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Aug 6, 2014

U.S. to spend up to $550 million on African rapid response forces

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States will announce on Wednesday plans to spend $110 million a year over the next three to five years to help African nations develop peacekeeping forces that can be rapidly deployed to head off militant threats and other crises, an Obama administration official told Reuters.

President Barack Obama is expected to unveil the program during the third day of a summit of African heads of state in Washington, along with another U.S. plan to spend an initial $65 million to bolster security institutions in Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Tunisia, the official said.

Aug 6, 2014

Somalia’s president expects new military push to begin in days

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud told Reuters on Tuesday he expected a new military drive by African Union and Somali forces to start in the next few days to push al Shabaab militants from more territory.

Al Shabaab ruled most of the southern region of Somalia from 2006 until 2011 when African forces drove them out of Mogadishu and then expelled them from most urban centers in a nation that has faced war and turmoil for more than two decades.

Aug 5, 2014

U.S., South Sudan prod rebels as peace efforts sputter

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry both prodded rebels in the African country to engage in sputtering peace efforts on Tuesday after mediators said they failed to show up for the latest round of talks.

At least 10,000 people have been killed since fierce fighting erupted in the capital, Juba, in December pitting Kiir’s government forces against supporters of Riek Machar, his former deputy and longtime political rival.

Jul 31, 2014

U.S. defends supplying Israel ammunition during Gaza conflict

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Thursday called on Israel to do more to protect civilians in its military offensive in Gaza and condemned an Israeli strike on a U.N.-run school, even as it defended moves to resupply its close ally with ammunition.

The White House reiterated its position that it was Israel’s right to defend itself and described the resupply of ammunition disclosed as the fighting raged this week as “routine.”

Jul 25, 2014

U.S. tells Pakistan: Do not let Haqqani fighters resettle

ASPEN Colorado (Reuters) – The U.S. government urged Pakistan on Friday to prevent displaced Haqqani militants from returning to their traditional sanctuary after a Pakistani military offensive near the Afghanistan border.

The Haqqani network, which mainly operates out of Pakistan’s border areas, has been blamed for some of the deadliest and most sophisticated attacks on NATO and Afghan troops in Afghanistan.

Jul 20, 2014

China sends spy ship off Hawaii during U.S.-led drills

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – China has sent a spy ship to international waters off of Hawaii during a giant U.S.-led naval exercise involving 22 countries, even as Beijing participates in the drills for the first time this year, the U.S. Navy said on Sunday.

The Navy played down any U.S. intelligence risk associated with the proximity of the Chinese surveillance vessel and noted that China also sent a similar ship to monitor the last Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise two years ago.

Jul 19, 2014

U.S. scrambles to determine who fired Russian-made missile at jet

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Satellite images show a plume of smoke left by the ground-to-air missile that brought down Malaysia Airlines flight 17. Infrared sensors recorded the moment when the airliner exploded.

As U.S. analysts sift through fragments of intelligence to try to pin down who fired the missile and why, and where it came from, they are running into difficult questions.

Jul 2, 2014

Exclusive: U.S. discloses secret Somalia military presence, up to 120 troops

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. military advisors have secretly operated in Somalia since around 2007 and Washington plans to deepen its security assistance to help the country fend off threats by Islamist militant group al Shabaab, U.S. officials said.

The comments are the first detailed public acknowledgement of a U.S. military presence in Somalia dating back since the U.S. administration of George W. Bush and add to other signs of a deepening U.S. commitment to Somalia’s government, which the Obama administration recognized last year.

Jul 1, 2014

How Boko Haram is beating U.S. efforts to choke its financing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – When Washington imposed sanctions in June 2012 on Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, he dismissed it as an empty gesture.

Two years later, Shekau’s skepticism appears well founded: his Islamic militant group is now the biggest security threat to Africa’s top oil producer, is richer than ever, more violent and its abductions of women and children continue with impunity.

Jul 1, 2014

Insight – How Boko Haram is beating U.S. efforts to choke its financing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – When Washington imposed sanctions in June 2012 on Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, he dismissed it as an empty gesture.

Two years later, Shekau’s scepticism appears well founded: his Islamic militant group is now the biggest security threat to Africa’s top oil producer, is richer than ever, more violent and its abductions of women and children continue with impunity.

    • About Phil

      "Phil Stewart has worked for Reuters since 1998 and reported from more than 30 countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, China and Egypt. Before becoming a Washington D.C.-based military affairs and intelligence reporter, Phil covered terrorism, foreign affairs and the Vatican from Rome from 2004 until mid-2009. He has also previously been based in Colombia and Brazil as a foreign correspondent. Before joining Reuters, Phil covered U.S. politics out of Washington D.C. for States News Service. He earned his BS in international relations from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. He speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian. ..."
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