Wednesday, August 24, 2016

What Kerry Discussed With Buhari, 5 Governors
By Isiaka Wakili, Rakiya A. Muhammad & Abubakar Auwal, Sokoto
Nigeria Daily Trust
Aug 24 2016 5:00AM

President Muhammadu Buhari with US Secretary of State John Kerry at the Presidential Villa in Abuja yesterday

The United States has pledged more support to Nigeria’s anti-graft fight even as it praised President Muhammadu Buhari’s courage.

“We applaud what you are doing. Corruption creates a ready-made playing field for recruiting extremists,” visiting U.S. Secretary of State, Mr John Kerry, told Buhari at a closed-door meeting at the Presidential Villa yesterday.

“You inherited a big problem, and we will support you in any way we can. We will work with you very closely. “We don’t want to interfere, but will offer opportunities as you require,” Kerry said.

He was also quoted to have pledged to assist in tackling the humanitarian challenges in the north-east.

He said the U.S would get the United Kingdom, France and others “to augment the support.”

“Nigeria is priority for us. We won’t miss the opportunity to work together, because you are making significant progress,” he said.    

President   Buhari in his remarks assured Nigerians that the ongoing anti-corruption campaign in the country will be   institutionalized and made to last beyond the life of his administration.

Presidential spokesman Femi Adesina quoted Buhari as making the pledge at the State House in Abuja yesterday while receiving American Secretary of State, Mr John Kerry.

“We will insist on the standards we’re establishing. We are laying down administrative and financial instructions in the public service that must be obeyed. Any breach will no longer be acceptable.

“We will retrain our staff, so that they understand the new orientation. And those who run foul of these rules will be prosecuted, no matter who is involved. But we will be fair, just and act according to the rule of law.

“Anyone perceived corrupt is innocent till we can prove it. We will work very hard to establish documentation for successful prosecution, and those in positions of trust will sit up,” the president said.

He appreciated the US intervention in the 2015 general elections in Nigeria, affirming that “America did not do it because of what it stands to benefit from us. You did it for the Nigerian people. It tells so much what the U.S stands for in the world.”

On the Boko Haram insurgency, Buhari thanked the U.S for both their hard and soft military help.

“The training and intelligence that we could not muster ourselves, we received. The training has made Boko Haram less of a threat to Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin region, while the military hardware has given our troops added confidence,” he said.

The president also told Kerry that though the militancy in the Niger Delta had impacted negatively on the economy and affected the positive intentions of international and local investors, his administration was showing restraint.  

Speaking on the economy, Buhari said his administration’s focus was on diversification having learnt lessons from years of over-dependence on oil.  

Earlier, in Sokoto, Mr John Kerry lamented that corruption cost the global economy USD 2.6 trillion every year.

Delivering a speech on the importance of resilient communities and religious tolerance in countering violent extremism at the Sultan Palace, Kerry said developed countries were not doing enough to improve good governance globally.

“We are not collectively yet doing enough to improve good governance and that need to be changed because we are all paying for corruption as it costs the global economy  USD2.6 trillion every year which ought to be spent in providing infrastructures, education, health and to ensure food security,” he stated.

According to him, the fight against corruption has to be a global security priority of the first order and that developed countries have to help other countries to eliminate corruption in their midst.

“Bribery, fraud and all forms of criminality endanger everything that we own, everything that we value and encourage human trafficking, discourage accountability in governance and undermine the community,” he stated.

On the fight against terrorism, Kerry said Nigeria and its allies had succeeded in degrading Boko Haram, but that this should be seen as the beginning of the fight.

“People join violent groups because they have trouble finding meaning or opportunity in their daily lives, because they lost hope in the future, because they lost confidence in legitimate government and  they are really frustrated,” he said.

He maintained that one of the central tasks was for Nigeria to work towards removing vulnerability through building and rebuilding trust in government and the military. Trust creates citizens,” he stressed.

 Sultan: We’ll continue to work with everybody for peace

Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar yesterday pledged Nigeria’s commitment towards working with the rest of the world to ensure global peace.

He said: “We will continue to work with body to have a peaceful world.”

The Sultan gave the assurance when he received the US Secretary of State, John Kerry who paid him a courtesy call at his palace in Sokoto.

He lauded the choice of Sokoto for Kerry’s speech on the importance of resilient communities and religious tolerance in countering violent extremism‎.”It will further make our state and nation to be a model for peaceful coexistence,” he noted.

Earlier, the US Secretary of State acknowledged the efforts of the Sultan of Sokoto and the state Governor towards fostering peace and development.

He noted that the leaders were deeply engaged in building community of tolerance, understanding and inclusiveness. The efforts, he noted, “are pushing back against those who misinterpret the religion of Islam and extremism.‎”

Kerry stated:”I come here today on behalf of people of the United States and president Obama to express our solidarity with you in your effort to build a place that is prosperous and peaceful, we respect your work.”

Also, Sokoto Governor,A‎minu Tambuwal said the state remained very peaceful with tolerant and accommodating people.

He asserted that the choice of his state for Kerry’s speech would further position Sokoto on the global map.

Yesterday’s visit would make the third time that   John Kerry   has   visited    the country in the past 20 months, and has met Buhari on several other occasions.

B/Haram: We’re open to dialogue – Shettima

Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima has said that his state and the federal government were open to dialogue with the Boko Haram insurgents.

He, however, said dialogue had to be held with credible leaders of the sect.

Shettima spoke yesterday with State House reporters after he and his counterparts from Sokoto, Zamfara, Bauchi and Kwara States met with American Secretary of State, John Kerry.

The governor was responding to a question on the warning by Kerry earlier yesterday in Sokoto on government’s handling of the Boko Haram.

Shettima said the country was now in a position of strength to negotiate with the sect, adding that a holistic approach was being adopted to tackle the insurgency.

“Because the Boko Haram is not a uniformed outfit with shared ideology and focus, their perspectives differ a lot. It’s like the Bermuda Triangle- on one hand, you’ve the economically induced Boko Haram who are amenable to dialogue who can lay down their tools and be part of the reintegration process of the de-radicalisation process of the rehabilitation and resettlement process.

And then, we’ve the die-hards that have been called the nihilists, people who are hell-bent on a suicidal path and there is very little you can do and you cannot even talk to them from a position of weakness,” he said.

He said though the humanitarian crisis in the North-east was dear to the US, Nigeria had to recognise that nobody could solve her problems.

“We’ve to take charge of our destiny and do what is right to take care of the needs of our people,” he said.

Shettima said Borno wanted all its internally displaced persons to return home by May 29, next year.

He disclosed that there were challenges of early marriages, child prostitution, drug abuse and gangsterism in most of the IDP camps.

Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal said Kerry specifically expressed the commitment of the US government on girl-child education, healthcare and renewable energy.

Read more at http://www.dailytrust.com.ng/news/general/what-kerry-discussed-with-buhari-5-govs/160048.html#4TjyvV5CmZRQIaYQ.99
Naira Is Worst Performing Currency - Bloomberg
Aug 24 2016 5:00AM
Nigeria Daily Trust

The naira is the worst performing currency this year among more than 150 currencies globally, the Bloomberg media has said.

It has depreciated 37 percent against the dollar since the central bank abandoned its peg on June 20, while bond yields have jumped to more than 20 percent. The naira strengthened 4.6 percent to 315 per dollar on Tuesday after falling to a record 350.25 on Aug. 19.

“The cheap naira is attracting foreign investors,” said Lutz Roehmeyer, a money manager at Landesbank Berlin Investment, which oversees about $12 billion of assets. “At 325 per dollar, the naira is too weak” and Landesbank anticipates a rebound, he said.

More than two months after Nigeria allowed its currency to devalue, the country is starting to reap some dividends.

In the past two weeks, Exotix Partners LLP and Standard Bank Group Ltd. have told clients, most of whom fled after the country started imposing capital controls from late 2014, that they should start buying naira assets again.

Roehmeyer’s funds have doubled their holdings of naira debt, albeit in the form of bonds issued by the World Bank’s International Finance Corp. rather than the Nigerian government, to the equivalent of around $9.2 million this month, he said.

Nigeria’s central bank Governor Godwin Emefiele fixed the currency in February 2015 at 197-199 per dollar to stop it plunging amid the decline in the price of oil, on which Nigeria depends for 90 percent of exports and the bulk of government revenue. He relented after 16 months as the country stumbled toward a recession  and foreign reserves fell to their lowest level in 11 years .

The naira has now weakened more than any other major oil currency since mid-2014, when crude prices started retreating. It’s lost almost half its value against the dollar in that period, compared with 46 percent for Kazakhstan’s tenge and 35 percent for the Colombian peso.

That makes it a good time to buy Nigerian one-year Treasury bills with yields of about 22 percent, Stuart Culverhouse, chief economist at Exotix in London, wrote in an Aug. 9 note. The potential return is more than 33 percent if the naira strengthens to its fair value of 290 against the greenback, he said. In April, one-year T-bills yielded just 10 percent.

Investors are also yet to be convinced that the naira truly floats. The central bank sold dollars at 309 last week and may be trying to keep the rate stronger than 320, according to Craig Thompson of Continental Capital Markets SA, based in Nyon, Switzerland. The naira trades at 395 on the black market, 20 percent weaker than the official rate.

Nigerian local-currency bonds have lost 17 percent in dollar terms this quarter, through yesterday, compared with the 3 percent average return for 31 developing nations monitored by Bloomberg indexes. The yield on benchmark government naira notes due January 2026 has climbed 226 basis points since June to 15.08 percent.

“We haven’t come back in to the local market yet, but we’re looking at it closely,” Bailey-Smith said.

“If you can get a yield above 20 percent and hedge the FX risk, it’s not a bad trade at all. The futures market is intended to help you do that, but it’s difficult to buy them.”

Read more at http://www.dailytrust.com.ng/news/business/naira-is-worst-performing-currency-bloomberg/159978.html#4MBbkJFvp5rHVCzT.99
Economic Woes : Hundreds of Factories Close Down
Textile Factory

Nigeria Daily Trust

The current economic hardship has led to the closure or total collapse of hundreds of factories across the country, the association of manufacturers said yesterday.

