Castro’s legacy in Africa (part 2): Ole Gjerstad on Cuba’s support to anti-imperialist struggles

ole-gjerstad-225x300(photo credit: lesamisdecuba.com)

In this second part of Amandla’s look at the life of Fidel Castro and his role on the African continent, Amandla regular Doug Miller talks to Montreal anthropologist, writer, radio broadcaster and filmmaker Ole Gjerstad who was a witness of the Cuban presence in Angola.

Gjerstad offers a rare first-hand look at the Cuban presence in Africa and how Castro contributed to the liberation struggles on the continent.

Also be sure to check out part 1

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Ethiopia’s Oromo farmers face continued repression

Since 2014 when the Ethiopian government launched a so-called “Master Plan” to expand the capital city of Addis Ababa, around 150 activists have been killed by government forces while 5000 have been jailed in relation to the protests by Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, to the government plan.

Roberto Nieto interviews Bona Beshe, Master of Law from the university of Gondar in Ethiopia about the current situation.

The Afar of Eritrea in the face of conflict

The geostrategic importance of the Afar’s traditional territory along the Red Sea has placed them in the cross-hairs of Horn of Africa politics and conflicts. With the secession of Eritrea in 1991, their situation has worsened. To explore the roots of this conflict and the Afars’ efforts to chart a different future, Gwen Schulman spoke to Ahmed Youssouf Mohamed, a Canadian of Afar origin and head of the foreign mission of the Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization; and Joseph Magnet, Professor of Law at University of Ottawa, Legal Counsel for the Afar people and Legal Counsel for the Government of Afar State in Ethiopia.

Amandla: Patrick Alleyn sur les enjeux environnementaux concernant le bassin du Nil/ Polémique en Algérie autour d’un “sondage” d’Al Jazeera.

Voici les thèmes qui ont été abordés pendant l’émission Amandla du 26 décembre 2007 sur les ondes de CKUT 90.3FM (Montréal). Vous pouvez la télécharger ici (lien valide pour deux mois seulement).

L’émission du 26 décembre est un spécial en français… ou presque.

Le photo-journaliste Patrick Alleyn parle des enjeux sociaux-politiques entourant l’exploitation du Nil. Patrick Alleyn et Benoit Aquin reviennent de Chine et d’Afrique et présentent, par le médium de la photographie, les défis environnementaux des sociétés chinoises et est-africaines.

Souk de Khan el-Khalili au CaireM. Alleyn nous entretient sur les défis de la gestion régionale du Nil, surtout en Égypte et en Éthiopie.

Cliquez ici pour pour entendre l’entrevue (avec M. Alleyn, Roberto et Moussa).

Une trentaine de photos sont affichées à la Maison de la culture du Plateau Mont-Royal au 465, av. Mont-Royal Est, Montréal, (Face au métro Mont-Royal; 514-872-2266) dans le cadre d’une exposition qui s’intitule: “Territoires sous pression“. Cette exposition se tient jusqu’au 20 janvier 2008. L’entrée est libre. PHOTO : © 2007 Benoit Aquin (tous droits réservés)

 

Entrevue avec Gwen qui nous entretient sur les raisons de son voyage en Afrique du Sud et au Malawi ainsi que son intention de faire des reportages qui seront présentés à notre émission Amandla (En anglais!).

Cliquez ici pour entendre l’entrevue (avec Gwen, Roberto et Moussa).

 

 

Commentaires sur le tolé provoqué en Algérie par un “sondage” d’Al Jazeera sur les attentats du 11 décembre à Alger. Un sondage sur le site de la chaîne de télévision qatari, Al Jazeera, provoque de vives réactions en Algérie. En effet, il demande: “Êtes-vous pour les deux attentats terroristes perpétrés à Alger?”. 52% de ceux qui ont daigné répondre l’ont fait en répondant “oui”. Commentaires de Moussa.

