Africa

Nigerian Threat To Gas Prices

It seems that Nigeria, a major exporter of oil, is on the verge of a general strike. If that occurs, expect gas prices to rise at the pump as oil futures soar. Just the threat of a strike has oil futures at a 9-month high.

U.S. Ups Sanctions While People Die In Sudan

Over 200,000 people have died in Darfur and another 2 million are refugees as a result of the fighting between Sudanese government and rebel forces. The U.N. and the African Union stand ready to deploy an army of peacekeepers with the permission of the Sudanese government, which is not forthcoming.

Bush Steps Up Darfur Pressure

Amidst the wall-to-wall coverage of the Virginia Tech "massacre", president Bush put the Sudanese government on notice that if the United Nation's efforts to bring peace to the Darfur region didn't bring results soon, the United States would impose further sanctions on the Sudan government.

Bush is seeking the cooperation of the Sudanese government to allow U.N. Troops, including 3,000 attach helicopters, into the Darfur region to fight the militias responsible for the ethnic cleansing of non-arabs. He warned that failure to cooperate could lead to action by the U.N. Security Council.

Cabinda Separatists Fight On In Angola

While the world has paid attention to the Civil War between government forces and UNITA for the greater part of three decades, the separatist movement in Cabinda has raged on.

Angola's economy is dependent on oil exports, more than 50% of which comes from the Cabinda province. Much of the oil production in Cabinda is run by ChevronTexaco and has been since Chevron financed the invasion of the independent province by the Angolan army in 1975.

Understanding The Insurgency In Algeria

During the 1990s, a political party, the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), began to make serious inroads into the political dominance of the National Liberation Front. After the FIS made serious gains in the first round of a December 1991 election, the Algerian military stepped in and suspended the elections.

What motivated the army were fears by the secular community of an extremist led government. The eventual crackdown on the FIS by government forces has led to a decade and a half of unrest. Elections did eventually resume with the FIS excluded.

In recent years, insurgents loyal to the FIS and extremist causes have diminished their attacks. In 2003, they were ready to lay down their arms in the face of government offered amnesty; but, instead they have joined forces with al Qaeda operatives. While Algerians do not face day-to-day warfare, insurgents do occasionally make attacks where government influence is thin (e.g., rural villages.) There are also the occasional car bombs.

Conflicts in Africa

Why is Africa being ignored on the world stage? The level of conflict and unrest is staggering, yet little attention is being paid to the crisis.

If this scale of destruction and fighting was in Europe, then people would be calling it World War III with the entire world rushing to report, provide aid, mediate and otherwise try to diffuse the situation.

Over the next few weeks, I will endeavor to dig into each conflict and explore its causes and possible solutions. For now, here's a complete list of the countries in Africa with the ones experiencing marked unrest and outright war in bold.

Guinea Under Martial Law, Troops Firing On Civilians

Since our last report on Guinea, their president has declared martial law and sent troops out with orders to end the unrest and violence.

A report today comes complete with video of troops opening fire on protesters. Guinea has been surrounded by war for the past few years, and it is feared that rebel fighters from those conflicts have been steadily crossing into Guinea and may be partially responsible for the unrest.

The American State Department has encouraged Americans to forgo travel to Guinea and has pulled non-essential staff from their consulate there.

U.S. Enters Somalia Conflict

The global quest to kill or capture al Qaeda operatives has brought a U.S. AC-130 gunship into the Somalian civil war. The gunship virtually destroyed the village of Hayo, near the Kenya border, as it was believed that al Qaeda members responsible for the American embassy bombings were being sheltered there.

In addition to this gunship attack, elements of the U.S. Navy have established a naval cordon off the coast of Somalia in an effort to block any retreat by the Islamist rebels as they are pursued by Ethiopian backed Somali government forces.

As previously reported here, massive flooding in Somalia had precipitated a large humanitarian crisis before Ethiopia declared war and sent in troops to attack the radical Islamic factions that had seize control over much of Somalia. It can only be assumed that the fighting will have dramatically increased the scope of the humanitarian crisis. It remains to be seen what efforts will be made to assist those in need.

Flooding Creates Humanitarian Crisis In Somalia

The worst flooding of the Juba River has displaced some 300,000 people in Somalia resulting in the contamination of wells in the process.

Much of the country had been suffering under a pro-longed draught. While the flooding may provide some relief to the draught stricken areas, it has, for the moment, precipitated a humanitarian crisis in a nation full of strife and on the brink of all out war.

This flooding may be only the beginning for East Africa:

All Out War Brews In Somalia

A new UN report highlights a coming fight between the UN backed Somalia government and militant Islamic rebels. It seems outside forces on both sides of the struggle are working to bring about the possibility of all out war.

Somalia's government is backed by bordering Ethiopians and Eritrean troops while he rebels are backed by Iran, Libya, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States.

The U.N. is hoping to seek a direct dialog between the parties, but the militant Islamic rebels are commanded by Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys who is "on a list of people with ties to terrorism" - a fact which, by policy, hampers U.N. efforts to mediate through direct talks.

China Ignores World Bank Guidelines In African Lending

Ahead of next week's Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, Paul Wolfowitz, head of the World Bank, has called into question China's lending processes with regards to African countries.

It seems that the Chinese have been ignoring a voluntary set of guidelines known as the "Equator Principles" in their lending, preferring instead a more hands-off approach. The point behind the Equator Principles is to ensure that lenders review the social and environmental impact of the projects they are funding. The goal being to minimize the negative impacts.

Extremely Resistant TB Strain Found

This story in the Observer discusses a new strain of tuberculosis that resists every drug doctors can throw at it.

In South Africa, 52 of 53 patients diagnosed with the disease have died. Of greatest risk to the disease are the some 4.5 million AIDS patients in South Africa who already have compromised immune systems.

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