Saturday, September 20, 2014

Our Fighting Spirit Has Returned -Nigerian Army
Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
by UBONG UKPONG
Nigerian Mirror
Sep 21, 2014

The Nigerian Army, yesterday, declared that its fighting efficiency was back to what it was known for, which is the pride of the nation.

It said that it decided to put to test the return of its fighting efficiency in the battle of Konduga, Borno State, where its troops mas­sacred terrorists of the Boko Haram sect, captured its key leader and assorted war equipment to register their (troops) triumph in the encounters.

While the troops killed over 100 insurgents in Konduga last Friday, over 260 of the insurgents were reported to have been killed between Tuesday and Thursday, with a badly wounded high-ranking leader of the troublesome sect being held by the Army in Konduga.

Assorted arms and ammunition, Armoured Personnel Carrier, APC, three Hilux mounted with machine and anti-aircraft guns, General Purpose Ma­chine Guns, GPMGs, Rock­et Propelled Guns, RPGs, were amongst items recov­ered from the defeated in­surgents.

This is coming few days after the son of for­mer President Olusegun Obasanjo, an Army En­gineer, Lt-Col. Adeboye Obasajo, who led a platoon to salvage Adamawa State, was shot on his legs by in­surgents.

Excited by this victory, Director of Army Public Relations, DAPR, Brig-Gen. Olajide Laleye, said there was no going back in the fight to crush the Boko Haram sect and keep all parts of the Nigerian terri­tory intact.

Laleye told our Corre­spondent in Abuja, that “Fighting efficiency of the Nigerian Army is back to what anybody used to know. Our troops are gal­lant, morale and fighting spirit is now very high. I feel like a million dol­lars. I am happy that you are happy. Of course, you can be sure that the Chief of Army Staff is smiling right now.”
Again, Troops Wipe Out Scores of Boko Haram Fighters in Konduga
Federal Republic of Nigeria troops drilling.
By JACOB KUBEKA
Nigerian Accord

Nigerian military appears to have finally recreated themselves and are daily dealing heavy blows on Boko Haram terrorists operating in the North East parts of Nigeria.

Competent military sources disclosed that that early Wednesday morning, the troops successfully crushed an apparent revenge mission by the terrorists who attempted another march on the Borno State town where over 100 of them were killed last week.

Konduga is about 50 kilometres to Maiduguri.

After a fierce battle lasting more than 12 hours in the outskirts of the town, scores of the terrorists were again sent to hell this morning.

“Right now, our troops are combing the vicinity of the battle scene in a cordon and search operation to determine the exact casualty figures suffered by the terrorists in the encounter,” a defence source declared.

During the encounter, three Hilux vehicles, one armoured personnel carrier and a cache of arms and ammunition were confirmed captured by the troops.

Official Statement

Meanwhile a post on Defence Headquarters blog this afternoon states that: "Troops this morning successfully crushed another attempt by terrorists who were on a revenge mission to Konduga, after 12 hours of fighting in the outskirts of the Borno State community.  Troops are now combing the vicinity, in a cordon and search operation to determine the heavy casualties suffered by the terrorists in the encounter.

"Meanwhile, 3 Hilux vehicles, 1 Amoured Personnel Carried and a cache of arms and ammunition were confirmed captured by the troops.  More details later.
Ebola: Stop Turning Patients Away, UNFPA Boss Warns Hospitals
Reader views the Nigerian Guardian newspaper.
Saturday, 20 September 2014 21:19
Written by Laolu Akande, New York
Nigerian Guardian

NIGERIAN clinics and hospitals should not turn patients away because of fear of Ebola, said Executive Director of the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin, adding that such could lead to ethical concerns for medical doctors and poor healthcare for sick people.

    Osotimehin, a former Nigerian Health Minister, who has just been reappointed for a second term as UNFPA boss explained that the UN agency is now working with its country offices in parts of Africa dealing with Ebola to provide alternative clinics especially for expectant mothers in the wake of the impact of the deadly disease.

   Speaking during an interview in New York, the UNFPA boss, who is the most

senior Nigerian official at the UN currently, disclosed that he learnt “clinics in Lagos, Nigeria now have machines that measure temperature, the remote ones that can be carried. So, once you come in as a patient and your temperature is high, they turn you back.”

   Calling for a stop to the practice, the former minister said, “the ethics of it is wrong because even as a doctor you are expected to take all precautions and establish diagnosis, in which circumstance you can then advice the patient to go into isolation where they can be looked after.”

   He added, “the downside is that those clinics in Nigeria are going to turn back 95 per cent of the people who have chest infection, malaria, etc because less than one per cent of the population is suspected of having the Ebola virus.”

   If that continues, he warned, “soon, a lot of people will not know where to go anymore. There is need for better information management and clearer public health policies and more investments. Once these are done we should not have problems.”
Ebola: Uncertainty Over Schools Resumption In Nigeria
Nigerian school students.
Written by Marcel Mbamalu, Kamal Oropo and Chukwuma Muanya (Lagos), Lawrence Njoku (Enugu) Anietie Akpan (Calabar), Murtala Muhammed (Kano), Msugh Ityokura, Makurdi
Nigerian Guardian

school•  Teachers Divided

• We Are Going Ahead, Says Health Minister

AT best, confusion surrounds the planned reopening of schools Monday, after the Federal Government said the Ebola scourge has been contained, while parents and teachers in some states kick against it.

  The disagreement has remained a thorny issue, especially as Education remains on the Concurrent List, meaning that both Federal Government and states can act on issues thereon as they affect them. Already the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) has resisted tomorrow’s resumption date on grounds that necessary preventive measures (against Ebola) were not on ground in the schools, and urged the Federal Government to ensure that sanitisers and water, among others, are made available before resumption.  

   The schools, which were originally meant to reopen for the 2013/2014 academic session on September 15, 2014 were asked to suspend resumption until October 13, when the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak, in the thinking of government, would have been adequately contained.  But government was to change its mind for September 22 date after a special meeting, which declared that the EVD was not a real threat to academic activities across the country.

  Since then, controversy has trailed the planned reopening. As Federal Government insists on going ahead, some state governments say the coast is not yet clear for schools resumption. Rivers specifically fixed October 6, two weeks after the Federal Government-approved date, for schools resumption.

But Mr. Dan Nwomeh, the Special Assistant on Media and Communications to the Minister of Health Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, yesterday told The Guardian that: “Schools are resuming on Monday; there is no change to that decision. All I can confirm to you is that the Minister has not made any contrary statement.”

CROSS RIVER

  The NUT in Cross River State, yesterday, warned parents and the State Government against allowing students to return to schools tomorrow without putting adequate anti-Ebola measures in place. They said their teachers would not be available to resume with the children unless the state government provides all the facilities needed to guarantee safety.

  The State Chairman of the NUT, Comrade Eyonsa Itam Nsa, told The Guardian that teachers in the state would not resume until the government of Liyel Imoke fully complies with the NUT directive. He said the state government was only able to provide N14, 500 (N10,00 for the school; N4,500 for the head teacher) for each of the schools to  prevent possible outbreak of Ebola among the children.

There are neither enough water nor scanners in the schools to test pupils for Ebola.

LAGOS

   IN Lagos, the State Government and the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) appear to be on collusion course. The state chapter of the NUT has described as ill-advised the decision by the Federal Government to reopen schools, vowing to ensure that the schools remain under lock and key until all gadgets required to prevent the EVD are put in place.

   Speaking yesterday to The Guardian, Chairman of the NUT (Lagos Wing) Comrade Segun Raheem, claimed that the government was yet to make provisions for the resumption by providing the necessary gadget to prevent the scourge. His words: “Schools will only resume when gadgets to prevent EVD have been put in place.

   “From the report we have, Lagos State has not done that. On Thursday when I spoke with state Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Olayinka Oladunjoye, she promised that those things would be ready by Monday. As of yesterday, those prevention gadgets are yet to be made available.

    But Special Adviser (Media) to the State Governor, Mr. Hakeem Bello, said every necessary plan had been taken to ensure hitch-free resumption. He said: “We should not be hampered by fear of what is no more on ground. Lagos State is safe for resumption of schools, as far as Ebola is concerned. We use this opportunity to call on the members of the NUT to cooperate with the government.”

ENUGU

  Official of NUT Enugu were not willing to comment on the matter, but there are high hopes that students will return to school by Monday, as there was no announcement to the contrary.

ANAMBRA AND ABIA

  There were also strong indications that schools will reopen in Anambra and Abia states as neither the state governments nor the NUT in both states made any statement suggesting otherwise.

