March 01, 2006

Congo and Chad

Mar. 1 - Two news items with one striking similarity: U.N. troops in 'heavy fighting' with Congo militia and U.N.: Chadians flee to Sudan's Darfur.

The striking similarity can be dispensed with in a few words: colossal U.N. failure. The fighting in Congo ended nearly 3 years of inaction and was begun in preparation for June polls. That means they've given themselves 3 months to restore order in a section of the country that is most noted for its disorder and does nothing about the disorder in the rest of the country and, in short, it seems more like a public relations endeavour than a serious attempt to end the fighting permanently:

Thousands of Congo government soldiers and hundreds of U.N. peacekeepers battled ethnic militia fighters on Tuesday for control of an eastern town, killing some government troops, the United Nations said.

U.N. peacekeepers backed up by helicopter gunships and mortar fire fought alongside the national army to retake control of Tchei, 60 kilometers (37 miles) southwest of Bunia in Ituri district, where militia violence has killed 60,000 people since 1999.


Long accused of doing little to stop fighting in Congo despite peace deals that officially ended a five-year war in 2003, the U.N. has adopted a more robust approach in recent months, aiming to cut militia activity ahead of polls starting in June.

"There are quite a few Congolese soldiers wounded and a few have died," Reichen said, adding that one U.N. soldier had also been hurt though not by enemy fire.


Peacekeepers and Congolese government troops are trying to end chronic violence by a range of different local and foreign armed groups left behind after years of warfare that has killed an estimated 4 million people since 1998, mainly through war-related hunger and disease.

Ituri has seen some of the worst militia violence.

The militia involved in Tuesday's fighting was formed last year from the remnants of rival Hema and Lendu ethnic groups.

Experts say they have resisted disarmament and rejected any form of government or U.N. authority in Ituri to protect their economic interests, which include some mining activities as well as the ability to raise taxes from local civilian populations.

I'm crossing my fingers and assuming that it is the government that is trying to raise taxes and not the U.N., but that may be naive.

The fact that no U.N. peacekeepers were harmed in the fighting is not necessarily a wise thing in a conflict in which the combatants respect manly men. As we Americans have learned to our sorrow, discretion can be confused with appearing weak and no one respects an armed force that seems obsessively fearful of casualties; perceptions as those serve to embolden the enemy, which for some reason doesn't respect those who appear to run away because of or in order to avoid their own bloodshed. (It's not a far stretch to believe that the insurgency in Iraq sustains itself by drawing on the experience of past U.S. withdrawals once blood was shed. We -- or rather the members of our military and support personnel -- are paying for those past mistakes today.)

Furthermore, offering support while staying way behind the battle lines is bound to look cowardly as well as hypocritical. Real allies stand shoulder to shoulder literally as well as figuratively.

The second item is more alarming in that it is a new development of an already bad situation:

Fighting between soldiers and rebels in eastern Chad is sending civilians fleeing into Sudan's Darfur, site of one of the world's bloodiest conflicts over the past three years, the U.N. refugee agency said Tuesday.

Human rights groups have said Chadians are also targeted by cross-border attacks by Sudanese militia. The refugees fleeing the fighting in Chad is "further evidence of the spreading insecurity that now straddles this increasingly insecure region," UNHCR spokeswoman Jennifer Pagonis said.

Most of the Chadians in Sudan are women and children.

Chad hosts about 300,000 refugees who fled the conflict between rebels and Sudanese government forces and militias in Darfur. Sudan has accused Chad of harboring Darfur rebels, who have tribal ties across the border, while Chad has said Sudan backs Chadian insurgents.

Read the whole thing. The complicated tribal associations defy geographical boundaries and maybe, if the international community had any real guts, they'd shred the old boundaries and encourage countries to form on the basis of shared heritages, languages and ethnicity. (Please note the maybe. It's just a thought but it may be more workable than trying to scold the combatants into nationalist sentiments.)

The article notes that the African Union passed over Sudan for rotating chair at their January meeting due to their "concerns over Darfur, Sudan's relations with Chad and its human rights record" which, as things stand, is probably the strongest measure initiated against Sudan by any group over these past few years.

In truth, I doubt the U.N. can resolve the problems of these two countries precisely because it lacks resolve (unless it comes to censuring Israel. Then they're all action.)

Posted by Debbye at 07:56 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 03, 2005

Too, too true


Toronto Sun, July 3

Bob MacDonald explains here.

Posted by Debbye at 05:16 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 08, 2005

Peters on aid to Africa

June 8 - Ralph Peters has some concrete proposals about The Smart Way to Aid Africa:

Educate the people: Nothing would be of more use to Africans than a long-term, comprehensive commitment from the United States to help them educate themselves at every level, from primary school through advanced-degree programs.

