Traffic of Phosphate, Derivatives Increases by 13.1% in Moroccan Ports

29/08/2020 – The traffic of phosphate and its derivatives in Moroccan ports reached a volume of 21.1 million tons at the end of July 2020. The figure represents an increase of 13.1% compared to the same period in 2019.

The National Agency for Ports (ANP) announced the results in a statement earlier this week.

The increase is mainly due to a rise in fertilizers exports, by 39.8%, as well as a growth in sulfur (15.1%) and ammonia (29%) imports. Continuer à lire … « Traffic of Phosphate, Derivatives Increases by 13.1% in Moroccan Ports »

Lockheed Martin awarded contract for Moroccan F-16s

26/08/2020 – Lockheed Martin has been awarded a contract from the United States Department of Defence for F-16 fighters for Taiwan and Morocco, which will receive 66 and 24 respectively under the contract.

On 14 August the Department of Defence announced that Lockheed Martin had been awarded a contract for new production of F-16 Foreign Military Sale (FMS) aircraft. “The total value for the initial delivery order is $4 941 105 246 and will be awarded on the same date. The initial delivery order is for 90 aircraft, including both the pre-priced recurring core configuration costs at $2 862 797 674 and the engineering change proposal/undefinitized contract action for the non-recurring costs not-to-exceed $2 078 307 572 obligated at approximately $1 018 370 710,” the contract announcement read. Continuer à lire … « Lockheed Martin awarded contract for Moroccan F-16s »

Implications of UAE-Israeli peace

The impact of UAE-Israeli normalisation could extend far beyond the Palestinian issue to touch all the region’s crises, recasting regional power balances, writes Khaled Hanafi Ali.

By Khaled Hanafi Ali

19/08/2020 – The repercussions of the announced UAE-Israeli peace agreement will ricochet throughout all the current crises in the Middle East, not least the Libyan conflict. The impacts, moreover, could be quite pronounced given the possibility that normalisation could lead to explicit forms of coordination in the handling of crises in which it has been previously difficult to untangle the threads of influence, whether from Turkey, Iran or other parties. 

Despite the many reports on an Israeli role in the Libyan crisis, their substance remains uncorroborated, officially refuted and sometimes attributable to the disputants’ mutual smear campaigns. However, an attempt to identify the areas of convergence between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi on the Libyan crisis and its geopolitical significance in the MENA region could help form a picture of the potential effects of that historic agreement, the mere timing of which has implications that extend well beyond UAE-Israeli bilateral relations and the Palestinian cause to the whole intricate web of regional power balances. 

MINIMISING TURKISH INFLUENCE: As we know, Abu Dhabi supports the Cyrenaica-based Libyan National Army (LNA) coalitions that have encountered major setbacks following Turkish military intervention in the battle of Tripoli. It was the heavy weaponry and mercenaries that Turkey transferred to Libya that shifted the military balances on the ground in favour of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA). 

To Tel Aviv, Turkish expansion into Libya presents a threat in the framework of that crisis’s relationship with the conflict over energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean. The Turkish-Libyan axis could obstruct the Israeli project to deliver natural gas to Europe via Cyprus and Greece by means of the EastMed pipeline, the accord for which was signed by the leaders of Greece, Cyprus and Israel in January 2020. That project conflicts with areas covered by the agreement signed between Ankara and the GNA in November 2019 which basically aimed to obstruct any energy projects in the region that exclude Turkey.

Still, Israel has maintained a certain distance in its opposition to Turkish behaviour. The two countries have close economic relations as well as overlapping security concerns in Syria despite flareups of tensions between them such as that which occurred when Israeli forces killed Turkish activists aboard the Mavi Marmara in 2010. Israel did not add its name to the statement signed by France, Egypt, the UAE and Greece in May 2020, protesting Turkish provocations in the Eastern Mediterranean. But it did declare its full support for Greece on 12 August 2020 in response to drilling activities that Turkey had apparently launched in response to an Egyptian-Greek maritime border agreement signed on 6 August. It would appear, therefore, that Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi agree on the need to curtail Turkish expansionism from Libya to the Eastern Mediterranean, even if the two broach the matter from different premises. 