  Mr. Emeka Ozumba, the special adviser (Media) to Governor Wilie Obiano of Anambra State, in a text message last night, confirmed that schools and their teachers were ready for students’ return. “Anambra (schools) resume tomorrow,” Ozumba said.

KANO

  Kano state chapter of the NUT has insisted that teachers across the state would not comply with the September 22 school resumption date until the state government fulfills all the required righteousness.

   Subsequently, the NUT directed members in both public primary and secondary schools in Kano to disregard the stipulated date until further instruction is issued from the union’s office.

   Nevertheless the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools in Kano has resolved to return to school on Monday (tomorrow).

    In a communiqué signed by the NUT state chairman and secretary Lawan Abdu Garun Malam and Haruna Mohammed Ilallah respectively, the teachers posited that council had resolved to steer clear of the classrooms due to government’s refusal to comply with “all the needful” before resumption date.

    The teachers claimed that government had refused to integrate the Union in the scheme of activities set up to check possible spread of Ebola in Kano.

BENUE

  In Benue, tomorrow’s planned resumption for schools is still a subject of controversy, as the NUT insists it is not convinced of the Federal Government’s level of preparedness.

 While the government is adamant on the said resumption date, the NUT is demanding an extension of resumption time.

   The State Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Elizabeth Ugo, who spoke with newsmen on the matter in Makurdi yesterday, insisted that “the proposed resumption date stands.”

  She stated: “The resumption date remains Monday, although meeting and consultation are ongoing; so, if there are changes, you will be informed,” even as she remained silent on the level of government’s preparedness to that effect.

  But while the state chairman of the NUT, Mr. Godwin Anyaka, could not be reached for comments, a source at the secretariat informed The Guardian yesterday that the state branch of the union was following the instructions of the Federal Government on the matter.

NORTH-EAST

  Meanwhile, indications are rife that there could be difficulties in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states, where insurgency is taking a toll on governance. The Guardian learnt that, should schools resume tomorrow in Adamawa, it would only be feasible in few local governments.
Lesotho’s Patriotism to Solve Impasse Encouraging – Ramaphosa
South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa in talks with
Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane.
September 19, 2014 at 12:47 pm UTC

South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday said he was encouraged by a deep sense of patriotism among all political role-players in Lesotho and their determination to help find a lasting solution to the country’s current challenges.Ramaphosa, who is the Southern African Development Community (SADC) facilitator in the Lesotho crisis, was speaking at the end of his first official visit to the kingdom as part of regional efforts to assist the people of the country to find a peaceful resolution to their current challenges.

During the visit, the Deputy President briefed Lesotho King Letsie III on the mandate from the South African Development Community (SADC) Troika plus the DR Congo and Tanzania, which met in Pretoria on Monday, to chart the way forward out of the current challenges facing his kingdom.

Critical among the issues was an agreement by the role players to bring forward elections in Lesotho, the reconvening of parliament as well as the stabilisation of the security situation in the country.

The Facilitator also met the three leaders of the coalition government led by Prime Minister Tom Thabane and Deputy Prime Minister Metsing as well as members of the College of Chiefs and members of main and small opposition political parties to exchange views on the current situation and map the way forward.

According to the Presidency, all parties welcomed the visit and committed themselves to working with SADC to resolve the political challenges facing Maseru.

Ramaphosa will return to the Lesotho capital on Monday next week for a two-day visit as part of a series of visits that he will be making to assist the country to find an amicable resolution to its current challenges, according to the Presidency.
Lesotho to Hold Early Elections
Lesotho elections during 2012.
Lesotho may head to the polls soon in an attempt to restore political stability, as the country's leadership crisis appears to be intensifying

16 Sep 2014 11:20 AFP

Lesotho’s leaders plan to head to the polls early to restore political order following stalled peace talks between deadlocked political parties.

As a result of the coalition government not being “fully functional”, Lesotho’s leaders are planning to “shorten the mandate of the coalition,”  said South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane on Monday.

Lesotho is currently due to hold elections in 2017. The country should now focus on “free, fair and incident free democratic elections for a fresh mandate,” said Nkoana-Mashabane.

After weeks of failed talks, South Africa hosted an emergency meeting of regional leaders to negotiate a peace deal for Lesotho.

South African President Jacob Zuma and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, chairperson of the 15-member Southern African Development Community (SADC), sat down with Lesotho’s leaders to hash out a solution after rival party leaders failed to patch up their differences.

Along with the early election date – to be announced “as soon as possible,” according to Nkoana-Mashabane – SADC said it will send an observation mission, led by South Africa and including Zimbabwe, to Lesotho for three months to ensure peace and stability.

“Are we deploying soldiers to Lesotho or Kingdom of Lesotho as SADC? The answer is, ‘No’,” said Nkoana-Mashabane.

“They need to go back to the electorate,” said the minister, “but they need to be assisted so that political challenges don’t get mixed up with the security challenges.”

Reopening Parliament

On August 30, an attempted coup by renegade general Tlali Kamoli saw the military assault several police stations, prompting Prime Minister Tom Thabane to flee the country.

Thabane has since returned, protected by South African guards, but a Pretoria-brokered peace deal quickly disintegrated after he refused to reopen Parliament.

Reopening the legislature – which was shuttered in June – is seen as a key step toward restoring normality in the tiny mountainous state.

In Maseru, the political crisis appears to be intensifying.

A coalition of opposition parties has joined forces and called on the ruling tripartite coalition to reopen Parliament, which is likely to result in an immediate vote of no-confidence for Thabane.

Politicians also rallied behind Kamoli.

The renegade general has refused a prime ministerial order to resign and has apparently raided government armouries in preparation for a showdown.

His allies have warned of a “bloodbath” if he is forcibly removed.

“The whole thing is a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation,” said defence analyst Helmoed Romer Heitman.

“I can see the point he is reluctant to reopen Parliament while there is a risk of his family being attacked; on the other hand there is no military solution to the problem,” said Heitman, speaking from Pretoria.

“You can’t solve a political problem with a military solution,” he said. “You can enforce something for a while, but it can’t last forever.”

Heitman said it is unlikely that South Africa will send troops to Lesotho. “I don’t see South Africa putting in troops unless they are pretty certain a political solution is to follow,” he said.

A military intervention would not be welcome in Lesotho, where many are traumatised by the events of 1998, when post-election violence prompted South African troops to intervene with SADC approval.

Criminal probe

Police said on Monday that they had launched a criminal investigation into the August 30 events, according to Maseru Police District Commissioner Mofokeng Kolo.

The military assault killed one officer at police headquarters in Maseru, injured nine others, caused significant damage to two other stations and police were “robbed” of nearly four dozen automatic weapons, Kolo said.

The dead officer, Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko, was reportedly guarding the armoury.

“We believe justice must be done,” Kolo told Agence France-Presse. “We believe these acts were illegal and a criminal offence – and we shouldn’t keep quiet about them.”

He rejected calls for amnesty, which supporters say could help end the crisis.

“We can even talk about amnesty before reconciliation,” Kolo said. “And we can’t talk about reconciliation while we’re still in the middle of this situation.”

– AFP
Lesotho Police, Military in Early Morning Shootout
Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane.
Sep 19, 2014
Agency Staff

In the latest spasm of violence to rock the country, police and military exchanged gunfire in Maseru at 3am after soldiers drove past the home of a cop force commander

MASERU — Police and military exchanged gunfire in Lesotho’s capital Maseru in the early hours of Friday, the latest spasm of violence to rock Africa’s tiny mountain kingdom.

Maseru Police District Commissioner Mofokeng Kolo told AFP that the shooting occurred at 3am local time when soldiers suspiciously drove past the home of a police force commander, Khothatso Tsooana.

"If they were planning something, I’m not sure... Soldiers came close, and the police on guard followed them" for about 2km.

"I don’t know yet who fired first," he said, adding that there were no injuries as a result of the shootout.

On August 30 the tiny nation surrounded by South Africa was rocked by a coup attempt that saw the prime minister flee to its larger neighbour and the military attack several police stations, killing one officer and forcibly disarming police.

Police are seen as loyal to Prime Minister Tom Thabane while sections of the military are allied to his political foes.

Blame

The August violence was blamed on "renegade" Lesotho Defence Force commander Tlali Kamoli, who has refused to step down and has been blamed for a series of attacks on police and political rivals.

Mr Kamoli — who is reportedly surrounded by a group of armed loyalists — faces accusations of mutiny and treason, but remains free.

