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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Madagascar attack 2 dead 84 wounded National Day Celebration




Attentat meurtrier à Madagascar lors des célébrations de la fête nationale



Un attentat à la grenade, lié selon le président malgache à une « divergence » politique mais non encore renvediqué, a fait au moins deux morts et 84 blessés, dimanche 26 juin, dans un stade d'Antananarivo lors des célébrations de la fête nationale malgache.

L'explosion a eu lieu vers 19 heures (heure locale) dans le stade municipal de Mahamasina, où se tenait un concert gratuit donné à l'occasion du 57e anniversaire de l'indépendance de cette ancienne colonie française.
Sans donner aucune information sur l'enquête en cours, le président Hery Rajaonarimampianina, qui s'est rendu à l'hôpital où les victimes ont été prises en charge, a rapidement évoqué une piste politique.
« Une divergence de point de vue peut exister entre nous. Mais les actes de déstabilisation sont inadmissibles. On ne peut pas tuer comme ça la population », a-t-il déclaré, dans une déclaration diffusée par la télévision nationale. Cet acte « n'est pas seulement une déstabilisation mais un acte de terrorisme qui est allé jusqu'à des homicides », a ajouté le chef de l'Etat, lançant un appel au calme à la population, précisant : « On ne va pas répondre à la violence par la violence mais par l'application de la loi, le plus sévèrement possible. »

Longue instabilité politique

Selon un dernier bilan donné par la gendarmerie dans la nuit, l'attaque a fait deux morts, des adolescents âgés de 16 et 18 ans, et 84 blessés.
« C'est une grenade qui est à l'origine de la déflagration. On peut le qualifier d'acte terroriste », a déclaré à l'AFP de son côté le général Anthony Rakotoarison, directeur de la sécurité et des renseignements de la gendarmerie.
Le dernier attentat à Madagascar remontait au 25 janvier 2014. Déjà l'explosion d'une grenade avait fait un mort et plusieurs blessés à l'extérieur du même stade, dans la rue.
L'auteur n'avait jamais été arrêté et les circonstances de cet attentat n'ont pas encore été élucidées.
Madagascar s'efforce d'émerger doucement d'une très longue période d'instabilité politique, débutée lorsqu'en 2009 le jeune maire d'Antananarivo, Andry Rajoelina, avait renversé le président Marc Ravalomanana.
M. Rajoelina avait ensuite dirigé un régime dit « de transition » qui a duré cinq années avant que ne soit trouvée une sortie de crise fin 2013 avec l'organisation d'une élection présidentielle remportée par Hery Rajaonarimampianina.
En mai 2015, le président avait été destitué par l'Assemblée nationale, mais la décision avait finalement été rejetée par la justice malgache. Les donateurs internationaux, qui avaient mis un frein aux aides en 2009, commencent tout juste à revenir, et l'économie sinistrée par les années de crise reprend de timides couleurs.
Le pays reste cependant l'un des plus pauvres du monde : 90 % de la population survit avec moins de deux dollars par jour, et Madagascar occupe la quatrième place mondiale en terme de malnutrition chronique.

Centrafrique : Extra judicial execution of 18 in Central Africa Rep. i » ?




Centrafrique : qui sont les 18 victimes de l'unité spéciale du « shérif de Bangui » ?

Par Le Monde Afrique


Selon une enquête de l'ONG Human Rights Watch (HRW) rendue publique lundi 27 juin, dix-huit personnes ont été exécutées de sang froid et sans procédure judiciaire, à Bangui, la capitale centrafricaine, par les membres de l'Office central de répression du banditisme (OCRB), entre avril 2015 et mars 2016.

Robert Yékoua-Ketté, ancien directeur de l'OCRB, démis de ses fonctions le 8 juin, serait impliqué directement dans treize de ces meurtres. HRW réclame au nouveau gouvernement de Faustin-Archange Touadéra l'ouverture « d'une enquête efficace et transparente sur toutes les exécutions extrajudiciaires qui auraient été commises par l'OCRB » afin de « montrer aux Centrafricains que même les commandants "intouchables" devront rendre des comptes. »
Robert Yékoua-Ketté a été affublé du surnom de « shérif de Bangui » à cause son chapeau de cow-boy et de sa réputation de tuer sans autre forme de procès des criminels présumés. Interrogé par RFI, il a déclaré : « Non, mais écoutez ! Vous parlez de quoi, là ? De tueries extrajudiciaires ? Moi, je ne sais pas. De toute façon, ce n'est pas Yékoua-Ketté qui l'a fait, se justifie-t-il, c'est l'Office central de répression du banditisme. Ce n'est pas un individu, c'est l'OCRB. »
Extraits du rapport de HRW sur l'identité des dix-huit victimes et des circonstances de leur exécution.


