Thursday, September 29, 2016

Kenya's Economic Growth to Reach 6 % in 2016 -Central Bank
Kenya’s economy is on the right growth trajectory. The country’s central bank governor has said that economic growth in the country will hit the government’s target of 6 % this year, on the back of private sector performance.

While speaking to Reuters, Kenya’s central bank governor Patrick Njoroge said East Africa’s biggest economy is “doing relatively well” and “this is the time for investors to place a long term bet on the economy.”

In August, president Uhuru Kenya signed into law a bill limiting how much interest banks can charge for loans ,which was often above 18 percent.

The law caps commercial bank lending at 4 percentage points above the central bank’s benchmark rate of 10. %

Industry players including the central bank were against the move that sent shockwaves through the market with banks shares tumbling.

Now, governor Njoroge says the bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) faces the challenge of determining how the new changes will feed through the wider economy.

He however was quick to add that building a strong financial sector was vital to Kenya’s goal of becoming an international financial hub.

Reuters
The Emancipation of Women: A Fundamental Necessity of the Mozambique Revolution
Samora Machel with Prime Minister of Grenada Maurice
Bishop during African Liberation Day in St. George in 1982.
by Samora Machel (March 4, 1973)

Editor's Note: This historic address is being reprinted in honor of the 83rd anniversary of the birth of FRELIMO leader Samora Machel.

Excerpts from the Opening Speech of the First Conference of Mozambican Women by Samora Moises Machel, president of FRELIMO, on March 4, 1973.

Translated from Portuguese.

The main objective of the Conference lies in the study of questions dealing with women's emancipation, and in the search for the types of action which will bring about her liberation. But a question arises: Why the concern for woman's liberation? And still another question arises: What is the reason for the holding of this Conference?

Samora Machel There are among us - the organization is well aware of this fact - people who believe that we must consecrate all our efforts to the struggle against colonialism, and that the task of women's liberation, in this case, is purely secondary since it is a useless and strength-consuming task. And further, they add that the present situation in which we live, with its lack of schools, few educated women, tradition-bound women, does not provide us with the basis for any significant action; for this reason, we must await independence, the construction of an economic, social and educational base before undertaking the battle.

Some others, interpreting the Statutes tendentiously, state that it is necessary to respect certain traditional local particularisms, since attacking them at this stage makes us risk loss of support by the masses. These people ask: What is the relevance of a women's liberation movement when the majority of the women are totally indifferent to the question? Their conclusion is that it is an artificial liberation, imposed on the women by FRELIMO. This is a very serious question. It requires study and clear ideas.

The liberation of women is not an act of charity. It is not the result of a humanitarian or compassionate position. It is a fundamental necessity for the Revolution, a guarantee of its continuity, and a condition for its success.

The Revolution's main objective is to destroy the system of the exploitation of man by man, the construction of a new society which will free human potentialities and reconcile work and nature. It is within this context that the question of women's liberation arises.

In general, the women are the most oppressed, the most exploited beings in our society. She is exploited even by him who is exploited himself, beaten by him who is tortured by the palmatorio, humiliated by him who is trod underfoot by the boss or the settler. How may our Revolution succeed without liberating women? Is it possible to liquidate a system of exploitation and still leave a part of society exploited? Can we get rid of only one part of exploitation and oppression? Can we clear away half the weeds without the risk that the surviving half will grow even stronger? Can we then make the Revolution without the mobilization of women? If women compose over half of the exploited and oppressed population, can we leave them on the fringes of the struggle?

In order for the Revolution to succeed, we must mobilize all of the exploited and oppressed, and consequently the women also. In order for the Revolution to triumph, it must liquidate the totality of the exploitative and oppressive system, it must liberate all the exploited and oppressed people, and thus it must liquidate women's exploitation and oppression. It is obliged to liberate women.

Considering that the fundamental necessity of Revolution is its continuance by future generations, how may we assure their revolutionary training if the mother, as the first educator, is marginal in the revolutionary process? How can we make of the home of the exploited and oppressed a centre of revolution and militancy, a transmitter of our views, a stimulus of commitment for the family, if the woman is apathetic to this process, indifferent to the society which is being created, and deaf to the people's appeal?

To say that women do not feel the necessity to defend their liberation is an argument that holds no water when looked at carefully.

Women do feel the impact of domination and the necessity of changing their situation. What happens is that the domination of society upon them, by choking their initiative, frequently prevents them from expressing their aspirations, and from conceiving of the appropriate methods for their struggle.

It is at this stage that FRELIMO intervenes, as a vanguard aware of the men and women of Mozambique, of the oppressed people. FRELIMO formulates the line to be followed and indicates the methods of struggle. We must understand this phenomenon in order to avoid useless and dishonest discussions.

The question, therefore, is which is the most suitable moment to launch the struggle for women's liberation. We cannot limit the revolutionary process to certain aspects only and neglect others, because the Revolution is a global process. Otherwise, the Revolution will be blocked and destroyed. The evil roots which we neglect to remove or whose removal is postponed until later will become cancerous roots before that 'later' ever arrives.

Under present conditions FRELIMO can no longer undertake an armed struggle without the making of the Revolution itself. The condition for the development of the armed struggle is striking at the roots of exploitation. It is erroneous to believe that we must postpone the liberation of women until later, for that would mean that we allow reactionary ideas to gain ground and to combat us when they are strong. It is not sensible not to fight the crocodile when it is still on the banks of the river, but to wait and fight it when it is in the middle of the river.

Our armed struggle, acting as an incubator, creates the necessary conditions for receptivity by the masses to ideas of progress and revolution. Not to undertake a battle when conditions are ripe shows a lack of political vision, i.e. a strategic error...

It is obvious that if we speak of the liberation of women we must mean that we consider her oppressed and exploited. One must understand the bases of such oppression and exploitation.

Let us begin by saying that women's oppression is a consequence of her exploitation, since oppression in a society is always the result of an imposed exploitation. Colonialism did not come to occupy our lands in order to arrest us, to whip us or beat us on the palms. It invaded us in order to exploit our riches and our labour. It has introduced the system of oppression in order the better to exploit us, to overcome our resistance and to prevent a rebellion against exploitation. Physical oppression with courts, police, armed forces, prisons, torture, and massacres. Moral oppression with its obscurantism, superstition, and ignorance, whose purpose is to destroy the spirit of creative initiative, to eliminate the sense of justice and criticism, to reduce a person to passivity, and to the acceptance of the normality of a condition of exploitation and oppression. Humiliation and contempt become part of this process since the person who exploits and oppresses has a tendency to humiliate and to scorn his victim, and to consider him an inferior being. Racism thus appears as the ultimate form of humiliation and contempt.

The mechanism of the alienation of women is identical to the mechanism of alienation of the colonized man in a colonial society, or to that of the worker in capitalist society.

From the moment that primitive humanity began to produce more than it was able to consume, the material bases were created for the creation of a social stratum which would from then on appropriate the results of the work of the majority.

It is this appropriation of the work of the masses by a handful of elements of a society which is at the basis of the system of man's exploitation of man and at the heart of the antagonistic contradiction which has been dividing society for centuries.

Ever since the appearance of this process of exploitation, women as a group, like men, have been submitted to the domination of the privileged classes.

The woman is also a producer and a worker, but with certain special' qualities. To possess women is to possess workers, unpaid workers, workers the totality of whose labour power may be appropriated without resistance by her husband, i.e. her boss and sovereign.

To marry women in an agrarian society is a sure means of accumulating much wealth. The husband has at his disposal unpaid manpower, which makes no claims, which does not rebel against exploitation. We can see the importance of polygamy in the rural areas of an agrarian economy. And since society understands that the woman is a source of wealth, it demands that a price be paid. The parents thus require from the future son-in-law a price - lobolo - in exchange for their daughter. The woman is bought, inherited, as if she were a material good, a source of wealth.

But still more important, and quite different from the slave, for example, who is also a source of wealth and an unpaid worker, the women offers two other advantages to her owner; she is a source of pleasure; and above all she is a producer of other workers, a producer of new sources of wealth.

This last aspect is particularly significant. Thus the husband has the right, in such a society, to repudiate the woman or to demand the return of his lobolo if she is sterile or if he thinks she is. We thus observe that, in many societies where there is a consciousness of the value of the labour of the children borne by the women, the principle is established that the children belong to the mother's family, or clan. In our society, this is also the practice until the husband pays the totality of the lobolo, i.e. the price for the purchase of his wealth. It is in this context that we find the over-emphasis on the fertility of women, the transformation of the man-woman relation ship into a mere act of procreation.

