Friday, June 23, 2006

War games raise questions about NATO's role in Africa

Over 7000 troops from Europe and North America have come together to create a new NATO response force to be used in humanitarian as well as combat operations. The training is taking place at Cape Verde, a group of islands located on the west of Senegal. Although they are pulling the troops out on June 28th, part of the training was specifically desinged toward possibly increasing the NATO role in West Africa. While NATO maintains that their intentions are not to be looked ast as "global policemen", the presence of many terrorist groups in this regions of Africa can not be over looked. This new NATO response team will play a large role in the protection of Africa's energy supplies, more specifically, oil.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Democracy finally in Congo?

In Congo one of the most expensive and daunting elections in African history is underway. It will be the first election since Mobutu's ousting and it will be a very tense one since there is still conflict between Hutu rebels who have fled from Rwanda and the forces of the unelected leader that has been in power, president Laurent Kabila. There has already been violence in response to the upcomgin elections between Congolese army troops and rebels as the army tries to crush the rebels before the elections. It is said that the elections will cost$500 million because of the lack of infrastructure in country but should this cost be worried about because of the true democracy that the elections may bring to this region and also provide an outlet for the African people to voice their opinions. It will also be interesting to see how corruption and fraud are kept out of these elections

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Nigeria: The Necessity of Opposition Politics

With Nigeria's 2007 general elections looming around the corner, the importance of opposition parties withink the Nigerian political system has not been over looked. These oppostion parties can be based upon civil society, as well as actual political parties. Democracy has not come easy for Nigeria, nor has it come overnight. Supporters of democracy have learned their lesson after pledging their support to Olusegun Obasanjo and his administration. While this lesson left somewhat of a scar, it provided invaluable information on the importance of opposition parties within a multi-party democracy. Supporters of democracy also learned important lessons regarding the people's ability and necessity to monitor and check the government.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Somalia: Islamic Militants Fight Culture Wars

There is a war going on in Somalia, a war between ideals. Islamic fundamentalists are waging cultural battles in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. The militiamen hope to "rehabilitate" their countries people, and plan on getting its citizens back on the right track. "The right track" for these militants though is a path of radical Islam. In other words, they want their Somalian women veiled and want them at home, while men have to grow beards. A man with a "stylish Afro" was told to shave his head, while a woman in Magadishu was taken into custody for a "promiscuous" skirt. The World Cup is deemed taboo, and any theater hosting the games have been shut down. The new rules that the Shariah courts have set up are no doubt strict, but are they necessary to maintain order?

While there are many complaints about these stringent new rules, there is much more praise for them at the same time. There is this euphoria that the old warlords are out, and great optimism for some type of peace and order in a city that has been without a government for more than a decade. It seems that people are willing to give up some of there rights in order to have some stability in a country where rap and violence use to be the norm. After all, wouldn't you rather sacrifice a soccer game, in exchange for bullet in the head. But the consolidation of these radical Islamic courts (the Shariah courts) are quite alarming, especially in Washington.

But those courts owe part of their strength to the Bush administration, which tried secretly to undermine them. In recent years, American intelligence agents paid warlords to root out Islamic militants operating in Mogadishu, because they were suspected of aiding Al Qaeda. It seems that Washington has just exacerbated the situation that the had originally intended to eliminate. As a result there is a feeling of mutual animosity between Somalians and Washington. There is a deep mistrust of the West in Mogadishu, and for good reason.

Although the new rule of law might seem very repressive, it seems a godsend compared to what use to be in Somalia. After all, any rule of law seems better than no rule of law. It seems that US foreign policy has facilitated a sort of extremist measure in Somalia, and the people have sufficed to these demagogues of sorts. Then again not all Muslims seem to be this extreme, it just appears that the extremists are the only ones to take the action necessary to maintain peace.

Uganda Leads AIDS Treatment Despite Spending the Least Money in Africa

A United Nations report on AIDS released this year has revealed that Uganda leads east Africa in the treatment of AIDS. More than half of all "Ugandans who need antiviral therapy receive treatment." While this is good to hear, it is interesting that Uganda can be the best yet spend the least amount of money to treat AIDS compared to other African nations. Uganda uses only $18.8 million dollars compared to Tanzania with $45 million and Kenya with $33.2 million. Only 19.7 percent of Kenyans receive treatment and only 7 percent of Tanzanians. Obviously, these lopsided figures are a result of corruption and poor usage of resources by the government. If Uganda can get 56 percent of its people treatment, and use less money than anyone else, these other countries can and must do better.

Interview with Nigerian President Obasanjo: A reflection on his Presidency and a look to the Future

On Saturday June 17th, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo was interviewed in London. The President spoke of his two terms of office which will end next year as having focused on uprooting corruption and transforming the economy in his country. As Nigeria was rated the most corrupt country in the world in 2000 by Transparency International, Obasanjo stated regarding his Presidency, "It took me some time to be able to come to grips with the depth of decay." Overall, under his presidency the nation was able to pay off foreign debts, decrease unemployement and poverty, and the nation became a more credible international business partner. In regards to violent attacks and curruption within the nation's oil industry Obasanjo blamed the problems on "many years of accumulation and neglect."
Under Obasanjo, Nigeria has become involved in promoting peace and conflict resolutions in sourrouding African countries. In regards to his life after his second and final term of office, Obasanjo said he will devote himself to continuing peacemaking efforts and efforts to improve conditions in Nigeria. On the issue of whether he wanted to serve another term, Obasanjo only said he took his job on the basis of the constitution. This however seems constraversial because a strong campaign was lead by his supporters to amend the constitution and allow him to serve another term. The campaign was defeated last month and a new president will be elected next year. In retrospect of his Presidency, Obasanjo conveyed himself as a benevolent promoter of peace in Africa and statistically conditions in Nigeria have improved, but it is yet to be seen how progressive his presidency was and if a new president will continue progress in Nigeria.

Do You Care More About Screech or Africa?

Dustin Diamond (aka. Screech) former television star on the TV series "Saved by the Bell", is back in the spotlight. He was known for crazy antics on the show, but sadly was stereotyped as "Screech" for the rest of his acting career. Unable to find work as a legitimate actor, Dustin had to make it in the real world, and couldn't quite make it. With only a high school diploma from "Bayside High" and no college education, Dustin had to make do with just above minimum pay salary. Apparently "Screech" got himself into quite the financial predicament, and didn't really know how to budget his money. His house is up for forclosure, but he has amazingly been able to mobilize thousands of ex-Screech fans to help get him out of this sticky financial situation. Dustin devised a scheme to start a "fundraiser" that would help him raise enough money to save his house. Over the course of a few weeks Dustin has been able to raise around $250,000!!!!! $250,000 that will go towards a washed up TV star's mortgage payment. That's enough money to feed about 420,000 starving Africans!!! There is something seriously wrong here. How can a brankrupt ex-TV star raise that amount of money for a cause as illegitimate as raising money for the "National Bedwetter Organization" (Yes, that organization really does exist-Jason Giambi donates to it annually). Do American's not have their priorities straight, or is there something seriously wrong with American culture.