Africans protest in #China as man dies in police custody

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More than 100 Africans protested on Tuesday outside a police station in China’s southern Guangdong province after an African man died in police custody.

The protest in Guangdong’s capital Guangzhou, which brought traffic to a halt, lasted for two hours on Tuesday, Xinhua reported, citing an official from the Guangzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau.

The dead African man, whose identity has not been confirmed, “suddenly fell unconscious” at a police station on Monday afternoon and “died after medical efforts failed”, according to police sources quoted by Xinhua.

The African man was taken into the police station for questioning on Monday after he had a “physical altercation” with another person, the owner of an electric bicycle who had given the African man a ride as a passenger on Monday afternoon. Both of them disagreed over payment.

The protest comes ahead of a summit between China and Africa that China is expected to host in July, and amid a crackdown by Beijing and Shanghai on “illegal foreigners”. In late May, Beijing launched a 100-day campaign to “clean out” foreigners living or working illegally in the city and has stepped up police checks on expatriates.

The Xinhua report said police have launched an investigation into the death and that “police in Guangzhou have called for foreigners to abide by Chinese law and refrain from disturbing public order”.

via Reuters.

Investors Could Get Rattled

By now most people watching the geopolitical world will know that Chinese investment (and thus immigration) is becoming a huge deal in Africa. But we hadn’t really been considering African immigration to China until today.

Images of the protest posted on Weibo paint a chaotic scene. This photo, posted by @ndgz via @城事风云榜, shows the scale of the protest:

African Migrants China

Weibo

Another photo, posted by @onccnews seems to show migrants fighting with police officers:

African Migrants China

Weibo

China is due to hold a summit for African nations in July, as Reuters notes, but the timing of that summit is beginning to look perilous, as anti-foreigner sentiment within the country grows. Shanghai recently began clamping down on illegal foreigners, while a prominent TV host recently warned on Weibo about the influx of immigrants in the country.

via Business Insider

Nigerian Immigrants Demanding A Consulate

Most of the demonstrators are thought to have come from the city’s various African communities and sources in the city said the dead man was Nigerian.

Guangzhou police said via its microblog account it had opened an investigation into the death of a foreign national on Monday. It said officers in Yuexiu district had been called because of a fight between a foreigner and an electric bicycle driver over a fare dispute.

In a separate post, the police said foreigners had blocked traffic on Guangyuan West Road – where the fight broke out – on Tuesday afternoon but were dispersed by officers.

They appealed to expatriates living in China to “abide by Chinese laws, not harm public interests or disrupt public order” and said police would investigate the death in strict accordance with the law.

One picture posted on Sina’s Weibo microblog showed a man carrying a cardboard placard reading “Give us the dead body” in English and Chinese.

Protests by foreign nationals residing in the country are rare in China. More than 100 demonstrators surrounded a police station in Guangzhou in 2009 after a Nigerian man died during an immigration raid. Reports said he had jumped from a second-floor window as police mounted surprise passport checks.

Nigerians in the city recently called for a consulate to be set up there, saying it would help them deal with immigration issues and tackle harassment.

via Guardian

 

West African “Terror Threat”: After Decades, Anarchy Hasn’t Arrived

2009 travel advisory raised the threat in and around Mali's oft-quoted oasis town of Timbuktu to "high" Photo: REUTERS
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While riddled with weak states, West Africa has not become the international terrorist playground some feared it would. That does not mean warnings about extremists should be overlooked however.

By Charlie Warren for ISN Security Watch


In 1994, journalist Robert Kaplan wrote a controversial Atlantic article, “The Coming Anarchy,” warning of West Africa’s ungoverned spaces, disease-ridden slums, weak borders, and impoverished masses. Kaplan declared that “we ignore this dying region at our own risk.” In 2004, Douglas Farah and Richard Shultz published a Washington Post op-ed that picked up the argument where Kaplan had left off. West Africa had become a terrorist sanctuary. Three years after the 9/11 attacks, the authors proclaimed, “weak and corrupt governments, vast, virtually stateless stretches awash in weapons, and impoverished, largely Muslim populations make the region an ideal sanctuary…The now-identifiable presence of al Qaeda in other countries shows that these once-marginal wars and regions matter. We ignore the warnings at our peril.”

2009 travel advisory raised the threat in and around Mali’s oft-quoted oasis town of Timbuktu to “high” Photo: REUTERS

History has not borne out this “coming anarchy” of terrorism, and West Africa is not rife with international extremism. Alas, the region is not beyond terrorism’s grasp either. This means several longstanding arguments about extremism in West Africa need to be carefully revisited.

