Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Millennium Challenge Series 11: Remebering those who lost their liberties in the Horn

Dear Patriotic Ethiopians and Friends of Ethiopia:

Here is an update of the Dallol Depression Fiasco, for what it is worth.

This is a time for prayer for those who have lost their liberties and for those who are seeking their freedom.

Patriotic Ethiopians and British Citizens have to work together closely to hunt down those who planned and executed this rather in humane scenario.

We need to make sure such callous and terrorist acts are not repeated again. It looks that media recognition will take any group to such depth of deprivity of taking away the liberty of others.

The saddest scenario is that those who claim to have lost their own liberty are forced to do the same crime to get others to recognize their plight.

We need to have a mechanism by which communicatiion is possible without going through suhc crisis.

That langage is called, diplomacy, dialogue and communication. May be Bill Gates should send a series of computers and servers with access to the internet to make sure that they have access to global communication network.

Yet, again, communicaiton might not be their problem. We will wait to hear their stories and hope it bettter be a good story.

With regards

Dr B
1. Investigators: Missing tour group kidnapped in Ethiopia by 30 men

The Associated Press

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia: A missing tour group linked to the British Embassy was kidnapped last week by 30 men who took them into neighboring Eritrea, Ethiopia's archrival, according to news reports Wednesday.
The five Europeans, along with 13 Ethiopian drivers and translators, went missing Thursday while traveling in Ethiopia's Afar region, a barren expanse of salt mines and volcanoes 800 kilometers (500 miles) northeast of the capital, Addis Ababa.

Cmdr. Ali Dani, the deputy police commissioner in Afar, said investigators have determined there were 30 kidnappers carrying "heavy military equipment." He did not say what the equipment was or what evidence he had.

"What police found out about the situation is that the hostages have been taken to the Eritrean territory," Dani told Radio Fana, a private radio station with ties to the government, during its 7 p.m. (1600GMT) news bulletin.
Eritrea has denied any involvement in the kidnapping. A statement Wednesday from the Eritrean Foreign Affairs ministry called the allegations a "blatant lie."

Ethiopian government officials have blamed Eritrea before, but played down the allegations over the weekend. Relations between the countries have been strained since Eritrea gained independence from the Addis Ababa government in 1993 following a 30-year guerrilla war.

The state-owned Ethiopian News Agency reported Wednesday that elders in Afar had reported that the group was being held in Eritrea. Afar tribesmen frequently cross the border between the two countries.

The elders said the abductors were armed with automatic guns and radio communication equipment, and set fire to a local finance office in a remote Ethiopian village, Hamedali, after taking cash and property. The agency named the elders as Ahmed Hussien Mohammed, Abdu Ali and Ali Mohammed Ibrahim.

British Foreign Office officials, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with ministry policy, have said no one has claimed responsibility or made any demands.
The five Europeans are employees of the British Embassy in Addis Ababa, or their relatives. Four are believed to be British citizens; the other is French.
Communication and travel into Afar are extremely difficult. The region is not heavily traveled by foreigners — in part because of its proximity to Ethiopia's disputed border with Eritrea. Its moonlike landscape, though, draws adventure tourists.

The famous Ethiopian fossil of Lucy, the earliest known hominid, was discovered in Afar 1974.
Travelers in Afar are required to have armed guards. Bandits and a small rebel group operate in Afar.

Source: AP
2. DynCorp hired for Somalia peacekeeping

The State Department has hired a major military contractor to help equip and provide logistical support to international peacekeepers in Somalia, giving the United States a significant role in the critical mission without assigning combat forces.

DynCorp International, which also has U.S. contracts in Iraq, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq, will be paid $10 million to help the first peacekeeping mission in Somalia in more than 10 years.

It's a potentially dangerous assignment. When the first 1,500 Ugandans peacekeepers arrived in Somalia's capital Tuesday, they were greeted with a mortar attack and a major firefight. And on Wednesday, attackers ambushed the peacekeepers in Mogadishu, setting off another gunfight.

