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U.S. strike kills ISIS leader in Afghanistan

Written by Maritime First

…As U.S.-China trade war worsens Nigeria’s non-oil exporters’ woes***

The leader of ISIS in Afghanistan was killed in an airstrike on Saturday along with 10 other fighters, officials said.

U.S. forces conducted a counter-terrorism strike in Nangarhar province targeting a senior leader of a terrorist group, said a spokesperson for Operation Resolute Support, a NATO-led mission which trains and advises Afghan forces.

Spokesman Lt. Colonel Martin L. O’Donnell referred NBC News to a statement from Afghan leader Ashraf Ghani’s deputy spokesperson which confirmed that Abu Sayeed Orakzai, Islamic State’s leader in Afghanistan, had been killed.

The provincial governor of Nangarhar said Orakzai was the fourth ISIS leader in Afghanistan to be killed since July 2017.

The group has developed a stronghold in the province, on Afghanistan’s porous eastern border with Pakistan, and become one of the country’s most dangerous militant groups.

The local affiliate of ISIS, sometimes known as Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K) after an old name for the region that includes Afghanistan, has been active since 2015, fighting the Taliban as well as Afghan and U.S. forces.

O’Donnell of Operation Resolute Support said the U.S. “unrelentingly” continues its counter-terrorism efforts against ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and other regional and international terrorist groups.

“These efforts target the real enemies of Afghanistan, the same enemies who threaten America,” he said.

Earlier this week, Ghani called for a temporary cease-fire to coincide with the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha. The Taliban responded to the request by holding 21 people hostage after seizing them from three buses in the north of the country on Monday.

Ghani has been trying to nudge the resurgent Taliban, which has been fighting to overthrow the U.S.-backed government in Kabul since 2001, into peace talks. The Taliban has not officially responded to Ghani’s offer.

Meanwhile, the exact number of ISIS fighters in Afghanistan is difficult to calculate because the fighters frequently switch allegiances. But the U.S. military estimates that there are about 2,000.

Earlier this month, ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack on a university preparatory academy in Kabul which killed 48 and injured 67 others. The school was in a neighborhood popular with minority Hazara, who are Shiite Muslim and considered apostates by the terror group.

Prior to the attack, 150 ISIS fighters surrendered to Afghan security forces in the northwestern province of Jawzjan, where the group is fighting for control of smuggling routes into neighboring Turkmenistan.

In the meantime, local non-oil exporters may have started feeling the heat of the trade war between global economic leaders. Although projections from international trade bodies showed that average tariffs on exports from Nigeria and Zambia might not go beyond 10 per cent under the ordeal, the affected businesses are already decrying slow demand and delayed payments from China.

The trade dispute between the United States and China, according to exporters, is already upsetting the latter, leading to a weakened currency and further imposition of capital controls on foreign exchange payment, to avoid the depletion of China’s dollar reserves. Continued losses suffered by non-oil exporters from products rejection may therefore affect government’s target revenue from the sector. Another drawback is underpayment due to poor quality goods caused by traffic congestion on access roads to the ports.

Precisely, non-oil exporters involved in agricultural produce and other consumables are suspending activities till the Federal Government fixes the roads.They expressed pessimism about the potential earnings of the country in the second quarter of this year, as against the N577 billion earned in Q1, noting that they expect a 25 per cent slide in the revenue profile.

Non-oil exporters who spoke with The Guardian lamented the state of infrastructure devoted to export. According to them, the adverse travel time, waiting time and transaction time have led to the waste of agricultural commodities and economic loss.

A directive by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in July 2018, aimed at easing traffic congestion in the Apapa area of Lagos State, has failed to provide a solution.The Lead Consultant, 3T Impex Consulting Limited and LCCI Export Group Chairman, Bamidele Ayemibo, regretted that non-oil export challenges became intensified since the beginning of the year.He said: “Countries considered great are mainly non-oil export-oriented. It is interesting to note that while other countries are taking this seriously, Nigeria is not. Every policy is geared to support import but that which is supposed to support export is either on paper and never implemented or partially implemented. It is a sad one.

“We have facilitated a lot of export for clients but we keep postponing and extending the dates of shipment. In the middle of all these, Nigeria is caught in the web of the trade war between the United States and China. Non-oil exporters are suffering on two fronts — China’s declining demand for imports and delay in payments as well as the inability of exporters to ship the goods.”

According to Ayemibo, some people have had to suspend shipments because goods take longer time on the roads. He noted that though exports volume in Q1 of this year was high, there are expectations the volume would drop significantly in Q2 and Q3. He said, typically, exports volumes rise in Q1 and Q4 and that because the operators deal in agro-based products, Q3 and Q4 are peak periods.

“Nigerian exporters are very resilient and should be encouraged, as the volume could be higher if there were no challenges in the sector. The situation is getting worse currently and the sector may witness 25 per cent drop in transactions volume,” he added.The Director-General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Muda Yusuf, noted that the effect of the Apapa traffic gridlock is one of the many setbacks and shocks the private sector suffers.

“It symbolises a major failure of the state. It is a sad commentary that a major segment of the Nigerian economy could be so completely paralysed. Government’s response to the Apapa situation should have been that of an emergency mode, given the strategic importance of both the Apapa and Tin Can ports to the Nigerian economy. It is unfortunate that we have to contend with this situation for this long. The toll on the Nigerian economy and the private sector is incalculable,” Yusuf said.

The Chief Executive Officer of Glory Land Shippers, Emeka Amadi, complained to The Guardian recently that the Apapa road has defied solution. “Even the order given some weeks ago by the vice president is temporary, as the containers have lined up in the area, blocking every available space. That is why the price of transportation of cargo is on the increase. You do not expect somebody’s truck to be on the road for days without the person charging money to cover for those days,” he said.

Also, the president, Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO), Remi Odugbemi, exonerated truck owners over the high cost of haulage and blamed government’s poor handling of the roads.“Ask those that are complaining if they can bring relief to the sufferings of truck owners and drivers. Many of us sleep on the roads for more than one week or two weeks. It is not easy, I must confess,” he said.

NBC with additional report from Guardian NG

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Maritime First