Des journaux, comme la Tribune d’Alger, critiquent fortement ce manque d’éthique de la part de la chaine du Qatar, et certains vont jusqu’à l’accuser de servir les vils desseins de la nébuleuse terroriste Al Qaïda:

Ghada Hamrouche de la Tribune d’Alger:

Unanime. C’est le moins qu’on puisse dire de la réaction de la presse algérienne à propos du scandaleux sondage de la chaîne qatarie El Djazira. Ainsi, les quotidiens parus hier ont vivement critiqué la formule et même la publication du résultat d’un sondage immoral. «L’attentat d’El Djazira», a écrit en grande manchette El Moudjahid, avant d’affirmer : «El Djazira est aujourd’hui un îlot fortifié du terrorisme, et sa capacité de nuisance dépasse celle de ceux qui tuent aveuglément des innocents, car elle s’applique à donner un semblant de légitimité à de vils criminels.»

De son côté, le Jour d’Algérie, en qualifiant la chaîne tout bonnement de «porte-parole officiel d’Al Qaïda», estime que ce sondage est «un véritable encouragement au crime». «La chaîne absout le GSPC de tous les crimes qu’il a commis et ceux qu’il envisage de commettre en Algérie», ajoute-t-il. Quant au quotidien El Watan, le sondage ne peut être qu’un «sondage de la honte». «Le sondage d’El Djazira n’est pas un simple dérapage. C’est tout simplement le summum du mépris de la vie humaine. Une insulte à l’éthique professionnelle, à la morale et aux valeurs universelles reconnues par toutes les religions», peut-on y lire.

Rémi Yacine, d’El Watan, se tourne vers une autre cause de cette tourmente, le désert médiatique audiovisuel algérien:

Tout le monde s’y met. Tous contre Al Jazeera ! Pour les autorités algériennes, le dérapage de la jeune chaîne qatarie est une aubaine. Il sert à masquer les lacunes sécuritaires, les limites de la politique de réconciliation et tout simplement l’incurie du système.

Parce qu’en Algérie, les islamistes sont aussi au pouvoir. Les barbéfèlenes sont solidement installés du côté du Palais du gouvernement. La presse indépendante a eu raison de s’émouvoir contre ce sondage indécent (Pour ou contre les attentats d’Alger ? Plutôt une bêtise du service marketing). Une fois l’indignation passée, il convient d’analyser cette colère juste, mais indéniablement instrumentalisée. Le vrai problème n’est pas Al Jazeera. Le problème réside dans l’Etat. Le problème est dans la dictature audiovisuelle. Il est offensant pour les Algériens de n’avoir qu’une chaîne de télévision ! L’Unique, la mal-nommée. L’ENTV n’est pas une chaîne publique, elle est une extension du pouvoir.
Elle est à l’image des dictatures arabes, obsolète, incongrue et définitivement non fiable. La voix de son maître. C’est donc la faute aux responsables politiques au pouvoir, au directeur de l’ENTV (passé par tous les rouages du système, qui a appris à dire très tôt anaâm sidi, choukrane (« oui monsieur, merci »), si les Algériens se ruent sur Al Jazeera et les chaînes de télévision française pour savoir ce qui se passe chez eux. Un tel sondage serait passé inaperçu si l’Algérie était dotée de télévisions libres, indépendantes. Si la liberté d’expression avait droit d’entrée à la télévision. Il ne faut pas se leurrer, l’actuel directeur de l’ENTV dirige une télévision brejnévienne, digne de Kim Il Sung. Aucun opposant, aucun artiste engagé, aucun journaliste indépendant, aucun militant des droits de l’homme n’a le visa nécessaire (estampillé FLN, RND ou ex-Hamas, islamo-conservateur) pour pouvoir s’exprimer sur l’Unique. Ce sont toujours les mêmes qui « habitent » la télévision algérienne, ni démocratique ni populaire depuis l’indépendance (confisquée). Le premier procès à faire n’est pas contre Al Jazeera (qui n’a pas à nous aimer ou détester, contrairement à ce qui est écrit ces derniers jours), mais contre nos responsables médiocres qui maintiennent nos concitoyens dans l’ignorance en imposant une dictature propre aux potentats arabes. La liberté de la presse doit entrer dans la Bastille de l’ENTV. Qu’ils le veuillent ou pas. Il appartient aussi aux journalistes de refuser cette censure, de faire exploser ce système pour créer des télévisions dignes de l’Algérie, des Algériens. Gageons qu’on saura faire autant, sinon mieux qu’Al Jazeera.