There is a further problem. The exploiter, due to his control of the masses, acquired great wealth, large fields, cattle, gold, jewelery, etc. In spite of these riches, as any man, he was still mortal. The problem thus arose as to the future of that wealth; in other words, the question of inheritance came to the fore. The woman is the producer of heirs. We can thus understand how the point of departure for the exploitation of women and her consequent oppression is to be located in the system of private property, in the system of man's exploitation of men.

It is important to understand correctly the nature of the contradiction, or contradictions, which are at play, since it is only in the light of such under standing that we shall be in a condition to define the objects of our attack, and to conceive of an adequate strategy and tactics.

We have seen that the basis of the domination of women was to be found in the system of organization of the economic life in society: in private property of the means of production, which necessarily leads to the exploitation of man by man.

This means that the essential contradiction between women and the social order, over and above the specific conditions of her situation, is the contradiction between herself and the exploitation of man by man, between woman and private property over the means of production. In other words, the contradiction is the same as that which exists between the popular working masses and the exploitative social order.

Let us be clear on this point: the antagonistic contradiction is not found between man and woman, but rather between woman and the social order, between all exploited women and men, and the social order. It is her condition of exploitation which explains her absence from all tasks of thought and decision in society, which causes her to be excluded from the elaboration of the thought and decisions which organize economic, social, cultural and political life, even when her interests are directly at stake. This is the main aspect of the contradiction: her exclusion from the decision-making sphere of society.

This contradiction may only be resolved by means of the Revolution, since it is only the Revolution which can destroy the pillars of an exploitative society, and reconstruct society on a new basis which may liberate woman's initiative, integrate her as a responsible agent in society, include her in the taking of decisions. Consequently, in the same way as there cannot be a Revolution without the liberation of women, the struggle for the liberation of women cannot succeed without the victory of the Revolution itself.

We must add that the ideological and cultural bases of the exploitative society which keep women under control are destroyed by the ideological and cultural processes of Revolution which impose new values, methods, new content in education and culture onto society.

Besides this antagonistic contradiction between the woman and social order, there arise also other contradictions which, even if secondary, oppose women to men. The marriage system, the marital authority based exclusively on sex, the frequent brutality of the husband, his systematic refusal to consider women his equal, are all sources of friction and contradiction.

There are even times, in certain extreme cases, when secondary contradictions, because they are not correctly solved, become severe enough to result in serious consequences, such as divorce. But it is not such happenings, serious as they may be, that will alter the nature of contradiction.

We must emphasize this aspect, since we witness at present, mainly in the capitalist world, an ideological offensive which, under the aegis of women's liberation, pretends to transform into an antagonistic relationship the contradiction with man, thus dividing men and women - exploited beings who ought to combat together the exploitative society. In reality, beyond the demagogy which masks the real nature of this ideological offensive, it is an offensive by capitalist society in order to confuse women and to divert their attention from the real aim.

In our ranks there occur small manifestations of this ideological offensive. We hear, here and there, women murmuring against men as if it were the sex difference that was the cause of their exploitation, as if men were sadistic monsters who take pleasure in women's oppression.

Both men and women are the products and victims of the exploitative society which has given birth to them and educated them. It is essentially against this society that both women and men must together struggle. Our practical experience has proved that the progress that has been obtained in the liberation of women is the result of the successes achieved in the common struggle against colonialism and imperialism, against the exploitation of man by man, and for the building of the new society. 
A Year On, and Still No Justice for Daughter Mozambique Independence Leader
Poloko Tau
South African City Press
2016-09-27 16:25

Former first lady Graça Machel and her daughter Josina are highlighting the scourge of gender-based violence. Picture: Leon Sadiki

After Nelson Mandela died, his widow, Graça Machel, had hoped for a time of peace and healing, but last year another tragedy struck. On October 17 – her 70th birthday – Machel received news from her home country, Mozambique, that her daughter Josina (40) had sustained serious injuries to her eye after she was allegedly battered by her partner, a Mozambican businessman.

Machel later learnt that her first-born child had lost vision permanently in her right eye.

“I have seen Madiba lying there suffering, going slowly ... and [after he died] I thought it was time for me to lick my wounds and be in peace, but this happened. I asked myself, ‘Why does it have to be us?’ There has to be a reason.”

South Africa’s former first lady and her daughter recounted their horrific experience to City Press this week. Giving Josina’s hand a gentle squeeze, Machel said: “I treasure and cherish my child. She is a precious gift ... She made me experience what motherhood is all about and I brought her up mostly on my own after her father [former president of Mozambique Samora Machel] died when she was only 10. Now someone thinks he can just raise a hand to her.

“Raising a hand against my child is one offence I do not think I can forgive anyone for,” Machel said.

She watched with great admiration as Josina told City Press that after the trauma she suffered, she was motivated to take action against gender-based violence by initiating an advocacy organisation, Kuhluka Movement.

“The organisation focuses on building and improving shelters for survivors of domestic violence,” said Josina, adding that despite her ordeal, she thought that what happened to her was probably meant to help her “understand exactly what other women are going through and do something about it”.

Josina’s approach to life has brought some comfort to her mother. “I am very proud of her. This whole thing is much bigger than her. It is good that she took the decision to talk about it,” she said.

“She could have just kept it to herself, but she summoned up the courage to say, ‘It happened to me.’ She has chosen to share her pain with millions of other women and say, ‘We have a life to live.’

“There are those who are keeping quiet, but Zina [as Machel fondly calls her] went out and said, ‘Let us talk about our pain and fight this scourge of gender violence.’”

Machel said she had not met the man who allegedly assaulted her daughter.

“Zina was very cautious and kept postponing every opportunity to introduce him to me ... I caught a glimpse of him once,” Machel said, adding that the attitude displayed by the alleged assailant was hurtful.

“He denies everything. He claims that Zina got injured after she fell, but even a doctor in Barcelona looked at her eye and said this was from a massive blow.

“I do not want to say he is a monster, but he is,” she said.

Josina said almost a year later, the man was yet to be tried in a Mozambican court, calling this “justice delayed”.

To add to her stress, she approached the Randburg Magistrates’ Court in Gauteng earlier this month, seeking a protection order after her alleged attacker started calling her.

“I felt as if I was being stalked and became fearful for my safety and that of my children,” said Josina.

“The only thing that can keep him away is the protection order. Three weeks later, I am still waiting without having received it.

“I have been to court three times already, and on Monday I spent at least four hours there with my mother, only to be told that the court was not convinced enough to grant me the protection order,” she said.

Machel reiterated her daughter’s disappointment. “Courts are failing women who are victims of gender violence. These cases are not treated with the sensitivity they deserve. The court told us there is not enough evidence and that he is a first-time offender.

“For us it sounds like the court is saying, ‘She has to get more beatings from this man before she can get any protection.’ It seems as if the justice system is saying, ‘Go back for more; get maimed and only then we can talk.’

“We are not doing all this in pursuit of special attention because Josina is Samora Machel’s daughter and Mandela’s stepdaughter; it is about many other women out there who are going through the same experience,” said Machel.

“I understand now why some women die while waiting for justice. They are sent back home without protection,” she said.

After undergoing this ordeal with her daughter, Machel said she understood why the unfortunate incident had “fallen on my family’s lap”.

“I am speaking for all daughters who have been through this ... It had to hit me in such a way that I had to reach all other daughters out there,” she said, adding that she would use every platform available to her to raise awareness of the challenges faced by victims of gender violence.

Machel is part of The Elders, a group of independent and venerable world leaders brought together by her late husband, Madiba. They include former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, former US president Jimmy Carter and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.


Former First Lady of Two African Nations, Graça Machel Launches New Women’s Network

Digital Editor  Sep 26, 2016
By Stacy M. Brown (NNPA Newswire Contributor)

In an effort to transform the narrative and negative perceptions of African women and children, Graça Machel, the former first lady of two African nations, recently established a first of its kind Pan African Women in Media Network(WIMN).

The network of women journalists will work in conjunction with the Graça Machel Trust.

“The Graça Machel Trust’s women’s rights program is based on our aim to multiply the faces and amplify the voices of women, especially in areas where they are underrepresented,” said Machel, who is also the founder of the Foundation for Community Development in Mozambique. “Through our women’s networks in agribusiness, finance and ‘Women Creating Wealth,’ we foster links and build a critical mass of highly-qualified and active women across sectors and professions who can work collectively to influence, shape and drive the socio-economic policies to ensure that they achieve economic prosperity and social change.”

The Graça Machel Trust works across the African continent to amplify women’s movements, influence governance, and advocate for the protection of children’s rights and dignity.

The Trust consolidates the work of Machel and seeks to build on her legacy by inspiring the younger generation to take up new challenges and create societies that value and care about social justice.

Machel noted that the primary mission is to amplify the voices of women’s movements, influence governance and promote women’s leadership and contributions in the economic, social, and political development of Africa.