Alfred Yawi, tué entre le 24 et le 26 avril 2015

Alfred Yawi, 35 ans, quatre enfants, a été arrêté par M. Yékoua-Ketté et des agents de l'OCRB près du quartier PK13 à Bangui, dans l'après-midi du 24 avril. Un témoin rapporte qu'il n'a pas résisté à son arrestation. Le 26 avril, des membres de sa famille ont entendu une annonce à la radio indiquant qu'un corps avait été retrouvé au bord du fleuve Oubangui dans le 2e arrondissement. La victime, identifiée comme étant Yawi, avait les mains liées dans le dos au moment de son exécution.

Nathan Badi et Saint-Cyr Dezoua, tués le 31 juillet 2015

Des témoins ont vu Nathan Badi, 28 ans, et Saint-Cyr Dezoua, 25 ans, fuir en courant un véhicule de l'OCRB dans le quartier Miskine le 31 juillet 2015. Ils n'étaient pas armés. Un témoin a déclaré avoir « entendu des coups de feu, environ une minute après les avoir vus fuir ». « Le lendemain, je suis allé directement à la morgue et j'ai vu les garçons. Saint-Cyr avait deux balles dans la poitrine. »

Emmanuel Régavé et Isaac, tués le 22 octobre 2015

Emmanuel Régavé a été arrêté par la police en même temps qu'un ressortissant congolais connu sous le nom d'Isaac, le 22 octobre dans le quartier Ouango. Les deux hommes étaient accusés de vol. « L'un des hommes de Yékoua-Kétté a tiré deux balles en l'air pour nous faire fuir, puis il a tiré rapidement sur Emmanuel et le Congolais », a rapporté un témoin. M. Yékoua-Ketté était présent. Les corps ont été laissés au sol.

Samson Ndakouzou et Urie Kolaba, tués le 24 octobre 2015

Ndakouzou, suspecté de vol et Kolaba, complice présumé de Régavé, ont été tués dans un secteur du 7e arrondissement, appelé le Jardin des fleurs, un terrain vague à proximité de quelques maisons. Un témoin a déclaré que M. Yékoua-Ketté avait supervisé l'exécution : « Après avoir tiré sur Urie, ils ont demandé à Samson de se retourner. Il avait les mains attachées dans le dos. Ils ont tiré dans le dos et à la gorge. »

Romaric Vounbo, tué le 28 octobre 2015

Romaric Vounbo, 28 ans, a été arrêté pour vol et détenu à la prison de Ngaragba. Le 28 septembre, il fut l'un des 500 à 700 prisonniers à s'enfuir lors d'une évasion massive. Des passants l'ont identifié le 28 octobre alors qu'il prenait un verre dans un bar de La Kouanga. La police est venue l'arrêter. Il a ensuite été emmené près du Jardin des fleurs, où M. Yékoua-Ketté l'a exécuté en personne. Il lui a tiré dans le ventre à deux reprises. L'un des témoins a précisé que, comme il ne s'écroulait pas : « Yékoua-Ketté lui a ordonné d'ouvrir la bouche, mais [Vounbo] a refusé. Yékoua-Ketté a mis de force son revolver dans la bouche et a tiré. Sa cervelle a explosé à l'arrière du crâne. » Un autre témoin s'est étonné : « Comment peuvent-ils arrêter quelqu'un à 16 heures et le tuer comme ça à 17 h 30 ? »

Gervais Magna, tué le 4 novembre 2015

Gervais Magna dirigeait un groupe anti-balaka, ces milices d'autodéfense majoritairement chrétiennes et animistes. Le 3 novembre 2015, une adolescente de 16 ans est morte dans son village et Gervais Magna a pris la tête d'un groupe qui battu à mort une vieille femme accusée d'avoir causé la mort de la jeune fille par sorcellerie. Des témoins ont affirmé que Yékoua-Ketté est arrivé l'après-midi suivant et a emmené Magna. Le lendemain matin, la famille a reçu un appel indiquant que le corps de Magna avait été retrouvé le long de la route principale menant à la capitale.

Jordi Befio, tué entre le 5 et le 7 décembre 2015

Jordi Befio, 19 ans, a été arrêté le 5 décembre par l'OCRB au cours d'une bagarre au marché de Pétévo. Un témoin a déclaré que M. Yékoua-Ketté est arrivé pendant la lutte et est sorti de son pick-up pour évaluer la situation. Le témoin a expliqué que Befio avait un couteau, mais l'a lâché immédiatement sur les ordres des agents de l'OCRB, qui l'ont arrêté. Le 7 décembre, la famille a retrouvé son corps le long des rives du fleuve Oubangui.