CONFRONTING ISLAMIST MILITANTS: Israel and the UAE may also converge on the fight against Islamist radicals in Libya. The UAE is deeply concerned by the infiltration of the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical Islamists into the GNA, because of the threat they pose to the UAE’s allies in eastern Libya and to regional allies such as Egypt which has had to tighten the defences of its western border due to the heightened possibilities of terrorist infiltration from Libya. Israel, for its part, has been wary of all manifestations of the Islamist ascendancy in the region since 2011. This concern has extended to the growth of radical Islamism in Libya because of how it interweaves with Hamas in Gaza and how it feeds anti-Israeli sentiment in general and in North Africa in particular. Israel would have taken stock of the fact that the first reaction to the UAE-Israeli agreement came from Mohamed Al-Emari, a member of the GNA Presidency Council who condemned it as “an unsurprising betrayal from the UAE.” The Tunisian Ennahda movement called it a “flagrant attack” on Palestinian rights. The Turkish reaction was predictable given how Ankara has cast itself as a champion of Arab and Islamic causes espoused by its Islamist allies in the region, even though Turkey recognised Israel decades ago and sustained close and strategic relations with Tel Aviv long before the UAE. 

FIGHTING IRANIAN INFILTRATION: While Abu Dhabi has been more open to Iran during the past two years, to which testify new channels of cooperation, this has not diminished its opposition to Iranian penetration elsewhere in the region, including Libya. This conforms with Israel’s regional policy aims, as both Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi regard Tehran as the main threat to the region. 

 

True, the Iranian role in Libya appears limited. However, growing Turkish-Russian influence there could tempt Tehran to insert itself for pragmatic reasons, especially in view of its relations with Russia and Turkey in Syria and, perhaps, as a means to counter US sanctions. In addition, Libya is connected to Sub-Saharan areas such as Niger and Chad where Iran also seeks to expand its influence, whether for uranium, money laundering or other purposes.

In mid-June 2020, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif voiced his support for the Turkish-backed GNA in Tripoli and during a subsequent visit to Moscow he voiced his support for Russian-Turkish efforts to resolve the Libyan crisis. According to some reports, Iranian freighters delivered arms to the GNA in 2018 and 2019. The most recent sighting of an Iranian ship was in Misrata in April 2019. On the other hand, other reports accuse the LNA of receiving military support from the Bashar Al-Assad regime in Damascus, which is backed by Iran. 

In May 2020, Israel’s UN representative officially accused Iran of violating the arms embargo to Libya. He said that Iranian made Dehlaviyeh anti-tank missiles had come into the LNA’s possession. Iran denied this and the accusation of violating the arms embargo. Some analysts have argued that it does not stand to reason for Iran to support LNA Commander Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar who is backed by the UAE and Saudi Arabia. However, complex, multifaceted crises such as the Libyan conflict may sometimes compel outside stakeholders to take contradictory stances to advance their particular interests. 

EXPANDING INFLUENCE INTO AFRICA: Israeli-UAE convergence in Libya could extend to coordination in the Sahel region where both countries have growing influence. The UAE is a major funder of the G5 Sahel members and it has important development and investment programmes in the region. Israel, for its part, revived diplomatic relations with Chad in January 2019 and has since strengthened military/security relations with N’Djamena in the framework of the drive it set in motion to expand its influence in Central and West Africa when Netanyahu attended the ECOWAS Summit in Liberia in 2017.

Now that UAE-Israeli normalisation has become official, this development could stimulate some other G5 Sahel nations, such as Niger and Mali, to follow Chad’s suit. One also imagines that Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv will work more closely together to counter Turkish economic and military pressure on Chad, perhaps taking advantage of the LNA’s current control of southern Libya towards this end. On the other hand, it appears that Israel is also eying Sudan as a possible avenue towards tightening relations with Chad and with the Sahel region as a whole. The fall of the Omar Al-Bashir regime in Khartoum and the consequent rise of Saudi-UAE influence in Sudan at the expense of Turkish-Qatari access had made this avenue available as never before. It is noteworthy that Netanyahu met with Lieutenant General Abdel-Fattah Al-Burhan, chairman of the Sovereignty Council of Sudan, during his visit to Uganda in February 2020. 

