Category Archives: Africa

Obama to let in 10,000 Syrian refugees despite no way of identifying terrorists

Obama’s policy and conduct in the Middle East are nothing but a disaster.

The disaster began with his celebration of the so-called Arab Spring that brought the radical Muslim Brotherhood (MB) into power in Egypt and replaced the Khadaffi regime with chaos in Libya.

Then the premature withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq brought instead a new lethal threat of ISIS that now, as the Islamic State, controls a broad swath across Iraq and Syria. (See Blowback: ISIS leaders are former officers of Saddam Hussein’s army”)

Meanwhile, Obama is determined to do the same to Syria by arming and training so-called rebels who are every bit as extreme as the MB and ISIS, to topple the Assad government, under which Syrian Christians and Muslims had lived in peace. See:

The latest: Russia has entered the fray, with Russian troops reportedly in Syria to help the Assad regime.

Syria’s civil war, now in its 5th year, and ISIS are major contributors to the present “refugee migrant crisis” in Europe, the biggest since the second world war, as tens of thousands of Muslims pour across the borders of the Arabic Middle East and North Africa to overwhelm European countries.

The Guardian quotes an UN figure of 38% of “migrants” as coming from Syria. “The American decision to accept more refugees reflects how swiftly the Syrian war has morphed into the most pressing humanitarian crisis in recent years,” says the New York Times.

Mideast-Iraq-Syrian-Rrfugees2015 refugee crisis - asylum applications of European countriesKatie Pavlich reports for Townhall that yesterday (Sept. 10) afternoon, the Obama White House announced plans to bring 10,000 Syrian refugees to the United States.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said during the daily briefing:

“The United States, at the direction of the United States, [sic] has played a leading role in addressing the dire humanitarian crisis in the Middle East and North Africa. One thing that the United States can do is to begin to let more Syrian refugees into the United States. This year, this fiscal year that will end this month, the United States is on track to take in about 1500 Syrian refugees. The president has directed his team to scale up that number next [fiscal] year [beginning October 2015] and he’s informed his team he would like them to accept, at least make preparations, for 10,000 refugees.

There is no word yet on what the vetting process will be for refugees or how the White House plans to assure Americans the process will prevent ISIS terrorists from making their way into the United States.

Earlier this week in an interview with Fox News, House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul expressed serious concern about national security and the acceptance of refugees from Syria:

“We’re a compassionate nation and this is a tragic situation but I also have to be concerned as Chairman of Homeland Security about the safety of Americans in this country and the concern that I have and that the FBI testified to is that we don’t really have the proper databases on these individuals to vet them passed and to assure we’re not allowing terrorists to come into this country and until I have that assurance, I cannot support a program that could potentially bring jihadists into the United States. We don’t know who these people are and I think that’s the bottom line here and until we know who they are, we cannot responsibly bring them into the United States. Both the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI have told me privately that they don’t support bringing in Syrian refugees because of the threat they pose to Americans.

In an article for Clash Daily, U.S. Infantry veteran Sgt. Omar Avila maintains that “Syrian operatives have claimed that more than 4,000 covert ISIS gunmen have been smuggled into Western nations – hidden amongst innocent refugees. The operative said the undercover infiltration was the beginning of a larger plot to carry out revenge attacks on the West in retaliation for the US-led coalition airstrikes.”

-StMA

Egypt said to be on the verge of civil war

Zero Hedge is a popular financial blog that aggregates news and presents editorial opinions from original and outside sources. Launched in January 2009, the blog has an Alexa ranking in the U.S. of 982, and a global ranking of 2,085. Contributors to Zero Hedge all write under the collective pseudonym of Tyler Durden. The blog is credited with bringing the controversial practice of flash trading to public attention in 2009.

3 days ago, Zero Hedge republished an article on a website called Gefira, with the alarming title “Egypt Is On the Edge of Full Blown Civil War.” Here’s the most relevant paragraph from the Gefira article of July 1, 2015:

In the past days there have been dozens of separate attacks in Egypt, from the Sinai up to Cairo. Probably more than 60 people have died, when the Egyptian army used F16 fighter jets to protect itself against it disgruntled population. It is clear that the Egyptian rulers are not going to be able to contain the current situation, today could be marked as the start of Egypt’s civil war.

Egypt mapI found very little information on Egypt’s rumored civil war on the net. The following article of July 2, 2015, from Al Jazeera, “Egypt in ‘a state of war’?,” is the most informative

Egypt is introducing sweeping new anti-terrorism laws following unprecedented attacks in its lawless Sinai region and growing opposition to a government crackdown on dissent.