Global extremism versus local grievances

Conventional wisdom separates transnational, Salafist-inspired terrorists from local, politically marginal insurgents. However, the available evidence in West Africa suggests one ought to view things differently. Even the most well connected Al-Qaeda affiliate in the Sahel and West Africa, Al Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM), has a variety of influences. AQIM’s predecessor, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, wanted to depose the Algerian government. The group officially aligned itself with Osama bin Laden in 2006 and changed its name to AQIM in 2007.

Boko Haram, a Nigerian insurrection founded by Mohammed Yusuf in 2002, has even more opaque influences. The group’s actual name provides one such example.Boko Haram is Hausa for ‘Western education is sinful,’ yet the group’s members seldom, if ever, use it. Adherents instead prefer Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad(‘People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad’)—hardly a name conducive to the pithy labels preferred by governments or journalists alike. Northern Nigeria has also witnessed extremism in the recent past, so Boko Haram’s emergence is not groundbreaking either. During the early 1980s, millenarian uprisings led by Alhaji Muhammadu Marwa (also known as “Maitatsine”) left over four thousand people dead and included some similarities to Boko Haram’s rhetoric related to wealth, Western education, and the alleged graft of other northern Nigerian Muslims. Not unlike Boko Haram, Maitatsine’s revolts appealed to the young, disenfranchised northern Nigerians in cities like Kano, Kaduna, and Gombe. Thirty years after those uprisings, Boko Haram has played upon distinctly local concerns—including corruption, political isolation, and northern Nigeria’s relative poverty—with alarming success. While Boko Haram’s aims may be unique and ever evolving, its regional and religious contexts are not.

Since 2011, however, Boko Haram’s members have acquired some international practices: they recruit and deploy suicide bombers; they successfully bombed UN headquarters in Abuja; they carry out other mass casualty attacks; and they are alleged to have met with, and perhaps trained under, AQIM.

Analysts have spent a great deal of time attempting to draw the line between ‘Boko Haram the local insurrection’ and ‘Boko Haram the global extremist group.’ Splinters of Boko Haram may have contacted other terrorist organizations in an effort to engage in training, but it’s difficult to trace individual actions to truly coherent international ambitions. Worse still, it’s a distraction. Boko Haram is better understood as a diffuse group, ill-suited to international terrorist labels, including the US designation as an official Foreign Terrorist Organization . The false dichotomy surrounding Boko Haram not only narrows our definition of the violent extremist sect, but it also constrains our ability to find measured, evidence-based solutions.

Think-tanks label al-Shabab a “terror threat” but they are doggedly domestic. Photograph: Feisal Omar/Reuters

Borders and illicit Flows

At least four cross-border flows facilitate terrorism in the region. Weapons of varying types pervade West Africa, making the tools of violent extremism readily available. Semtex explosives can be purchased, and Nigerien authorities recently seized 1,420 pounds of the material and 445 detonators. As many as 15,000 of Muammar Gaddhafi’s stock of man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS) are unaccounted for; some speculate that AQIM possesses stockpiles. Although MANPADS have brought down at least eight passenger planes in Africa, small arms have led to far more casualties. Perhaps millions of Kalashnikovs flooded gun markets following the Cold War, and Boko Haram has become yet another group to use them during its hundreds of deadly attacks since 2010.

Illicit transfers of money via remittances and cash happen, and there is little capacity to monitor all transactions in largely unbanked countries. With mobile money transfers, cell phones could also send and receive illicit funds, but the services are not yetwidespread.

West Africa’s drug smuggling routes provide opportunities for terrorist organizations to generate revenues. At least fifty tons of cocaine (worth $2 billion in Europe) travels through West Africa per year, with over one ton heading through the ‘narco-state’ of Guinea-Bissau every night. Colombia’s FARC and AQIM already traffic drugs across the Sahel and into Europe.

People also move across borders. Militants have fled Libya for the Sahel in large numbers. Kidnapping has proven to be a lucrative funding stream for AQIM, and they have made a business of capturing Westerners. AQIM has fetched ransoms as high as $6 million in one instance and acquired tens of millions of dollars in kidnapping fees since 2006.

Although weak borders may aid terrorists, two distinctions are essential. Smuggling and banditry are hardly new to the region: for years illegal goods have traveled over the Nigeria-Cameroon border and similar flows cross the Nigeria-Benin border. International boundaries are not completely leaky either. West African states may not exercise a uniform rule of law along their boundaries, but they do have an intricate web of roadblocks, some physical and others more bureaucratic. Analysts should not overstate Africa’s porous boundaries.