 

Here are the subjects that were addressed in the December 26th 2007 Amandla radio show on CKUT 90.3 FM (Montreal). You can download the show here (link valid for two months only).

The December 26th is totally in French… almost.

Interview with Patrick Alleyn who talks about the socio-political issues regarding the management of the Nile river by the States occupying its basin. Patrick Alleyn and Benoît Paquin came back from China and Africa, Ethiopia and Egypt more precisely. They present us, through the photography medium, the environmental challenges of the Chinese and East-African societies.

Click here to hear the interview (Mr. Alleyn, Roberto and Moussa).

You can see the photos (there are thirty of them) displayed at the “Maison de la culture du Plateau Mont-Royal”, 465, av. Mont-Royal Est, Montreal, (in front of the Mont-Royal metro station; 514-872-2266). The exposition is called : “Territoires sous pression”and lasts until January 20th 2008. Admission is free.

Interview with Gwen who tells us about the reasons for her trip to South Africa and Malawi as well as her plans for doing reportages that will be presented on the Amandla show. (In english!).

Click here to hear the interview (with Gwen, Roberto and Moussa).

Comments on the turmoil created in Algeria by an Al-Jazeera ‘survey’ asking if people agreed with the December 11th bombings in Algiers. The newspapers in Algeria are furious and accuse Al Jazeera to be an ‘Al Qaida puppet’. Some papers (El Watan [link in french]) indicates that if Algeria had a free televised media environment (no State control) the turmoil wouldn’t have happened since Algerians would’ve listened to local TV instead of Al-Jazeera.

This issue still shows a serious lack of ethics from the Qatari TV station. Comments by Moussa.

Émission Amandla du 1er août 2007/ Amandla show from August 1st 2007

Voici les thèmes qui ont été abordés pendant l’émission Amandla du 1er août 2007 sur les ondes de CKUT 90.3FM (Montréal). Vous pouvez la télécharger ici (lien valide pour deux mois seulement).

Émission entièrement en anglais.

Commentaires sur la revue de la BBC: “Focus on Africa” de juillet-septembre. Commentaires qui incluent l’opinion de Kenneth Kaunda, ancien président de Zambie, sur Mugabe. Aussi, la géopolitique de le Corne de l’Afrique.

Commentaires sur le journal sud-africain: Mail and Guardian: “Sudan looks south for peace”. Voir l’article en anglais, plus bas.

Commentaires sur l’article de le BBC: “Enjoying beers in the Algeria woods”. Voir l’article en anglais plus bas.

Les parlementaires Kenyan se donnent des salaires trop élevés. Commentaires sur le fait que les parlementaires Kenyan s’octroient un salaire de 91000 dollars US par ans!

Côte d’Ivoire: Laurent Gbagbo se rend à Bouaké . Commentaires.

Autres nouvelles de la Corne de l’Afrique.

Autres Nouvelles.

 

Here are the subjects that were addressed in the August 1st 2007 Amandla radio show on CKUT 90.3 FM (Montreal). You can download the show here (link valid for two months only).

Show entirely in english.