Tensions heightened on Thursday with the funeral of Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko, the police officer killed on August 30, who was reportedly guarding the police armoury that army soldiers then raided.

About 2,000 police attended the emotional memorial service.

Southern Africa states have pressed Lesotho’s leaders to solve the crisis, but they remain deadlocked with Mr Thabane saying he cannot meet demands to reopen parliament until Mr Kamoli is brought under control. Regional bloc SADC has called for early elections to be called and for South African police to be sent to the country to protect Mr Thabane and his allies.

AFP
Middle East Updates: Tens of Thousands of Syrian Kurds Flee Into Turkey, Group Says
Anti-NATO protests in Turkey during 2013.
Renewed Yemen clashes kill 4 civilians; UN reaffirms support for force in Golan; Jihadi ideologue urges Islamic State to free British hostage, saying Islam forbids harming aid workers

By Haaretz
Sep. 20, 2014 | 6:26 PM

Haaretz's latest Middle East analyses and opinions: Who's on whose side in fight against Islamic State (Zvi Bar'el).

Latest updates:

6:26 P.M. US airstrikes were directed at the city center of jihadist-occupied Mosul for the first time Saturday, marking a strategic shift in the aerial campaign against the militant group known as the Islamic State.

Since the US began its strikes in northern Iraq in August, the pounding has targeted Islamic State targets on the outskirts of Mosul, which has been in jihadists' control since June. But on Saturday, airstrikes concentrated upon the group's gatherings and facilities deep inside Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, according to local residents. "The air raids caused heavy losses," one resident told DPA by phone without elaborating. There was no official comment.

The bombardment comes a day after France launched its first strikes against the Islamic State in north-eastern Iraq. The French strikes, which targeted a depot manned by the al-Qaida splinter group, killed at least 75 militants, independent Iraqi site Alsumaria News reported Saturday, citing an unnamed intelligence official.

The US is seeking to build an international coalition to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and neighboring Syria, where the extremist Sunni group controls considerable territory. (DPA)

1:54 P.M. Yemeni security officials and witnesses say four civilians have been killed in a third day of fighting between Shiite rebels and Sunni militiamen in the capital Sanaa. (AP)

1:40 P.M. More than 300 Kurdish fighters have crossed into Syria from Turkey to help push back an Islamic State advance on a Kurdish border town, a group monitoring Syria's conflict said on Saturday.

"They crossed over last night, they are more than 300," said Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that monitors the war using sources on the ground. He said it was not clear which group the fighters belonged to but said they had joined Kurdish forces in Syria who are fighting Islamic State around the town of Ayn al-Arab, known as Kobani in Kurdish. (Reuters)

1:06 P.M. Yemen's state-run television building caught fire as mortar attacks continued by Shi'ite rebels who are protesting against the government, residents and a TV employee said on Saturday.

The fighting expanded mainly between the Houthis and tribesmen allied with the al-Ahmar clan. Prominent figures from the mainly Sunni Muslim clan, one of the most powerful tribes in Yemen, hold senior positions in the armed forces and the government.

Part of the TV building, which is located near other vital state institutions, caught fire after shelling intensified on Saturday morning, the employee told Reuters, adding that hundreds were trapped in the building as a result. (Reuters)

11:43 A.M. An Israeli drone has crashed in southern Lebanon, Lebanese media report. (Jacky Khoury) Read full article

10:48 A.M. Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said on Saturday 45,000 Syrian Kurds had crossed into Turkey over the past day, fleeing an advance by Islamic State militants after Ankara opened a stretch of the border.

"Around 45,000 Syrian Kurds have crossed the border as of now from eight entrance points along a 30 km distance from Akcakale to Mursitpinar since we opened the border yesterday," Kurtulmus told CNN Turk television. (Reuters) Read full article

10:22 A.M. A renowned jihadi ideologue has urged the Islamic State group to release British aid worker Alan Henning, saying Islam forbids harming non-Muslims who work with relief agencies.

Abu Mohammed al-Maqdisi, who was released by Jordan in June after serving a five-year sentence on terror charges, said in a statement posted on his website and by a militant forum Saturday that non-Muslims who help weak and poor Muslims should be respected and protected.

Al-Maqdisi, also known as Essam al-Barqawi, was the mentor of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al-Qaida in Iraq who was killed in a U.S. airstrike in 2006. (AP)

8:44 A.M. The release on Saturday of 49 Turkish hostages seized by Islamic State insurgents in northern Iraq in June was part of a "pre-planned operation" by Turkish intelligence, President Tayyip Erdogan said in a statement cited by broadcaster NTV.

The hostages, including Turkey's consul-general, diplomats' children and special forces soldiers, were brought safely into Turkey by its MIT intelligence agency in the early hours of Saturday, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said earlier. (Reuters) Read full article

2:54 A.M. The UN Security Council urged the international community Friday to expand support for the Iraqi government as it fights the Islamic State group and its allies, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said there is a role for nearly every country in the world — including Iran.

The presidential statement approved by all 15 council members at a meeting chaired by Kerry expressed "deep outrage" at the killing, kidnapping, rape and torture carried out by the Islamic State group. Some of those acts might constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity, it said. (AP)

2:27 A.M. The UN Security Council on Friday reaffirmed its unconditional support for maintaining the U.N. peacekeeping force in the Golan Heights that has been caught up in Syria's civil war.

Questions about the future of the 12,000-strong force had been raised after the abduction of 45 Fijian peacekeepers by al-Qaida-linked rebels who later freed them. The UN then withdrew soldiers from many positions on the Golan Heights last weekend because of escalating fighting in Syria.

A presidential statement approved Friday by the 15-member council made clear that the force will not be withdrawn or disbanded. (AP)
Traditional Leader Refuses Foreign Intervention in Libya
Damage at the Tripoli airport destroyed by rebels.
Over the past few days, Libya has witnessed a state of complete chaos since the Fajr Libya (Libya Dawn) coalition took control of its capital, Tripoli, and deemed the National Congress the representative of the Libyan people. Meanwhile, violent battles continue to rage between Khalifa Hifter’s forces and the Fajr militias. Add to this the fighting between rival Libyan militias amid a state of chaos that threatens an international intervention in the crisis. ​​Ezz El-Arab Abu al-Qasim, mastermind of the foreign Media Office of the Supreme Council for the Libyan Tribes, gave an interview to Azzaman and expressed his point of view about the current events. The interview follows:

Azzaman:  First, we would like to know, what role has the Council of Arab Tribes played, particularly in regard to fighting terrorism?

Qasim:  The Council of Arab Tribes contains all shades of the Libyan people, and it was declared in the media and at political and social levels as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people by virtue of its components. We [the council] advocate canceling all of the agreements concluded by the National Congress, and call for the return of displaced Libyans, who are estimated at 2 million due to the NATO bombing. Their number has increased to 3.5 million emigrants because of the terrorist attacks suffered in Benghazi and across Libya over the past days, and due to the release of political prisoners who were detained by militias. The council aims at stopping Qatar and Turkey from supporting US-sponsored militias. It [the council] is leading the war against terrorism, as are tribes fighting terrorist operations backed by Qatar and Turkey, under US auspices, especially considering that Libyan tribes form the backbone of the Libyan National Army because Libya is composed of tribes.

Azzaman:  Does the militias’ takeover of Libya's capital, Tripoli, mean that Libya has already been divided?

Qasim:  There are two governments now: a terrorist government in Tripoli and another in the eastern region, which is the beginning of division. However, the Arab tribes did not allow the implementation of this division because they are keen on the unity of Libya and reject the principle of division and foreign interference. We would like to tell our Arab brothers and friends abroad that the tribes are the only solution to the security problem in Libya.

Azzaman:  There were reports that some tribes have occupied some areas and besieged others occupied by militias. Is there any truth to this?

Qasim:  The tribes did not occupy any area. They are defending the tribal areas in order to repel the invasion of Libyan terrorist militias, which enter the cities and carry out looting, rapes and murders.

Azzaman:  Where do the Libyan militias get weapons from?

Qasim:  We got the weapons — which are not sophisticated — from the former Libyan army warehouses, and there are weapons that we obtained during battles with militias.

Azzaman:  How do you explain the escalation of the terrorist operations which have evolved from individual operations to militias possessing sophisticated weapons?

Qasim:  Before the NATO operations in Libya, the Libyan people used to be as one, in a secure environment free of kidnappings or terrorism. However, after the fall of the former regime, which we called the February setback, a wave of murder and kidnapping of ambassadors started under the auspices of the US, Qatar and Turkey, which supply the militias with terrorist weapons. There are more than 200 US troops who set fire to Tripoli airport, along with terrorist militias.

