and respect, values that serve and demonstrate the human family at its best. Bigotry and hate speech must find no place in contemporary statecraft and diplomatic discourse,” it said.

In condemning Mr Trump’s utterances, Zimbabwe joins other African countries that have expressed anger and dismay over the statement by the American leader. South African diplomats met US embassy’s Charge d’Affaires on Monday and raised concern over the unfortunate remarks by Mr Trump.

Its Department of International Relations and Cooperation said international reaction to the Trump remarks served as a united affirmation of the dignity of the people of Africa and the African Diaspora.

Ever since he made the statement, Mr Trump has tweeted retractions claiming that he is not a racist and that he never used such language during an Oval Office meeting on immigration last Thursday. Mr Trump said African countries alongside Haiti and El Salvador constituted “sh*tholes” from where migrants into the United States are undesirable”. The African Union has since expressed outrage and disappointment over the Trump remarks.

“The African Union Mission wishes to express its infuriation, disappointment and outrage over the unfortunate comment made by Mr. Donald Trump, President of the United States of America, which remarks dishonor the celebrated American creed and respect for diversity and human dignity,” it said in a statement to the United States.

The AU demanded a retraction of the comment and an apology to Africans and all people of African descent globally. Botswana also summoned the US ambassador to Gaborone last week and expressed its displeasure over the reckless and racist remarks by the loquacious US president.
Syrian Army Establishes Control Over New Areas in Aleppo and Hama Countryside
16 January، 2018

Provinces, SANA – Syrian Arab Army units continue to advance in their operations against Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists and other terror groups affiliated to it in Aleppo’s southern countryside.

SANA reporter said on Tuesday that army units and supporting forces are carrying out operations against al-Nusra terrorists in the southern countryside of Aleppo, and in the recent hours the army established control over Maseh and Tel Maseh villages west of the town of Tel al-Daman after clashes with al-Nusra terrorists and the affiliated groups to it.

Earlier, the army established control over al-Shaheed hill northwest of Jafr Mansour village around 60 km south of Aleppo city, after destroying the terrorists’ fortified positions in the area.

The reporter said that the army took advantage of the vantage point represented by al-Shaheed hill, targeting with preemptive fire the supply lines of al-Nusra and groups affiliated to it in the surrounding area, and then launched a focused operation that resulted in establishing control over the villages of Uwainat Saghira, Uwainat Kabira, and Marhamiye.

The reporter said that the army’s engineering units are combing the hill and the liberated villages and dismantling the explosives planted by the terrorists, while army units are pursuing the remaining fleeing terrorists in the surrounding area.

The army restores a hill in Hama countryside

Units of the Syrian Arab Army established full control over Motilat Hill in the northeastern countryside of Hama.

SANA’s reporter in Hama said army units, in cooperation with allied forces, continued military operations in the northeastern countryside of Hama and engaged in fierce battles with Daesh terrorists in the area, establishing control over Motilat Hill, tightening noose around the villages of Totah and Abu Harik.

A number of terrorists were killed as a result of the operations in addition to the destruction of all their vehicles and dens in the Hill, the reporter added.

English Bulletin

3,000 displaced persons return to their towns in Deir Ezzor countryside

16 January، 2018

Deir Ezzor, SANA- Hundreds of families returned to their homes and towns in Deir Ezzor province’s eastern countryside which the Syrian Arab Army had liberated from Daesh (ISIS).

SANA’s reporter said that three thousand persons returned on Tuesday to their towns and homes in Deir Ezzor countryside as state establishments resumed operations and services were restored after the army removed all landmines and explosive devices planted by Daesh in the towns.

The reporter added that all workers started working in all the state institutions to provide most of the services for the displaced families who came back, such as providing drinking water, food, communications, and fuel, as well education, medical, and police services.

Army units, along with supporting forces, restored safety and security to many villages, towns, and farms in Deir Ezzor’s eastern countryside following operations against Daesh which resulted in killing thousands of terrorists and destroying hundreds of their vehicles and car bombs.

Maya Dayoub / Hazem Sabbagh
Two Civilians Including Child Killed, Six Injured in Terrorist Attacks in Aleppo, Damascus and Hama
16 January، 2018

Provinces, SANA- Two civilians, one of them a child, were killed and three others were injured on Tuesday due to a terrorist shell attack on al-Nile Street in Aleppo city.

