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Africapundit's Regional Briefing: 2003-08-12

Winds of Change.NET Regional Briefings run on Tuesdays & Wednesdays, and sometimes Fridays too. This monthly Regional Briefing will focus on Africa, courtesy of AfricaPundit. TOP TOPICS * JK: An outstanding series of Liberia articles by The Buggy Professor on the situation facing the USA in Liberia, some lessons from similar efforts before, and the future of humanitarian interventions. The best preparation I've yet seen for intelligent discussion of this conflict and America's response. (Hat Tip: P.) * West Africa has large crude oil and gas reserves. IAGS asks: is West African oil a possible substitute for America's growing dependence on crude exports from the unstable Middle East, or will the Gulf of Guinea echo the risks presented by the Persian Gulf? (Anticipatory Retaliation comments) Other Topics Today Include: More on Liberia; Keeping track of the terrorists indicted in the U.S. Embassy bombings 1998; Zimbabwe news; Kidnapped Europeans in Mali now; more on the coming Christian Schism; LRA in Uganda.
  • Liberian tyrant-in-chief Charles Taylor is now ex-tyrant-in-chief, having flown to exile in Nigeria on Monday. Taylor leaves his henchman, Moses Blah, in charge as ECOWAS and UN diplomats try to piece together a transitional government which is expected to assume power in the fall.
  • Ominously, Taylor vowed, "I'll be back!" before boarding his plane. Is he excited about Schwarzenegger running for governor, or what?!
  • Taylor's mobsterism continued to the end. Late last week, Nigerian peacekeepers quarantined an arms shipment from Libya at the Liberian airport. Taylor himself came to claim it but reportedly left empty-handed.
  • And speaking of the peacekeepers, daudi recalls that ECOWAS troops didn't really exemplify military professionalism during their last Liberian deployment.
  • Taylor's timely exit from Liberia creates a window of opportunity for peace in West Africa, but that makes the debate about post-Taylor Liberia (and the US role in it) even more urgent. Mark Steyn notes that intervention in Liberia -- if it's to have any long-term impact -- will not be a minor peacekeeping operation, but rather a major (i.e. 30-year) commitment to the entire region.
  • Meanwhile, Doug Farah recounts the crimes of Taylor's regime and reminds us that the stakes in Liberia are high -- and not just because of the humanitarian situation.
  • Last week marked 5 years since the 1998 bombings of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The East African has a rundown on the terrorists indicted in the attacks.
  • In Zimbabwe news, the Head Heeb reports that Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the oppostion Movement for Democratic Change, continues to stand trial for treason.
  • A group of European tourists kidnapped by Islamist terrorists in Algeria earlier in the year were reportedly moved to Mali where negotiations are continuing. It's feared that the condition of the hostages is poor after months of captivity in the harsh environment of the Sahara.
  • Uganda's LRA terrorists have asked the government to consider new peace talks, but some in the country doubt the seriousness of the request. LRA raids over the weekend killed 20 more civilians.
  • Instapundit just uncovered this blog: "Southern Africa in Crisis". The author's take is not a hopeful one, and the site's links explain why.
  • The Christian schism mentioned in the last briefing may be closer than ever after the recent election of the first openly gay American Episcopal bishop. A bishop's summit will address the concerns of African and Asian bishops, some of whom are already considering disassociation.
  • Donald Sensing has additional details and insights, as well as a transcript of the Sunday sermon he just preached on this issue. Note that Rev. Sensing is a Methodist, a related sect but not members of the Anglican Communion.

    the Head Heeb reports that Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the oppostion Movement for Democratic Change, will stand trial for treason.

    Make that "will continue to stand trial for treason." He's been on trial since March - last week's ruling denied his motion to dismiss at the close of the prosecution's case.

    Oil is sold on a free market - there is no such thing as "freeing" yourself from a given source of oil. America, in fact, buys precious little oil from the mideast. But, if all the oil is sold on an open commodity market, then a drop in oil production in one region jacks up prices everywhere.

    Furthermore, the proportion of world oil production from the ME will continue to rise. Why? Because it's so damn easy to pump it out of the ground there, it's easy to increase the scale of production and its easy to ship from there. The natural price of Saudi oil is thought to be somewhere around 5$/bbl. You can exploit oil at 20$/bbl to your heart's content, but the lion's share will continue to be the ME.

    Above and beyond that, how about indirect imports? If China, let's say, is a consumer of ME oil, and the tap gets shut off, then does the economic disaster magically stop at LAX immigration? Nope. Hell, even the ME countries are expanding their production of crude into refined products. As that continues to get underway, it won't be a matter of alternate suppliers to balance out production, it'll become a matter of refinery capacity. And that sure as heck doesn't have a quick fix.

    The only hope, the only possible hope, that West African oil might make a damn bit of difference is if the countries there avoid the *"resource curse"* and manage to generate a little bit of stability in that Skid Row of failed states.

    AfricaPundit predicts a "coming Christian schism" in Africa, but backs it up with a link to an article in The American Spectator. But what happens if we go to, say, the major Nigerian newspapers and look for stories there? I tried this morning, and found nothing at all on this supposed story. Whose agenda is this "schism" on, anyways?

    charpressler: The Anglican Church's.

    The Nigerian newspaper ThisDay has an article about the Anglican controversy today. The Primate of the Anglican Communion of Nigeria isn't amused.

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