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The East African : November 18th 2013
10 REGIONAL SECURITY Pentagon to boost its Kenya and Djibouti military bases US is ala≥med by inc≥easing secu≥ity th≥eats in the ≥egion By KEVIN J KELLEY Special Correspondent T he Pentagon is responding to the increasing secu- rity threat in East Africa by strengthening military bases in Kenya and Djibouti. The US is building air-sup- port facilities at Manda Bay in Kenya, which can accommodate giant cargo planes carrying weapons, African Union and US troops. Known as Camp Simba, this facility near the border with Somalia, hosts about 60 US military personnel, with the capacity to accommodate more in future. Camp Simba is also a site for US training of Kenyan maritime forces tasked with countering threats posed by Al-Shabaab and other militant groups. Another US military fa- cility in Kenya — the Humanitarian Peace Support School in Nairobi — serves as a training area for African Union troops assigned to combat operations inside Somalia. According to an article published in March in the Washington-based National Journal, this school includes replicas of a village and a town square that are intended to provide the Amisom trainees with a realistic picture of what they may face in Somalia. The US installation in Djibouti, known as Camp Lemonnier, has become the nerve centre for Pentagon operations throughout the Horn of Africa. It includes a compound that houses US special operations forces that have reportedly taken part in raids inside Somalia. The US maintains a base for armed and reconnaissance drones at another lo- NERVE CENTRE The US and Kenyan soldiers during a two week training exercise in Lamu on how to fight terrorism in the region. Picture: File cation in Djibouti. Pentagon officials hardly comment on operations conducted from there, but some analysts suggest that the recent strike that killed two Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia may have originated from that base. President Barack Obama’s administration has declared its intention of executing a foreign-policy “pivot to Asia,” but the buildup in Kenya and Djibouti suggests the US is also intensifying its military focus on East Africa. Despite the presence of US troops at both Camp Lemonnier and Camp Simba, the strategy underlying these bases casts the United States in a support role for Africanled military initiatives. “This model represents a new style of American warfighting for an era of austerity,” wrote National Journal These projects raise the quality of life for our people.” Tom Saunders, Africom spokesman reporter James Kitfield, who visited both Camp Simba and Camp Lemonnier. “The partnership works this way: The United States and its partners provide the expertise and money; Africans provide the fighters.” The Pentagon is invest- ing hundreds of millions of dollars in improvements at Camp Lemonnier and Camp Simba. Most of that money — $390 million from 2009 to 2012 and another $1.2 billion planned for the next 25 years — is being spent on the Djibouti base, which is projected to house some 4,000 US troops and private contractors. A spokesman for the US Africa Command (Africom) Tom Saunders says the construction projects underway or scheduled at Camp Lemonnier “are not related to an expanded mission, but are part of the Navy’s mission to operate and sustain the base. Camp Lemonnier became a US base in 2002 following the attacks on New York and Washington. OTHER PROJECTS: The base also became the headquarters of the Combined Joint Task Force/Horn of Africa, a US military detachment that at first focused on civic improvement projects in Kenya and other countries in the Horn of Africa. “The upgrades are intend- ed to heighten the level of comfort at Camp Lemonnier,” added Mr Saunders. “Many of the facilities US personnel live and work in are austere and temporary structures,” he told The EastAfrican. These projects raise the quality of life for our people.” But contracts on file with the Pentagon indicate that much of the spending involves facilities with mainly operational purposes such as an aircraft hangar, a telecommunications installation, an air operations centre and an armoury. The EastAfrican NEWS NOVEMBER 16-22,2013 South Sudan ≥ebels use Chinese, I≥anian a≥ms By STEVE MBOGO Special Correspondent Small arms made in Chinese and Iran are being widely used by rebels fighting against South Sudan’s government. It is believed that the rebels, who are accused of causing instability in South Sudan, are acquiring the weapons through Sudan. Sudan has been buying weapons from the two countries since the country started exporting oil in 1997, the Small Arms Survey Bulletin reveals. In 1997, the United States imposed economic sanctions against Sudan over claims that it was sponsoring international terrorism. It was against this back- drop that Sudan turned to China, which was conveniently hungry for oil. “Close inspection, inter- views with defectors and comparison of thousands of samples across Sudan and South Sudan’s conflict areas, reveals that large quantities of mostly Chinese, Iranian, and Sudanese manufactured weapons were supplied from Sudan’s security forces to Southern insurgent groups,” notes the brief. Among the most common weapons used are Chinese assault rifles, Sudanese and Chinese ammunition and Iranian and Sudanese RPG7 launchers. The brief notes that the majority of RPG-7 launchers used by Southern insurgents are manufactured in Iran and Sudan. However, both China and Iran have no direct role in supporting South Sudan rebels. While Sudan has been supporting rebel groups in proxy wars against South Sudan, it also accuses the Juba administration of supporting the Darfur rebels. But an agreement signed in early November between the two sides could see an end to these hostilities. The two sides agreed not to support rebels on each other’s territory and to co-operate on weapon control, community and humanitarian issues. The agreement will see South Sudan army patrol the joint border more actively, to restrict operations of rebel groups from within its territory. The agreement comes in the wake of new evidence that suggests that there is diminishing rebel activity in South Sudan attributed to the unconditional amnesty given by President Salva Kiir to the rebel fighters. This is according to a new report “Pendulum Swings: The Rise and Fall of Insurgent Militias in South Sudan,” released by the Small Arms Survey’s Human Security Baseline Assessment (HSBA) for Sudan and South Sudan. Sudanese political analyst Dr Alex Ghal Kor said the two sides have realised that unrealistic proxy wars will only retard development at a time when their peers are working together. “I believe what the East African leaders are doing in terms of joint infrastructure development planning is inspiring the two Sudans to start thinking positively instead of engaging in expensive conflicts,” he said. He said the substantial loss of oil wealth to South Sudan means that Khartoum cannot afford sustained support for insurgents as it is facing its own domestic financial problems. “For strategic reasons, Khartoum must swallow pride and make peace with the South because there is opportunity for Juba to develop the sea route through Kenya’s road, railway and pipeline and therefore completely sideline Khartoum,” he said. Fewe≥ Kenyans studying in US unive≥sities By KEVIN J KELLEY, Special Correspondent THE STEEP decline in the number of Kenyans studying in the United States is continuing even as more students from other East African countries enrol in US universities. Ten years ago, more than 7000 Ken- yans were pursuing degree courses at US institutions of higher education. A nearly 10 per cent decrease in Kenyans’ enrolment recorded in a new study follows a 16.5 per cent drop last year. The sharp decline indicates that the close ties between Kenyan students and US universities may be unravelling. Financial constraints and the avail- ability of new alternatives, suggests Peggy Blumenthal, senior counsellor at the New York-based Institute of International Education, could be behind the downward trend. “A recession-related reduction in re- mittances from expatriates means that fewer Kenyans are getting funds from abroad to help send their students to the US for study,” Ms Blumenthal says. “Growth in the number of low-cost Kenyan universities offering quality education” has also encouraged many students to stay home, adds Ms Blumenthal, whose organisation issues annual reports on the international dimensions of US higher education. In recent years, she notes, the number of private universities in Kenya has risen from 17 to 24. Public institutions increased from five to seven during the same period. Developed countries other than the United States are also competing more effectively for international students by expanding their scholarship opportunities, Ms Blumenthal adds. However, she offers fewer explana- tions for the sharp increase this year in the number of Ethiopians, Rwandans and Tanzanians who have enrolled for various degree programmes in US universities.
November 10th 2013
November 25th 2013