Planet Watch
#ariseghana

Ghana to Peru: more ripples from Ukraine storm

Governments around the world are scrambling to shore up economies hard hit by rising oil and wheat prices as a resut of the Ukraine war. Ghana has opened talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for emergency relief after angry protesters flooded the streets of the capital Accra, clashing with police. Protests were called under the slogan “Arise Ghana” to pressure President Nana Akufo-Ad to address a dramatic spike in the cost of food and fuel. Meanwhile, the Central Reserve Bank of Peru is to raise its key interest rate in a bid to quell inflation, after freight shipping was briefly paralyzed across the country. The truckers’ union, the National Council of Terrestrial Transport, announced an “indefinite” strike, although it was suspended following a pledge by the government of President Pedro Castillo to bring soaring fuel prices under control. (Image via Twitter)

Africa
Sudan

Wagner Group named in massacres on Sudan-CAR borderlands

Russian mercenaries are accused of carrying out a series of deadly attacks on artisanal miners in the lawless border zone between Sudan and the Central African Republic, in an apparent effort to establish dominance over outlaw gold mining operations with allied paramilitary factions. Dozens are said to have been killed in attacks on mining camps this year, allegedly involving mercenaries working for the Kremlin-linked Wagner Group. Witnesses interviewed by The Guardian described “massacres” and looting by Wagner gunmen. The “Troika” diplomatic group that helps oversee the Sudan peace process released a report in March charging that the Wagner Group is engaged in illegal gold mining in collaboration with the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary group backed by the Sudanese regime. Sudan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded with a statement denying the presence of the Wagner Group in the country. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection)

Africa
OLA

Massacres escalate in Ethiopia’s Oromia state

More than 200 civilians were killed at the village of Tole Kebele in the West Wollega zone of Ethiopia’s Oromia regional state. The massacre, which targeted members of the Amhara ethnicity, is being blamed by authorities on the rebel Oromo Liberation Army (OLA). Amhara militias in the region have been cooperating with the official security forces in counterinsurgency operations against the OLA, resulting in reprisal attacks on villages. However, OLA commander Kumsa Dirriba denies that his forces carry out attacks on civilians, claiming that the national army is “solely responsible” for the killings of Amhara civilians in Oromia. Whatever the truth of the matter may be, the dynamic is spreading into neighboring Gambella regional state, which has seen heavy fighting between the army and joint rebel forces of the OLA and Gambella Liberation Front (GLF), with dozens of civilians among the slain over the past days. (Photo: Ethiopia Insight)

Africa
Mali

Mali massacre: jihadism or ethnic war?

Scores of Malians demonstrated in the town of Bankass, in central Mopti region, to demand state protection after more than 130 civilians were killed by presumed jihadist militants in three villages over the past days. The massacres in the localities are said to have been carried out by the Katiba Macina, a militant group led by Fulani preacher Amadou Kouffa. The gunmen burned huts and stole cattle in addition to killing villagers. The Katiba Macina is apparently an offshoot of the Qaeda-aligned Group for Support of Islam & Muslims (JNIM). However, in Mopti region, traditionally known to the Fulani as Macina, the violence appears to have taken on an ethnic cast. In March 2019, more than 160 Fulani civilians were massacred at the village of Ogossagou. Fulani were also targeted in an April 2022 massacre attributed to Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group. (Map: PCL)Afri

Africa
maasai

Tanzania: troops fire on Maasai herders

Tanzanian security forces fired on Maasai herders in a dispute over seizure of traditional grazing lands for a new game reserve. The trouble started when hundreds of troops of the Field Force Unit arrived at the village of Wasso, to demarcate a 1,500 square-kilometer area for the new reserve. Maasai gathered to protest, and were met with bullets. Some 30 were reportedly shot, and two killed. Afterwards, troops went house-to-house in Maasai villages, beating and arresting those they believed took part in the protests or distributed images of the violence on social media. Thousands of Maasai fled their homes into the bush following the raids. UAE-based Otterlo Business Company, which runs hunting excursions for the Emirates’ royal family, is reportedly to operate trophy-hunting concessions in the new reserve. (Photo: Survival International)

Africa
Sahel

Sahel: deadly violence in mining sector

At least two were killed as security forces attacked protesting gold miners at Burkina Faso’s western HoundĂ© commune. The protesters were demanding release of 12 of their comrades who had been arrested a week earlier, when informal miners angered by government moves to expel their camps overran and ransacked the facilities of HoundĂ© Gold Operation, a subsidiary of UK-based multinational Endeavour Mining. In far greater violence, fighting between rival groups of informal gold miners in the remote north of Chad left an estimated 200 dead. The clashes at Kouri Bougoudi, in the Tibesti mountains on the Libyan border, apparently pitted ethnic Arabs against members of the Tama community. (Map: Wikivoyage)

Africa
Somalia

US troops ‘back’ to Somalia —but did they ever leave?