Commentaries on the BBC’s Focus on Africa magazine, july-september edition. Comments on the magazine that incudes views on Mugabe’s regime by former Zambia president, Kenneth Kaunda etc. Also, geopolitics in the Horn of Africa…

Commentaries on the South African newspaper: Mail and Guardian: “Sudan looks south for peace”. Here is the article (you can then listen to Doug’s comments on air):

Sudan looks south for peace
Jean-Jacques Cornish
31 July 2007 10:38
Said Alkhateeb, manager of the Strategic Studies Centre in Khartoum and a former general secretary of foreign relations for the ruling Sudanese National Congress party, travelled to Pretoria recently. Alkhateeb, who played a major role in negotiating the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) that ended the civil war between northern and southern Sudan, spoke to the Mail & Guardian about South Africa as a possible host and mediator in new talks between the Sudanese government and those Darfur rebel groups that refused to sign the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) last year.

Has the South African government been asked to host and mediate the talks?
Informally, it has been approached, and a formal request will soon be made. The South African government knows the government of Sudan will welcome more involvement in monitoring the CPA and reviving the talks for Darfur.

Now that you are ac­cepting a hybrid force of African peacekeepers for Darfur financed and logistically supported by the United Nations, is every­thing up for grabs?
No, everything is not up for grabs. We will not be renegotiating the DPA. We have the building blocks for a more inclusive deal, but we do not want to alienate anyone who has already signed. We want to augment and add to the DPA, not replace it. Important points have been reached regarding personal compensation and control of the region. Most of the discontent in Darfur revolves around these two issues.

The Sudanese government has allowed UN troops to be deployed to monitor the CPA but has until recently refused to allow the deployment of UN troops in Darfur. Why?
The CPA is an agreement between two parties and they agreed to bring the UN in to deal particularly with the military and security arrangements. The mandate is very clear, and it was agreed before the parties put their signatures to the CPA. What the government of Sudan agreed to with the DPA is having AU peacekeeping forces. The US and the EU, who were there as facilitators, know this well. The government of Sudan sees no reason why this should change, because that would change the DPA itself. If people believe the AU cannot fulfil this role, they should gather around the table and change the agreement.

The UN Security Council envisages a peacekeeping force for Darfur of about 20 000. But it is clear that, at best, Africa can provide no more than 10 000 troops. Would you look favourably at a hybrid force in which the remainder are composed of troops from countries suitable to you?
The general agreement is that unless we cannot find peacekeeping personnel from within the AU we will not go elsewhere. We fully accept a hybrid force supervised by the AU and the UN. The peacekeeping troops will come from Africa. If practical considerations dictate it, the government of Sudan has indicated it will look elsewhere to solve the problem. If the political track moves quickly the whole process will be accelerated. The need for bringing in vast numbers of new forces will dwindle by the day. Provided a political solution is found, we will not need all that many people in Darfur.

When would the Sudanese government like to see the hybrid force on the ground?
Emotions regarding Sudanese sovereignty are still very strong. Politics generally are delaying things. The Sudanese government agreed to a hybrid force last September. Delays have been caused by misinterpretations of what exactly was agreed to. There is also uncertainty in the UN about funding something that is not entirely a UN operation. This all seems to have been cleared up now. The wheels can start turning. Timing is everything in matters like this. It is best for all involved that we proceed quickly

Comments on the BBC’s: “Enjoying beers in the Algeria woods”. Here is the article (you can then listen to Doug’s comments on air):

By Mary Harper
BBC News, Algiers
Kamal “Van Damme” has long dark hair, wild black eyes and a bare chest. He lives alone in the woods, high up in the Berber mountains of Algeria’s Kabylie region.

In an area occupied by armed Islamists, he runs a bar, selling cold beer to his customers.

Nicknamed after the Hollywood strongman, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Kamal has carved ingenious clearings out of the mountainside, each one almost completely hidden by thick bushes on all sides.

Into each clearing, he has put a rickety table and a few chairs, so that people can sit and drink in the middle of nature.

For the more adventurous, he has even constructed a platform at the top of a tree.

When I visited Kamal Van Damme’s bar, there were men lolling around in various stages of inebriation, green beer bottles scattered all over the place.

The atmosphere was completely relaxed.

“We’re drinking beer under the very beards of the Islamists,” one man joked.