The Trust also advocates for the protection of children’s rights and dignity.

Recognizing the crucial role that media plays in shaping societal attitudes, Machel said it’s important that women are at the center of transformation within the media landscape.

The new network has also gained the support of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), the Black Press that’s comprised of approximately 208 African-American owned newspapers across the United States.

“The National Newspaper Publishers Association supports and salutes the Graça Machel Trust that effectively empowers African women. When African women are empowered, it results in advancing all African people throughout the world,” said Dr. Benjamin Chavis, the president and CEO of the NNPA.

“The Diamond Empowerment Fund, co-founded by Russell Simmons, me and others also recognizes the extraordinary global leadership of Graca Machel and the Graca Machel Trust. I vividly remember meeting Graça Machel at her home in Maputo, Mozambique along with her husband South Africa President Nelson Mandela and my colleague Russell Simmons in 2006.”

Chavis continued: “We discussed the ongoing struggle and movement to transform Africa for progress and the liberation of all who stand for freedom and equality.”

Prior to her marriage to Mandela, Machel was the wife of Mozambique President Samora Machel. She also served for more than a decade as that country’s minister of education and culture.

Machel said that WIMN will drive coordinated messaging and build awareness on issues related to health, education, and women’s economic empowerment, which will have a positive effect on women and children.

“Given the influential role that media plays in shaping societal attitudes, the network seeks to change the present narrative of women that presents them as powerless victims and ignores the many positive stories and successes,” Machel added. “When economically empowered, women take control of their lives, set their own agendas, provide solutions to their problems and challenges, and develop self-reliance.”

Machal added: “To build a strong and equitable future for all Africans, we acknowledge the fundamental contribution of women and ensure that we create a supportive and enabling environment where they are able to fully participate and benefit.”

The network will also create an inter-generational platform to allow young talented female journalists to participate and work alongside the continent’s more seasoned veterans. WIMN will comprise an initial group of about 30 to 40 women journalists, bloggers and influencers, officials said in a statement.

“Women and children’s issues have tended to make headlines more as victims that are helpless, abused and exploited yet women and children have, over time, been capable of so much more, having overcome many obstacles and excelled in many sectors of the economy and society,” said WIMN board co-chair Susan Makore. “The amazing stories need to find more expression in our media. Therefore, I hope to do my part in ensuring that key stories that highlight and celebrate the various facets of children and women’s activities across all sectors are given prominence in the media by working with my colleagues that run media houses, especially in Zimbabwe where I hail from.”

Bronwyn Nielsen, the co-chair of the WIMN advisory board, said that Africa’s youth and female dividends are at the core of the continent’s future and, with the right support.

“It is a fact the women and children who can positively impact the future from an economic growth and development perspective,” said Nielsen. “I look forward to working with my fellow board members and all the members of this privileged network to jointly leverage our circles of influence under the esteemed guidance of Mrs. Machel to drive this agenda deep across the continent with both speed and passion.”

Nielsen continued: “Together we can create a new narrative when it comes to Africa’s women and children.”
IMF Staff Concludes Visit to Mozambique
September 29, 2016

End-of-Mission press releases include statements of IMF staff teams that convey preliminary findings after a visit to a country. The views expressed in this statement are those of the IMF staff and do not necessarily represent the views of the IMF’s Executive Board. This mission will not result in a Board discussion.

The mission initiated discussions on the terms of reference for an international and independent audit of the companies EMATUM, Proindicus and MAM, with the objective of strengthening transparency, governance, and accountability to avoid recurrence of past debt problems

With inflation still rising and the metical depreciating, further policy tightening is needed to safeguard macroeconomic stability.

An IMF staff team headed by Michel Lazare visited Mozambique from September 22-29, 2016 to assess recent economic developments and discuss government policies to restore confidence and underpin economic stability. The mission also initiated discussions on the terms of reference for an international and independent audit of the companies EMATUM, Proindicus and MAM, with the objective of strengthening transparency, governance, and accountability to avoid recurrence of past debt problems. The mission met with Prime Minister do Rosario, Minister of the Economy and Finance Maleiane, Governor Zandamela of Bank of Mozambique, the Attorney General, other sectoral ministers, senior government officials, civil society, private sector representatives, and the donor community.

At the end of the mission, Mr. Lazare issued the following statement:

“Mozambique is facing a challenging economic environment. Growth has been on a declining path and is currently expected to be 3.7 percent in 2016 (down from 6.6 percent in 2015), which is significantly below levels observed in recent years. Inflation has risen sharply, reaching 21 percent on a year on year basis in August, fueled by a significant depreciation of the metical (about 40 percent since the start of the year). At the same time, a significant decline in imports has been more than offset by a weakening of exports, foreign direct investment, and donor financing. This has maintained pressure on international reserves, which have continued to decline. The discovery in April 2016 of previously undisclosed debt worth $1.4 billion (10.7 percent of GDP), combined with the impact of the exchange rate depreciation, has led to a substantial increase in debt ratios and the debt service burden.

“Against the backdrop of these challenging circumstances, and continued significant downside risks to the economy, the mission welcomed the economic policy measures adopted by the government since the last staff visit in June. On the fiscal front, a revised 2016 budget was approved by Parliament in July including measures to contain non-essential spending. On the monetary front, the central bank raised reserve requirements and its benchmark interest rate by 300 basis points to reduce excess liquidity. In addition, it has appropriately allowed the exchange rate to fluctuate to help restore balance between supply and demand for foreign exchange and support the needed ongoing balance of payments’ adjustment, while limiting the loss of international reserves.

“Nonetheless, with inflation still rising and the metical depreciating, further policy tightening is needed to safeguard macroeconomic stability. Notably, the 2017 draft budget is set to further consolidate the state of public finances while preserving critical social programs. On the monetary side, the mission welcomed the central bank’s intent to continue adjusting its monetary stance to help reduce inflationary pressures.

“Following the meeting between President Nyusi and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde in Washington on September 15, 2016, the mission made considerable progress with the Attorney General’s Office on the drafting of detailed terms of reference (TOR) for an international and independent audit of EMATUM, Proindicus and MAM. Drafting of the TOR is ongoing, and is expected to be completed soon.

“The authorities have requested the Fund to resume discussions on financial support as soon as possible. A solid track record of implementation of sound macroeconomic policies and an effective initiation of the audit process in the near term would help to create the conditions for a possible resumption of program discussions with the IMF.

“The mission thanks the authorities for their hospitality and close cooperation.”

IMF Communications Department
MEDIA RELATIONS
PRESS OFFICER: LUCIE MBOTO FOUDA
PHONE: +1 202 623-7100EMAIL: MEDIA@IMF.ORG
Mozambique Energy Minister Sacked Ahead of Huge Gas Deals
Mozambique Energy Minister Pedro Couto has been sacked, the presidency said on Thursday, a month before Italy's Eni is due to finalise an offshore gas project worth tens of billions of dollars.

No reason was given for the dismissal of Couto, who had held the energy portfolio since January 2015. A separate statement said he had been appointed as president of Mozambique's Cahora Bassa hydroelectric power company.

The southern African state discovered offshore gas reserves six years ago amounting to some 85 trillion cubic feet, one of the largest finds in a decade and enough to supply Germany, Britain, France and Italy for nearly two decades.

The gas offers Mozambique an opportunity to transform itself from one of the world's poorest countries into a middle-income state and a major global liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter.

Negotiations with operators Eni and U.S. firm Anadarko have dragged on for years due to disputes over terms and concerns about falling energy prices. However, there have been several signs of significant progress in recent months.

Eni met with bankers in London last week about project financing to develop the Coral field, a significant step in getting the first of a series of long-delayed LNG projects off the ground.

Eni struck a deal in July with Samsung Heavy as part of a consortium with France's Technip and Japan's JGC to build a floating LNG platform in a deal worth around $5.4 billion.

Exxon Mobil is close to buying into Eni's Mozambique's assets, sources told Reuters last month. (Reporting by Manuel Mucari, writing by Joe Brock, editing by Mark Heinrich)
Eni Asks Banks for Billions to Finance Mozambique Gas Project
* Banks to respond with loan terms in 3-4 weeks

* Gas reserves are one of biggest finds in a decade

* Multi-billion dollar contracts agreed in recent months

* Projects could transform war-torn Mozambique

By Joe Brock and Ed Cropley

JOHANNESBURG, Sept 27 Italian oil firm Eni has approached banks for billions of dollars to finance a huge offshore gas development in Mozambique, a significant step in getting a long-delayed project off the ground, the company and sources said.

Eni confirmed it met bankers in London last week about project financing to develop the Coral field, part of the huge reserves discovered six years ago in the Area 4 concession off the Mozambican coast.

