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:

In Angola, reserves may sit around 12-15 BBLS proven while Sonangol has cited potential as some 50-70 BBLS. Benin may have some 100 MMBLS, but the deepwater is yet to be tested. Cameroon is under stress and estimates of oil may only be 200 MMBLS, while others cite 400 MMBLS, with potential in the 3-400 MMBLS range, again deepwaters to consider. CAR has no commercially proven reserves but industry sources indicate potential around 1-2 BBLS. In Chad, 1.0 BBLS is proven and another 1-2 BBLS may await discovery. Congo has suffered reserve downgrades in fields recently but proven oil is around 1.3-1.5 BBLS, and a new upsurge appears in-place with potential maybe at 1.0 BBLS, much hinging on the deepwaters. Cote d’Ivoire has had recent discoveries and a range of 500-1,000 MMBLS is indicated with Government claiming potential at 6.0 BBLS, this over-optimistic. In DRC, fields are small and 100 MMBLS may be proven now with potential at 150 MMBLS. In Equatorial Guinea, some 2-3.0 BBLS may have been proven, with potential possibly at 2-3.0 BBLS. Eritrea has neither proven oil nor clear image of oil potential evident. Likewise is Ethiopia, but for 300 MMBC reported in the Calub. Gabon has suffered decline, and 2.6 BBLS is thought to exist but with potential for another 5.0 BBLS. No oil has been discovered in The Gambia but claims of potential at 100 MMBLS are made. In Ghana, GNPC had claimed 800 MMBLS but 50 MMBLS is more likely now, with unclear potential for more. Guinea has no proven oil to date and potential is undeclared. In Guinea-Bissau, the Dome Flore may have 1.0 BBLS of Heavy Oil. Kenya remains a frontier with no proven reserves but potential according to officials could be 2-3.0 BBLS, a claim awaiting exploration in deepwaters. Liberia has delineated offshore blocks and some place potential at 100-200 MMBLS. Madagascar has recorded Heavy Oil finds, OMNIS suggesting potential might be 500-1,000 MMBLS. No one expects oil in Malawi now. Mocambique has been a gas play, and deepwaters will soon be tested. Mali has no proven oil but one player reckons potential at 2-4.0 BBLS. Mauritania has an estimated 300 MMBLS and potential might reach 1.5 BBLS in time. In Namibia, it has been gas. In landlocked Niger, some 350 MMBLS exist, yet to be commercialised, and potential might be some 1-2.0 BBLS. Nigeria’s Government reports 33 BBLS now with 40 MMBLS expected by 2007, and potential somewhere around another 25-40 BBLS to 2025 given success in deepwaters and ultra-deep plays as well as the JDZ. Rwanda only has methane gas in Lake Kivu. In Sao Tome & Principe, the talk is of 4-8 BBLS potential, untested. Senegal has only 10 MMBLS and an 85% share of Dome Flore and AGC waters. Seychelles has not shown reserves but SNOC believes 1-2.0 BBLS exists in the Archipelago. Sierra Leone is just starting to award blocks, and potential is unknown. Somalia mostly under force majeure has proven oil and potential, perhaps 100 MMBLS within ready reach in the near term, some saying 1.2.0 BBLS potential in the long-run. In South Africa, oil reserves stand around 40-50 MMBLS and potential is placed by State agencies at some 1.0 BBLS in time, with deepwater openings coming and the EEZ expected within 10 years. In Sudan, proven oil may already be at 2.5 BBLS, and growing with CNPC-Petrodar’s recent discoveries, while suggest potential up to 8-12 BBLS. Tanzania has been a gas play with the Mafia Basin deepwater under examination, and potential is indicated by TPDC at maybe 500 MMBLS. Togo has had no luck, and potential is undeclared. In Uganda, operators reckon there could be a potential of 650 MMBLS. Zamibia is a long shot for any company. Zimbabwe has probably no hope.

Clarke does not regard the new Ugandan announcements yet worthy of inclusion. Overall reserves are put at 60 billion barrels. Sadly oil and other mineral wealth have brought misery and war to Angola, Sierra Leone, the DRC and elsewhere.
posted by Ben at 11:29 AM

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.
In a rare interview, Isaias Afewerki described the detained journalists as spies and agents of what he called "external interference".

Human rights groups have been campaigning for the release of some 18 journalists since 2001.

Last year, Amnesty International accused Eritrea of unlawfully detaining dozens of political prisoners and 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?
The pattern of French diplomacy suggests an answer. France is seeking rapprochement with Libya. Jacques Chirac recently became the first French president in 40 years to visit Algeria. France coordinated its actions throughout the Iraq crisis with Syria. Mr. Chirac is promoting discredited Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, in anticipation of postwar action on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. He sent Mr. Arafat, anathematized by the Bush administration, a friendly letter on March 20, and talked to him by phone March 25....
Opposing the Iraq war was but a prelude. France has mounted the world stage again using the Middle East as its footstool. It will now seek to lead willing Arab states against U.S. policy in postwar Iraq as well as in negotiations on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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.

Stay tuned.

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.

Secret dossiers detailing the group's discussions with the Iraqi Intelligence Service were found in the spies' Baghdad headquarters, among the detritus of shredding.

The papers show how Iraq's charge d'affaires in Nairobi, Fallah Hassan Al Rubdie, was in discussion with the Allied Democratic Forces, a Ugandan guerrilla group with ties to other anti-western Islamist organisations.


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.

In Zimbabwe, where an estimated seven million people go hungry, Mr. Nyathi described how he chased men away from food lines if they were not card-carrying members of the governing political party.

"If the people refused to leave the lines," he said, "we beat them."

John Luscious, 22, said he recalled setting fire to the homes of those who opposed the president. He said he ransacked white-owned farms, beat white farmers and stood by laughing as his superiors raped women.

Buthelezi Moyo, 18, said he and 11 other green bombers beat a 21-year-old woman with a sjambok, a stiff whip. He decided to run away, he said, when he realized that everyone, even his own mother, despised him.

"She did not want to see me anymore," he said.

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

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.

The war now nearing completion, hope definitely seems to turn its favor towards the Iraqi people. And situations going normal as expected, those great people of Iraq will henceforth be able to build a democratic and prosperous Iraq, led by genuine and committed people selected democratically from among all sections of the population. This way they will also have the chance to tap the people's immense, cultural, scientific and social potential for the betterment of the country and its people. Most of all, however, they will be able to exploit their vast oil wealth to the maximum and make their country a peaceful and prosperous country, which is exemplary to others.

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.

The government should take steps to ensure that all citizens benefit from the oil. It must make public the contractual agreement reached with the company at the forefront of the exploration.

In the recent past, there has been a tendency for only a section of politicians to benefit from such lucrative ventures. A good example is the ongoing privatisation process, in which the Ugandan people have lost out.

Until such measures are put in place, local people will continue to consider the existence of minerals in any country a curse.

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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