Saturday, April 19, 2003
Abiola over at Foreign Dispatches writes about Mbeki and AIDS. I wonder if Imperialist Neocolonialist Spies has been trademarked yet...
Ben Parker is blogging about oil and the "Third Scramble for Africa." (Blogger is having trouble with permalinks again, so I will simply blockquote the entire post. Do visit the site, though. There are plenty of good items.):
Oil and gas analyst Duncan Clarke of Global Pacific and Partners has released a paper coining the phrase "The Third Scramble for Africa" about oil prospects in Africa. Here is the summary of oil reserves across the continent:
This is only going to become more important in the next few years--particularly as the US attempts to extract itself from dependence on the Middle East for oil.
The Nigerian elections have ended relatively quietly with the exception of some unrest in the delta region. Final results are not expected until Monday or Tuesday.
Not surprisingly, there are still a lot of allegations of vote-rigging, intimidation and other irregularities. Many of these are probably true, but that shouldn't eclipse the fact that the first civilian-run election in Nigeria for many years represent a big step in the right direction.
In other election news, Somaliland has elected the incumbent president, Dahir Riyale Kahin, by a margin of only 80 votes! Well, people will be arguing about that tally for quite a while, but the election was peaceful and orderly... and that's saying a lot in Africa. Somalilanders have much to be proud of. I just hope some other countries will take notice and give them the recognition that they deserve.
Friday, April 18, 2003
I mentioned earlier that the new Freedom House report has named Eritrea as one of the most repressive regimes in the world. Here's a somewhat related article from the BBC:
The president of Eritrea has spoken for the first time of his reason for closing the private press in his country and detaining independent journalists.
This is probably just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the Eritrean government's human rights violations. It's important to note that Eritrea was one of the countries named in President Bush's Coalition of the willing. Located right across the Red Sea from Yemen, Eritrea could become an important ally in the larger War on Terror. But this alliance shouldn't protect Eritrea from criticism over its rights record... Maybe Afewerki could learn something from Somaliland
Here's an interesting tidbit tacked onto the end of an AP story about the latest actions of the Libya-led UN Human Rights Commission. Among other business, the commision
Ducked discussion of a resolution that condemned violations in Zimbabwe. The body passed a "no action" motion proposed by African countries, a procedural move that blocked further debate and a vote on the European Union (news - web sites) resolution, which was strongly critical of President Robert Mugabe's government. The resolution condemned violations of freedom of expression, including a crackdown on journalists.
Yep, that's right. Qaddafi is protecting his own. But catch how it says that the "no action" motion was proposed by "African countries." Who are the African countries on the UNHRC?
According to this list they include: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, DRC, Gabon, Kenya, Libya, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Togo, Uganda and... Zimbabwe!
Well, needless to say, this isn't really the African honors list for the defense of human rights. (Senegal and South Africa are major exceptions, of course.) This looks to me like another example of "African solidarity" -- whereby African leaders defend each other from Western imperialist censure.
I don't see how African nations will make major strides toward democracy and freedom until democratic African leaders start openly criticizing their colleagues and urging them to change. African solidarity hasn't worked for the last 50 years, so I think it's time for African leaders to look for some new ideas.
UPDATE: Friday's Washington Post editorial also discusses the irresponsible actions of the UNHRC with regard to Sudan and Zimbabwe. Why have a Human Rights Commision at all if it's only function is to legitimize tyrants?
More about France and Libya... Instapundit linked to this article from the Washington Times a few days ago:
France is keeping its powder dry. But for what?
I think that's the right analysis. And I'm guessing that Qaddafi expecting Libya to become a major cog in France's African strategy. Such a development certainly isn't a good thing for the US. And judging by Qaddafi's handiwork in Ivory Coast, Liberia, CAR and Chad, it isn't a good thing for Africa either.
Thursday, April 17, 2003
Things are starting to look a little messier in Nigeria. 14 parties are now threatening to boycott Saturday's presidential poll. Instapundit links to this story from CSM.
The realistic side of me knows that this round of Nigerian elections won't be completely free from irregularities, but to even have relatively peaceful elections would seem like a big step in the right direction for Nigeria at this point. One hopes that cooler heads will have prevailed when this is finished.
This is fantastic! A movie about Michael Power... I have got to see this one of these days.
The Telegraph reports on Iraqi ties to a Ugandan terrorist group (via The Corner):
Saddam Hussein's regime was linked to an African Islamist terrorist group, according to intelligence papers seen by The Telegraph. The documents provide the first hard evidence of ties between Iraq and religious terrorism.
Wednesday, April 16, 2003
Hitler had his brownshirts, but "Hitler" has the green bombers:
Now, young men like Henry Nyathi, trained in Zimbabwe's youth service camps, have begun talking publicly in Johannesburg about the cruelties they committed in Mr. Mugabe's name.
I know this isn't "news," but stories like this are worth hearing over and over again. In fact, I think they must be heard over and over again until Mugabe and his ilk are removed from power.
