Sahel force fighting terrorism faces growing threat

EDITH M. LEDERER
FILE - In this May 19, 2017 file photo, a French soldier stands inside a military helicopter during a visit by French President Emmanuel Macron to the troops of Operation Barkhane, Islamic extremists in West Africa's Sahel region are trying to exploit COVID-19 to gain followers but haven't had much success, according to the commander of the French military's Operation Barkhane there. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP, File)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Mauritania’s foreign minister said Friday the five-nation African force fighting terrorism in the Sahel is facing a growing security threat sweeping the region that is not only local but a global problem that demands an international response.

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, whose country holds the presidency of the G5 Sahel force, told the U.N. Security Council the security situation “is deteriorating visibly and with rare constancy” as a result of a “diabolical alliance of terrorist and drug trafficking groups,” with violence spreading every day to new territories.

He said the Sahel is facing the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic, the lack of rainfall, terrorism, and "melting prices of our export products.”

“Certainly we all suffer on equal terms from the COVID-19 attack, but it also reveals to us the cruel inequality of our world when it comes to facing it,” the Mauritanian minister said.

Leaders of Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Niger launched the joint force in 2017 with support from the United Nations, the African Union and the European Union. France has pushed for the Security Council to authorize the G5 under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which is militarily enforceable, and finance its operation — an appeal reiterated Friday by the Mauritanian minister.

But the United States has opposed council authorization, and so far the U.N. has only been providing operational and logistical support through its peacekeeping mission in Mali.

Cheikh Ahmed said that while waiting for council action, each country at home and the five nations together have undertaken “a vigorous action” to retake land taken by terrorists and restore public services essential to people’s lives, starting with schools and hospitals.

He cautioned that “the challenge is titanic and the victories always provisional and reversible.”

But Cheikh Ahmed also cited “the brilliant victories" in the past few weeks of the Chadian army against Boko Haram in the Lake Chad area, which he said show that "terrorists can be defeated and that fear has now changed sides.”

He also highlighted an ongoing large-scale G5 operation called Sama in the area of the Mali-Burkina Faso-Niger borders, which made it possible to control the area and neutralize "the armed terrorist groups which proliferated there.”

Cheikh Ahmed said Mauritania’s G5 Sahel presidency aims to strengthen the operational capacities of the force and the interoperability of air forces — and to pursue additional contributions and long-term funding.

U.N. peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix told the council that providing water, rations and fuel from the U.N. force in Mali to the G5 force has been “critical,” but he said transporting these items to G5 contingents remains the biggest challenge.

Lacroix said the Mali mission, known as MINUSMA, “is operating at maximum capacity and cannot go further in support” of the G5 force with its current mandate and resources.

He said a recent assessment of MINUSMA’s assistance to the G5 concluded that international support to the five-nation force “remained crucial,” but the current operation wasn’t suited to addressing the transport and equipment shortages of the joint force.

“Strengthening the joint force is only one strand in a comprehensive international approach required to tackle the root causes of instability in Mali and the Sahel region,” he said. “Improving governance, eradicating poverty and protecting the human rights of all citizens, including the most disenfranchised, remain critical and more needs to be done to ensure that such efforts are given the same weight as military operations.”

A press statement from the Security Council “commended the G5 Sahel joint force for its increased operational tempo and encouraged the continuation of these efforts.”

Council members condemned “the continuation of terrorist attacks and inter-communal violence in the Sahel” and emphasized the importance of supporting countries in the region in their efforts to achieve peace and security and "combat terrorism.”

The council reaffirmed the importance of MINUSMA’s support to the force and “took note” of the U.N. assessment, but it made no decision on how future support will be provided and didn’t mention the financing of the G5 operation.

  • Gettysburg 'flag-burning hoax' sees armed far-right groups assemble
    BBC

    Gettysburg 'flag-burning hoax' sees armed far-right groups assemble

    Rumours that anti-fascist protesters planned to burn American flags on the Gettysburg Civil War battleground site led to armed far-right groups turning up in numbers on US Independence Day. In response, far-right groups assembled on the historic grounds on Saturday - but no adversaries showed up. The posts that appeared on social media ahead of the Independence Day celebrations reportedly called for people to flock to the site in face paint.

