Three aid workers and other civilians who had been held hostage by an armed group have been released, a United Nations official has said. They had been held hostage in northeast Nigeria since late December. The hostages were kidnapped on December 22 by fighters posing as soldiers who stopped a convoy of commercial vehicles travelling towards the city of Maiduguri, state capital of the northeast state of Borno.
Russia will host Fayez al-Serraj and Khalifa Haftar in Moscow in an attempt to achieve peace in Libya. According to Russian news, Haftar is already in Russia. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who is a Turkish politician and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey since 24 November 2015, is expected to join them. Hakan Fidan is a retired Turkish army sergeant, teacher, diplomat and the head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization. he is expected to attend as well. Hulusi Akar is the current Turkish Minister of Defense and a former four-star Turkish Armed Forces general who served as the 29th Chief of the General Staff. He will be arriving with al Serraj for the talks. Observers from Egypt and United Arab Emirates will be in attendance. The latest development is that Haftar left without signing any type peace resolution.
In a new step, the Libyan National Army commander, Khalifa Haftar, decided to postpone the signing of a ceasefire agreement, leaving Russia and his delegation. Russia hosted international talks in cooperation with the Prime Minister of the Libyan government, Fayez al-Sarraj, and the Turkish side. This opened speculation about the factors that may have prompted Haftar to take this position, despite allegations raised about the imminent signing of a binding ceasefire agreement in Libya once the negotiations in Moscow ended.
At least 21 Ethiopian students have been released from captivity after being abducted early December, the government has said. However, six others are still in captivity. These students are said to be from Amhara region. The Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, told the state television that thirteen female students and eight male students had “been released in a peaceful manner.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin, called for a solution to the crisis in Libya Saturday. After a meeting in Moscow, which also discussed the escalation of tensions in the Middle East, both leaders urged the parties to negotiate. Earlier this week, Russia and Turkey— which support opposing sides— called for a cease fire.
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Twenty-five soldiers have been killed in a suspected jihadist attack on a military camp in Niger along the western border with Mali, Niger’s army has confirmed. The army has said that more than 60 militants were also killed when the army responded backed up French air strikes.
Four people were killed and ten others injured when a car bomb exploded close to a checkpoint near Somalia’s parliament in the capital Mogadishu, police have said. “Explosives were packed in a vehicle which the security forces think was trying to pass through the checkpoint but because he could not do that, the suicide bomber detonated it,” said a police officer, Adan Abdullahi. “Initial reports we have received indicate four people were killed and more than ten others wounded in the blast,” he added.
Nine people have been killed after a grenade exploded Monday afternoon on a bridge over El Beid river in the Cameroonian frontier town of Fotokol. Cameroon army spokesperson, Colonel Cyrille Atonfack Nguemo said that the blast resulted from “reckless manipulation” of a grenade found in the sand in the locality by “two little boys.”
Security was heightened in Kenya after an attack by al-Shabaab at a military base in Lamu that is usually used by US and Kenyan military personnel. A US military service member and two US contractors were killed in the attack. Two other Department of Defense personnel were injured is Sunday’s attack on Manda Bay Airfield in Lamu County. “The wounded Americans are in stable condition and being evacuated,” African Command (AFRICOM) said in a statement.
Egypt has a massive population of over 98 million people, with the current GDP per capital at just over $3,000. Egypt has invested in human capital but according to Professor Ragui Assaad, Egypt’s economic growth is “jobless growth,” and has “no impact on employment rates or the quality of jobs…but poverty and inequality have increased. Growth has essentially not been creating good jobs despite the apparent decline in unemployment.”
Five Malian soldiers have been killed and four others wounded in a roadside bomb attack, a government spokesperson has said. The troops were travelling in the region of Alatona, near the border with Mauritania, when their convoy hit a bomb on Monday morning. Four vehicles were destroyed in the blast. “Reinforcements are already in place for the operation to neutralize the enemies,” government spokesman, Yaya Sangare said on Twitter.
Quantum computing is used in applications that demands performing complex calculations and tasks in shortest time with utmost safety and thus is gaining popularity in cloud computing, machine learning, molecular structure engineering, smart manufacturing, smart logistics, and smart retail applications.