The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Association of Small & Medium Enterprises (NASME), Eke Ubiji, explained how in 11 states 222 companies have collapsed or are ailing, a situation that could have been averted if there was patronage of local goods, low rate of foreign exchange and supportive governmental policies.                                                                                        

Speaking at the launch of the ‘Manufacturing Sector Survey in Nigeria: Industry Snapshot’ conducted by NOI POLLS and Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa, the manufacturers decried the harsh operating environment in recent times.

The Director, Economic and Statistic, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mr Ambrose Oruche, said manufacturing, as the heart of industrialisation, was constrained on a daily basis by policy mismatch.

He lamented the repercussion of the exclusion of 41 items from accessing FX from the official markets by the Central Bank of Nigeria, saying that about 50 large factories closed down this year alone.

In his presentation, the Director, Research and Advocacy, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr Vincent Nwani, said what has been happening to the manufacturing/industrial sector was unfortunate, going by the number of industries experiencing a decline in sales due to poor/stagnant economic growth, with exchange rate crises been the top leading challenge.

Speaking to newsmen on the survey findings, the Chief Executive Officer of the NOIPOLLS organisation, Dr Bell Ihua, said their survey findings revealed that poor power supply, high cost of energy and difficulty in accessing funds and FX were some of the issues bothering manufacturers.

He called on government to take proactive measures to address the challenges for the betterment of manufacturers.

Read more at http://www.dailytrust.com.ng/news/business/economic-woes-hundreds-of-factories-close-down/159977.html#PPHVgbKjbdDsq2vQ.99
Anti-Americanism Surges in Turkey, Fueled by Politicians and a Fervent Press
US Vice President Joe Biden will visit Turkey Wednesday to try to reassure President Erdoğan they still stand together against terrorism – and the coup attempt in July, about which conspiracy theories abound.

By Scott Peterson, Staff writer
AUGUST 23, 2016

ISTANBUL, TURKEY — Just days after Turkey’s failed coup attempt on July 15, pro-government newspapers splashed front page “news” that CIA agents had orchestrated the bid to topple President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan from a resort island near Istanbul.

The luxury Splendid Palace Hotel, an Ottoman-era landmark with two silvery rooftop domes, may seem like an unlikely and high profile staging post for regime change – and in fact it is.

But anti-Americanism has surged in Turkey, where Vice President Joe Biden arrives on Aug. 24 to reassure the NATO ally that the US and Turkey still stand together against terrorism. He’ll try to assure the country also that the US stands with President Erdoğan against the coup attempt, which has prompted a host of fresh conspiracy theories and new enemies in the popular imagination, from the island foreign policy conference to the White House.

Such rhetoric is not new: It has grown since 2013, prompted by Washington’s criticism of Erdoğan’s heavy-handed crackdown on Gezi Park protests that year. Later came disputes over the Syrian war, with the US critical of what it saw as Turkish encouragement of Islamic jihadist fighters. More recently, US military support to Syrian Kurds, whom Turkey considers terrorists, attracted Turkey’s ire in the fight against the self-declared Islamic State.

Washington nonetheless maintains its high-level ties to Ankara. Turkey allows US jet fighters to use its Incirlik airbase to launch attacks against IS in Syria and Iraq. And Washington has provided satellite intelligence in recent years to enable precision Turkish attacks on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) bases in northern Iraq.

But even as Turkish politicians and pundits alike publicly suggest that such cooperation may be at risk, with Turkey hinting at a “strategic rebalancing” toward Russia and Iran, analysts say close financial and strategic ties will limit how far Turkey’s anti-Americanism can go.

Mr. Biden’s visit may be key to finding that limit. Turkey-US relations “are medium sugar now,” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told journalists over the weekend, referring to a semi-sweet version of Turkish coffee. Noting that the US is a strategic ally and that “every family experiences problems,” he said Biden “is coming to Turkey to make the coffee sugary.”

Top of Turkey’s agenda will be demands for the extradition from Pennsylvania of Fethullah Gülen, a cleric and friend-turned-foe of Erdoğan whose return to Turkey to face charges has become a litmus test for improving US-Turkey ties.

During 16 years in exile in the Pocono Mountains, Mr. Gülen has marshaled a network of followers – accused of infiltrating all pillars of the Turkish state – who are widely blamed here for the coup attempt. Tens of thousands of Turks have been purged from the bureaucracy, judiciary, and military, with some 17,740 arrested at last count on suspicion of links to what Turks now call the “Fethullah Terrorist Organization,” or FETÖ.

“When the US asks us to extradite someone with an arrest warrant, we do not ask about evidence,” said Mr. Yildirim, noting frustration at US legal requirements to provide clear evidence in order to proceed with extradition. “We think the enemy of my friend is my enemy, too.”

Besides any evidence of Gülen’s role in the coup given by Turkey, US officials must by law weigh up the likelihood of a fair trial, and chances of mistreatment.

Charges of US involvement, analysts say, feed a broader conspiratorial mindset in Turkey that has crystallized since the attempted coup, which was foiled when Erdoğan called on loyalist supporters to take to the streets and disarm the would-be putschists.

Since then, as Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) celebrated this “victory for democracy,” they have also let anti-Americanism run wild, fanned by politicians and media apparently bent on blaming outsiders.

At the highest levels, this may not make much difference. The AKP is adept at separating negative popular attitudes from elite-level cooperation. “They compartmentalize,” says Fadi Hakura, a Turkey expert at the Chatham House think tank in London, calling it a “dualist approach.”

Still notes Mr. Hakura, “Erdoğan has been … whipping up this anti-American feeling and the proclivity of Turkish society to [believe] conspiracy theories.” But there is also “a tendency among the ruling party … to attach credence to some of these conspiracies.”

That could have long-term consequences.

“Anti-Americanism in Turkey is at its peak and turning into hate,” Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ said on Aug. 9. “It is up to the US to stop this by extraditing Gülen.”

Failure to return the aging cleric – who has lived in the US since 1999 and holds a green card – would mean “the US has chosen a terrorist over Turkey,” he said.

Gülen “delivered the coup into the hands of the CIA … there is more than enough evidence in the hands of Turkey,” the minister said on Aug. 19,  NTV Haber reported. “The CIA knows even the gender of the black flies flying around [Gülen’s] mansion … to tell us [they] did not know [of this plot] ridicules the … Turkish nation.”

The street has got the message, and reflected it at post-coup rallies organized by the AKP every night for weeks after July 15. A common poster read: “America = out / People = in.”

“If anything this big happens, Turks believe someone else was behind it, like the CIA,” says an architect at one rally, who said he did not want to give his name because he was suspicious of a journalist who was American.

Indeed, the perception that Washington and Europe were slow to oppose the coup attempt because of their dislike of Turkey’s abrasive, democratically elected president, has created fertile ground for accusations.

“The US tried to kill Erdoğan,” proclaimed İbrahim Karagül, editor of the pro-AKP newspaper Yeni Şafak, in late July. “I repeat: The attack aimed at martyring Erdoğan was planned by the US, in the US, directly through Gülen’s terrorists.”

The pro-government Akşam joined others in taking up the CIA-team story at the Splendid Palace Hotel, turning a two-day conference to discuss the Middle East one year after the Iran nuclear deal into a lurid tale about a “highly secretive” meeting.

The conference coincided with the coup attempt but was organized last December by the Wilson Center, a well-known Washington think tank, and a Turkish university.

Scores of such conferences take place in Turkey every year, and the 15 or so participants at this one were seasoned foreign policy experts. But Akşam labeled each foreign participant a “CIA agent,” published photographs gleaned from the internet, and claimed – inaccurately, along with many other demonstrable falsehoods – that the delegates all took a private boat to the island “to avoid being recorded by security footage.”

The Wilson Center rejects “categorically” any link to the coup attempt, and said in a statement that the island meeting “was very much removed from the center of the crisis.”

“Perhaps the most suspicious name in the conference,” Akşam reported, was that of this reporter, who was confused with the American death row inmate of the same name who killed his pregnant wife, Laci, in 2002.

One front page showed that Scott Peterson wearing a suit and tie, in court; another wearing an orange prison jumpsuit and handcuffs, superimposed over San Quentin prison.

“How such a hardened criminal was removed from America’s most secure prison arouses big question marks in the mind,” the newspaper wrote. “Intelligence authorities … believe he escaped to Greece via a sea route.”

US Amb. John Bass has repeatedly rejected accusations of any US role, or of advance knowledge of the coup attempt. The US Embassy said a photo circulating of Ambassador Bass supposedly meeting a coup-plotting colonel the day before was fake. One report alleged that the CIA made payments to anti-Erdoğan putschists for six months from the Nigeria-based United Bank for Africa; another headlined, “Terrorists were entertained at the White House!”

Such allegations would be laughable if their ramifications weren’t so serious. Pro-government newspapers and politicians alike have suggested that the anti-Americanism may push Turkey’s foreign policy interests away from the US toward actors whose geopolitical goals differ sharply from those of the US.

Still, says Hakura, military hardware from NATO’s second-largest army comes from the US and Europe, as does the bulk of foreign investment and most economic ties.

“Turkey has an umbilical cord to the West, and to the US, so it cannot afford to rupture relations with its US and European partners,” says Hakura. “And that limits any attempt by the ruling party to break off relations or limit ties with Washington.
Turkey Requests Extradition of Fethullah Gülen But Not For Coup Attempt, Says US
State Department did not specify what the Turkish cleric was being sought for
Joe Biden expected to meet Erdoğan on Wednesday in wake of foiled plot

The Turkish government alleges that Fethullah Gülen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, orchestrated the military coup attempt in July. Photograph: Selahattin Sevi/AFP/Getty

Julian Borger in Washington
Guardian, UK
Wednesday 24 August 2016 02.37 EDT

The US has confirmed it has received a formal extradition request from Ankara for the Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, but not over the July coup attempt the Turkish authorities has accused Gülen of orchestrating.

