KENYAN MUSLIMS BLAME POLICE FOR MURDER OF RADICAL CLERIC,
SPARKING DEADLY RIOTING IN MOMBASA AND STOKING SEPARATISM
|Aboud Rogo Mohammed, who Muslim separatists say was killed by Kenyan police|
|Rioting in Mombasa this week|
Al-Qaeda Plotted to Kidnap Kennedy Heiress at Polisario Refugee Camp in Algeria. Sources close to the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.) reported August 28th that the al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb (A.Q.I.M.) was plotting to abduct the human-rights activist Kerry Kennedy, a daughter of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and ex-wife to New York’s governor Andrew Cuomo, during her visit this week to a Sahrawi refugee camp in Algeria. The camp is run by the Polisario Front, a militia fighting for an independent Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (S.D.A.R.) in neighboring Western Sahara, which is mostly occupied by the Kingdom of Morocco. Information about the plot was passed along to Algerian security forces. Kennedy is president of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights and is an outspoken supporter of Sahrawi independence. The director of the R.F.K. Center, Santiago A. Canton, told reporters during the visit, on August 29th, that he had witnessed a Sahrawi woman beaten by police, requiring hospitalization, in Laayoune, a Western Sahara city under Moroccan rule. “We were told by people there,” Canton said, “that the situation has been like that for some time.” [Related article: “10 Ethnonationalist Causes That Might Disrupt the Olympics” (July 2012).]
Moroccan Activists Attempt to Plant Flag on Disputed Spanish Fortress. Four Moroccans were arrested on August 29th for a brief stunt during which they tried to symbolically occupy a small Spanish-ruled fortress atop Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera, a largish (19,000 square meters) rock which was a Mediterranean island until 1934, when a storm left behind a smear of silt that now forms an isthmus connecting it to the mainland of Morocco—and constitutes the world’s shortest land border (85 meters long). A total of seven activists attempted to plant flags from their movement, the Committee to Free Ceuta and Melilla, but four were stopped by Spanish border police, who questioned and then released them. Vélez de la Gomera, along with two municipalities attached to the Moroccan mainland, Ceuta and Melilla, and a scattering of tiny islands, constitute the Plazas de soberanía (literally, “Sovereign Territories”), a constituent territory of the Kingdom of Spain which is a source of repeated tensions in Spanish-Moroccan relations. [Related articles: “Prince William Lands in the Middle of a New Cold War over the Falklands” (Feb. 2012), “What Is a Colony? The United Nations’ Definition Needs an Overhaul” (June 2012).]
Nigeria Confirms Indirect “Back-Channel” Negotiations with Boko Haram Factions. The government of Nigeria confirmed August 26th that it is engaged in negotiations through “multi-level backroom channels” with Boko Haram, the Islamist militia that has been committing almost daily terrorist acts, mostly against Christians, in Nigeria’s predominantly-Muslim north and mixed-Muslim-and-Christian “Middle Belt” region since 2009, with over 1,000 deaths. Reuben Abati, a government spokesman, said the talks were indirect and not face to face. Abati also mentioned that Boko Haram had several factions. Last week, the most hardline faction ruled out negotiations and also claimed that other factions were committing crimes in its name. Boko Haram generally claims it wants to overthrow the federal government so that it can extend shari’a (Islamic law) beyond the 12 northern states where it is in force, but so far it does not claim to want a separate state. [Related articles: “Remembering Odumegwu Ojukwu: On Biafra and on an African Continent Riven by European Borders” (Nov. 2011), “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012” (Dec. 2011), “Jihadists Imperil Nigerian Unity” (June 2012), “Ambazonian Separatists Focus on Bakassi Peninsula in New Push to Split Cameroon” (Aug. 2012), “Southern Nigeria Splitting Apart Too as the Muslim North Burns” (Aug. 2012).]
|Kerry Kennedy with the Sahrawi activist Aminatou Haidar,|
holding a deformed lump of molten metal
that is someone’s idea of what her father Robert F. Kennedy looked like.
