Cameroon’s civil war

Cameroon’s governance and security problems have historically attracted little outside attention. But this seems likely to change, for two reasons. The first is the growing political crisis in the Central African nation’s English-speaking region. The second is a presidential election scheduled for October 2018.

Roughly 20% of the country’s population of 24.6 million people are Anglophone. The majority are Francophone. The unfair domination of French-speaking politicians in government has long been the source of conflict.

For a year and a half, the Cameroonian military has been accused of beating and arresting people suspected of being separatists, torching homes and killing unarmed protesters

Activists in the country’s Anglophone western regions are protesting their forced assimilation into the dominant Francophone society. They argue that this process violates their minority rights, which are protected under agreements that date back to the 1960s. Anglophone political representation and involvement at many levels of society has dwindled since the Federal Republic of Cameroon became the United Republic of Cameroon in 1972. There are growing calls for the Anglophone region to secede from Cameroon.

After World War I, the territory was divided between France and the United Kingdom as League of Nations mandates. In 1960, the French-administered part of Cameroon became independent as the Republic of Cameroun. More than a decade later the southern part of British Cameroons federated with it in 1961 to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon. This was abandoned when it was also renamed the United Republic of Cameroon in 1972 and again in 1984 as the Republic of Cameroon.

It began in 2016 with demonstrations by English-speaking lawyers, students and teachers.
Protests against marginalisation by the French-speaking majority were met with a crackdown.
Activists were arrested, and several protesters shot by security forces.
Separatist demands for an independent state grew, resulting in increasing violence.
Some symbolically proclaimed the independence of a new state called “Ambazonia”.
Some 160,000 people have fled their homes in Cameroon, the UN says.
More than 20,000 have fled to Nigeria.
Journalists are being denied access to conflict zones.

On 12 June 2018, Amnesty International issued a report documenting human rights violations in Cameroon. The International Crisis Group says that at least 120 civilians and 43 members of security forces have been killed in the most recent waves of violence.

 

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Trump Resignation Playbook

As the Cohen net encircles with Russian $500,000 and many texts from Trump to him for years. It is possible a scenario that Trump resigns before impeachment. Pence would take over.

It is probable that impeachment procedings would play out, but also could stop.

A year later, Pence pardons Trump as Ford did Nixon. September 2018 could be the month.

 

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Why does Serbia want more Mig fighters?

Belarus has agreed to donate four MiG-29 fighters to Serbia, Defence Minister Aleksandar Vulin told the Politika daily on 21 April.

mig apr 25 2018 3.png

They “will be overhauled and modernised under the same model as the six aircraft received from the Russian Federation”, Vulin said.

In October 2017 Russia transferred six decommissioned MiG-29s to Serbia under a multi-year agreement covering long-term logistics, the general overhaul, and modernisation of the entire Serbian MiG-29 fleet.

Minister Vulin added that this delivery makes up the fleet of 14 MiG-29 fighter jets under Serbian Army, thanks to the supplies of six MiG-29 fighter jets from Russia and four such warplanes from Belarus.

The Serbia defense minister said that while visiting Moscow in April he had had talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu on supplies of four Mi-35 combat helicopters, four Mi-17 transport helicopters, T-72 tanks, BMP-2 armored infantry carriers and missile defense systems.

Now the warplanes are to be modernized in three stages. The country plans to spend a sum from 180 million to 230 million euro for these purposes. Along with MiG-29 fighter jets, Russia’s assistance to Serbia will include 30 T-72 tanks and 30 BRDM-2 combat patrol vehicles. Apart from that, the sides are discussing supplies of Buk-M1 and Buk-M2 missile systems and Tunguska surface-to-air gun and missile systems. Earlier, Belarus announced its plans to hand over to Serbia in 2018 eight MiG-29 fighter jets and two Buk missile systems on condition that Belgrade pays for their repairs.

Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin called off his visit to an annual memorial service for the victims of a World War Two extermination camp held in Croatia on Sunday after Croatia said he was not welcome.

The two ex-Yugoslav republics began trading barbs last week when a Croatian delegation cut short a trip to Serbia after a Serbian radical lawmaker and convicted war criminal shouted insults at them and tried to rip up the Croatian flag.

The delegation’s visit had been part of an effort to heal ties between the two neighbors, hostile to each other since Croatia fought a war of independence from Yugoslavia in the early 1990s in which around 20,000 people were killed.