The state department’s announcement came after US officials met their Turkish counterparts in Ankara to discuss Gülen, who has lived in rural Pennsylvania for the past 17 years in self-imposed exile. Vice-president Joe Biden is expected in the Turkish capital on Wednesday to meet President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

According to the White House, Biden will emphasise “ongoing strong support” for Turkish democracy in the wake of the foiled coup by a segment of the armed forces, but the Turkish leader is expected to focus his attention on the Muslim cleric, who was once his ally but whose presence in the US has now become a serious irritant in relations between Washington and Ankara.

Erdoğan has previously warned the Obama administration it had to “choose between Turkey and Gülen”.

“We can confirm now that Turkey has requested the extradition of Gülen,” a state department spokesman, Mark Toner, told journalists on Tuesday.

Toner added that the extradition request was not related to the 15 July attempted coup, but was for other issues for which Gülen was being sought by authorities in Ankara. He did not specify what those issues were.

Erdoğan’s government has blamed Gülen for orchestrating the abortive putsch, in which over 200 people were killed, and has rounded up his alleged supporters. Ten of thousands of suspected Gülen supporters have been dismissed from jobs in the judiciary, armed services or media, and many have been imprisoned.

Earlier this months, the state department said that it had received a sheaf of documents from Turkey about Gülen, but could not confirm at that time the documents amounted to an extradition request. Any such request and US response, they said, would be governed by the extradition treaty both countries signed in 1981.

From the US, Gülen has run an extensive social network in Turkey, promoting interfaith dialogue and providing social services. It operated in partnership with Erdoğan’s Justice and Development party (AKP) until the relationship between the two men soured in 2012 and then turned to enmity the following year, when a corruption scandal erupted implicating the president’s closest associates and family. Erdoğan blamed Gülen for planting the allegations. The Turkish government has since described the Gülen movement as a terrorist organisation.
Syrian Operation is to Clear Daesh From Turkey's Southern Border, Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu Says
ANADOLU AGENCY
ANKARA

Syrian operation is to clear Daesh from Turkey's southern border, Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu says
The aim of Turkey's military operation in Syria is to clear Daesh from the country's southern border, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoğlu said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a news conference in Ankara alongside his Estonian counterpart Marina Kaljurand, Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu said the terror group targeted the country because Turkey "is one of the most decisive countries in the fight against Daesh".

Çavuşoğlu's remarks came as Turkish tanks crossed the border into northern Syria as part of operations to clear Daesh terrorists from the city of Jarablus.

This ground intervention followed Turkey's shelling of northern Syria, hitting 81 targets almost 300 times from 4.00 a.m. (0230 GMT) early Wednesday.

Cavusoglu said the Turkish Armed Forces' activities were continuing "without a hitch", adding: "We are working together with the coalition regarding air support."

Turkish officials are blaming Daesh for Saturday's deadly blast at a wedding ceremony in southeastern province of Gaziantep which left 54 people dead.

Wednesday's anti-Daesh operation, called Euphrates Shield, aims to support U.S.-led coalition forces, strengthen Turkey's border security by clearing away terrorist groups and maintain Syria's territorial integrity.

Çavuşoğlu also said the YPG -the military wing of the PYD terrorist group- must return to east of the Euphrates River, adding, "The U.S. also supports this. Otherwise, I am saying very clearly that we will do what is necessary."

Çavuşoğlu said there was weak support coming from the European Union countries following the July 15 coup attempt in Turkey.

He said Turkey wanted to see support instead of "heavy criticisms and threats".

"Estonia is also the member of the coalition and we have one target: terrorism. We support all the actions undertaken by Turkey and undertaken by other allies," Kaljurand said. "Once again we reaffirmed solidarity of my country and also the Council of Europe to Turkey and the democratically elected institutions and authorities of Turkey."

"There is no excuse for any coup. Those perpetrators have to be brought to justice. There is no question about that," she added.

Kaljurand also said that the EU is a "close partner" of Turkey.

"We need each other. We are partners and we have to cooperate. Estonia has always supported Turkey's integration with the EU," she stated.
Turkey's Operation In Syria Has Multiple Aims
Getting rid of Islamic State is not the most important part of Turkey's mission, writes Sky's foreign affairs editor Sam Kiley.

11:54, UK,
Wednesday 24 August 2016

By mid-morning Turkey had shelled 81 targets 294 times in the Syrian city of Jarablus.

Two F16 jets were flying close air support to Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels as Turkish tanks and mine-sweeping vehicles moved in, as operation Shield of the Euphrates got under way.

This is the biggest military muscle move on the ground by a NATO partner in the region since Syria's civil war broke out.

As ever in the multiple conflicts raging over the same landscapes in the region, the operation has a multiple aim.

First is the task of ridding the border town of the so-called Islamic State.

The second and, for Turkey, the more important mission, is to make sure that its allies in the FSA - Arabs to a man - take the town and not Kurd forces from the YPG (People's Protection Forces).

Ankara is allergic to the notion that two large swathes of Syrian territory in the control of Kurds which are separated by the Euphrates could be joined up.

Doing so would mean that the entire border between Turkey and Syria would be in Kurdish hands and, in Turkey's view, inevitably form part of a growing Kurdish entity with demands to statehood.

The international coalition fighting the so-called Caliphate has joined the air campaign in Jarablus.

This is a clear sign that, even though the YPG are the coalition's closest ally on the ground, NATO has recognised that Turkey has profound concerns that need not only acknowledging but giving in to as part of the wider campaign against the Islamist death cult.

To drive the point home, Turkey has periodically shelled territory recently captured by the Syrian Democratic Forces which, although officially mixed, is dominated by Kurdish fighters - in a bid to drive them east of the Euphrates from the town of Manbij.

Turkey's calls for a no-fly zone to be imposed on the Damascus regime and for a safe zone to be established along the Syrian border with its own territory have been ignored for more than three years.

In Ankara, they were repeated again by ministers who ruefully cling to the notion that civilians might be better protected inside Syrian territory than flooding their own country (Turkey has absorbed three million refugees).

The incursion at Jarablus might, conceivably, usher in some kind of safe zone or talk of it may be used to justify continued Turkish presence on Syrian soil.

But the real long-term agenda will remain establishing a buffer between the two major Kurd enclaves either side of the river.
Turkish Military Begins Major Offensive Into Syria in Fight Against ISIS
By CEYLAN YEGINSU
New York Times
AUG. 24, 2016

ISTANBUL — Turkey mounted on Wednesday its largest military effort yet in the Syrian conflict, sending tanks, warplanes and special operations forces over the border in a United States-backed drive to capture an Islamic State stronghold in Syria.

The offensive on the city of Jarabulus began hours before Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. was set to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara to discuss tensions raised by the failed coup in Turkey last month. The joint operation in Syria seemed intended to send a message that the countries are still cooperating in the fight against the militant group.

Turkish officials said the operation started at 4 a.m. with Turkish and United States warplanes pounding Islamic State positions in Jarabulus. The special operations troops entered Syria to clear a passage for a ground operation by Turkish-backed rebel groups, the state broadcaster TRT reported.

The assault comes days after Turkey vowed to “cleanse” its borders of the Islamic State following a deadly suicide attack at a Kurdish wedding, which killed at least 54 people. The militants were blamed for the attack.

Jarabulus is a vital supply line for the Islamic State and one of its last remaining strongholds on the border.

Before Wednesday’s operation, the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, pledged to give “every kind” of support for operations against the Islamic State across the border. Turkey’s NATO allies have long sought its greater involvement in Syria.

“Daesh should be completely cleansed from our borders, and we are ready to do what it takes for that,” Mr. Cavusoglu said on Tuesday at a news conference in Ankara, the Turkish capital, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State.

Turkish officials are also concerned about the growing influence of United States-backed Syrian Kurds across the Syrian frontier because of their links to Kurdish insurgents that Turkey considers a national security threat. The Kurdish militias have captured large portions of land across the border, and analysts say that a Kurdish advance toward Jarabulus could lead to a confrontation with Turkey.

“Turkey is determined for Syria to retain its territorial integrity and will take matters into its own hands if required to protect that territorial unity,” Mr. Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara on Wednesday. “We have only ever sought to help the people of Syria and have no other intentions.”

Turkey increased security measures on its border with Syria, establishing a “special security zone” and urging residents to evacuate their homes, after at least nine mortar shells from Jarabulus landed in the Turkish border town of Karkamis.

About 500 Syrian rebels have amassed on the Turkish side of the border in preparation for a land offensive, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, said in a statement.

The Turkish counterterrorism police carried out dawn raids targeting those suspected of being Islamic State militants in Istanbul on Wednesday, the local news media reported. The militant group has been blamed for a string of major assaults on Turkish soil over the past year, including a suicide attack at Istanbul’s main airport in June that killed over 40 people.

Follow Ceylan Yeginsu on Twitter @CeylanWrites.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Nigeria Claims Boko Haram Leader ‘Fatally Wounded’ in Air Raid
By GBENGA AKINGBULE
Wall Street Journal
Aug. 23, 2016 3:48 p.m. ET

ABUJA, Nigeria—Nigeria’s military claimed Tuesday that its airstrikes had killed several top Boko Haram commanders and “fatally wounded” the group’s leader Abubakar Shekau, as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Africa’s most populous nation for talks on counterterrorism strategy.

The military said an “unprecedented and spectacular air raid” had hit the militants as they were performing Friday prayers in the sprawling Sambisa forest, the main base for a jihadist insurgency that is estimated to have left some 20,000 people dead and one million homeless.

Mr. Shekau, who in recent months has been embroiled in a power struggle to lead the militant group, was “fatally wounded on his shoulders,” the military said.

The claims of Mr. Shekau’s demise were impossible to verify independently and left several unanswered questions, including how the severity of Mr. Shekau’s wounds were gauged.

The military has declared Mr. Shekau dead on at least three previous occasions, only for a man claiming to be the Boko Haram leader reappear on videos. The militant Islamist group had no immediate response to Tuesday’s announcement by the military.

Col. Sani Usman, an army spokesman, said there was no reason to doubt the “authentic and very clear” information.

“We have a process through which the military confirms it’s information... we’re not going to make that public because we’re in a state of war,” he said.