"It's running into billions of dollars," one source familiar with the financing told Reuters, adding banks were also looking for credit guarantees from foreign governments, including Britain and China.

Banks are likely to respond within three to four weeks with terms of loans they are willing to provide, one of the last stages before Eni can make a final investment decision (FID) on the project, two sources close to the deal said.

Eni said it hoped to announce a FID by the end of this year.

Some lenders may be concerned about involvement in a project in Mozambique, given recent clashes between opposition guerrillas and government forces and financial scandals.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is in Mozambique this week to try to restore trust between President Filipe Nyusi's government and international lenders after more than $2 billion in secret loans came to light this year.

The IMF has suspended its own lending to the southeast African country, insisting on external scrutiny as a precursor to resuming financial aid.

"The biggest challenge is Mozambique country risk," one of the sources said.

Reserves discovered in Mozambique's Rovuma Basin in recent years amount to some 85 trillion cubic feet, one of the largest finds in a decade and enough to supply Germany, Britain, France and Italy for nearly two decades.

The gas offers Mozambique an opportunity to transform itself from one of the world's poorest countries into a middle-income state and a major global liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter.

Negotiations with operators Eni and U.S. firm Anadarko have dragged on for years due to disputes over terms and concerns about falling energy prices.

However, there have been several signs of significant progress in recent months.

Eni has struck a deal with Samsung Heavy to provide a floating LNG platform to process the gas from the Coral field, which will be sold to BP.

Eni has also wrapped up long-running talks to sell a multi-billion dollar stake in other fields in Area 4 to Exxon Mobil, sources told Reuters last month.

In 2013, Eni sold 20 percent of its Area 4 licence to China's CNPC for $4.2 billion but since then oil and gas prices have come down by more than half.

Anadarko's $24 billion onshore LNG project is expected to lag Eni's and its FID is unlikely this year. (Additional reporting by Stephen Jewkes in Milan; Editing by Mark Potter)
TANZANIAN PRESIDENT FIRES OFFICIALS FOR 'FUNNELING EARTHQUAKE DONATIONS'
BY CONOR GAFFEY
9/28/16 AT 7:02 AM
Newsweek

Tanzanian President John Magufuli has sacked two top officials for allegedly funneling donated funds intended for the victims of a deadly earthquake into a bogus bank account.

A magnitude 5.7 earthquake struck the northwestern region of Kagera on September 10, killing 19 people and injuring hundreds. The incident caused significant damage, particularly in Bukoba—a city with a population of more than 70,000 people—and the government set up a bank account to raise funds for the victims and their families.

A statement from the presidency also confirmed that, alongside the two sackings, the chief accountant on Bukoba’s municipal council had also been suspended for alleged conspiracy to facilitate the fraud, Tanzanian daily The Citizen reported Wednesday.

Damaged houses following an earthquake in Bukoba region, Tanzania, September 10. The magnitude 5.7 earthquake killed at least 19 people and injured hundreds.

Foreign governments have made donations to assist Tanzania in recovering from the quake. The Indian government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, made a donation of 545 million Tanzanian shillings ($250,000). Other countries in the region—including Kenya, Uganda and Burundi—have helped out by donating money, food and supplies for victims, according to The Citizen.

The three officials are alleged to have opened a bank account with identical details as the government account used to receive donations on behalf of the earthquake victims. The named suspects are Kagera’s regional administrative secretary Amantius Msole; Bukoba municipal council director Steven Makonda; and accountant Simbaufoo Swai. They have not yet commented on the allegations.

Magufuli has led a crackdown against corruption since his election in October 2015, including forcing public officials to sign an integrity pledge before assuming office and firing dozens of port officials in December 2015 after discovering thousands of containers had entered the port without taxes being paid on them.
Op-Ed: Zambia Must Protect Women’s Right to Make Free Sexual and Reproductive Choices
LOUISE CARMODY & BOB MWIINGA MUNYATI  AFRICA 29 SEP 2016 01:08 (SOUTH AFRICA)
Daily Maverick

Photo: Woman Shelling maize in Chipata, Zambia. Swathi Sridharan (ICRISAT) via Flickr
As Zambians took to the polls last month they voted not only for their choice of president, but also in a constitutional referendum proposing changes to the bill of rights. While President Edgar Lungu was declared the winner of the election, political figures lamented the outcome of the failed referendum as a missed opportunity for Zambians to advance protection for social and economic rights after it didn’t meet the 50% voter turnout threshold required to make it a supreme law of the country.

For many women’s rights advocates, Zambia’s failed referendum is a welcome reprieve. The draft included problematic clauses that could have seriously undermined the human rights of women and girls in Zambia.

Specifically, the draft defined life as beginning at conception, which would have gravely limited women’s access to abortion, unnecessarily endangering many lives and restricting women’s right to bodily autonomy and reproductive health.

Abortion is currently legal in Zambia under the Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1972, when necessary to save a woman’s life or due to social and economic circumstances. This makes Zambia one of only a few countries on the continent to respect human rights obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa as declared in the Maputo Protocol.

The Protocol recognises the importance of sexual and reproductive rights, and is the first human rights treaty to explicitly recognise the right to access safe abortion. The proposed changes in the current Bill clearly undermine Zambia’s obligations under the Maputo Protocol and other United Nations Treaties, to create and maintain legal conditions to enable women to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights.

Most worryingly, the referendum came at a time when unsafe abortions continue to be a major driving factor of maternal mortality and morbidity. The World Health Organization highlights that the impact of unsafe abortion, including maternal deaths, are disproportionately higher for women in Africa than in any other developing region. Under the Millennium Development Goals, the Zambian government committed to achieving a maternal mortality rate of 162 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2015.

While there has been a significant improvement in reducing the number of women and girls who die in pregnancy and childbirth over the last decade, the rate today stands at 398. The Zambian Ministry of Health estimates that approximately 30% of maternal deaths are as a result of unsafe abortions.

These figures reflect the many barriers to accessing safe abortion services, such as poor public knowledge of existing laws and the sheer difficulty of accessing three medical doctors legally required to approve an abortion. If Zambia has any hope of reaching its new commitments under the new Sustainable Development Goal’s target of 70 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2030, the dangerous clauses in the draft bill must be reconsidered.

In January this year the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights launched a vital Campaign for the “Decriminalisation of Abortion in Africa”. The ACHPR has emphasised the fact that making abortion illegal does not reduce abortion rates, and neither does it deter women from seeking abortions. Rather, criminalisation leads to more unsafe abortions, with women and girls under 25, in poor and rural communities, most often at risk.

Zambia’s current law saves lives, and should be reinforced, not hindered. United Nations human rights experts have urged Zambia to progressively make abortion more accessible, not more difficult. This includes a duty to avoid creating additional legal barriers to access sexual and reproductive rights. The “reverse gear” proposals in the Bill of rights stand in stark contrast to Zambia’s international commitments, and the growing recognition across Africa of the importance of ensuring that women and girls have access to safe abortion care.

The African Union has dedicated 2016 to “human rights with a focus on women”. The global and regional development agendas cannot be achieved without ensuring that women and girls are able to make free choices about their own sexual and reproductive lives. The failed referendum offers an opportunity to redraft the contentious clauses in the Bill and ensure Zambia upholds its human rights obligations and does not destabilize the gains of the last decade.

It is time to move forward to ensure the realisation of sexual and reproductive rights and gender equality in Zambia. This will be a step towards seizing the opportunities for social and economic development that all Zambians deserve. DM

Louise Carmody is Amnesty International’s Thematic Researcher on Sexual and Reproductive Rights in southern Africa. Bob Mwiinga Munyati is a Researcher at Aids Accountability International and project manages the Global and Regional Commitments on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights section of AAI’s work. The two organisations campaign for gender equality and universal access to sexual and reproductive rights.
Exploring Egypt: Traces of the Past in Old Alexandria
Ahram Online takes you on a tour of the picturesque Mediterranean old districts in Egypt's second capital

Hatem Maher , Wednesday 21 Sep 2016
Sayed Darwish theatre

A man walks past classical Greek style columns as he leaves Alexandria Opera House towards Fouad Street. The opera house, which was built by French architect G. Parcq between 1921 and 1929, was inspired by Viennese opera houses (Reuters)

Alexandria, Egypt’s second biggest city and the capital of the country in ancient times, is famed for its rich history and glorious past.

Traces of past glory remain standing today despite the adverse and often ugly consequences of so-called modernisation.

The air of the older Mediterranean city can still be best breathed in the Bahari district at the western end of the corniche, a seafront promenade that stretches for over 17 kilometres.

