The approach to the end of the civil war in Syria, the loss of Kirkuk by Iraqi Kurdistan after the independence referendum, the crisis in the GCC because of Qatar and the approach to a change of leadership in Algeria and Saudi Arabia, which started in the Yemen war, are the main focus of world media. Events in the Sahel, Sudan and East Africa as a whole remain in the shadowNews first row. " Meanwhile, there is a sharp rivalry of external players in the region.
This article, which describes the situation in the Sahel, Sudan and East Africa, is based on the materials of IBA expert A. A. Bystrov.
Timely beaten special forces
Nigerian authorities have asked the United States to use drone drone to fight the militants operating on the border of this African state with Mali. According to NBC, even before the attack on American special forces in Niger 10 in October, the United States began to study the possibility of using drone drums there. The attack took place 200 kilometers north of Niamey, the capital of the country. Four American special forces soldiers were killed, two were injured.
Washington has long regarded the Sahel as a secondary direction in the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking, considering that this is the area of responsibility of Paris. Fortunately, migration and drug traffic there are aimed at Europe and to a very small extent at the United States.
President D. Trump at the beginning of the government pointed out the priority areas of action: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen. After the incident in Niger, US Secretary of Defense J. Mattis made a statement regarding the Sahel. Experts attribute this to the fact that in October 10 celebrated the founding of the US African Command (AFRICOM), whose efforts were focused on the fight against Islamists Al-Shabab in Somalia.
The White House cuts down the budgets of direct military assistance to foreign countries and does not intend to revise this policy. At the same time, Trump held a law on building up the US military component abroad without being considered by Congress. Balancing between spending cuts in “secondary directions” and the Pentagon’s desire to increase its presence there is in conflict with America. The incident with the US special forces in Niger arrived in time. AFRICOM funding and congressional rejection of the Pentagon’s requests for building up the forces in the Sahel are at stake.
AFRICOM headquarters structures are deployed in Germany at the request of Paris - due to dissatisfaction of African leaders with the prospect of deploying US bases on their territory. But the Franco-American Cold War is over. Paris cannot contain the Islamic threat in the ECOWAS zone (Economic Community of West African States) and the Sahel. He is ready to break the taboo on the presence of US security officials in the sphere of their interests in Africa. During his visit to Washington, the French Minister of Defense asked for increased support for the joint military contingent of the countries of the region (Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso, Mauritania). So far, Trump has agreed to allocate 60 million dollars for this. Most likely, the group of UAVs in the region will increase slightly, since the French are experiencing a shortage of equipment.
Characteristically, the change in the position of the leadership of the Niger in relation to the UAV: earlier Niamey did not allow the use of attack drones on its territory, allowing only reconnaissance to be activated. The choice of Niger by the Americans is due to the presence in the country of a large number of uranium deposits, which until now were under the exclusive control of French companies. Moreover, the United States agreed to deploy shock drones in Niger only on the condition that their base would be located not in Niamey, but in Agadez, 1130 kilometers north of the capital. They are trying to solve two problems: to strengthen the presence in Niger, while simultaneously putting under control a large part of Libya.
All this means that Washington was unable to agree with Algeria on the deployment of UAV bases on its territory and the use of airspace to fly its UAVs to the Sahel zone and to the south. Negotiations on this were going on for two years, the United States stimulated Algeria to positively resolve this issue by stepping up the PTS, but to no avail. The Algerian Corridor operates in the north and central regions of Libya. The south of this country will now be controlled by the wing of drones in Agadez, whose radius of action covers its entire territory. The latter means that the Pentagon is beginning to more actively participate in the Libyan conflict.
The drones base in Agadez will take effect in the middle or at the end of the 2018 of the year. So far, construction estimates exceed 100 million dollars, but, according to experts, will increase significantly. Paris has no choice. The first military baptism of the military contingent of the African "five" countries, which took place in the triangle of the borders of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso under the command of the French military, failed. The successes are modest, the level of coordination, according to the French, is terrifying. The propaganda result of the operation, timed to coincide with the visit of President E. Macron to the region, turned out to be minimal.
Sudan not by clinton
United States Permanent Representative to the UN Nikki Haley was evacuated from a refugee camp in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, where unrest began during her visit. This was reported TV channel MSNBC. The diplomat left the camp, but continued the visit. The events that took place there are the camouflaged response of Juba to the warnings of Washington. Haley’s visit to South Sudan was a “last warning,” expressed in a rigid form. Washington took a course on forcing the President of South Sudan Salva Kiir to incorporate the opposition into power structures and form a unified government to prepare for general elections.
