A critical look at US policy in South Sudan

Amandla’s Zahra Moloo talks to Asad Ismi, International affairs correspondent for the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives Monitor and author of the radio series “The Ravaging of Africa”. Ismi speaks about the role of US imperial policies in the Sudan and South Sudan.

South Sudan and Sudan at risk of going to war?

South Sudan observer David Widgington talks to Amandla’s Gwen Schulman about the recent increase in tensions between South Sudan and Sudan.

Françafrique’s new revelations, landgrabbing in South Sudan and events in Swaziland, Zambia and Malawi

Françafrique: alive and well
Ameth Lo a member of the Group for reseach and initiatives for the liberation of Africa (GRILA) talks to Amandla’s Gwen Schulman about the latest revelations in high level political relations between France and several african countries.

[audio http://archives.ckut.ca/64/20110921.19.07-19.27.mp3]

Fighting landgrabs in South Sudan
Amandla’s Diana Sharpe looks at the largest land deal yet in South Sudan and the fight against it by a local community.

[audio http://archives.ckut.ca/64/20110921.19.30-19.45.mp3]

Arab spring, african fall?
Doug Miller talks about the popular mobilisations in Swaziland, elections in Zambia and Red Wednesdays in Malawi.

[audio http://archives.ckut.ca/64/20110921.19.47-19.58.mp3]

Audio links are good for about 4 months, but we have saved the files…

L’Afrique et les études post-coloniales; A new doc on South Sudan: The waiting room and a look at landgrabs

Boris Keonig, membre du collectif Amandla présente une entrevue avec Jean Loup Amselle, anthropologue africaniste et rédacteur en chef des Cahiers d’études africaines. Amselle se trouvait récemment à Montréal dans le cadre du colloque “Des analyses tiers-mondistes aux études postcoloniales” organisé à l’UQAM.

Amselle revient brièvement sur son parcours d’anthropologue
africaniste; il présente le courant postcolonial, ses critiques et cadre cette perspective par rapport au tiers-mondisme; et enfin, il présente une analyse sur le CODESRIA (le Conseil pour le développement de la recherche en sciences sociales en Afrique) depuis sa création par Samir Amin en 1973.

[audio http://archives.ckut.ca/64/20110914.19.07-19.28.mp3]

Afrah Aden talks to the Alexandra Sicotte-Lévesque about her film The Waiting Room: Sudan at the crossroads that follows 4 young people for 2 years up until the secession of South Sudan.

[audio http://archives.ckut.ca/64/20110914.19.32-19.45.mp3]

Amandla’s Gwen Schulman and Diana Sharpe take a look at landgrabs in Africa.

[audio http://archives.ckut.ca/64/20110907.19.45-19.58.mp3]

A look at the challenges for South Sudan on the eve of independence, and Thiat from Senegalese group Y’en a marre

Independence for the South Sudan

On the eve of South Sudan’s independence, Munish Persaud from CHF, who has just returned from a trip to South Sudan, talks to South Sudan Info’s David Widgington about the situation there.

Gwen Schulman speaks to Ugandan human rights advocate and close Sudan-watcher, Sam Olara, on the very great challenges facing Africa’s newest country.

Y’en a marre in Senegal

Thiat, one-half of the group Keur Gui de Kaolack (with Kilifeu), and one of the most vocal leaders of the youth opposition mouvement Y’en a Marre in Senegal, was arrested during massive protests that erupted following President Abdoulaye Wade’s proposed electoral reform bill which would have seen the minimum percentage of votes required to be elected drop to 25%. Parker Mah speaks with Thiat over the phone about the events surrounding the protests as well as the Y’en a Marre movement and their mission.


NYT article
Follow them on Facebook

Reportage sur la situation au Sénégal diffusé à la radio de Radio-Canada

The archive for the entire show is found here

 

Audio links are effective for 6 months after posting.

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.

Le Soudan enfreint l’embargo. Est-ce une surprise?/ Sudan breaks the embargo. Is it a surprise?

According to “La Presse de Montréal ” (taken from the AFP), Sudan keeps breaking the arms embargo imposed by the United Nations. But knowing the tricks Sudan used in the past, which were shown in this blog, we aren’t really surprised with this report. And the presence of russian helicopters mentioned in this report was also addressed in other blogs too. For example: Publius Pundit.