Azzaman:  But there are some who confirm that the terrorist militias got their arms from the former Libyan army warehouses.

Qasim:  This is not true. The weapons that are now in the hands of terrorist militias are sophisticated. They were not part of the former [Moammar] Gadhafi brigades. The weapons that are now with the militias arrived from abroad, through the airport of Misrata and through Khartoum, Qatar and Turkey.

Azzaman:  Could you tell us about the extent of coordination between you and Hifter’s forces that are fighting the terrorist militias?

Qasim:  There is no Libyan government for us to coordinate with. There are two governments: a weak one in the eastern region and another pro-Muslim Brotherhood one. We support any party that executes operations against terrorists.

Azzaman:  Rumor has it that Egypt and the UAE intervened in the crisis and that Egyptian and Emirati aircraft struck the militia locations. Is this true?

Qasim:  The situation in Libya is too great for Egypt and Libya to deal with. It is a global conspiracy led by the EU and the United States. They have all colluded to occupy Libya, and the only point of disagreement is how to share the pie. The United States is trying to drag Egypt to a war in Libya, under the pretext of facing the Brotherhood, but the leaders in Egypt are aware of the implications of this plan.

Azzaman:  According to some reports, 5,000 Islamic State (IS) members have been deployed in the eastern region. How true is that?

Qasim:  There are around 15,000 fighters of different nationalities from Ansar al-Sharia, who are affiliated with IS, in the Derna region, and trying to infiltrate through the Egyptian border to drag Egypt into a confrontation with them.

Azzaman:  How can you explain the clashes between the different Libyan militias to take over Tripoli and some of the other regions?

Qasim:  Terrorist militias are fighting over power, and each militia has an agenda for a certain state. Some militias are affiliated with the United States, while others side with Britain or France. The Libyan people are the only losers in this confrontation.

Azzaman:  How effective are the decisions taken by the Ministerial for the Neighboring Countries of Libya in Cairo, regarding the arms of militias?

Qasim:  With all due respect for the Egyptian minister of foreign affairs, this initiative will not go beyond the Semiramis Hotel. Which party is willing to implement this initiative, knowing that the Libyan tribes alone are capable of doing so? There should be communication with these tribes, and they should be supported politically, socially and economically.

Azzaman:  What was the role of the tribes in freeing the Egyptian trucks?

Qasim:  The tribes have social influence over the abductors. When the Egyptian truck drivers were abducted in Ajdabiya, the Libyan tribes and Awlad Ali tribe addressed the abductors and negotiated with them until the Egyptian drivers were released.

Azzaman:   It is noteworthy that most terrorist operations are against Egyptians. Why?

Qasim:  The terrorist cells in Libya are working with Egyptian agents to pressure the Egyptian government and shake the security in Egypt because they believe that the current regime is threatening for them. They are trying to drain Egypt on both security and economic levels.

Azzaman:  How true is the news about Seif al-Islam Gadhafi leading the resistance in Libya?

Qasim:  Seif al-Islam is not Gadhafi's heir. Ahrar al-Alam inherited his strategic national project, which grants power to the people and enroots the public system. We call for the release of Seif al-Islam because he is not guilty, but one of the Libyans who fought the NATO.

Azzaman:  Is there nostalgia for the days of Gadhafi? In Egypt, for example, there was nostalgia for Hosni Mubarak’s days.

Qasim:  The former regime in Egypt and Libya did not have agents for the West. But, it did maintain Libya’s stability, security and unity and ensured the cohesion of the social composition. Despite the disadvantages, the situation did not reach the level of murder and rape that we see in Libya currently.

Azzaman:  What is your reply to the calls of the Libyan government to be handed the figures of the former regime [who are in Egypt]?

Qasim:  The history of Egypt shows that it has always refused to hand over any political refugee and that it accommodates all the opposition’s Arabs. I think that Egypt will refuse to hand over any political refugee to Libya because it realizes that this is a crime against humanity, especially as there isn’t a trustworthy government in Libya currently.

Azzaman: Is an Arab or foreign intervention needed to save Libya?

Qasim:  We refuse any Arab and foreign intervention in Libya’s affairs because Libya’s problem is internal. Each state should protect its border and forbid the entry of arms and terrorists to Libya. We can then guarantee winning our battle against terrorism.

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/politics/2014/09/tribes-libya-battle-militias-egypt.html##ixzz3Ds9ktl76
Turkey Says Islamic State Freed 49 Hostages Captured in June
NATO member Turkey transporting US-made Patriot missiles.
By Selcan Hacaoglu
Bloomberg
Sep 20, 2014 9:46 AM ET

Turkey won the release of 46 citizens and three Iraqis taken hostage by Islamic State in a raid on a consulate in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul in June, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said.

The hostages, including Consul General Ozturk Yilmaz, arrived in Ankara by plane today after being handed to Turkish agents without a fight, Davutoglu said in televised comments. Turkey didn’t pay a ransom nor accept conditions in exchange for the release of the hostages, state-run Anadolu Agency said, citing unnamed officials.

“Our contacts intensified after midnight and they came home at 5 a.m. today,” Davutoglu said today in Azerbaijan, where he cut short a business trip to fly to Turkey to meet the hostages and take them to the capital. “After intense efforts that lasted days and weeks, in the early hours, our citizens were handed over to us and we brought them back to our country.”

Turkey has been under pressure from the U.S. and its allies to join the fight against the Islamic State, which has seized swaths of Syrian land along the Turkish border. More than 60,000 Syrian Kurd refugees crossed the border overnight, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said today. Turkey had been reluctant to provide military help while the hostage standoff persisted, although the country has confirmed sharing intelligence with allies about the Islamist group.

Religious Concerns

“The release of the hostages just made it more difficult for Turkey to firmly say ‘no’ to allies,” Haluk Ozdemir, head of international relations at Kirikkale University, said by phone today. Turkey may yet resist joining the fight as the majority of Turkish and Islamic State militants are Sunni Muslims, he said.

The U.S. will “take action against terrorists in Iraq or in Syria, but this is not America’s fight alone,” President Barack Obama said today in his weekly address.

The circumstances surrounding the hostage release were “strange,” according to Theodore Karasik, director of research at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis in Dubai.

“They returned perfectly fine; it seems resolved through negotiations via Sunni tribes,” he said by phone. “It’s not going to look good because it shows Turkey in other countries’ eyes is playing a double game.”

Islamic State has beheaded two American journalists and a British aid worker in response to U.S.-led military intervention in Iraq. The al-Qaeda breakaway group is also holding another British aid worker, Alan Henning, as hostage, the Foreign Office said Sept. 14.

Intelligence Tracked

Yilmaz and others, including diplomats, policemen and some family members including babies, entered Turkey at the Akcakale border crossing, according to Davutoglu.

The hostages were moved to eight different locations in Mosul and were tracked by drones and other intelligence during their captivity, Anadolu said. Five or six attempts to free them failed because of fighting in the area, according to the agency. The hostages were released in the Syrian border town of Tal Abyad, NTV television said today, citing unnamed security officials.

“Turkey probably sought help from key Sunni clans in Iraq and Islamic State agreed to release hostages over considerations regarding balance of power in Iraq,” Nihat Ali Ozcan, an analyst at the Economic Policy Research Foundation in Ankara, said by phone.

To contact the reporter on this story: Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara at shacaoglu@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alaa Shahine at asalha@bloomberg.net John Bowker, Randall Hackley

Friday, September 19, 2014

ICJ to Open the First Hearing of Somali-Kenya Maritime Border Dispute
Horn of Africa and the eastern region.
September 19, 2014
Mogadishu (RBC)

The International Court of Justice will open the first session of hearing the case of the maritime border dispute between Somalia and Kenya next week, senior Somali government official told RBC Radio.

The hearing will take place in the court’s headquarters in The Hague where Somali Government has filed its complaints against Kenya’s motive to steal part of Somalia’s maritime boundary.

“The hearing will commence on next week as there are international lawyers helping Somalia to defend its legal borders against Kenya.” Abdi Hassan, of Somalia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said.

Somali Government said it will never accept Kenya’s efforts to sieze part of the nation’s boundary even if the country has been in anarchy for ore than two decades.

Last week President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has mentioned that despite Kenya’s attempt to claim 150kms of Somalia’s maritime boundary, that his government will continue to defend for Somalia’s maritime in a legal manner in front of international justice.

