Wednesday, August 31, 2011

African Powers Turn Their Attention To Guinea-Bissau

African Powers Turn Attention to Guinea-Bissau

African Powers Turn Attention to Guinea-Bissau
Guinea-Bissau Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Jr. (L) and Parliamentary Speaker Raimundo Pereira
Guinea-Bissau has received considerable international attention recently, particularly from the governments of South Africa, Angola and Nigeria. This notable amount of attention for the largely politically insignificant country has largely come in the form of security cooperation, as the three African powers attempt to combat militant elements and drug trafficking in Guinea-Bissau. Each country has its own reasons for pouring resources into Guinea-Bissau, however, and the three will both cooperate and compete with one another as their attention increases.
South African Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe began Aug. 30 a two-day official visit to Guinea-Bissau. Molanthe, hosted by Bissau Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Jr., will discuss security- and defense-sector reform during his trip, as well as efforts to combat drug trafficking. He is accompanied by South African State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele, Deputy Minister of International Relations Marius Fransman, Deputy Minister of Defense and Military Veterans Thabang Makwetla and Deputy Minister of Health Gwen Ramokgopa.
The visit is one of several examples of the considerable attention Guinea-Bissau has been receiving recently from the dominant African powers. Angola and Nigeria both have reached out to the country over security, and international organizations such as the United Nations and European Union are providing support to the Bissau government to combat drug trafficking and other illicit trafficking and money moving. Such attention is notable for Guinea-Bissau. It is one of the poorest countries in Africa, with few resources and no political influence (other than as a result of its “narco-state” vulnerabilities, or predations) beyond its borders. While combating drug trafficking is a legitimate international concern, the positioning of security forces — and militant threats — in Guinea-Bissau is compelling the governments of Angola, South Africa and Nigeria to mobilize significant attention and resources there.
Angola launched the Angolan Security Mission in Guinea-Bissau on March 21 to provide military assistance to the country. STRATFOR sources say Angola has approximately 140 commandos stationed in Guinea-Bissau’s capital, Bissau, at the Bissau Palace Hotel, which Angola bought and refurbished. Angola also has provided $30 million for security-sector reform for the country. Luanda’s stated reason for its military assistance is the countries’ shared Portuguese colonial background, but the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) also wants to monitor elements of anti-MPLA militants possibly being harbored in Guinea-Bissau. Moreover, STRATFOR sources say MPLA officials use Guinea-Bissau as a hub to launder money diverted from Angolan government coffers, as well as a base to project influence into the broader Gulf of Guinea region.
South Africa is interested in both a security relationship and a resource-development relationship with Guinea-Bissau. While Guinea-Bissau has few resources, they are largely untapped, and Pretoria thus could see to the development of Guinea-Bissau’s oil, bauxite, phosphate, gold, uranium, nickel and others, as well as in Bissau’s agriculture sector. The South African government is liaising with Angola in the security field, as the two are involved in Guinea-Bissau’s security sector reform initiatives, though each is there under bilateral accords with Guinea-Bissau, not as a result of any international agreement. This cooperation is likely a way for Pretoria to keep an eye on its rival.
Nigeria also has reached out to Guinea-Bissau on security; at an Aug. 19 meeting with Bissau Foreign Minister Adelino Mano Queta, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said security and defense reform in the small west African nation will be a top agenda item when Nigeria hosts the Economic Community of West African States summit in September. Of the three powers interested in Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria is geographically closest, viewing it as part of its West African sphere of influence. Nigeria has been involved in Guinea-Bissau’s security sector reform initiatives in the past and will reinforce its assistance at the very least to monitor the activities of its African rivals, South Africa and Angola.
The Bissau government is chronically weak — the past few days have seen a massive reshuffling, with nine top ministers fired from their posts. A long history of political coups and assassinations has left a military both powerful and corrupt. This makes the country vulnerable to foreign manipulation, both by the several foreign governments interested in the country or by networks such as Latin American drug cartels, though it has yet to fall under the influence of any single outside power. This includes Western governments; the United States and France cooperate extensively in neighboring Guinea, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso, the United States is the dominant force in Liberia and the United Kingdom is a political force in Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau remains largely uncaptured by these interests. With Guinea-Bissau vulnerable to security concerns such as drug traffickers, weapons smuggling and militants, Angola, South Africa, and Nigeria are taking matters in their own hands, and are responding with increasing attention and assistance to counterbalance one another as they cooperate — and compete — in this geopolitical space.