The EU would defend Croatia. Unless it was busy elsewhere.

 

one view

Since the dissolution of Yugoslavia, Croatia and Serbia have never had better economic relations than today. 
Croats are buying Serbian products in all forms, shapes, and sizes – from home-made ajvar (Balkan pepper relish) to pop music.
Serbs are also considered to be the top tourists on Croatia’s Adriatic coast, outspending people from countries like Austria. So the ‘barbaric enemies at the gates’ theory for these weapons purchases doesn’t seem that plausible.

Another thing is that because Croatia joined NATO in 2009 and the EU in 2013, this doesn’t really seem like a local or regional issue. To put it bluntly, matters are not really decided in Zagreb anymore – and any problem that Belgrade might have with Washington or Brussels will not be resolved with military helicopters.

That was the main reason why Croatia entered NATO – because the principle of collective defence means that we should not have to worry too much about what Serbia is doing, and if worries do surface, we have back-up. http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/blog/this-balkan-arms-race-will-bankrupt-us-all-04-11-2018

 

 

 

 

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Armenian PM Sarkisian Resigns

Thousands of jubilant Armenians have poured into Yerevan’s main square to celebrate the resignation of Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian, who stepped down amid widespread street protests over his election to the newly powerful post following 10 years as president.

How 11 days of protests brought down Armenia's leader Serzh Sargsyan

The Armenian Defense Ministry condemned what it said was their (soldiers)  illegal action, saying the men belonged to a brigade of military peacekeepers.

“The harshest legal measures will be taken against the soldiers,” it said in a statement.

Opposition supporters accused Mr Sargsyan of clinging to power after he was appointed prime minister last Tuesday, soon after finishing two five-year terms as president.

“The street movement is against my tenure. I am fulfilling your demand,” he said in a statement.

Former prime minister Karen Karapetyan takes over as acting PM, reports said.

Reuters

The announcement came soon after opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan was released from detention. Mr Pashinyan had been arrested on Sunday after televised talks with Mr Sargsyan collapsed.

As well as Mr Pashinyan, two other opposition politicians and some 200 demonstrators were held.

His political opponents accused him of changing the country’s laws so he could hold on to power for another 10 years. In late 2015, the country’s government pushed through a controversial constitutional referendum that would downgrade the presidency to a mostly symbolic position and give increased power to the prime minister. Many observers said this change was designed to allow Sargsyan to transition from the presidency to the premiership when his legal term limit was reached.

Tens of thousands of Armenians have demonstrated against the rule of Serzh Sargsyan, many of them gathering in Republic Square last night

Sargsyan had always been a controversial figure. At least eight people died during clashes with police when he was elected to office in 2008. He won a second five-year term in 2013 after several political opponents suddenly resigned and one candidate was shot in what many said was an assassination attempt.

It followed years of frustration over social and economic issues, and ultimately the “four-day war” in April 2016 over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory that caused dozens of casualties, bringing Armenia and Azerbaijan close to all-out conflict.

Observers drew parallels between Armenia’s so-called strongman and the Russian president, as well as Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey. After completing his limit of two presidential terms, Vladimir Putin became prime minister of Russia in 2008 before returning to the presidency in 2012. Erdogan graduated from years as prime minister to become president, with beefed-up powers.

Sargsyan has a close relationship with Putin, which critics say has made Yerevan too tied to Moscow.

 

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Artemenko 2017 peace plan in Ukraine will not work

Summary: We interviewed several Ukrainians on the peace plan. Kiev ones side with the president. Kharkiv and Krivoy rig do not want to pay for repairs to the occuppied territories.  They would give them to Russia.

Most feel the war will not end due to the politics. As deaths and injuries mount, the call to end the war will mount.

We know the Crimea is signifiant to Russia as a strategic Black Sea naval base. No Diplomatic means will work.

Background on the peace plan.

On Feb. 19, the right-wing Ukrainian member of parliament was sucked into the scandal surrounding President Donald Trump and his alleged ties to Russia when the New York Times reported that Artemenko had served as a back channel between Moscow and Trump associates.

In the aftermath of the report, Artemenko was forced out of his political faction in Ukraine, the far-right Radical Party, and the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine has opened an investigation into whether his diplomatic outreach, which was done without Kiev’s approval, constitutes treason.