|Spain’s “Sovereign Territories” in the western Mediterranean, also claimed by Moroccan nationalists|
6 Die as Boko Haram Attacks Continue in Nigeria. Militants presumed to be members of Boko Haram attacked a bank in Gashua, in northeastern Nigeria’s Yobe State on August 25th, resulting in one of the militants and one policemen dying. The same day, in Taraba State, in the eastern Middle Belt region, “suspected armed bandits” killed a construction contractor from Ireland. Then, on August 28th in Maiduguri, capital of Borno State in the northeast, one militant was killed by an apparently accidental explosion of a homemade bomb in a wheelbarrow. The wheelbarrow’s owner was shot and killed when he tried to flee the explosion, and a baby was killed and his mother injured by stray bullets. Elsewhere in Maiduguri on the same day, a homemade bomb was discovered and destroyed by anti-terrorism police in a controlled detonation, and an apparently separate bomb planted at a Maidiguri roundabout injured several members of the anti-terrorist Joint Task Force (J.T.F.). [Related articles: “Remembering Odumegwu Ojukwu: On Biafra and on an African Continent Riven by European Borders” (Nov. 2011), “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012” (Dec. 2011), “Jihadists Imperil Nigerian Unity” (June 2012), “Ambazonian Separatists Focus on Bakassi Peninsula in New Push to Split Cameroon” (Aug. 2012), “Southern Nigeria Splitting Apart Too as the Muslim North Burns” (Aug. 2012).]
Malian Reports Flexibility on Shared Rule, Shari’a after Meeting Ansar al-Dine in Kidal. The Islamist militia Ansar al-Dine, which controls the city of Kidal in the northern two-thirds of the Republic of Mali that since April has called itself the Independent State of Azawad, said August 29th that it was ready to discuss with the central Malian government the different possibilities for administration of the vast Kidal province. Homeny Belco Maiga, the speaker of Kidal province’s (deposed, Malian) regional assembly, reported the development after meeting with Ansar al-Dine officials in a parley by the pro-unionist Coalition for Mali on August 17-24. In Belco Maiga’s opinion, Ansar al-Dine were not separatists and were even flexible on the question of which parts of shari’a (Islamic law) to implement in the region. He added, “Today, the health services are functional in Kidal. The zone is well supplied but there’s no money.”
|Map of the Republic of Mali’s eight regions (and capital, Bamako).|
Timbuktu, Gao, and Kidal (and, in some versions of the situation, Mopti)
form the Independent State of Azawad.
Somaliland Claims Ethiopian Militia Incursions over Border in Wake of Zenawi Death. The de facto independent but unrecognized Republic of Somaliland—which the rest of the world regards as part of the Somali Republic—this week accused police from across the border in Ethiopia of making repeated incursions into Somaliland territory. The “Liyuu Police” are actually a militia under the control of regional leaders in Zone 5 of Ethiopia’s vast Afar Regional State. Both countries built up military forces along their border (as reported last week in this blog) following the death on August 20th of Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia’s long-time authoritarian prime minister. Liyuu Police are also said to be holding five abducted Somaliland customs officers and to have recently provided security services to the rogue separatist government of the formally disbanded Khaatumo State (a.k.a. Sool, Sanaag, and Cayn, or S.S.C., State) within Somaliland. [Related articles: “Somalia the ‘Failed State’—So What Are Somaliland and Puntland? Chopped Liver?” (Feb. 2012), “Somaliland’s Own Mo Farah Clinches Olympic Immortality” (Aug. 2012).]
Oromo and Sidama Rebels Hope for Stability in Wake of Ethiopian Leader’s Death. In statements released August 22nd, two rebel groups in Ethiopia, the Ogaden National Liberation Front (O.N.L.F.) and the Sidama Liberation Front (S.L.F.), hoped that the death of Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia’s authoritarian prime minister, two days earlier, would bring an opportunity for greater stability and freedom in the country. The Sidama statement was stronger, stating, “Meles is gone, but the system he championed has continued preying on Sidama innocents. ... The army ... has continued intimidating and terrorizing Sidama people.” The O.N.L.F. and the S.L.F., along with the Oromo Liberation Front (O.L.F.), form the People’s Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (A.F.D.), a national political party. The Oromo occupy a large province called Oromia in southern Ethiopia, while the Sidama are one among several ethnic groups forming the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region (the actual name of the province). The Ogaden speak a Somali language and have a region covering much of the border with the Somali Republic. Zenawi himself was a Tigray, from northern Ethiopia.
|Map showing the ethnically defined regions into which Ethiopia is subdivided.|
(“Southern” is the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region, home to the Sidama.)
Clan Leaders Rally for Restoration of Uganda’s Ankole Kingdom. More than 200 clan leaders from the Nkore and Hema (a.k.a. Hima) ethnic groups representing constituent groups of the old Ankole Kingdom met August 27th at a country club in Mbarara, in southwestern Uganda, to argue for the reinstatement of their monarchy. In 1967, the dictator President Milton Obote abolished the purely ceremonial kingdoms entrenched in independent Uganda’s first constitution of 1962. In the 1990s, five of the kingdoms—Toro, Bunyoro (a.k.a. Bunyoro-Kitara), Buganda, Busoga, and Rwenzururu—were restored, but Ankole was not. George William Katatumba, prime minister of the Ankole kingdom, told the gathered youth and elders in Mbarara, “We lost out a lot of opportunities. We are now at the moment like bees without a queen, bees with a king. They fly over the place without guidance.” Earlier this month (as reported in this blog), supporters of the restoration of the Busongora Kingdom came into conflict with the reigning Rwenzururu monarch.
