October 20 – Gadhafi Killed

As news of Ghadafi’s death trickles in, the man’s legacy as an eccentric, brutal and narcissistic dictator will finally end and be left for the history books.  Since the uprising earlier this year, many have tried to understand what his fall would mean for the rest of Africa and its people (See my post here).  Some of us have just tried to understand his fashion choices (including myself, see my post here). 

But to remind you of the absurd and surreal world he lived in, just read some of his quotes over the years.  Scary.

“I am an international leader, the dean of the Arab rulers, the king of kings of Africa and the imam of Muslims, and my international status does not allow me to descend to a lower level.”
— Remarks to a crowd including King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and having his microphone cut on March 30, 2009, as quoted by The Scotsman in the article “Gaddafi walks out of summit after attack on Saudi king” by Salah Nasrawi.

“There is no state with a democracy except Libya on the whole planet.”
— Spoken at a conference at Columbia University in New York City on March 23, 2008.

“I am convinced that the [Israel-Palestine] solution is to establish a democratic state for the Jews and the Palestinians, a state that will be called Palestine, Isratine, or whatever they want. This is the fundamental solution, or else the Jews will be annihilated in the future, because the Palestinians have [strategic] depth.”
— Interview with Al Jazeera, March 27, 2007

“If a community of people wears white on a mournful occasion and another dresses in black, then one community would like white and dislike black and the other would like black and dislike white. Moreover, this attitude leaves a physical effect on the cells as well as on the genes in the body.” 
— Excerpt from “The Green Book” (1975)

“[Abraham] Lincoln was a man who created himself from nothing without any help from outside or other people. I followed his struggles. I see certain similarities between him and me.”
— Pulbished in The Pittsburgh Press on August 3, 1986, in the article “Gadhafi, the man the world loves to hate” by Marie Colvin.

“Irrespective of the conflict with America, it is a human duty to show sympathy with the American people and be with them at these horrifying and awesome events which are bound to awaken human conscience. When I was five, my brother was shot by an Israeli soldier, since then I have been dedicated to uniting the Arab countries throughout the Middle East and retain a trade flow with the West.”
— Reaction to the September 11, 2001, attacks as quoted by CBSNews.com  on September 12, 2001.

“All right, then nobody can complain if we ask pregnant women to make parachute jumps.”
— Defending his belief that women’s “defects” meant that their place was in the home as quoted by TIME on July 23, 1975.

“Libya is an African country. May Allah help the Arabs and keep them away from us. We don’t want anything to do with them. They did not fight with us against the Italians, and they did not fight with us against the Americans. They did not lift the sanctions and siege from us. On the contrary, they gloated at us, and benefited from our hardship…”
— Interview with Al Jazeera, March 27, 2007

“There is a conspiracy to control Libyan oil and to control Libyan land, to colonise Libya once again. This is impossible, impossible. We will fight until the last man and last woman to defend Libya from east to west, north to south.”
— audio message broadcast on Al-Ouroba TV, a Syria-based satellite station, on August 25, as oppostion forces began as assault on Tripoli.

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Eritrea: Fighting Words of Peace

Interesting interview in Egypt’s Al Ahram Weekly with Eritrea’s president Isaias Afewerki.  On the heels of the Arab Spring, the President of Eritrea shares his views on the source of instability and uprisings in the region, as well as the impending reality of Southern Sudan’s independence.

Twenty years later, Eritrea’s regional foreign policy – as diverse and broad as it is -continues to straddle between rhetoric and principles versus reality and practice.

What is undoubtedly a series of powerful political arguments made by the President, it still lacks the necessary real world examples for greater international support and buy in.  The limited information and access for those outside of Eritrean government and state means few will actually see and understand what the President is saying.  But maybe the Government of Eritrea isn’t saying any of this to get your support.  Shame, no?

Still, fascinating quotes on the Nile River, Sudan, Egypt, Libya, and Somalia.   For the full interview, click here.


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Music Moment: Africology’s Addis Soul Vol.I

Ethiopian jazz, hip hop and soul mixed together into a 45 minute album of complete heaven.  