Government leaders say the new legislation will provide “quick and just deterrence” against what it called “terrorism”.

Egypt’s chief prosecutor was killed by a car bomb explosion on Monday, while the Sinai assaults mark a significant escalation in fighting in the desert peninsula.

Fighters say they simultaneously attacked 15 military checkpoints in El Arish, Sheikh Zuweid and Rafah.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which the Egyptian government considers a terrorist organisation, is calling on supporters to “rise in revolt”, after accusing police of killing 13 of its members.

A statement by the group said: “To the proud people of Egypt… This unjust tyrant has done his worst. Rise in revolt to defend your homeland, your lives and your children … Oust the heinous murderer.”

See also “Egyptian government shuts down 27,000 mosques”.

~StMA

China deploying troops to Africa to protect its investments & nationals

Red Star over AfricaPeter Dörrie reports for Medium.com, Jan. 22, 2015, that China will increase its military presence in Africa as Chinese economic activities in the continent have expanded massively during the last decade.

According to David Shinn, a former American ambassador to Ethiopia and Burkina Faso, and an expert on China-Africa relations, China is realizing it can’t keep relying on African governments to protect its economic investment in Africa and the thousands of Chinese nationals who’ve moved to the continent.

China’s economic growth and internal stability relies on free and open trade routes. In 2008, when Somali pirates began abducting merchant ships on a weekly basis—and jacking up insurance costs—China joined the international naval mission to stop the hijackers.

Since China’s initial contribution to anti-piracy activities, it has greatly increased maritime cooperation in with Africa, holding exercises with Tanzania.

Officially, China abides by a strict hands-off policy when it comes to the internal affairs of other countries. And to be fair, Chinese intervention in Africa is nowhere near the scale practiced by the United States, France and some African countries. But Beijing hasn’t followed this practice consistently.

Beijing has relied on local governments to handle security for Chinese nationals in Africa. But this approach has met its limits. As an example, when civil war broke out in Libya four years ago, Beijing had to evacuate 36,000 Chinese nationals living in the country because Muammar Gaddafi wasn’t willing or able to do it. “China had to do the entire evacuation on its own without any assistance whatsoever,” recalls Shinn. “That was a wake-up call for the Chinese.”

Then there’s China’s considerable economic interests in Africa. As an example, China procures about 5% of its oil imports from South Sudan in east Africa. In 2013, South Sudan collapsed into civil war. China soon embarked on its first major military intervention in Africa—deploying 700 soldiers as part of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Sudan. Beijing’s diplomats also took on the role of direct mediators between the warring parties. On Jan. 12, the South Sudanese government and the rebels signed a Chinese-brokered cease fire.

China’s economic interests in Africa also include its most important business with African countries—the arms trade.

China has exported massive amounts of heavy and light weapons to the continent in recent years. In the 1960s and ’70s, Chinese weapons accounted for about 3% of all arms going into Africa, Shinn said. By 2011, around 25% of all arms going Africa, by dollar value were Chinese, a lot of which go to effectively pariah countries like Zimbabwe and Sudan, both of which are under European Union and U.S. arms embargoes.

Some examples of Chinese arms sales to Africa:

China's FDI in Africa 2005china_africa-trade_2006

In an interview with RT in July 2014, “‘Cold battle’ for Africa: China’s economic interest vs. U.S. military activity,” Asia Times journalist Brendan O’Reilly said China and the United States are engaged in an ongoing rivalry for influence in Africa. US troops are in a broad swath of Africa from Mali in the west all the way through to the Central African Republic, Ethiopia into Somalia, as well as a major US military base in Djibouti. Since 2008 the US has established the US Africa Command to coordinate military activities in Africa.

O’Reilly said the US does roughly about 85 billion dollars a year in trade with Africa; China does 200 billion dollars in trade with Africa. So China is already dominating the continent economically, and that influence will only deepen.

See also Thompson Ayodele & Olusegun Sotola, “China in Africa: An Evaluation of Chinese Investment,” IPPA Working Paper Series (2014).

~StMA

U.S. State Dept memo on bringing foreign Ebola patients to America

Barack Ebola logoTwo weeks ago, on October 17, 2014, Judicial Watch, the non-partisan D.C.-based citizens watchdog group, claimed that the Obama administration is actively formulating plans to admit Ebola-infected non-U.S. citizens into the United States for treatment within the first days of diagnosis.

Doing so would require special waivers of laws and regulations that currently ban the admission of non-citizens with a communicable disease as dangerous as Ebola.