Selon la Presse de Montréal (repris de l’AFP), le Soudan continue à enfreindre l’Embargo sur les armes imposé par l’ONU. Avec ce que nous avons déjà présenté comme tours de “passe-passe”que le Soudan est capable de faire on peut cyniquement ne pas être surpris de ce constat.

La Presse:

Agence France-Presse
Londres

L’organisation de défense des droits de l’homme Amnesty International a affirmé jeudi que le gouvernement soudanais continuait d’enfreindre l’embargo sur les armes imposé au Darfour par les Nations unies.

S’appuyant sur trois photographies prises selon elle en juillet à l’aéroport de Geneina, capitale du Darfour-ouest, l’association basée à Londres affirme que «le gouvernement soudanais continue à déployer des équipements militaires offensifs au Darfour malgré l’embargo de l’ONU sur les armes et les accords de paix».

Russian helicopterSelon Amnesty, une première photographie montre des soldats de l’armée soudanaise en train de décharger des conteneurs d’un Antonov, avion de fabrication russe, sur des camions militaires à l’aéroport de Geneina. Les deux autres montrent sur ce même aéroport des hélicoptères militaires (Mi-17 et Mi-24) fournis par la Russie en 2005 et 2006, selon Amnesty.

L’ONU a imposé un embargo sur la vente et la livraison d’armes au Darfour pour les organisations non-gouvernementales en juillet 2004, étendu en 2005 à toutes les parties au conflit.

Dans un rapport publié en mai, Amnesty avait déjà accusé le Soudan d’enfreindre cet embargo, affirmant que des armes fournies par la Chine et la Russie étaient utilisées au Darfour.

Le conflit qui sévit depuis plus de quatre ans au Darfour a fait 200 000 morts et deux millions de déplacés, selon l’ONU, des chiffres contestés par le Soudan, qui parle de 9000 morts.

Amnesty a appelé jeudi les Nations unies à «agir résolument pour s’assurer que l’embargo est effectivement respecté», plaidant notamment pour la présence «d’observateurs de l’ONU dans tous les ports du Soudan et du Darfour».

«La prolifération de petites armes et de véhicules militarisés au Darfour a entraîné des attaques de convois d’aide humanitaire et d’autres attaques dévastatrices contre les civils», a-t-elle également déploré, faisant référence à des rapports d’attaques dans le sud-Darfour.

Le Conseil de sécurité a voté le 31 juillet pour le déploiement au Darfour d’une force mixte ONU-UÀ de 26 000 hommes. Son déploiement total n’est toutefois pas attendu avant le milieu de l’année 2008.

«Si des armes continuent à affluer au Darfour et si les soldats de maintien de la paix n’ont pas le pouvoir de désarmer et de démobiliser tous les groupes armés d’opposition et la milice Janjawid, la capacité de la nouvelle force de paix à protéger les civils sera grandement entravée», a prévenu Amnesty.

La paix en vue au Darfour?/ Peace on sight in Darfur?

(Lien en anglais/link in english)

Voici une nouvelle du Guardian de Londres. La paix est en vue au Darfour…

Here is a news item from the London Guardian. Peace seems possible in Darfur:

Unseen by western hysteria, Darfur edges closer to peaceThe tribal leaders’ talks to end Sudan’s crisis are being driven by internal politics, not the intervention of the west

Jonathan Steele
Friday August 10, 2007
Guardian

Peace and some respite for Darfur’s displaced millions seem closer this week than they have for a long time. If forecasting politics were like the weather, one would call the prospects middling to fair. The breakthrough is due not so much to the latest UN resolution to create a larger foreign peacekeeping force as to the success of talks between the rival rebel groups. They seem to have agreed on a common platform to put to the Khartoum government in full-scale negotiations within the next few weeks.

The Darfur crisis has suffered from two problems. One is the exaggerated and sometimes almost hysterical tone in which it tends to be discussed. It is not “the greatest humanitarian disaster the world faces today”, as was claimed even by Britain’s usually cautious new prime minister last week. Iraq, where 8 million people need emergency aid, more than 3 million have fled from their homes in the last two years and about a thousand are dying of violence every month, is more grim. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, in spite of a fragile peace deal, as many as 1,200 people are estimated by humanitarian agencies to be dying every day. In Darfur, 2 million people have been displaced and up to 200,000 may have died.