If you want to reduce disease, educate the people. If you want to break down violent rivalries, provide unbiased education. If you want to build economies, train workers. If you want to foster democracy, promote literacy.

In short, if you want to help Africa stop being a basket case, concentrate ruthlessly on education. Let the Europeans do the feel-good projects. Let celebrities give away granola bars. Stick to the mission of helping people learn.

Some African countries are significantly ahead of others in educational progress, but every one of them could use our help. Governments may be wary — despite their rhetoric, political bosses like to keep the poor ignorant (a rule that applies to our own inner cities as much as it does to Africa). But the people desperately want education.

When I visited Mozambique — one of the world's poorest countries — no one asked me for a handout. They asked about books and scholarships.

Good, no-nonsense ideas. (Link via Newsbeat1.)

Wretchard has two recent posts on Zimbabwe here and here.

The first entry contains a letter from Sister Patricia Walsh of the Dominican Order of the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe and speaks for itself. The second entry is about "Stay Away" which seems to be a 2-day general strike at minimum and the quoted sections hint at possibly more. The bigger danger lies in how Mugabe will react should millions of people flout his authority.

Wretchard muses on the possibility that the U.S. has contingency plans should events in Zimbabwe erupt. I'd guess that the U.S. would prefer the kind of approach used in Liberia, but South Africa's Mbeki would be unlikely to go against Mugabe until the situation in Zimbabwe deteriorated far below what we could in all good conscience countenance.

(Note: the NY Post requires free registration. Sigh.)

Posted by Debbye at 07:01 PM | Comments (11)

May 17, 2005

No Canadian troops to Darfur

May 17 - From the Globe and Mail, Ottawa to comply with ban on troops in Darfur and those sent will work out of Khartoum.

Sudan has criticized the Canadian government for making the announcement they would send troops without proper consulation and both they and the African Union, which leads peacekeeping forces in Darfur, stated they didn't want European or non-African troops.

Posted by Debbye at 11:51 AM | Comments (0)

May 15, 2005

Sudan rejects Canada's offer

May 15 - This is disturbing on many levels: Sudan rejects Canadian military offer.

It brings a different context (or should that be contempt?) to Bill Graham's assertion "We cannot invade Sudan" and despite the temptation to ridicule Canada's Rogue Government for failing to discuss this with Khartoum's government this refusal brings to mind issues that go beyond the political crisis here:

1) If, as many assert, the Sudan government is behind Janjaweed attacks on the people of Darfur, permission by the Sudan government is irrelevant;

2) the assistance of Canada should be up to the African Union which is are organizing and conducting the peacekeeper mission in Darfur rather than the Sudan government;

3) Welcome to my world, Canada. The rapist has denied permission for you to stop the rapine - what now?

4) Shut up, Kilgour. The party from which you just scuttled is the sole reason that the Canadian Armed Forces can barely gather 100 soldiers together for even a token force, and your humanitarian pretensions at this late date are little more than opportunistic posturing.

8:35 - Despite Sudan's opposition, Canada said it would go ahead with plans to send its troops. So over Graham's objections, Canada will invade Sudan! The item also notes the opinion that it is up to the AU to get Sudan's approval of the plan.

There is also some dispute as to whether the Martin government contacted Sudan before announcing the intended aid and peacekeeper deployment, but I've had experience with Martin's spokesperson's lying in the past as well as the failure of CTV to use common sense much less do any fact-checking.

10:52 - Excellent post from Keith on the Sudan mess and Mar-toon (heh) which includes some facts about Lord General Charles Gordon and an excellent logistical reason why the cooperation of Khartoum is necessary: landing strips (as in "rarity of in Sudan.")

14:01 From today's editorial in the Washington Post Beyond Darfur:

A good example of the potential gains from pressuring Khartoum is provided by the Lord's Resistance Army, which terrorizes parts of southern Sudan and northern Uganda. Thanks to the LRA, northern Uganda has been in a state of low-level war for 18 years. Thousands of children have been kidnapped to serve as soldiers or sex slaves, and perhaps 1.6 million people have been driven from their homes. The LRA's leader, a self-styled messiah named Joseph Kony, has received arms and a safe haven from Sudan's government. In return he has attacked Sudanese civilians, acting as a proxy for the government in its long war with the southern rebels.


The United States and its allies have sometimes viewed Sudan's various conflicts as separate issues ... But the truth is that all these conflicts reflect the same challenge: The willingness of Sudan's government to sponsor atrocities. It will take a common effort from the United States, Europe, Russia and (most awkwardly) China to pressure the Sudanese regime into changing its ways. But the diplomatic effort is worthwhile: The stakes are bigger even than the awful genocide in Darfur.