Read more: African Powers Turn Attention to Guinea-Bissau | STRATFOR 

Impala Platinum To Invest $10 Billion US In Zimbabwe


IMPALA Platinum Holdings Limited, the world’s second-largest producer of the precious metal is to invest over US$10 billion in Zimbabwe to expand production. This follows after the government of Zimbabwe passed a law earlier this year to force foreign companies to cede at least 51% of their local assets to black Zimbabweans. Zimbabwe has the world’s largest platinum reserves after South Africa and this makes Impala the biggest investor in Zimbabwean mining currently.

According to a Company statement, the Impala unit, now known as Zimplats Holdings Limited, produced 182,100oz of platinum in this year to 30 June and is in the middle of a US$460 million expansion of its Ngezi mine to boost output to 270,000oz by 2014. The mining company could be looking at starting phase three of the project and beyond, which requires stability.

Impala has until Wednesday of this week to revise its May proposal to satisfy ownership rules, after it was rejected last week. Impala, which produces about 25% of the world’s platinum, is spending R35 billion over the next five years to expand production as rising demand drives up prices. While most of its deposits are in South Africa, 11.3Moz, or almost a third of its total platinum reserves, are in Zimbabwe. That’s worth about US$21 billion at the current platinum price.

Report Says Gaddafi Sheltering In Zimbabwe

Reports say Gaddafi ‘sheltering’ in ZimPDFPrintE-mail
Sunday, 28 August 2011 09:31

A United Kingdom newspaper, the Daily Mail, yesterday claimed that Gaddafi arrived in Zimbabwe last week aboard Mugabe’s private jet.
But President Robert Muga-be’s spokesman George Charamba has dismissed reports that Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi could be in Zimbabwe, implying that the brother leader may not be welcome.

“If you see him, greet him for me,” quipped Charamba, implying that Gaddafi might not be heading to Zimbabwe after all.
Charamba declined to answer subsequent questions on what Zimbabwe’s response would be in case Gaddafi asked for asylum.

Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Jameson Timba said his party could not be drawn into commenting on speculation but rather they would be guided by a decision of the African Union and Sadc.

Speculation has been mounting in recent days that Zimbabwe could provide a safe haven for the ousted leader, with others already claiming that he could have arrived in Harare last Wednesday.

Others claimed that the power cut that hit Harare on Wednesday was meant to ease Gaddafi’s arrival so that he would not be seen.
Gaddafi reportedly owns Rainfield Farm, 20km from Chinhoyi and 50km outside Lion’s Den.

According to the Daily Mail, Mugabe’s political opponents spotted Gaddafi arriving in the country, while some tried to give chase to the motorcade taking the embattled Libyan leader to Gunhill suburb.

Zimbabwe was seen as a destination of choice as it is already home to Mengistu Haile Mariam, the former Ethiopian strongman, wanted for prosecution in his home country.

US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton had, in March, intimated that Gaddafi could be coming to Zimbabwe, although the idea of Mugabe and the Libyan leader together rendered her “speechless”.

Gaddafi has been one of the casualties of the Arab Spring, which saw uprisings across North Africa that also led to the demise of governments in Egyptian and Tunisia.

Zimbabwe and Angola were seen as the countries most likely to offer the Brother Leader asylum, but Charamba all but dismissed any possibility that Gaddafi might be headed to Harare.

What state media said about gaddafi

But while Zimbabwe might be considered to be a likely destination, a columnist with The Herald newspaper, Nathaniel Manheru, believed to be Charamba, wrote earlier this year that Zimbabwe was still smarting from a snub by Gaddafi, over an oil deal.

He said Zimbabwe had helped Libya bust sanctions imposed by the West but the North African country had failed to return the favour and instead had chosen to hobnob with Britain, Mugabe’s sworn enemies.

Writing in March, Manheru claimed that Libya courted Britain to appease for the Lockerbie bombing and sold a stake of its oil company, Tamoil, to the British who would not give Zimbabwe favourable terms to buy fuel at the time the country was faced with biting shortages and a foreign currency crunch.

“Here was Zimbabwe facing the same sanctions Libya had gone through and had defeated them using Africa, specifically Zimbabwe support,” Manheru wrote.

“Why would Libya not help out a brother country in a similar predicament?”
Manheru further accused Gaddafi of taking sides with the West, much to the chagrin of Russia, China and Africa, who felt betrayed at the Libyan leader’s about turn in befriending Western nations.

“But his fate illustrates one important lesson for Africa and those who wield African power. It is when you have done all to appease the West, including selling off family silver to it, that you are at your most vulnerable,” Manheru continued.