In an interview with Foreign Policy, Artemenko denied any connections between him and the Kremlin, praised the early stages of the Trump presidency, and rebuffed elements of the Times report, saying he was unfairly caught up in a fight between the U.S. president and the “liberal media.” The lawmaker also accused Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko of not being interested in ending the war in the Donbass and said he was using Russia as an excuse to scapegoat his critics.

The New York Times reported that Artemenko said his peace proposal had received encouragement from top aides to Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin.

Artemenko pitched his loosely defined plan, which calls for Russian separatists to return eastern territory to Kiev. It calls for holding a national referendum on leasing Crimea to Russia for a period of 30 to 50 years. “Maybe it’s dual management of Crimea, or maybe it’s a lease like the Panama Canal and Hong Kong,” said Artemenko, who prefers to call his proposal a “road map for peace” rather than a set plan. “It should be obvious that there is no military solution, only a diplomatic one.”

Russia says it will never return Crimea to Ukraine, making the idea of leasing it to Moscow improbable even if it could gain support in Ukraine, where many people would oppose voluntarily granting Russia any form of control over the peninsula.

At a security conference in Munich on Friday, Mr. Poroshenko warned the West against “appeasement” of Russia, and some American experts say offering Russia any alternative to a two-year-old international agreement on Ukraine would be a mistake. The Trump administration has sent mixed signals about the conflict in Ukraine.

But given Mr. Trump’s praise for Mr. Putin, John Herbst, a former American ambassador to Ukraine, said he feared the new president might be too eager to mend relations with Russia at Ukraine’s expense — potentially with a plan like Mr. Artemenko’s.

It was late January 2017 when the three men associated with the proposed plan converged on the Loews Regency, a luxury hotel on Park Avenue in Manhattan where business deals are made in a lobby furnished with leather couches, over martinis at the restaurant bar and in private conference rooms on upper floors.

Mr. Cohen, 50, lives two blocks up the street, in Trump Park Avenue. A lawyer who joined the Trump Organization in 2007 as special counsel, he has worked on many deals, including a Trump-branded tower in the republic of Georgia and a short-lived mixed martial arts venture starring a Russian fighter. He is considered a loyal lieutenant whom Mr. Trump trusts to fix difficult problems.

Mr. Cohen has a personal connection to Ukraine: He is married to a Ukrainian woman and once worked with relatives there to establish an ethanol business.

Mr. Artemenko, tall and burly, arrived at the Manhattan hotel between visits to Washington. (His wife, he said, met the first lady, Melania Trump, years ago during their modeling careers, but he did not try to meet Mr. Trump.) He had attended the inauguration and visited Congress, posting on Facebook his admiration for Mr. Trump and talking up his peace plan in meetings with American lawmakers.

He entered Parliament in 2014, the year that the former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych fled to Moscow amid protests over his economic alignment with Russia and corruption. Mr. Manafort, who had been instrumental in getting Mr. Yanukovych elected, helped shape a political bloc that sprang up to oppose the new president, Mr. Poroshenko, a wealthy businessman who has taken a far tougher stance toward Russia and accused Mr. Putin of wanting to absorb Ukraine into a new Russian Empire. Mr. Artemenko, 48, emerged from the opposition that Mr. Manafort nurtured. (The two men have never met, Mr. Artemenko said.)

Mr. Artemenko said he saw in Mr. Trump an opportunity to advocate a plan for peace in Ukraine — and help advance his own political career. Essentially, his plan would require the withdrawal of all Russian forces from eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian voters would decide in a referendum whether Crimea, the Ukrainian territory seized by Russia in 2014, would be leased to Russia for a term of 50 or 100 years.

Andriy Artemenko, a Ukrainian lawmaker whose plan to resolve the three-year-old conflict in Ukraine reportedly wound up on the desk of then-U.S. national security adviser Michael Flynn, has been stripped of his citizenship by presidential decree, the State Migration Service says.

The migration service said in a statement on May 5 that President Petro Poroshenko had terminated Artemenko’s Ukrainian citizenship over the lawmaker’s voluntary acceptance of foreign citizenship.

Artemenko had previously acknowledged that he holds Canadian citizenship.

The news caused a scandal in Kyiv, and Artemenko was ejected from the Radical Party as a result. Ukrainian investigators later opened a treason case over his actions.

