Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for Africa

Newsline: US opens new embassy in Chad amid travel ban outcry

The U.S. officially opened a new embassy in Chad, just weeks after facing pushback for including the African country, a key counterterrorism ally, in President Trump’s new travel ban. The dedication is an “important symbol of our enduring partnership with the people of the Republic of Chad,” the State Department said in a statement. The multibuilding complex is situated on a 12-acre site southeast of downtown N’Djamena and includes a chancery, U.S. Marine Corps residence, warehouse, shops, utility building and facilities for the embassy community, according to the State Department. Construction on the $225 million project began in 2015. Operations moved to the new embassy complex this summer, but officials formally dedicated the building on Monday. U.S. Ambassador Geeta Pasi, Acting Director of the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations Ambassador William Moser and Chadian government officials were all involved in the dedication. But the move comes as the White House has faced scrutiny for including Chad, a reliable counterterrorism ally in Africa, in Trump’s latest travel ban.



Newsline: Burglars break into Moroccan ambassador’s home, flee in his car in Athens

Police in Athens were on Monday seeking the intruders who broke into the home of the Moroccan ambassador to Greece in Palaio Psychico in the early hours of the morning. The perpetrators, who have not been identified, stole cash and valuables from the house before fleeing in the ambassador’s diplomatic car which had been parked outside. It was unclear if anyone had been in the property at the time of the breakin.


Newsline: EU Aims to Reopen Embassy in Libya

The European Union is seeking to reopen its embassy in Libya pending security conditions, officials said on Tuesday, offering further political support for the Tripoli government struggling to establish control. EU leaders will announce at their summit in Brussels on Oct. 19-20 that they “encourage work underway to rapidly establish a permanent EU presence in Libya”, according to their draft joint statement seen by Reuters. But the statement makes clear no such move is imminent as it would be conditional on improving the security situation on the ground. The EU moved its mission to neighboring Tunisia in mid-2014 as security worsened in Libya amid escalating fighting between rival factions since the 2011 fall of longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi, ousted by rebels during a NATO bombing campaign. Of 28 EU states, only Italy, Libya’s former colonial master and still the most influential European state on the ground, has an embassy in the country.


Newsline: ‘Oil diplomat’ Rex Tillerson is so bad for Africa

Tensions may be simmering between US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and President Donald Trump over his “moron” comment, but if he remains in his job his “oil diplomacy” will continue its negative impact on the African continent. Since Tillerson became chief executive of ExxonMobil in 2006, his interest in Africa was driven by the need to maximise profits in terms of Exxon’s oil investments. Oil projects require huge amounts of capital and only pay off fully over decades. This means companies such as Exxon prefer countries with political stability, which is often equated with authoritarian rule. The key is to be able to predict what the country will be like in two decades’ time. With this in mind, Exxon has cut deals with long-serving leaders in major oil producing countries such as Angola, Equatorial Guinea and Chad. All three countries’ presidents have amassed their wealth with Exxon as the company with a major stake in the oil industry in all three countries. ExxonMobil is the largest oil producer in Equatorial Guinea, while the ExxonMobil-led consortium in Chad produces most of the country’s oil, and ExxonMobil and Chevron account for one third of Angola’s oil production. But now as Secretary of State, Tillerson will continue to prioritise the interests of US oil industry shareholders. It is also important to note that Tillerson only has to recuse himself from matters relating to ExxonMobil for the first two years of his term as Secretary of State. For as long as Tillerson is US Secretary of State, the profit motive driving US multinationals in Africa will be central to US considerations. The need to develop some of the poorest countries in the world will not enter the equation, and African strongmen will continue to amass their fortunes.


Newsline: UK embassy now permanently staffed in Tripoli

Turkey and Italy are the only two countries to have formally reopened their embassies in Tripoli although the British and Dutch now have a rolling permanent presence. This means that there are diplomats in Tripoli all the time, replacing each other regularly. This past week saw almost the entire British embassy staff back in the capital.


Newsline: Hungary plans to reopen embassy in Libya

The Libyan government said that Hungary prepares to reopen its embassy in the country. The announcement came after a meeting between UN-backed deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq and Hungarian Ambassador to Libya Bela Marton in the capital Tripoli, media office of the prime minister said in a statement. Marton said Hungary will send a technical team in November to prepare for the return of the Hungarian Embassy in Tripoli. Foreign missions in Libya evacuated from Tripoli in 2014 after violence erupted between rival armed groups, which eventually resulted in the current political division.


Newsline: Nigerian activists threaten to occupy UK embassy

A group of activists under the aegis of Advocate of Social Justice for All (ASJA) has threatened to occupy the embassy of the United Kingdom (UK) if the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, is not extradited to Nigeria. In a statement by its Executive Director, Asongo Venatius, ASJA said it was disappointed to learn that Kanu was hiding in the UK, after illegally travelling through Cameroon and Malaysia. According to Venatius, this implies that the UK is harbouring a fugitive from justice, notwithstanding his dual nationalism – Nigeria and the United Kingdom. The statement said: “The proper thing is for the UK to have allowed Kanu answer the treason charges against him in Nigeria before making any intervention.”