  • 24-Year-Old Protester Dies After Car Drove Into Peaceful Crowd in Seattle
    Time

    24-Year-Old Protester Dies After Car Drove Into Peaceful Crowd in Seattle

    One of two protesters injured after a car drove into a crowd of peaceful protesters on Seattle's Interstate 5 (I-5) early Saturday morning has died, authorities say. Summer Taylor, a 24-year-old Seattle resident, died at Harborview Medical Center in the evening, a spokesperson said to the Associated Press. On Friday, the Seattle Police Department closed I-5 at 11:56 p.m. PT for peaceful protesters, Washington State Patrol Capt. Ron Mead said during a press conference Saturday morning.

  • Judge grants bond to ex-Atlanta cop charged with murder in Rayshard Brooks shooting
    USA TODAY

    Judge grants bond to ex-Atlanta cop charged with murder in Rayshard Brooks shooting

    ATLANTA – The former Atlanta police officer charged with fatally shooting Rayshard Brooks can be released on bond, a judge ruled Tuesday. Fulton County Judge Jane Barwick said she does not believe Garrett Rolfe is a flight risk or would intimidate witnesses. Barwick set Rolfe's bond at $500,000.

  • Great Power Showdown: How U.S. Navy Submarines Are Countering Chinese Expansion
    The National Interest

    Great Power Showdown: How U.S. Navy Submarines Are Countering Chinese Expansion

    Key Point: Submarines are an important part of maintaining a balance of power in the Western Pacific region. This month the United States Navy's Pacific Fleet submarine force announced that all of its forward-deployed submarines were simultaneously conducting "contingency response operations" in the Western Pacific in support of the Pentagon's "free and open Indo-Pacific" policy. This was to counter China's expansionism in the South China Sea, but also to downplay the notion that the U.S. Navy has been hampered by the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.

  • Alan Dershowitz wrote a Spectator column about Ghislaine Maxwell in which he says 'everyone should keep an open mind'
    Business Insider

    Alan Dershowitz wrote a Spectator column about Ghislaine Maxwell in which he says 'everyone should keep an open mind'

    Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images In a column for The Spectator US edition, Alan Dershowitz poured scorn on the evidence of two women featured in the hit Netflix documentary about disgraced financier, Jeffrey Epstein, "Filthy Rich." Maxwell, a British heiress and longtime girlfriend of Jeffrey Epstein, has been arrested by the FBI. The grand jury indictment accuses Maxwell of grooming young girls, engaging in sexual acts with them, and lying about her involvement with Epstein in sworn statements.

  • Trump's `strong wall' to block COVID-19 from China had holes
    Associated Press

    Trump's `strong wall' to block COVID-19 from China had holes

    An analysis of Commerce Department travel entry records and private aviation data obtained by The Associated Press shows that nearly 8,000 Chinese nationals and foreign residents of Hong Kong and Macao entered the U.S. on more than 600 commercial and private flights in the first three months after the ban was imposed. When U.S. residents flying from mainland China arrived at U.S. airports, the system meant to flag and monitor them for the development of symptoms lost track of at least 1,600 people in just the first few days the ban went into effect, according to internal state government emails obtained by the AP.

  • Iran records highest daily death toll from COVID-19
    Reuters

    Iran records highest daily death toll from COVID-19

    The 163 deaths reported on Sunday exceed the previous record from last Monday, when the health ministry reported 162 deaths in a day. The Islamic Republic has recorded a total of 11,571 deaths and 240,438 infections from the coronavirus, health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said in a statement on state TV. Iranians who do not wear masks will be denied state services and workplaces that fail to comply with health protocols will be shut for a week, President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday as he launched new measures to try to curb the coronavirus.

  • Predominantly Black armed protesters march through Confederate memorial park in Georgia
    Yahoo News Video

    Predominantly Black armed protesters march through Confederate memorial park in Georgia

    A predominantly Black group of heavily armed protesters marched through Stone Mountain Park near Atlanta on Saturday, calling for removal of the giant Confederate rock carving at the site that civil rights activists consider a monument to racism.

  • Chinese city in Inner Mongolia issues bubonic plague warning
    The Telegraph

    Chinese city in Inner Mongolia issues bubonic plague warning

    Authorities in a city in the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia issued a warning on Sunday, one day after a hospital reported a case of suspected bubonic plague. The health committee of the city of Bayan Nur issued the third-level alert, the second lowest in a four-level system. The alert forbids the hunting and eating of animals that could carry plague and asks the public to report any suspected cases of plague or fever with no clear causes, and to report any sick or dead marmots.