Worth while read.

Posted by Debbye at 05:42 AM | Comments (3)

May 12, 2005

Canadian aid to Darfur

May 12 - Another bit of retro-posting, still relevant even though attempts to aid Darfur have been sideswiped by the government in Khartoum.

PM pledges $170 million aid package to Darfur including airlift capability, humanitarian aid, diplomatic support and up to 100 military personnel to train local forces.

Posted by Debbye at 08:31 PM | Comments (0)

May 08, 2005

Canadian troops to Darfur - 150 strong!

May 8 - People who think bloggers are wannabe journalists might stop and try to name journalists who link to and get feedback from other journalists to the extent that we do!

A case in point: news that Canada is sending her military to Darfur. I was focused on this bit from the CBC report which seemed to be talking about the mission:

"This is a complex and relatively dangerous environment," Gen. Rick Hillier told CBC News.
Relative to what? Iraq? Afghanistan? Kosovo? Halifax? Call me too quick to criticize, but I think the environment in Darfur is much more dangerous for unarmed villagers than armed (at least I hope they'll be armed) soldiers.

So I missed the dumber part of the dumb statement, but fortunately Kate didn't.

The dumber statement (from the same CBC report) is highlighted:

The minister wants military intervention to be only one part of an overall plan for the northeastern African country.

"We cannot invade Sudan. It requires United Nations action ... it requires political as well as military and aid matters," Graham told CBC.

I have no idea what that means, unless a newly legislated piece of international law states that if the U.N. says it's okay to go into a country uninvited then it isn't an invasion. Or they are going to Darfur but won't actually go in to Darfur? Or, significantly, has someone decided that Darfur is no longer considered part of Sudan?

One of the unacknowledged downsides of sending Canadian peacekeepers to Cyprus is that Greek Cypriots were unable to take back the sections of that island which the Turks had seized. The Turkish invasion was thus successful entirely due to the intervention of the U.N., which is why the U.N.-crafted peace accord was rejected by the Greek section of the island last year.

According to a report late last night, Canadian officials are finalizing plans to send all of 150 military personnel to "war-torn Sudan."

Now it's "war-torn." Only a few days ago it was a "conflict, stemming from the fallout of a peace deal to end the country's decades-old civil war" (I've counted several failed peace deals between Sudan and Darfur, but the CBC is probably alluding to the one of two years ago although it might be the one of a few months ago.) (Wikipedia has a reasonably good history of the conflict.)

The CBC report from last night says the Canadians also plan to donate some "used military equipment" to ... wait, it doesn't say to whom they will donate that equipment, but I'm guessing it will be to AU forces, not the Darfur rebels.

Then there is this:

Canada has also already promised 31 soldiers to act as advisers to an African Union mission in Addis Ababa, the capital of neighbouring Ethiopia.

The additional Canadian military personnel would serve as short-term advisers, mechanics and trainers, CP reported.

So why the sudden realization of Canadian international duty? The CBC doesn't pull any punches here:
The Canadian government has a new sense of urgency to deal with Sudan as it seeks the support of members of Parliament for a looming confidence vote in the Commons this month.
What other blogger is most likely to be on top of this? Damian Brooks, of course, so I headed there and he's linked to an article in the Globe and Mail which calls the Darfur region blood-soaked but has more specific information than the CBC provided and fills in some vagueness:
General Rick Hillier, the chief of the defence staff, said the Canadian Forces will be ready to deploy a large contingent overseas for "significant operations" by late summer after a year of recovery and rebuilding.

The Darfur situation, he said, "is a complex and a relatively dangerous environment and the tragedy that is unfolding there is on a scale that is very tough to determine."

It is more clear from this quote that Hiller is in fact saying that the environment is dangerous to civilians, but also that he thinks 150 constitutes a "large contingent." Even applying the ten-fold rule, which would mean the equivalent of sending 1,500 US troops overseas, that is not a large contigent. Although the Globe doesn't have Graham's "We cannot invade Sudan" disclaimer, the clarification in this article is that the peacekeepers are indeed going to protect the refugees. But wait, most of them have fled into neighbouring Chad.

So exactly what is the mission?

Graham's next words seem to answer that question in that this is not actually a military mission but an advisory mission, and it implies that Canadian troops will indeed not set foot on Sudan soil:

Defence Minister Bill Graham said whatever the Canadian military does in Darfur, it will be in a support role to the African Union, which is in charge of the peacekeeping operation and whose member states will supply most of the ground troops.
In other words, the Canadians will not be in Sudan, will be kept away from any potential danger and will safely lead from the rear.