The support for the Ugandans is part of a larger goal to improve African forces across the continent and promote peace and stability in a region that's often lawless and a haven for terrorists, including some tied to al-Qaida.

The U.S. has also begun to depend more on African nations for oil and minerals, and wants to expand its influence.

The State Department has committed $14 million for the African Union peacekeeping mission to Somalia and has asked Congress for $40 million more. DynCorp's work force includes many former U.S. troops who frequently work in hostile areas.

The Virginia-based firm had been contracted until April to help with the "moving of supplies and people" engaged in the Somalia mission, including supplying tents, vehicles and generators, said DynCorp spokesman Greg Lagana.
"We have an overall contract for African peacekeeping, this is a specific task order for Somalia," he said. "But we are also present in Liberia and southern Sudan."

The Somalia contract allocates $8 million for equipment and $2 million for transportation, according to a the State Department official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized as a media spokesman.
DynCorp, whose services range from equipment maintenance to paramilitary security forces to training police, provided logistics for the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Somalia from 1992-95.

It was not immediately clear if DynCorp employees would work inside Somalia under the new contract, signed three weeks ago.

Other company operations in Africa include a program to disarm and rehabilitate former soldiers in Liberia, while advising the government on the reconstitution of the army. The company also supports peacekeepers in southern Sudan, and is working with the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia to help the African Union create a standby military force to respond to emergencies, according to the company Web site.

DynCorp, with annual revenues of over $2 billion, has held an umbrella State Department contract since 2004 for "peacekeeping, capacity enhancement and surveillance efforts" in Africa. The contract is valued at between $20 million $100 million, depending on the number of assignments.

The company is on standby to provide services anywhere on the continent to include "support of peacekeeping missions by training specific countries' armed services to enhance their ability to deploy through air and sea, provide logistics supports to mission and work with regional organization to prevent and resolve conflict," according to bid documents.

Dyncorp is not the only U.S. security company working in Africa. Northrop Grumman Corp. has a similar contract, worth up to $75 million, to support the African Contingency Operations Training and Assistance program, which aims to train 40,000 African peacekeepers over five years.

KBR Inc., a subsidiary of Halliburton Co., provides services to at least three bases in Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia used by the U.S. Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.

The contracts come at a time when the Pentagon wants to develop closer relationships and provide greater military assistance to Africa.

A small number of U.S. Special Forces troops fought alongside Ethiopian troops in Somalia in December when they drove out a Somali extremist group that the U.S. has linked to al-Qaida, according to a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the classified nature of the mission.

In January, U.S. Special Operations aircraft staged two airstrikes against suspected al-Qaida forces hiding inside Somalia, the official added.

The United States is not the only country seeking to provide private military services in Africa.

In 2005 the Somali government signed a $50 million contract with New York-based TopCat Marine Security to help create a coast guard to protect its coast and shipping from pirates. The State Department blocked TopCat from deploying because of a U.N. arms embargo, Hassan Abshir Farah, Somalia's marine resources minister said.

Farah said his government was now discussing a deal with the Chinese government and Chinese marine security firms.

Associated Press writers Matthew Lee, Donna Borak and Pauline Jelenik in Washington and Salad Duhul in Mogadishu, Somalia contributed to this report.
Source: News24, South Africa
3. Islamists call for war on AU

Mogadishu - A firebrand Somali Islamist commander called on Wednesday for an uprising against Ethiopian and African Union (AU) troops deployed in Somalia, in an audiotape broadcast by a local radio station.

"It is time for the Somali youth to fight the occupation of Ethiopia and others," said Aden Hashi Aryo as Ugandan troops arrived in Mogadishu as part of an AU mission.

"The Muslims shall not surrender to non-believers," he said, describing himself as the commander of the Islamic Courts movement in the audiotape sent to Mogadishu-based Koran Radio.

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