The lines of convergence in Libya between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv may affect regional and international interplays in ways that increase the pressures on Ankara and its Islamist allies and counter Ankara’s attempts to obstruct energy projects in the Eastern Mediterranean. Still, there may be limits on how far such coordination could go. For example, Tel Aviv, which holds other types of leverage, could try to work out an accommodation with Turkey of some sort. Simultaneously, some stakeholders in the Libyan crisis might fear the propaganda value of rapprochement with Israel in the hands of their adversaries. Libyan statements cited in the Israeli press about possible cooperation between Cyrenaica and Tel Aviv were vehemently denied by authorities in eastern Libya precisely because they could be exploited by the GNA, as was the case when, in June 2020, the Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon cited the deputy prime minister of the government in eastern Libya, Abdel-Salam AlBadri, as calling for Israeli support, or when, in December 2019, the Foreign Minister of the eastern government Abdel- Hadi Al-Haweij, said that the government hoped to establish friendly relations with Israel.


The writer is a researcher at Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 20 August, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

Ahram Online

Sahel-Elite (Bamako-Mali)

Nigeria – DHQ differs with U.S on ISIS movement

From Okodili Ndidi, Abuja

11/08/2020 – The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has said the recent warning by the United States of America (U.S.A) about bandits’ infiltration of the West African region was meant to sustain the onslaught against Boko Haram terrorists and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP). Continuer à lire … « Nigeria – DHQ differs with U.S on ISIS movement »

Two Russian military cargo planes land in Libya’s Sirte

11/08/2020 – Two Russian military cargo planes landed in Libya’s strategic Sirte city – Gardabiya airbase – which is under the control of illegitimate forces loyal to putschist Khalifa Haftar, the Libyan Army under the Government of National Accord said. Continuer à lire … « Two Russian military cargo planes land in Libya’s Sirte »

Mali – African Union: Communiqué of the 938th meeting of the PSC on the situation in Mali

COMMUNIQUÉ

 

Adopted by the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU), at its 938thmeeting held on 29 July 2020, on the situation in Mali, following the Declaration of Economic community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) Heads of State and Government on the Socio-Political crisis in Mali adopted on 27 July 2020:

Taking note of the Extraordinary Summit of the Heads of States and Government of ECOWAS convened by videoconference on 27 July 2020 on the socio-political crisis in Mali;

Recalling its previous communiques and press statements on the situation in Mali and in the Sahel region, in particular communique [PSC/PR/COMM(CCCXV)] adopted at its 315th meeting, on 23 March 2012 and communique [PSC/PR/COMM.(CMXXXIV)] adopted at it 934th meeting held on 26 June 2020;

Reaffirms the relevant AU instruments, in particular the provisions of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, the Protocol Relating to the establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, as well as the ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance, which reject any unconstitutional change of government, including seizure of power by force;

Further reaffirming the unwavering AU respect for the sovereignty, unity and the territorial integrity of Mali, as well as AU’s solidarity with People and Government of Mali;

Mindful of the need for Malian stakeholders to uphold their commitment towards the full implementation of the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement in Mali, emanating from Algiers process, as a unique and balanced framework for Malians to resolve their differences, on the basis of the principles of transparency and inclusivity;

Reaffirming the need for all Malian stakeholders to work together towards addressing the root causes of the crisis in their country, in particular the central issues relating to governance, security and development.