The report of Mr. Shekau’s alleged death came as Mr. Kerry arrived in Nigeria for meetings with President Muhammadu Buhari. In a speech in the northern city of Sokoto, the secretary didn’t mention the military’s announcement. He instead reiterated Washington’s support for Nigeria’s fight against terrorism and cautioned its leaders against collective punishment.

“It is understandable that, in the wake of terrorist activity, some are tempted to crack down on anyone and everyone who could theoretically pose some sort of threat. But extremism can’t be defeated through repression or fear,” Mr. Kerry said.

Mr. Buhari has for months been lobbying the White House to allow Nigeria to buy a dozen A-29 Super Tucano ground attack airplanes to bolster the fight against Boko Haram. Washington blocked arms sales to Mr. Buhari’s predecessor Goodluck Jonathan, partly over human-rights concerns such as treatment of captured insurgents.

Boko Haram, which last year pledged allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has been on the defensive in recent months after President Buhari revamped the military’s counterterrorism strategy. He reshuffled top commanders, deployed more artillery and air assets, and promoted a regional coalition of five militaries to pool battlefield tactics against the jihadists.

Greater military coordination with neighboring Cameroon and Chad and help from the U.S. have pushed the jihadists to withdraw deep into the Sambisa forest in northeastern Nigeria in recent months. Hundreds of the girls and boys the jihadists kidnapped for use as sex slaves and child soldiers have escaped.

Since Boko Haram pledged support to Islamic State last year, the group appears to have split into two main factions: one led by Mr. Shekau and another—backed by Islamic State—led by Abu Musab al-Barnawi.

Nigerian security analysts have suggested that the power struggle and recent battlefield defeats have dramatically weakened the group, making the prospect of negotiations with the government more likely.

Earlier this month Mr. Shekau’s faction called for a prisoner swap with Mr. Buhari’s government, releasing a video appearing to show some of the 276 schoolgirls they kidnapped two years ago from the remote northern town of Chibok.

Monday, August 22, 2016

NATO Nostalgia Is No Strategy
Saturday 20TH posted by Morning Star in Editorial

BLAIRITE backbencher Wes Streeting tells us that Jeremy Corbyn’s reluctance to pledge that he would declare war on Russia if it invaded a Nato country amounts to a “gross betrayal of Labour’s internationalist values.”

It might seem that way to the humanitarian bomber wing of the Labour Party whose concept of internationalism stretches little further than ordering air strikes.

But it must surely seem a little foolhardy, even in the midst of an election contest during which many anti-Corbyn MPs have lost their grip on what is acceptable comment, to suggest that conflict with Russia is advisable.

But, of course, they will say, that’s not what we mean. We just want to see a united front of Nato members telling Russia to withdraw its forces.

How, in that case, does this stance differ from Corbyn’s response that he “would obviously try to avoid that happening in the first place, you would build up a good dialogue with Russia to ask them and support them in respecting borders?”

The Labour leader stressed the need for an inclusive approach involving the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which includes all European states.

He spoke out against a military build-up leading to a “calamitous, incredibly dangerous situation,” which will not endear himself to arms-traffickers, but it makes sense.

Even his challenger Owen Smith was forced, having postured over the need “to come to the aid of a fellow member of Nato,” to admit that this “would be calamitous and we must never see that happen.”

Smith stressed the importance of improving diplomatic links with Russia, which is the only sensible way forward for Europe.

Many British politicians remain beset by imperial nostalgia, believing that Westminster has a right and responsibility to read the Riot Act to the world — at least those bits outside Nato. This translates easily from “we must do something” hand-wringing to the least costly and least effective option of bombing, but this would not work with Moscow.

Russia’s reduction to the status of an international joke in the 1990s, when bumbling drunk Boris Yeltsin allowed transnational corporations and domestic oligarchs to loot the country, engendered a great deal of national resentment.

His successor Vladimir Putin presides over an authoritarian regime, with severe limitations in democracy and human rights.

But he has restored the strength of Russia’s armed forces and his national standing owes much to people’s memory of their country’s humiliation under Yeltsin and their reluctance to return to such a state.

Nato ought not to exist any more since the Warsaw Treaty dissolved itself in 1991.

Corbyn was right to say last year that this “cold war organisation” ought to have been wound up at the same time as its rival, while accepting that there is little appetite in Britain for that to happen.

Whether it continues to exist is possibly of less importance than what it does while it’s here.

None of the European members of Nato has the capacity to challenge Russia militarily, so all tough talking by Britain or relatively new Nato members in eastern Europe previously linked to the Soviet bloc has resonance only because of the US connection.

In contrast, Washington is currently examining an alternative scenario of working together with Russia to improve matters in hot spots such as Syria.

That’s the position favoured openly by Corbyn and, even, when you scratch the surface, by Smith, so who, apart from arms traffickers, has any interest in promoting tension on Russia’s borders in Europe?
Brexit Must Be Steered Left
Tuesday 23RD posted by Morning Star in Editorial

ON A Mediterranean island, the leaders of Germany, France and Italy are thrashing out their preferred terms for Britain to leave the EU.

And it should come as no surprise either that teams of City financiers and Whitehall civil servants are working on how they want to play the exit negotiations.

The British ruling class is one of the most experienced and strategically minded on the planet. Its thinkers and planners will be considering all the options and contingencies.

At the core of that ruling class are the financial monopoly capitalists, whose investments span not only the financial sector here but across much of the globe.

British elites also exercise decisive control over almost every branch of industry through their key shareholdings, interlocking directorships and stranglehold over banking and credit.

They have spearheaded the drive for deregulation, privatisation and capitalist globalisation.

Most of the City’s fat cats and their institutions wanted the people of Britain to vote Remain in the May 23 referendum on EU membership.

They recognised the leading role played by the EU in breaking down barriers to big business profiteering, not only within Europe but also through global bodies such as the World Trade Organisation and the International Monetary Fund, as well as through trade and investment pacts with other major players in the capitalist world market.

They also understood that much of the EU bluster about financial regulation, subsidiarity and a “social Europe” is largely window-dressing.

They had applauded the EU as it rescued their devalued bonds by pounding the people of Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Cyprus into penury.

But now these same monopolists have to deal with the democratic vote to take Britain out of the EU.

The British Bankers Association, TheCityUK and other bodies want a bilateral agreeement with the EU which maintains a Europe-wide “free market” in financial services.

They fear a loss of lucrative business in London bailing out financial contracts denominated in euros.

The same kind of “free market” would also aim to preserve the freedom to export capital from Britain to Europe and the rest of world, together with the right to establish financial businesses anywhere in the EU.

The central involvement of  Baroness Vadera, Lord Mandelson and other New Labourites in this strategy should ring alarm bells in the labour movement.

The free movement of capital and commodities — including super-exploited migrant labour — is neither a socialist nor even a progressive aspiration when financial monopolies are calling the shots.

The labour movement must clarify and unite around its own agenda for the EU negotiations to steer Brexit towards the left.

The preliminary agenda for next month’s Trades Union Congress displays encouraging signs that this is beginning to happen.

But rebuilding labour movement unity around such an approach needs to be based on two principled positions.

First, Britain should not remain in any European “free market” which prevents a British government from intervening to regulate, plan or nationalise any part of the economy.

Whether such action is to direct capital into productive industry, save the steel industry or outlaw inferior employment terms and conditions for migrant — or “posted” — workers, elected governments and parliaments must, like trade unions, be free to take action.

Second, the people’s vote to leave the EU must be respected and implemented, not blocked or rerun.

Anything less would be a violation of democracy and risk handing millions of votes to the right-wing nationalists of Ukip.
Slavery Is Far From A Thing Of The Past
Tuesday Aug 23RD posted by Morning Star in Features

HUGH McDYER reports on how Unison Cymru/Wales black members are tackling modern-day slavery head-on

UNISON has a proud history of empowering members and promoting independence in those who can be prone to discrimination.

Our black members group works to improve equality in the workplace and challenge racism wherever it exists.

This year, Cymru/Wales black members have decided to organise a high-profile anti-slavery event in Butetown, Cardiff. Tonight, in the company of trade unionists, activists, community leaders and politicians, we will mark International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition.

We will also hear from Stephan Chapman, the Welsh government’s anti-human trafficking co-ordinator, about the growing, insidious phenomenon of modern slavery.

He has said that we must dispel the myth that trafficking is a hidden crime. It is more of a case that people haven’t been looking for it.

Kebba Manneh, chair of Unison Cymru/Wales black members, said: “It is vital we remember the awful scale of human suffering caused by the slave trade and commemorate the achievements of the abolition movement.

“When developing our campaigning for the year, this event was seen as a key to promote our work among our membership and the local community.

“In 2016, millions of people are trapped in appalling conditions we would term modern slavery. It is a horrible fact that slavery in Wales is on the rise.”

In 2015, 134 potential victims of slavery were reported in Wales. This is a 91 per cent increase on the previous year and represents 4 per cent of all UK referrals.

Using International Labour Organisation figures, the Human Trafficking Foundation says that there are more people in slavery today across the world than in the entire 350-year history of the transatlantic slave trade.

The message of this evening’s commemoration will be to remember our brothers and sisters who through their sacrifices brought about an end to the slave trade and we will call for solidarity throughout society to take action to ensure slavery in every form is eliminated.

We know that modern-day slavery has taken on new and different forms.

It is very likely to be happening somewhere near you and its effects can be felt across all levels of society.

It could be the woman trapped in servitude or trafficked into the sex trade, the man in forced labour or the child who has been trafficked by criminal gangs and suffered horrendous abuse.

Victims of modern slavery do not wear a label and this is why everyone has a role to play.

There have been positive, pro-active steps taken in Wales with the appointment of an anti-human trafficking co-ordinator.

There is a real opportunity for organisations and communities to pull together to combat modern slavery and trade unions will rightly play a significant part in this.

As the largest public-sector union in the UK and with 100,000 members in Wales, there is a role for Unison in educating our members and the wider community in recognising the signs of exploitation.
Victims of modern slavery will often be fearful and reluctant to seek any help.

Many come to Britain to try and escape abuse with the promise of a better life only to find they experience further exploitation.

Unison Cymru/Wales wants to work more closely with employers to ensure that procurement procedures are robust in ensuring that goods and services are procured from ethical sources. We are clear that this must include a thorough checking of a company’s background.