Political instability and terrorism

West Africa’s poverty and crime have preoccupied policymakers concerned with terrorism, but few have examined the role of political instability. The relationships between terrorism and a more common scourge in the region—electoral violence—are not well known. However, one can reason that prolonged election conflicts could create space for terrorist groups in more stable countries or, at the very least, distract politicians and security services. Nigeria’s tragic post-election violence of April 2011 provides one possible example. The strife thankfully stopped short of prolonged conflict, but it did sidetrack diplomatic approaches to handling Boko Haram.

Although scholars have not tested the relationship between electoral strife and terrorism, coups d’état and terrorism may have some connections. Recent anecdotal evidence from Mali and Guinea-Bissau suggest that coups can help terrorists. Mali’s March 22 overthrow of President Amadou Toumani Touré’s government was not a one-off event but rather the culmination of a northern Tuareg rebellion. (The coup’s leader, Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo, received military training in the United States.) Evolving power struggles among the FLNA, MNLA, Ansar Eddine, AQIM, and MUJWA make Mali’s future uncertain. Moreover, the coup set back counterterrorism efforts in the country, not to mention precipitated a democracy and human rights rollback. AQIM may have more control than ever before.

Meanwhile, Guinea-Bissau’s April 12 coup has worsened the security situation and diverted attention away from efforts to stem a growing drug trade. (In almost 40 years since independence, no president of Guinea-Bissau has finished a continuous term in office.) While it is difficult to predict the country’s future, its counternarcotics efforts show no signs of improvement in the near term.

However, if one overemphasizes the impact of recent government overthrows in West Africa, one ignores an important trend. Coups have declined steadily for decades. According to the Center for Systemic Peace’s dataset, there were twelve successful coups in West Africa from 1980 to 1990, ten from 1990 to 2000, and six from 2000 to 2010. Africa’s civil wars are also declining, and the region is not predisposed to conflict.

Efforts to combat terrorism in West Africa

Many analysts perpetuate the image of West Africa as a blank slate for counterterrorism experiments. Yet efforts have been ongoing for decades, and international, regional, and local frameworks already exist. UN Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001) established the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) in an effort to stop terrorism in all of its forms. UN Security Council Resolution 1624 (2005) is designed to improve border security and encourage member countries to submit updates to the CTC. Unfortunately, West African countries provided irregular reports to CTC and even fewer reports per UNSCR 1624.

Other policies to stop terrorism predate the UN resolutions but have proven equally ineffective. The Organization of African Unity (OAU) first addressed terrorism in its 1992 Dakar declaration, and its 1999 Algiers agreement determined to “eliminate terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.” Regional groups include the West African Police Chiefs Corporation, the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism, and ECOWAS’ Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa as well as its Committee of Chiefs of Security Service. Numerous challenges confront counterterrorism teams in West Africa, ranging from poor coordination among different bureaucracies, to limited access to INTERPOL records, to regional language barriers, to the failure to incorporate international terrorist financing regulations into local laws.

Understandably, many countries have volunteered to train West Africa’s police and security services. The US-led Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP) provides military assistance while the African Union’s Defense and Security Division undertakes some technical evaluations; special forces from Canada and other countries [AH: Libya, France,  Spain] have trained Malian security services in the past.

Although developing capacity among local forces may be necessary, many West Africa security services have human rights records ranging from inconsistent to abysmal. In some egregious cases of extra-judicial violence, security services’ brutality may anger the same extremists that they seek to stop. More broadly, international support creates what one analyst described presciently in 2004 as “rent seeking” for counterterrorism funding: Countries depict themselves as victims of transnational extremism—not local terrorism—with the hope of receiving increased aid flows in return. When the Nigerian government depicts Boko Haram as an ‘international‘ terrorist organization in letters to foreign governments, it really seeks security aid and counterterrorism funding.

Despite reasonable evidence to the contrary—terrorist groups have diverse influences, weak borders are never totally porous, political instability may influence terrorism in complex ways, and security solutions can backfire—elements of Kaplan’s argument persist. In March 2012, New York Times Africa correspondent Jeffrey Gettleman wrote a book review entitled “Africa’s Dirty Wars.” Gettleman described most African rebels as “thugs” but positioned Boko Haram as a global threat. He further cautioned that “some of the most organized, disciplined, and ideologically sophisticated rebels are the Islamist extremists.” However, after decades of similar warnings, the “coming anarchy” of international terrorism has yet to arrive in West Africa. There is good reason to believe that it never will.

Chinese Investment In Nigeria Hits $8.4 Billion – Official

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Chinese investment in Nigeria has hit the 8.4 billion dollar mark, says Mr Yonghua Ding, the Head of the Political and Press Section at the Chinese Embassy.

