In addition to stationing troops on the disputed islands it claims in the South China Sea, Beijing is rapidly expanding its network of commercial ports across the Indian Ocean. This comes as China is sending warships into the Ocean with growing frequency, leading to fears that the commercial ports could presage military bases, The latest addition is the port of Hambantota in Sri Lanka, acquired in a debt swap deal—the Colombo government was forgiven $1 billion in debt to Beijing in exchange for the Hambantota facility. China has also gained access to facilities in Burma, Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Maldives, Seychelles and Oman as part of the maritime component of its Silk Road trade and infrastructure initiative. While the Silk Road is an ostensibly civilian project, China has also established its first foreign military base at Djibouti, leading Western wonks to warn that Beijing is seeking a "string of pearls" network of bases across the Indian Ocean. (Map via CIMSEC)
Oromo activists in Ethiopia launched a "fuel blockade," occupying roadways to halt shipment of oil through the country. The action was called following a massacre at the village of Moyale, near the Kenyan border. Troops gunned down nine unarmed residents, apparently mistaking them for militants of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). Nearly 5,000 have fled across the border to Kenya—some having directly run from gunfire. Ethiopia last year imposed a state of emergency in response to mounting Oromo protests. Roadblocks are reported from several points around the country, so far without violence. (Photo via UNPO)
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization warned that the Middle East and North Africa risk becoming uninhabitable in a few decades, with water reserves falling dramatically.
At least 100 Somali refugees previously cleared for resettlement in the US are stranded in Kenya in the wake of President Trump's travel ban.
The International Court of Justice ruled that it has the authority to adjudicate a dispute between Kenya and Somalia over an oil-rich stretch of the Indian Ocean.
Shabaab militants are disappearing after turning themselves in under Kenya's amnesty program. Are the security forces responsible or jihadist hit squads?
Kenyan authorities detained three police officers for involvement in the murder of a human rights lawyer who disappeared after filing a complaint about police abuse.
Ethiopia has completely halted the flow of water into Somalia by closing the gates on irrigation dams along the Shabelle River—leaving dry a key agricultural region.
US drones and warplanes killed more than 150 al-Shabab militants in Somalia, with the Pentagon citing an "imminent threat" to US and African Union forces.
Khalid al-Fawwaz, former aide of Osama bin Laden, was found guilty of plotting the 1998 al-Qaeda bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people.
Kenya's parliament passed a sweeping new anti-terrorism law after some of its members engaged in a shoving match that led to blows being exchanged.
The International Criminal Court suspended its Darfur investigation, citing UN inaction in the case, as President Omar al-Bashir accused rebel leaders of being foreign "agents."