A source at Aleppo Police Command said that terrorists, positioned in the western outskirts of Aleppo city, targeted the city with a number of shells as one of them fell on a kindergarten in al-Nile Street, killing a two year-old child and the driver of the kindergarten’s bus, and injuring three teachers.

Later, a source at Damascus Police Command said that armed groups located in the Eastern Ghouta area in Damascus Countryside fired a rocket a shell which struck a building near al-Tahi roundabout in Masaken Barzeh neighborhood in Damascus city, injuring one woman and causing material damage to houses and properties.

SANA’s correspondent said that the Syrian Arab Army responded to the attack by targeting the area from which the shell was launched with precision strikes, inflicting losses upon the armed groups.

In Hama, two women were seriously injured  when terrorist organizations targeted with rocket shells al-Saan town in the eastern countryside of the province.

The terrorist organizations fired two rocket shells on al-Saan town in the eastern countryside of Hama, injuring two women who were rushed to al-Salamiyeh National Hospital, in addition to causing material damage to citizens’ properties, according to SANA’s reporter.

English Bulletin
Khamenei: Iran Assumes Its Duty Towards Syria
16 January، 2018

Tehran, SANA- Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran Ali Khamenei said that Iran assumes its duty towards Syria because “this is its mission.”

Khamenei met speakers of the parliaments and delegations participating in the 13th Session of the Parliamentary Union of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Conference in Tehran on Tuesday.

During the meeting, Khamenei asked Speaker of the People’s Assembly, Hammoudah Sabbagh, to convey his amity and greetings to President Bashar al-Assad.

Khamenei, commenting on the US decision concerning Jerusalem, said that the Americans would not be able to carry out this measure and their efforts will not bear fruit.

For his part, Speaker Sabbagh conveyed President al-Assad’s greetings to Khamenei and the Syrian people’s amity and thanks for all the efforts exerted by Iran to support Syria’s steadfastness in the face of conspiracy to which it is exposed.

He expressed the Syrian people and leadership’s solidarity with Iran against the threats posed from outside.

Lavrov, Zarif Discuss Settlement of Crisis in Syria
16 January، 2018

Moscow, SANA – Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif discussed means to settle the crisis in Syria in a phone conversation on Tuesday.

The two sides exchanged views on a number of vital international issues, in particular the settlement of the crisis in Syria in the context of holding the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in the Russian city of Sochi, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

On Monday, Lavrov said that Russia will carry on with counterterrorism efforts in Syria in parallel with the preparations for holding the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi.

Manar al-Freih / Hazem Sabbagh
Rouhani: Iran Will Continue Backing Syria Till Victory Over Terrorism is Achieved
16 January، 2018

Tehran, SANA – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani affirmed on Tuesday that his country will continue supporting the Syrian government and people in their war on terrorism until the final victory in that battle is achieved.

The Iranian President’s remarks came during a meeting with Speaker of the Syrian People’s Assembly Hammoudeh Sabbagh, who heads the Syrian delegation to the Conference of Union of Councils of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Member States, which kicked off on the Iranian Capital of Tehran earlier this day.

Rouhani denounced the illegal presence of US forces on Syrian soil, which violates international laws and norms, indicating that Washington is leading a conspiracy against the sovereignty and unity of Syria and against the entire region.

He also stressed the importance of continuing the fight against terrorism and facing foreign intervention.

Manar al-Freih / Hazem Sabbagh
Union of Councils of Member States of OIC Conference Kicks Off With Participation of Syria 
16 January، 2018

Tehran, SANA- The conference of Union of Councils of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Member States kicked off in Tehran on Tuesday with the participation of Syria.

The Syrian delegation to the conference is headed by Speaker of the People’s Assembly, Hammoudah Sabbagh.

In his speech at the opening of conference, Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, has said that the Islamic states should unite and cooperate for rooting out extremism and terrorism and drying up their sources.

President Rouhani added that Iran was one of the pioneer countries which helped fighting terrorism and stood by Syria and Iraq in facing the terrorist powers.

He  stressed that one of the most important reasons for destabilizing the Middle East region is continuation of Zionist occupation of the Arab lands and the US government’s unwavering support and bias to this usurping entity and depriving the Palestinian people of their fundamental rights to establish an independent Palestinian state with al-Quds (Jerusalem) as its capital.

In turn, Speaker of the Iranian Shura Council, Ali Larijani, stressed the need for enhancing cooperation among the OIC member states in all domains, particularly in the economic field.

“Today, we are in dire need to further cooperation among the Islamic states in all domains,” Larijani said, hoping the conference to come up with outcomes that upgrade to the level of aspirations of the Islamic states.