Ding, who stated this in Abuja on Thursday, noted that the investment was in telecommunications, agriculture, oil and gas and power, among others.

He said the figure was recorded in 2011.

Ding also said that trade between both countries had reached the 10.7 billion mark, a 40 per cent increase over the figure for 2010.

He said that the bulk of the trade was recorded in the wholesale and retail sectors.

The envoy said the balance of trade was in China’s favour because Nigeria’s main export was oil which accounted for only 1 per cent of the trade.

“China is interested in agriculture and solid mineral products, we hope to explore these areas and have more exports from Nigeria.’’

He commended the cordial relations between both countries, adding that China had simplified its visa procedure to facilitate trade for Nigerian businessmen.

“Those who meet the necessary requirement are issued visa within a week; these are part of measures to boost economic cooperation between both nations’’.

NAN recalls that both nations signed the Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement and Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement in 2001 and 2002 respectively.

Nigeria and China established diplomatic relations in 1971.

Leadership Newspapers.

#Nigeria Claims Over $12 Billion Lost to Pipeline Vandalism And Oil Theft

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20 May 2012 UPDATE: Appears the announcement of losses below was a prelude to this announcement of deploying security forces.

Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin [Today’s Nigeria]

Losing over 180 million barrels of crude oil daily, Nigeria has inaugurated a joint military task force on crude oil theft, the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshall Oluseyi Petinrin, told journalists on Saturday in Lagos, during a stakeholders’ meeting on security in the oil and gas industry.

Petinrin said the task force consisting of senior army personnel and other security agencies, would check the incessant oil theft and bring sanity to the industry.

“I quite agree with the collective decision of the stakeholders on ways to address oil theft in the country.

All the security agencies will ensure adequate monitoring of the country’s oil theft to logical conclusion,” he said.

He assured the nation that the security agencies that would be involved in the assignment of the task force would never compromise anything.

The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, who confirmed that over 180 million barrels of crude oil were lost daily, said that the task force would include both indigenous and international oil chiefs.

The minister said that it had been observed that in the last six months, oil theft on Nigerian waters increased.

“This crude oil theft affects both our environment and economic values in Nigeria,” she said.

Source African Press Agency

Political map of the 36 States of Nigeria (Eng...

Political map of the 36 States of Nigeria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Nigerian government has said it has incurred losses of more than $12 billion to pipeline vandalism and oil theft in the last one year.

Nigeria’s Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison Madueke, told a stakeholders meeting on the rising security in the oil sector in Lagos on Friday that $5 billion was spent in the last one year on pipeline repairs, while the amount lost to crude theft was valued at $7 billion.

The minister, who decried the menace of oil theft, said that the meeting was convened in order to strengthen partnership with leadership of security agencies in curbing the problem.

“In the last six months the level of oil theft in the country has become alarming and has necessitated the need for this roundtable with all stakeholders. It will be very productive if we open up discussion to provide solution on the situation we have found ourselves,” she said.

Alison-Madueke said that the meeting would evolve a short, medium and long term solutions to tackle the issue as oil theft was taking its toll on the economy of the nation.

She thanked the service chiefs for the support and expressed optimism that the problem would finally be addressed with their support.

The minister stressed the need for urgent replacement of old pipelines and rehabilitate the infrastructure in the sector.

According to her, the government is exploring alternative sources of funding to fast track infrastructure development and ensure asset integrity in the sector.

The meeting was attended by Chief of Defense Staff, Air Marshall Oluseyi Petinrin, Chief of Army Staff, Azubuke Ihejrika and managing directors of international and indigenous oil companies.

Source African Press Agency

African refugees stuck at #Yemen-#Saudi border

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SANA’A — The Yemeni Interior Ministry has highlighted humanitarian abuses that African refugees undergo at various smuggling points along the Saudi-Yemeni border.

At these border crossings, particularly in Harad city, the African stowaways to Saudi Arabia have become easy prey for human trafficking gangs.

The gangs torture the refugees and make them call their relatives living in Saudi Arabia or in any other country to send them money.

The Ministry of Interior said last Thursday that a convoy of eight armed vehicles had stormed smugglers’ courtyards in the Harad directorate.

The raid resulted in the freeing of 89 African hostages, among whom there were 76 Somalis, a Nigerian man, six Nigerian women and six Sudanese. Five smugglers were captured in the security operation.

The Interior Ministry further added on its website that the investigation led to a deeper understanding of the refugees’ suffering and more specifically how they were subject to extortion and blackmail by smugglers who forced them to call their relatives to send money.

Full story on Yemen Times.