Bizarre

I found it impossible to believe that we really were drinking “under the beards of the Islamists” until a couple of days later, when a military patrol was ambushed in full daylight just 400m away from the bar.

One soldier was killed and two others badly injured in the attack, blamed on Islamists hiding in the nearby forest.

Eyewitnesses reported that Kamal continued to serve beer during the attack, although most of his clients ran away as soon as they heard the gunshots and other explosions.

Bizarrely, it is in the land of the beer-drinking Berbers that Algeria’s Islamist insurgency is most active.

Attacks are frequent and principally directed at the military.

Recent incidents include the suicide bombing of an army barracks in Lakhdaria that killed more than 10 people and a midnight ambush on military positions in Yakouren.

In the first attack on civilians for some time, a bomb was thrown into an amusement arcade in Barika, leaving two children dead and several others with horrific injuries.

Hideouts

Parts of the Kabylie resemble a war zone. Near Yakouren, I saw convoys of military vehicles thundering by as columns of nervous-looking soldiers marched up into the mountains to hunt down the perpetrators of the recent attack.

Helicopters clattered above, strafing the mountainsides.

Forest fires, started by the military, engulfed the hills, consuming not only the hideouts of the militants but also the ancient olive trees belonging to the local population.

The Berbers have little sympathy for the Islamists, but they dislike the army even more.

One man, a beekeeper, explained how all of his beehives had been destroyed in one of the fires started by the army.

“When I asked the soldiers why they had burned my beehives, they said they would not have done so if I had told them where the militants were hiding,” he said.

“How can the army ask for my help when they have destroyed my livelihood?”

And the authorities are indeed asking the population for their help in fighting the insurgency, with daily television appeals requesting information about “the terrorists”.

Insecurity has been increasing in Algeria, and across North Africa, since the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) re-launched itself as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb at the beginning of this year.

Algeria’s Islamists have changed their tactics since joining the al-Qaeda franchise.

There are more suicide bombings, complete with slick internet videos of the young men who were prepared to die for their faith.

Co-ordinated attacks, such as the seven bombs that went off almost simultaneously in seven different locations in February, also bear the hallmarks of al-Qaeda.

Despite the upsurge of Islamist activity, the government insists that what Algerians describe as “The Time of Terror” of the 1990s and early 2000s is now over.

“The Algerian government has perfect control over the security situation and terrorism is on the verge of being eradicated,” says Prime Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem.

Traumatised

The reality on the ground, especially in the eastern Kabylie region, contradicts the prime minister’s statement.

Even in areas where security has returned, the population is traumatised.

Algeria’s most fertile region, the Mitidja valley, is like a land of ghosts with memories of the horrific massacres hanging like a dark cloud over the area.

People have still not returned to their hillside villages, preferring to stay in the towns by night, and working in their fields by day.

In other areas, such as Medea to the south of Algiers, people are starting to relax and enjoy themselves.

I visited this region during the weekend, and saw people swimming in the rivers, feeding monkeys and eating freshly roasted meat in restaurants that have only just re-opened after being burned down by the Islamists.

But none of this would be possible without the presence of the army.

Medea is the most heavily militarised zone in the country, and it is swarming with soldiers.

The horizon is dotted with sentry boxes and watchtowers, heavily armed soldiers crouch behind sandbags, hide behind trees and perch on rocks.

The place where life really does seem to be returning to normal is the capital city.

Algiers feels like a different country, with a cosmopolitan atmosphere and the hustle and bustle of a fully functioning city.

But step outside the beautiful capital, with its white buildings crowded on hillsides overlooking the bay, and “The Time of Terror” is very much alive.

Either as fresh and bloody memories in people’s minds or as the ongoing insurgency led by militants intent on establishing an Islamic republic in Algeria.

Kenyan MPs give themselves high salaries. Comment on the fact that MPs in Kenya will have a salary reaching 91000 $US per year!