A South African photo-journalist, Shiraaz Mohamed, who was abducted three years ago in Syria, has returned to his home country after being set free. His family has confirmed this, adding that they would give more details later. “Shiraaz Mohamed is back in the country,” his ex-wife, Shaaziya Brijlal told AFP. “Owing to his recent circumstances, he and our family are requesting that we be given some space,” said Brijlal adding that a statement will be given in due course.
A Sudanese military plane crashed in the Western Darfur region, killing all eighteen people on board, including four children, the military said. A Sudanese employee of the World Food Program (WFP) and his family were among the casualties. Several officers were among those who perished as the plane went down in an area that has recently experienced deadly ethnic clashes.
The French language is the fifth largest language in the world behind English, Mandarin, Hindi and Spanish. France itself is the second largest French speaking county in the world behind DR Congo. Today, French language Gigs can be translated into over 100 different languages– not just English– allowing the French gig poster to greatly increase their markets.
Turkey’s parliament has approved the deployment of soldiers to Libya for one year. The Turkish soldiers are to support Libya’s internationally-recognized government, currently under pressure from General Khalifa Haftar’s forces. During Thursday’s vote, 325 MPs voted in favor and 184 against the move by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government.
The al-Shabbab militant group has claimed responsibility for Saturday’s blast in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, a tragedy that claimed 80 people and injured dozens. The official spokesperson of the group, Ali Mohamud Rageh, also known as Ali Dhere, made the statement through the group’s official station, Radio Andalus. Ali Dhere added that the attack targeted a Turkish convoy and security officers at the city’s busy Ex-Control junction.
The Russian population peaked 28 years ago at over 48 million, just after the USSR collapsed in 1991. Today the Russian population is about 144 million (the current population dos not include the annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol). Domestic GDP per capita is under $12,000 per year. The Russian GDP per capita is equivalent to only 93% of the world average.
Russian computer usage is remarkably high at 71% (in 2016) and the Russian Global Gig Economy Index is 8th in growth at a strong 20%.
There has been a tug of war for geopolitical influence and attempts to disrupt the already established balance throughout 2019. We also saw the formation of interesting and very invasive social media polices around the globe. Hence, there were ramifications and changes to the social media landscape:
- France implementing new measures to track and monitor the social media of its citizens.
- Russia is working to complete their digital iron curtain.
- China implementing draconian verification process impacting social credit and privacy.
- UK to ruthlessly start collecting DNA.
- We’ve also seen the rise of deep fake technology that could have a great impact on the US 2020 Presidential elections as well as on the global scale.
Let’s look at the world’s main players and regions:
A United States airstrike against the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabaab militant group killed at least four terrorists, US Command said in a statement. “In coordination with the federal government of Somalia, US Africa Command conducted three airstrikes in two locations targeting al-Shabaab militants in the vicinity of Qunyo Barrow and Caliyoow Barrow, Somalia, respectively, December 29,” AFRICOM said.
Twenty-nine members of the national intelligence service have been sentenced to death by a court in Sudan, having found them guilty of murdering a teacher in detention. The defendants were found guilty of deadly abuse of Ahmed al-Kheir at an intelligence services facility and sentenced to be hanged, judge Sadok Abdelrahman said.
Nigeria is working hard to transform itself from one of the world’s poorest commodity-based economies, where the per capita GDP is just above $2,000 per year, into a high skilled information-based economy. Nigeria, unlike Ukraine and other Asia countries, does not have a bordering country where the young and highly educated can easily migrate and dramatically improve their financial situation. Nigeria has more of its population in poverty (by definition under $1.90 a day) than even India. It is estimated that over 87 million people, about half of Nigeria, currently live in poverty.
Russia’s head of the Minenergo, Alexander Novak, recently stated the nation’s interest is to gradually severe ties with OPEC, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries comprised of 14 nations. Founded in 1960 in Baghdad by the first five members, OPEC moved its headquartered in 1965 to Vienna, Austria. The countries that joined later were:
At least 76 people have died, and many others have been injured, after a massive car blast in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu. However, the death toll is toll expected to rise. “The number of casualties we have confirmed is 76 dead and 70 wounded, it could still be higher,” the director of the private Aamin Ambulance Service, Abdulkadir Abdirahman, told AFP.