The journey to explore the gems of an old Alexandria, away from the fancy hotels, buildings and restaurants that are now ubiquitous, starts at the Citadel of Qaitbay, a defensive fortress built by Mamluk Sultan Al-Ashraf Qaitbay, who ruled Egypt from 1468 to 1496.

The Citadel of Qaitbay

With an entrance fee of a modest 10 Egyptian pounds, you can get inside the fortress and move through the narrow corridors and get a glimpse of the outside world through tiny and steely windows.

You can also move upstairs and enjoy a stunning view of the Mediterranean from above, where many lovers gather.

At the same complex just outside the citadel, vendors line up to sell souvenirs to tourists and kids enjoy smooth bike rides on a long corridor, while others simply relax by the sea.

A few metres away, the Greek Club’s White and Blue Restaurant stands out with a wonderful view of many fishing boats decorating the sea, offering a variety of dishes and drinks and relaxing Greek music, although its prices are relatively high.

On weekends, you will probably have to reserve a table in advance for a minimum charge of EGP 100 per person.

Greek club

For more modest prices, the same complex also hosts Al-Kal3a, another restaurant with a superb ambiance including an open air area right by the sea.

Moving outside the complex back towards the corniche, a walk would be enjoyable in the older part of Alexandria. Signs of the bygones are obvious in the architecture, with old and ship-shape residential buildings lined up along the coast.

The wall that separates the corniche from the sea in the Bahari district is another important feature of the good old days, given its small size which allows passersby and daydreamers an unhindered view of the sea. It stands in stark contrast to the eastern end of the corniche where high walls were erected.

During the stroll in Bahari you will find Azza, one of the most famous places to offer cheap ice cream in Alexandria, as well as several humble cafes that all have in common a great view of the sea.

For romance seekers who are willing to spend about 400 Egyptian pounds for an unforgettable lunch, the historic Windsor Palace hotel near Al-Raml Station would be a safe bet, with its sky roof offering a panoramic view of the Mediterranean.

Another stop from the corniche side is Al-Raml Station itself, a commercial hub that includes many cafes and restaurants, from common ones like Kentucky Fried Chicken to decades-old places like pastries kings Delices, which was founded in 1922.

Abul Abbas Al-Mursi Mosque

Just a few steps from Azza Ice Cream and across the colourful boats on the corniche, cross the street and treat your eyes to this beautiful mosque from the 13th century dedicated to the Andalusian Sufi Saint Abul Abbas Al-Mursi, which also contains his tomb.

Sea food restaurants

Abul Abbas Al-Mursi is located in an area called Al-Anfoshi. This area, along with Al-Mansheya just next to it, is home to some of the best sea food restaurants in Alexandria's Bahari.

On the corniche there is the famous Qadora, Hosni, and a few blocks down the road there is Arous El-Bahr. These are local restaurants where you can have loads of fresh sea food delights for relatively cheap prices, but the restaurants lack ambiance. If you are after a more glamorous setting, head to the Fish Market, right by the sea in a posh restaurants complex that includes Chicken Tikka and other restaurants.

Street Markets

Keep walking down the manshiyat on the corniche or delve into the side streets to enjoy the street markets. The oldest of all and the most famous is Zanqet El-Setat, where you can buy anything from handmade scarves to puppets and household stuff.

Also on the corniche is Alexandria's delightful fish market mentioned in Alexandrian literature. It is home to many of Ibrahim Abdel-Meguid's scenes in No One Sleeps In Alexandria. This fish market is delightful for a walk or if you are after some fresh sea food to cook at home.

Keep walking down the corniche and enjoy the sea breeze and the beautiful architecture of some of the old buildings-turned-embassies like the Swedish and French embassies.

The Cecil

Towards the end of this walk you will find yourself at Saad Zaghloul Square, the end of Bahari and beginning of Al-Raml district. This is home to the most famous hotel in Alexandria, the Cecil. It was recently bought by Steigenberger and they are refurbishing it.

The Cecil hotel was built in 1929 by the French-Egyptian Jewish Metzger family as a romantic hotel. It still maintains a magnificent sea view. The Cecil was mentioned in Laurence Durell's Alexandria Quartet and Naguib Mahfouz's Miramar. This hotel is historic, as Winston Churchill stayed here, as well as author Somerset Maugham.

The British Secret Service had a suite there for their operations. The hotel was seized by the Egyptian government after the 1952 revolution and the Metzger family was expelled from the country together with most of the Jewish community, who either fled to Europe or Israel.

This left Alexandria with only traces of what was a real cosmopolitan culture where Greeks, Italians, Frenchmen, Jews, Christians and Muslims had lived and owned businesses for generations. You can still see the lovely Greek shop facades in Bahari at many of the shops, cafes and restaurants.

End your walk with a drink and a Chinese dinner and enjoy the breathtaking views of the Mediterranean from the Cecil’s rooftop restaurant. Try their prawns barbecue and steamed rice, as well as their vegetable spring rolls.

A little bit away from the corniche, Fouad Street represents another landmark of a beautiful and old Alexandria. Named after the late Egyptian king, who ruled the country from 1917 to 1922, it is filled with antique shops, fancy restaurants, and most importantly the Sayed Darwish Theatre, which is now the Alexandria Opera House. It resembles a European street and offers a reminder of what was once the cosmopolitan nature of Alexandria, which used to host many expatriates decades ago.

Steigenberger Cecil Hotel

The four-star Steigenberger Cecil Hotel in Alexandria was built as the Cecil Hotel in 1929 by the French-Egyptian Jewish Metzger family as a romantic hotel.

Address: 16, Saad Zaghloul Square, 16 El-Gaish Rd, Al Mesallah Gharb WA Sharif Basha, Qesm Al Attarin, Alexandria Governorate 21311
Phone: 03 4877173

Le Metrople Hotel
Dating from 1902, this elegant hotel overlooking the Mediterranean Sea is a two-minute walk from the Alexandria National Museum’s history exhibits and 2 km from the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

Casual rooms and refined suites are decorated with traditional European furnishings. All come with free Wi-Fi and satellite TV, and upgraded quarters add sea views.

Breakfast and parking are complimentary. There are 2 sophisticated French restaurant/bars, 1 with regular live music.
Address: 52 Saad Zaglol Street, Raml Station, Alexandria, El-Seifarah El-Etalia, El-Mesallah Sharq, Qesm El-Attarin, Alexandria Governorate
Phone: 03 4861465

Paradise Inn Windsor Palace hotel
Dating from 1906, this palatial, luxury hotel overlooks a waterfront promenade, and is a 6-minute walk from the Alexandria National Museum. It's also 2 km from the modernist Library of Alexandria.

The antiques-filled rooms feature gilded walls and hand-decorated high ceilings, as well as free Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs. Most have private balconies with Mediterranean Sea views. Upgraded rooms have living areas, while suites add stately living rooms and art from the hotel's collection.

Breakfast is free and served on the rooftop terrace. A restaurant adorned with frescoes serves high-end cuisine, while a cafe and terrace offer light fare.
Address: 17 El-Shohada Street Alexandria, El-Gaish Rd, Alexandria Governorate
Phone: 03 4808123

Budget hotels

These are basic hotels where you can find a clean bed and basic breakfast. Some rooms share a bathroom, others have an ensuite bathroom. Most of the rooms have an unbeatable sea view terrace.

Union hotel

Al Mesallah Gharb WA Sharif Basha, Qesm Al Attarin, Alexandria Governorate
Rooms are clean and spacious, and the sea views are terrific. The hotel serves a basic breakfast of bread, butter, jam and croissant with tea or coffee, and the kitchen can make some basic sandwiches and drinks. The food is nothing special but there are plenty of restaurants, cafes and supermarkets in the area.
Phone: 03 4807312

Le Crillion hotel
Two buildings away from the union hotel, this beautiful hotel is characterized with the old high ceilings and beautiful European wall encriptions. There are a couple of family rooms with a private bathroom, and the rest of the rooms share bathrooms. The kitchen of the hotel provides a very nice traditional Egyptian breakfast with foul, falafel, Egyptian cheese, salads, and omelets.
5 intersection of 26th of July St. Al-Raml Station,Alexandria
Phone: 03 4800330

Ramses Hotel
Al Mesallah Sharq, Qesm Al-Attarin, Alexandria Governorate
Phone: 03 4869620

Triomphe hotel
Al Mesallah Gharb WA Sharif Basha, Qesm Al-Attarin, Alexandria Governorate
Phone: 03 4807585

Hotel Acropole
Al Mesallah Gharb WA Sharif Basha, Qesm Al-Attarin, Alexandria Governorate
Phone: 03 4805980

Getting there
Alexandria is a two-hour ride from Cairo by car, bus or train.
Moscow Says US Failed to Separate Rebels From Terrorists in Response to Ultimatum Over Syria
28 Sep, 2016 15:59
Rt.com

In a phone conversation with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday morning, the US Secretary of State John Kerry “expressed grave concern” over the “attacks on hospitals, the water supply network, and other civilian infrastructure in Aleppo” by the Russian and Syrian forces, State Department spokesman John Kirby said.