“After that, you will be so worthless to the West, that only your own death becomes the last rite. You can never placate the Victorians, more so when capitalism is in crisis.”

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

More Pieces Of The Puzzle On Gadhafi's Whereabouts

Stratfor is one of the best sources of intelligence in the world. They cited a report from Sky News claiming that Gadhafi was last sighted on the afternoon of Friday August 26 in South Tripoli. The source is an alleged body guard.

It is strange that the media is not giving more attention to this. The report that I cited from Zimbabwe's Movement For Democratic Change Party gave a reliable citing first at the Harare Airport and then at one of President Mugabe's mansions in the Harare area later that day. It is fascinating that the Zimbabwe media is silent on this sighting. If ,in fact Gadhafi was not there, they would have been issuing denials going all the way to President Mugabe. Silence can be interpreted as acknowledging the truthfulness of the report. It is also fascinating that the normally lively South african media is silent on reports that Gadhafi is in Zimbabwe.

Another piece of the puzzle is the fact that two of Gadhafi's son, a daughters and his wife made a land crossing at the Libya-Algeria border. Why wasn't Gadhafi with them? The answer is simple and obvious. Gadhafi knew he was a target of NATO jets and Special Operations teams ordered to kill him. If he was caught, his family members might have been killed with him. He left them hiding elsewhere. When he had a safe place to go, he told them to join him.

This morning the Libyan rebels asked that the Gadhafi family members be extradited back to Libya. I suspect they are already in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe is a perfect place for him to seek sanctuary. President Mugabe and his generals will protect him from extradition. They would also protect him from an possible kidnapping attempts by western powers and mercenaries. President Mugabe is not doing this out of the kindness of his heart. He is literally getting paid millions of dollars for this help.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Muammar Gaddafi In Zimbabwe

Muammar Gaddafi In Zimbabwe?

Mon 29 Aug 2011, 13:24      0  comment(s)    Email article
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Yesterday I reported to readers that Gaddafi was sighted last Wednesday in Harare. Sources inside the Movement For Democratic Change party confirmed the sighting of Gaddafi and his all-female body guard force in Harare last Wednesday. They mentioned a specific house and wealthy subdivision where Gaddafi was stying.
The main stream media has not picked up this report yet. I believe it. Mugabe would give such a man assylum provided that "the money was right."
Let us see what happens in the next few days.

Friday, August 26, 2011

US May Be Providing Security Assistance To Ivory Coast President

show details 8:00 AM (5 hours ago)
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U.S. May Be Providing Security Assistance to Ivorian President

August 26, 2011 | 1433 GMT
U.S. May Be Providing Security Assistance to Ivorian President
Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on Aug. 7
Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara flew to the United States and France in separate instances on aircraft registered to U.S. companies. STRATFOR believes the United States could be providing additional security to Ouattara, who will likely face threats after having emerged victorious from a recent civil conflict. Such a move is consistent with the U.S. approach to combat al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and drug trafficking in West Africa.
Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara flew to France on Aug. 24 for a two-week vacation, arriving on a Gulfstream G3 aircraft, tail registration N712AS, privately registered to Andalex Aviation II LLC, a company out of Wilmington, Del. On July 28, Ouattara flew to Washington, and on the following day met with the presidents of Benin, Niger, Guinea and the United States. On that visit, the Ivorian president arrived on a Gulfstream G5 aircraft, tail number N598F, registered to an apartment under the name Jet Greene LLC in Miami Beach, Fla.
It is possible that the aircraft are registered to front companies for U.S. government agencies. Interestingly, Ouattara could have chartered a plane from companies based in countries closer to home or even Ivory Coast, so the question begs: Why would he need to charter a plane registered to an apartment in Miami Beach?
Ouattara only recently assumed the presidency. Although he was democratically elected in 2010, he had to take Abidjan militarily before he could replace his predecessor, Laurent Gbagbo. He now faces threats, including those from the remnants of the Gbagbo regime, and even from within his own camp. The aircraft show that he has found the means by which he will mitigate those threats: U.S. patronage. The United States will use this patronage to ensure Ouattara’s complicity in its regional approach to counter al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and combat drug trafficking in West Africa.