Raymond Gongalut, tué le 24 ou le 25 décembre 2015

Raymond Gongalut, membre présumé d'un groupe anti-balaka, a été arrêté sur sa moto le 24 décembre 2015. Des témoins ont déclaré qu'il tenait une grenade mais n'a pas résisté quand les agents de l'OCRB l'ont désarmé. Son corps a été retrouvé le lendemain à la morgue avec quatre balles dans le ventre.

Senele Ombade, tué le 10 janvier 2016

M. Yékoua-Ketté et ses agents ont arrêté Senele Ombade, chauffeur de taxi-moto de 31 ans, le 10 janvier, pour un motif qui reste obscur. Un de ses proches a déclaré : « Lorsque j'ai entendu qu'il avait été emmené par l'OCRB, je me suis rendu immédiatement au quartier général. Il n'était pas là. Ensuite, j'ai entendu dire que des corps avaient été retrouvés à Ouango [un quartier du 7e arrondissement]. J'ai retrouvé son corps sur la route. On lui avait tiré dans la tête. »

Cyril Ndourogbo, tué le 14 ou le 15 janvier

M. Yékoua-Ketté en personne a arrêté Cyril Ndourogbo lors d'un enterrement, dans la soirée du 14 janvier. La famille de l'interpellé s'est rendue au quartier général de l'OCRB le 15 janvier, mais n'a obtenu aucune information. Elle y est retournée le lendemain. Plusieurs membres de la famille ont déclaré que M. Yékoua-Ketté s'est énervé et a demandé à ses hommes de les expulser de force. Il leur a crié : « J'étais à sa [Ndourogbo] recherche. Quand je l'ai trouvé, je l'ai tué. Vous trouverez son corps dans un sac sur le fleuve Oubangui. » Sa dépouille n'a pas été retrouvée.

Rufen Balekouzou, tué entre le 17 et le 20 janvier

Le 16 janvier, des agents de l'OCRB ont arrêté Rufen Balekouzou sur son lieu de travail. Le lendemain, des membres de sa famille lui ont rendu visite dans le centre de détention de l'OCRB. Lorsqu'ils y sont retournés le 20 janvier, il leur a été dit que Rufen Balekouzou avait été transféré à la prison centrale de Ngaragba, mais il n'y était pas. Le même jour, une annonce à la radio indiquait la découverte d'un corps le long du fleuve Oubangui. C'était Rufen Balekouzou, criblé de quatre balles.

Faustin Ngoudi, tué vers le 20 janvier

Faustin Ngoudi, 26 ans, que des connaissances ont décrit comme un criminel endurci, a été tué par les hommes de l'OCRB autour du 20 janvier. « C'était entre 9 heures et 10 heures du matin, a expliqué un témoin. Lorsque le pick-up de l'OCRB est passé avec des agents à l'arrière, je l'ai remarqué [Ngoudi]. Juste après, j'ai entendu huit ou neuf coups de feu près du marché de Kokoro… J'ai couru. » Faustin Ngoudi avait reçu quatre balles dans le ventre.

Jean-Noël Bebona, tué le 27 janvier

Jean-Noël Bebona, ancien combattant anti-balaka, a été arrêté et exécuté par l'OCRB alors qu'il vendait des produits près du marché de Poumale. Des témoins l'ont vu implorer pour sa vie avant d'être exécuté par balle.

Romaric Yakoro, tué le 13 février

Romaric Yakoro, 19 ans, alias « Likolo », a été arrêté pour vol la nuit du 12 février par des soldats dans le quartier de Yassi-Mandji. Le 13 février, il a été transféré au poste de l'OCRB à Ngouciment. « Il était environ 11 h du matin. Je m'étais arrêté pour prendre de l'essence lorsque j'ai vu le pick-up de l'OCRB passer à toute vitesse, se souvient un chauffeur de taxi-moto. Likolo à l'arrière. Yékoua-Ketté conduisait. J'ai suivi le véhicule pensant qu'ils allaient amener Likolo à [la prison de] Ngaragba, mais ils ont dépassé la prison. » Une demi-heure plus tard, le véhicule est revenu, phares allumés. Le hayon était ouvert et deux pieds dépassaient. Yakoro avait reçu deux balles dans l'abdomen.


Hervé Zangouli, tué le 4 ou le 5 mars

Hervé Zangouli a été arrêté par l'OCRB le 4 mars alors qu'il fumait de la marijuana le long du fleuve Oubangui, d'après des témoins. Il a été vu pour la dernière fois à l'arrière d'un pick-up de l'OCRB. Son corps a été retrouvé tôt le lendemain matin au bord du fleuve, une balle dans la poitrine.