“The Secretary made clear the United States and its partners hold Russia responsible for this situation, including the use of incendiary and bunker buster bombs in an urban environment, a drastic escalation that puts civilians at great risk,” Kirby added.

The Russian foreign minister pointed out that a number of anti-government groups described by Washington as “moderates” refused to follow the ceasefire arranged by Russia and the US on September 9, instead choosing to side with Jabhat Al-Nusra and attack the Syrian Army alongside this Al-Qaeda branch.

Washington is preparing to suspend the “bilateral engagement” on Syria with Moscow, including the establishment of the Joint Implementation Center, unless Russia immediately halts the attack on Aleppo and restores the ceasefire, Kerry told Lavrov.

The US promised long ago to separate the rebels from terrorists and it needs to live up to that obligation, Lavrov told Kerry, bringing up the recent interview of an Al-Nusra commander about how the group is receiving outside support – including American weapons – as well as the statement of a Syrian opposition leader Riyad Hijab that he did not consider Al-Nusra terrorists.

In addition to Lavrov’s comments, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova on Wednesday said that a comprehensive solution for the Syrian crisis may be reached only if the US takes more constructive steps in the process.

“It all has now come to a critical point – either they fulfill their obligations, or the process can really slow down very seriously,” Zakharova said in an interview with Russian tabloid “Komsomolskaya Pravda.” “There is apparently a [side] in the United States, for which any real cooperation does not seem profitable, as does any evidence that it exists,” she said.

Kerry’s belief that Russia was responsible for the ceasefire’s collapse is “absolutely mistaken” author and journalist Abdel Bari Atwan told RT.

It was Washington that did not follow through on to the deal, failing to separate what it called moderate opposition from terrorist groups, he said.

“I’m really scared about this ultimatum, because it seems like the US administration is going to escalate the [situation] in Aleppo,” Atwan told RT. “Things are really moving into a really dangerous zone here.”
US-led International Coalition Strikes Destroy Two Bridges in Deir Ezzor
28 September، 2016

Deir Ezzor, SANA – Aircrafts of the US-led international coalition launched strikes on two main bridges on the Euphrates River in the countryside of the eastern Deir Ezzor province.

SANA reporter in Deir Ezzor said Wednesday that the strikes resulted in the destruction of al-Asharah Bridge that links the river’s two banks in the eastern countryside of the province only few hours after destroying al-Mayadin Bridge.

The destruction of the two bridges aims at disconnecting the areas located on both banks of the river, the reporter noted.

The coalition, which claims to be fighting ISIS terrorist organization, has repeatedly targeted the Syrian infrastructure with the aim to deliberately inflict damage on sites and facilities in the country.

Late last year, the coalition’s aircrafts destroyed two electricity plants in al-Radwaniyeh area and water pumping stations in al-Khafseh area, east of Aleppo, in addition to claiming hundreds of civilian lives.

In a latest targeting that took place on September 17th, the coalition hit a position for the Syrian Arab Army in Thardah Mountain in Deir Ezzor, paving the way for
ISIS terrorists to take over it.

H. Zain/ H. Said
Syrian Army Kills More Terrorists in Several Areas, Including Two of Their Leaders in Daraa
28 September، 2016
Provinces, SANA

Units of the Army and Armed Forces targeted the terrorist organizations’ positions, gatherings and vehicles in a number of areas across the country, killing and injuring scores of their members.

Hama

Units of the army thwarted a large attack by terrorists of Jaish al-Fatah, Jund al-Aqsa and Ahrar al-Cham on Karah and al-Zaghba villages in Hama northern countryside, killing more than 70 terrorists.

Earlier, the Syrian Air Force destroyed terrorists’ positions, gatherings, a number of tanks and tens of vehicles in Atshan, Zour al-Tibeh, Maardes, Eneiz, al-Kabbariyeh, Tal al-Zaatar and Qbeibat Abu al- Huda in the countryside of Hama province, according to a military source.

The terrorists who were hit suffered heavy losses in personnel and equipment and a number of their positions, tanks and machinegun-equipped vehicles were destroyed in the strikes.

Homs

An army unit destroyed a training camp for Jabhat al-Nusra to the northwest of Kisin village in the northern countryside of Homs.

Earlier, terrorists’ positions and vehicles were targeted by army units in Talbisa, al-Rastan, Kisin, Um Sharshouh and al-Ghanto in Homs countryside, with the operations leaving many terrorists dead, while the positions and vehicles, some equipped with machine guns, were destroyed.

Daraa

Army units killed a number of Jabhat al-Nusra-linked terrorists in the neighborhoods of al-Sad and al-Bajabjeh in Daraa al-Balad in Daraa city, in addition to destroying their vehicles.

A position for terrorists and more vehicles were destroyed east of Dael town in the northern countryside of Daraa province.

Later, a military source said that army units destroyed drones carrying explosives deployed by terrorists from Jabhat al-Nusra and prevented terrorist groups’ infiltration attempts in the direction of the abandoned battalion from Da’el and Ibta’a towns in Daraa’s northern countryside, inflicting heavy losses in personnel and equipment upon them.

Later still, two leaders of terrorist groups were killed in a special operation carried out by an army unit on the road between al-Nazihin Camp and Gharaz south of Daraa.

Aleppo

The Syrian Air Force hit gatherings of terrorists and their vehicles in Khan Touman, Maarata, Kafr Hamra, Hreitan and Babis in the countryside of Aleppo province.

Scores of terrorists were killed in the airstrikes and a number of their armored and machine-gune equipped vehicles were destroyed.

Moreover, Army units destroyed a meeting headquarters for leaders within Jabhat al-Nusra in Salah-Eddin neighborhood and two weapons and ammunition caches of the terrorist organizations in Old City of Aleppo.

An army unit destroyed a position used by Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists for making car bombs on Aleppo International Highway in southwestern Aleppo.

Idleb

The Syrian Air Force destroyed two positions, seven vehicles and three cars equipped with machineguns that belong to “Jaish al-Fatah” terrorist organization in al-Tamaniaa area in Idleb province.

Two positions, 7 vehicles and 3 machinegun-equipped cars belonging to the terrorists were destroyed and a number of terrorists were killed.

Deir Ezzor

The Air Force of the Syrian Army carried out a series of air strikes on ISIS positions in the surrounding of al-Tharda Mountain, to the east of Deir Ezzor Military Airport and in the villages of al-Juneiniyeh, al-Husseiniyeh and al-Bugheiliyeh in the western countryside of Deir Ezzor province.

Many terrorists were killed or injured and armored vehicles were destroyed in the strikes.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Turkey Hoists Its Flag on Building in Jarablus in New Violation of Syrian Sovereignty
28 September، 2016

Aleppo, SANA – In violation of the international laws, the Turkish regime under Recep Tayyip Erdogan has established a hospital in Jarablus city, northern Aleppo, and hoisted the Turkish flag on top of it, committing a blatant violation of Syria’s sovereignty.

Local sources and media reports said the Turkish regime transformed a school building in Jarablus city-which is located in the north of the country adjoining the Turkish borders- into a hospital with a board fixed atop saying “Turkish Health Ministry- Jarablus Hospital”.

Social networking websites circulated images showing the Turkish flag hoisted on the building and a number of Turkish officials standing in front of it, in an unprecedented and dangerous act of aggression on the Syrian territories and the country’s sovereignty.

Observers see that the Turkish aggression is a new proof of Erdogan’s regime’s greed and hostile intentions against Syria’s independence and territorial integrity, attempting in several occasions to pass its project of establishing a no-fly zone in the north of Syria.

Erdogan’s regime has repeatedly assaulted the Syrian territories during the past few weeks through allowing ground forces into Jarablus and its outskirts under the pretext of combating ISIS terrorist organization- its partner in stealing the Syrian oil, gas and antiquities through deals between the terrorist organization and Erdogan himself as divulged by many reports.

Contrary to the claims that the hospital will serve the locals of Jarablus city, the facts show that it will be used for hospitalizing and treating injured terrorists.

R. Milhem/H. Said
Syrian Army Establishes Control Over New Areas in Aleppo, Damascus Countryside
Provinces, SANA – The Army and Armed Forces, continued on Tuesday targeting the positions, gatherings, and vehicles of terrorists in several areas across Syria.

Aleppo

A military source confirmed Army units restored full control over al-Farafira neighborhood in Aleppo city after eliminating the latest gatherings of terrorist groups in it.

