Wednesday, July 09, 2003
Well, I'm going home for a week, so posting will be light to non-existent while I'm gone. Luckily, there should be plenty of African news on big media, the blogosphere and everywhere else during Bush's visit this week.

Also, don't forget to remember Iran tomorrow (July 9). Here's a good place to start for a bunch of links related to the anti-mullah protests. Also, stop by to see Reza Pahlavi's site as well as, of course, Andrew Sullivan.

Azadi, Arak, Eshgh!

Tuesday, July 08, 2003
Hmm...turns out that one of those Malawi terror suspects was a Saudi with ties to the royal family. Not a shocker, I suppose, but interesting nonetheless.

(Via Joe Katzman at WOC.)

This article about Kenya's stock market mentions the possibility of creating regional stock markets in Africa:
First, says Gathinji, there is need for the merger of African stock markets into larger regional ones. With increased numbers of listed companies and more funds for developing infrastructure, this exercise will attract greater interest from investors.

A regional exchange should also mean more liquidity-the life blood of exchanges-by making stocks available to a wider range of investors. It might also prompt rating agencies to pay more attention to African companies.

Maybe the guys who are trying to form a new East African federation could start with this idea.

James S. Robbins agrees with me that US deployment in Liberia would be primarily strategic, not humanitarian:
Liberia is in the center of what Naval War College Professor Thomas Barnett calls the "Non-Integrating Gap," the area of the world stretching from the southwest Pacific to parts of Latin America that has been most resistant to the effects of globalization. This Gap is the source of most of the emerging threats to United States, and is an important framing concept for future strategic planning. Liberia is typical of states in the Gap. It was the first of several West African states to fall victim to sectarian violence in the post-Cold War period. Civil war broke out between Taylor and former leader Samuel K. Doe in 1989, and Taylor won power by election in 1997 after regional intervention. Taylor then thanked his neighbors by destabilizing Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Cote d'Ivoire. His human-rights record was abysmal. His relations with Washington were adversarial. He rivaled Zimbabwe's execrable Robert Mugabe for the title "Africa's Saddam."

Liberia has direct and indirect links to the war on terrorism. Taylor was an active participant in the illegal diamond trade in the region that has contributed not only to violence in that part of the world (over control of the mines, particularly in Sierra Leone) but also helped finance the international terrorist networks, including, if not especially, al Qaeda. Taylor, like many of the current and former West African insurgents, was a protégé of Muammar Khadafi, and trained in his terrorist camps before launching his bid for power. So too did many operatives later tied to al Qaeda and other Islamic terror groups.

Read the whole thing.

Monday, July 07, 2003
I haven't posted at all about the strikes that have been going on in Nigeria for the past two weeks, but it's a major story and one that provides a dramatic backdrop for Bush's visit. Here's some background to the story. And more background.

And there's also this:
Union officials there said five people had been killed, but in the capital, Abuja, strike leader Adams Oshiomhole told a news conference more than 10 people had been "confirmed" killed by the police.

"This is despicable and unacceptable," Mr Oshiomhole said.

Police are reported to have opened fire to disperse rioters who had set up burning barricades and smashed car windscreens, leaving hundreds of workers attempting to leave the area stranded at bus stops.

That's a lot of unrest for a government that was re-elected only 3 months ago.

This is a little unusual:
A replica of the Biblical Ark of the covenant, or tabot, has been taken back to Ethiopia and an Irish doctor was responsible.

There's a tradition that the real Ark is guarded by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Supposedly the Ark was removed for safety after the sacking of Jerusalem by the Babylonians (or was that the Assyrians?). I've never seen it myself, so I can't personally vouch for the story.

Ted Galen Carpenter at NRO and are weighing in with a conservative argument against US military intervention in Liberia.

The columns make a variety of points (Taylor has no WMD; Liberia doesn't have a viable democratic opposition that the US could support; Taylor's regime is basically a regional, not international, issue; The humanitarian situation in Liberia isn't as compelling as in Congo; etc.), but the main point comes to this: The US does not have a vital interest in Liberian intervention, so the military, already overstretched in War on Terror deployments, shouldn't be wasted on an elective peacekeeping mission.

First: It seems a little misleading to say that the US has no interest in Liberia other than a purely humanitarian one. After 9/11, Bush said that foreign leaders would have to choose whether they were with us or with the terrorists and the America would not distinguish between terrorists or those who harbour them. Well, I think Taylor made his choice (which I posted about here and here). In the same vein, it's true that Taylor doesn't possess WMD (that we know of), but neither did Afghanistan.

I'm also uneasy about saying that Taylor's just a regional problem or that the humanitarian situation in Liberia isn't really that bad. Is that really the way we should set standards for military intervention. It seems kind of like requiring that someone be as bad as Hitler or that the humanitarian situation be as bad as the Holocaust. If we've got the troops and we have a reasonable chance of success (which I'll let more informed people than myself define), let's get rid of Taylor and give the Liberian people an accountable government.

As I tried to say below, the US would be making a mistake by getting involved with a peacekeeping force that merely serves to prolong Taylor's rule. The removal of Taylor and his henchmen, however, would mark a major step toward peace in West Africa. Looks like Bush is taking the right tack by calling for Taylor's resignation, so it will be interesting to see what happens. (Yeah, I know that Taylor accepted Nigeria's asylum offer, but I'll believe it when I see it.)

There's plenty of Africa-blogging going on over at Instapundit today. I hope this will continue at least for the duration of Bush's trip. It's good to see Africa getting some high-profile and diplomacy-wise.

I especially liked this link.

UPDATE: Oh, and they also found that missing was in Guinea, but now it seems to be missing again.

The skeptic is back! Stop by and say hi...and say that I sent you.

He also recommends this link for some interesting Liberian history.

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