The Welsh government has published advice on the signs of slavery. Due to the nature of slavery and the reluctance or inability of those affected to seek help, you may not realise if you’ve come into contact with a victim.

Some of the things to look out for include:
Limited family contact
Physical abuse
Distrust of authority
Having no friends
Acting as if under another’s control
Appearing malnourished
Disorientation
Avoiding eye contact
Unable to speak any English

To report slavery you should call the Modern Slavery Helpline on 0800 0121-700. There is also a telephone number providing support for victims: 0800 731-8147.

n Hugh McDyer is a Unison organiser responsible for Cymru/Wales black members.
Churches Split Over Black Lives Matter’s Criticism of Israel
Sam Kestenbaum
Forward
August 22, 2016

African American churches are split over Black Lives Matter’s stand on Israel, with younger clergymen rallying to the activists’ defense after a group of more conservative pastors rejected the group’s harsh criticism of the Jewish state.

The schism, which reflects broader divisions between emerging activists and more conservative leaders, was brought into sharper relief when a Black Lives Matter-affiliated platform came out on August 1, calling Israel an “apartheid state.”

Hundreds of black church leaders jumped to condemn the platform’s criticism of Israel. And on August 22 a group of six African-American leaders and advisors to the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, which serves some 9 million people altogether, also condemned the platform.

“It was a vitriolic attack against Israel laced with misinformation and anti-Semitism and an agenda that is not embraced by the broader African American community,” the clergymen said in a joint statement. “The anti-Semitism and misinformation found in this small segment is so misleading that it makes an experienced leader question the entire document and thus the intentions of the organization.”

But religious figures affiliated with Black Lives Matter dismissed the church leaders as “misguided.”

“Jesus was a Palestinian Jew,” said Nyle Fort, a young African-American minister aligned with Black Lives Matter. Jesus “lived under occupation and was ultimately lynched for speaking truth to power.”

The church leaders were criticizing a section of the Black Lives Matter-aligned platform that called Israel an “apartheid state” committing genocide against the Palestinians. The platform also called for free education for blacks and reparations for slavery.

As generations of black leaders have done before, the leaders pointed to the emotional legacy of the civil rights movement to stress the need for blacks and Jews to work together.

“Anyone who studies American history will no doubt find the names Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman, two Jews and an African-American, who lost their lives trying to provide civil rights for blacks in the south,” wrote Bishop Lawrence M. Wooten, head of the council of churches that distanced themselves from Black Lives Matter’s Israel stance. “We cannot forget their noble sacrifices. Neither should Black Lives Matter.”

In many churches of yesteryear, “Israel was sacrosanct,” said Robin D. G. Kelley, a UCLA professor of black studies.

Israel was evoked as an ideal in the black prophetic tradition, Kelley said. This dates back to abolitionist figures like Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman, who evoked Israel and Zion in their struggle for freedom.

Many in the Jewish community applauded Wooten’s words. The bishop’s support of Israel, the Jewish Press gushed, “should bring any self-loving Jew to tears.”

In Religion News Service, Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin wrote an earnest letter of thanks to the black clergy “that stood up to the anti-Israel forces in the Black Lives Matter movement.”

Mainstream American Jewry cherish the notion of the “golden era” of black-Jewish relations Wooten evoked in his letter. But it may not have been so golden.

African American and Jewish American activists and organizations did come together during the civil rights movement, but even then the dynamics were complex and often troubled, observed Cheryl Greenberg, author of “Troubling the Waters: Black-Jewish Relations in the American Century.”

African-Americans struggled even at the time, Greenberg said, with the ways in which most Jews did not recognize how “they benefited from white privilege.”

Now, despite the church council’s letter and its warm reception, a revival of those moments of fellowship is unlikely.

While a few left-wing organizations came out in support of the Black Lives Matter platform, most Jewish groups recoiled from the characterization of Israel. Some rejected the entire platform.

Boston’s Jewish Community Relations Council condemned it, saying they “reject participation in any coalition that seeks to isolate and demonize Israel.”

Nyle Fort, a young minister, supports the Movement for Black Lives platform fully.

And, in fact, it was the St. Louis chapter of the JCRC that drew the church council’s attention to the controversy generated in the Jewish community by the new platform, the JTA reported.

But conservative black churches have taken a backseat in the Black Lives Matter movement.

Instead, there are more left-leaning clergy, like Rev. Traci Blackmon, Rev. Starsky Wilson and Rev. Osagyefo Sekou, who have emerged as what some call “Movement Pastors.” These are figures are, according to Black Lives Matter, “radically transforming the idea of what the 21st-century black church should be.”

On the Black Lives Matter website, the organization notes that today’s movement has “a very different relationship to the church than movements past.”

Today protesters “patently reject any conservative theology about keeping the peace, praying copiously, or turning the other cheek,” Black Lives Matter wrote in 2015 on their website.

Fort, who some said was “at the heart” of early Black Lives Matter protests, said he used to feel like he didn’t a place in the church.

“I was trying to fuse these two things together, my commitment to God and to social justice,” said Fort. “I was so upset… I felt like there were no churches I could go to and express my rage.”

So he forged his own path, leading protest infused with radical Christian liturgy.

Fort also went on a trip to Palestine last May and said he was transformed by the experience. Fort visited the sites where Jesus Christ is said to have walked, and described him as a “brown-skinned Palestinian Jew.”

“I think about the description of Jesus a lot,” Fort said, “and what it means for a black Christian to stand with Palestine.”

Conservative churches’ support of Israel appears to be irrelevant — or even antithetical to — a new generation of activists, Kelley said.

“It’s really so divided,” Kelley said.

Email Sam Kestenbaum at kestenbaum@forward.com and follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum
Armed, Confederate Flag-waving White Lives Matter Protesters Rally Outside Houston NAACP
By Michael E. Miller
Washington Post
August 22 at 5:57 AM

White Lives Matter staged a rally outside the NAACP’s Houston headquarters on Sunday, sparking controversy and counterprotests in a city where racial tensions remain high after a string of recent incidents.

Clutching Confederate flags, white supremacist signs and, in several cases, assault rifles, roughly 20 White Lives Matter members stood on the sidewalk of a historically black neighborhood to denounce the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

“We came out here specifically today to protest against the NAACP and their failure in speaking out against the atrocities that organizations like Black Lives Matter and other pro-black organizations have caused the attack and killing of white police officers, the burning down of cities and things of that nature,” organizer Ken Reed told the Houston Chronicle. “If they’re going to be a civil rights organization and defend their people, they also need to hold their people accountable.”

Reed, who was wearing a “Donald Trump ’16” hat and a “White Lives Matter” shirt with white supremacist symbols, said protesters were “not out here to instigate or start any problems,” despite the weaponry and body armor on display.

“Obviously we are exercising our Second Amendment rights but that’s because we have to defend ourselves,” he told the Chronicle. “Their organizations and their people are shooting people based on the color of their skin. We’re not.”

Reed appeared to be referring to attacks targeting white police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge last month, which were carried out by lone gunmen espousing black nationalist beliefs. (In Dallas a Latino officer was killed and in Baton Rouge, an African American officer was killed). Both Black Lives Matter and the NAACP denounced the attacks.

Sunday’s demonstration in Houston’s predominantly black Third Ward quickly spurred a counterprotest, which soon dwarfed the White Lives Matter gathering.

As police arrived and set up barricades around the White Lives Matter protesters, locals stood across the street. Some shouted, while others shook their heads in disbelief that Confederate flags were flying in front of an NAACP office in a black neighborhood.

“It’s a physical manifestation of white supremacy, white privilege and racism being protected by this country,” a black female counterprotester told KPRC2.

The White Lives Matter protest comes at a tense time for Houston and the country. On July 9, Houston police fatally shot a black man who they said pointed a gun at officers. The shooting, which came the same week as fatal police shootings of two other black men, one in Baton Rouge and another in Falcon Heights, Minn., prompted criticism from Black Lives Matter activists. The Houston shooting came two days after the attack on Dallas police.

Several other incidents in the city have raised racial tensions even further. At the University of Houston, the vice president of the Student Government Association was sanctioned after she wrote “Forget #BlackLivesMatter … More like AllLivesMatter” on Facebook shortly after the Dallas attack.

Earlier this month, authorities released video showing an African American woman calling 911 and saying she was “really afraid” of a white cop who had pulled her over. The woman was then violently arrested, although the officer was cleared of wrongdoing.

In May, city officials voted to rename seven schools named after people with ties to the Confederacy, including Robert E. Lee, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and Jefferson Davis.

Last year, the University of Texas announced it was removing a statue of Davis from its campus in Austin, about 160 miles west of Houston.

Sunday’s rally was not the nation’s first White Lives Matter gathering. Others have drawn similarly small crowds, such as a July 30 protest in Buffalo that was organized by neo-Nazis and also was dwarfed by counterprotests.

Comments by the White Lives Matter protesters Sunday also seemed to echo opposition to the removal of the Confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina statehouse last summer. The flag was taken down after avowed white supremacist Dylann Roof allegedly killed nine African Americans at a church in Charleston.

“It has nothing to do with racism on our part,” Reed told the Chronicle in reference to the Confederate flags on display at Sunday’s protest. “We’re proud to be Southern. It has all to do about heritage, nothing to do with hate.”

In videos posted online by local news outlets, bystanders and counterprotesters, Reed appeared to be the leader of the demonstration.

He had appeared on television the day before to promote the rally.

“Attacks on white officers, the calling for the murder of white officers, the burning down of cities, the stopping of traffic in streets,” Reed told Fox26. “A cop or ambulance could be trying to take someone to the hospital where a matter of minutes matters, and [Black Lives Matter protesters] are stopping them from going. The NAACP is not speaking out against this and if you aren’t speaking out against it you are, in our eyes, condoning it.”

Whites were under attack, he claimed.

“We’re being told that it’s bad to be white,” he told the television station. “Every other race is encouraged to promote their heritage and culture, but as soon as a white person does it they are labeled as evil or racist.”

On Sunday, he stood out front of the NAACP office on Wheeler Avenue with a bullhorn.