The source said in a statement to SANA that army units carried out a swift operation, during which they established full control over al-Farafira neighborhood to the northwest of Aleppo Citadel after killing many terrorists, most of them members in the so called “Noor Eddin al-Zanki Movement” and Jabhat al-Nusra, and destroying their weaponry and ammunition.

The source added that engineering units dismantled landmines and explosive devices that were planted earlier by terrorist organizations before the rest of their members fled away from the neighborhood.

The source pointed out that an army unit destroyed command sites for terrorist organizations through detonating a tunnel in al-Izaa neighborhood along with all terrorists inside it.

The source said that another army unit directed a concentrated strike on a site that terrorist organizations were using for monitoring the area of al-Brij to the south of Handarat Camp in the northern countryside of Aleppo, destroying it totally.

The Air Force destroyed a number of positions and vehicles belonging to the terrorist groups in Daret Izzeh town and Qubtan al-Jabal village to the west of Aleppo.

The Air Force carried out sorties against fortifications and dens of terrorist organizations on the axis of Kafr Hamra, Anadan, and Haiyan to the northwest of Aleppo, destroying their positions and dens and killing a number of their members.

Damascus countryside

A unit of the army and armed forces, in cooperation with popular defense groups, confronts infiltration attempts by terrorists and launch a counterattack and establish control over farms between al-Rihan and Tal Kurdi in Damascus countryside.

Daraa

Army and Armed Forces unit destroyed several vehicles and positions of terrorist organizations and killed a number of their members in bombardments against their fortifications in Daraa al-Balad area in Daraa province, a military source told SANA.

Hama

A military source told SANA that army units targeted the terrorist organizations’ gatherings in the villages of Ma’an and its surroundings, Tayebet al-Imam, Mourek, Tal Bezam, and M’ardes in the northern countryside of Hama province.

The source added that the army destroyed three tanks, four combat vehicles, and six machinegun-equipped cars, in addition to eliminating a number of terrorists.

Idleb

In the southern countryside of Idleb province, the Syrian Air Force destroyed terrorist organizations’ vehicles and killed a number of their members after targeting their gatherings and fortifications in the villages of Ba’rbo, al-Tamana town, and south of Khan Shaikhoun town.

Homs

The Syrian Air Force destroyed a number of ISIS positions and vehicles, some equipped with machineguns, in al-Sekhneh, north of al-Shaer oil field, south of Palmyra, and al-Rastan in Homs countryside, according to a military source.

The source confirmed the destruction of one of ISIS sites and the killing of a number of terrorists during an army’s airstrike on their locations to the south of Um Qobiba east of Homs city.

In the northern countryside of Homs, the Syrian Air Force carried out an airstrike on the fortified positions of Jabhat al-Nusra in al-Rastan city, destroying a number of the terrorist organization’ sites and killing many of its members.
U.S. Deploys More Troops to Iraq 
By Carlo Muñoz
The Washington Times
Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The U.S. and Iraq took a big step closer to a showdown with Islamic State fighters Wednesday as the Pentagon announced that 615 more U.S. soldiers are heading to Iraq in anticipation of the battle to liberate Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.

The move pushes the number of American troops in the country above 5,000 for the first time since 2011, when President Obama announced what he said was the end of the U.S. combat mission in Iraq.

Over 5,200 American troops will be on the ground working alongside Iraqi and coalition forces in the final push to drive out the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL. Mosul and the Syrian city of Raqqa are the two biggest cities held by the violent jihadi group that swept across the region two years ago.

The influx of troops will likely be the last before U.S.-backed Iraqi and Kurdish forces launch the long-awaited assault on Mosul. On Wednesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi characterized the additional U.S. troops, who he stressed would serve only as advisers and trainers, as the “final increase” needed before operations can begin, likely in mid-October.

“We emphasize that the role of the trainers and advisers is not combat, but for training and consultation only,” Mr. al-Abadi said in a statement. “It is our troops who will liberate the land.”

Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said this month that all U.S. assets needed to support the Mosul operation would be in place by October — which could mean heavy fighting in Iraq while Americans head to the polls in early November.

Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis declined to confirm a timeline for the assault but said the additional U.S. forces would “accelerate the campaign as we close in on Mosul.”

‘Major’ objective

Administration officials estimate that 3,000 to 4,000 Islamic State fighters are hunkered down inside Mosul, part of the terrorist group’s more than 10,000-member force stretching all the way to Raqqa.

An Islamic State defeat in Mosul would, for all intents and purposes, end the two-year U.S. mission in Iraq.

“There are no other major objectives,” Capt. Davis said. “This is it.”

The political fallout from the Mosul fight could have major implications for the presidential election a little more than a month away.

Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump have traded barbs over the state of the war against the Islamic State. A quick victory for the U.S. and its allies could boost Mrs. Clinton, while a stalemate or military reversal could help Mr. Trump, who once labeled President Obama and Mrs. Clinton the Islamic State’s “co-founders” because they failed to anticipate the terrorist group’s rise.

Iraqi forces retook Ramadi, Fallujah and other key conquests of the Islamic State within a matter of weeks, but Baghdad and Washington have warned repeatedly that the fight for Mosul will be more difficult.

U.S. military officials have refused to discuss any of the political calculations for the Mosul offensive, even on background. The deployment of more U.S. troops was “long anticipated and long planned” as part of the Mosul strategy, Capt. Davis said Wednesday.

He said he could not rule out additional deployments if needed.

“Anything we do, we do with the permission of the government of Iraq,” Capt. Davis said. “Anything we do in the future [in Iraq] will be based on those parameters.”

Battle plans

Most of the 615 U.S. troops will support the fight to retake Mosul from al-Asad air base in Anbar province, about 100 miles west of Baghdad, and Qayara airfield, roughly 40 miles south of the Islamic State stronghold, Capt. Davis said Wednesday. They will handle the maintenance and operational logistics tied to U.S. air operations out of both bases, which will involve a massive uptick in activity once the Mosul offensive gets underway.

U.S. advisers are helping various factions construct small firebases and military camps encircling Mosul. The bases, in conjunction with a main U.S. military logistics hub in the tiny town of Qayara, will serve as jumping-off points for 14 Iraqi army brigades and thousands of Kurdish peshmerga and mostly Shiite militia fighters to advance on the city.

The remaining troops heading into Iraq will be split between military advisers working alongside local forces and “expanded intelligence resources” for the Mosul operation, Capt. Davis said.

Islamic State-held territory in Iraq and Syria dropped from over 48,000 square miles to 42,000 square miles — roughly the size of West Virginia — from December to July. With the loss of Fallujah and other areas surrounding Mosul, that territory has shrunk even more.

Last week, Iraqi forces recaptured the city of al Shirqat, 70 miles south or Mosul, which had been under Islamic State control since 2014. Planning has also begun to retake the Islamic State-held city of Hawijah, 50 miles east of Shirqat, which U.S. and Iraqi commanders say is the final step before the assault on Mosul.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, speaking to reporters while traveling in New Mexico, said the decision to press ahead with the deployment is a sign that the U.S. military is prepared to seize openings on the battlefield when they arise.

Even in advisory roles, he said, the U.S. troops will be deploying into a dangerous situation.

“We’ve said all along: Whenever we see opportunities to accelerate the campaign, we want to seize them,” Mr. Carter said, according to the Reuters news agency. Though Iraqi forces will be doing the fighting, “American forces combating ISIL in Iraq are in harm’s way.”
U.N. Calls for Support for Libya Neo-Colonial Government, Upholding of Ban on Arms From Gaddafi Era
By Stephanie Nebehay and Tom Miles
GENEVA

The top United Nations official in Libya called on Tuesday for countries to support the fledgling national unity government of the North African country and do more to halt banned arms shipments there.

U.N. envoy Martin Kobler also cited "positive signs" of management of Libya's oil sector and in ensuring that revenues go into the central bank's coffers.

But Libya remains plagued by corruption and an absence of the rule of law, marked by "abominable" state-run detention centres holding migrants trying to reach Europe, he said.

The fall of Pan-Africanist Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 brought chaos that splintered Libya into rival armed fiefdoms. A U.N.-backed Government of National Accord has been trying for months to extend its authority beyond its base in Tripoli in western Libya.

"It is very important that the international community maintains cohesion in order to bring the Government of National Accord to a stage where it can effectively combat the questions on the table," Kobler told reporters after addressing the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.

General Khalifa Haftar, who has been waging a military campaign against Islamists and other opponents in Benghazi and the east, has been in a stand-off with the GNA for months, blocking a parliamentary vote to endorse the GNA and challenging the U.N.-mediated deal to unify Libya.

