Filed under: Africa
For the first time since 1953, the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will visit Libya. Dr Rice is to visit the country in October. The last US Secretary of State to visit Libya was John Foster Dulles.
US State Department sources explained that the visit, which had been planned for an earlier date, had been postponed for reasons connected to the progress of political reform in Libya.
Filed under: Africa
"Two years ago, Al Arabiya producer Nabil Kassem was asked to put together a documentary film on Darfur. What he witnessed there, and recorded in this film, were scenes of unspeakable brutality and untold suffering, scenes he thought would surely wake up an Arab public all too willing to let Darfur pass by. But Jihad on Horseback never made it across the airwaves. Watch the film to see perhaps the most provocative Arab documentary ever made." ( Atlas Shrugs)
You can see the video here.
China, on a domestic and international cleaning binge, is seeking to cleanse its status and reputation by the time it begins hosting the Olympics in 2008 to appear as a developed nation in a first-world prom dress. While this may appear as a farcical whitewash operation by a totalitarian regime, it presents an opportunity for the international community to take concrete steps in resolving the Darfur crisis.
While the Darfur conflict has been well-documented (Wiki on Darfur Conflict) and officially labeled a genocide by the American government, the nations that allowed the situation to continue have until recently seen relatively little outside pressure else than the editorial page. China, as the leader in Sudanese oil imports, is at the center of enabling the Sudanese government. As the BBC states of the rise of China as an energy importer:
“From zero 15 years ago, China last year became the world’s number two oil importer… China has, we are told, been running around the world signing oil deals with everyone from Iran, to Sudan to Angola. In the race to secure future oil resources China is prepared to deal with even the dodgiest regimes, and pay the highest prices.”
China's economic relations with the Sudanese government provided it with significant leverage that it has chosen not to use until of late. With concerns about manners, proper English, and all things image savvy that will hopefully provide an ideal experience for the foreign traveler visiting China for the first time at the 2008 Olympics, China is similarly trying to improve its image abroad as well. Helen Cooper writes in the New York Times about the collision between the internal worries of public image in China and the relation with diplomacy:
China's decision to pressure Sudan about violence in Darfur, after years of protecting that government, can be traced to campaign to boycott 2009 Olympic Games in Beijing; Mia Farrow, good-will ambassador for United Nations Children's Fund, started campaign to label Games in Beijing 'Genocide Olympics' and called on corporate sponsors to publicly exhort China to do something about Darfur; she challenged Steven Spielberg, artistic advisor to China for Games, to add his voice, prompting Spielberg to send letter to Pres Hu Jintao of China asking him to use his influence to stop killings in Darfur; senior Chinese official, Zhai Jun, recently traveled to Sudan to push government there to accept UN peacekeeping force, and then visited Darfur refugee camps; turnaround in China's policy serves as classic study of how pressure campaign, aimed to strike Beijing in vulnerable spot at vulnerable time, could accomplish what years of diplomacy could not...
If the United Nations and the West are serious about ending one of the greatest humanitarian disasters of the decade, it must utilize the chance given in this pre-Olympic window by China. With the first noticeable signs that China is willing to act, a formidable and unified multilateral consensus should take advantage of a diplomatically-sensitive China to leverage a more proactive role in solving the Darfur crisis.
Darfur Collides With Olympics, and China Yields, by Helen Cooper, New York Times
">Darfur Crisis: Towards An Ever Greater Tragedy by Amit Pyakurel« Close It
ZIMBABWE has cancelled the licences of all aid groups, accusing them of working with the opposition to oust President Robert Mugabe, sparking fears the ban could cut food supplies to hundreds of thousands of people in the nation dependent on handouts. Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said that all non-governmental organisations had been deregistered and would have to reapply for permits, reports said yesterday.This is basically committing the entire country to suicide. This year's harvest brought in absolutely nothing. The only reason people have been surviving at all is because of Western aid programs that distribute food to people. That this happened though is not that all surprising. As opposition to Mugabe's rule mounts, so does his will to crack down on dissent. He has used food as a political weapon since the day he gained power, especially noticeable in the 2005 election when food was distributed all over the place in order to buy votes.
But now the situation has changed; there will be no food at all. If the Zimbabwean people don't fight now, when will they?
Journalist Alex Perry, writing for Time magazine, was in Zimbabwe only 22 hours before plainclothes policeman picked him up and threw him in jail. Five days of rotting there without food, water, or sleep. His crime? "Dedicated journalist on a clandestine mission."