The Pentagon announced that a “small, persistent US military presence” of around 500 troops is to return to Somalia, to assist ongoing operations against the Shabaab insurgents. Media commentators widely portrayed this as a policy reversal, with some incorrectly stating that Present Trump “brought the troops home” from Somalia in 2020. However, the Pentagon press release implicitly acknowledges that the so-called “withdrawal” had been largely a fiction: “The existing model of US assistance moving into and out of the country as needed…is inefficient.” The troops were never “brought home”; they were redeployed to neighboring Djibouti and Kenya, and sent back in to Somalia as mandated by contingency. Even if the announcement doesn’t mean very much, it is being met with some trepidation by rights advocates. Human Rights Watch warned against “repeating past laws of war violations.” (Photo: Patrick Crosley/USMC via CommonDreams)

Africa
FNL

Olive branch as Burundi war spreads to DRC?

Burundi’s President Évariste Ndayishimiye announced that he is prepared to negotiate with the country’s two main rebel groups, should they reach out to his government. But it’s unclear if the rebels will do that, given ongoing operations against them. The National Liberation Forces (FNL) and the Resistance Movement for Rule of Law in Burundi (RED-Tabara) both have bases in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo. The latter, the stronger of the two, has conducted a string of attacks in Burundi since 2015—the year disputed elections triggered waves of political violence. Reports suggest significant numbers of Burundian troops have crossed into the DRC in recent months to track down RED-Tabara fighters. The group is one of a number of foreign rebel movements in DRC, where nearly three million people were displaced last year. Hundreds of thousands of Burundians, meanwhile, are still living in refugee camps, afraid to return to a country where the killing and torture of ruling party opponents is rife. (Image: Wikipedia)

Africa
west africa

West Africa jihadist insurgency reaches Togo

At least eight Togolese soldiers were killed in an assault on a military base in the north of the West African country—marking the first fatal attack in Togo by the jihadist rebel militias waging an insurgency across the wider region. Some 60 gunmen on motorcycles attacked the base at Kpinkankandi, near the border with Burkina Faso. According to locals, the battle over the base raged most of the night before the assailants retreated. No group has claimed responsibility for the raid, but suspicion has fallen on the Group for Support of Islam & Muslims (JNIM), a Qaeda-aligned faction active in Burkina Faso. (Map: World Sites Atlas)

Africa
Africa mining

Artisanal gold miners massacred in DRC

At least 35 people were killed when armed men raided a gold mining camp in Ituri province, in the conflicted northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Local authorities at the rural commune of Mungwalu blamed the attack on the CODECO rebel militia. A four-month-old baby was among the dead. The militiamen also looted and torched homes at Camp Blanquette, and seized quantities of extracted gold. Informal mines in the eastern DRC provide much of the country’s output of gold, cobalt and other minerals used in the global electronics industry. The minerals, extracted under dangerous and oppressive conditions, continue to be a goad to internal warfare by rival armed factions. (Photo via Africa Up Close)

Africa
Somalia

Podcast: Somalia in the Great Game

In Episode 122 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg examines the ongoing conflict in Somalia in light of both climate change and Great Power politics. Despite a pseudo-withdrawal of US forces, the Pentagon continues drone strikes against the Shaabab insurgents—as the Horn of Africa faces it worst drought in a generation, with millions on the brink of extreme hunger and possible starvation. A paradox of the situation is that “government-controlled” Somalia (the southern third of the country) is not controlled by any government, but wracked by insurgency. In contrast, the unrecognized de facto independent state of Somaliland in the north is a bastion of comparative stability and even social progress. Reports of Russian designs on Somaliland as a potential site for a naval base threaten to draw it into the imperial contest for control of the strategic Horn. Progressives in the West can demand international recognition for an independent and non-aligned Somaliland. We can also loan solidarity to the Sufi resistance now fighting both the Shaabab and the “recognized” Mogadishu quasi-government. Most importantly, we can support the secular and pro-democratic voices of civil society that are standing up for human rights and basic freedoms at great risk to themselves, and in spite fo everything. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Map via Wikimedia Commons)

Africa
Central African Republic

Russian mercenaries accused in CAR atrocities

Forces in the Central African Republic, identified by witnesses as Russian mercenaries, “appear to have summarily executed, tortured, and beaten civilians since 2019,” Human Rights Watch finds in a new report. The United Nations announced it wil investigate the circumstances in which at least 10 people were killed last month in the CAR’s northeast, with reports alleging involvement by Russian forces from the paramilitary Wagner Group. HRW documents other such claims. Last July , apparently Russian-speaking forces killed at least 12 unarmed men near the town of Bossangoa, also in the CAR’s conflicted north. HRW is calling upon the CAR’s Special Criminal Court (SCC) or the International Criminal Court to “investigate these incidents as well as other credible allegations of abuse by Russia-linked forces with a view to criminal prosecution.” (Map via Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection)