Africa Theater

Last ditch talks to avert Ethiopian-Somali war

Gus Selassie for Global Insight Daily Analysis via BBC Monitoring, Dec. 5:

Ethiopia and Somali Islamists in Last-Ditch Talks to Avert All-Out War
Despite the recent war of words and the deep-rooted animosity that appears to exist between the two sides, representatives of the Ethiopian government and Somalia's Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) have held unofficial talks, it has been confirmed. According to Ethiopian sources, the country's minister of state for foreign affairs, Tekeda Alemu, met Islamist officials in neighbouring Djibouti in a last-ditch effort aimed at averting an all-out war between the two sides, with the talks ending inconclusively.

Ogaden rebels blast Ethiopia's Somalia intervention

Via the Sudan Tribune, Nov. 28:

Ogaden National Liberation Front Statement on Events Unfolding in Somalia
There has been much written about the events unfolding in Somalia with frequent mention of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and speculations on our position with regards to the events unfolding in Somalia. Hence, we would like to take this opportunity to clarify to the international community and members of the media our principled position on the Somali civil war and Ethiopia’s involvement in that country’s internal affairs.

Oromo rebels blast Ethiopia's Somalia intervention

Via BBC Monitoring:

Ethiopian rebel group terms parliament's decision on Somalia "reckless"

Text of statement issued by Ethiopian armed opposition Oromo Liberation Front, OLF, on 30 December

The Ethiopian parliament, on its session of 30 November 2006, ratified a declaration of war on Somalia and Eritrea. Most surprisingly, it took the unprecedented step of declaring war on the Oromo Liberation Front [rebel group OLF] as well in the face of fierce resistance from the loyal opposition on the grounds that this would be an extraordinary act of criminalizing political demand.

Historical truth at issue in France-Rwanda breach

It is vindicating that French complicity in the 1994 Rwanda genocide is finally coming to light. But it was actually Paris' tit-for-tat of a judicial order for the arrest of Rwandan military officers following Rwandan charges of French support for the genocidaires that pushed the affair into the headlines by provoking Kigali to expell the French ambassador. The French judge has also called for Rwanda's President Paul Kagame to face a UN tribunal for his alleged role in the plane crash that sparked the genocide. Some 25,000 rallied in support of Kagame in Kigali following the judge's call. (Jurist, Nov. 23). Now, is it possible that Kagame's forces really did shoot down the plane? Of course it is—just like it is possible that a lone Communist named Marinus van der Lubbe burned down the Reichstag in 1933. And if it is true, it will be just as meaningless—notwithstanding the claims of the French Rwanda-revisionists and their useful idiots.

Next for Somalia: khat wars?

Since seizing power in Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, in June, the Islamic Courts Union has banned khat leaf, the mild stimulant which has been traditionally chewed by Somalis for centuries. Imports of khat from Kenya, a main supplier, are being intercepted and burned, and flights from Kenya have actually been halted. This has resulted in a shortage which has sparked angry protests by local khat merchants in Mogadishu, who have lost their income. In one protest on Nov. 16, Islamist fighters shot into the crowd, killing one person. (BBC, Nov. 16)

Somalia: Puntland pledges to resist Islamists

General Addeh Museh, president of Puntland, the autonomous region in northeastern Somalia, has vowed to resist any attack by fighters from the Islamic Courts Union, saying his administration would not accept "radicalism and extremism." Gen. Museh said, "We will continue to resist the spread of Islamic militants."

Fear of music in Eritrea

No surer sign of creeping (or galloping) totalitarianism. From AP, Nov. 5:

ASMARA, Eritrea -- Gospel singer Helen Berhane, who belonged to a banned evangelical church in Eritrea, has been released after more than two years in detention, a human rights group said.

Aussie mining company implicated in Congo massacre

The election results from the Democratic Republic of Congo are in—and predictably contested. The incumbent Joseph Kabila (and son of the late Laurent Kabila, leader of the 1996 revolution) has been declared victor, while supporters of contender Jean-Pierre Bemba, a "former rebel warlord," pledge "the people will resist this fraud." (The Guardian, Nov. 16) Rarely do media accounts explore how Western powers and corporate interests have exploited, fueled and manipulated Congo's chaotic and incessant wars over the past ten years since the Mobutu dictatorship was overthrown. Here's a relevant nugget from Left-Green Weekly Nov. 9 via Toward Freedom:

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