This kind of humiliation and repression is what the Zimbabwean people face every day, and often much much more. It's a pretty good read though. Check it out here.
It's certainly not the United States, London, or even China or India. Hong Kong pales in comparison, and Brazil is but an afterthought. Mexico? Where's that? All of these places are doing well enough, but they aren't top dog. The Ludwig von Mises Institute, however, has the answer we're all seeking.
With inflation at nearly 1800%, unemployment at 80%, and GDP having been slashed in half over the years, a thriving Zim stock market seems, well, impossible. But the 12,000% year-over-year increase is well over the rate of inflation, so people are obviously getting rich and keeping their money safe . The Institute explains that the Austrian Business Cycle Theory has something to do with it.
The ZSE is growing some three times faster than consumer prices. This relative outperformance versus general prices is a result of stocks being a chief entry point for the flood of newly created money. Keep Zimbabwean dollars in your pocket, and they've already lost a chunk of their value by the next day. Putting money in the bank, where rates are pithy, is not much better. Investing in government bonds is the equivalent of financial suicide. Converting wealth into foreign currency is difficult; hard currency is scarce, and strict rules limit exchangeability. As for capital improvements, there is little incentive on the part of companies to invest in their already-losing enterprises since economic prospects look so bleak. Very few havens exist for people to hide their wealth from the evils created by Mugabe's policies. Like compressed air looking for an exit, money is pouring into shares of ZSE-listed firms like banker Old Mutual, hotel group Meikles Africa, and mobile phone firm Econet Wireless. It is the only place to go. Thus the 12,000% year over year increase in the Zimbabwe Industrials.Though the government print more and more money and distributes it into the system via financial institutions such as banks, they are opting to put it into stocks rather than hold onto it. One day can cause its value to collapse, but the stock market is driven by demand. Therefore, all of the rich people, government officials, and banks are putting their money into stocks so that it doesn't lose value. Demand is high, so the price is too.
The everyday people of Zimbabwe don't see any benefit to this, though. Their masters may not see it for much longer either. Stock prices on the index are obviously inflated and unsustainable. It's only a matter of time before it comes crashing down, taking down many in its spiral.« Close It
The latest Publius feature article title, "The Catholic Church Can Save Zimbabwe," can be found by clicking on this link, looking at the right sidebar, or clicking on the Articles tab. It explores the relationship of the Catholic Church's support for the liberation of Poland and ties it into the potential for support that it can give to the people of Zimbabwe in their own struggle. Check it out.
Disturbing images revealing Mugabe's henchmen brutally beating opposition leaders last month were leaked to the West, greatly amplifying the shock that many felt reading through the headlines. The name of this brave journalist is Edward Chikombo, a cameraman for state-run broadcaster ZBC. Or should I say, was? Revealing his name on this site makes no difference. Today, he turned up dead about 50 miles away from the capital.
A local journalist suspected of having links to Zimbabwe's opposition has been found murdered following an escalation of the government's campaign of violence and intimidation.There is a fine mental line for most of today's leaders between collective savagery imposed on a nation, for that is collective and thus equally shared, and targeting the opposition politicos. The former is a constant regardless with totalitarian regimes. Morgan Tsvangirai and the Movement for Democratic Change represent the organized effort to oust Mugabe. If they're put out of commission, it will become all the harder to do so.
It is a sign of desperation on Mugabe's part that he is now physically attacking -- and now evening killing -- his rivals and betrayer rather than simply threatening and harassing them. International pressure, even some coming from African countries, is reaching fever pitch while the people of Zimbabwe increasingly see no difference between life under Mugabe and death. Yet the former they can do something about. At the risk of sounding overly optimistic as I have in the past, Mugabe may not see the next "election."« Close It
Filed under: Africa
In preparation for my trip to Africa this summer, I've been immersing myself in all types of media including books and video. So I've been watching and in some cases re-watching movies like Hotel Rwanda, Lord of War, Blood Diamond, etc. The Travel Channel also has a lot of interesting documentaries that they play that talk about everything from culture to geography.
So here's my question and I hope a lot of you out there give me your input in the comments! What books, movies, documentaries, etc. would you recommend regarding Africa?opposition leader Morgan Tsvangarai.
HARARE, Zimbabwe — Police stormed the main opposition party headquarters Wednesday and arrested its leader shortly before President Robert Mugabe left for an emergency meeting of southern African leaders about the crisis in Zimbabwe.Zimpundit says that this shows that Mugabe is willing to do anything to crush the opposition and remain in power. Certainly so. In the moment, one would find it impossible to believe that genocide in Rwanda and Sudan could actually happen until it is well underway, regardless of the plentiful signs pointing in that direction well ahead of time.