U.S. Support Before and After the Conflict

While such a tactic is anomalous for the United States, it is not without precedent. In 2006, the U.S. government provided security personnel, including Diplomatic Security Service agents, to Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who was elected in 2005 after Liberia emerged from its Second Civil War. The agents likely served only as long as it took to train Liberian forces for the task.
In the case of Ivory Coast, the United States was a staunch supporter of Ouattara from the moment he won the controversial election. However, there is no evidence to support the idea that the United States was directly involved in the Ivorian conflict, unlike France. (Paris sent military assistance in the final siege of Abidjan, deploying attack helicopters to destroy Gbagbo’s defenses at his presidential compound.) Indeed, U.S. support of Ouattara appeared to be rhetorical throughout the conflict.
But if the United States is providing transportation to Ouattara through U.S. government offices or U.S. corporations, it could be a sign that the Washington was more involved in the conflict than was previously thought. The United States is unlikely to approach Ouattara with gifts of private jets for no reason; it is likely that the two sides were in talks all along, and any talks would likely entail U.S. protection, given the violence surrounding Ouattara’s ascension to power.

Mitigating Potential Threats

It is unsurprising that there could be threats to the Ouattara regime. Now that Ouattara is in power, assassination attempts by those loyal to the Gbagbo regime, unhappy to be out of power, are a danger. Also, dissatisfied members within Ouattara’s former power base could pose a threat. Ibrahim Coulibaly, for example, was the leader of the militia that was instrumental in the fight to bring Ouattara to power. After Ouattara defeated forces loyal to Gbagbo, Republican Forces led by current Prime Minister Guillame Soro killed Coulibaly in an offensive against his compound in Abidjan’s Abobo district. If Coulibaly’s supporters perceive that Ouattara was responsible for his death, assassination attempts cannot be ruled out. Finally — and notably — there is the potential threat posed by Soro. The prime minister is a cunning political actor who is thought to have recently benefited fromBurkinabe presidential security forces that will serve as his personal security detail. Ouattara has no doubt identified Soro, just under 40 years old, as a potential long-term threat and could seek to bolster his own security via the United States.
Transportation would not be provided without the tacit permission of the U.S. government. If U.S. companies or agencies are transporting Ouattara, it is probable that the United States is providing additional security assistance to Ivory Coast. This would be in the form of anti-militancy assistance, VIP protection for the government, and security training to the Ivorian presidential protection team.
The United States has every incentive to take on these tasks, as it leads the fight against drug trafficking and AQIM operations in West Africa. In a multi-state effort to fight these operations, the Americans have likely also encouraged Burkina Faso’s involvement in security detail in Guinea. Also, the Burkinabes, have likely provided security for Soro to endear themselves to the West, particularly France — which is still involved in protecting its commercial interests in the West African country — and to position themselves as the West’s regional enforcer. (Notably, the United States is taking the lead in supporting Ivory Coast, likely in an effort to outbid France.)
With U.S. security assistance, Ouattara can be expected to survive the potential threats against him, which in turn will help him serve in office longer than he would without that assistance. In return, the United States has yet another ally in the region, one who will ensure its interests in combating militancy and drug trafficking operations are met.
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Ethiopia Aims To Press Gains Against Eritrea In Somalia

show details 6:10 PM (10 hours ago)
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Ethiopia Aims to Press Gains Against Eritrea in Somalia

