Office supply glitch? How Chad wound up on travel ban list

Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno. (Courtesy photo)
Updated 19 October 2017
0

Office supply glitch? How Chad wound up on travel ban list

WASHINGTON: This is the story of how an office supply glitch became a major irritant between the United States and one of its close security partners.
When President Donald Trump added the African nation of Chad last month to his most recent installment of travel restrictions, everyone from the Pentagon to Chad’s leaders to the French government was perplexed. The US has praised Chad’s cooperation on counterterrorism, especially its campaign against a vicious Boko Haram insurgency spilling over from Nigeria.
As it turns out, a seemingly pedestrian issue was largely to blame: Chad had run out of passport paper.
Chad and every other country had been given 50 days to prove it was meeting a “baseline” of security conditions the Trump administration says is needed for the US to properly screen potential visitors. One condition was that countries provide a recent sample of its passports so that the Homeland Security Department could analyze how secure they really are.
Lacking the special passport paper, Chad’s government couldn’t comply, but offered to provide a pre-existing sample of the same type of passport, several US officials said. It wasn’t enough to persuade Homeland Security to make an exception to requirements the agency has been applying strictly and literally to countries across the globe, said the officials, who requested anonymity to discuss disagreements within the administration.
Still, the US told Chad it could be removed once the issues were addressed, with national security adviser H.R. McMaster saying at the time that Chad could come off the list “maybe in a couple of months.” McMaster spoke to Chadian leader Idriss Deby last week about getting the visa restrictions removed, the State Department said, but the country remains on the list.
At least that was the case until Tuesday, hours before the new restrictions were to take effect, when a federal judge in Hawaii blocked Trump’s order, saying it had the same legal problems that foiled the first two iterations of his “travel ban.” The move puts the restrictions temporarily on hold, but Trump’s administration has pledged to appeal.
The Homeland Security Department confirmed that the US “lacks a recent sample from Chad” of its passports, but said there were other problems, too.
“The restrictions placed on Chad dealt with more than just the receipt of a passport exemplar. Chad does not adequately share public safety and terrorism-related information,” said Homeland Security spokesman David Lapan. He said the US was working closely with Chad on the issue and was “eager to see Chad develop more secure travel documents and make other enhancements.”
It was unclear why Chad ran into the office supply problem, although regional upheaval and the persistent terror threat have disrupted trade in the impoverished country in recent years. For a recent period of about six months, Chad stopped issuing passports, although it appears that situation has since been resolved.
The passport paper issue helps to illustrate the infighting within Trump’s administration that led up to the revised travel order, which also placed restrictions on Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and Venezuela.
Homeland Security, working with the White House, pushed Chad onto the list without significant input from the State Department or the Defense Department, said a congressional official briefed on the process who wasn’t authorized to discuss it publicly and requested anonymity.
Other officials said once the other national security agencies learned of the plan to add Chad, they objected vehemently, but were overruled.


Djibouti asks UN help to end border dispute with Eritrea

Djibouti’s UN ambassador, Mohamed Siad Doualeh. (Courtesy: Youtube)
Updated 58 min 24 sec ago
0

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.”