Oct 17 , 2015 (SANAA, Yemen) — Hundreds of Sudanese troops arrived in Yemen's southern port city of Aden on Saturday, the first batch of an expected 10,000 reinforcements for the Saudi-led coalition fighting the country's Shiite Houthi rebels, security officials said.
- Sudanese troops in Aden
The troops' mission is to secure Aden, which has seen an uptick in drive-by shootings of pro-government troop leaders and officials as extremists became more entrenched in the city in recent weeks, the pro-government security officials said.
Yemen's fighting pits the Houthis and allied army units against forces loyal to the coalition-backed internationally recognized government as well as southern separatists and other militants.
The latest assassination was of an Emirati officer in Aden's Mansoura neighborhood on Friday, killed by gunmen on a motorcycle, officials said. The United Arab Emirates is part of the Saudi-led coalition, which has been pounding rebel positions since March.
Although the attack, like several others, went unclaimed, the officials said they suspect Sunni extremists, who they say have made land grabs, exploiting the chaos engulfing the Arab world's poorest country. Yemen's al-Qaida, viewed by Washington as the terror network's most dangerous affiliate, is known to have used motorcycles in previous assassinations.
Earlier Saturday, al-Qaida militants set up security checkpoints and began enforcing sex segregation at the sole college in Zinjibar, the provincial capital of Abyan, neutral and pro-government security officials there said.
"First they took Mukalla and then Zinjibar. We are all worried Aden may be next," one pro-government security official told The Associated Press.
Yemen's al-Qaida branch overran Mukalla, the capital of sprawling Hadramawt province, in April. They have since gender-segregated public spaces there and publicly killed and flogged people, including on charges of "witchcraft," Mukalla residents told The Associated Press last week.
Also Saturday, airstrikes from the Saudi-led coalition targeting Houthi rebels mistakenly struck a pro-government military encampment, killing at least 20 fighters and wounding another 20 in the latest instance of friendly fire in the anti-rebel camp, security officials said.
The fighters had just wrested the encampment from the Houthis in the southern Taiz province when airstrikes hit them, pro-government security officials said.
"They thought the Houthis were still there," one pro-government security official told The Associated Press.
Ground commanders have repeatedly complained of slow communication with military leadership in Riyadh, the officials added.
Meanwhile in the massive desert province of Jawf, Saudi airstrikes killed 13 Houthis, neutral security officials there said. The strikes are part of a plan to seize the northern province in order to advance on the Houthi heartland of Sadaa, pro-government officials said.
All officials and witnesses spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to brief reporters or fear reprisals.
October 7, 2015 (Washington) – George Clooney seems to have limitless energy for the world’s youngest nation, South Sudan. From his outspokenness about theDarfur conflict to his launching a project to track human-rights abuses in the region, Clooney’s use of his Hollywood star power on behalf of South Sudan has not always been well-received, but it is not about to stop. He now wants to help promote coffee as a means to diversify the oil-rich country’s economy.
- George Clooney
Today (Oct. 7), Nespresso, the world’s biggest producer of single-serve coffee and coffee machines, announced the launch of its first ever coffee to be exported from the country. Clooney, a spokesman for Nespresso in Europe, convinced the Swiss-based company to invest in reviving South Sudan’s coffee-production industry, which suffered a blow during decades of civil war.
Since 2011, Nespresso has been working with TechnoServe, a US-headquartered NGO, to train more than 500 coffee farmers, replant trees, and set up mills in the Yei region of South Sudan.
Four years later, the coffee, called Suluja ti South Sudan—meaning “beginning of South Sudan” in Kakwa, a language indigenous to the region—is now ready for export. France is the first country that will get a taste of it, starting this month.
Nespresso says it will spend $2.6 million (2.5 million Swiss Francs) in the coming years to further the coffee’s development as a commercial product and to expand the endeavor to include several thousand farmers by 2020. While it does not expect quick returns—a payoff is likely to take many years to materialize—the company says it “sees this as a long-term investment in helping to revive the coffee industry in South Sudan.”
TechnoServe CEO William Warshauer told Bloomberg he believes coffee “can become the second-biggest export from South Sudan after oil. Having said that, we should recognize that it’s still the early days and volumes are very small and the political situation very fragile.”
Oil accounts for 99.82% of exports from South Sudan, according to theObservatory of Economic Complexity, a trade-data visualization site created at the MIT Media Lab. Its dependency makes it especially vulnerable to shocks in energy prices.
With its economy expected to contract by 7.5% this year, the east African country needs to diversify its exports to raise its non-oil revenue. Coffee may be a step in the right direction.
South Sudan is known in some circles as the”cradle of coffee.” According to Nespresso, it is believed to be one of the few places in the world where wild coffee, Arabica and Robusta, grows.
October 2, 2015 (Washington) – The struggling government of South Sudan says the U.S. must do more to support the democracy it helped create in the nation four years ago, asserting that the Obama administration and the international community are unfairly blaming the leadership in Juba for dragging its feet on a peace deal with rebels in the country’s civil war.