Meanwhile, the world stands by idly interpreting events and, rather than acting on that analysis, hopes that the horizon will eventually end. A cartoon posted by Sokwanele sums it up:
Filed under: AfricaFormer vice-president of Zimbabwe, Joshua Nkomo, writes a very interesting article in the Zimbabwe Independent about what he sees as what needs to be done in order to ensure the freedom of its people. It was very interesting, and at least I got the point, but I couldn't help but be sidetracked from one paragraph of the column that makes an assertion about political systems that I feel compelled to further explore. Here's what he wrote:
A one-party state, sincerely operated, may indeed be a way of encouraging an open and constructive debate. A multi-party state, badly operated, may be just another way of keeping an elite in power. The point is it is not the formal system that really matters, but the spirit in which a single or multi-party state is managed or operated. What matters is that the leadership should tolerate and encourage diverse opinions to be heard -- opinions of different social groups, differ-ent economic interests, different regions. Since geographical regions within Afri-can nations tend to be inhabited by people of different languages and cultural backgrounds, partly as a result of colonial boundaries, regional dynamics to national politics are vitally important: recognising and accommodating regional differences is the best way to prevent them turning into counter-productive tribal rivalries. Diversity must be appreciated, celebrated and tapped for collective national good.Being largely a proponent of structural factors, I wonder: Is this even possible in most cases? Won't most leaders, in single party states, simply opt for absolute power regardless of their previous noble ambitions? Are diverse opinions and rights something that can be guaranteed by a leader, or something that has to be built into the system in a way that they cannot be breached on a whim? Mugabe himself is a prime example of this. Therefore, I think that power cannot be trusted, and must be restrained by the system itself.
Let me know what you think, as I would like to discuss these ideas and turn them into a larger article to post soon.
Filed under: Africa
The candidate debate leading up to the second round of Mauritania's presidential election is debuting momentarily on Al Jazeera tonight, to be broadcast across the entire region. Suehp Rom calls it "North Africa's equivalent of the Nixon-Kennedy debate." Hardly has ever a moment like this passed in the region, where two candidates are able to freely debate issues of importance to the country in order to legitimately win the votes of the people. From what I know, it will center on international political affairs, such as regional issues and relations with Israel, as well as local politics and rights.
Say what you want about Al Jazeera. It may have a lot of anti-American and and otherwise stupid commentary, but they have a lot of good and interesting content too. Remember, they aren't an American channel -- they're an Arab channel. And the fact that they are the ire of Arab governments everywhere shows how much they've been able to advance the debate on many key issues.
Filed under: Africa
Following a brutal crackdown on the opposition, Mugabe has become more isolated than ever. Even the African nations can no longer ignore the plight of Zimbabwe's people, as they have done for so long. Even Mugabe's own party and security services, discontent with their own standard of living and the constant danger they are in by enforcing such a regime, are turning on him. The entire country is about to collapse. What's a lone dictator to do?Why, send in the ninjas, of course! I didn't know they had ninjas in Africa, but Angola apparently is flush with them. Must be all that recent Asian investment...
Angola is sending 2500 of its feared paramilitary police to Zimbabwe, raising concerns of an escalation in violence against President Robert Mugabe's opponents, it was reported today.So this is what it comes down to. Most of Mugabe's security forces really are human. They have families to take care of, which is the only reason they would take such a job. But they also live amongst the very people that they repress. Living standards have also gone down so much that the consequences of their actions are no longer worth the pay. They've been abandoning their master -- along with teachers, civil servants, and other public employees -- because the benevolent dictator can't even feed them anymore!
With his forces abandoning him, he must look outside to foreign forces. These are people who don't live amongst the ZImbabweans and don't face the consequences of their actions. It's a typical move used by everyone from the Iranians to the Chinese to repress domestic discontent. But it has become obvious that Zimbabwe is reaching a tipping point. With the church calling for Mugabe to be toppled, and people so hungry that they don't care whether they live or die, mass action is going to happen. Soon.
Filed under: Africa
If you were interested in the article on Mauritania's burgeoning democracy, then you're probably one of the few who would want to get into the nitty gritty of it. The Head Heeb is following the minute-by-minute politics and flip flops going on leading up to the presidential election runoff. I suggest his posts on it, because he seems to have a fondness for writing in-depth and analytically about these kinds of things that would drive anyone else bonkers...
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