Egypt – The Egyptian army made a statement on June 23 that it will not allow the country to descend into conflict. The country is dividing itself after the elections which brought President Morsi into power. This is a strong statement by the Army and if it intervenes then the current elected party could be dissolved and the country put back under military rule. If this was the case it could remain so for an indefinite period as they will argue that free and fair elections do not work and the country is better under military rule.
In light of recent clashes in the country, the US State Department has issued a warning for Americans not to travel to Egypt and for non-essential diplomatic staff to leave the country. The warning comes after clashes between government supporters and opponents on June 28. Those that were remaining are to remain alert and stay away from areas of large gatherings.
Ethiopia/Egypt – Since the last 361 Security Terrorist and Security report, the two countries have decided to hold talks on the impact of the Ethiopian dam and the possible effects on Egypt. Although both countries insist that they are still ‘brothers,’ it will remain to be seen how they get along if Egypt’s water supply is threatened, especially as the Ethiopians have started to divert the Blue Nile. Both parties agree that the tension raised recently was made “in the heat of the moment”.
Libya – On June 17, it was reported that the son of Muammer Gaddafi, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, will be tried on August 13. Although this will come as no surprise to many, there will no doubt be problems when the trial date arrives. The country is suffering from a lack of security and if Saif al-Islam can be freed by pro-Gaddafi supporters then the country will possibly have a new direction to go and bring further headaches to the unstable country.
Mozambique – During the reporting period there have been two incidents in the country. One was the shooting of six soldiers by gunmen when the gunmen attacked an armoury in the central region of Dondo and a large number of weapons were removed. The second was when two others were attacked after information released by chief Jeronimo Malagueta revealed that his party would “paralyse” roads and rails vital to coal exports. It is believed that former members of the Mozambique National Resistance Movement (RENAMO) were responsible. RENAMO was once a terrorist organisation that was set up during the Rhodesian conflict by the white minority to operate in Mozambique against rebels based in the country in 1976. In 1980 South Africa took control of the group in an effort to destabilise Mozambique and fight the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO). FRELIMO was a Marxist regime that included former soldiers of the Portuguese colonial army. Much later, when the insurgency came to an end on October 4, 1992, RENAMO and FRELIMO were integrated into the political process ending their 16 yearlong guerrilla war. However, approximately 300 members of RENAMO have remained armed. It is thought that RENAMO are again in conflict with FRELIMO and it is feared that the peace process between the two groups is about to collapse. If this is the case, and RENAMO are attempting to rearm, then Mozambique could find itself in another armed struggle. The country has attempted to put the past behind it and to move on, but this may be of little use unless the two sides come together and talk about their grievances.
Niger – A number of foreign nationals were kidnapped in Niger during Sept 10 in the town of Arlit whilst working for a French nuclear company. It is the first announcement since the al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) kidnapped the foreigners and they have stated that a video of the hostages will soon be released. The AQIM have also stated that the group will kill the hostages if France carries out any new operations in North Africa. Although France does not negotiate with terrorists, this may be a double-edged sword. The French were successful in Mali and must have hurt AQIM very deeply. On the other side AQIM maybe looking to expand their operations in Niger and are attempting to stop military intervention by the French authorities.
Nigeria – It was reported on June 16 that a Ukrainian aircraft was grounded by military authorities in Malam Aminu Kano International airport for carrying suspected military cargo. It is believed that the authorities could neither confirm the owners of the cargo nor the destination of the aircraft. The incident comes after a large armoury was found and reported on May 30 which was alleged to belong to Hezbollah operatives operating in Nigeria. (See 361 Security Terrorist and Security report June 15)
Paul Ashley is the Senior Counter-Terrorist Analyst