- Barack Hussein Obama
Without clearer American leadership and backing, said Awan Riak, a top adviser to South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit, the cycle of violence that has gripped the country since it achieved independence will only continue.
“We cannot make it alone, and we will not succeed alone,” Mr. Riak said in an interview with editors and reporters at The Washington Times on Thursday, suggesting that Washington has an obligation to intervene with resources that none of South Sudan’s neighbors can provide.
“If they see their child is perishing,” he said, “I do not think that the United States of America will just stand watching things.”
At the same time, however, Mr. Riak said the Obama administration and many others in the international community have unfairly portrayed the government as the aggressor in South Sudan’s internal strife and that U.S. officials are turning a blind eye to ongoing meddling by the government of Sudan to the north.
He said Mr. Kiir has ceded to pressure from the White House to sign a peace deal with Khartoum-backed rebels in recent weeks in the hope that the Obama administration would follow through with funding to ensure that the accord is implemented.
“There is a need for the [U.S.] to cooperate with our government,” he said, asserting that suggestions by administration officials that Mr. Kiir is to blame for the nation’s problems are “not helpful” and “not productive.”
The South Sudanese president and rebel leaders traded charges this week over who had violated a cease-fire as the two sides tried to implement the August peace accord. Mr. Kiir also faced skepticism from the United Nations when he participated by video hookup in a high-level summit this week on the country’s difficulties reaching a power-sharing accord.
“I hope you will not betray and disappoint us,” U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told Mr. Kiir.
The South Sudanese president told the conference, “I know there are people who doubt my commitment. I will prove the doubting Thomases wrong.”
South Sudan’s plight, Mr. Riak said, has grown more precarious by fact that the price of oil — the war-torn African nation’s economic lifeline — has plummeted in the past year.
“We are not even meeting our budgetary obligations towards delivery of services to our people,” he said. “And now, with the [peace] agreement itself coming in as another process to be followed when we are having all these economic challenges, we find it difficult to move forward without [financial] support.”
Although the Obama administration spent the initial years of South Sudan’s independence backing the Kiir government, the relationship began to sour when the South Sudanese president sacked his entire Cabinet — including Vice President Riek Machar, now the leader of the rebel forces — in 2013.
During the months leading up to the purge, Mr. Kiir had gone on an anti-corruption campaign. He accused dozens of officials in his own government of gutting the new nation’s accounts and illegally moving the money to overseas markets.
Mr. Kiir said some 75 current and former officials had enriched themselves, often by paying cash for foreign properties.
He also made headlines by writing letters to foreign leaders, including President Obama, calling on them to help recover some $4 billion he said was stolen from South Sudan’s government.
Washington’s lack of action on the matter prompted frustration among officials in Mr. Kiir’s new government.
The sacking of Mr. Machar, meanwhile, highlighted other divisions on the nation’s political scene, underscoring the friction between the two men over what Juba’s long-term oil-sharing relationship should be with Sudan, from which the south had declared independence in 2011.
Mr. Machar was seen to advocate reconciliation with Khartoum, whileMr. Kiir was seen to want a more aggressive posture toward the northern neighbors, whose “Janjaweed” militants were accused of carrying out genocide against Sudanese civilians in Darfur during years of civil war between north and south.
Upon his dismissal, Mr. Machar emerged as the main leader of opposition rebels that the Kiir government says are backed by Khartoum. Further complicating matters, both men, who hail from different ethnic tribes, have stoked clan loyalties in an effort to recruit supporters.
With that as a backdrop, the Obama administration appeared to ease off its support for the Kiir government last year and encouraged the government to strike a peace deal with Mr. Machar’s rebel force.
Mr. Riak made clear Thursday that the U.S. pressure did not sit well withMr. Kiir.
It was only after the White House threatened last month to rally the United Nations for an arms embargo on South Sudan that Mr. Kiiragreed to sign a deal with Mr. Machar and his rebels, which calls for Mr. Machar to be reinstated as vice president.
Despite his complaints, Mr. Riak said Thursday that the Juba government wants to turn “a new page with the United States of America.”
The Obama administration said it has already given more than $1 billion in aid to South Sudan since independence.
But Mr. Riak said more money is needed to implement the peace deal, which includes disarming Mr. Machar’s rebels.
He did not name a specific dollar amount, but he made it clear that his visit to Washington, which includes meetings at the White House and the State Department, aims to convince the administration that Mr. Kiiris trying to do right and hopes to get U.S. financial support in return.
“If there is something that we are not doing right in the government, we have to be told and cautioned,” Mr. Riak said. “But if blames are always done, we feel that something is terribly wrong and it has to be corrected.”
He stressed that American companies have much opportunity in the resource-rich African country.
“We are a country that has resources that should be exploited for the mutual benefit of all of our countries, not only the people of South Sudan — and yet, it is a place where people are still suffering, not even affording to have food on the table, despite all these blessings we have,”Mr. Riak said. “These are areas we feel we have to cooperate on, and if the [U.S.] will take the lead in the process of investment and development, the rest of the world will follow. We cannot make it alone, and we will not succeed alone.”