North Africa
kabylia fire

Algiers plays politics with Morocco as Kabylia burns

At least 90 people have been killed in wildfires that have swept through northern Algeria over the past weeks. The blazes have consumed some 100,000 acres, mostly in the northeastern Kabylia region. While remaining silent on the role of climate change, the Algerian government is exploiting the disaster for political purposes. President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said the fires were “criminal” in origin, and blamed them on regional rival Morocco. Authorities have arrested several presumed members of the Kabylia Self-Determination Movement (MAK), a civil organization seeking independence for the predominantly Berber region. The DGSN security agency said the suspects were part of a “terrorist organization.” Last month, Algiers recalled its ambassador in Rabat in protest of Moroccan diplomatic statements in support of self-determination for the Berbers of Kabylia. (Photo via Twitter)

North Africa
tunisia

Tunisia: president accused of ‘coup’

Tunisian President Kais Saied was accused by opposition parties of launching a “coup” with the help of the country’s military after firing the prime minister and freezing parliament. The move comes after anti-government protesters took over the streets of the capital Tunis, expressing dismay over ongoing economic turmoil and a demonstrably poor response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent loan negotiations with the International Monetary Fund aimed at controlling mass inflation further raised the ire of Tunisians; terms require Tunisia to raise taxes, set higher prices on goods, and implement austerity policies reducing public-sector employment and programs. (Image: Pixabay)

North Africa
Libya detainee

Libya: ‘horrific violations’ in migrant detention

Fresh evidence of harrowing violations, including sexual violence, against men, women and children intercepted while crossing the Mediterranean Sea and forcibly returned to detention centers in Libya, highlights the grave consequences of Europe’s ongoing cooperation with Libyan authorities on migration and border control, said Amnesty International in a report. Since late 2020, Libya’s Directorate for Combatting Illegal Migration, a department of the interior ministry, has “legitimized abuse” by integrating two new detention centers under its structure where hundreds of refugees and migrants had been “forcibly disappeared” in previous years by militias. Amnesty is calling on European states to suspend cooperation on migration and border control with Libya. (Photo: Alessio Romenz/UNICEF)

North Africa

Will Biden reverse Trump policy on Western Sahara?

US-led forces are currently carrying out war games in Morocco, the periodic “Afrian Lion” exercises—this year taking place near the disputed region of Western Sahara. Morocco is trumpeting this as a re-affirmation of US recognition of its claim to the territory. The Trump administration last year formally recognized Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara in exchange for Moroccan diplomatic recognition of Israel as a part of the so-called Abraham Accords. But Spain, the disputed territory’s former colonial ruler, is opposing Morocco’s current push for international recognition of its claim. Just before the war games opened, Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya called US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, urging him to reverse Washington’s recognition of Moroccan rule in Western Sahara. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

Europe
migrants

UN report blames EU and Libya for migrant deaths

Policy decisions of European Union member states and Libya have caused thousands of deaths along the central Mediterranean migrant route, according to a report from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. At least 2,239 migrants died while crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Libya to Europe last year. In 2021 alone, at least 632 have died along the route. According to the report, the deaths were not a “tragic anomaly,” and could have been prevented. The lack of human rights protection for migrants during their journey is a consequence of the “concrete policy decisions and practices” of Libyan authorities, the EU, and its member states. (Photo: US Navy via Wikimedia Commons)

North Africa
algeirs police

Algeria: police disperse Friday Hirak protests

Security forces in Algeria moved to put down weekly protests in the capital and cities across the country, detaining hundreds of would-be demonstrators. Protests had been held every Friday since the Hirak pro-democracy movement emerged in February 2019. In early May, just as the protests were starting to re-mobilize after a period of abeyance due to the pandemic, the Interior Ministry announced new rules barring unauthorized demonstrations. This past Friday marked a second consecutive week that police flooded the streets of the capital to head off the protests. Said one activist on the scene: “For the 118th Friday [since the first Hirak protests], ‘Algiers the White’ has turned police blue.” (Photo via Twitter)