Versements de rançons à l'OCRB

Human Rights Watch a répertorié deux cas dans lesquels M. Yékoua-Ketté a retenu personnellement des prisonniers en échange d'une rançon réclamée à leurs familles.
Une femme de 18 ans a été détenue pendant six semaines entre le 22 octobre et début décembre 2015, sans être accusée de quoi que ce soit. Elle a déclaré que M. Yékoua-Ketté l'a menacée de mort à de multiples reprises et qu'elle avait fait une fausse couche dans la prison de l'OCRB : « J'ai dû rester deux jours dans mon propre sang avant qu'ils n'autorisent ma famille à me donner du savon pour que je puisse me laver. » Yékoua-Ketté a réclamé 100 000 francs CFA (environ 152 euros) à sa famille, qui a obtenu de verser moins d'argent.
Le 28 avril 2016, M. Yékoua-Ketté et ses hommes ont arrêté le long du fleuve Oubangui un ex-combattant anti-balaka de 25 ans accusé d'avoir commis un vol à main armée. Il a été battu en public et emmené au quartier général de l'OCRB. Le « shérif de Bangui » a ensuite réclamé 100 000 francs CFA pour sa libération, intervenue dix jours plus tard, sans qu'aucune poursuite ne soit retenue contre lui.

Women Subjected to Torture by Mexican Police, Armed Forces: Report - The New York Times



MEXICO CITY — Mexican police and armed forces often use torture and sexual violence against women to obtain confessions during interrogations and arrests, according to a report by Amnesty International released on Tuesday.
The report, based on interviews with 100 women, said 72 women had been sexually abused and 33 raped while they were detained, reinforcing reports by other organizations and the United Nations that torture is a common practice in Mexico.
"The cases of these women paint an absolutely shocking picture that reflects the extent of torture suffered by women in Mexico," Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International, said in a statement.
Neither the National Security Commission nor the Defense Ministry could be reached for comment.
Mexico brought the military onto its streets more than a decade ago to fight drug cartels, leading to a proliferation of allegations of human rights violations, including torture and extrajudicial executions.

http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2016/06/28/world/americas/28reuters-mexico-amnesty-international.html?ref=americas

Sri Lanka reconstructs after deadly floods and landslides - SciDev.Net South Asia




AMBALAKANDA] As Sri Lanka begins rehabilitation work after devastating floods and landslides in mid-May, that left more than a hundred dead and caused damages estimated at US$ 1.2—2 billion, the big question is where to house the survivors.

Sri Lanka Red Cross has sent out an appeal for over US$ 3 million for long-term reconstruction work over the next 18 months, covering essential household items; shelter, livelihoods, water, sanitation and hygiene, restoring family links, disaster-risk reduction and institutional disasterresponse.

“It will take time, it will be sometimes slow, but we have to get it right,” says disaster management minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa.

In this small town on the foothills of the central mountains, 31 were killed and 99 listed as missing, when a massive landslide hit the Egalpitiya area. The toll could go higher since three entire villages were wiped out.
http://www.scidev.net/south-asia/disasters/multimedia/sri-lanka-reconstructs-after-deadly-floods-and-landslides.html

Waterflows decreasing in Nepal Himalayas - SciDev.Net South Asia

[KATHMANDU] A new study forecasts decreasing stream flows and ice volume in the Nepal Himalayas for the remainder of the century with negative consequences for power production, irrigation and food security.

The study, due to be published September in Science of the Total Environment, says stream flows in the Dudh Koshi river basin of Nepal are expected to decline 30 per cent by 2100, while ice volume in the glaciers feeding the river may decline by half during the same period.

Predicting negative impacts on agriculture and hydropower potential in the region, the authors urge authorities to prepare for a future decline in water availability.

“Climate change is already affecting crops in Nepal, and in the Dudh Koshi area, lack of irrigation water will worsen this effect,” says corresponding author Daniele Bocchiola, an associate professor at the Polytechnic University of Milan (PUM).

Bocchiola and colleagues collected data from the Dudh Koshi river area, during field expeditions in 2012—2014, on ice melt, debris thickness on the Khumbu glacier, ice flow velocity, hydrological fluxes within the river, and snow depth at high altitudes. The work was supported by PUM and the Nepal Academy of Science and Technology.

Vietnam Outperforms Most Peers Despite Crippling Drought: Chart - Bloomberg


Vietnam’s farming output took a knock in the second quarter because of the worst drought in three decades, data showed on Tuesday, but the economy remains among the top performers in Southeast Asia. The government has a 6.7 percent growth target for the year and the economy has benefited from a surge in manufacturing exports after companies such as Samsung Electronics Co. set up plants there to assemble smartphones.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-06-28/vietnam-outperforms-most-peers-despite-crippling-drought-chart

The U.S. Bears Blame for the Crisis in Venezuela, and It Should Stop Intervening There - NYTimes.com