Cote d’Ivoire: Laurent Gbagbo goes to Bouake. Comments.

Other news from the Horn of Africa.

Other news.

Ethiopia blocks food aid in Ogaden/ L’Éthiopie bloque l’aide alimentaire en Ogaden

Provenant du International Herald Tribune, l’Éthiopie bloque la région de l’Oganden et intercepte les aides alimentaires destinées aux populations locales. Ce sont d’anciens membres du gouvernement éthiopien et des agents de l’ONU qui font part de cette situation.

According to the International Herald Tribune:

The Ethiopian government is blockading emergency food aid and choking off trade to large swaths of a remote region in the eastern part of the country that is home to a rebel force, putting hundreds of thousands of people at risk of starvation, Western diplomats and humanitarian officials say.

The Ethiopian military and its proxy militias have also been siphoning off millions of dollars in international food aid, and using a United Nations polio eradication program to funnel money to their fighters, according to relief officials, former Ethiopian government administrators and a member of the Ethiopian Parliament who defected to Germany last month to protest the government’s actions.

The blockade takes aim at the heart of the Ogaden region, a vast desert on the Somali border where the government is struggling against a growing rebellion and where government soldiers have been accused by human rights groups of widespread brutality.

Humanitarian officials say the ban on aid convoys and commercial traffic, intended to squeeze the rebels and dry up their bases of support, has sent food prices skyrocketing and disrupted trade routes, preventing the nomads who live there from selling their livestock. Hundreds of thousands of people are now sealed off in a desiccated, unforgiving landscape that is difficult to survive in even in the best of times.

“Food cannot get in,” said Mohammed Diab, the director of the United Nations World Food Program in Ethiopia.

Ethiopian government says the blockade covers only strategic locations, and is meant to prevent guns and matériel from reaching the Ogaden National Liberation Front, the rebel force that the government considers a terrorist group. In April, the rebels killed more than 60 Ethiopian guards and Chinese workers at a Chinese-run oil field in the Ogaden.

“This is not a government which punishes its people,” said Nur Abdi Mohammed, a government spokesman.

But Western diplomats have been urging Ethiopian officials to lift the blockade, arguing that the many people in the area are running out of time. “It’s a starve-out-the-population strategy,” said one Western humanitarian official, who did not want to be quoted by name because he feared reprisals against aid workers. “If something isn’t done on the diplomatic front soon, we’re going to have a government-caused famine on our hands.”

The blockade, which involves soldiers and military trucks cutting off the few roads into the central Ogaden, comes as Congress is increasingly concerned about Ethiopia’s human rights record.

Ethiopia is a close American ally and a key partner in America’s counterterrorism efforts in the Horn of Africa, a region that has become a breeding ground for Islamic militants, many of whom have threatened to wage a holy war against Ethiopia.

The country receives nearly half a billion dollars in American aid each year, but this week, a House subcommittee passed a bill that would put strict conditions on some of that aid and ban Ethiopian officials linked to rights abuses from entering the United States. The House also recently passed an amendment, sponsored by J. Randy Forbes, a Virginia Republican, that stripped Ethiopia of $3 million in assistance to “send a strong message that if they don’t wake up and pay attention, more money will be cut,” Forbes said.

Ethiopia’s pardon on Friday of 30 political prisoners who had been sentenced to life in prison could ease some criticism. But Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, is pushing ahead with measures to more closely vet assistance to the Ethiopian military. According to human rights groups and firsthand accounts, government troops have gang raped women, burned down huts and killed civilians.

American officials in Ethiopia said they were trying to investigate the situation but that the Ogaden was too dangerous right now for a fact-finding mission. American officials said they had heard persistent reports of burned villages and that the blockade was putting the area on the cusp of a crisis.

Villagers say that anyone who criticizes the government risks getting killed. According to Ogaden Online, a Canadian-based news service that has been highly critical of the Ethiopian government and covers the region through a network of reporters and contributors, some equipped with satellite phones, four young men who were videotaped by The New York Times at a community meeting in an Ogaden village in May were later tortured and executed.