“White Lives Matter refuses to feel any white guilt,” he shouted, according to a KPRC2 video.

“I ask Black Lives Matter and I ask the New Black Panther Party why, we ask why Black Lives Matter is not being labeled a hate group or domestic terrorist group,” he said into the bullhorn, according to Chronicle footage.

Reed said he thought whites were receiving unequal treatment and had been drowned out by Black Lives Matter.

“We’re out here just to show White Lives Matter has the right to support our rights and our heritage and culture, just as they do,” he told the Chronicle. “But they do not have the right to kill, they do not have the right to assault, they do not have the right to threat[en] and they do not have the right to damage personal property.”

Other protesters were even more blunt.

“We came here because the NAACP headquarters is here and that’s one of the most racist — supposedly ‘civil rights’ — groups in America,” said Scott Lacy, who could be seen waving a Confederate flag.

“It seems like in the country today that it’s wrong to be white,” fellow protester Billy Gaston told KPRC2.

One sign simply read “14 words,” a reference to the white supremacist motto: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”

The protest struck many in the neighborhood as nonsensical and offensive.

Quintana Richardson, who is black, said Reed’s demand for equal rights for whites didn’t fit with historical fact.

“When he says ‘equal rights,’ that’s what we are trying to say. Let’s have equal rights. We’ve been saying that for years as black people,” she told the Chronicle.

And whatever message White Lives Matter might have had, it was obscured by the symbols on display, Richardson said.

“The Confederate flag throws me off,” she said. “You’re saying Black Lives Matter is a racist organization but when you’re throwing the Confederate flag up and you’re saying White Lives Matter, are you saying you’re racist as well?”

Adding to the tension were the assault-style rifles, which could be seen slung over the shoulders of at least two women and one man during the protest. Several protesters also wore body armor.

Some locals said they felt like the White Lives Matter crowd had descended on Houston with no intention of holding a dialogue.

“They didn’t even want to talk,” Trevor Clark, who is black, told KPRC2. “Things like this are going to continue to happen, tragedies are going to continue to happen if we don’t have an open dialogue.”

Brandon Walker, a reporter for the TV station, also said that there was little communication between groups literally on either side of the street.

“Organizers of the White Lives Matter movement say they held this protest and were here to spark dialogue on both sides of the street,” he said. “Also, people who were here in response to the rally said they hoped to have some dialogue too. Neither side, though, said they were able to accomplish that. The rally ended before any conversation on either end of the street was slated to take place.”

It was much the same online, where there was lots of heated comments but little exchange of ideas.

By Sunday night, “White Lives Matter” was trending nationwide on Twitter.

Many poked fun at the protest.

Jerry Ford Jr., a Black Lives Matter activist who appeared alongside Reed on TV the day before, linked the protest to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Some White Lives Matter supporters, however, suggested the movement was a tit-for-tat response.

“Very few blacks were on board with All Lives Matter, so we are doing our own thing now,” wrote one on Twitter. “White Lives Matter.”

“We expect every race to be proud of who they are,” Reed said on Fox26. “We’re out there fighting for our rights just like everyone should.”

Many portrayed White Lives Matter and Black Lives Matter as equivalents.

“Black Lives Matter is allowed. Why not White Lives Matter?” wrote one. “It’s either both of them or none of them. Pick one.”

“I don’t want to hear ‘White lives matter.’ I don’t want to hear ‘Black lives matter,'” wrote former Republican congressman Joe Walsh, who has his own controversial history involving BLM. “Only ‘All lives matter.’ Got it? Good. Now grow up.”

Critics, however, said equating the two movements was absurd as it ignored centuries of slavery and institutionalized racism in America.

Perhaps the most powerful response came from Andre Smith, a young black man and the son of NAACP Houston’s executive director, Yolanda Smith.

“So this is what the Houston branch of the NAACP looked liked today,” he wrote under a photo of the protest posted on Instagram. “White supremacist protested with Confederate flags and banners that read ‘White lives matter.’

“Little did they know the executive director of this particular branch birthday was today, which so happens to be my mom. So we spent the day celebrating a black life that did matter and will continue to do great work at this place you protest! Thank you and try again! #blacklivesmatter #NAACP”
Two Body Cameras Caught Fatal Milwaukee Police Shooting of Sylville Smith, AG Says
MILWAUKEE - Wisconsin’s attorney general says a fatal police shooting in Milwaukee that sparked two nights of violence was recorded by not one but two body cameras.

The state is investigating the Aug. 13 shooting of 23-year-old Sylville Smith​. Authorities have said he was fleeing police and that footage from the officer’s body camera clearly shows Smith holding a handgun and turning toward an officer when he was shot.

Attorney General Brad Schimel says authorities are reviewing that as well as a second video recorded by another officer’s body camera. He says the vantage points are similar.

Schimel says the videos won’t be released until after the county prosecutor decides whether to charge the officer, whose name hasn’t been made public.

The police officer has however allegedly been outed by those in the community who knew him, and has been targeted by online threats​. Widely shared social media posts and at least one news report identified him as a 24-year-old patrolman - matching the age and departmental experience that police released. Many posts contained threats against him and a photo.

The department said in a statement Tuesday it has noticed a “disturbing national trend” in which social media users have identified officers involved in fatal shootings and threatened them and their families. A spokesman declined to confirm the identity being circulated online.

The department said it is aware of some local threats against its officers and is investigating.

Smith was shot and killed Saturday after a brief foot chase that followed a traffic stop. Police say Smith had a gun in his hand when he turned toward the officer, who opened fire. Both the suspect and the officer are black.

A few hours after the shooting, violence erupted on the city’s largely black north side, with protesters hurling rocks at police and burning six businesses. Later protests were much calmer.
Milwaukee Mayor Lifts Emergency Curfew Rules
By Associated Press
August 22 at 9:13 PM

MILWAUKEE — The Latest on the aftermath of the shooting of a black man by police in Milwaukee (all times local):

7:45 p.m.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is easing curfew restrictions for teenagers that were put in place after a police shooting earlier this month sparked violence.

Barrett issued a proclamation Monday saying the restrictions were no longer needed.

On Aug. 15, the mayor expanded the city’s existing curfew to apply to anyone under 18 instead of those under 17. It also took effect an hour earlier, at 10 p.m.

The change was made after 23-year-old Sylville Smith was killed Aug. 13. A few hours after Smith’s death, a protest on Milwaukee’s largely black north side erupted into violence that reignited the following night in the Sherman Park neighborhood.

Smith’s funeral will be held Friday at Christian Faith Fellowship Church in Milwaukee.
___

9 a.m.

Wisconsin’s attorney general says a fatal police shooting in Milwaukee that sparked two nights of violence was recorded by not one but two body cameras.

The state is investigating the Aug. 13 shooting of 23-year-old Sylville Smith. Authorities have said he was fleeing police and that footage from the officer’s body camera clearly shows Smith holding a handgun and turning toward an officer when he was shot.

Attorney General Brad Schimel says authorities are reviewing that as well as a second video recorded by another officer’s body camera. He says the vantage points are similar.

Schimel says the videos won’t be released until after the county prosecutor decides whether to charge the officer.
FBI Uncovers 14,900 More Documents in Clinton Email Probe
By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post
August 22 at 4:50 PM

The FBI’s year-long investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server uncovered 14,900 emails and documents from her time as secretary of state that had not been disclosed by her attorneys, and a federal judge on Monday pressed the State Department to begin releasing emails sooner than mid-October as it planned.

Justice Department lawyers said last week that the State Department would review and turn over Clinton’s work-related emails to a conservative legal group. The records are among “tens of thousands” of documents found by the FBI in its probe and turned over to the State Department, Justice Department attorney Lisa Ann Olson said Monday in court.

The 14,900 Clinton documents are nearly 50 percent more than the roughly 30,000 emails that Clinton’s lawyers deemed work-related and returned to the department in December 2014.

Lawyers for the State Department and Judicial Watch, the legal group, are negotiating a plan for the release of the emails in a civil public records lawsuit before U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg of Washington.

In a statement after a hearing at the U.S. district courthouse in Washington, Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said the group was pleased that Boasberg rejected the department’s proposal to begin releasing documents weekly on Oct. 14, ordering it instead to prioritize Clinton’s emails and to return to court Sept. 22 with a new plan.

“We’re pleased the court accelerated the State Department’s timing,” Fitton said. “We’re trying to work with the State Department here, but let’s be clear: They have slow-walked and stonewalled the release of these records. They’ve had many of them since July 25 ... and not one record has yet been released, and we don’t understand why that’s the case.”

In a statement, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the agency previously agreed voluntarily to hand over emails sent or received by Clinton in her official capacity as secretary from 2009 to 2013 but that tens of thousands of documents would have to be “carefully appraised at State” to separate official records from personal ones.

“State has not yet had the opportunity to complete a review of the documents to determine whether they are agency records or if they are duplicative of documents State has already produced through the Freedom of Information Act,” Toner said. “We cannot comment further as this matter is in ongoing litigation.”

Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon said, “As we have always said, Hillary Clinton provided the State Department with all the work-related emails she had in her possession in 2014. We are not sure what additional materials the Justice Department may have located, but if the State Department determines any of them to be work-related, then obviously we support those documents being released publicly as well.”

Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit in May 2015 after disclosures that Clinton had exclusively used a personal email server while secretary of state. Judicial Watch had sought all emails sent or received by Clinton at the State Department in a request made under the federal Freedom of Information Act, which covers the release of public records.

Monday’s hearing comes seven weeks after the Justice Department closed a criminal investigation without charges into the handling of classified material in Clinton’s email setup, which FBI Director James B. Comey called “extremely careless.”

On Aug. 5, the FBI completed transferring what Comey said were several thousand previously undisclosed work-related Clinton emails that the FBI found in its investigation for the State Department to review and make public. Government lawyers until now had given no details about how many emails the FBI found or when the full set would be released. It is unclear how many documents might be attachments, duplicates or exempt from release for privacy or legal reasons.

Government lawyers disclosed last week that the FBI has turned over eight computer discs of information: one including emails and attachments that were sent directly to or from Clinton, or to or from her at some point in an email chain, and were not previously turned over by her lawyers; a second with classified documents; another with emails returned by Clinton; and five containing materials from other people retrieved by the FBI.

