|Africa News Digest
Egypt Intervenes To Prevent 'Regime Change' in Sudan
According to several senior Arab diplomats based in Washington, en route back from the Sino-Africa conference in Beijing, China last week, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak asked Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to pass through Cairo to discuss the Darfur situation. Egypt is attempting to force a new UN Security Council resolution that would supersede the existing Resolution 1706, which mandates a UN peacekeeping force with broad authority to use military force (there is already a proposal floating around for Darfur region, an area the size of Texas, to be declared a no-fly zone, à la Iraq prior to the Anglo-American invasion).
The al-Bashir government has resisted the imposition of a UN force, arguing that this would be a pretext for regime change, and pointing to the U.S. occupation of Iraq as reason why no international force is acceptable. Egypt, according to the diplomats, appreciates the complexity of the Darfur crisis, including the water factorthe years of drought that have brought Bedouin herders into Darfur from the north, desperately seeking water for their herds. Only the U.S. and British governments, the diplomats emphasized, persist in using the term "genocide" to describe the Darfur disaster. Egypt is pushing for an expanded African Union peacekeeping force, to be augmented by peacekeepers from Arab and Muslim countries, including Pakistan, India, and Malaysia.
The same Arab diplomats expressed grave concerns over the Somalia situation, although they noted that the Islamic militias that have taken control of the capital city have imposed the first cessation of conflict in many years. They agreed that the entire Horn of Africa region, vital to the security of Egypt and the rest of the Arab world, is in flames, and things could get far worse.
The Egyptian government is committed to averting a further political and humanitarian disaster, and Egyptian water engineers are fanned out all over the African continent, particularly in the Nile River region, attempting to develop competent water management programs. While some areas are facing severe water shortages, other areas are being flooded, creating equally severe problems. And in Egypt, 1 billion cubic meters of water from the Nile are lost each year, flowing into the Mediterranean Sea, and not being captured for use.
At present, southeast Ethiopia, and adjacent Somalia and Kenya, are still reeling from flash flooding in August and September. New heavy flooding has just hit the Somali region of Ethiopia. Hundreds of thousands of people are dislocated. (For more on this, see InDepth: "What Is Really Behind the Crisis in Darfur?" by Lawrence K. Freeman.)
UN Food Program: Aid Is Urgent for Ethiopia and Somalia
While little is reported in the Western press, The Peninsula of Qatar reported Nov. 6 that 68 people in the ethnic Somali region of Ethiopia have died in recent weeks from food and water shortages, and related complications. Ethiopia was hit by deadly floods again, and neighboring Somalia's Juba region is facing a worsening situation.
The World Food Program states that 1.5 million farmers "require urgent humanitarian assistance as large numbers of livestock died, wells and boreholes dried up, malnutrition rates increased and disease became rampant."
Horn of Africa Could Be Next 'Iraq-Style' War
International wire services are pumping up the specter of an imminent "Iraq-style" war in the Horn of Africa, consuming the starving nations of Somalia, Eritrea, and Ethiopia. War could be within hours, days, or weeks, Reuters projected on Nov. 3, after talks broke down between the government of Somalia (which controls little of the country) and Islamicist "opposition" forces, which the Bush Administration charges are linked to al-Qaeda, but which control Somalia's capital and much of the South.