Judicial Watch’s source said the Obama administration is keeping from Congress this illegal plan that endangers the public health and welfare of Americans.

Now, the watchdog group’s initial report is confirmed to be true.

From Judicial Watch, Oct. 29, 2014:

This several media outlets have confirmed JW’s story, attributing the information to an unclassified State Department report. It spells out a plan to rush foreigners into the U.S. for Ebola treatment […] It would cost $300,000 to treat each patient and another $200,000 for transportation, the State Department memo shows. […]

In the aftermath of the document’s leak, senior administration officials have anonymously come forth to say there are “absolutely no plans” to transport foreign Ebola patients to be treated in the U.S. What should Americans believe?

Judicial Watch will continue covering and investigating this scandal and has filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with the Department of Defense(DOD) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Specifically, JW is demanding that the DOD reveal its plans for evacuation of American personnel in Africa and OSHA’s plans for response to the Ebola outbreak as well as expressions of concern by agency personnel relating to the deadly virus. Additionally, JW is seeking information about the cryptic carrier Phoenix Air, which has been transporting Ebola-infected patients and has significant Pentagon contracts.

The Washington Times claims to have a copy of the State Department memo, but published only select sentences and paragraphs from the memo. Leave it to a UK newspaper, The Daily Mail, to publish the actual memo in its entirety.

Below are screenshots I took of the 4-page memo, “Admitting Non-U.S. Citizens to the United States for Treatment of Ebola Virus Disease.” An easier-to-read text version of the memo follows the screenshots. (You can also read the memo for yourself on Scribd or from CODA’s media library.)

Click page to enlarge

Ebola memo1Ebola memo2Ebola memo3Ebola memo4The memo on Scribd does not enable copying so that I can then paste the memo into this post. In the interest of public service, I copied the memo by typing each word, sentence, paragraph, and punctuation mark into the copy-enabled text below. Words in bold are from the memo; I supplied the red color to emphasize important sections.

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED – PREDESICIONAL

Admitting Non-U.S. Citizens to the United States for Treatment of Ebola Virus Disease

Purpose: Come to an agreed State Department position on the extent to which non-U.S. citizens will come to the United States for treatment of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). A cleared paper is urgently needed for circulation to the interagency and NSC for a policy decision.

Recommendation: The State and DHS devise a system for expeditious parole of Ebola-infected non-citizens into the United States as long as they are otherwise eligible for medical evacuation from the Ebola affected countries and for entry into the United States.

Issue: The United States needs to show leadership and act as we are asking others to act by admitting certain non-citizens into the country for medical treatment for Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) during the Ebola crisis. The greatest stated impediment to persuading other countries to send medical teams to the Ebola-afflicted countries in West Africa has been the lack of assured medical evacuation and treatment for responders who may be infected with Ebola virus.

State Department contracted evacuation capacity has so far been sufficient to evacuate all Americans and several other international responders with EVD. (Spain, the UK, and Italy have each evacuated one or two of their own citizens.) Of those evacuated, all American citizens have come to the United States for treatment; all others have gone to Europe, where Germany is so far the only country to accept non-citizens with EVD for treatment. Several countries are implicitly or explicitly waiting for medevac assurances for their responders before committing to send medical teams; assurances are also essential to encouraging individuals to volunteer. (The scope of who is eligible for medical evacuation is the subject of another paper.)

There are four essential elements to every medical evacuation:

  1. Medical evacuation capacity;
  2. Overflight, refueling, and landing permission;
  3. A hospital able and willing to treat the patient; and
  4. Funds to backstop reimbursement, about $200,000 for medevac and $300,000 for treatment per case.

What is at issue here is point 3. As noted, Germany is so far the only country to accept non-citizens for Ebola treatment; Norway has offered to accept EU citizens in addition to its own. We will be working with the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Office (EC ECHO) and with individual countries to impress on them the necessity of opening treatment beds to non-citizens in order to enable and sustain a robust Ebola response. Since it is several hours closer to West Africa by air, Europe is also a preferable treatment destination for medical reasons. We are exploring other destinations as well, and establishment of the Monrovia Medical Unit by the United States and the Kerry Town, Sierra Leone facility by the UK should reduce the need for medevac as they begin to prove themselves effective treatment centers.

There will also be cases where the United States will be the logical treatment destination for non-citizens. For example, we have an obligation to assist non-citizen employees and contractors of U.S. agencies and programs, as well as NGOs and private firms based in the United States. Non-European Ebola response partners (e.g., Australia) consider the U.S. a better destination as well. UN staff permanently employed at headquarters in New York are another category to consider. U.S. legal permanent residents (LPRs) would also expect to come back to the United States. If, as expected, the United States deploys aircraft capable of evacuating more than one patient in the near future, there are likely to be occasions where one patient on a flight is a U.S. citizen and another is not.