An attempted robbery at a bank in Mpape area of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, has been foiled by policemen and soldiers from the Guards Brigade. Four members of an armed gang have been arrested as one is confirmed dead, he was shot dead while trying to escape. Some of the bank’s staff and security officers suspected to have aided the robbers are also held by police from Mpape Division for questioning.
A car bomb blast on Saturday in a busy area of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, left dozens dead and injured in one of the worst attacks in the country in years. Saturday is a working day in the Muslim-dominated country, and the blast occurred during rush hour in the morning, leaving the site full of debris and burned and bloody vehicles. There is a discrepancy in the death toll, which has not yet been confirmed by the local authorities.
The Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) brutally executed a group of its hostages, most of whom were Christians. ISWAP released a 56-second video produced by “news agency” Telegram, claiming to show the killing of eleven Christians in Nigeria. In the footage, a captive in the middle is shot dead while the rest are pushed to the ground and beheaded. ISWAP said that it spared two of its captives. The video was released on December 26, and analysts say it was appropriately timed to coincide with Christmas celebrations. Another video circulated early this month that showed the group pleading for help.
Fourteen troops have been killed when heavily-armed terrorists ambushed a convoy in the western region of Tillaberi, Niger, the interior ministry said. “After a fierce battle . . . seven police and seven national guards were killed . . . a guard has been listed as missing.” The ministry added in a statement that “the enemy” suffered many losses, although it did not give details.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Thursday that the country’s national Parliament would vote in January to allow troops to be sent to Libya. Turkey is backing the interim government of the Libyan National Agreement (GAN), against the forces of Marshal Khalifa Haftar, who is backed by Russia and Egypt.
An attack by pirates in Libreville harbor in Gabon has left a captain dead and four Chinese sailors abducted. The Gabonese captain was a commander of a vessel operated by Satram company, while the four Chinese were working for Sigapeche company. “Pirates attacks were perpetrated . . . against four ships,” said Edgar Anicet Mboumbou Miyakou, the government spokesperson.
Algeria’s powerful army chief, Ahmed Gaid Salah, has died. The Algerian government radio announced that he died Monday morning in an Algiers military hospital after a heart attack. Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune announced a three-day mourning period. The President announced that the head of land forces, General Said Chengriha, would take over as acting Chief of staff of the armed forces.
A rise in the attacks by terrorists in West Africa has raised concerns over French military involvement in the region. The current French operation has been on-going since 2014, coordinating security related issues with Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Chad. Currently, over 4,500 French troops are in the region. Despite the challenge, the French President, Emmanuel Macron vows to give a new force to the fight armed groups in the Sahel states in West Africa.
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and the opposition leader, Riek Machar, have agreed to form a Unity government by end of February next year, whether their expectations are met or not. The decision was reached upon after the duo had talks in the capital city, Juba, for the last three days so as to iron out the outstanding disputes that have prevented the establishment of a power-sharing government.
(Monroe, LA.) — An emergency room at Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport-Monroe Medical Center was shutdown out of an abundance of caution. A patient, who had recently arrived from Africa showed up sick with EBOLA symptoms. The hospital tells us they informed the Louisiana Office of Public Health, and the hospital quickly sounded the EBOLA alarm throughout the hospital.
Twenty Indians aboard an oil tanker, MV Duke, have been kidnapped by pirates in the Gulf of Guinea, in West Africa, where piracy has been on the rise. One crew member on board, who is believed to be a Nigerian, was not kidnapped. The Indian Foreign Ministry has said that the issue is being handled by the relevant authorities. “Our mission in Abuja has taken up the matter with the Nigerian authorities, as well as authorities of the neighboring countries,” the Ministry said in a statement.
At least 43 people were killed in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after a series of attacks over the weekend. The attacks were carried out by rebels with links to the Islamic State group and were in response to a new military offensive in the area, a human rights group said. The president of a Congolese human rights group known by its French acronym CEPADHO, Omar Kavotha, said that the rebels were trying to force the people against the military so that they demand the military action to be stopped.