Kobler said Libya had 26 million weapons and a population of 6 million. All U.N. member states must respect the arms embargo - with no guns going to either side, he said.

"My position here is very clear. These weapons do not fall from the sky, they come via the sea, they come via land."

Neighbouring countries in particular had an interest in preventing any spillover of the conflict, he said.

"This is of course Europeans, but this is also Egypt, Algeria, in particular the south. There is a link between the terrorism in Libya and with Boko Haram in the south."

But the fact that Libya had one national oil company and one central bank, with slowly rising oil production, was a positive sign.

Libya's Arabian Gulf Oil Company (AGOCO), a subsidiary of the National Oil Corporation, has raised its production to 261,000 barrels per day - 50,000 bpd higher than its output last week, spokesman Omran al-Zwai said on Monday.

"This is the lifeline for the Libyan people, that more money comes into the coffers of the central bank in order to improve the imports and to finance salaries and other basic needs and services for the population," Kobler said.

(Editing by Hugh Lawson)
Libyan Renegade General in East Rejects UN-backed Government
German UN envoy Martin Kobler front-man for imperialist-backed GNA.
Rami Musa and Brian Rohan
Associated Press
6:53 am, Wednesday, September 28, 2016

BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) — A powerful Libyan general whose forces recently captured several key oil facilities has rejected a U.N.-brokered government and said the country would be better served by a leader with "high-level military experience."

In a series of written responses to questions from The Associated Press this week, Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter said his army only recognizes the authority of the Libyan parliament based in the east, which has also rejected the U.N.-backed government in the capital, Tripoli.

Libya was plunged into chaos by the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi, and for the last two years has been split by rival authorities based in the far east and in Tripoli, in the west.

The two sides are deeply divided on Hifter's future role in the country. In the east, he is seen as the kind of strong, experienced military leader who can defeat Islamic extremists and restore order to the oil-rich North African country. In the west, where powerful Islamist militias hold sway, he is seen as remnant of the Gadhafi government — which he once served — and an aspiring strongman.
Hifter said little to put such fears to rest.

He cited generals who went on to lead Western nations, as well as President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in neighboring Egypt, who led the military ouster of an elected Islamist president in 2013 and has presided over a sweeping crackdown on dissent.

"Military people who were elected to lead their country achieved remarkable success," Hifter said.

Asked if he intended to seek the highest office, Hifter demurred, saying the country first needed security, political and social stability, and that he would not answer the question until that was achieved.

The U.N.-backed government is led by a presidential council headed by Fayez Serraj, an independent technocrat. It was supposed to present a new Cabinet to parliament for approval after lawmakers rejected the last one in August, but has yet to do so.

Egypt has backed Hifter who, like el-Sissi, blames much of his country's problems on the Muslim Brotherhood group. He says Tripoli has been "hijacked" by armed gangs, blaming disorder there and the expansion of rogue militias on Islamist factions.

Hifter has also lashed out at U.N. envoy Martin Kobler, accusing him of "meddling" in Libyan affairs after he allegedly sought to set up a meeting between Hifter and Serraj to discuss the makeup of the Libyan army.

Both Hifter's troops and forces loyal to the U.N.-backed government are battling the Islamic State group and other extremists. Militias from the city of Misrata, in the west, have driven IS militants out of most of their last urban stronghold, Sirte, with the help of U.S. airstrikes.

But there are concerns that victory against IS could bring renewed conflict between east and west.
Earlier this month, Hifter's forces accused a militia from Misrata of carrying out an airstrike that killed at least six women and a child near Sirte. The Misratans denied the allegations.

Hifter's forces also recently seized three key oil terminals — at Ras Lanuf, al-Sidra and Zueitina — from a militia allied with the U.N.-backed government, drawing international condemnation. The U.S., France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Britain called on his forces to withdraw from the terminals, saying the Tripoli government is the "sole steward" of the resources and warning against "illicit oil exports."

Exports from the Ras Lanuf terminal have resumed, and Hifter said in the interview that he had returned them to the authority of the National Oil Corporation. Oil revenues are channeled to the central bank, which is under the authority of Tripoli. He also said he has no plans to withdraw from the area.

"The Libyan National Army's priorities are to protect the oil fields and ports of export," he said.

He also called on the U.N. to lift an embargo on weapons sales to Libya, and help it remove mines left in "huge quantities" by IS fighters in residential neighborhoods they have been driven from. He blamed authorities in the west for the rampant smuggling of migrants bound for Europe, which he blamed on the militias and the "absence of state authority."

Hifter returned to Libya after decades in exile during the 2011 uprising against Gadhafi. Hifter had played a key role in the 1969 coup that brought Gadhafi to power and eventually became his top general. He was captured during the 1980s war with Chad. After the war ended in 1987, he defected and eventually fled to the United States.

While living in exile in Virginia, he became commander of the armed wing of the Libyan National
Salvation Front and orchestrated a couple of failed coup attempts against Gadhafi before breaking with the opposition group. In interviews with Arab media in the 1990s, he described himself as building an armed force with U.S. assistance to topple Gadhafi and his associates. A 1996 Congressional Research Service report suggested that the United States provided money and training to the National Salvation Front.

Hifter has long denied ever working for the CIA, but now he says he has proof.

"If I was working for U.S. intelligence they would be my first supporters with weapons and money," he said.
___
Rohan reported from Cairo.
Obama Expected to Extend Airstrikes Against ISIS in Libya Another Month
By Lucas Tomlinson
September 28, 2016
FoxNews.com

President Obama is expected to extend the bombing campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Libya for a second time, three U.S. military officials with knowledge of the request tell Fox News.

The decision authorizes the U.S. military to launch a third month of airstrikes against ISIS in the Libyan coastal city of Sirte. Airstrikes began Aug. 1 following a request from the Uited Nations-backed government in Tripoli. At the time, the Pentagon said the Libya mission would likely last “weeks, not months.”

Extending the bombing campaign for another month in Libya means the Navy will have to keep two warships off the coast of Libya for up to a third consecutive month, according to defense officials. The initial plan called for the two warships to remain off Libya for one month only.

One of the U.S. warships, the amphibious assault vessel USS Wasp, had been scheduled to go to the Persian Gulf in September to begin airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, as well as keep an eye on Iran following recent incidents involving Iranian gunboats and U.S. Navy ships -- one of which resulted in warning shots being fired by a U.S. warship. The other, the destroyer USS Carney, was supposed to head to the Black Sea near Russia next month. But the Libya operation against ISIS has been deemed more pressing by senior military leaders.

U.S. Marine Corps Harrier jets and attack helicopters as well as drones have conducted 175 airstrikes against ISIS in Libya as of Monday, according to the U.S. military’s Africa Command, which is leading the operation.

The news comes as Obama approved the Pentagon’s request to deploy an additional 615 American soldiers to Iraq to help local forces prepare for the expected assault on Mosul, Iraq's second largest city.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter made the troop announcement Wednesday. The U.S. military is now conducting airstrikes against terror groups in six countries: Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia.

The USS Wasp is serving as the launch point for U.S. airstrikes in Libya. The USS Carney is serving as an escort ship and firing illumination rounds from its 5-inch gun to help a U.S.-backed Libyan ground force in Sirte, located roughly half way between Tripoli and Benghazi.

In addition to the airstrikes, U.S. special operations forces have been in and out of Libya for months advising local ground forces, according to defense officials.

When the Libya airstrikes began, a Pentagon spokesman said the strikes would only back ground forces associated with the fledgling United Nations-backed government known as the Government of National Accord (GNA) for a “finite” period of time and did not anticipate a long commitment.

“The duration of this operation will be measured based upon the length of time it takes for them to do that objective,” Capt. Jeff Davis said during a Pentagon briefing with reporters.

The mission will likely take “weeks not months,” Davis said at the start of the airstrikes in early August. “This is a finite period of time and a very finite mission ... We don’t envision this as being something that’s going to be too long,” he said.

Speaking at the White House in August, President Obama said supporting the Libyan government against ISIS was in “America's national security interests.”

ISIS fighters have been decimated in Libya since US airstrikes began, multiple officials tell Fox News.

Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said in August the number of ISIS fighters in Sirte was under 1,000. After nearly two months of Marine Corps airstrikes, the number of ISIS fighters in Sirte has been estimated to be “under 100,” according to a U.S. official with knowledge of the latest intelligence.

The official added that U,S, military operations in Libya could be ending soon. “It’s very close. ISIS is only in three neighborhoods [in Sirte],” the official added.

In June, CIA Director John Brennan said there were 5,000 to 8,000 ISIS fighters in Libya.

Lucas Tomlinson is the Pentagon and State Department producer for Fox News Channel. You can follow him on Twitter: @LucasFoxNews