The crisis in relations between the United States and South Sudan began after the election of Donald Trump as the US president. 6 September The US Department of International Accounts Control (OFAC) issued an order freezing the funds of functionaries of the pro-presidential party - the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLA), including President Kiir, which caused a tough response from the country's Foreign Ministry. Prior to this, in May Kiir refused to accept the US special representative for the Sudanese settlement. The stubbornness of the president is explained simply - he does not want to share power with the opposition, which consists mainly of representatives of the Nuer tribal alliance. And this is supported by the President of Uganda, Y. Museveni, who is concerned not with Nuer, but with the strengthening of his main regional competitors: Ethiopia and Kenya.
The main reason for the US-South Sudan crisis is that Kiir is a personal project of former US Secretary of State H. Clinton and her African-American entourage at the US Department of State. There was a lot of racism and little prediction in the US demands for Khartoum’s guarantees of independence for South Sudan to grant independence. The Americans did everything to isolate the "black" South Sudan and oppose it to the "Arab" Sudan. In response, the leadership of the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement shared with the curators at the US State Department the means at its disposal. The figure of Clinton as Trump's main rival has led to the stripping of the African lobby at the US Department of State and the transformation of US policy on the continent. Clinton did not like Khartoum, and now sanctions are being lifted from him. She supported Kiir, and Trump against him.
Iran is stepping up efforts to spread influence in the Horn of Africa and East Africa, competing with Egypt, the UAE and KSA. This is not Tehran’s first attempt to gain a foothold in the region. Most of all, he advanced in this in the course of establishing strategic relations with Khartoum during the blockade of that KSA against the backdrop of American economic sanctions. Strengthening of relations went in the military sphere - the Islamic Republic delivered bombs to Sudan, established their assembly production there, Iranian warships regularly visited with technical and "friendly" visits to Port Sudan. Tehran did not have enough for the economic expansion.
It is possible that the Iranian secret services warned of the risks of this, suspecting that Khartoum was playing a combination to prepare the conditions for rapprochement with Riyadh. After the rupture with Sudan, Iran was left without a bridgehead in East Africa against the background of the intensification of the struggle between the blocks of the UAE - Egypt and Qatar - Turkey. Plus KSA, play the game. In this regard, the Iranians have relied on Ethiopia. Its leaders are wary of Riyadh after the events of two years ago, when the authorities deported dozens of Saudi preachers from the country on charges of inciting religious hatred.
This pushed Ethiopia to strengthen contacts with all anti-Saud players to create a regional counterweight. After the 29 Summit of the African Union (AU) 4 in July, the head of the Middle East and Africa Department of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Hussein Amir-Abdolahian, began to establish and maintain working contacts with Ethiopian partners - Foreign Ministers Vorkhen Hebeyeh, agriculture Decade Abrahha and Bekele Bolado trade. Iran began its first steps to strengthen cooperation with Ethiopia in 1984, but this trend became apparent after Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi’s visit to Addis Ababa in 2012, which laid the foundations for bilateral rapprochement.
One of its outcomes was Addis Ababa’s support for Tehran’s position on key foreign policy issues, including the Iranian nuclear program deal and Iran’s right to develop a “peaceful atom”. The representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran became a regular guest at the annual AU summits in Addis Ababa. Ethiopia is counting on Iran’s support in disputes with Egypt over the construction of the Great Dam on the Blue Nile. And such was declared, causing a negative reaction from Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. In response, the Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desaleny announced the creation of a Farsi and Iranian studies department at the University of the Capital with the involvement of Iranian teachers.
Tehran is trying to weaken the position of Egypt and its president A.F.-Sisi in the region, increasing its influence. He is trying to create adverse conditions for Egypt and the United Arab Emirates in Eritrea, where they created a military base, displacing the Iranians. It was through Eritrea that the stream went weapons via Sinai to Gaza. In this, Iranians work closely with Qatar, which is an antagonist of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, and Oman, which has a strong position in Tanzania.
Special services under sanctions
27 – 28 September, a session of the AU Committee for Intelligence and Security Services (CISSA) was held in Khartoum. The heads of the special services of African countries, as well as representatives of the CIA of the United States, the French DGSE, the Department of State Security of the United Arab Emirates and the head of the superspecial service of the State Security Presidium of KSA, General Khaled Ali al-Humaidan, were present. The head of the National Security and Intelligence Service (NISS), Mohammed Atta, who was close to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, presided. Atta is considered the main architect of secret consultations with the United States on the lifting of sanctions from Sudan and the establishment of cooperation with the CIA to counter Islamist terrorism.
The counterpart of the head of the Sudanese secret service in these consultations is the director of the CIA, M. Pompeo. He is the main lobbyist of the final lifting of the sanctions from Sudan and its removal from the list of states sponsoring terrorism, since the CIA receives operational and undercover information from Khartoum. The fact of the CISSA NPP gathering in the country, whose leadership is under the legal prosecution of the International Criminal Court (ICC), is unprecedented, as is the presence of representatives of the American and French special services. Earlier, the United States and Europeans refused to participate in international conferences in Sudan, not to mention direct contacts with President Al-Bashir and the head of his special services. The EU Special Representatives and the United States for Sudan met only with ministers who were not included in the lists of the ICC. The AU also tried not to hold events in this country, limiting the participation of members of the Sudanese delegation who had been previously agreed at the AU headquarters. This means that the process has begun to soften the position of the US and the EU in terms of the “Arab segment” of Africa. Note that at the session there were no observers from Qatar and Turkey as observers. The meeting was dictated by Riyadh as a possible financial sponsor of joint operations in Somalia.