The best thing that the United States government could do with regard to Venezuela, regardless of political outcomes there, would be to end its intervention there. 
A switch to a policy of non-intervention in Venezuela would be a sea change for Washington, and would set a healthy precedent.
Washington has caused enormous damage to Venezuela in its relentless pursuit of “regime change” for the last 15 years. In March, President Obama once again absurdly declared Venezuela to be an "unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States,” and extended economic sanctions against the country. Although the sanctions themselves are narrow, they have a considerable impact on investment decisions, as investors know what often happens to countries that Washington targets as an unusual and extraordinary threat to U.S. national security. The sanctions, as well as pressure from the U.S. government, helped convince major financial institutions not to make otherwise low-risk loans, collateralized by gold, to the Venezuelan government.
Washington was involved in the short-lived 2002 military coup against the elected government of Venezuela, and the U.S. government acknowledged providing “training, institution building and other support to individuals and organizations” who carried out the coup. Afterwards, it stepped up funding to opposition groups and has continued to this day to give them millions of dollars. In 2013, Washington was again isolated in the region and the world when it refused to recognize the presidential election results (even though there was no doubt about the outcome); the U.S. thereby lent its support to violent street protests that were seeking to topple the government. Washington gave political support to similar efforts in 2014.
All this is well-documented and well-known to journalists covering Venezuela, but try finding one at a major news outlet who has the courage to write about it. It’s a bit like reporting on Ukraine and never mentioning Russia. 
U.S. intervention in Venezuela, as in other countries, has contributed to political polarization and conflict over the years, as it encouraged elements of the opposition at numerous junctures to also pursue a strategy of regime change, rather than seeking peaceful political change.
A switch to a policy of non-intervention in Venezuela would be a sea change for Washington, and would set a healthy precedent. After all, the world is awash in bloodshed and refugees as a result of the U.S. pursuit of “regime change” in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and other countries. Why not try something different in the Western Hemisphere? 

Join Opinion on Facebook and follow updates on twitter.com/roomfordebate

http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2016/06/28/how-to-save-venezuela/the-us-bears-blame-for-the-crisis-in-venezuela-and-it-should-stop-intervening-there

SADC leaders meet in Botswana over instability in Lesotho




Gaborone - Leaders from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have converged in Botswana for a summit aimed at taking stock of the situation in Lesotho, reports said on Tuesday . 
According to the SABC, the summit was set to follow up on previous recommendations by the commission tasked with the political instability in Lesotho since 2014.
Lesotho's former prime minister, Tom Thabane, made strong allegations that there were attempts at the time to overthrow his government. Violence erupted soon after, causing chaos in the country. This resulted in politicians and members of the defence force fleeing.
The summit, which was attended by six member states - Botswana, South Africa, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Swaziland - aimed at making a follow-up on the implementation and recommendations of the commission that was tasked with investigating the instability that dogged the mountain kingdom.  
In January, the SADC Double Troika summit noted with concern that Lesotho had not undertaken the constitutional, public sector and security sector reforms, The Daily News reported.
Lesotho was therefore urged, together with all political stakeholders to actively contribute to a conducive environment that encouraged democracy and allowed the safe return of opposition leaders who were still in exile.
According to The Herald, the summit also aimed at thwarting any lingering regional security threats.

http://www.news24.com/Africa/News/sadc-leaders-meet-in-botswana-over-instability-in-lesotho-20160628

SABC journalists Stand for Freedom against ANC

Cape Town - Senior journalists at the SABC on Tuesday threatened to down tools following the resignation of acting CEO Jimi Matthews from the public broadcaster.
Matthews resigned from the SABC on Monday, saying recent changes at the broadcaster were “wrong” and he has compromised his values under the current leadership.
The Times reported on Tuesday that senior managers and journalists have now warned of a strike if a meeting with COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng and the board does not materialise following Matthews’s resignation.
The journalists, who chose to remain anonymous, reportedly said Motsoeneng "ruled like a dictator" and anyone who objects is fired.
The staff said that, if the meeting does not go ahead, they would come to work, but would not produce any news, effecting a "news blackout".
An urgent “re-diffusion meeting” was called this morning by the SABC chairperson, who will address all employees at 12:00.
On Monday, an SABC journalist, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told News24 that a lot of the staff are unhappy, and some are afraid of losing their jobs.
“They’re stressed out, their integrity’s being questioned. When new decisions are made, it doesn’t come to us. It gets put out to the media, and we’re just expected to comply.”
This follows the suspension of three other journalists at the SABC last week.
A hashtag #IStandWithFoetaSunaThandeka, in reference to the three suspended reporters, has been started on Twitter and Facebook.A hashtag #IStandWithFoetaSunaThandeka, in reference to the three suspended reporters, has been started on Twitter and Facebook.