This is not good. Leading from the rear will not win respect for Canada in the eyes of the AU soldiers or African nations but will make Canadians look timid at best and arrogant at worst -- too timid to put their own precious lives on the line but willing to arrogantly send others into danger to do the job Canadians are too good to do. And too, Canada cannot "invade" Sudan, but they can advise AU forces to do so. Canada can be so naive at times.

"We'll be looking, from a government point of view, at every way we can help the people of Darfur," Mr. Graham said. "The military is part of the solution."
And then there's this bit from Hiller:
Many living in camps find the conditions better than anything they had previously known in their villages. "They have enough to eat. They have some security. They have some medical care . . . and they have some schooling, in many cases for the first time in their lives."
Well golly gosh, the villagers should be thanking the Janjaweed hordes! Hiller is obviously in a perverse competition with Graham to see which can be more fatuous.
The long-term challenge, international development agencies say, will be to build a lasting peace and provide tools for the people of Darfur to become economically self-sufficient.
Words like those seem to imply that not only will Sudan not share their oil wealth with the western region of the country but that someone really is contemplating the establishment of a separate Darfur nation.

Sheesh, I was only speculating when I was making fun of the CBC article, but now I am truly suspicious that the long-term plan is to either set up the refugee camps in Chad as permanent settlements (look how well that worked with the Palestinians) or partition Sudan. And let me be the first to say that "it's all about the oil."

By the way, Damian's post on this subject, which is cautiously optimistic has a most memorable phrase:

I know I should be skeptical. I know I'm just setting myself up for a fall if the Liberals continue their "walk loudly and avoid carrying sticks" policy, as one would expect them to.

Posted by Debbye at 12:51 PM | Comments (9)

February 03, 2005

UN envoy horrified by attacks in Darfur

Feb. 3 - The top U.N. envoy in Sudan, Jan Pronk, has urged that peace be achieved before the January 2006 African Union summit which is to be held in Khartoum (Darfur attacks horrify U.N. envoy.)

He noted something that has been fairly obvious to most people who've been following the situtation in Darfur:

Pronk said one of the most worrying points of the report was that these human rights abuses were continuing during the investigation, between November and January.
He's right to be worried, because those engaged in the genocide crimes against humanity don't care about the investigation, the report or the U.N.

I'm sorry if I seem snippy. I'm sure the U.N. envoy means well, but attacks on civilians by the Janjaweed have been widely reported for nearly a year yet the situation remains unchanged and the U.N. continues to dither, delay and argue definitions rather than look at what is being done to the (former) inhabitants of the Darfur region.

Maybe the U.N. should change it's motto to "It's Your World (Until Someone Makes you Re-Locate.")

Pronk did have some good words to say about the African Union troops dispatched to the region as truce observers and urged that more be sent, and although he stopped short of accusing the Sudanese government of complicity, he did urge them to stop making low flights over the areas because it might give the impression that they are doing reconnaissance for the Jajaweed.

Posted by Debbye at 07:19 AM | Comments (0)

November 23, 2004

150 sex abuse cases charges in Congo Peacekeeping

Nov. 23 - Michelle Malkin calls it The U.N.'s Abu Ghraib, citing an item from Reuters: U.N.: 150 sex abuse charges in Congo peacekeeping.

The United Nations is investigating about 150 allegations of sexual abuse by U.N. civilian staff and soldiers in the Congo, some of them recorded on videotape, a senior U.N. official said on Monday.

The accusations include pedophilia, rape and prostitution, said Jane Holl Lute, an assistant secretary-general in the peacekeeping department.

Lute, an American, said there was photographic and video evidence for some of the allegations and most of the charges came to light since the spring.


In May the United Nations reported some 30 cases of abuse among peacekeepers in the northeastern town of Bunia, where half of the more than 10,000 soldiers are stationed.

Last month, one French soldier and two Tunisian soldiers were sent home, U.N. officials said. Three U.N. civilian staff were suspended.

So action has been taken: some peacekeepers have been sent home, 3 U.N. staff members were suspended and an inquiry has been initiated. It resembles Abu Ghraib because here too the story was broken after corrective measures had begun, but I think it unlikely the photographic and video evidence will receive the same (if any) exposure as the infamous ones from Abu Ghraib (I wouldn't want to be the only person not to say that!)