Addis Soul Vol. 1, by DJ SIrak

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On Its 7th Anniversary, Sudan’s Tinderbox Abyei is Aflame

Photo Courtesy of Enough Project

How sad and frightfully ironic.  Seven years to the day since signing the Abyei Protocol with the SPLM,  Sudanese President Bashir’s troops and armed elements have forcibly entered the Abyei region, with civilians running for their lives as SAF forces and militia burned, razed and looted the abandoned town to the ground.  This violation not only sets back the prospects for implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, but it has also raised the likelihood of a renewed North-South civil war.

Following an attack by SPLA forces on a UN convoy transferring SAF troops on May 19, Khartoum reacted militarily in what the US billed as “disproportionate and irresponsible“.   Civilians fled the violence, with the UN putting estimates at approximately 15,000 civilian who fled from Abyei.   Satellite Sentinel Project released satellite imagery showing SAF’s attacks were premeditated and that SAF troops are preparing for deployment into Abyei. As of today, the UN had to evacuate entirely from Abyei.

“Abyei is northern Sudanese land,” Bashir said in a speech in the capital Khartoum on Tuesday. “We will not withdraw from it.”

What’s ironic about this surge isn’t the violence itself.  It’s the timing.  Did the North purposefully pick this week, the anniversary of Abyei’s historic peace to lay down their might?  Is it a sign of what’s to come with the CPA?  Were we naive to think a genuine peace could be fostered between the hardline NCP and the rebels?

Abyei has always been Sudan’s tinderbox and the key to peace between the North and the South.  One of the root causes of the civil war between the North & South was over resource-sharing, cattle grazing rights, and relations between the Ngok Dinka & Misserya in Abyei.  Abyei is hotly contested for its oil-rich, fertile fields and Bashir recently claimed the region belonged to the North.

This week’s developments are a serious setback and perhaps the most damning for the CPA and the prospects of lasting peace in Sudan.  Looking back at the various diplomatic, political, economic, activist and security attempts for peace, I wonder if the international community underestimated the power of the NCP.  Was our post-CPA diplomacy strong enough to sustain pressure over the NCP? Or did the refusal of African leaders to arrest Bashir after the issuance of the ICC arrest warrant give the NCP leverage? Or is the NCP’s aggressive military stance indicative of stronger support from Southern actors, like China or Saudi Arabia?

The international community grossly underestimated the NCP’s willingness to resort to violence as a means to maintain power. Numerous reports of aerial bombardments,  attacks on civilians and deployment of SAF forces and militia show the North’s tendency to resort to violence. The SPLA’s provocation on May 19 gave the NCP a prime excuse for retaliation which was severely disproportionate, but clearly premeditated.

For a great backgrounder on Abyei, check out this quick overview of Abyei along with a summary of the Abyei Protocol.

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Eritrea: Africa’s Newest Country Turns 20 Years Old Today!

From the Italians, to the British, to the Ethiopians, Eritrea is a country that’s withstood various forms of colonization, including from its African neighbor to the south, Ethiopia.  Through the struggle, it forged its own identity, rooted in a rich diversity and common struggle.

Today, I’m taking a moment to recognize the rich history and hopeful future the people of Eritrea wish for and deserve in so many ways.

As the clip shows below, the impact of colonization and 30-year struggle for independence is imprinted on the hearts & minds of Eritreans everywhere.  Through music, art, business, sports & celebration of life, Eritrea’s story has been told and preserved.  Such a beautiful history which has shaped the backbone of Eritreans everywhere.

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Somaliland, Where One NGO Law Fits All?

Somaliland issued a new NGO law this month to curb NGO activities.  It establishes a legal framework for local and international organizations operating inside their jurisdiction.  It’s a decent attempt to limit the presence of international NGOs, transfer responsibility to local actors, and reduce local corruption, but at twenty-something pages, it’s a lengthy read and still a bit ambigous in some parts which could lead to larger-scale corruption and mismanagement if not clarified soon.

Among other things, the language leaves too much room for government corruption, arbitrary decision making, and misuse of funds.  There is also concern that the law will severely impact effective delivery of aid, including increased operational transactional costs.