August 26, 2011 | 0054 GMT
Ethiopia Aims to Press Gains Against Eritrea in Somalia
Somali President Sharif Ahmed (L) and African Union Commissioner Jean Ping in Addis Ababa on Aug. 25
The East African Inter-Governmental Authority on Development concluded its meeting in Addis Ababa on Aug. 25, ahead of a scheduled African Union meeting Aug. 26 during which Ethiopia’s prime minister has promised to propose additional security assistance for Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG). The assistance is intended to erode jihadist group al Shabaab’s already-weakened position in the country and ensure the obedience of the TFG — of which Addis Ababa is the primary backer — while also limiting the ability of rival Eritrea to assist al Shabaab and thus generate a security threat along Ethiopia’s border.
Developments in Somalia were the main topic of discussion during a two-day meeting of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) that concluded Aug. 25 in Addis Ababa. The meeting took place at a time when  al Shabaab, the jihadist group that has plagued Somalia for years, is fractured and disorganized. Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said during the conference that the six-nation East African bloc has formed a plan to provide security assistance for Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) as the latter attempts to expand aid deliveries into areas no longer under the control of the militant group. The meeting also takes place only a few weeks after Eritrea formally asked to rejoin the regional body, which is currently headed by Ethiopia, Eritrea’s longtime rival.
As the primary patron of Somalia’s TFG, Ethiopia views al Shabaab’s setback as a welcome development, but that does not mean Addis Ababa’s worries are over. Eritrea has provided arms and financial and intelligence assistance to al Shabaab in the past, in order to make trouble for the TFG and, by extension, Ethiopia. If Eritrea decides to ramp up its support and revitalize the militant group, recent gains against al Shabaab could be unraveled. However, if Ethiopia’s proposals on security assistance for the TFG are approved at the African Union meeting Aug. 26, they could limit Eritrea’s influence in the al Shabaab-dominated regions of Somalia. The proposals could also leave the TFG even more beholden to Addis Ababa and reduce the ability of TFG figures to stray from Ethiopia’s preferences.
Ethiopia has been the main supporter of Somalia’s TFG over the course of its existence, militarily intervening in Somalia from 2006-2009 and providing funding and administrative assistance — though Uganda provides the bulk of the troops for the African Union Mission in Somalia. The prospect of spillover violence due to Somalia’s shared border with Ethiopia is one of the main reasons Ethiopia has backed the TFG, but not the only one. The historic concept of a “Greater Somalia” in which all of the territories populated by ethnic Somalis would be united in a single country — to include present-day Somalia, northeastern Kenya, eastern Ethiopia and Djibouti — has been alive since before the colonial period. With approximately 5.5 million ethnic Somalis living in Ethiopia, Addis Ababa is concerned that Somalia could one day use these ethnic linkages to encroach on Ethiopian territory. This does not appear to be an imminent threat, because the Somalian state is currently in disarray. Anarchy is viewed as a bigger security concern than possible Somali territorial ambitions. Still, these ethnic linkages have motivated Ethiopia to take actions to stabilize its southern neighbor and to ensure Mogadishu’s dependency on Addis Ababa.
Somalia has also received a good deal of attention from Eritrea, but for a decidedly different reason. Asmara sees Somalia and its chaotic security environment as a useful tool to keep Ethiopia distracted. Relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea have been hostile since the latter seceded to form its own country in 1991. When Eritrea broke off, it took with it a considerable amount of territory, including Ethiopia’s only sea access. When the two states fought a war between 1998 and 2000, Ethiopia retook some of the disputed areas, and to this day Eritrea remains concerned that Addis Ababa may at some point revive its military campaign to retake the whole of its former territory. As a way to counter this potential threat, Eritrea has supported militant movements in Somalia, including al Shabaab, providing the group with arms and funding. A weak and chaotic Somalia helps prevent Ethiopia from focusing its attention on Eritrea.
Al Shabaab’s recent setbacks leave Ethiopia in a strong position at the moment. However, the potential involvement of another player in Somalia has Ethiopia concerned. On Aug. 23, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi visited Mogadishu and held a meeting with Somali President Sharif Ahmed, with Salehi promising that Ahmed will make a reciprocal visit at a later date. Though the stated purpose of the meeting was humanitarian assistance for famine-stricken Somalia, Iran has established ties with Eritrea — it has provided intelligence, military, and financial support to Asmara, and is believed to have smuggled weapons to proxy groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon through these links. Some of this Iranian support likely makes its way to al Shabaab via the Eritrean government.
Addis Ababa is reportedly unhappy with Ahmed’s performance as president (it has warmer relations with the country’s speaker of parliament, Sharif Hassan), and Ahmed may be worried that Ethiopia is considering abandoning political support for him. The meeting with Salehi could have been used to explore other sources of political backing. In Somalia, former political leaders have few options after they are pushed out of office. They will thus pursue any measure necessary to stay in power, even an unlikely arrangement with Iran, which goes against Somalia’s primary patron’s wishes.
The visit to Mogadishu by the Iranian foreign minister — a representative of a government with known ties to Eritrea — did not go unnoticed in Addis Ababa. Even during the IGAD meeting, Eritrean Deputy Ambassador to the African Union Benyam Berhe was reportedly kicked out by IGAD Secretary-General Mahbub Mualem because Eritrea’s readmission in the group is still being reviewed. This is not a promising sign for future cooperation between Eritrea and the bloc. Regardless whether Eritrea is eventually readmitted to the bloc, Ethiopia will likely use its influence in the IGAD and the African Union to pursue two goals: preventing Asmara from using external support to revitalize al Shabaab, and closing off prospective players such as Iran from expanding their influence in Somalia at Ethiopia’s expense.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Obstacles For Angolan Opposition Groups

show details 10:04 AM (11 minutes ago)
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Obstacles for Angolan Opposition Groups