  • Rockets target US interests despite arrests: Iraq military
    AFP

    Rockets target US interests despite arrests: Iraq military

    Two rocket attacks targeted American diplomatic and military installations overnight, Iraq's security forces said Sunday, a little over a week since unprecedented arrests prevented a similar incident. Since October, US diplomats and troops across Iraq have been targeted by around three dozen missile attacks which Washington has blamed on pro-Iranian armed factions. In the first move of its kind, elite Iraqi troops in late June arrested more than a dozen Tehran-backed fighters who were allegedly planning a new attack on Baghdad's Green Zone, home to the US and other foreign embassies.

  • Brain-eating amoeba: Warning issued in Florida after rare infection case
    BBC

    Brain-eating amoeba: Warning issued in Florida after rare infection case

    A case of a rare brain-eating amoeba has been confirmed in Florida, according to health officials in the US state. The Florida Department of Health (DOH) said one person in Hillsborough County had contracted Naegleria fowleri. The microscopic, single-celled amoeba can cause an infection of the brain, and is usually fatal.

  • The Science Behind Your Favorite Fireworks
    Popular Mechanics

    The Science Behind Your Favorite Fireworks

    Be the smartest person at this year's Fourth of July barbecue. From Popular Mechanics

  • As divisions threaten America, the pressure to cancel presidents is dangerous
    USA TODAY Opinion

    As divisions threaten America, the pressure to cancel presidents is dangerous

    Princeton University has decided to remove former President Woodrow Wilson's name from its school of Public and International Affairs, citing his “racist thinking and policies.” Looking solely through the lens of race relations, the case against Wilson is clear. In his 1912 run for the White House, Wilson would warm up the crowds with racial jokes that today would be unprintable. Gazing back across the long century since Wilson was in office shows the progress we have made as a country.

  • Michael Cohen may have violated the terms of his prison release by eating out at a restaurant in Manhattan
    Business Insider

    Michael Cohen may have violated the terms of his prison release by eating out at a restaurant in Manhattan

    The New York Post obtained photos showing Michael Cohen eating out at a Manhattan restaurant Thursday night. Cohen is currently serving a three-year sentence under home confinement, and eating out appears to be a violation of the conditions of his release from a federal prison camp. Business Insider reached out to the Bureau of Prisons for comment but did not immediately receive a response Saturday morning.

  • How Lincoln Project anti-Trump Republicans got into his head. Spoiler: It was easy.
    NBC News

    How Lincoln Project anti-Trump Republicans got into his head. Spoiler: It was easy.

    Seeking to defend President Donald Trump from questions over whether he actually reads his daily intelligence briefing, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters last week "the president does read" and "is the most informed person on planet Earth when it comes to the threats we face." Within an hour, the Lincoln Project, a super PAC run by a host of so-called never-Trump Republicans, tweeted a six-second edited video of the moment out to its more than 1 million followers in its latest attempt to troll the president. Its members include George Conway, husband of top White House official Kellyanne Conway, and prominent Republican operatives like John Weaver, Reed Galen, Steve Schmidt, Rick Wilson and Stuart Stevens, who have worked on the George W. Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney and John Kasich presidential campaigns.

  • Iran: A Budding Drone Superpower? You Decide.
    The National Interest

    Iran: A Budding Drone Superpower? You Decide.

    Here's What You Need to Remember: Until these new drones are actually used, it is unclear whether these are an actual threat or just 21st-century saber-rattling. The Iranian Defense Ministry announced that it has acquired three new bomb-capable unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – more commonly known as "drones" – that are capable of flying almost 1,000 miles and from an altitude of up to 45,000 feet. The announcement was made by Defense Minister Brig.-Gen. Amir Hatami on state television on Saturday.

  • Applebee’s employee dies in parking lot while celebrating July 4, Texas police say
    Miami Herald

    Applebee’s employee dies in parking lot while celebrating July 4, Texas police say

    A Fourth of July celebration in Texas came to a tragic end when a woman fell from a moving vehicle in an Applebee's parking lot and died early Sunday, officials say. Around 12:30 a.m., police said a 24-year-old Applebee's employee and some of her coworkers decided to set off fireworks in the Houston restaurant's parking lot after closing for the night, KHOU reported. The 24-year-old woman and an 18-year-old friend stood on the rear bumper, KPRC reported.

  • Hundreds of scientists say coronavirus is airborne, ask WHO to revise recommendations: NYT
    Reuters

    Hundreds of scientists say coronavirus is airborne, ask WHO to revise recommendations: NYT

    Hundreds of scientists say there is evidence that the novel coronavirus in smaller particles in the air can infect people and are calling for the World Health Organization to revise recommendations, the New York Times reported on Saturday. The WHO has said the coronavirus disease spreads primarily from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, which are expelled when a person with COVID-19 coughs, sneezes or speaks. In an open letter to the agency, which the researchers plan to publish in a scientific journal next week, 239 scientists in 32 countries outlined the evidence showing smaller particles can infect people, the NYT said https://nyti.ms/2VIxp67.