Five people were killed by floods in Kampala, Uganda over the weekend, among them a marine officer on a rescue mission. Kampala Metropolitan Deputy Police spokesperson Luke Owoyesigyire said that the body of the marine police officer, Sgt Godfrey Mwondha an officer with Uganda Police Force, was found in Mbuuya Katoongo swamp which is often used as a washing bay.
The Ministry of Education in Liberia has ordered the closure of all public schools a week before scheduled time due to a teachers’ strike. In a press statement over the weekend, the ministry said the decision was arrived at because of the strike that was set to begin on Monday, as announced by the National Teachers Association of Liberia (NTAL) and the Monrovia Consolidated School System Teachers Association.
The wife of Zimbabwe’s Vice President, Gen. Constantino Chiwenga, has been charged with fraud, money laundering, and attempted murder of her husband. Marry Mubaiwa, who waved to journalists as she entered the court’s holding cells, appeared before Harare Magistrates Court on Monday, whereby the magistrate ordered that she remains in custody pending a bail hearing. Mubaiwa, who was described by the state-run newspaper Herald as “the estranged wife” of Chiwenga, was arrested on Saturday and spent the weekend in custody.
The World Summit for Industry and Manufacturing organized a joint initiative between the United Arab Emirates and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) with a new promotional tour in the city of Pretoria. The aim of the initiative is to examine the untapped industrial potential of countries in Southern Africa and its potential impacts on global value chains, and its role in shaping the future of the industrial sector.
The former president of Sudan, Omar al- Bashir, has been sentenced to two year detention in a state-run reform facility over corruption and financial irregularity charges. “The convict, Omar al-Bashir, is consigned to a social reform facility for a period of two years . . .The sums of foreign and national currencies that were seized are confiscated,” said the presiding judge, Al-Sadiq Abdelrahman.
Four Nigerian hostages held since July have been killed by members of a group that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS or ISIL), the French aid group Action Against Hunger (AAH) said on Friday. “The armed group responsible for the kidnapping of humanitarian workers on July 18, have just murdered four hostages,” AAH said in a statement. The Paris-based organization added that one of its staff and two drivers were among those killed.
A court in Sudan has sentenced the country’s former President, Omar al-Bashir, 75, to two years in prison for money laundering and corruption. This is the first conviction amid a series of lawsuits against the former Sudanese president. Due to his advanced age, he will serve his sentence in a rehabilitation center for seniors convicted of crimes not punishable by death. “Under the law, those who reached the age of 70 shall not serve jail terms,” the judge said.
Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Algeria’s capital, Algiers, after the former Prime Minister, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, was declared the winner of the controversial presidential elections. Tebboune who is said to be a loyalist to the former president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, won with 58.15 percent of the votes, according to preliminary results. While announcing the results on Friday, the head of Algeria’s electoral commission, Mohammed Charfi, said that 40 percent of voters took part in the elections.
An ambush by suspected Islamic militants in a military base in western Niger has left more than 70 soldiers dead. Twelve soldiers were injured in the attack that is said to be the deadliest in the region in living memory. Niger’s Defense Minister, Issoufou Katambe, said that there was a fierce battle after around 700 militants attacked the military base in Inates, near the border with Mali. “Sadly, we regret to announce the following toll: 71 military personnel killed, 12 injured. Other missing,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement aired on national television.
At least 10 people died after five gunmen attacked a hotel near the presidential palace in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu. The deadly attack left the five attackers, three civilians and two soldiers dead. Eleven people were injured during the attack. “The security officers have finally accomplished the operation they have been conducting in Somali Youth League Hotel, the entire of the five attackers have been killed, and five people have been killed in the attack,” the government spokesperson, Ismail Mukhtar, tweeted early Wednesday.
Professor Munir Adeeb, an expert in extremist movements and international terrorism in the Arab Republic of Egypt, praised the UAE’s experience in facing extremist organizations, foremost of which is the Muslim Brotherhood. He called on the international community to take advantage of this unique experience and build on it and try circulate it in a way that suits the rest of societies. They must also realize the nature of Islamic organizations and confront them by confronting the mother group, the Muslim Brotherhood.