U.S. Medevac Capacity: The U.S. Department of State has a contract with a commercial aviation company, Phoenix Aviation, which has the capability to safely transport patients with contagious disease using a specialized aeromedical biocontainment system.  A mechanism has been established for the U.S. government to provide reimbursable medical evacuation services to support countries and International Organizations in their efforts to address the Ebola crisis. Because of the specialized air transport and medical precautions required for Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) the Department of State is assisting with evacuations of U.S. citizens infected with Ebola virus from West Africa whenever possible. State has assisted with medevac of several citizens with EVD back to medical facilities in the United States, in keeping with the U.S. government’s longstanding role of facilitating emergency medical care for U.S. citizens through the State Department, including bringing them home to receive potentially life-saving treatment for serious illness.

The U. S. government is also working with organizations like the UN Office of Ebola Special Envoy David Nabarro, the World Health Organization, and the European Commission, as well as with several countries, on medevac options for Ebola victims. In addition to U.S. citizens, we have assisted with the medevacs of four health care workers out of West Africa with confirmed Ebola cases who are citizens of other countries — three were evacuated to Germany and one to France. Any costs associated with evacuations are the responsibility of the patient or their parent organization. They are not funded by U.S. taxpayers — although the financial guarantees required of U.S. citizens are somewhat less stringent than those for non-citizens.

So far all of the Ebola medevacs brought back to U.S. hospitals have been U.S. citizens. But there are many non-citizens working for U.S. government agencies and organizations in the Ebola-affected countries of West Africa. These may be local employees of U.S. Embassies or third country national health care workers who are working for agencies like CDC and USAID. These workers are playing a critical role in the battle against the Ebola outbreak. Many of them are citizens of countries lacking adequate medical care, and if they contract Ebola in the course of their work they would need to be evacuated to medical facilities in the United States or Europe. Thus far Germany is the only country that has accepted citizens of other countries for treatment of EVD in their hospitals.

U.S. Treatment Capacity: Many hospitals in the United States have the technical ability to treat Ebola patients. However, experience with Ebola cases would minimize the risk to health care workers, and the medical community should consider how best to distribute patients. In addition to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta and the University of Nebraska Medical Center, which have both accepted patients, the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center has expressed willingness to do so.

Legal Authorities and Implementation Requirements: State L notes that the legal and procedural constraints outlined below do not determine the policy outcome. If the U.S. government decides to restrict entry to the United States for non-U.S. citizen Ebola patients, it cannot attribute the outcome to legal and technical issues. At the same time, the mechanism for admission for non-U.S. citizen is not the usual visa process, and normally takes much longer than the time available to an infected Ebola patient, so setting up a mechanism that is ready to move would be essential.

To optimize clinical outcomes and give patients their best possible chance of recovery, air medical transportation of EVD victims should occur in the first five days of illness, with proportionately greater benefit the sooner it can be accomplished. Operationally that requires an almost immediate request for medevac and approval for travel to the United States, as the medevac process itself is a two-day journey. This presents a challenge, since under INA § 212(a)(1)(A)(i), (implemented by 42 C.F.R. § 34.2(b) and Executive Order No. 13295, as amended) Ebola Virus Disease is a communicable disease of public health significance and grounds for visa ineligibility. In order to permit the travel of such an individual, either an INA § 212(d)(3)(A) waiver of ineligibility or prior approval of parole pursuant to INA § 212(d)(5)(A) would be required from the Department of Homeland Security. (Note: legal permanent residents of the United States would not normally be ineligible to enter because they have an infectious disease, and counter enter on their “green cards” in most cases.)

Given the length of time necessary to obtain a waiver of ineligibility, or individual parole, as well as potential difficulties in securing the travel document for an infected individual, issuance of a properly annotated visa/boarding foil pursuant to a waiver request or parole is not a likely option. The Visa Office recommends the development and implementation of a mechanism similar to the one used for the African Leaders Summit (when technical issues precluded the issuance of visas), under which State worked with DHS to arrange expeditious port-of-entry waivers in advance of travel.

A pre-established framework would be essential to guarantee that only authorized individuals would be considered for travel authorization and that all necessary vetting would occur. The precise language and structure would be jointly developed by the Department of Homeland Security and the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

~End of memo~

~StMA