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AfricaPundit's Regional Briefing: 2003-06-11

| 1 Comment | 2 TrackBacks

June 11/03: This monthly Regional Briefing is brought to you by AfricaPundit, whose site is worth reading on its own. Winds of Change.NET Regional Briefings run on Tuesdays & Wednesdays.

Today's Topics Include: War on Terror developments in the Horn of Africa, Zimbabwe update, good news from Rwanda, the most important thing the West can do for Africa, and beaucoup Congo-related links.

  • US Marines stationed in Djibouti stepped up their activities throughout the region and reports indicate the US is hoping to set up a larger anti-terror base in East Africa, possibly in Eritrea. Meanwhile, a US military planner also raised the possibility that NATO troops might be sent to West Africa on a new anti-terror assignment.

  • The War on Terrorists continues apace in East and West Africa. In May, the UK issued a terror warning in Kenya after intelligence indicated that Fazul Abdullah Mohammed might have returned to the country seeking to carry out new terrorist attacks. Mohammed is a high-level al Qaeda operative wanted by the FBI in connection with the 1998 African embassy bombings.

  • The first week of June saw major opposition work stoppages aimed at the government of Robert "Mad Bob" Mugabe in Zimbabwe. The opposition MDC are demanding Mugabe's resignation, accusing him of rigging the last presidential election, undermining the rule of law, and doling out the country's wealth to his political cronies. Mugabe has reacted to the protests by sending his goons to beat, jail, rape, torture, and kill the opposition. In response, the US government has called for a return to "dialogue." Why not regime change?

  • Head Heeb writes about the recently-passed Rwandan constitution. The new document paves the way for elections this fall, the first in that country since the 1994 genocide.

  • Recent "elections" were held in Nigeria, Somaliland (not Somalia), and Togo. In each case, the ruling party won (sometimes under suspicious circumstances), yet the peaceful and orderly elections in Somaliland represented a major accomplishment for that country. Although not currently recognized as an independent nation, Somaliland is potentially an important ally for the US by virtue of its strategic location on the Gulf of Aden. The fact that it is majority Muslim and reasonably free and democratic also makes it a rather attractive partner in the region.

  • The terror master of West Africa, Liberia's thug-in-chief Charles Taylor, was indicted by the Freetown War crimes court. The court is charged with prosecuting those responsible for atrocities committed during the Sierra Leone civil war. Taylor was the main supporter of the RUF rebels, infamous for their use of rape as a military tactic. Taylor and RUF have both cooperated with al-Qaeda in diamond smuggling operations. Now that he's been indicted, there's no word on how Taylor will be brought to trial, although Taylor might prefer jail in Freetown to possible summary execution by the rebels currently attacking his capital.

  • Speaking of those "conflict diamonds," Armed Liberal has some thoughts. Is cash the West's best form of leverage? Not giving it, taking it. An excellent Guest Blog called "Lands of Confusion" wrestles with the issues raised by that post, and by our other recent Africa links.

  • The war in the Congo, having already killed 2 million by some estimates, continues with no sign of abating. At the urging of the UN, Ugandan troops withdrew from the Bunia area in Eastern Congo. Taking advantage of the ensuing chaos, warlords and tribal militias began to ravage towns and villages, raising the possibility of another African genocide.

  • In response, France has agreed to lead a UN peacekeeping force to stabilize the region, but with only 1400 troops and an uncertain mandate, there's no guarantee that the situaiton will improve any time soon. Unfortunately, the USA is largely tapped out for troops.

  • The Skeptic rounds up a heck of a lot of Congo-related links.

  • The G-8 summit took place at the end of May and African trade issues were high on the list of priorities. African countries want European and US trade barriers on textiles and agricultural products to be reduced or dropped altogether, which would be a huge help to their economies. Unfortunately, says Abiola, the Bush administration and the Europeans look pretty attached to farm subsidies. Looks like this vital issue is about to be kicked down the road yet again.The Winds of Change.NET Africa Regional Briefing will be back July 9th.

  • 2 TrackBacks

    Tracked: June 11, 2003 9:16 PM
    All Is Hell In Africa from Electric Venom
    Excerpt: With so much world attention focused on al-Qaeda, Iraq and Iran, the horrors going on in the Congo have largely gone unnoticed by the Big Media. But the blogosphere isn't overlooking it: •Suburban Blight lays the blame squarely on France. •Th...
    Tracked: June 12, 2003 11:51 AM
    WAR: Zimbab-bulb from Baseball Crank
    Excerpt: A scathing editorial at AllAfrica.com about Zimbabwe's current government and its complete denial of the economic havoc it has wrought. As ridiculous and mean-spirited as the 'reparations' movement is in the United States, there's a fair question as to...

    1 Comment

    I believe Fazul Abdullah Mohammed (who is a native of Comoros, if I recall correctly) also has ties to al-Itihaad al-Islamiyyah in Somalia, the Eritrean Islamic Jihad, and the Allied Democratic Forces in Uganda. He's a major player within al-Qaeda's African leadership, which is one of the reasons that his presence in Kenya is so disconcerting.

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