August 25, 2011 | 1619 GMT
Obstacles for Angolan Opposition Groups
Angolan police patrol during the African Cup of Nations in January 2010
A protest reportedly planned for Aug. 26 in Luanda by Angolan activist group Revolutionary Movement for Social Intervention (MRIS) is just one day away, though it is unclear if the demonstration actually will occur. STRATFOR sources claim MRIS is actually a creation of the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), and while this cannot be verified, it fits within the MPLA’s historical behavior. In any case, the MPLA will not permit social protests to advance into any meaningful mobilization.
A protest reportedly planned for Aug. 26 in the Angolan capital, Luanda, by Angolan activist group Revolutionary Movement for Social Intervention (MRIS) is just one day away. The group, which has previously held small demonstrations, purportedly was formed to express socio-economic and political discontent with Angola’s ruling party, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA).
The MPLA faces several kinds of opposition groups, from social activists like the MRIS; rebel groups, such as the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC), demanding regional autonomy, if not independence; and militant groups, notably the Angolan Autochthon Resistance for Change (RAAM), which want full regime change. However, the government’s robust security services and an understood and demonstrated lack of hesitation to destroy any threat make it difficult for any opposition group to further its goals.
A large protest in Angola would be significant, but even a small protest, perhaps even numbering in the hundreds, is notable, given the MPLA’s lack of hesitation to crack down and government opponents’ understanding the risks they face should they protest, including being killed. The regime is too deeply entrenched for political change to come simply through voting, and the MPLA’s past behavior in dealing with opposition groups has been swift and often violent. It is thus unclear whether the MRIS protest will take place. Participants at previous MRIS protests have been arrested, and the MPLA government stands ready to arrest again this time. Angolan opposition leaders also are historically in danger of being detained or even kidnapped — STRATFOR sources say prominent human rights activist David Mendes of the opposition Popular Political party was arrested in November 2010 in Uige province and remains in the custody of Angolan security services. If the protest is permitted, it likely will be managed to small numbers.
Opposition militant and rebel groups in the country and neighboring countries are dealt with even more harshly. The Angolan security services, such as internal intelligence agency SINFO and external intelligence agency SIE, are robust and capable of conducting campaigns of deadly force, including infiltration of groups’ memberships, assassinations, kidnappings and poisonings. National borders are immaterial for either agency; the MPLA will order its intelligence agents to carry out cross-border operations against hostile Angolan dissidents or against foreign government officials understood to be harboring Angolan dissidents.
STRATFOR sources say that three leaders of the FLEC recently have been assassinated by the Angolan security services, and media reports corroborate this claim: FLEC head of staff Gen. Gabriel “Firefly” Pea was found dead March 2, military chief of staff Gabriel “Pirilampo” (Glow Worm) Nhemba was found dead March 14, and FLEC northern region operational commander Mauricio “Sabata” Lubota was found dead March 29. Pea and Lubota were found in the city of Pointe-Noire in the Republic of the Congo, which STRATFOR sources say is a rear-guard base for Angolan militant groups such as FLEC and RAAM. This has precedent — Angola’s main opposition party, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), was primarily an armed force before its military defeat by the MPLA in 2002, and it used both Congos as bases of support, training and logistics during the Cold War and in the 1990s. This effectively ended in 1997, when the Angolan government covertly worked to overthrow the Pascal Lissouba government in the Republic of the Congo and the Mobutu Sese Seko government in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (then known as Zaire).
Infiltration and assassination are not the only tools the MPLA uses. STRATFOR sources claim that the MRIS is actually a creation of the MPLA government, financed by SINFO. While this claim cannot be proven, it is notable. MRIS has no publicly recognizable leaders, only youth organizers who have coordinated protests at college campuses and through social media. Moreover, the MPLA has been accused of using this tactic before, creating opposition and financing opposition political parties — a STRATFOR source says this is true for all opposition political parties with the exception of UNITA and the National Liberation Front of Angola. Doing the same for a social activist group would not be beyond the party’s historical behavior. The MPLA could be using the MRIS both as a way to expose or manage internal political threats and to display a facade of democracy to the international community.
In any case, the Angolan government will not relax its grip willingly or peacefully. Powerful dissent exists in the country, but the MPLA’s swift reactions to any perceived unrest have compelled some dissenting factions to violence as a means of bringing about political change. The government’s relentless pursuit of its opponents also means that most committed militants will not reveal themselves until they feel powerful enough to defend themselves against the full force they expect the MPLA to launch against them.