The 14,900 documents at issue now come from the first disc, Fitton said.

In announcing the FBI’s findings in July, Comey said investigators found no evidence that the emails it found “were intentionally deleted in an effort to conceal them.” Like many users, Clinton periodically deleted emails, or they were purged when devices were changed.

Clinton’s lawyers also may have deleted some of the emails as “personal,” Comey said, noting their review relied on header information and search terms, not a line-by-line reading as the FBI conducted.

Also on Monday, a GOP lawmaker issued subpoenas to three private companies that helped run or protect Clinton’s email server. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who chairs the Committee on Science, Space and Technology, is demanding documents by Sept. 9 after the firms declined earlier this year to produce them voluntarily.

The demands are part of a joint probe by Smith and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), who heads the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs panel. The lawmakers say that while the criminal investigation has ended, they have questions about the structure and security of Clinton’s email system and whether it met federally-recommended standards for cybersecurity and record preservation.

The subpoenas target Platte River Networks, which provided information technology services for Clinton’s server; Datto, Inc., which furnished immediate recovery of back-up data in the event the primary server failed; and SECNAP Network Security Corp., which carried out threat monitoring of the network connected to Clinton’s server. The firms’ services were retained in 2013.

A science committee aide said they are looking for information about breaches or potential breaches, and documents that detail the firms’ scope of work, for example.

“Companies providing services to Secretary Hillary Clinton’s private email account and server are not above the law,” said Smith. The data sought, he said, is “critical to…informing policy changes in how to prevent similar email arrangements in the future.”

Ellen Nakashima contributed to this report.
Asia Stocks Edge Up, Dollar Dips as Markets Await Fed Clues
An investor walks past a board displaying stock prices at the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) in Sydney, Australia, June 27, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray

By Wayne Cole | SYDNEY
Reuters

Asia shares inched ahead while the dollar slipped on Tuesday as a dearth of major data left markets with little to do but second guess whether the Federal Reserve will raise U.S. interest rates this year.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged up 0.2 percent, with South Korea .KS11 and Australia adding similar amounts.

Japan's Nikkei .N225 went the other way and eased 0.4 percent as the yen gained on the dollar.

The whole world seems to have hushed ahead of comments from Fed Chair Janet Yellen at the central bank's annual meeting in Jackson Hole on Friday. Investors still doubt the stars will align for a hike anytime soon, so a hawkish tone from Yellen would challenge that equanimity.

"Ever so slowly, the market does seem to be reluctantly acknowledging the chorus of senior Fed speakers who have suggested recently that a 2016 rate hike is still quite probable and September is 'live'," wrote analysts at ANZ in a note.

"But in reality, the response has been very muted."

Indeed, U.S. Treasuries actually rallied on Monday, with 10-year yields at 1.55 percent after falling 4 basis points overnight.

Fed fund futures imply around a 24 percent chance of an easing in September, rising to around 50 percent by December.

A quarter-point hike is not fully priced in until September next year.

On Wall Street, the Dow .DJI ended Monday down 0.12 percent, while the S&P 500 .SPX lost 0.06 percent and the Nasdaq .IXIC added 0.12 percent.

Biotech stocks received a boost from Pfizer's (PFE.N) $14 billion acquisition of cancer drug maker Medivation (MDVN.O), which jumped nearly 20 percent.

Of the 479 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings, 71 percent have topped expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data. Earnings are currently showing a decline of 2.3 percent for the quarter.

In forex markets, the dollar slipped a touch to 94.442 against a basket of currencies .DXY. The index fell about 1.3 percent last week on what traders perceived as mixed signals from Fed officials.

The dollar drifted down to 100.11 yen JPY= from 100.30 late in New York, while the euro nudged up to $1.1331 EUR=.

The New Zealand dollar blipped higher after the country's central bank forecast another 35 basis points in possible rate cuts, less than many investors had wagered on.

The kiwi dollar NZD=D4 rose around a third of a cent to $0.7310 in reaction.

Oil remained under pressure after shedding 3 percent on Monday. Prices retreated from two-month highs on worries about burgeoning Chinese fuel exports, more Iraqi and Nigerian crude shipments and a rising U.S. oil rig count.

Brent crude was off 12 cents at $49.04 a barrel. It hit a two-month high of $51.22 on Friday. U.S. crude futures lost 18 cents to $47.23, after the September contract expired on Monday at $47.05.

(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

15 Killed in Suicide Bombings in Somalia
Most fatalities are students, local traders

8:09 AM CDT Aug 21, 2016

MOGADISHU, Somalia (CNN) —At least 15 people died when two suicide car bombs struck a government building in Somalia on Sunday, authorities said.

Most of the fatalities are students and local traders who were at a nearby school and market, police said.

After the explosions in the town of Galkayo, attackers stormed the building and exchanged gunfire with security forces, local police Capt. Abdi Hassan said.

The terror group Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack, which targeted a government compound housing administrative offices, police said.

Northern Galkayo is under the control of Puntland, a semi-autonomous state in northeast Somalia.

Troubling trend

The attack follows a similar pattern of bombings in the country also claimed by Al-Shabaab.

In late July, six people died after double suicide car bombs exploded in Mogadishu.

Just days prior, suicide bombers detonated two vehicles laden with explosives near the capital's Aden Adde International Airport, killing at least 12.

In June, the group also claimed separate attacks on two hotels popular with Somali politicians, which left more than two dozen people dead.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

We Are on the Right Track: Chiwenga
SUNDAY MAIL REPORTER

This week we publish the final installment of Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander, General Constantino Guveya Dominic Nyikadzino Chiwenga’s, interview with The Sunday Mail Editor Mabasa Sasa and Reporter Tinashe Farawo. Last week’s installment signed off with Gen Chiwenga urging politicians to go about their activities without violating the Constitution, a document that the ZDF is bound to protect and uphold. He continues…

***

Gen C. Chiwenga

If you recall, in January 2002 General Zvinavashe (Gen Chiwenga’s predecessor as ZDF Commander) spoke about the Presidency being a straitjacket.

Right back to the time of George Washington, long back when the Americans established their government, the presidency was a straitjacket. That is where it has been taken from.

Now, the military all over the world are involved in the running of their countries.

What we cannot do is to address political rallies or publicly chant political slogans; but in other countries like Uganda for example, they actually have about 10 members of their defence forces who sit in parliament and also in cabinet.

With the Israeli’s you have also seen this, and with the Russians it’s the same.

You go to the British and the Americans, the military advises cabinet and that advice is not for public consumption.

Coming to the Constitution of Zimbabwe, we have the National Security Council.

What is the National Security Council, which is chaired by the President?

It discusses everything from military, economy, and politics. So there is nothing which is amiss about the military being involved in the running of the country.

Our Constitution is very clear and straight forward.

You can look at it Section 212, it has got no sub-sections. It is a clean statement and you can read it. It’s very clear and this Constitution has not been written by the ruling party, it is something which was done by all political parties in the country, all civic organisations and stakeholders in the country, including churches.

Everybody contributed and not only that; it went to a referendum and people said this is what they wanted.

When we look at the functions of the Police which is, Section 219 of the Constitution, you can see how long it is. When it comes to prisons it’s so clear and specific on what they are supposed to do.

So sometimes people need to read and understand the supreme law of the land.

We’ve got the roles as outlined in the Constitution and buttressed by the Defence Act: that’s exactly what we do.

Noms de guerre

The top leaders were elected by the people to lead the struggle and they made a supreme sacrifice to go out there to lead the combatants. There was no need for them to change their names because they were already known.

It would be naïve for President Mugabe, for example, to change his name. Who didn’t know that this is President Mugabe or Vice-President Joshua Nkomo or Vice-President Simon Muzenda or Ziyapapa Moyo, or even our commanders Josiah Magama Tongogara? They were known.

Why fighters had to be given noms de guerre or to change their names was for two specific reasons: for the individual’s personal protection and for the protection of their families.

They had to be protected. Can you imagine if I had used my real name, Costantino, and then I get captured and killed, then they would take me to the village, my home, and make a lot of propaganda? That would derail the struggle.

Who would then want their sons and daughters to go to war when they see bodies being paraded in their villages?

So it was protection of the family and the individual. When an individual was captured or killed, he was only known by his nom de guerre. Very few would be known.

But leaders never used noms de guerre. Did Lenin have a nom de guerre? Did Fidel Castro have a nom de guerre? Did Chairman Mao have nom de guerre? Did Samora Machel have a nom de guerre? Did Sam Nujoma have a nom de guerre? Did Nelson Mandela have a nom de guerre?

I don’t know why people become so myopic.

These leaders interacted with those people who were giving us aid, be it political, military or material.

We had for instance Dr Sydney Sekeramayi, Hebert Hushehwekunze — they never changed their names.

Others wanted to use their own names but we said that was dangerous in a scenario that they are captured or killed.

For instance, I changed names twice officially but during the war I had so many names.

When I changed sectors or provinces I would use another name so that the enemy could not follow up on where I was operating.

When I joined the struggle I was Samuel Munyoro; that was my first name. Second, I was given Dominic Chinenge. What they (his superiors at the time) did not know was that Dominic was my real name and I did not tell them that.

So all those who talk about noms de guerre have no idea of how a guerrilla war is waged. They have no idea on how an armed struggle is waged.

I was given the name Samuel Munyoro by our chief representative in Botswana, the late Cde Dick Chikara Musoko.

We were just given the names. We didn’t choose.

I remember that one in Mgagao was called Vhutumurambwa. I used to ask him, “What is Vhutumurambwa? (laughing).”

When we got to Mgagao I was now Dominic Chinenge. The names came from the commissariat, under the chief instructor. The chief instructor was Gordon Murambwa, the commissar was Dzinashe Machingura and the head of security was Abel Sibanda.

They would have a list of names and you would stand in line and be given a name. I was lucky that I was given Dominic Chinenge; my great grandfather in was called Chinengebere.

I almost said Dominic was my real name. But you couldn’t say that.