This does not mean Darfur is not a huge tragedy, but that the situation there has changed. The problems of 2003 and 2004, when the Sudanese airforce was regularly bombing villages, are not the same now. Far more civilians are dying from Nato airstrikes in Afghanistan. Critics who demand that French or US planes shoot down Sudanese military aircraft should consider calling for a no-fly zone in Helmand province.

On the ground, most of the killing in Darfur today is between tribal groups rather than the government and rebels, as Jan Eliasson, the UN’s special envoy for Sudan, pointed out recently. Many of the obstacles facing relief agencies, who have vehicles stolen and convoys looted, come from rebels and bandits. None of this is surprising. In a region awash with weaponry, where war has destroyed the social fabric and the always precarious rural economy has been shattered, violence and lawlessness usually spread. The only surprise is that this fact is ignored in favour of a simplistic picture of a uniquely vicious government and totally innocent freedom fighters.

The other problem in Darfur’s coverage is the minimal attention given to the region’s politics. Blood seems to make better copy than blah. The weekend talks Eliasson held with the rebels were yet another case in point. They were barely reported in the world’s media, even though they are a potentially huge development. He and the African Union mediator, Salim Salim, managed to persuade the rebels to agree some common positions, though not yet a common delegation leader to represent them in talks with the government.

There are big issues left. One was the boycott by the volatile but influential non-Arab Fur leader, Abdul Wahid al Nur, who has been based in Paris since 2004 and refused to join the other rebels. Suleiman Jamous, another key leader, is in a UN hospital and fearful of arrest by the Sudanese authorities if he is discharged. The government ought to lift that threat immediately. If it is willing to reopen talks with the rebels, as it says and seems to mean, it cannot also intimidate or detain them. There has to be safe passage.

The last peace agreement of May 2006 broke down when Nur and another top leader refused at the last minute to sign. Since then, the rebel movements have split and are increasing their demands, which may make it harder for the government to concede. On the plus side, Eliasson and Salim are doing more to consult community leaders in the camps. They want compensation and better guarantees of security for the hundreds of thousands of displaced, complaining that the last peace deal was negotiated over their heads. They say the elite spent too much time on regional wealth and power sharing and not enough on the immediate human needs of the conflict’s victims.

There are massive problems ahead, even if new peace talks begin this autumn. The tripling of the African Union peace force with the addition of UN contingents, which the security council agreed last month, will not be completed for at least another year. In spite of the fanfare over the resolution’s passage, little will change until then.

In the meantime the relief agencies and the African Union’s existing troops should work with the government on pilot schemes to rebuild a few destroyed villages and protect displaced people as they return. Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, said in Darfur last month that he wanted to see the displaced going back voluntarily to their villages. He claimed large parts of the region were now safe.

Those claims should be tested. The African Union does not have enough manpower to patrol all of Darfur, nor will the beefed-up hybrid AU-UN force. But the African Union does have enough to protect some pilot projects. The displaced want to go back to start farming again. If the UN and the non-governmental agencies were to negotiate with the government and local rebel commanders for a small number of supervised returns under 24-hour armed protection, it could have a powerful effect. Confidence has collapsed in large parts of Darfur and will only return when people see results.

Beyond Darfur, other large issues are looming. The focus on the country’s western region has taken international attention away from the problems of the south, as the International Crisis Group recently pointed out. The two-year-old peace agreement in the longer and bloodier north-south civil war has started to totter. A major part of the deal was Khartoum’s promise of free national elections in 2009. It is not being implemented properly, with plans for a census and an electoral law falling behind schedule. The police continue to arrest journalists and opposition figures.

Here too, Sudan does not deserve the demonisation it is subject to from the Darfur lobby. It is no more authoritarian than Egypt, the west’s darling, or Libya, the emerging new favourite. Looking east, Ethiopia and Eritrea are equally undemocratic or worse. But, unlike those countries, the Sudanese regime has signed an internationally supervised agreement to permit multiparty politics and free elections for the first time since it came to power in a 1989 coup. It must be held to that.

j.steele@guardian.co.uk

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.

Arrêtez d’essayer de “sauver” l’Afrique/ Stop trying to ‘Save’ Africa

Voici un article écrit par Uzodinma Iweala (voir photo) dans la Washington Post, il y a une semaine mais qui vaut la peine d’être lu. “L’Afrique est un contient qui doit être sauvé de ses innombrables calamités”. Cette déclaration de certains Occidentaux soulève des questions de fond qu’Iweala nous présente ici.