Meanwhile Kenyan officials said on Wednesday that they hired a team of international lawyers to defend its claim to seize the maritime boundary of Somalia.

RBC Radio
SOMALIA: London Conference Announces Support to the Somali National Army (COMMUNIQUÉ)

September 19, 2014
London (RBC)

The UK and Somalia co-hosted a meeting to discuss support to the Ministry of Defence and Somali National Army

On 18 September 2014 at Lancaster House, the United Kingdom and Somalia co-hosted a meeting to discuss support to the Somali National Army.  A senior Somali delegation, led by Prime Minister Abdiweli, was joined by senior political and military representatives from: the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, European Union, Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, Italy, Kenya, Turkey, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia, United States of America.

The Somali National Army is currently engaged in joint operations with (AMISOM), targeting Al-Shabab, under Operation Indian Ocean. It is key to both the success of this campaign and in providing long term security and stability to Somalia.  In this regard, we thanked AMISOM and the Somali National Army for their continuing efforts and successes. Noting the sacrifices both have made, we registered our deepest sympathy for those that have lost their lives or been injured, and their families; and committed to continue our support for both.

This meeting was convened to debate the strengthening of the Somali National Army in the short and medium term, and to ensure that donor support for the Somali National Armyis optimised to enable this.Our discussions centred around the Federal Government’s vision for an affordable, accountable and professional Army, and its capabilities and requirements; the parallel political and fiscal tracks that are critical to the development of the Army; a mutual accountability framework through which we can monitor and evaluate progress; and a follow-up mechanism to ensure targeted and coordinated interventions.

The Federal Government outlinedthe Ministry of Defence’s path to development of the Somali National Army up to 2019, and the immediate requirements of its troops. We agreed that it represented a realistic vision, including on the parallel political and economic tracks, and that efforts to support the Army should be focussed, in the immediate term, on those troops currently in theatre, fighting alongside AMISOM. We agreed this focus would be essential to the success of the joint offensive targeting Al-Shabab and the consolidation of gains in newly recovered areas. We, therefore, committed to focus our assistance, through both new initiatives and the review and adjustment of current support, on the Somali National Army’s immediate requirements, noting the difficulties of simultaneously having to fight a war and undertake reform. Basic training should be standardised and delivered inside Somalia.

In this regard, we welcomed the ongoing work of the Federal Government of Somalia, AMISOM troop contributing countries and the United Nations in the provision of refresher training and Human Rights training in order that Somali National Army troops in theatre are able to receive United Nations-mandated logistical support through the UN-administered trust fund. We called on all to ensure this training and the biometric registration of troops is completed as soon as possible, and on United Nations Support Office for AMISOM to ensure logistical support is delivered in a timely and coordinated manner. We welcomed the commitment of regional countries to assist in the ongoing efforts to train the Somali National Army.

We discussed the importance of transparency and accountability, and welcomed the Federal Government’s commitment to them. Moving forward, we agreed it would be important that the Federal Government and donors were able to better demonstrate progress against both. We agreed that a Mutual Accountability Framework would help in doing so, and that it should focus on parallel political and fiscal tracks critical to the Somali National Army’s development. And that, within each pillar, clear and achievable key benchmarks would be identified, against which progress can be measured.

We welcomed the Federal Government’s commitment to integrate regional militias, in consultation with regional partners, by 2016. We agreed that effective integrationis an essential step along the way to both Somali National Army development and linked state-building goals; the integration of local militia forces into the Somali National Army, and other federal and regional security structures, is a critical part of the formation of a federal Somalia. We welcomed progress on the Federal Government’s roadmap on the integration of forcesand agreed to develop rapidly a concept note and detailed plan setting out the principles of said integration. Noting that timely implementation of the roadmap will be critical to efforts to support the immediate development of the Army, we agreed that the integration process would be the key political benchmark against which progress would be measured and should therefore constitute the cornerstone of the Mutual Accountability Framework.

We agreed that there should be three other pillars to the Framework, and that, as set out by the Federal Government, these should relate to arms embargo compliance, fiscal planning and human rights compliance. These would be complemented by the collective donor offer to better coordinate and target support, and to improve timeliness and execution of delivery, focussing on Federal Government priorities.

The Federal Government has previously committed to taking all measures necessary to comply with the United Nations Arms Embargo and has started implementation of these, with a view to its eventual lift. We welcomed its reaffirmation of this, the efforts it is already making to comply and its future plans, as set out today, to address outstanding compliance issues as identified by the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group, including through the work of the Arms and Ammunition Steering Group.

Noting the Federal Government’s commitment to upholding human rights standards, we welcomed its plans to institute those standards throughout the Somali National Army during these early stages of development, and the identification of milestones along the way.

We welcomed the Federal Government’s commitment to financing Somali National Army salaries as soon as it was able, and noted that,in the meantime, support to assist them to do so was crucial. We agreed that the Federal Government’s ongoing public financial management reform work (through the Ministry of Finance)should provide the framework for the development of a financing strategy for the security sector. A public expenditure review of the Somali security forces, including the Somali National Army, should be central to those discussions.

We noted that this meeting was the start of the important process of developing the SNA. We agreed that a fully coordinated effort is essential to ensuring progress. In this regard, we welcomed the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia’s table detailing donor support to the Somali National Army and undertaking to ensure it remains current and so a useful tool for targeting and de-conflicting support as part of the implementation of the Somali New Deal Compact.

We noted that implementation will require consensus and a clear and coherent approach from both the Federal Government, through its national security architecture, and from international partners through relevant coordination mechanisms. We agreed that those mechanismsmust ensure follow-up and monitor and evaluate our collective efforts. We welcomed the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia’s offer to marshal these efforts, through the Mogadishu-based Defence Working Group, and its undertaking to arrange a follow-up meeting within three months to evaluate progress. We committed to facilitate the development of a chronological, standardised, synchronised and prioritised development plan for an inclusive, multi-region and professional Somali National Army, developed jointly by the Federal Government of Somalia and international partners, to present at that meeting.

We welcomed, too, the undertaking of the co-Chairs of PSG2 (United States of America and Turkey) to ensure that development of the Somali National Army is factored into efforts on wider security sector reform under the New Deal Compact’s Security pillar – Peacebuilding and State-building Goal 2 (PSG2). We agreed to attend follow-up meetings in Mogadishu under the auspices of PSG2, before and after the High-Level Partnership Forum in Copenhagen, and undertook to communicate our efforts to develop the Somali National Army to the wider international community at the High-Level Partnership Forum on 19-20 November 2014.

During the course of the day, we welcomed the announcement of donor commitments, including an additional pledge of $5m to the UNSOA Trust Fund from the US Government, to address some of the immediate requirements of the Ministry of Defence and Somalia National Army, including through the provision of training (which should be standardised and localised), logistical support and payment of troop stipends. These will be realised through both recalibration of existing efforts and pledges of new support.
Bodies Found After Ebola Health Workers Go Missing in Guinea
Liberia where the Ebola virus in spreading further.
Team spreading awareness of deadly virus set upon by angry residents in remote village

Monica Mark, West Africa correspondent
The Guardian, Thursday 18 September 2014 18.35 EDT

The prime minister of Guinea said that seven bodies had been found after a team of health workers went missing during a push to raise awareness of the outbreak of Ebola which started in the country nine months ago.

Witnesses said the team were set upon by angry residents in the remote village of Womey, where many remain in denial about the disease, or suspicious of foreign health workers. Several failed to return following the visit on Tuesday. Officials earlier said some – including three journalists and the director and two senior doctors of the main local hospital – were being held captive. Atempts to reach them stalled when angry residents destroyed bridges leading to the village.

"The meeting started off well; the traditional chiefs welcomed the delegation with 10 kola nuts as a traditional greeting," said a resident who was present at the meeting and gave only his first name, Yves. "It was afterwards that some youths came out and started stoning them. They dragged some of them away, and damaged their vehicles."

In an announcement made on state television late on Thursday, Mohamed Saïd Fofana said authorities had located the bodies a day after the group was abducted. Among the dead were three Guinean radio journalists who had been covering the education efforts.

A government spokesman, Damantang Albert Camara. told Reuters: "The bodies were found in the village latrine. Three of them had their throats slit." Some others from the delegation are still believed to be missing.

The Ebola outbreak across five west African countries has spiralled into the world's biggest ever epidemic, with more than 700 cases – out of 5,300 overall – emerging in the past week alone, the World Health Organisation said on Thursday.

The WHO said there was a desperate shortage of health workers and supplies in an epidemic likely to last many more months. Health workers across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, where most of the cases are, have been periodically attacked by citizens in a region experiencing the deadly virus for the first time.