North Africa
tarhouna_collage

Libya: UK slaps sanctions on Haftar-aligned militia

The UK government imposed sanctions on Libya’s al-Kaniyat militia and its leaders for violations of international law. The militia is reportedly responsible for 27 mass gravescontaining the remains of hundreds of residents reported missing in the Libyan town of Tarhuna, on the southern outskirts of Tripoli. The group, aligned with the forces of eastern warlord Khalifa Haftar, is additionally held responsible for atrocities such as torture, murder, arbitrary detention, and enforced disappearance. Of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the UK and the US are the two that have imposed sanctions on the militia. A Security Council resolution that would have placed international sanctions on the militia was blocked by Russia last November. (Map: CIA)

Africa
fact

Chad: president killed as rebels advance

President Idriss Déby of Chad died following injuries sustained in fighting against rebels in the country’s north, authorities announced. The president’s son, Gen. Mahamat Kaka, is said to be serving as interim president. Déby had just been declared provisional winner of another presidential term, with nearly 80% of the vote. He had been in power for three decades. The rebel Front for Change & Concord in Chad (FACT) invaded the country from its bases across the border in Libya, in an attempt to disrupt the elections. Both sides are claiming victory after clashes in the northern region of Kanem, and FACT says that its forces are advancing on the capital, N’Djamena. (Image via Twitter)

North Africa
Libya girls

New Libyan government: progress for women

Libya’s Government of National Accord officially handed power over to a new interim government in Tripoli. This is the fruit of a long and complicated UN-led process with multi-track negotiations. The new leadership faces multiple challenges, including holding elections and restoring much-needed government services. It also needs to unite a country that has largely been in chaos since the overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi, helped by NATO’s decision (exactly 10 years ago) to intervene. The new cabinet contains five women, including the ministers of foreign affairs and justice. Together they make up 15% of the leadership—not the 30% delegates to the UN process had promised. But many Libyan women are viewing this as at least a step in the right direction. (Photo: WikiMedia Commons)

North Africa
Rania Amdouni

Tunisia frees imprisoned LGBT activist

A Tunisian appeals court ordered the release of jailed activist Rania Amdouni following an outcry from civil society and human rights groups. Amdouni had been charged with “insulting police and abuse of morals,” which sparked concerns from rights groups over suppression of free speech. Amdouni is the president of Chouf Minorities and a member of the Tunisian Association for Justice & Equality (DAMJ), both organizations concerned with rights for women and the LGBT. She has faced abuse from law enforcement over of her involvement in recent protests against austerity policies and police brutality. Police and politicians have shared her photo on social media with disparaging comments about her appearance and presumed sexual orientation and gender identity. (Photo via Twitter)

North Africa
Haftar

Libya: Blackwater CEO trafficked arms to Russia-backed warlord

Erik Prince, former CEO of the notorious private military company Blackwater, violated the UN arms embargo on Libya with a clandestine pipeline to a rebel warlord, according to a confidential report to the Security Council obtained by the New York Times. The report found that in 2019 Prince deployed a force of foreign mercenaries and weapons to renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar, who has been fighting to depose the UN-recognized Libyan government—and is also being aggressively backed by Russia. (Photo via ISS Africa)

North Africa
Tunisia

Youth revolt rocks Tunisia

The army has been ordered into the streets in Tunisia following days of angry protests by disaffected youth that led to hundreds of arrests. Enraged over widespread unemployment, youth have erected roadblocks of burning tires, clashed with police, ransacked shops and banks, and hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails at government buildings. The protests began in poor districts of Tunis, but quickly spread to other cities. At the more organized demonstrations, marchers carry placards reading “Employment is a right.” The new revolt comes on the ten-year anniversary of the overthrow of long-ruling dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the first regime change of the Arab Revolution. (Image via Twitter)