South African Boeremag Plotters Plea for Leniency, Time Served; 1 Let Off with Bail. As sentencing begins for the 20 members of the South African white-supremacist Boeremag militia convicted of high treason this month (as reported, for example, last week in this blog), the judge in Pretoria this week granted one of the militiamen, Adriaan van Wyk, a 47-year-old accountant, R15,000 bail. Van Wyk is considered one of the least complicit among the defendants and has already served 10 years behind bars awaiting trial. Another convict, 44-year-old Jurie Vermeulen, apologized to the court for his actions—which included plotting to assassinate Nelson Mandela, overthrow the government of South Africa, and reinstitute apartheid—and also appealed for clemency. He has already served more than seven years.
Independent Scotland May Lose Nuclear Subs but Will Keep EastEnders. The leader of the separatist Scottish National Party (S.N.P.) and First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, said August 24th that some British Broadcasting Corporation (B.B.C.) would be unavailable to Scottish viewers after independence as the country develops its own public broadcasting service. Salmond did, however, reassure the public that EastEnders would continue to be available, and in so doing he may have removed the last remaining barrier to full Scottish independence. [Related articles: “Succession or Accession—Could Scotland Leave Britain but Stay in Europe?” (Jan. 2012), “Orkney—the Next Dubai? Further Reflections on Scottish Independence” (Feb. 2012), “Celts, Cypriots, Aborigines Raise Stink at Olympics: Ethnonationalist Protest Update” (July 2012).]
Wanted Basque Separatist Arrested in France for Police Attacks. The Spanish ministry of the interior announced on August 27th that Spanish and French police arrested one Arturo Villanueva Arteaga, in Urrugne, in southwestern France, on terrorism charges. Arteaga, who is 35, had been wanted since 2003 for attacks against police in Pamplona, Spain, on behalf of the now-disarmed Basque separatist group ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatusana, “Basque Homeland and Freedom”). [Related article: “The World’s 21 Sexiest Separatists,” featuring a profile of the Basque warrior Idoia López Riaño, a.k.a. la Tigresa.]
[For the latest news from the North Caucasus (including Dagestan, Chechnya, and Ingushetia), see today’s article “Caucasus Update: Chechen-Ingush Border Conflict; Female Breakdancing Suicide-Bomber in Dagestan; South Azerbaijani Separatism; Is Georgia Supporting Islamism in Russia?”]
BITS OF ASIA THAT LIKE TO PRETEND THEY’RE PART OF EUROPE
[For the latest news from the South Caucasus, including Azerbaijan and Georgia, see today’s article “Caucasus Update: Chechen-Ingush Border Conflict; Female Breakdancing Suicide-Bomber in Dagestan; South Azerbaijani Separatism; Is Georgia Supporting Islamism in Russia?”]
[For the latest news from Turkey, including Turkish Kurdistan, see “Syria and Kurdistan Update, 26 August - 1 September 2012.”]
[For the latest news from Syria, Iraq, and various parts of Kurdistan, see “Syria and Kurdistan Update, 26 August - 1 September 2012.”]
Israeli Court Clears Military in Bulldozing Death of American Activist in Gaza. A court in Israel has ruled for the military in a civil suit over the death of Rachel Corrie, a 23-year-old United States activist for Palestinian rights who was murdered when an Army bulldozer rolled over her and crushed her during a demonstration in the Gaza Strip in 2003. The judge called the death a “regrettable accident” and ruled that the army was not responsible since the killing occurred during a war-time situation. The logic here is clear: Israel is surrounded by enemies, Israel is always at war, Israel can kill whoever it wants. [Related article: “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012” (Dec. 2011).]
2 Rockets Fall on Israeli Town at Gaza Border. Two rockets on August 31st struck the small city of Sderot, within Israel but on the edge of the Gaza Strip. No one was injured but a house was damaged. Presumably, like others before them, the rockets were fired from within the Gaza territory.