Zimbabwe Tsvangirai’s MDC and Mujuru’s party in talks to topple Robert Mugabe

ZIMBABWE People First leader Joice Mujuru, MDC-T vice-president Thokozani Khupe and the party's secretary general Douglas Mwonzora as well as MDC proportional representation MP for Matabeleland South Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga reportedly met in South Africa last week to discuss plans to form a coalition ahead of the 2018 general elections.
By Wongai Zhangazha

ANALYSIS: Jordan, the island of stability crumbling at its edges




Jordan has long been an island of stability in a region on fire, proudly reminding the world of its ongoing welcome for refugees when other countries had hit their limit.
But in the wake of two recent attacks, the latest of which saw seven soldiers killed and 23 injured on a remote stretch of the border just after dawn on Tuesday, and under the weight of an economic crisis, Jordan has sealed its borders with Syria and Iraq to civilian traffic.
At Ruqban, the 60,000-person-strong border camp two kilometres from last week’s blast, Jordanian troops have raised a barbed-wire fence to keep people out, and frozen all refugee admissions. Aid agencies can no longer access Ruqban to provide food and medical aid, and life-saving water deliveries have been stop-start since the blast.
There are reports that people in the settlement have begun dying in the high summer heat, but even a week after the attack, Jordan’s eastern border remains a crime scene.
The Ruqban attack, claimed by pro-IS media on Sunday night as “the work of an Islamic State fighter,” seemed to confirm the worst nightmare of Jordanian authorities, who have long warned of a growing security threat among Syrians at their border.
The location of the attack underscores the disaster. Beyond housing 60,000 displaced Syrians and a massive humanitarian operation, Ruqban and the military installations housed there are of quietly vital security importance. Tuesday’s blast targeted a fast-growing military site where US, UK and Jordanian special forces provide frontline support to a shadowy Syrian opposition group based just across the border.
Remote Ruqban is one of the US-led coalition's last reliable launching points for operations against IS in southern and south-eastern Syria. Experts believe the group is on the rise in this desert, having slipped south out of Deiz al-Zour and Palmyra, hundreds of kilometres to the north.
“IS is so expert in using the desert to hide their movements. Historically, when IS is weakened, like in 2008 in Iraq, they disappeared inside the desert,” Islamist movement researcher Marwan Shahada told Middle East Eye.
The video released with the statement seems to underscore this message. It shows a vehicle racing across the open desert towards the border, kicking up a cloud of dust, but evidently, raising no alarms. Moments later, the explosion.

http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/analysis-jordan-island-stability-crumbling-its-edges-2107772653

Air pollution to kill millions more without change of energy...




LONDON, June 27 (Reuters) - Premature deaths from air pollution will continue to rise to 2040 unless changes are made to the way the world uses and produces energy, the International Energy Agency said on Monday.
Around 6.5 million deaths globally are attributed each year to poor air quality inside and outside, making it the world's fourth-largest threat to human health, behind high blood pressure, dietary risks and smoking.
Harmful pollutants such as particulate matter - which can contain acids, metals, soil and dust particles - sulphur oxides and nitrogen oxides, are responsible for the most widespread effects of air pollution.
Tiny particulate matter can cause lung cancer, strokes and heart disease over the long term, as well as trigger symptoms such as heart attacks that kill more rapidly.
The release of these pollutants is mainly due to the unregulated or inefficient production and use of energy, the IEA said in a special report on energy and air pollution.
Without action, annual premature deaths attributable to outdoor air pollution will increase to 4.5 million in 2040 from around 3 million currently. Premature deaths due to household air pollution however, should fall to 2.9 million from 3.5 million.
Asia will account for almost 90 percent of the rise in deaths.
Even though global emissions are forecast to decline overall to 2040, existing and planned energy policies will not be enough to improve air quality, the report said.
Harmful greenhouse gas emissions should continue to fall in industrialised countries and recent signs of decline in China should continue, but emissions are set to rise in India, southeast Asia and Africa as energy demand growth dwarfs efforts to improve air quality.
The IEA said increasing total energy investment by 7 percent, or $4.7 trillion, to 2040 could help ensure premature deaths from outdoor pollution fall to 2.8 million and from household air pollution to 1.3 million.
"This is completely peanuts. With a seven percent increase you can save over three million lives," IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol told reporters in London.
New energy and air quality policies will also deliver cleaner air. Each country needs to have a credible, long-term air quality goal, the report said.
There should be a package of measures for the energy sector such as fitting coal-fired power plants with scrubbers; more use of renewable energy; increased energy efficiency and emissions control, it said.
(Editing by Alexandra Hudson and Jason Neely)
http://news.trust.org/item/20160626230024-gudjk/?source=fiOtherNews2

Boko Haram fracturing over Islamic State ties


Nigerian militants Boko Haram have fractured internally, with a big group splitting away from shadowy leader Abubakar Shekau over his failure to adhere to guidance from the Iraq- and Syria-based Islamic State, a senior U.S. general said on Tuesday.