Needless to say Kofi Annan is shocked and outraged, but as the article notes,

The United Nations has jurisdiction over its civilian staff but troops are contributed by individual nations. Consequently, the world body has only the power to demand a specific country repatriate an accused soldier and punish him or her at home.
The fact that Reuters has reported on it is significant, but this isn't the first report of sexual abuse by U.N. peacekeeping troops in the Congo. When I followed a trackback to Malkin's post to U.N. Seraglio in the Congo getting little attention at Captain's Quarters he cited his May 25 post UN Implements Sex-For-Food Program In The Congo from a report in The Independent (which is possibily about cases referred to in the 6th paragraph of the Reuters article?)

It will be easy to blame Kofi Annan for the growing pile of scandals that are plaguing the U.N. from Oil-to-Food, to possible attempts by IAEA head Mohammed El Baradei to influence the U.S. election, to the reports of misbehaviour at best and criminal behaviour at worst by the very troops sent to protect innocent people but which in fact victimize them. It will, in fact, be too easy to place the lion's share of blame onto one person and a few flunkies and then, feeling absolved, quickly move on.

But the problem isn't just Kofi Annan. The problem is the U.N. itself, which is composed of unelected, unscritinized, and unaccountable people. They presume to usurp moral authority from legally elected governments, pander to dictators and statists, and are as corruptible as all humans - and in that last all-important detail we find that dangerous flaw to which we are all subject (you know, the one about the inevitability of power corrupting mere mortals.)

I hope I'm not breaking any, er, blogiquette by posting a link to a May 2 Telegraph article UN threatens authors of 'racy' expose take from one of the Captain's commenters on the May post. The article says:

The United Nations has threatened to fire two officials who wrote an expose of sleaze and corruption during its peacekeeping missions of the 1990s.

Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General, is understood to have favoured an attempt to block publication of the memoir, Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures, a True Story from Hell on Earth, due to be published next month.

Still reeling from the Iraqi oil-for-food scandal, officials in the upper echelons of the UN are alarmed by the promised revelations of wild sex parties, petty corruption, and drug use - diversions that helped the peacekeepers to cope with alternating states of terror and boredom.


The co-authors, who met in Cambodia in 1993 and later worked in Haiti, Kosovo, Liberia and Somalia, claim that petty corruption over expense accounts and living allowances was rife.

Ms Postlewait was in her early thirties when she went on her first trip abroad for the UN, supervising elections in Cambodia. There, she soon worked out that she could save enough money from her expense account to set herself up nicely back in New York. In other frauds, UN staff were said to quote blackmarket currency exchange rates to pad out their expenses.

The authors also complain that they encountered "bureaucratic betrayal" on missions, as the UN allegedly struck cynical deals with corrupt local officials.

Much as we might fondly imagine otherwise, people who work for the U.N. are not saints but people with all the fallibilities - including greed and pride - that beset each of us.

(Via Michelle Malkin and following the trackback to Captain's Quarters.)

14:09 From this post at Friends of Saddam's, it seems AP has picked up the story with some notable additions:

The United Nations mission in Congo has about 10,500 soldiers and police as well as 1,000 international staff from 50 countries. It began in 1999. Investigators are now checking the 15 other U.N. peacekeeping missions around the world to see how widespread the problem is, Lute said.

Allegations of sex abuse and other crimes have dogged U.N. peacekeeping missions almost since their inception in 1948. It's been difficult to clamp down because the United Nations doesn't want to offend the relatively small number of nations who provide most of its peacekeeping troops.


In recent years, the United Nations has tried to clear up sex abuse problems by putting more emphasis on training peacekeepers - known as "blue helmets" for their distinctive headgear - and re-emphasizing codes of conduct.

But Lute said those efforts have not kept pace with the massive growth in peacekeeping missions, and their complexity - where soldiers often are deployed in highly volatile, lawless areas rather than manning clearly defined truce lines.

Lute said U.N. leaders were now determined to get tougher. On Friday, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he was "absolutely outraged" by the allegations.

So-called "personnel conduct officers" have been sent to the missions in Congo, Burundi, Ivory Coast and Haiti. (Bolding added.)

That last sentence forces me to wonder if there have been allegations in those places as well.

Posted by Debbye at 12:45 PM | Comments (7)

November 18, 2004

Another warning for Sudan

Nov. 18 - Annan has issued the 'Strongest warning' yet to the government and rebels in Sudan and expressed disappointment that they had not adhered to a cease-fire agreement signed previously.

The U.N. has not really dealt with the ongoing murder and "relocations" in Sudan beyond admonitions to play nicely, but

The council is expected to adopt a resolution on Sudan Friday.

The council's draft resolution is holding out a carrot of development aid, including debt relief for all parties, once a north-south pact is sealed. But so far there is no sign of a stick other than U.S. sanctions.

There are divisions on the 15-member council. Russia, China, Pakistan and Algeria object to strong language in a draft declaration condemning the atrocities in Darfur.