I wonder when Mbeki will wake up to what's going on...
The Perspective has some interesting tidbits about Charles Taylor's role in creating chaos in West Africa:
In West Africa, governments who either fear the Taylor regime or would in no way deal with him surround Liberia. President Conte of Guinea last month refused to even grant audience to a West African parliamentarian delegation that was trying to start a peace talk in the Manor River Union. The Sierra Leone government has made it known to both the US and Britain that instability would return the day peacekeepers leave the country, because they said, Taylor has thousands of arms thugs waiting for any occasion to carry on their master plan. In Cote d’Ivoire, last week, on Thursday April 3rd, 2003, both the leading opposition newspaper Fraternité Matin and the government newspaper La Voie had the same headlines: they both said Taylor and Blaise Compaore were behind the financing and training of the armed rebellion. The government paper went further to say that leaders of the western rebellion admitted having been trained at a military barracks near Monrovia. In a meeting with elders of Western Cote d’Ivoire, on Monday April 7, President Gbagbo told them that Charles Taylor brought the war that was ravaging their region to them. President Gbagbo remarks were played on national television and reported in all newspapers.
The article also notes that the Carter Center is partly responsible for Taylor's longevity. So you can add one more name to the list of dictators that Carter has coddled in the name of "peace."
Liberian elections are scheduled for October, but have little to no chance of being free or fair. To be "elected" to another term would be a propaganda success for Taylor, providing a fig leaf behind which he can continue his rape of Liberia.
Tuesday, April 15, 2003
The new Freedom House report on the world's most repressive regimes has been released and lots of African countries made the cut -- Equitorial Guinea, Sudan, Eritrea, Libya and on and on. Read for yourself here or try the shortened version at allafrica.com.
I'll post more on this when I have time to digest it myself.
Jonathan Edelstein has plenty of updates on the Nigerian elections (past and upcoming).
CNN reports on the just-completed election in Somaliland, which by all reports was relatively free, fair and peaceful -- certainly by African standards. What amazes me is how much Somalilanders have accomplished in terms of building a country without the support of -- and despite the opposition of -- the UN and the international community. Surely, once this election is over, some countries will begin to officially recognize Somaliland. Goodness knows they've earned it.
I'm not sure why the US hasn't recognized Somaliland already, but doubtless there are diplomatic sensitivities to be considered.
For the inside story, be sure to check out A Taste of Africa. She's got lots of pictures! Just keep scrolling down... it's well worth it.
Monday, April 14, 2003
Here's another person blogging from Africa -- Kenya this time. I'll have to be sure to check in often.
Sunday, April 13, 2003
Those who have known tyranny also understand liberation. A belatedly pro-war editorial from Ethiopia:
Some parallels could even be drawn between the people of Iraq and Ethiopia. One can imagine the huge sigh of relief the Ethiopian people experienced in the early 1990s with the going of the Dergue regime that had brutalized the country for almost two decades and destroyed the lives of a significant number of Ethiopians. What actually happened after that is another matter, but the emotions of Ethiopians seeing the bloody dictators of the Dergue flee at the time, could not have been smaller or less genuine than what is now the case with the great people of Iraq.
I post this mainly because it seemed unusual for an African newspaper. Most of the African media coverage of the war has taken an almost Franco-Belgian intellectual view -- that the UN is the only authority that can legitimately wage war. Also, there is the very common Marxist/socialist view -- that the war in Iraq is another example of an imperialist oppressor state attacking a poor impoverished state to steal its natural resources. Finally, there is the (not unrelated to the first two) perspective that the US shouldn't do anything until the issue of the "Israeli occupation" is settled.
These views seem surprisingly consistent from country to country, even in countries whose governments have officially supported the US.
I have trouble understanding why African elites -- I think that the African media count as elites -- should have so much faith in the UN. I can't see that the UN has done much to improve African security concerns. In Congo, Somalia, Sudan and Burundi, wars still rage. The UN stood by and did nothing during the Rwandan genocide. The situation in Sierra Leone has largely settled down, but one might argue that this was despite the UN rather than because of it. And in the absence of war, the UN has done next to nothing to promote good government. On the contrary, it has often done much to legitimize tyranny -- hardly an improvement over war for those who have to live with it. I can't think of a single African dictator who has been removed from power by UN sanctions and finger-wagging.
Anyway, I thought that editorial was a nice change of pace. Let's hope that its predictions about the future of Iraq will prove to be true.
UPDATE: And to illustrate my point, check out the latest media roundup from the BBC. Note especially the use of "neo-colonialist" -- I love that one.
The East African considers the discovery of oil in Uganda:
Angola, Sudan and Nigeria come to mind whenever one talks about oil deposits. The Democratic Republic of Congo is in crisis, partly because of its mineral deposits being fought over by foreign interests. And given the historical background of Uganda, the future may not be that rosy, after all.
It's a serious issue and a perilous one, given the track record of other oil-producing countries. The discovery of oil could be a curse, but it also gives Uganda enormous potential.
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