Lebanon’s Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri , called for supporting the resistance of the Palestinian people in all its forms to realize the dream of return, self-determination and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

He urged the Arab countries to make a clear declaration recognizing the state of Palestine with al-Quds as its eternal capital.

Syria’s Ambassador to Tehran, Dr. Adnan Mahmoud, attended the opening of the conference.

On Saturday, activities of the 13th session of Union of Councils of Member States of OIC Conference were launched in Tehran with participation of Syria, experts and representatives of 44 states.

The five-day Conference is an annual event that tackles matters important to the Islamic states including the Palestinian Cause.

H. Zain/ Ghossoun
Arab Writers Union: Al-Quds Will Remain Arab in Identity
16 January، 2018

Damascus, SANA – The General Secretariat of the Arab Writers Union (AWU) affirmed that Al-Quds (Jerusalem) will remain Arab in identity and the capital of Palestine, condemning the US administration’s decision to recognize Al-Quds as the capital of the Israeli occupation entity.

In the recommendations and decisions issued at the conclusion of the periodic meeting of the Permanent Bureau of the AWU, which was held in Damascus over three days, the AWU called on all the unions in its member countries to raise the Palestinian flag next to each union building.

The Union announced that it will print a black book in many languages documenting the crimes committed by the Israeli occupation authorities in Palestine and Arab countries, and it will sent the book to the international cultural organizations and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and its affiliated institutions.

The Union stressed the the need to be open to changes in human life and the latest developments in science and technology.

Shaza / Hazem Sabbagh
Egyptian, Ethiopian FMs to Meet in Cairo on Wednesday for Cooperation Committee Talks
Ahram Online
Tuesday 16 Jan 2018

Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry will hold talks with his Ethiopian counterpart Tedros Adhanom in Cairo on Wednesday as part of meetings by a high-level joint cooperation committee.

The ministerial talks of the sixth meeting of the joint Egyptian-Ethiopian Higher Committee will set the stage for discussions between Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi andEthiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn this week.

The last meeting of the committee was held three years ago.

The new round will tackle regional and international political developments as well as discuss means of boosting bilateral economic, social and artistic ties, Egypt's foreign ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

The talks will also involve the signing of multiple memorandums of understanding, with officials from the ministries of trade, investment, irrigation, tourism and electricity to attend.

Tensions between Egypt and Ethiopia heightened in recent years over Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam, which Egypt worries could reduce its share of Nile water.

Ethiopia, which aims to become Africa’s biggest power exporter, says the dam will not have a negative impact on Egypt.
'Egypt Doesn't Conspire or Fight Against Its Brothers': President Sisi Tells Sudan and Ethiopia
Ahram Online
Monday 15 Jan 2018

Egypt is not willing to enter into a war with brotherly nations, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi affirmed on Monday during his inauguration of several development projects in the country.

El-Sisi's statements come amidst recent rising tensions between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.

"We will not enter a war. I tell this to our brothers in Ethiopia and Sudan: Egypt doesn’t conspire or interfere in the affairs of any country and is very keen on maintaining good relations between our nations," the president added.

"It is already enough what the region has already witnessed in the past years. We have a fixed policy of development, building and construction and nothing else," El-Sisi said.

"I say again, we will not enter a war against anybody, our country needs every pound," the Egyptian president added.

Sudan withdrew its ambassador from Cairo earlier this month after renewing its complaint to the United Nations Security Council over the Halayeb triangle region.

The Halayeb Triangle, located on Egypt's southern border with Sudan, has been a source of tension between the two countries since Sudan gained independence from joint British and Egyptian rule in 1956.

Both Cairo and Khartoum lay claim to the 20,580-square kilometer region, though Egypt exercises administrative control over it.

Relations between Egypt and Ethiopia have been strained in recent months over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) negotiations.

Last November, negotiations between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia broke down over how to conduct technical studies of the dam's potential impact on downstream countries.

Egypt approved of the initial report by the European consultancy firms, though Ethiopia and Sudan demanded major amendments to the proposed studies.

The dam, situated near Ethiopia's border with Sudan, is slated for completion this year and expected to generate 6,000 megawatts of electricity.

Ethiopia hopes to be able to export electricity generated by the dam, which will be the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa.

Cairo, however, has expressed concerns that the dam might reduce its share of Nile water.

Ethiopia maintains that the dam will not have any negative impact on Egypt or Sudan.