U.N. Warns Gaza Strip Will Be Unlivable by 2020. The United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator in the Gaza Strip portion of the Palestinian Territories, Matthew Gaylard, issued a scorching report August 27th, warning that by 2020 the enclave may become uninhabitable, due to water and power supplies, poor health-care, education, and sanitation, and other problems brought about by overcrowding and by Israel’s pitiless blockade. Since 2007, Gaza has been ruled by an elected local government run by Hamas, an Islamist terrorist organization, which has divided it politically and socially from the rest of the Palestinian Territories as well. The Gaza Strip, surrounded by Israel, Egypt, and the Mediterranean, is only 141 square miles but with a population of 1.7 million that is predicted to increase by nearly a third over the next eight years. If independent, the Gaza Strip would be the 3rd most densely populated country in the world, after Monaco and Singapore. (Palestine as a whole already ranks 8th.) Its population is one of the world’s youngest. 51% are under 18. [Related article: “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012” (Dec. 2011).]
3 Jewish Children Arrested for West Bank Firebombing. Three Jewish boys, ages 12 to 13, were arrested this week on suspicion of throwing a firebomb at a Palestinian vehicle in the Israeli-controlled West Bank early in the month. Six people were injured in the incident, including two children. [Related article: “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012” (Dec. 2011).]
Israel Turns Away 100 “Welcome to Palestine” Activists at West Bank Border. About 100 pro-Palestinian activists from the “Welcome to Palestine” campaign were denied entrance to the West Bank on August 26th by Israeli customs officials. The ministry of defense called the group “provocateurs and known troublemakers.” Three from the United States were among those turned away. The activists were delivering school supplies to Palestinian refugee camps in Bethlehem—which the Israeli government called a “failed publicity stunt,” saying that there was no shortage of school supplies in the West Bank. [Related article: “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012” (Dec. 2011).]
South Yemeni Separatist Killed in Drive-By Shooting in Aden. In Yemen, a protest camp run by the separatist South Yemen Movement in Aden, the former South Yemeni capital, was fired on by unknown gunmen in a drive-by shooting on August 26th, killing one separatist. The northern Arab Republic of Yemen and southern People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen reunified as the Republic of Yemen in 1990, but sectarian and tribal divisions resurfaced in a 1994 civil war and, more recently, in the chaos of the Arab Spring revolution. [Related article: “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012” (Dec. 2011).]
|A flag of South Yemen on display in Aden|
Former Islamist Leader in Pakistan Warns of Separatism in Waziristan. The former head of Pakistan’s main far-right-wing Islamist political party, Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, warned this week that continued assaults by Pakistan’s central government and the United States against Taliban-linked militants in the North Waziristan Agency of the lawless Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) along the border with Afghanistan may lead to separatism in the region. The leader, Qazi Hussain Ahmad, who is now retired, said that the aim of the U.S. in Pakistan was not to defeat militants but to weaken Pakistan, with the more global geopolitical aim of strengthening India as a counterweight to China.
|Map showing the location of Waziristan in Pakistan|
500 Kachin Forced Back into Burma from China as Government Offensive Builds. About 500 Kachin refugees returned home to northern Burma (a.k.a. Myanmar) over the August 25-26 weekend after being forced out of their refugee camps over the border in the People’s Republic of China’s Yunnan province. They join another 1,000 that had already been returned. One Chinese refugee camp still has over 500 residents, but many more Kachin refugees are living with relatives in Yunnan. Meanwhile, the Burmese government escalated its war against the Kachin this week, causing an estimated 90,000 civilians to be displaced. [Related article: “The Moment Burma’s Ethnic Minorities Have Been Waiting for” (Jan. 2012).]
2 Tibetan Teenagers Self-Immolate at Monastery in Sichuan Province. The Tibetan exile group Free Tibet announced that two more young Tibetans had killed themselves by setting themselves on fire in Aba, a volatile county in a Tibetan-dominated portion of the People’s Republic of China’s Sichuan province. The two were Lobsang Kalsang, an 18-year-old monk, and Damchoek, a 17-year-old former monk, who self-immolated in front of a monastery and both died later in a hospital. As they died, they chanted slogans protesting P.R.C. rule in what China calls the Tibet Autonomous Region. Free Tibet now counts 51 self-immolations since 2009. [Related articles: “China, Tibet, and the Politics of Reincarnation” (March 2012), “10 Ethnonationalist Causes That Might Disrupt the Olympics” (July 2012).]