The district of Nzérékoré, where the team disappeared, exploded in clashes after health workers tried to spray the local market last month. About 50 people were arrested and two dozen police officers who were sent to quell the riots were injured.

In Sierra Leone, almost 30,000 volunteers will go house-to-house to raise awareness of the disease during a three-day "lockdown", when residents have been asked to remain at home. Thousands of soldiers are to enforce the curfew, due to start at midnight on Thursday.

A sluggish international response to the crisis has picked up in recent days. The US will send 3,000 troops to Liberia to help provide desperately-needed boots on the ground in the country hardest hit by the outbreak.

France's president, François Hollande, said the former colonial power would set up a military hospital to help tackle the disease in Guinea.
After Ebola: Rebuilding Liberia’s Health Care Infrastructure
Healthcare workers in Liberia disposing of dead body.
By Michael Murphy and Alan Ricks
 Boston Globe
SEPTEMBER 17, 2014

Health workers in protective suits carried the body of an Ebola victim in Liberia on Friday.

Last July the Ministry of Health building in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital city, was set on fire. We were shocked: Our designers had been in that exact building only a few months before, presenting a final draft of National Health Infrastructure Standards that we were then helping develop. According to reports, a man whose relative had just died of Ebola started the fire at the Ministry of Health. In his infinite grief, this man retaliated against the Liberian government, whose failure to contain the outbreak he held responsible for the tragic loss of a relative.

This man’s anger against the Ministry of Health is understandable. As Ebola continues to spread, destroying lives across Liberia and down the West African coast, many people (nationals and foreigners alike) have called out the Liberian government for its failure to stem the epidemic, branding the health system in our global conversation with the shameful verdict of incompetence.

These judgments of the health system are not without truth. At the moment of the Ebola outbreak, Liberia’s health system was indeed weakened and vulnerable. The country was (and still is) recovering from a devastating civil war, which ended only ten years ago. This civil war decimated the nation’s health system, destroying by its end 354 of Liberia’s 550 medical facilities.

EDITORIAL: Risking everything to help Ebola victims

Today, Liberia’s health infrastructure is dangerously underdeveloped. The condition of many of the hospitals we visited often during our time in Liberia speak to this inadequacy. For instance, the John F. Kennedy Medical Center, a vestige of Cold War American-funded aid initiatives and one of Liberia’s leading hospitals, was in shambles due to highly unrealistic maintenance costs. Redemption Hospital, another important health facility in Monrovia, was in fact converted from a building that had previously been used as a warehouse. As a consequence, the building suffered from dark and labyrinthine corridors, its walls stained with water, and its floors and ceilings showing signs of dilapidation.

And yet, the Liberian Ministry of Health was not earlier this year ignorant of these problems. More importantly, the Liberian government was in fact researching, planning for, and enacting the radical, challenging improvements that were necessary to repair their national health system.

What is in danger of being lost in the conversation is that the Liberian government was, just before the Ebola outbreak, beginning to take significant and decisive steps towards a new, better, and stronger Liberian health care system — a system that included, at its core, an improved health infrastructure.

Our design nonprofit has worked with governments and health ministries across the African continent, and we were impressed by the leadership of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Minister of Health Dr. Walter Gwenigale, who are making important investments to shore up Liberia’s health systems and infrastructure. Indeed, when we first arrived in Liberia in 2010, the Ministry was in the process of developing a 10-year, comprehensive national health policy and roadmap for development, which would support the distribution of medical care from Monrovia, the capital, into the many less urban counties that make up the rest of the country. (We completed this work in partnership with the JSI Research and Training Institute, under the Rebuilding Basic Health Services project with funding from USAID.)

Along with this new national health policy, the Ministry had already developed a new design for Redemption Hospital and a host of other ‘shovel-ready’ projects which would shore up the country’s weak health infrastructure and help the country move towards its long-term national health goals. This, from our perspective, is where Liberia was on the eve of the outbreak — poised to make dramatic changes to its medical system that would improve the future health and well being of its citizens.

The country, of course, was not ready for Ebola. Not many other countries would be. And what is needed now is targeted, strategic support from the international community, as President Obama called for yesterday in a speech at the Centers for Disease Control, that resonates in productive ways with the Liberian government’s existing national health policy goals.

Indeed, as international action is taken, parties should respect the Liberian government’s vision to develop a durable and resilient health infrastructure that can support a durable and resilient health system. In other words, we recognize that there is a temptation in this moment of crisis to respond to Ebola with a fleet of emergency shelters, tents, and other short-term strategies to try and stem the epidemic. But (as we saw, for instance, with cholera in Haiti), these kinds of responses are inadequate for safe patient isolation but also in the long-term. Temporary, poorly designed — or even, un-designed — health facilities, while a part of the emergency response, cannot be the entirety of our response. If they are, such structures will not only fail to solve health crises, but may themselves also become health hazards.

There is a second reason to be wary of emergency tents and similar improvised infrastructure: Such makeshift interventions cannot blind us from the opportunity to invest in infrastructure that will prevent and control such outbreaks in the future.

The international community has already begun to respond to Ebola with injections of funding and aid. This aid is an incredible opportunity in the midst of incredible tragedy to secure the resources necessary to achieve the infrastructure goals that are already laid out in the Liberian government’s admirable national health policy. If done intelligently, such action would couple the necessary speed of emergency tents with the durability and resilience of long-term infrastructure. This building strategy is not only vital in the current outbreak — it is an investment in the future health of Liberians.

VOXOP: Ebola raises fears, ethical questions

It is possible to curb this outbreak; in fact, Liberia is well poised to do so and lead by example in West Africa. What remains is the financial support to invest in stated priorities as outlined in its the National Health Infrastructure Policy, and a perception shift to acknowledge we must provide and ensure safe hospitals.

When Ebola is all over, the international community will have an important opportunity to consider how and what to invest in to ensure such a devastating outbreak does not occur again. We must choose to build better buildings. Only then will health infrastructure systems finally be strong enough to resist such formidable challenges to their resilience.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Sierra Leone Residents Ordered Confined to Homes in Response to Ebola
Healthcare workers fighting Ebola in West Africa.
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone - In a desperate bid to slow West Africa's accelerating Ebola outbreak, Sierra Leone ordered its 6 million people confined to their homes for three days starting Friday while volunteers conduct a house-to-house search for victims in hiding.

At an emergency meeting, meanwhile, the U.N. Security Council unanimously called the crisis "a threat to international peace and security" and urged all countries to provide experts, field hospitals and medical supplies. It was only the second time the council addressed a health emergency, the first being the AIDS epidemic.

And in Guinea, seven bodies were found after a team of Guinean health workers trying to educate people about Ebola was abducted by villagers armed with rocks and knives, the prime minister said. Among the dead were three Guinean radio journalists.

Many villagers in West Africa have reacted with fear and panic when outsiders have come to conduct awareness campaigns and have even attacked health clinics.

The disease, which has also touched Liberia, Nigeria and Senegal, is believed to have sickened more than 5,300 people and killed more than 2,600 of them, the U.N.'s World Health Organization reported. In a sign the crisis is picking up steam, more than 700 of those infections were recorded in the last week for which data is available.

During the lockdown in Sierra Leone, set to begin at midnight Thursday and run through Sunday, volunteers will try to identify sick people reluctant or unable to seek treatment. They will also hand out 1.5 million bars of soap and dispense information on how to prevent Ebola.

Authorities have said they expect to discover hundreds of new cases during the shutdown. Many of those infected have not sought treatment out of fear that hospitals are merely places people go to die. Others have been turned away by centers overwhelmed with patients.

Sierra Leone's government said it has prepared screening and treatment centers to accept the expected influx of patients after the shutdown.

"Today the life of every one is at stake, but we will get over this difficulty if all do what we have been asked to do." Sierra Leone's President Ernest Bai Koroma said in an address late Thursday.

As shoppers rushed to buy food and other items ahead of the deadline, some merchants worried about how they would feed their own families after losing three days' income. Much of Sierra Leone's population lives on $2 a day or less, and making ends meet is a day-to-day struggle.

"If we do not sell here we cannot eat," said Isatu Sesay, a vegetable seller in the capital. "We do not know how we will survive during the three-day shutdown."

The U.N. Security Council resolution was co-sponsored by an unprecedented 130 countries, reflecting the rising global concern.

"This is likely the greatest peacetime challenge that the United Nations and its agencies have ever faced," said Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO chief.