Earlier, the four abstained on a council resolution threatening an oil embargo if the Sudanese government failed to rein in the militias and hold them accountable for human rights atrocities.

In September, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell -- who has called the violence in Darfur a genocide -- accused the four countries of valuing business with Sudan over humanitarian concerns.

China's protective attitude toward the Sudan government may be due to the fact that they are the largest purchaser of oil from Sudan and have contracts for exploration and development in that country.

The U.N. is caught again in an ongoing atrocity of a member state, and
I doubt I'm the only person to point out that there haven't been massive demonstrations in front of Sudan embassies or the U.N. Although it's only been 10 years since the genocide in Rwanda and less than a year since dignitaries attended solemn commemoration ceremonies there and intoned "Never Again," the international community merely watches as it happens again.

Posted by Debbye at 05:34 PM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2004

Ivory Coast update

Nov. 11 - Things aren't going too well in Ivory Coast: Foreigners Evacuated From Ivory Coast but there will be talks:

The mayhem, checked only intermittently by Gbagbo's government, has been unanimously condemned publicly by Gbagbo's fellow African leaders and drawn moves toward U.N. sanctions. It threatens lasting harm to the economy and stability of Ivory Coast, the world's top cocoa producer and once West Africa's most peaceful and prosperous nation.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa said that President Thabo Mbeki (search) would open the talks Thursday in Pretoria.

Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad said Ivorian rebel and opposition leaders, including former prime minister Alassane Outtara, will arrive in Pretoria on Thursday for the talks.

South African Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said a resolution to the crisis was critical.

"A full scale war in Ivory Coast could affect a lot of other countries in the region," she told a parliamentary committee on foreign affairs in Cape Town. "We need to contain it in Ivory Coast and bring it under control, or it could turn into a regional problem."

The violence began Saturday when Ivory Coast warplanes killed nine French peacekeepers and an American aid worker in an airstrike on the rebel-held north in three days of government air attacks that violated a more than year-old cease-fire in the country's civil war.

France wiped out the nation's newly built-up air force on the tarmac within hours. The retaliation sparked a violent uprising by loyalist youths who took to the streets waving machetes, iron bars and clubs.

Including the airstrike, the turmoil since Saturday has claimed at least 27 lives and wounded more than 900. The toll, likely incomplete, includes the 10 victims of the airstrikes, five loyalists whose bodies were shown on state TV, and 11 loyalists and one Ivorian security force member received Monday and Tuesday by hospitals. Ivory Coast presidential spokesman Alain Toussaint said 37 loyalists had died.

I'm not being flippant about the situation, because this does indeed impact on Ivory Coast's neighbours, but the failure to actually resolve the situation has kept that region simmering for the past three years and unresolved conflict tends to harden lines rather than soften them.
At the United Nations, France revised a U.N. Security Council resolution Wednesday to give Ivory Coast more time to resurrect a peace process with northern rebels or face an arms embargo and other sanctions, diplomats said.

The decision to push back the deadline from Dec. 1 to Dec. 10 was made at the request of the United States, which thought Ivory Coast's government and the rebels needed more breathing room to return to the peace process, diplomats said on condition of anonymity.

The "condition of anonymity" part translates to "grain of salt" but I would suspect that talks would be useless until there is a willingness by both side to actually work at sharing power, and Pres. Gbagbo has a poor record on that score.

Nov. 18 - 19:45: Pres. Gbagbo says they are not at war with France and appealed to the USA:

The Ivorian leader also appealed to the world's superpower to intervene on his government's behalf -- helping him with France, and with disarmament of rebels holding Ivory Coast's north.

"Americans have a good role of mediation to play ... since the French conducted themselves the way they did," he said.

"Americans can serve as a unifying force and Americans can bring pressure to bear so that disarmament takes place."

I trust the US government won't take the bait. The minute we go in it will be called a quagmire.

Despite the arms embargo the U.N. imposed Nov. 15, Gbagbo plans to rebuild his air force and the rebels have vowed to fight on.

Posted by Debbye at 11:38 AM | Comments (3)

November 06, 2004

Ivory Coast update

Nov. 6 - Eight French soldiers peacekeepers and one American were killed and 23 were wounded in an air strike by government forces in Ivory Coast. The the UN Security Council called an emergency meeting to form a response to the crisis and the French and American ambassadors are drafting a letter warning of "serious consequences" if the rebels don't cease hostilities.

The French have responded by bombing government planes at the airport, sending three more Mirage jets, and deploying two more military companies to augment their forces.

