African Union urges restraint in Djibouti-Eritrea border spat

Google map showing the volatile border between Djibouti and Eritrea.
Updated 17 June 2017

African Union urges restraint in Djibouti-Eritrea border spat

NAIROBI: The African Union (AU) on Saturday urged “restraint” as tensions intensified between Djibouti and Eritrea over a disputed border territory after the withdrawal of Qatari peacekeepers from a buffer zone.
Djibouti has accused Eritrea of occupying territory following the departure of the Qatari troops, threatening the revival of a long-standing, sometimes violent dispute.
AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat called for “calm and restraint” and said the body would send a “fact-finding mission to the Djibouti-Eritrea border.”
The Qatari pullout comes as the Gulf country is locked in a bitter dispute with Saudi Arabia and its allies over alleged ties to extremists, a charge it denies.
Both Djibouti and Eritrea have good relations with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and have taken their side in the row.
Djibouti Foreign Minister Mahmoud Ali Youssouf on Thursday accused Eritrea of “moving its forces” into the Doumeira region where Qatari peacekeepers had been stationed since 2010 as a buffer between the two nations’ armies.
“Djibouti is a peaceful country and we have prioritized diplomatic solutions, but if Eritrea insists on seeking military solutions, Djibouti is ready for that,” Youssouf said in a press conference broadcast on local television.
Eritrea has not yet responded to the allegations.
Djibouti is a strategic ally of world powers, hosting French and US military bases with a Chinese one under construction.
Djibouti’s large port is also a conduit for imports to and exports from Ethiopia, Eritrea’s bitter enemy.
The AU said it was “ready to assist Djibouti and Eritrea to normalize their relations and promote good neighborliness within the framework of relevant AU instruments.”
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the world body has received written communications from Djibouti and Eritrea “and we’re taking a look at it.” He did not disclose the contents but called the incident “an example of the spill-over effect” from the Gulf dispute.
Eritrea’s top diplomat at the AU said the country wants to solve the problem with Djibouti peacefully.
A spokesman for Eritrea’s biggest armed opposition group, Nasredin Ali, said Eritrea sent two battalions to control the contested area. “They have met no resistance from Djibouti’s forces.”


Pakistan avoids terror financing blacklist for now

Updated 2 min 53 sec ago

Pakistan avoids terror financing blacklist for now

  • Pakistan’s government hailed the FATF’s decision, which offers a reprieve to Prime Minister Imran Khan as he works to shore up his country’s faltering economy and attract foreign investment and loans
  • The agency’s assessment expresses “serious concerns with the overall lack of progress by Pakistan” to stop terrorism financing

PARIS: An international monitoring agency has given Pakistan four months to prove it is fighting terrorism financing and money laundering — or it could be put on a damaging global blacklist.
The Financial Action Task Force also threatened Iran, which is already blacklisted, with even tougher restrictions on its international financial activity.
Pakistan’s government on Friday hailed the FATF’s decision, which offers a reprieve to Prime Minister Imran Khan as he works to shore up his country’s faltering economy and attract foreign investment and loans.
“Thank God, we have been successful,” Pakistan’s foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, told The Associated Press.
But the agency’s assessment remained grim, expressing “serious concerns with the overall lack of progress by Pakistan” to stop terrorism financing.
In a statement after meetings this week at its Paris headquarters, the FATF said Pakistan has addressed only five of 27 measures required to avoid being blacklisted.
If Pakistan doesn’t act by February, FATF president Xiangmin Lui said the agency could put the country on its blacklist, which currently includes only Iran and North Korea.
Experts say the move means every international financial transaction with Pakistan will be closely scrutinized and doing business in Pakistan will become costly and cumbersome. International agencies could place restrictions on lending money to Pakistan, including key creditors such as the International Monetary Fund, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.
“Pakistan has not done enough,” Xiangmin told a news conference.
Pakistan should do more to track money transfers and investigate and prosecute terrorism financiers, among other steps, the FATF said.
Qureshi insisted that Pakistan has “taken maximum steps against terror financing.”
“We will continue to take all the required steps, and all conspiracies against us have failed,” he told The AP.
Meanwhile, the watchdog expressed “disappointment” that Iran isn’t taking the necessary steps to be removed from the blacklist, and said it’s asking all member countries to tighten scrutiny of any financial transactions involving Iran.
Virtual currencies such as bitcoin and Facebook’s Libra are also prompting concern from the FATF, which warned of “new risks” from such products. It said they’re being “closely monitored” to ensure they’re not used to finance terrorism or launder money.