Here is an article from Uzodinma Iweala (see picture) written in the Washington post a week ago but it is worth the read. “Africa is a continent that has to be saved from  countless calamities”. This declaration from the West brings fundamental questions that are raised by Iweala:

IwealaStop Trying To ‘Save’ Africa’
By Uzodinma Iweala
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Last fall, shortly after I returned from Nigeria , I was accosted by a perky blond college student whose blue eyes seemed to match the “African” beads around her wrists.

“Save Darfur!” she shouted from behind a table covered with pamphlets urging students to TAKE ACTION NOW! STOP GENOCIDE IN DARFUR!

My aversion to college kids jumping onto fashionable social causes nearly caused me to walk on, but her next shout stopped me.

“Don’t you want to help us save Africa?” she yelled.

It seems that these days, wracked by guilt at the humanitarian crisis it has created in the Middle East, the West has turned to Africa for redemption. Idealistic college students, celebrities such as Bob Geldof and politicians such as Tony Blair have all made bringing light to the dark continent their mission. They fly in for internships and fact-finding missions or to pick out children to adopt in much the same way my friends and I in New York take the subway to the pound to adopt stray dogs.

This is the West’s new image of itself: a sexy, politically active generation whose preferred means of spreading the word are magazine spreads with celebrities pictured in the foreground, forlorn Africans in the back. Never mind that the stars sent to bring succor to the natives often are, willingly, as emaciated as those they want to help.

Perhaps most interesting is the language used to describe the Africa being saved. For example, the Keep a Child Alive /” I am African” ad campaign features portraits of primarily white, Western celebrities with painted “tribal markings” on their faces above “I AM AFRICAN” in bold letters. Below, smaller print says, “help us stop the dying.”

Such campaigns, however well intentioned, promote the stereotype of Africa as a black hole of disease and death. News reports constantly focus on the continent’s corrupt leaders, warlords, “tribal” conflicts, child laborers, and women disfigured by abuse and genital mutilation. These descriptions run under headlines like “Can Bono Save Africa?” or “Will Brangelina Save Africa?” The relationship between the West and Africa is no longer based on openly racist beliefs, but such articles are reminiscent of reports from the heyday of European colonialism, when missionaries were sent to Africa to introduce us to education, Jesus Christ and “civilization.”

There is no African, myself included, who does not appreciate the help of the wider world, but we do question whether aid is genuine or given in the spirit of affirming one’s cultural superiority. My mood is dampened every time I attend a benefit whose host runs through a litany of African disasters before presenting a (usually) wealthy, white person, who often proceeds to list the things he or she has done for the poor, starving Africans. Every time a well-meaning college student speaks of villagers dancing because they were so grateful for her help, I cringe. Every time a Hollywood director shoots a film about Africa that features a Western protagonist, I shake my head — because Africans, real people though we may be, are used as props in the West’s fantasy of itself. And not only do such depictions tend to ignore the West’s prominent role in creating many of the unfortunate situations on the continent, they also ignore the incredible work Africans have done and continue to do to fix those problems.

Why do the media frequently refer to African countries as having been “granted independence from their colonial masters,” as opposed to having fought and shed blood for their freedom? Why do Angelina Jolie and Bono receive overwhelming attention for their work in Africa while Nwankwo Kanu or Dikembe Mutombo, Africans both, are hardly ever mentioned? How is it that a former mid-level U.S. diplomat receives more attention for his cowboy antics in Sudan than do the numerous African Union countries that have sent food and troops and spent countless hours trying to negotiate a settlement among all parties in that crisis?

Two years ago I worked in a camp for internally displaced people in Nigeria, survivors of an uprising that killed about 1,000 people and displaced 200,000. True to form, the Western media reported on the violence but not on the humanitarian work the state and local governments — without much international help — did for the survivors. Social workers spent their time and in many cases their own salaries to care for their compatriots. These are the people saving Africa, and others like them across the continent get no credit for their work.

Last month the Group of Eight industrialized nations and a host of celebrities met in Germany to discuss, among other things, how to save Africa. Before the next such summit, I hope people will realize Africa doesn’t want to be saved. Africa wants the world to acknowledge that through fair partnerships with other members of the global community, we ourselves are capable of unprecedented growth.

Uzodinma Iweala is the author of “Beasts of No Nation,” a novel about child soldiers.