[…]

Émission Amandla du 4 juillet 2007/ Amandla show from July 4th 2007

Voici les thèmes qui ont été abordés pendant l’émission Amandla du 4 juillet dernier sur les ondes de CKUT 90.3FM (Montréal). Vous pouvez la télécharger ici (lien valide pour deux mois seulement).

Émission en anglais

Enjeux sociaux liés au SIDA au Botswana. Ces enjeux sont très liés à la situation du droit des femmes qui sont les personnes les plus affectées par le SIDA. Des ONG locales de femmes sont impliquées dans l’éducation et la dissémination de l’information sur le VIH/SIDA au sein de la population.Seun Kuti

Commentaires sur la performance du Seun Kuti (fils de Fela Kuti) au festival International de Jazz de Montréal. Voir photo ci-contre et un extrait vidéo de son spectacle plus bas.

The Ravaging of Africa: Militarizing Africa. Rediffusion d’une émission radio en quatre parties qui traite des impacts destructeurs de l’impérialisme américain en Afrique. “Militarizing Africa” décrit comment les États-Unis ont fomentés la guerre qui a dévasté la République Démocratique du Congo et planifié l’invasion de la Somalie par l’Éthiopie. Avec Mfuni Kazadi, Millicent Okumu, Farah Maalim et Halima Abdi Arush

 

Here are the subjects that were addressed in the July 4th Amandla radio show on CKUT 90.3 FM (Montreal). You can download the show here (link valid for two months only).

Show in english.

Social issues related to HIV/AIDS in Botswana. They are closely linked to women rights since they are the most affected by AIDS. Women oriented NGOs are involved in education and dissemination of information on HIV/AIDS in the population.

Comments on Seun Kuti (Fela Kuti‘s son), performance at the Montreal International Jazz Festival. Here is a small piece of Kuti’s performance in Montreal:

The Ravaging of Africa: Militarizing Africa. It is four-part radio documentary series about the destructive impact of U.S. imperialism on Africa. “Militarizing Africa” describes how the United States has fomented the devastating war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as taken part in and engineered the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia. With Mfuni Kazadi, Millicent Okumu, Farah Maalim and Halima Abdi Arush.


Analysis on Somalia/ Analyse sur la Somalie

Le “Power and Interest News Report (PINR)” fait une analyse sur la situation somalienne. À consulter dans la section Analyse (en anglais).

The Power and Interest News Network (PINR) does an analysis on the situation in Somalia. See it in our Analysis section.

History of the U.S. proxy war in Somalia/ L’histoire d’une guerre américaine par procuration en Somalie

(Liens en anglais/ links in english)

Lorsque l’Éthiopie envoya ses troupes en Somalie en décembre 2006, un diplomate américain leur dit: “Allez-y, mais faites ça vite”. Les Éthiopiens sont toujours en Somalie et les États-Unis ont dû intervenir et mener des attaques conjointes avec l’Éthiopie. Harowo retrace l’histoire de cette coopération.

When Ethiopia sent troops in Somali in 2006, an American diplomat told them “do it, but do it quickly.”The Ethiopian are still in Somalia and the United States had to lead joint attacks with them. Harowo gives us the story of that cooperation:

“Get it done quickly and get out.” That, says a senior U.S. diplomat here, was the goal of the little-noticed war that Ethiopia has been fighting, with American support, against Islamic extremists in Somalia. But this in-and-out strategy encounters the same real-world obstacles that America is facing in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Conflict is less the problem than post-conflict. That’s the dilemma that America and its allies are discovering in a world where war-fighting and nation-building have become perversely mixed. It took the Ethiopians just a week to drive a Muslim radical movement known as the Islamic Courts from Mogadishu last December. The hard part wasn’t chasing the enemy from the capital, but putting the country back together.

