ME and Ophelia

Sunday, August 01, 2004

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US special forces in Sudan hunting down Saudi terrorists

Aug 1: British soldiers have been put on standby for a possible deployment to Sudan. Soldiers of the 12 Mechanized Brigade were being briefed this weekend about a possible trip to the northwestern Dafur region.

12 Mechanised Brigade is the Army's 6th deployable brigade and forms part of The 3rd (United Kingdom) Division which is based in Tidworth. (Note to readers: I was born in Tidworth where my late father served as a soldier in the British Army's Royal Army Medical Corps).

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Defence described a news article as "just speculation", but she repeated comments made by Britain's top military commander last week that the country could send troops to Sudan if they were requested. She said no such request had been made.

Update Aug 1: Yay for Britain! Here is the third report I've seen today saying: "British soldiers on standby to avert humanitarian disaster in Darfur". Report excerpts: "Soldiers of the 12th Mechanised Infantry Brigade, based on Salisbury Plain, are being told that they might have to go to Sudan.

Opposition from Sudan's forces - long suspected of arming and training the Janjaweed - would make the protection of an international aid effort hugely complex. It would mean that most supplies would have to come overground from the Mediterranean via Libya, possibly with forward staging posts in Chad. "It would be a very complicated logistical operation," a senior British Army logistician said. In a force of about 5,000 troops sent from Britain, at least 2,000 would have to be transport, engineering and communications experts.

One option would be to stage an airlift from the Red Sea and the French bases at Djibouti - but any threat of confrontation by Sudan's air force - which has more than 40 Russian and Chinese interceptors and bombers - would rule this out, according to air defence experts.

Meanwhile, African states also held a summit in Accra, the Ghanaian capital, last week to discuss the Darfur crisis. The African Union has sent 80 observers to Darfur, backed up by a protection force of 300 troops. Britain and the European Union have provided logistical and financial support but have so far not got directly involved. This is the first operation of its type by the African Union, and is a test of whether it can become an effective enforcer in the region."
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Hunting down al-Qa'eda

Aug 1 UK Telegraph report confirms special forces are in Sudan hunting down Saudi Arabian terrorists who have re-established secret al-Qa'eda training camps in remote mountain ranges in the north-eastern quarter of the country.

American forces are hunting a series of groups linked to al-Qa'eda across North Africa. The terrorists, who are thought to take orders from Saudi Arabia's most wanted man, Saleh Awfi, have taken refuge in at least three locations in the Jebel Kurush mountains, which run parallel to the Red Sea coast of Africa's biggest country.

An American Delta Force officer, who recently spent a week in Sudan tracking the terrorists, said the camps are used to train new recruits to wage jihad, or holy war, against the West and its allies. The trainees are instructed how to handle weapons and build and transport bombs.

Special anti-terrorist operations in Sudan and the Horn of Africa are undertaken by marines based in Camp Lemonier in Djibouti.

Note: see previous post here July 21 re new US intelligence HQ in Djibouti.
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French soldiers to deliver it to refugees from Darfur

French troops stationed in Chad have been have been mobilised to help secure the border between Chad and Darfur in Sudan. They've flown a plane load of UN aid into eastern Chad where French soldiers prepare to deliver it to refugees from Darfur. I wonder if this connection to the World Food Programme air drops reported to be taking place over three days. I still cannot understand why the French have not helped out sooner when the UN aid agencies were screaming out for helicopters to distribute aid. French soldiers are always in that region with a load of jets and stuff. I wonder if the French are getting paid to do this. See below post on how many hundreds of millions WFP has in its kitty.
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Update: Aug 1: Rwanda is to investigate France's alleged role in the mass killing of Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994. The Rwandan government said it was setting up an "independent commission charged with assembling the evidence of France's involvement in the genocide". Paris denies responsibility - although it has admitted supporting Rwanda's former Hutu-led government.
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Today in 1747, the wearing of tartan (US = plaid) was prohibited. The penalty for a first offence was six months' imprisonment and, for a second, seven years' transportation.

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 8/01/2004
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