Acting under Article 7 of its Protocol, the Peace and Security Council

1. Commends ECOWAS for its continued leadership and engagement in efforts towards finding a lasting solution to the socio-political crisis in Mali, currently facing multifaceted challenges that have the potential to undermine peace, security and development efforts in the country; in this regard, welcomes the initiatives by ECOWAS, including the deployment of a Special Envoy and Mediator, H.E. President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, former President of Nigeria, to lead the mediation process, a visit of a Delegation of Heads of State and Government to Bamako, led by H.E. Mahamadou Issoufou, President of Niger and Chairperson of the ECOWAS Authority, and comprising the Presidents of Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal;

2. Endorses the Declaration of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government on the Socio-Political crisis in Mali, adopted on 27 July 2020, with a view to resolving the crisis in Mali, in line with Article 16 of the PSC Protocol; calls on the United Nations Security Council to endorse the Decisions contained in this Declaration, in accordance with Chapter VIII of the UN Charter;

3. Requests the Chairperson of the Commission to consult the ECOWAS with a view to finding a lasting solution to the socio-political situation in Mali, based on dialogue, within the framework of implementation of the Peace and reconciliation Agreement in Mali, emanating from the Algiers process;

4. Calls on all Malian stakeholders to uphold the supreme interest of their country above any other consideration and therefore, take full responsibility of the Declaration by the ECOWAS Authority; further calls on all Malian parties to expedite the implementation of the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement in Mali, as a priority towards preserving the political and security achievements made thus far;

5. Expresses concern at the threat posed by the current tensions to the constitutional order in the Republic of Mali, which potentially constitutes a serious setback for the country and the region as a whole, in particular given the current spread of terrorism, violent extremism and inter-communal tensions in the Sahel that continue to hinder the necessary efforts towards improving governance and living conditions of the people;

6. Appeals to all Malian citizens to remain calm and refrain from any actions or public declarations that could further exacerbate the situation in the country and create the necessary conditions for peaceful and inclusive dialogue and mediation efforts currently underway; in this regard, encourages the Malian stakeholders to continue with the dialogue and negotiation processes to promote a peaceful and durable solution to the ongoing crisis in the country;

7. Reiterates AU’s continued support to the efforts of the ECOWAS in Mali and calls on the international community, in particular the United Nations, to continue to providing support to Mali, in efforts aimed at addressing the root causes of the crisis in this country, particularly issues related to governance, security and development;

8. Decides to remain seized of the matter.

PSC Secretariat / African Union

Sahel-Elite (Bamako-Mali)

Mozambican govt begs Zim for military rescue

07/08/2020 – The Mozambican government, battling an Islamist insurgency which has cost more than 1 000 lives, has abandoned the idea of seeking military intervention from the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) and now prefers a bilateral arrangement with Zimbabwe, it has emerged. Continuer à lire … « Mozambican govt begs Zim for military rescue »

US donates more vehicles and equipment to Chad’s military

21/07/2020 – The United States has handed over 28 armoured vehicles, ten trucks, eight water tankers and other equipment to Chad’s military as part of continued support for its anti-terrorism efforts in the Sahel.

The United States Embassy in Chad said it handed over the vehicles on 3 July. It said the materiel was worth $8.5 million and will go to Chad’s Special Anti-Terrorism Group (SATG), which contributes to the G5 Sahel force comprising Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Mauritania, and Chad. Continuer à lire … « US donates more vehicles and equipment to Chad’s military »

China’s growing peace and security role in Africa (MERICS)

15/07/2020 – The discussion of Sino-African relations continues to be dominated by China’s economic activities and aspirations. However, the People’s Republic has been working for more than a decade to establish itself as a serious actor in security policy on the African continent and has already made significant progress. All the indications are that China, with its security ambitions, is pursuing a systematic and holistic continent-wide approach, including arms supplies and military diplomacy, as well as deployment in peacekeeping missions and participation in military training. Continuer à lire … « China’s growing peace and security role in Africa (MERICS) »

Morocco makes new steps towards developing military industry

10/07/2020 – The kingdom will grant licenses for the manufacture of weapons and military and security equipment and for their export.

Morocco is seeking to modernise its armed forces and further develop its domestic military industry, a development experts say is achievable and even inevitable considering regional and international turbulence.Morocco is set to increase its defence budget in support of this ambition. On Monday, the kingdom announced related decisions taken during the Council of Ministers, chaired by  Moroccan King Mohammed VI. Continuer à lire … « Morocco makes new steps towards developing military industry »