 

 

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The Steele Dossier appears to be truer now

McClatchy reported on Friday evening that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team has evidence of a trip by President Trump’s personal lawyer to Prague in the late summer of 2016. Overseas travel to non-Russian countries might strike some observers as an incremental — if not unimportant — development in Mueller’s probe. That is not the case. Confirmation that Cohen visited Prague could be quite significant.

steele timeline apr 14 2018

Cohen has vehemently denied for months that he ever has been in Prague or colluded with Russia during the campaign.

cohen property russia apr 14 2018

 

It’s unclear whether Mueller’s investigators also have evidence that Cohen actually met with a prominent Russian – purportedly Konstantin Kosachev, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin — in the Czech capital. Kosachev, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee of a body of the Russian legislature, the Federation Council, also has denied visiting Prague during 2016. Earlier this month, Kosachev was among 24 high-profile Russians hit with stiff U.S. sanctions in retaliation for Russia’s meddling.

trump kremlin perverted acts apr 14 2018.png

But investigators have traced evidence that Cohen entered the Czech Republic through Germany, apparently during August or early September of 2016 as the ex-spy reported, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is confidential. He wouldn’t have needed a passport for such a trip, because both countries are in the so-called Schengen Area in which 26 nations operate with open borders. The disclosure still left a puzzle: The sources did not say whether Cohen took a commercial flight or private jet to Europe, and gave no explanation as to why no record of such a trip has surfaced.

trump kremlin paid apr 14 2018

 

Trump-Intelligence-Allegations steele repoprt dossier

In the fall of 2016, a little more than a month before Donald Trump was elected president, Christopher Steele had the undivided attention of the FBI.

For months, the British former spy had been working to alert the Americans to what he believed were disturbing ties Trump had to Russia. He had grown so worried about what he had learned from his Russia network about the Kremlin’s plans that he told colleagues it was like “sitting on a nuclear weapon.”

He was now being summoned to Rome, where he spent hours in a discreet location telling four American officials — some of whom had flown in from the United States — about his findings.

The Russians had damaging information about Trump’s personal behavior and finances that could be used to pressure the GOP nominee. What’s more, the Kremlin was now carrying out an operation with the Trump campaign’s help to tilt the U.S. election — a plot Steele had been told was ordered by President Vladi­mir Putin.

The FBI investigators treated Steele as a peer, a Russia expert so well-trusted that he had assisted the Justice Department on past cases and provided briefing material for British prime ministers and at least one U.S. president. During intense questioning that day in Rome, they alluded to some of their own findings of ties between Russia and the Trump campaign and raised the prospect of paying Steele to continue gathering intelligence after Election Day, according to people familiar with the discussion.

But Steele was not one of them. He had left the famed Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6, seven years earlier and was now working on behalf of Fusion GPS, a private Washington research firm whose work at the time was funded by Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton, and the Democratic Party.

trump st petersburg apr 14 2018

Among those who have continued to seek his expertise is Steele’s former boss Richard Dearlove, who headed MI6 from 1999 to 2004.

In an interview, Dearlove said Steele became the “go-to person on Russia in the commercial sector” following his retirement from the Secret Intelligence Service. He described the reputations of Steele and his business partner, fellow intelligence veteran Christopher Burrows, as “superb.”

The full list of known indictments and plea deals in Mueller’s probe
1) George Papadopoulos, former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, pleaded guilty in October to making false statements to the FBI.

2) Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, pleaded guilty in December to making false statements to the FBI.

3) Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chair, was indicted in October in Washington, DC on charges of conspiracy, money laundering, false statements, and failure to disclose foreign assets — all related to his work for Ukrainian politicians before he joined the Trump campaign. He’s pleaded not guilty on all counts. Then, in February, Mueller filed a new case against him in Virginia, with tax, financial, and bank fraud charges.

4) Rick Gates, a former Trump campaign aide and Manafort’s longtime junior business partner, was indicted on similar charges to Manafort. But he has now agreed to a plea deal with Mueller’s team, pleading guilty to just one false statements charge and one conspiracy charge.

5-20) 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies were indicted on conspiracy charges, with some also being accused of identity theft. The charges related to a Russian propaganda effort designed to interfere with the 2016 campaign. The companies involved are the Internet Research Agency, often described as a “Russian troll farm,” and two other companies that helped finance it. The Russian nationals indicted include 12 of the agency’s employees and its alleged financier, Yevgeny Prigozhin.

21) Richard Pinedo: This California man pleaded guilty to an identity theft charge in connection with the Russian indictments, and has agreed to cooperate with Mueller.