Marine Lieutenant General Thomas Waldhauser, the nominee to lead the U.S. military's Africa Command, suggested the internal division was illustrative of limits of Islamic State's influence over Boko Haram so far, despite the West African group's pledge of allegiance to it last year.

"Several months ago, about half of Boko Haram broke off to a separate group because they were not happy with the amount of buy-in, if you will, from Boko Haram into the ISIL brand," Waldhauser said at his nomination hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Shekau, he said, had not fallen into line with Islamic State's instructions, including by ignoring calls for Boko Haram to stop using children as suicide bombers.

"He's been told by ISIL to stop doing that. But he has not done so. And that's one of the reasons why this splinter group has broken off," he said, adding Islamic State was trying to "reconcile those two groups."

Reuters reported on June 9 that U.S. officials had seen no evidence that Boko Haram has so far received significant operational support or financing from Islamic State. The assessment suggested Boko Haram's loyalty pledge had so far mostly been a branding exercise.

Waldhauser acknowledged differing opinions about how much influence Islamic State has actually had so far over Boko Haram, which won global infamy for its 2014 kidnapping of 276 school girls.

"They certainly have not given them a lot of financial assistance. So the point being is that perhaps improvement in tradecraft, in training and the like," he said.

While it is estimated to have killed more than 15,000 people since 2009, Boko Haram has not attacked U.S. interests and has deep roots in Nigeria's Christian-Muslim divide, which long predates the Syrian-based Islamic extremist group.

Waldauser noted Shekau's local focus and voiced concern about whether a splinter group might act more in concert with Islamic State's transregional ambitions.

SoAfrica Financial Slide Continues

Nigerian militants Boko Haram have fractured internally, with a big group splitting away from shadowy leader Abubakar Shekau over his failure to adhere to guidance from the Iraq- and Syria-based Islamic State, a senior U.S. general said on Tuesday.

Marine Lieutenant General Thomas Waldhauser, the nominee to lead the U.S. military's Africa Command, suggested the internal division was illustrative of limits of Islamic State's influence over Boko Haram so far, despite the West African group's pledge of allegiance to it last year.

"Several months ago, about half of Boko Haram broke off to a separate group because they were not happy with the amount of buy-in, if you will, from Boko Haram into the ISIL brand," Waldhauser said at his nomination hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Shekau, he said, had not fallen into line with Islamic State's instructions, including by ignoring calls for Boko Haram to stop using children as suicide bombers.

"He's been told by ISIL to stop doing that. But he has not done so. And that's one of the reasons why this splinter group has broken off," he said, adding Islamic State was trying to "reconcile those two groups."

Reuters reported on June 9 that U.S. officials had seen no evidence that Boko Haram has so far received significant operational support or financing from Islamic State. The assessment suggested Boko Haram's loyalty pledge had so far mostly been a branding exercise.

Waldhauser acknowledged differing opinions about how much influence Islamic State has actually had so far over Boko Haram, which won global infamy for its 2014 kidnapping of 276 school girls.

"They certainly have not given them a lot of financial assistance. So the point being is that perhaps improvement in tradecraft, in training and the like," he said.

While it is estimated to have killed more than 15,000 people since 2009, Boko Haram has not attacked U.S. interests and has deep roots in Nigeria's Christian-Muslim divide, which long predates the Syrian-based Islamic extremist group.

Waldauser noted Shekau's local focus and voiced concern about whether a splinter group might act more in concert with Islamic State's transregional ambitions.

Zanu PF has now split into 4 factions | The Zimbabwe Mail



Harare – A senior opposition official in Zimbabwe is alleging that President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party has now split into “at least four factions”.
So serious has factional fighting become within Zanu-PF that Mugabe, 92, last month described it as “treasonous”. For a long time, party officials said there were no competing factions.
Eddie Cross of the Morgan Tsvangirai-led Movement for Democratic Change said that the number od cracks within Zanu-PF was
the main difference between the ruling party as it was in 2008 – when Mugabe lost the first round of presidential elections, but went on to win a dubious second round of voting – and Zanu-PF now, three years after Mugabe’s most recent election victory.
Writing on his blog this week, Cross said: “[Zanu-PF] cannot be put back together in any sort of semblance of what it has been and no reconciliation is possible.”
Until now, most media attention has been on two factions of the party: one led by presidential hopeful Emmerson Mnangagwa (who is currently a vice president) and an opposing faction known as the Generation 40 (G40). Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao supposedly belongs to this faction.
Discordant voices
Cross did not spell out how he believed the other two Zanu-PF factions had formed, or who was part of them.
Speaking last month at a million man march, meant to show what support Mugabe still enjoys, the longtime Zimbabwe leader said: “There should never be little groups to promote so and so. Those little groups are treasonous groups, they spoil the party.”
“Let us not hear discordant voices from whomsoever. All this thing about factions is new to us, it destabilises the party,” he added.
http://thezimbabwemail.com/zimbabwe-24580-zanu-pf-has-now-split-into-4-factions.html