The French had tried to impose a coalition government with representatives from both the rebels and government in April of 2003 but it collapsed before it began. There are currently 4,000 French and 6,000 UN peacekeeping troops in Ivory Coast and the threat of renewed government attacks on rebel positions highlights the eternal contradiction of U.N. missions: peacekeeping is irrelevant until the peacemakers complete their task.

(If you're expecting me to go all snarky on the French on the occasion of their fallen soldiers, don't. Men and women who enlist to serve their country deserve respect, and whatever I may think of the French government, I am beginning to wonder how much their mainstream media misleads and misrepresents the French people.)

Nov. 7 23:50 France is beginning to evacuate civilians trapped at the Abidjan Airport in Ivory Coast and advises the rest to stay indoors. The death toll of French troops now stands at 9.

Posted by Debbye at 02:51 PM | Comments (2)

November 03, 2004

Sudan camp under siege

Nov. 3 - Back to business. The crisis in Sudan has taken an odd turn - probably for the worse: Sudan camp siege as UN workers flee:

Sudanese soldiers surrounded three refugee camps in Darfur yesterday, forcing out aid workers in a development that could worsen the plight of thousands of African tribesmen who have fled the region's smouldering civil war.

The United Nations said soldiers sealed off the camps at 3am, raising fears that refugees could be ordered back to their villages where there is less protection from government backed militiamen known as the Janjaweed.

President Omar al-Bashir's government denied that its forces had besieged the camps. If true, the operation would violate two UN Security Council resolutions ordering Khartoum to end the violence in western Sudan.

Some 88 aid workers were forced out, according to the UN World Food Programme.

The timing is suspicious. Is it possible that the Sudanese government was counting on continued uncertainty in the US election results which might have delayed our response?

Give credit where it is due: Sen. Kerry's concession may be more important to the people of Darfur than anyone could possibly have foreseen.

14:32: No time stamp on this report that the Sudanese government and rebels are close to signing a peace deal, but I daresay it was written before the above account.

Posted by Debbye at 02:10 PM | Comments (0)

November 02, 2004


Nov. 2 - From this surprisingly emotional article about a U.S. Air Force mission out of Rwanda on Oct. 30:

The mission may have been clear and simple for the Americans involved, but as the airmen quickly realized, the Rwandans did not view the U.S. Air Force's airlift to Darfur as just another day at work.

Marching to the music of their own formal military band, the Rwandan troops carried more than their rifles as they entered the belly of the C-130. Their faces seemed to carry with them the concerns of a country that only 10 years ago experienced the horror of genocide.

Worth reading the whole thing. Sudan is still a nightmare regardless of the election results and should have a more prominent place on our list of things to solve.

Canada is getting more involved as well. PM Martin to visit Sudan, calling for an end to violence, humanitarian crisis:

Prime Minister Paul Martin will visit strife-ridden Sudan this month to urge the government to halt ethnic and religious violence that has driven 1.5 million people from their homes.

Martin will meet with President Omar el-Bashir at a brief stop in Khartoum during a 10-day trip to Africa.

"He'll urge the government to honour their commitments and act decisively to end the suffering," said Martin spokeswoman Amy Butcher.

"It's an opportunity to urge the (Sudanese) leaders to honour their word. G-8 leaders have a responsibility to engage and face-to-face meetings can be an effective tool to get leadership to act."


Martin had long been mulling the trip, and was encouraged to go in recent chats with British Prime Minister Tony Blair (news - web sites) and the head of the United Nations.

Canada has pledged about $37 million to humanitarian efforts in Sudan and also contributed equipment to African Union peacekeepers.

Posted by Debbye at 07:26 PM | Comments (0)

October 18, 2004

Numbers games over Sudanese deaths

Oct. 18 - Note the dates in this news item: Up to 70,000 Sudanese dead:

GENEVA, Switzerland (CNN) -- The World Health Organization says that up to 70,000 refugees have died in Sudan's Darfur region since March 1, 2004 due to various causes, including diseases and malnutrition.

WHO spokesman David Nabarro said Saturday the figure does not take into account deaths from direct violence in the conflict-torn region.

Nabarro said the number of displaced people in Darfur increased to 1.8 million in September.

Sudan disputes the WHO figures, saying there could not have been more than 7,000 deaths in Darfur refugee camps.(Emphasis added)

There is no way for me to independently verify any of these numbers, but even if I take the low number - 7,000 since March - does that really make it better?

These numbers will produce one beneficial result, at least for WHO: more funds will probably be allocated to assist the people in the camps and more refugee camp workers are likely to be hired.

Nevertheless, there should be no "displaced persons." People should not have been driven off their lands and forced to seek refuge, and if anyone really cared about the opinions of the international community, international law, or feared the might and moral authority of the International Criminal Court ... well, we would be living in some alternative universe instead of this one.

