Africa Theater

Darfur: pawn in US-China oil war?

The patrician wonks at the Council on Foreign Relations raise the alarm in a January report that Africa will be increasingly strategic to global energy security in the coming century—and that China is beating the US to the punch in securing access to the continent's fossil fuel resources. From Reuters, Dec. 7:

THE US faces stiff competition from China for oil supplies from Africa and Washington must take a more strategic view of the continent by investing more resources there, US experts say.

Conscientious objection in Eritrea

The December issue of The Broken Rifle, newsletter of the War Resisters International, which supports conscientious objectors from military service around the world, offers this report from a strategically-placed country not often in the news: Eritrea. We noted in our last post on Eritrea that military tensions with Ethiopia are once again growing. The secession of Eritrea in 1993 left Ethiopia landlocked. Ethiopia is much closer to the US, which has an interest in securing the Horn's access to the Red Sea (just north of the Strait of Djibouti chokepoint, already threatened by Somali pirates) against Islamic militants. Therefore Eritrea's strongman Isaias Afwerki is playing up supposed Islamist subversion of his regime—both as an excuse to suppress opposition and to win Washington's good graces. If war comes, it is Eritrean and Ethiopian conscripts who will be the first to pay with their lives in this power game. This report, which starts with a background primer on the country, notes thousands of Eritrean conscientious objectors who have been imprisoned or forced into exile. It seems that many have also been tortured and even executed.

African Union to decide in Chad war crimes case

The case of Chad's former president Hissène Habré, now fighting a Belgian extradition request on atrocity charges, will be handed over to African Union leaders to decide next month, Senegal's government announced. Senegal's Foreign Minister Cheikh Tidiane Gadio said Nov. 27 that Habré may remain in Senegal until AU leaders decide where he should be tried. Gadio recognized that Habré was accused of "odious crimes, even crimes against humanity," and promised that Senegal would "abstain from any act which would permit Hissène Habré not to face justice." He said that it was "up to the African Union summit to indicate the jurisdiction which is competent to hear the case."

Uprising in Uganda

Police and troops in Kampala, capital of Uganda, are reported to be firing live and plastic bullets in running battles with protesters angered by the arrest on treason charges last night of the president's main political rival, Kizza Besigye. The government charges that Besigye's supporters are ransacking businesses, burning tires and throwing stones and at security forces. Police are said to have shot dead at least one protesters, although authorities said he was shot by a secuity guard while trying to break into a shop. Some 60 have been arrested, and several others hospitalized.

Bolton bars UN testimony on Darfur

How are we to read this one? Is the US conniving with the Sudan regime while trying to appear not to be? Or is the US gearing up for unilateral intervention in Sudan, and trying to make the UN appear ineffectual in preparation? From Reuters, Oct. 11:

John Bolton has blocked a UN envoy from briefing the Security Council on possible human rights violations in Sudan's Darfur region, saying the council had to act against atrocities and not just talk about them.

Niger Delta: Ijaw militia seizes Chevron installation

The Niger Delta People's Volunteer Force, a militia group from Nigeria's oil-producing Niger Delta region, has seized a pumping station in protest of the arrest of its leader. More than 100 armed men in boats stormed the Idama flow-station, sources close to the Chevron oil company said.

FEMA promotes Pat Robertson's charity —despite Congo diamond scandal

Juan Gonzalez of the NY Daily News Sept. 6 calls out FEMA for promoting the newsworthy Rev. Pat Robertson's private charity for Katrina disaster-relief donations—and recalls the group's links to the sleazy African diamonds trade, unearthed by a law enforcement investigation a few years back...

Mauritania: junta consolidates power

The African Union (AU) Aug. 9 reversed its position on the coup in Mauritania, giving a tacit conditional support to the new military junta. The move came after Nigeria's foreign affairs minister, Ambassador Olu Adeniji, led a delegation of four AU ministers landed in the Northern African State. Adeniji said the delegation had meetings with all the stakeholders in that country, from the leader of the military council, to labor unions and human rights groups—and found they all supported the coup. "The amazing thing is that there was no single dissenting view," he said.

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