  • Establishes a a registration process and a Consultative Committee to govern and supervise NGOs.  Places heavy reporting requirements on NGOs with limited appeal process.
  • Enforces government regulation of all aid delivery, including humanitarian aid.  Failure to distinguish what type of aid the government intends on regulating could create complications for aid that should legally be delivered based on need.
  • Government will intervene in disputes between NGOs.
  • Government will monitor whether NGOs are abiding by their constitutions
  • Project implementation will be redirected from international NGOs to local NGOs, apparently to build capacity and minimize the number of INGOs in the country.   This could lead to a potential vacuum of aid delivery. The law doesn’t indicate how that transition would happen and a majority of the local NGOs don’t have the technical skills or capacity required for the projects.

For more about Somaliland’s new law, click here.

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While You Were Away, Djibouti Had Elections

As the world watched events in Libya, Ivory Coast and Nigeria unfold this past weekend, Djibouti quietly held presidential elections on Friday without much international attention or coverage. And it had all the drama you could think of, making it perfect for that “another African-election-gone-wrong” story.  Students revolting, protests, attacks on anti-government demonstrators, clampdown on opposition groups, mass arrests, and the expulsion of USAID funded democracy groups.

So how and why did it stay under the radar?  Check out Foreign Policy‘s take below.  Surprise, surprise – it’s not just because of Libya, Ivory Coast or Nigeria.  (For background, here are some key facts about Djibouti, courtesy of Reuters.)

A Friendly Little Dictatorship in the Horn of Africa

To the West, and particularly the United States and France, Djibouti matters.  It matters a lot.

As the forward operating base of U.S. Africa Command, Djibouti’s Camp Lemonnier is a friendly piece of real estate in the Horn of Africa, which includes Eritrea, Somalia, and Yemen. Approximately 2,000 U.S. troops are based at Lemonnier, in addition to the naval forces that periodically call at the port of Djibouti. With the nearest friendly African port located in Mombasa, Kenya — 1,700 miles away — the United States, NATO, and the European Union have no alternative to using Djibouti’s harbor as a sanctuary to conduct anti-piracy operations.

Continue reading here –>

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Hundreds of Horn of Africa Migrants Drown off Libyan Coast

Over 400 Eritrean & Ethiopian boat migrants are feared to have drowned after the bodies of 70 Eritreans were discovered just 20 kilometers off the coast of Libya. Libyan authorities discovered the unidentified bodies and immediately buried them in an undisclosed location.

One of two boatloads of migrants fleeing the violence in Libya arriving at Haywharf in Pietà, Malta. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

Al Jazeera reported more than 800 Eritrean, Ethiopian, Somali & Tunisian refugees have fled Libya this week alone, many of them reaching Malta.

Thousands more remain in Libya, either in refugee camps as shown below, or in hiding as illegal residents who fear of attacks by the rebels or gangs.

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Could Africa’s History Repeat Itself?

Sound familiar?

The news was startling.  Army coups! It looked serious, although we had no details.  Barely a week ago – Zanzibar.  Today already, the whole of East Africa! Clearly, the continent was entering a period of disturbances, revolts, takeovers.

–  The Shadow of the Sun, Ryszard Kapuscinski

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Thousands of Somalis Risking Their Lives To Flee Drought

“We heard that you could get free cooked food in some of the districts in Mogadishu…and that is the reason we preferred to reside in Bondhere.”

The Horn of Africa is facing an impending drought which is already beginning to show its signs in Somalia.  The UN recently warned that 2.4 million people are in need of emergency food and water, with more than 50,000 people already displaced due to the drought.

In Mogadishu, reports of deaths resulting AWD (acute watery diarrhea if you really must know what it stands for) have surfaced.  The local Saajid Hospital noted a 25% increase in their AWD cases in the first half of March alone.

Still, thousands of families in South Central Somalia are risking their lives, traveling far distances from their hard-hit villages, to reach Mogadishu in the hopes of finding some food and clean water.  Amidst ongoing fighting and conflict, with little means or protection, families are arriving to Mogadishu to find already overcrowded displacement camps. This recent piece from Channel 16 shows some of the efforts that are currently underway in Somalia.

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