She added: "None of us experienced in containing outbreaks has ever seen, in our lifetimes, an emergency on this scale, with this degree of suffering, and with this magnitude of cascading consequences."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a 20-fold increase in aid totaling almost $1 billion to deal with the crisis.

Several countries promised aid even before the resolution was adopted.

France announced Thursday it will set up a military hospital in Guinea in the coming days, while Britain said it will provide 500 more badly needed beds in Sierra Leone. The U.S. plans to send 3,000 military personnel to the region and build more than a dozen treatment centers in Liberia. An American general has arrived in the Liberian capital of Monrovia to set up a command center.

Ebola, which is spread through bodily fluids, puts health workers at a particularly high risk. Nearly 320 have become infected, and about half have died. A French nurse for Doctors Without Borders who became infected in Liberia was being flown to Paris on Thursday.

With no proven treatment for the disease, public health experts have kept the focus on isolating the sick, tracking down those they have come into contact with, and stopping the chain of transmission through travel restrictions, the cordoning off of entire communities and now Sierra Leone's lockdown.

Some patients have been given the blood of Ebola survivors in an experimental approach that some scientists think can help people fight off the virus.

British nurse William Pooley, who was infected while working in Sierra Leone and has since recovered, has flown to the U.S. to donate blood to an American patient.

Reached at his Atlanta hotel Thursday night, Pooley acknowledged he was there to donate blood to a patient at Emory University Hospital. But he - and hospital officials - declined to identify the patient or detail his condition.
Ebola Outbreak: Health Team 'Found Dead' in Guinea
A map of Guinea-Conakry.
BBC World News

Officials in Guinea searching for a team of health workers and journalists who went missing while trying to raise awareness of Ebola have found several bodies.

A spokesman for Guinea's government said the bodies included those of three journalists in the team.

They went missing after being attacked on Tuesday in a village near the southern city of Nzerekore.

More than 2,600 people have now died from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

It is the world's worst outbreak of the deadly disease, with officials warning that more than 20,000 people could ultimately be infected.

West African media divided on response to Ebola

The three doctors and three journalists disappeared after being pelted with stones by residents when they arrived in the village of Wome - near where the Ebola outbreak was first recorded.

One of the journalists managed to escape and told reporters that she could hear the villagers looking for them while she was hiding.

A government delegation, led by the health minister, had been dispatched to the region but they were unable to reach the village by road because a main bridge had been blocked.

'Killed in cold blood'

On Thursday night, government spokesman Albert Damantang Camara said eight bodies had been found, including those of three journalists.

He said they had been recovered from the septic tank of a primary school in the village, adding that the victims had been "killed in cold blood by the villagers".

The reason for the killings is unclear, but correspondents say many people in the region distrust health officials and have refused to co-operate with authorities, fearing that a diagnosis means certain death.

Last month, riots erupted in the area of Guinea where the health team went missing after rumours that medics who were disinfecting a market were contaminating people.

Speaking on Thursday, President Francois Hollande said France was setting up a military hospital in Guinea as part of his country's efforts to support the West African nations affected by the outbreak.

He said the hospital was a sign that France's contribution was not just financial, adding that it would be in "the forests of Guinea, in the heart of the outbreak".

The World Health Organisation said on Thursday that more than 700 new cases of Ebola have emerged in West Africa in just a week, showing that the outbreak was accelerating.

It said there had been more than 5,300 cases in total and that half of those were recorded in the past three weeks.

The epidemic has struck Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Nigeria and Senegal.

A three-day lockdown is starting in Sierra Leone at 00:00 GMT in a bid to stop the disease spreading.
Fear of Ebola Drives Mob to Kill Officials in Guinea
Hospital treating Ebola patients in Guinea.
By RUKMINI CALLIMACHI
New York Times
SEPT. 18, 2014

The bodies of eight officials and journalists who went to a remote village in Guinea to dispel rumors about the deadly Ebola outbreak gripping the region were discovered after a rock-hurling mob attacked the delegation, claiming that it had come to spread the illness, a government spokesman said Thursday.

The delegation had left for the village on Tuesday for what was supposed to be a community event to raise awareness about the Ebola virus, said the spokesman, Albert Camara Damantang. When the angry crowd descended on them, he said, several officials managed to escape and alert their colleagues in Conakry, Guinea’s capital, who sent out a search party.

“They went on a mission to try to sensitize the local population about Ebola, but unfortunately they were met with hostility by people throwing rocks,” Mr. Damantang said.

In the delegation was a sub-prefect, a regional health director and a pastor “who came to offer solace, as well as several journalists from communal radio stations,” Mr. Damantang said. “Among the only survivors we found of those who tried to hide in the bush was the 5-year-old son of the sub-prefect, who was left hiding in the wild.”

The Ebola epidemic has already killed more than 2,600 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Governments have scrambled to figure out a way to contain it, but beyond their own limited resources, collapsing health systems and inexperience with the disease, they have faced another dangerous obstacle: distrust among the local population.

In Guinea, workers and officials, blamed by panicked populations for spreading the virus, have been threatened with knives, stones and machetes.

In Liberia, some politicians have publicly expressed doubts about the extent of the outbreak, and even accused the administration of exaggerating it to collect money from international donors.

Scores of health workers across the region have died trying to fight the disease, often in hospitals and clinics that lack basic supplies. But the killing of government officials, journalists and community leaders trying to curb the spread of the disease represents a dangerous new chapter in the efforts to contain the epidemic.
Thousands Attend Funeral of Michael Brown
Abayomi Azikiwe is the editor of the Pan-African News Wire.
Police killing of African American youth galvanized the struggle against racism in the United States

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

Slain 18-year-old Ferguson, MO resident Michael Brown was laid to rest on Aug. 25. The funeral was a local and national event with thousands in attendance.

Brown was killed by a white police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9 while he walked through the streets of his neighborhood. His brutal death from six gunshot wounds fired at close range, sparked immediate mass demonstrations in Ferguson that have continued for over two weeks.

The protests and rebellion in Ferguson highlighted the growing intolerance among African American working class youth for police repression. In response to the unrest in this suburb outside of St. Louis, tens of thousands more gathered in solidarity in cities across the U.S.

Police and governmental responses to the demonstrations in Ferguson are designed to violently suppress dissent. Military equipment and law-enforcement deployment tactics used in this majority African American town of 21,000 resembled those utilized in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Palestine and other regions of the world where U.S. imperialism is seeking directly or indirectly to oppress and exploit the people.

Police Are the Main Source of Violence in Ferguson

On Aug. 19, police set off teargas, pepper spray along with firing bean bags and rubber bullets into a crowd of several hundred peaceful demonstrators. Journalists were told to leave the area and dozens of people were arrested.

Corporate news reports of the destruction of private property were designed to provide a rationale for the heavily militarized police response to the demonstrations. During the course of the first ten days of the unrest several people were reported injured and wounded by gunfire.

According to a Press TV report “Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol said early Tuesday that 31 protesters have been arrested, with some coming as far away as New York and California. He noted that at least two people have been wounded by gunfire. Johnson called on protesters to refrain from staging rallies during the nighttime, which, he said, provides cover for criminal elements.” (Aug. 19)

Despite these claims or suggestions that the demonstrations in Ferguson were being instigated by so-called “outside agitators”, arrest records reveals that most people who were detained were from the area. Those who were suspected of being from other cities were deliberately targeted by police for arrests and beatings.

Several journalists were also arrested and gassed during the course of the first two weeks of the demonstrations and rebellion. A “no-fly zone” was declared over Ferguson in efforts by the authorities to prevent aerial news reports in unrest neighborhoods and business districts.

Johnson of the State Highway Patrol was designated as being ostensibly in charge of the law-enforcement deployments in Ferguson. He was said to have come from the town and would utilize a less aggressive form of policing the community.

Nonetheless, after several days of continuing unrest demanding that police officer Wilson be indicted and arrested in the killing of Brown, it became obvious that Johnson was not really in control. Gov. Jay Nixon ordered in the National Guard and attempted to minimize potential political damage that would hamper his much talked about aspirations for the vice-presidency of the U.S.

Johnson in his efforts to justify the daily brutality by the cops told the media on Aug. 19 that "’officers came under heavy gunfire during the night,’ but said officers did not fire a single shot. They ‘acted with restraint and calm,’ he said. Johnson blamed a group of ‘lawbreakers’ and "’criminals" for the violence.’” (CNN)

Yet there was no condemnation from Johnson of the criminality of white police officers shooting down African American youth. The official line coming out of Ferguson was geared towards covering up the crimes committed against Brown and others seeking justice, by manufacturing a so-called “criminal” element that posed a more immediate danger.