Israel's systemic denial of Palestinians' right to water | Middle East Eye


Over the last few weeks, Palestinians have been facing severe water shortages because Mekorot, the Israeli water company, is denying or restricting their access to the resource.
The evidence suggests that the annual rainfall in Ramallah is higher than in London (619 mm/year compared to 596 mm/year). However, the Palestinian daily water consumption per capita (about 70 l/day) is strongly below the World Health Organisation’s recommendations (about 100 l/day). Meanwhile, Israelis consume on average about 250 l/day. How is such a drastic difference possible? What are the mechanisms that allow Israel to maintain this imbalance?
Fundamentally, this is not a typical water conflict. Contrary to other situations across the globe, and to what we often hear or might think, there is enough water for everyone in the region. This means that the problem is not hydrogeological or geographical, nor technical, but mainly political. And not only is it political, but it is consciously used by Israel “as a tool of warfare”, of which repercussions are manifold.
Therefore, the problem doesn’t lie in the lack of water resources in Palestine, but rather in the impossibility for the Palestinians to access them, because Israel considers itself to have priority over them, as a direct manifestation of its military occupation of the Palestinian lands and natural resources.
Since water from the basins of the occupied West Bank naturally flows down to lands lying at a lower altitude, it is enough for the latter to prevent the Palestinians from extracting the water to get full control. This is done either administratively – by denying authorisation to drill wells, often without justification – or physically – by destroying existing infrastructure or not taking care of it. The Israelis help themselves generously, and then sell back to “their neighbours” what is left of the “stolen” resource, choosing its price and amount.
Is this legal? No. Nor is it secret, since the targeting of water resources for example has been recognised by UN reports as “deliberate and systematic”. This, of course, is contrary to international law, according to which access to water and sanitation is a human right, and preventing it is a war crime. Indeed, Israel has the obligation to ensure an “equitable and reasonable allocation of resources” as an occupying power.
The problem here is twofold. On the one hand, borders are not clearly defined, and Israel systematically blurs the lines with its illegal settlements and expansion on the ground, that have nothing to do with official maps. As a consequence, it is hard to argue in favour of Palestinian territories following international law, because these territories are not precisely defined.
But what is perhaps more problematic, because it is very paradoxical, is the fact that the issue has been addressed in the Oslo agreements. These norms are unfortunately not clear enough. They were only supposed to constitute a mere framework, meant to lead to further, more precise legislation. Yet the Palestinians are still waiting for those “final status negotiations”, and in the meantime, are left with an imprecise legal norm that recognises, and therefore enforces the status quo, which includes the denial of accessing their natural resources including water.
That said, various specific committees (as the Joint Water Committee) have been set up, which is slowing down the process, because there are now too many actors involved in the water sector. This results in a scattering of responsibilities inside Palestine. Even among those organisations, Israel is still much more powerful, since it benefits from a right of veto. It is also the case in the asymmetrical weight of Palestine and Israel in the issue, as the latter benefits from three levels of veto in the Joint Water Committee. So, in a nutshell, “the occupied territories today are both besieged and internally fragmented”.

Donors reinforce Israeli dominance

What about the international community? There is no regional coordination, and countries neighbouring Palestine all have different water policies and political agendas, which doesn’t help. Same for the huge number of different international organisations and NGOs involved in region.
Everybody agrees that Israel has no right to act like it does. Billions of dollars of aid are sent each year by foreign donors. But unfortunately, the water sector as a whole seriously lacks coordination, and, in the long term, the presence of foreign donors mainly reinforces fragmentation and corruption. Donors end up perpetuating the status quo and approving Israel’s action.
Since the situation is labelled as “an emergency”, it incites international actors to focus on the consequences of the problem with short-term interventions, while ignoring its roots and more durable investment. External intervention thus work on filling up a gap that might precisely serve as a catalyser.
The consequences of what precedes are quite wide-ranging. The lack of water for everyday needs can obviously affect health – but Israel’s stranglehold on this resource is also economically meaningful, since its cost and scarcity make it difficult for the Palestinians to develop their agriculture, not to mention any kind of industry. Even cultural goods, such as historic cisterns or springs, are damaged by Israeli targeting. As a result, the Palestinians are forced to depend more on Israel, to get water, food, industrial goods or jobs. The NGOs and international structures involved in the sector simply reinforce this vicious circle.

http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/israels-systemic-denying-palestinian-right-water-752091302