|A vigil by Tibetan exiles|
Probe Urged into Papuan Separatist’s Assassination by Australian-Trained Élite Forces. A report on August 28th that the assassination, in June, of a separatist leader in West Papua was carried out by an Indonesian anti-terrorism unit trained by Australia’s military has left Australian politicians scrambling to respond. Australia’s prime minister, Julia Gillard, has asked Indonesia’s president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, about it, and the two countries’ foreign ministers have also parleyed. The separatist, Mako Tabuni, who was supposedly shot and killed while resisting arrest (as reported at the time in this blog), is now said to have been picked off by an élite anti-terrorism squad called Detachment 88. The Australian foreign minister, Bob Carr, demanded a full inquiry, saying that providing anti-terrorism training to Indonesia’s military is “in Australia’s interests,” but “we don’t train them in counterinsurgency.” The initial report, on Australia’s A.B.C. network, also suggests covert Australian links to torture of separatists by Indonesian forces. [Related article: “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012” (Dec. 2011).]
|Mako Tabuni, who was perhaps assassinated with Australian assistance|
Separatist Parti Québécois Leads Tight 3-Way Race with Days Left before Vote. In Canada, with only days left before Quebec’s general election on September 4th, the Parti Québécois (P.Q.) is leading the largely three-way race with 33% of votes, according to a poll conducted between August 22nd and 24th, with a margin of error of ±2.2%. The center-right Coalition Avenir Québec (C.A.Q.) coalition, which favors a somewhat softer approach to autonomy than the pro-independence P.Q., has 28% support from eligible voters, while the scandal-plagued incumbent Quebec Liberal Party of Jean Charest has 27%. Charest said August 28th that he would broaden the application of Quebec’s laws protecting and enhancing the French language, but would not alter the laws as his opponent, the P.Q.’s Pauline Marois, has promised to do (as reported recently in this blog). [Related article: “Quebec Cracks Down on Crimes against the State—Like Playing Hopscotch in English” (Nov. 2012).]
Deadline Arrives for Atikamekw Cree Roadblocks of Quebec Logging Roads. Leaders from the Atikamekw branch of the indigenous Cree Nation in Quebec, Canada, were facing a choice this week as the August 30th deadline they made to the federal and provincial governments in July drew near. They asked that a land dispute be settled, or Atikamekw people would resume blockading logging roads, as they had done in June (as reported on in this blog).
United Nations Won’t Mess with Texas, Secretary-General’s Office Claims. The United Nations has reassured Texans that the U.N. has no plans to invade Texas. The statement came from Martin Nesirsky, spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, in response to a judge in Lubbock County, Texas, who expressed his intention (as reported a few days ago in this blog) of banding together with some of his buddies to protect his county from U.N. black helicopters that he believes Barack Obama will send into Texas if reelected United States president in November.
|But does the U.N. even want the place?|
CENTRAL AMERICA & CARIBBEAN
Fortuño Claims Romney’s Support for Puerto Rican Statehood. The governor of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, a disenfranchised protectorate of the United States, said August 29th that he had gotten assurances from Mitt Romney, the Republican former Massachusetts governor running for president of the U.S., that he had the candidate’s support in the territory’s quest to become the 51st state. Fortuño is a member of the New Progressive Party of Puerto Rico (P.N.P.), a pro-statehood party, but is registered nationally as a Republican. A referendum on whether to seek independence, become a state, or keep the status quo will be on the November ballot. [Related article: “What Is a Colony? The United Nations’ Definition Needs an Overhaul” (June 2012).]
Up to 80 Yanomami Tribespeople Massacred by Gold Miners in Venezuela. Perhaps as many as 80 members of the Yanomami (also spelled Yąnomamö) indigenous ethnic group near the border with Brazil in southern Venezuela’s portion of the Amazon basin have been murdered by gold miners, according to Survival International this week. It took days for news of the massacre to reach the nearest town with links to the outside world. A communal house was torched, with many burned bodies found inside. Only three survivors from the Irotatheri community have been accounted for.
Somali-British Gold Medalist Mo Farah Becomes Father of Twin Girls. The Somali-British runner Mohammed “Mo” Farah, who won two Olympic gold medals for Team Britain in London this summer and is from the de facto independent Republic of Somaliland, became the father of twin baby girls on August 25th. The girls have yet to be named, but Farah plans to have their names engraved on his two Olympic gold medals. Farah was already stepfather to his wife Tania’s daughter Rihanna, from a previous relationship. [Related article: “Somaliland’s Own Mo Farah Clinches Olympic Immortality” (Aug. 2012).]
|Mo Farah’s step-daughter Rihanna, with her two (as yet unnamed) baby half-sisters.|
[You can read more about these and many other separatist and new-nation movements, both famous and obscure, in my new book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas just published by Litwin Books under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements and Aspirant Nations, from Abkhazia to Zanzibar. The book, which contains 46 maps and 554 flags (or, more accurately, 554 flag images), is available for order now on Amazon. Meanwhile, please “like” the book (even if you haven’t read it yet) on Facebook and see this interview for more information on the book.]