“The Ethiopians are looking for an opportunity to exit, but not until they are confident that the security environment will prevent a return to chaos,” says a State Department official who helps oversee policy for the region. And in Somalia, a backward country that has seen 14 governments since 1991, that process of stabilization will be anything but easy.

The Somalia war comes up during every stop of a tour of the horn of Africa with Adm. William Fallon, the new head of U.S. Central Command. In 2002, Centcom established a regional outpost in the dusty port city of Djibouti, at the entrance to the Red Sea. It now has about 1,500 U.S. military personnel there. Some of them are out digging wells, building schools, vaccinating goats and otherwise “waging peace,” as a spokesman there explains. That’s the nation-building side.

The Djibouti base also provides logistical support for U.S. Special Forces teams that are hunting down what’s left of the al-Qaida terrorist cells that bombed American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.

Because Somalia provided a haven for al-Qaida, it was a special target after Sept. 11, 2001. But the Bush administration, remembering the disastrous 1993 humanitarian intervention there, was wary of getting involved directly. Initially, the CIA paid Somali warlords to hunt down al-Qaida operatives. But the warlords didn’t catch many terrorists and, perhaps worse, the payoffs added to an anarchic situation that led many Somalis to turn to the Islamic Courts for protection.

The Somalis were mercenary but unreliable. One official recalls how the CIA distributed matchbooks in Somalia offering a $10 million reward for the capture of Osama bin Laden. The Somalis complained that they were being cheated because a CIA Web site was offering a $25 million reward.

The bounties to the Somali warlords “at the time appeared to be the only viable option given our lack of access,” says an intelligence official back in the U.S. The secret CIA program was terminated in 2006.

Ethiopia, fearing the establishment of a radical Muslim government on its eastern border, began planning its military intervention soon after the Islamic Courts took control in Mogadishu in June 2006. At first, Centcom cautioned the Ethiopians against invading. But after 10,000 Ethiopian troops surged across the border on Dec. 24, they received U.S. overhead reconnaissance and other battlefield intelligence.

Next came an Ethiopian-American pincer strategy: In January, after Muslim fighters had fled Mogadishu, the U.S. launched two devastating air attacks by AC-130 gunships. A senior al-Qaida operative named Abu Talha al-Sudani was probably killed in these coordinated attacks, a U.S. official said. Overall, about 8,000 Muslim fighters were killed in the brief war, while the Ethiopians lost just 225 dead and 500 wounded.

A successful proxy war, from the American standpoint. But then what? The Ethiopians began pulling out their troops almost immediately, and by March, the Muslim radicals were threatening to regain control of Mogadishu. Ethiopian troops stormed back and crushed the Muslim rebels once again. The Ethiopians have now concluded that they can’t withdraw completely anytime soon; they must instead stay and train a friendly Somali army that can support the pro-Ethiopian “Transitional Federal Government.”

The Ethiopians are hopeful they can forge a reconciliation among Somali clan leaders. Meanwhile, the Ethiopians are looking for cover from an African Union force they hope will eventually total at least 5,000 soldiers; so far only about 1,800 soldiers from Uganda have shown up.

It’s like Iraq and Afghanistan, in other words. A decisive military strike has destroyed one threat. But what’s left behind, when the dust clears, is a shattered tribal society that won’t have real stability without a complex process of political reconciliation and economic development.

There’s no turning back now, says a U.S. diplomat, but he cautions: “Anyone working in Somalia has to have developed a certain humility about our ability to pick leaders from clans and sub-clans.”

L’ancien royaume de Shoa retrouvé en Éthiopie?/ Has the ancient Kingdom of Shoa been found in Ethiopia?

Sociolingo nous parle de la découverte d’anciennes cités datant du 10 au 16ème siècles qui auraient pu constitué le royaume islamique de Shoa en actuelle Éthiopie.

Sociolingo tells us about the discovery of what could by the ancient kingdom of Shoa. Cities dating from the 10th to 16th centuries were discovered lately and could indicate the existence of such kingdom in today’s Ethiopia.