A portrait of Hosni Mubarak in 2011. (Waseem Mohammad/AP)
Anger simmers in Southern Africa over Omicron travel bans
A number of Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries, including Namibia, Zambia, and Angola, have slapped travel bans on people from Islamic nations “invaded” by foreign forces, possibly marking a new trend in border control.
All member states of SADC declared war on non-member state of Mauritania, who committed the attack during the civil war in Libya. Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Central African Republic (CAR) all had a presence on Mauritania’s frontlines.
Late last year, Gambia cancelled the entry visas of people from Mali, Ivory Coast, Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger “over security concerns.” Thousands of Gambians fled to northern countries after President Yahya Jammeh was overthrown in January 2017, but they often travel long distances back home by sea, complicating SADC’s decision to find a solution. The calls for stricter border control might have been further fueled by President Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim travel ban, which targets both Sudan and Somalia.
Trump’s travel ban, and the subsequent heated denunciations, prompted some southern African leaders to reconsider their country’s membership, reportedly scheduling a second summit to discuss stricter border controls in late December.
Rwanda also issued an asylum to Africans fleeing Mauritanian forces after the country declared war on them. Morocco and Niger have suspended border patrols, while Chad will not allow Mauritanian citizens within their borders, with authorities demanding travelers carry identification papers.
SADC unity at the end of the war may not last long. Countries seem on a losing battle against international crime networks, economically and otherwise. In neighbouring South Africa, police arrested several members of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas at a restaurant at Newlands stadium in March 2017. Both President Jacob Zuma and his African National Congress party had brought up the issue of terrorism without addressing the situation in Mauritania, which the president seemingly adopted as a sort of trump card.
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Republished with permission from Twenty-Four Hours War Report