Marawi ‘liberated from Daesh,’ Duterte declares

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte poses with female soldiers during his visit at Bangolo town in Marawi city on Tuesday. (Reuters)
Updated 18 October 2017
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Marawi ‘liberated from Daesh,’ Duterte declares

MANILA: Marawi City has been liberated from Daesh after five months of violence, the Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said on Tuesday.
The day before, special forces from the elite Scout Rangers killed militant leaders Isnilon Hapilon, former head of the Abu Sayyaf group and Daesh leader in Southeast Asia, and Omar Maute, co-founder of the Maute group, which has pledged allegiance to Daesh.
The fighting began in May when the Philippines army and police launched a joint operation in Marawi to capture Hapilon, and the militants counter-attacked. More than 1,000 people have died, mostly militants but including 162 soldiers and police officers and 47 civilians, and more than 300,000 villagers have been displaced from their homes.
“I hereby declare Marawi City liberated from the terrorist influence that marks the beginning of the rehabilitation,” Duterte told soldiers in a speech on Tuesday.
Army chief Gen. Eduardo Ano said the death of Hapilon and Omar was a blow to Daesh.
“We have shown the world that there is no place for any Daesh here in the Philippines. We will not allow it,” he said.
“The death of these two leaders and the neutralization of more than 800 Maute-Daesh members have destroyed their infrastructure and organization here, so this should make other Daesh foreign fighters planning to come here to think twice. We are prepared for them.”
Despite the official declaration that Marawi has been liberated, about 30 militants remain in the city, holding at least 20 hostages.
The remaining fighters include Mahmud Ahmad, a Malaysian professor who has been in the Philippines since 2014 and is expected to replace Hapilon as the local Daesh leader. Ahmad is thought to have channeled about $600,000 from Daesh to pay for weapons and food for militants during the Marawi fighting.
Philippines military chief admitted that the war was “not completely over,” but Ano said: “The small number of the remaining enemy ... does not constitute a serious threat.
“What remains now is mopping up operations against Maute-Daesh stragglers in a small area,” Año said, and the government would now begin damage assessment before rehabilitation and reconstruction.
Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla, the military spokesman, said: “The remaining enemy force is no longer a force to reckon with,” and clearing operations were underway “to finish them off should they decide to continue the fight. Major operations have been concluded.”
Another military spokesman, Col. Edgard Arevalo, said any remaining fighters were “stragglers — leaderless and in disarray. We have significantly degraded their tactical capability and under no circumstances will they be able to reverse the situation that has rendered them defeated.”


Djibouti asks UN help to end border dispute with Eritrea

Djibouti’s UN ambassador, Mohamed Siad Doualeh. (Courtesy: Youtube)
Updated 38 min 29 sec ago
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Djibouti asks UN help to end border dispute with Eritrea

  • Eritrea had successfully resolved a dispute with Yemen over their sea boundary and a Red Sea island through binding international arbitration
  • Djibouti accused Eritrean troops of occupying the Dumeira mountain area

UNITED NATIONS: Djibouti is asking Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to help peacefully resolve a border dispute with Eritrea following the recent end to that nation’s 20-year border dispute with Ethiopia.
Djibouti’s UN ambassador, Mohamed Siad Doualeh, asked Guterres in a letter circulated Wednesday to work with the Security Council to bring his tiny port nation and Eritrea together “with the aim of facilitating an agreement between them upon a mutually acceptable means of peaceful dispute settlement.”
He said Djibouti’s preference would be to refer the dispute “to judicial settlement or arbitration” that would be legally binding.
Djibouti’s appeal to the UN chief follows the dramatic diplomatic thaw to one of Africa’s longest-running conflicts that began last month when Ethiopia’s reformist new prime minister fully accepted a peace deal that ended a 1998-2000 border war with Eritrea that killed tens of thousands.
Doualeh recalled that the Security Council imposed sanctions on Eritrea in 2009 “because of its aggression against Djibouti and its refusal to withdraw its troops from the disputed area, and its rejection of all efforts aimed at mediating between the two parties.”
Djibouti accused Eritrean troops of occupying the Dumeira mountain area shortly after the peacekeepers left on June 13, 2017, and lodged a formal complaint with the African Union.
“Eritrean forces continue to occupy Djiboutian territory, prisoners of war remain unaccounted for, threats of force continue to emanate from the Eritrean side and the risk of violent confrontation is once again high,” Doualeh said.
He warned that without any effort to end the border dispute, the UN monitoring group has said “the situation on the ground remains vulnerable to provocation by both parties, which could result in the rapid escalation of conflict.”
“There is thus an urgent need for a new dispute settlement mechanism,” Doualeh said.
He said Djibouti applauds the secretary-general’s recent decision to refer a longstanding border dispute between Venezuela and Guyana to the International Court of Justice. He also noted that Eritrea had successfully resolved a dispute with Yemen over their sea boundary and a Red Sea island through binding international arbitration.
Doualeh said Djibouti will “consider in good faith any proposals that you or the Security Council might make with regard to the appropriate means of peaceful dispute settlement.”