Official Solutions Won’t Work: African Americans Need Program of Action

Although the officials in Ferguson have stated repeatedly that Officer Wilson’s record was clean, it surfaced on Aug. 24 that he had been a member of a nearby police force that was disbanded due to reports of racism and corruption. Wilson was employed in the Jennings police department when all 45 officers were fired. (New York Daily News)

In an article published by the New York Daily News in reference to the disbanding of the Jennings police force, it states that “The ‘straw that broke the camel's back’ was when an officer, who was not Wilson, chased a woman outside of the city's limits and shot at her vehicle with a child in the backseat, Rodney Epps, an African American city council member in Jennings, told the newspaper. Wilson then went to work at Ferguson, where he has not had any disciplinary action and received a commendation by the Ferguson council for subduing a man involved in a drug transaction, the newspaper reports.”

Illustrating the racist support for police brutality and terrorism against African Americans is being further revealed in a campaign that is holding demonstrations and raising funds for Wilson. Polls reflect that many whites in the U.S. still do not understand the implications of racist state violence directed against people of color communities.

Responding to the growing criticism against racist police violence and the militarization of law-enforcement, the administration of President Barack Obama sent Atty. General Eric Holder into Ferguson on Aug. 20 to discuss the Justice Department’s investigation of the killing of Brown. An Obama administration official told journalists that the president “has directed a review of federal programs and funding that enable state and local law enforcement to purchase military equipment". (AFP-Reuters, Aug. 24)

This review will purportedly examine "whether these programs are appropriate, whether training with the equipment is sufficient, and whether there is enough federal oversight of the gear's use. The investigation will be headed by White House staff including the Domestic Policy Council, the National Security Council [and] the Office of Management and Budget", the official said. (AFP-Reuters)

Despite this investigation, the killing of African Americans and other oppressed people are continuing in the U.S. and even in the state of Missouri. In nearby St. Louis, an African American man, Kajieme Powell, was gunned down less than two weeks after the death of Brown.

On Aug. 19 these were the circumstances surrounding the death of Powell captured by a cellphone video camera and reported by Press TV: “The video shows the officers pulled up to the sidewalk, where the video shows Powell walking up and down, with his right hand in the pocket of his sweatshirt. Officers pull up in a squad car, exit and draw their weapons, and can be heard shouting indistinguishable instructions to Powell.” (Aug. 21)

This same report goes on to point out that “The victim can be heard shouting ‘Shoot me! Shoot me!’ He retreats and then walks towards officers again, who fire on him. He was killed four miles from Ferguson, Missouri, the scene of ongoing protests over the death of Michael Brown, 18, who was shot to death by police on August 9.”

The fact that these developments are occurring with the national and global spotlight focused on this region of Missouri proves that the struggle against racist state violence must be led by the African American people and their allies. These forms of repression derive from the necessity of the ruling class to maintain social and political control over of the oppressed nations whose youth and other age groups have no future under the system of capitalism.

Only the mass organization and mobilization of the African American people in conjunction with other oppressed nations and their class allies will provide any hope for the end to racist state-sanctioned violence. The capitalist system has historically relied on racism, utilizing mechanism of coercion and control along with the division of the working class along racial lines, to maintain the exploitative system. Consequently, the struggle to end racism takes on a class dimension in undermining the material basis for national oppression and for the construction of a socialist society.
Marxism Conference in Detroit Attracts Midwest Activists

Panels presented on the history and contemporary struggles against capitalism

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

A conference in Detroit sponsored by the local branch of Workers World Party (WWP) and youth organization Fight Imperialism, Stand Together (FIST) was held on Aug. 23-24. The event brought together members and supporters of WWP from Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin and Virginia along with other activists seeking to learn more about Marxist-Leninist theory and the current struggle for socialism in the United States and around the world.

The gathering took place amid an ongoing movement in Detroit against the bank-imposed economic crisis and forced bankruptcy. Many of the talks drew upon the lessons learned over the last eight years in efforts to win a moratorium on foreclosures, evictions and utility shut-offs as well as holding the financial institutions accountable for the damage caused to the working class and nationally oppressed in the current period.

Entitled “Marxism: The Science Behind the Struggle”, the conference in its call for participation stated that “There is a resurgence of the anti-people, anti-worker agenda of the banks and corporations which is devastating the working class and the nationally oppressed. Job losses, increasing unemployment, racism and war are the day-to- day realities of the majority of people here in the United States and around the world.”

This statement continued noting that “In the U.S. we are in the citadel of world capitalism and imperialism. Our responsibility is enhanced due to the role of the ruling class in their efforts to extract even more profits from the misery under which we are forced to live.”

Five Panels on Various Aspects of the Global Class Struggle

The first panel on Aug. 23 “The Science of Marxism” featured presentations by Jerry Goldberg on “where to begin and what is to be done; a brief view of a revolutionary party in struggle.”
Later Tom Michalak of Detroit FIST discussed “dialectical and historical materialism – understanding class struggle.” This panel was chaired by Debbie Johnson, a leading member of the Detroit branch and an activist in the Moratorium NOW! Coalition.

In the second panel entitled “Imperialism and the struggle for national liberation and self-determination in the belly of the beast” presentations were made on the central role of the African American people in the overall movements against racism and global capitalism. During this session a brief history of WWP in the struggle against neo-colonialism, imperialism and for self-determination and national liberation across the world was reviewed ranging from the Chinese Revolution, the African Revolution, the movement in defense of Robert Williams and the African American community in Monroe, North Carolina during the 1960s, the national mobilization to defend busing in Boston during 1974, support for affirmative action, the Southern African liberation movement, etc.

Joe  Mchahwar, youth activist and FIST member, addressed the issue of the “militarization of the state” in contemporary U.S. society drawing on the developments in Ferguson, Missouri where numerous police agencies backed up by the National Guard violently suppressed mass demonstrations demanding justice for Michael Brown who was gunned down by a white police officer on Aug. 9. Monica Moorehead of New York, WWP Secretariat member and Workers World newspaper managing editor, was scheduled to attend the conference an address this panel but was sent to cover develops in St. Louis County.

A third panel on “struggles in the belly of the beast” was chaired by Andrea Egypt of the Detroit branch and an activist in the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI). Presentations were made by Kris Hamel, a co-founder of Moratorium NOW! Coalition and a managing editor of Workers World, Susan Schnur of the Cleveland branch, and Sharon Feldman of Detroit.

Topics touched on included the struggle of municipal employees against cutbacks, privatization and pension thefts; the crisis in mental health services under capitalist austerity; the struggle for equality led by the LGBTQ communities and the pioneering role of WWP extending back over four decades; lessons from the mass actions in Wisconsin, the occupy movement, Chicago teachers strike, defense of former political prisoners Cece McDonald and Marissa Alexander, etc.; the current right-wing assault on reproductive rights for women, and other issues.

The fourth panel, also chaired by Andrea Egypt, was entitled “the death throes of capitalism” where talks were delivered by Debbie Johnson on the true meaning of austerity; Jill White of Chicago on growing food deficits among working class and oppressed people in the U.S.; Martha Grevatt discussed the present conditions in the auto industry and the need for the trade union leadership to take a class-based political approach to the fight against deteriorating working conditions, attacks on the eight-hour day and cuts in real wages.  

On the morning of Sun. Aug. 24, the concluding panel was held entitled “building a socialist future.” Presentation were given by Mike Shane on “organizing and politicizing the working class and the role of a transitional program in the struggle”; Cheryl LaBash, contributing editor for Workers World discussed “Socialism and struggle: a view to Cuba and Latin America; David Sole, a co-founder of the Detroit branch reported on the contemporary anti-imperialist struggle; along with Tom Michalak who talked about these issues from a working class youth perspective.

The summation of the overall theme of the concluding panel was described on the agenda as “Dare to struggle – dare to win: understanding and embracing Marxism, the answer to a dying economic system of racism, war, exploitation and imperialist domination. What side will you be on?

Participants in the conference pledged to build on the understandings and suggestions advanced during the two-day gathering. Activists from Milwaukee proposed a tour by Michigan activists in the fall that would visit several cities in the state of Wisconsin.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note: This writer, Abayomi Azikiwe, made two presentations during the conference on the ongoing struggles for self-determination, national liberation and socialism as well as the need to understand and expose the role of the banks and corporations in the imposition of austerity and political repression being enhanced against African American and other people of color communities in the U.S. and oppressed nations throughout the world.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------