|Africa News Digest
African End of the British Arc of Crisis Continues to Build in the Horn
Since the Ethiopian military incursion into Somalia, with the active support of the Cheney-Bush regime, conditions for permanent, purposeless asymmetric warfare have been developing in Somalia. And Eritrea has taken advantage of Ethiopia's preoccupation with Somalia to build up troop strength in a demilitarized zone between it and Ethiopia as well, in violation of a UN-brokered agreement. The region is rapidly sliding into war on two fronts.
The Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG), was set up in Kenya in 2004 by neighboring governments, the African Union (AU), and the UN, to be a government of national reconciliation. Prior to the late-December 2006 Ethiopian invasion, the TFG had existed only in Baidoa, because of hostility from key warlords in Mogadishu. But since the Ethiopian invasion in support of the TFG, the TFG has still made no serious effort to set up an inclusive government of national unity.
Instead, the TFG has declared a state of emergency; thrown out the Speaker of the Parliament for advocating discussion and compromise with various Islamic factions; and imposed martial law.
As a result, Somalia is a political vacuum, and is reverting to a patchwork of clan and subclan-based fiefdoms of various warlords, some of whom are connected to the TFG, and are filling the vacuum.
It would take a significant peacekeeping force, coming in very soon, to prevent a return to the pre-June 2006 anarchy and chaos. African nations are very reluctant to get involved in a peacekeeping operation. The force would have to large to be effective, and these countries can't afford what portends to be a long-term operation. In addition, the offers of U.S. air support for a peacekeeping force, proffered by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer would turn a peacekeeping force into occupation troops, appearing to carry out the policy of the Bush-Cheney regime.
Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana, and Malawi have offered to send some troops. Malawi has since withdrawn its offer, and Burundi has offered to send troops. Twice as many as have been offered are needed. As for funding, the International Crisis Group reported that the United States was prepared to provide $20 million, and the EU, $15 million, but that "hundreds of millions" would be required.
Meanwhile, indiscriminate and random violence is on the increase. Mortar attacks are hitting civilian areas of Mogadishu. According to a UN report, "an estimated 1,000 people left Mogadishu in January 2007 due to fear of conflict and instability."
Ethiopians had been the subject of attacks, until they altered their deployments, staying in secure locations. Since then, TFG officials and government forces have been targetted. The TFG is blaming "Islamists" for these attacks.
Somalia's Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi warned Jan. 30 of a huge influx of heavy weaponry into Baidoa. In an address to lawmakers, Gedi rebuked legislators and government ministers for arming themselves despite efforts to reduce weaponry amongst the population. He said he was "very much terrified" by the scale of the re-militarization of Baidoa, just weeks after the defeat of the Islamist movement by Ethiopian troops.
Sudan Says No to Darfur AU/UN Force; Says U.S. Wants To Dismantle Government
At the African Union (AU) summit Jan. 29-30, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon failed to persuade Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir to accept a hybrid force of AU and UN troops in Darfur. Reuters Jan. 29 quoted Presidential adviser Majzoub al-Khalifa as saying, "We have agreed on a hybrid operation, not a hybrid force." Sudan opposes the deployment of thousands of UN peacekeepers in Darfur, but has agreed to allow up to 1,000 UN support personnel to bolster the struggling AU mission, according to Reuters.
Mustafa Osman Ismail, also a Presidential adviser, then told SUNA, the national press agency, that the U.S. is attempting to dismantle the government of Sudan through peace deals and human rights organizations, the Sudan Tribune reported Jan. 31. According to the Tribune, "Sudanese Presidential Adviser Mustafa Osman Ismail has reiterated that the American strategy towards Sudan had a different picture before: it aimed at ousting the regime through the neighboring countries and providing all the necessary financial resources to needed for the implementation of this strategy. The strategy has now changed to realizing peace and then dismantling the government by mounting on international pressure through human rights organizations and bringing in controversial elements to Khartoum."
Sudan's Foreign Ministry said that, at the AU summit, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Jendayi Frazer was denied meetings with Foreign Minister Lam Akol and Mustafa Osman Ismail and did not meet President Bashir, according to the Tribune.
Chinese President on Tour of Eight African Countries
Chinese President Hu Jintao is in the middle of a tour of African countries that includes Liberia, Cameroon, Sudan, Zambia, South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, and Seychelles. He announced in advance that China will hold to the commitments it made at the Beijing Summit of Africa leaders in November, for $5 billion worth of loans and credit, and doubling of aid. The Ministry of Commerce announced that China will lend African nations $3 billion in preferential credit over three years, and double aid and interest-free loans also over the next three years, according to Gulf News Jan 30. "The preferential loans provided by China carry no political conditions," the Ministry said.
During his one-day visit to Sudan Feb. 2-3, Hu signed an agreement for a loan to finance a rail line from Khartoum to Port Sudan and cancelled certain Sudanese debts to China. During the visit it was reported that Chinese agricultural experts will arrive soon to teach the use of agricultural technology. China has a large stake in Sudanese oil.
Hu "told Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on Friday [Feb. 2] Khartoum had to resolve the four-year-old conflict in Darfur, a source said after talks between the two leaders," according to Reuters Feb. 3. According to the official Sudan Media Center in Khartoum Feb. 3, "Foreign Minister Dr. Lam Akol said, 'Sudan and China share an identical view point on settlement in Darfur. He said both countries believe that the solution to the conflict in Darfur should be based on the Abuja agreement; besides recommendations and resolutions of Addis Ababa meeting held by AU peace and security council as well as UNSC statement on this regard.'"
Hu left Sudan for Zambia Feb. 3.
Forty African heads of state gathered in Beijing in November 2006 as guests of the government. Africa's trade with China has quadrupled in the past four years, and is now said to be at $40 billion annually. China is now Africa's third most important trading partner after the U.S. and France, having outpaced Britain.
Mining Cartels Plot at Davos to Get China Out of Africa
The mining cartels held a secret meeting at Davos to organize a plan to get China out of Africa. The Times of London reported Jan. 29 that major mining companies accuse China of "freezing them out of Africa," by such nasty tricks as offering "huge incentives to African nations,... building dams, telecom equipment, football stadiums, roads, railways and power stations across the continent. In return for these deeply discounted or gifted projects, they are winning rights to explore and exploit vast areas." The meeting included Paul Skinner, the chairman of Rio Tinto; Tony Trahar, chief executive of Anglo American; Jonathan Oppenheimer, chairman of De Beers; Alexei Mordashov, chairman of SeverStal; and Wayne Murdy, chairman and chief executive of Newmont Mining. The group, dubbed the governors, met at the Hotel Fluela on Thursday Jan. 25 in a six-hour session.
The World Bank estimates that China last year spent more than $10 billion on infrastructure projects in Africa, including motorways in Nigeria, a telephone network in Ghana and an aluminium smelter in Egypt. China is also putting significant efforts into its diplomatic relations in Africa. Hu Jintao is to start a ten-country tour Jan. 30. Last year, 48 African leaders, including Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe, went to Beijing to discuss business partnerships and received $5 billion in development loans.
To end this devious practice, the oligarchs discussed "asking the UN to mandate that countries must sign deals that require participants to meet high environmental and safety standards. Chinese miners have a poor reputation in these areas"; partnering with the World Bank's International Finance Corporation (IFC); work with environmental groups and organizations such as Oxfam to encourage African leaders to demand more guarantees from China.
Only one unnamed big miner is seeking joint ventures with the Chinese.