22) Alex van der Zwaan: This London lawyer pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI about his contacts with Rick Gates and another unnamed person based in Ukraine.

 

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Novichok Nerve Agents

A Soviet-era poison called Novichok was used to poison a Russian ex-spy and his daughter last week in England.

Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia Skripal, 33, who were found stiff and unconscious on a park bench in Salisbury, England, on March 4. Both Sergei Skripal and Yulia Skripal are critically ill and in intensive care.

Novichok behaves slightly differently than other nerve agents, with some reports that the class of substances is deadlier than similar chemicals like sarin or VX and harder to identify.

Alastair Hay, a professor emeritus of environmental toxicology at the University of Leeds, said it was possible the Skripals’ food was contaminated or the nerve agent was absorbed through the skin, which could take an hour or longer if the substance was administered using something similar to a nicotine patch.

People attacked with Novichok can potentially be treated with compounds called oxines, but recovery would depend on how quickly doctors are able to pinpoint the right compound, according to Hay.

Novichok agents, dispersed as an ultra-fine powder rather than vapour, belong to the class of inhibitors called “organophosphate acetylcholinesterase”.

They prevent the normal breakdown of a neurotransmitter acetylcholine which, when it builds up, causes muscles to contract involuntarily.

Because the victim’s heart and diaphragm aren’t functioning properly, this leads to respiratory and cardiac arrest.

Those affected usually die from total heart failure or suffocation as copious fluid secretions fill their lungs.

But even if they don’t die, the substance can also cause permanent nerve damage,

An attack with Novichok agents, which are 10 times stronger than VX, is excruciating and has no cure, he added.

He said half a gram is enough to kill a person who weighs 50 kilos (110 pounds).

Someone exposed to it first has their vision go blurry, and if no antidote is applied are then hit with violent convulsions and can no longer breathe.

CCTV footage from a pub caught Sergei Skripal driving his daughter, Yulia, into Salisbury at 1.35pm. He parked his dark red BMW in the Sainsbury’s open-air car park at the Maltings shopping centre at 1.40pm. From there they went to the Mill pub and on to the restaurant Zizzi, arriving there at about 2.20pm and staying until 3.35pm.

Emergency services were called to the bench in the Maltings where the Skripals had fallen ill at 4.15pm.

Inside a van, and rattling towards the airport, Sergei Skripal was in high spirits. It was July 2010. Without explanation Skripal had been taken from a penal colony, where he had spent the previous five and a half years, and transported in handcuffs to Moscow. Now he was about to board a flight to Vienna. His ultimate destination: Britain.

Unlikely though it seemed, Skripal was about to be swapped in classic cold war fashion. On the tarmac at Vienna airport he was to be exchanged for 10 Russian “sleeper agents” caught by the FBI and on their way home to Moscow. Heading in the other direction were three fellow Russians, including Igor Sutyagin. All were accused of working for UK or US intelligence.

In Russia, Skripal had worked for military intelligence and the GRU, the most powerful and secret of Russia’s three spy agencies. He reached the rank of colonel. Now, at least officially, he was a retired local government planning officer.

But Skripal received a pardon in 2010 from Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s president at the time; in cold war times this should have made him untouchable. He had betrayed the motherland but admitted his crime (he pleaded guilty and got 13 years). He was swapped as part of a state-to-state deal.

Russia claimed MI6 had paid him $100,000 for the information, which he had been supplying since the 1990s.

Col Skripal was well regarded during his career in Russia’s military intelligence (GRU).

A colleague who worked alongside Col Skripal called him “the life and soul of the party” and added: “All his colleagues respected him. So when he was arrested for spying, it was a real shock.”

He was arrested near his home in 2004 and convicted two years later of “high treason in the form of espionage” by Moscow’s military court. He was stripped of all his titles and awards.

Sergei Skripal, 66, had been living in Salisbury after being released by Russia in 2010
He was alleged by the Russian security service (FSB) to have been recruited in 1995 for the British secret services while serving in the army.

Skripal held the rank of colonel when he retired, due to his inadequate health condition, in 1999. He continued to make trips to Spain, where he had a house near Málaga at his disposal, provided by his handlers.
According to Russian prosecutors, he began working for the United Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) in 1995 and passed on state secrets, such as the identities of Russian intelligence agents. After his retirement, he worked in the Household Department of the Russian foreign ministry, while continuing to work for MI6. He was alleged to have blown the cover of 300 Russian agents.

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