When I was in the front, I used names like Mheremhere.

When the people were tortured by the Rhodesians they would spill the beans. When you ask them after they were released, they would say, “Ahhh, mukoma, I never said anything.”

But after independence when looked at the records left by the Rhodesians, we said: “These people were telling lies.”

But of course it was understandable. The torture was just too much. We knew that and that is why we used other names.

If for, instance, I was using my real name and I was ambushed, like when we had a 3km ambush and closed the Mutare-Birchenough Bridge Road for almost a month, it would have been a disaster.

When we had that ambush near Hot Springs and they knew it was done by Constatino Chiwenga, my family would have been in trouble.

It was a 3km ambush and that was the first time we used anti-paratroopers so they thought we had missiles. It was 1978.

Battle of Mapai

It was after that, that we caused havoc at the Battle of Mapai (September 1979). The Rhodesians called it Operation Uric.

Cde Tongo had written that I must get to Mozambique before the President and team went to Lancaster, but the letter got to me late. I was in Gutu and I got it in Shurugwi.

As we were going, the South African National Defence Forces had deployed in the Gezani area right up to the Mberengwa area.

So it took us time to break that and then there were three minefields.

By the time we got to Mapai, people had already left for Lancaster.

I was with Colonel Ishewepasi Matemachani, the one running Zimoco. One morning I was jogging with Matemachani, I think it was the third day after I had come from the front, when we saw about half a squadron; they should have been six Hawker Hunters quite high following the railway line.

Frelimo and the Russians were there, and the jets targeted the radar system, logistics, the command, the hospital: they were all taken out one time. They were quite accurate.

While we were still asking ourselves what the next target was, the first wave came to bomb us on the 5th of September 1979.

They bombed Mapai and up to Chokwe. Actually they got to a point where they overran Chokwe and were even selling bread there.

The first Rhodesian aircraft shot down in that battle was hit at the bridge on Limpopo after Mabharani. With Frelimo we put up a good fight. I can say that was the biggest fight I had ever seen.

People fought to the point that those who were on the anti-aircraft guns had blood oozing from their ears because of the pressure.

The logistics centre had been destroyed but we had underground food stores.

For five days, from fifth to the tenth of September, the Rhodesians kept coming. It was at that battle that for the first time we saw the Russian BM-21, the multiple rocket launcher, being fired. We had never seen that weapon firing and it was quite devastating.

They deployed a helicopter which was taken down by a rocket launcher. It was a changeover for pilots and that plane was full of pilots.

That is the battle that took Peter Walls to Lancaster House because he lost his best pilots there. After the helicopter was dropped, I was pictured there stepping on the private parts of a white man. (Laughing)

Which reminds me of Marange.

Marange is quite interesting because Smith had gone to visit Mutsago camp, escorted by helicopters and armoured cars.

We only knew Smith had gone to Mutsago the following day when they were doing their propaganda. They were saying “you said Marange is a no-go area but Smith was there”.

We said never again would this happen. So there was that battle.

First came introduction of the Puma vehicle and we didn’t know it. We were used to the Bedfords.

We went after a Puma and the vehicle stopped. The only thing we did was puncture the tyres but we thought we had massacred these people with the shots we had fired and we started shouting.

They were waiting for the helicopters to get near and then they opened fire. The hell-fire which came out of there was unbelievable and this where I lost my cap, which got hooked by thorns.

My hat is the only thing I lost during the war. I never lost my riffle or magazine.

Anyway, everyone had gone and they said Cde Dominic is no more; he has been killed in action. They crossed the Odzi River and the message was sent to Mozambique that I had been killed.

In fact, had moved some distance and I saw a man ploughing his fields. I asked him to pretend to be planting seeds while I ploughed with his cattle. I hid my rifle in a drainage ditch.

The white men came looking for me but all they saw was one man ploughing with cattle and another one dropping seeds.

Their helicopter hovered for a while and then flew on. When the helicopter had gone far I took my rifle, and thanked the old man.

They found my cap, and a white man called Bvudzijena would wear it and say: “This is Dominic’s cap. We will find him and kill him since he disappeared mysteriously.”

We killed Bvudzijena at the 18-mile peg in Gandayi.

Around 1am, we were moving towards the base there and we decided to wait outside because we didn’t know who was occupying it. We went into the base around six in the morning and we were very tired.

We didn’t know who was first to come in. But we heard a white man pleading with our Mbuya Nehanda, saying: “Mbuya Nehanda, tinoziva chose kuti takapamba nyika yenyu. Kana riridoro ramunoda tinokupai, kana iri mari tinokupai.”

He was taking snuff.

We were not very far away so I took an aim at him and shot him. That whole section, we wiped it out, and we took the uniforms and radio and sent them to Maputo.

It was quite interesting that the whites even tried to follow our traditional rituals.

That is when we saw that our people are sometimes not very honest (because it means Zimbabweans were teaching them our ways so that they defeat us).

It is like what is happening with these social media guys and Tajamuka.

That’s exactly what some of these so-called masvikiro were doing, working with the Rhodesians. They were telling them what to do and how to counter our activities.

Take a Rhodesian map of any operational zone and you will see they are marked “sabhuku”, “chief”, “n’ganga”, “mhondoro” and “svikiro”.

They wanted to know every n’anga and svikiro in the villages. The maps were called the RIC meaning Rhodesian Intelligence Call.

Empty vessels

People who fought in the front are well-known and they never talk about it.

We have so many great fighters, living and dead, and the majority of those are no longer with us. Those who are alive never move around claiming “I did this” and “I did that”.

Empty vessels make the most noise. If you were a great fighter let other people talk about you. That’s the way of all good fighters and leaders.

There are so many fighters who did a lot.

Equally, as I said earlier, there are people who saw the borders as they crossed into Zambia or Mozambique to the camps, and only saw the border again on the way back at Independence.

Fine.

They either did not get the chance to go to training, because the training was also by how many numbers we could take into the training camps, or after training, how many we could arm.

That is why we had refugee camps.

There were also tasks that had to be done by those at the rear. Some worked as logisticians, others were more important as instructors to train the fighters who were going to the front, others were educators like in the commissariat department because our policy was you would not hold a rifle until you understood why we were fighting.

There were some people who could not be trained because they did not understand why we were fighting.

I will give you a good example: one old man, he is late, I think his name was Rogers.

He worked for quite some time and saved enough money to buy a scotch cart. Chikochikari ichi chatengwa, it was the time Centenary was opened as a farming area, and he passed through a farm that had a clear sign saying “hapana nzira, hapabvuminzwe kupfura”.

So the white farmer ceased the cart. Rogers came to the struggle.

Even before I was a commissar, the people who came before me like Dzinashe Machingura, tried to make him aware of the reason for fighting but they failed.

Well, I also tried. I failed. I would say “we are going to liberate the country”, and he would say: “Iyo nyika yacho yakasungirirwa papi? Ndakauya kuno kuzotora pfuti kunotora chikochikari changu. Izvo zvenyu zvekuti murikuda kunosunungura nyika ndezvenyu izvo.”

We could not give a weapon to that kind of a person. After Independence, he was working at State House and he passed on some few years back.

The only time I thought he understood was during the Geneva Conference. He raised a hand when we briefed the people on what the politicians were doing, and I said: “Yes Cde Rogers?”

And he said: “Ok, mati Smiff arikuda sixfire, ko majoriti ju akati chi nayo?” (Laughing). Rogers’ pronunciation wasn’t so good. But he was saying, “Smith arikuda ceasefire but what is he saying about our majority rule?”

Anyway, there were many roles to play during the war.

There were people who would do the minor works of cleaning in the camps and a lot of things were going on. So not everyone who crossed the border was a fighter, but they did something to liberate the country.

Economy

Currently — whether economically or politically — we are in the phase of building from the severe difficulties we have gone through over the years due to the illegal economic sanctions.

Yes, politically there were difficulties. This is why the country for the first time had to go into an inclusive Government with the opposition, and I don’t think I have to go into details on that one.

We also had hyperinflation, and no country can parallel Zimbabwe, except Germany during the Weimar Republic and they did not get to where Zimbabwe was in 2008.

We started, as you are aware, with thousands, into millions, billions, trillions, quintillions and into sextillions. And we had an inflation rate that was around 500 billion percent. But now we are now hovering around three percent inflation.

There is light at the end of the tunnel in terms of our economy. We are now striving to make sure that our infrastructure is built up, our industry and our manufacturing sector are fully operational.

We are now on track when it comes to mining and the only problem we are facing currently is the depressed prices of metal prices; but the price gold is coming up and we are quite happy with that.

This is not going to be for long, it is just a passing phase.

Agriculture, if it was not for the El-Nino induced drought, we could have been somewhere by now.

Agriculture had been destroyed after the Land Reform Programme as a lot of machinery got destroyed, some was broken down and some exported to neighbouring countries.

There was no maintenance of the existing equipment, and consequently the infrastructure got destroyed and this is what the responsible ministry is trying to answer.

Command agriculture is for everyone; every able-bodied person in Zimbabwe is going to be involved in the command agriculture.

What we mean by command agriculture is that Government will determine which crops to farm — within the context of food and cash crops — and those who have land will be told what to do with it for the good of the country.

For example, if one has 100 hectares Government determines hectares to be grown under contract, and the rest the farmer will choose what to farm.

We want to see land being fully utilised and where possible, Government will assist in making sure that seed, all the inputs, the tillage will be available. It is not for free — it will be done on a cost-recovery basis.

If one has to borrow, facilities will be opened to borrow, and the marketing of the produce will have to be arranged and this is what Government is doing.

We are saying never again will we go to buy food outside the country. Never again will our country go hungry.

We have the capability to produce enough for our people and to have reserves, and also have extra to sell to other countries and return our bread basket status.

The tourism industry is also starting to build up.

So in terms of the economy we can see light. Zim-Asset was distilled into just one page, which is the 10-Point Plan which Government is now following.

Politically, we are now out of the inclusive Government.

Some people don’t realise that what the country went through takes time to recover from but we are lucky that we have managed to bounce back within a very short time.

We are on the right track and we are moving forward as we would expect, despite a few teething problems which are a passing phase.