AROUND AFRICA: Mombasa Violence, Ethiopian Leader Dies, Designated Africa Brigade,
Cleric’s Death Questioned
Rioting has broken out in Mombasa — Kenya’s second-largest city — following the shooting death of a radical Muslim cleric with ties to the terrorist group al Shabaab.
At least four people have been killed — three of them policemen — in riots that broke out after the cleric, Aboud Rogo Mohammed was gunned down in a car on Monday (Aug. 27).
Muslim youths have put up roadblocks and attacked Christian churches and businesses in some parts of the East African port before being driven off by police. Many of the demonstrators believe Mohammed was killed by Kenyan police, a claim denied by Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere, according to the Associated Press. He says the police are investigating the slaying.
Meanwhile, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga blames “enemies” of Kenya — trying to stir up religious animosity — for the cleric’s death, according to Reuters. At the same time, at least one Kenyan lawmaker says he is displeased with the pace of the police inquiry and wants authorities to investigate whether Mohammed’s death was an extra legal killing,. Mohammed had been identified by the U.S. and the United Nations as a fund raiser and recruiter for al Shabaab, the Somali militant group linked to al Qaeda, the New York Times says.
The group was angered by a Kenyan military expedition into Somalia to suppress the anti-western group, which Kenya blames for a spate of kidnappings and murders of foreign tourists and aid workers along its northern border, according to a Ugandan news website.
Ethiopia, What Next?
It’s been eight days since Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia’s prime minister for the last 21 years, died of an undisclosed illness in Belgium. The question on diplomats and political observers’ minds is what’s going to happen now? Zenawai ruled with a heavy hand, closing opposition newspapers and cloaking everything about him — including his own illness — in secrecy, The Economist reports.
But he also built up the nation’s economy, using money from donor nations to increase the nation’s Gross Domestic Product by 10/6 percent, according to the World Bank. Zenawi also boosted agricultural and manufacturing in Africa’s oldest independent country.
But what does his absence mean for the internal politics of a country that has been a key player in the conflicts around the Horn of Africa? Zenawi formed a military and political alliance with the United States, which is worried about the rise of militant Islamism in parts of Africa, the BBC reported.
When the 1st Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team (BCT) arrives in Africa next year it will be the first U.S. Army unit designated as the go-to outfit when the need for troops and equipment develops in Africa.
Known as the “Dagger Brigade,” the 2nd of the 1st, based at Fort Riley, Kansas, will become the main force provider for security cooperation and partnership-building missions in Africa.
Under the new arrangement, brigades will be on deck for their mission for a full year to perform security cooperation when needed, but not operational or regular warfare missions, Army officials said. The brigade will maintain “decisive action capability” with language, regional expertise and culture training. They will deploy as small units, rather than as a full brigade, to points in Africa for training and partnering missions, according to the U.S. Army.
AFRICOM has no troops directly assigned to it for Africa. Instead, AFRICOM has relied on its service components: U.S. Army Africa, based in Vicenza, Italy; U.S. Air Forces Africa, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany; and U.S. Marine Forces Africa and Special Operations Command Africa, both based in Stuttgart, Germany. Many of AFRICOM’s training and partnering exercises have been conducted by reserve-component forces.
Ham said that situation won’t change with the arrival of an active Army brigade, tentatively set for March. “We will continue to rely very, very heavily on the National Guard and reserve component from all the services,” he said.