|Africa News Digest
Royal Dutch/Shell's Message on HIV to Africa: Drop Dead!
The Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) issued its report, "AIDS in Africa: Three Scenarios to 2025," at a press conference in Addis Abeba on March 4.
The report, two years in preparation, was developed with funding from, or collaboration with, the World Bank, Royal Dutch/Shell Group, Rockefeller Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and agencies of the U.S. and U.K. governments, among others. Nominally African agencies were also involved.
The report consists primarily of three possible scenarios for the period between 2005 and 2025. The minimal scenario is a continuation of the current mode, with emphasis on the medical side. The intermediate scenario involves some increase in spending and would cost about $100 billion over the period. The maximum scenario, "Times of Transition: Africa Overcomes," would cost $200 billion over the period.
The maximum scenario, like the others, includes the unstated assumptions that there will be no change in the organization of the world economy, and that HIV can be conquered in the free-market framework. It is full of talk about poverty-reduction strategies, decentralization, "encouraging people in the informal sector to accumulate assets," civil society, and activism (it is hostile to leadership by African governments). A passing mention of energy development refers only to "modular, decentralized energy systems ... [such as] wind energy, photovoltaics, biomass, fuel cells, small hydroelectric plants." Africa's oil and natural gas are evidently not for Africans.
There is no mention of nutrition in this scenario, yet improved nutrition is the foundation of HIV prevention. "Agro-industrial projects" is not part of its vocabulary.
The report can be read at www.unaids.org.
Purpose of War in Darfur: Overthrow Sudan Government
The leading Anglo-American objective in Sudan is the overthrow of the Bashir government; the war in Darfur is only a means to that end. The International Crisis Group's (ICG) March 8 report, "Darfur: The Failure to Protect," is a reminder and confirmation of this.
The governmentcaught between the Anglo-American backed insurgents in Darfur and overt Anglo-American pressuresshows no sign of having the insight to judo its way out of the trap. It continues to follow a defensive strategy that is a proven failure. The result is increasing division within the alliance of forces upon which the government depends.
The ICG report, which draws on many interviews carried out by its own extensive intelligence resources, includes this quote from an interview with a government official on Nov. 13, 2004 (p. 8):
"There are many in the government who are pleased with the work of Musa Hilal and other Janjaweed [militia] leaders, because they've protected the government interests in Darfur. Those who committed war crimes should be brought to justice, but we are afraid of the backlash. Musa Hilal, for example, has 3,000 to 4,000 soldiers under him. If we arrest him, they will turn on us. The government has to weigh that against the outside pressure to take action, and possible repercussions from inaction."
The comment is not quite truthful: If "many in the government ... are pleased" with the Janjaweed, then backlash from government action against the Janjaweed takes the form of intensified factional conflict within the government, with possible military implications that would go far beyond the Janjaweed forces themselves.
The ICG's plan implicitly means tightening the screws until the government either surrenders to Anglo-American dictates or crashes, whatever may be the consequences for Sudan's territorial unity. The two chief means explicitly endorsed by the ICG at present are: 1) a 10,000-plus peacekeeping force in Darfur imposed on Khartoum, involving NATO and/or EU forces, nominally under African Union aegis; and 2) trials of selected government leaders for war crimes.
For the Anglo-American powers and their allies, "Darfur" just means "regime change." More people have died in the Darfur war than were killed in the tsunami of Christmas 2004. And the living, live in torment. But the latter-day friends of Bertrand Russell tell each other, "Who really cares?"
The report can be read at www.crisisgroup.org.
Actual Peacekeepers May Be Sent to Darfur
A greatly expanded force of peacekeepersnot observersis expected to be sent to Darfur, if the U.S. AND the EU will pay for it. After UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called Feb. 13 for help from NATO and/or the EU, UN Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland called Feb. 21 for an increase in the forces in Darfur, from the mandated 3,320 to 8,000 or 10,000. UN Special Envoy to Sudan Jan Pronk agrees. And some of those who are talking about using NATO and/or EU forces, are also talking of moving from an observer to a peacekeeping mandate. Kofi Annan is among them.
The African Union now has strong reasons to concur. The existing observer force is too small to make a difference. Moreover, the AU Peace and Security Council created an instability by changing the mandate of the force on Oct. 20 slightly in the direction of peacekeeping, to "protect civilians whom it encounters under imminent threat." An AU official interviewed by ICG Nov. 13 said of this situation, "Currently, everyone is making their decision independently, each time they go to the field. It's a recipe for disaster" (March 8 report, p. 18). Because of the small size and ambiguous mandate of the force, the AU is in danger of losing its credibility. Because the AU can scarcely retreat, it is propelled toward the larger peacekeeping force.
Sudan Government Not Eager To Release Hassan al-Turabi
The government of Sudan is not eager to release Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi and the leaders of his Popular Congress Party from prison. Since an official announcement Jan. 16, that the government was taking steps to release them, there has been no visible motion in that direction.
Leaders of the PCP were hosted for a lengthy meeting at the U.S. Embassy on the same day as that announcement. An attempt by the PCP to hold a press conference (apparently after the embassy meeting) was, however, interdicted by the government.
Three senior PCP officials were ordered released by the Khartoum criminal court, but were scooped up by the security forces as they were being released, and taken to an unknown destination, according to lawyer Kamal Omar Feb. 23.
A PCP delegation had gone openly to Asmara to meet with officials of the SPLM, however. (SPLM leader John Garang has also expressed a desire to meet personally with Turabi.)
President Bashir has said, according to reports, that he wants to minimize the influence of Islamists on his government.
Bush: Zimbabwe Is Extraordinary Threat to U.S. Policy
U.S. President George Bush told Congress March 2 that Zimbabwe poses a "continuing unusual and extraordinary threat" to U.S. foreign policy, and that he would continue to use national emergency powers to deal with it. These remarks were part of his message to Congress renewing sanctions first imposed on Zimbabwean leaders in 2002, according to Business Day (Johannesburg) March 4.
In January, Condoleezza Rice called Zimbabwe an "outpost of tyranny." South African President Thabo Mbeki took exception to her remark, calling it an exaggeration.