  • China detains professor who criticised Xi over coronavirus
    AFP

    China detains professor who criticised Xi over coronavirus

    Chinese authorities on Monday detained a law professor who published essays criticising President Xi Jinping over the coronavirus pandemic and accusing him of ruling "tyrannically", according to friends of the man. Xu Zhangrun, a rare outspoken critic of the government in China's heavily censored academia, was taken from his home in suburban Beijing by more than 20 people, one of his friends said on condition of anonymity. Xu published an essay in February blaming the culture of deception and censorship fostered by Xi for the spread of the coronavirus in China.

  • The Grand Old Man of India who became Britain's first Asian MP
    BBC

    The Grand Old Man of India who became Britain's first Asian MP

    How was an Indian elected to the British Parliament in 1892? What relevance could this historical event have for us today? Dadabhai Naoroji (1825-1917) is an unfamiliar name these days.

  • Bellagio error leads to one of biggest sports betting losses in Las Vegas history
    The Independent

    Bellagio error leads to one of biggest sports betting losses in Las Vegas history

    Almost a quarter of a million dollars in winning wagers reportedly placed at MGM Resorts last Sunday may have been the largest sportsbook loss in the history of Las Vegas. Seven longtime Las Vegas bookmakers can't recall a larger loss, The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. Almost all of the approximately 50 bets were placed using self-serve kiosks at the Bellagio resort between 1.30am and 3am West Coast time.

  • Biden evokes MLK and George Floyd in Fourth of July message
    CBS News

    Biden evokes MLK and George Floyd in Fourth of July message

    Evoking the names of Martin Luther King and George Floyd, Joe Biden said Saturday that the U.S. "never lived up" to its founding principle that "all men are created equal." In the Fourth of July video message, Biden said that even though America had fallen short of equality, the effort to live up to the nation's founding ideals continues. It survived the ravages of the Civil War, the dogs of Bull Connor, the assassination of Martin Luther King, and more than 200 years of systemic racism.

  • Elon Musk's ex-wife Talulah Riley issued a statement denying she was procured for Musk as a 'child bride' by Ghislaine Maxwell
    Business Insider

    Elon Musk's ex-wife Talulah Riley issued a statement denying she was procured for Musk as a 'child bride' by Ghislaine Maxwell

    Joshua Roberts/Reuters Actress Talulah Riley published a statement on Saturday denying rumors that she was procured as a "child bride" for her ex-husband Elon Musk by Ghislaine Maxwell, the woman accused of trafficking underage girls for Jeffrey Epstein. Maxwell was arrested by the FBI on Thursday, and social media users began re-circulating a photo on Twitter of Musk standing next to Maxwell at a Vanity Fair party in 2014. Riley said she had seen rumors on Twitter that her relationship with Musk was set up by Maxwell.

  • Trump's views — bleak about the U.S., rosy about coronavirus — put Republicans on the spot
    LA Times

    Trump's views — bleak about the U.S., rosy about coronavirus — put Republicans on the spot

    White House surrogates and GOP lawmakers struggled Sunday to defend President Trump after he spent the Fourth of July holiday weekend denigrating the racial-justice movement galvanized by George Floyd's killing and playing down a deadly pandemic by claiming that 99% of coronavirus cases are “completely harmless.” In a pair of divisive speeches delivered against backdrops meant to invoke traditional images of patriotism and national pride — the massive presidential monument at Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota on Friday and a fireworks-and-flyover celebration in the nation's capital the next day — Trump hewed to a message aimed at his hard-line base, with little in the way of outreach to the country as a whole. At a time when multiple opinion polls show the president trailing his presumptive Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, by double-digit margins, Trump is diverging ever more sharply from mainstream voters' views on race, justice and history as well as how to cope with a raging pandemic.

  • NBC News

    Police clear officer who appeared to flash white power sign at Oregon protest

    The Oregon State Police on Sunday cleared a trooper who appeared to make a white power symbol during a Black Lives Matter protest in Salem, Oregon, over the weekend. In a statement, authorities said the trooper made the gesture after seeing a skirmish during the event at the Oregon Capitol on Saturday. The officer then walks towards one of the counter-protesters and flashes the "OK" hand gesture, which is used among extremist circles to signal "white power," according to the Anti Defamation League.