On the margins of the event, contacts were noted between the Americans and the leadership of the Sudanese special services, as well as al-Humaidan and Atta. I would like to highlight the meeting of the head of the Ugandan foreign intelligence service J. Esveta with a delegation of South Sudanese. These consultations were continued on September 29 in Kampala, where an agreement was reached on sending a second batch of 30 Ugandan intelligence officers to Juba to organize work against the South Sudanese opposition from R. Mashar’s party in the states of Bento and Torit. Al-Humaidan discussed with Atta issues of bilateral cooperation on Yemen, in particular the increase in funding for the Sudanese military members of the Arab coalition forces. At the talks with representatives of the American, Saudi and Emirates intelligence services, joint operations and exchange of intelligence information regarding the Muslim Brotherhood movement were discussed. For the CIA, this topic is given priority following Trump's instructions to step up activities in this area.
The Sudanese regime is ideologically close to the Muslim Brotherhood, was present at various levels in various formats of their activities around the world, and Atta has a lot of relevant information. KSA and the United Arab Emirates are planning to use Sudanese partners to gather information about the facts of support for Salafi extremist groups that compromise Qatar. We are talking about publishing them in the White Paper, the decision to publish which was taken at the September meeting of the heads of the special services of the Arab Republic of Egypt, KSA, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
The Eagles of the Sahara come into play.
The most acute Italy and France are currently competing in Libya, and their struggle is taking on odd forms. Thus, the Libyan brigade "Eagles of the Sahara" Barki Shedemi sent a letter to the coordinator of the EU foreign policy F. Mogherini, demanding to begin consultations on the size of financial compensation in connection with the functions of the Libyan-Niger border for the brigade to combat illegal migration. The team participates in operations to patrol the Libyan border in pursuance of the Rome Pact, concluded under the auspices of Italy in April and legally registered in July as a project to create a single border force, which included tribal militia tuba, Tuareg and aulad Suleyman. In exchange, the tribes demanded compensation for blood feuds between them, free training and treatment of members of the tribes in Italian hospitals in excess of regular salaries.
In addition to border protection and the fight against migration, Rome is thus trying to bring the region under control and strengthen the position of Prime Minister of the National Accord Government (PNC) F. Saraj, as well as guarantee the safety of oil fields operated by Italian Eni. The pretext is the fight against migration. Rome has repeatedly appealed to Brussels with a demand to take on partial financing and technical equipment of the operation, receiving Brussels refusal under pressure from Paris. The French are playing their game to increase influence in Fezzan, historical areas in the north-west of the country, and in Libya as a whole the position of Field Marshal H. Haftar.
The Italians, through deputies of the European Parliament, initiated proceedings on the spending of EU funds to combat illegal migration in the Sahel and the Maghreb, including an investigation into the bribing by European officials of jihadi commanders in Lebanese Sabrata, who, according to the Italians, are the main organizers of illegal migration from Africa through Libya to Europe, and Sudanese Janjaweed pursued by the ICC. This appeal has caused a strong reaction from President Niger M. Issuf, who considers himself the main recipient of support for Brussels in the fight against migration and smuggling. Competition, he does not intend to tolerate. But not everything is so simple.
11 of September Ahmed Barka, Minister of the Interior in the Government of Tobruk, a supporter of Haftar, announced that he had reached an agreement on “cooperation” with Shedemi. The Eagles of the Sahara sworn to Haftar. They are not the most numerous tribe of the Tubu, but have carried out successful operations to intercept migrants and caravans smuggling on the border with Niger and Chad. This brigade is controlled by one of the spiritual fathers of the tuba, Sheikh Mitch Salah Zalami. Through Shedemi, Haftar tried to win his loyalty. So, Shedemi’s appeal was initiated by the French, who decided, at the expense of Brussels, to finance the loyal part of the tribal militia, creating an alternative to the Italian project. Paris is trying to put in an uncomfortable position F. Mogherini, who is suspected of lobbying the interests of Rome in Libya.
In the event of the failure of Brussels Schedemi, smuggling and migrants will rush across the Niger-Libyan border, which will put the Italians in a difficult position and devalue the Rome Pact. Satisfaction with the Sahara Eagles may lead to new financial requirements for the pro-Italian part of the tuba to increase their salaries. So Paris responded to a competitor in the Libyan direction for deputy inquiries regarding the “correctness” of spending EU funds to fight illegal migration ...