Posted by Debbye at 04:13 PM | Comments (3)

July 02, 2004

BBC watch

July 1 - Robert at Expat Yank concludes that the BBC is bored with Iraq and that accounts for their sudden interest in what they perceive as sudden US interest in the Sudan, but rest assured, the BBC comes up with the usual suspects starting with the Oil (or maybe it should be oiiilll!!!.)

Robert calls the BBC on their dimestore punditry. One excerpt:

One is the pressure from right-wing Christian groups in the US, who have taken up the cause of their fellow Christians in Sudan.

Their nagging - on the issues of slavery and the forcible imposition of Sharia law - helped get sanctions imposed on Sudan in 1997. . .

"Nagging"? She actually wrote, "nagging." Well, darn it, but slavery and sharia tend to make the open-minded, democratic and, yes, even "right-wing Christians", a bit tense. It might even lead some to "nag" . . . and one would think that might be a tad understandable.
But never fear, the BBC belatedly edited (without comment and admission) the word nagging to the far less shrewish word lobbying. Aren't they special?

It is getting harder and harder to keep up with the BBC. Since the item clearly indicates annoyance with (and perhaps even condemnation of) the nagging lobbying of the right-wing Christians on the issues of slavery and sharia in Sudan, does that mean the BBC is pro-slavery? Or maybe that they are willing to tolerate slavery as an expression of diversity?

Oh well, the BBC got all bases covered for whatever happens in Sudan. It will be about the oil, right-wing Christians, and cited as another failure in Bush diplomacy (but not U.N. diplomacy. Never that.)

(Note that the BBC item was written before Annan's visit to the hastily abandoned refugee camp in Sudan.)

Posted by Debbye at 07:05 PM | Comments (2)

Saddam's hearing and the U.N. in Sudan (updated)

July 2 - The Toronto Sun isn't overlooking the ugly nature of Saddam on the cover of today's online edition although they do seem to favour the insanity explanation: Iraq's Mad Man on Trial. The AP story they've printed on Saddam's appearance before the court , Madman gives a piece of his mind, is definitely not sympathetic and reminds us that Saddam was pulled out of a hole. (I, for one, never get tired of remembering that!) Today's Sun also carries the AP story Hang him, Iraqis urge, which indicates that Iraqis are fully aware that he is getting the open trial he denied to so many others and are gratified to see him before a court for his crimes.

I feel the lack of the word "high" from that last title. I'm not sure why: hanging is hanging and elevation shouldn't be all that relevant, but all the same I want them to hang him high.

Is it too much to hope that the drumbeats of those who declare the Iraqis are incapable of trying Saddam will die down? (Probably.) At least this hearing has re-focused attention on the mass graves and years of torture that was, for many of us, a primary cause for the forcible removal of Saddam.

Is Saddam Hussein a mad man? Or was he power mad? The simplest explanation for those who abuse power is probably the correct one: they do so because they can. Our forefathers certainly understood that danger when they placed so many checks and balances onto our political system. [One article of interest in today's NY Times is by Simon Sebag Montefiore, Tyrants on Trial, which draws some interesting parallels between Saddam and Stalin, although he delves into the psychology of the two men more than to my liking.]

[Update July 3 - 00:40: Totally whacky Captioned Saddam pics! Rock, Paper, Scissors ... (thanks to Rocket Jones for the link.)]

The best read in today's NY Times is another excellent article by John Burns. He writes:

At the start, the young Iraqi investigative judge, his identity shielded from disclosure by Iraqi and American officials fearful of his assassination, stared straight back at Mr. Hussein, barely 10 feet away, and said plainly, "former president."

"No, present," Mr. Hussein said. "Current. It's the will of the people."

"Write down, in brackets, `former president,' " the judge told the court clerk.

This debate over his status is not just defiance on Saddam's part, but essential to his defense in some countries:
Mr. Hussein's point, repeatedly, was that it was unthinkable for him to be charged for his actions as Iraq's leader, since that gave him immunity, and, he implied, the defense that even murder or military aggression was justified if he deemed it in Iraq's interest.
In some countries, as the USA, presidents are accountable before the law. In others, such as France, they aren't accountable during their times in office although they can be prosecuted after they step down.

As I surmised yesterday, Saddam has been watching enitrely too much CNN:

He told the judge, "You know that this is all a theater by Bush, to help him win his election."
Expect this to become a constant accusation from the left as they will undoubtably spin all gains in Iraq as being about our election rather than Iraq's future.

The alternative explanations are much simpler: we honour our committments, and we genuinely believe in liberty.

Burns makes the connection that many of us make and must not be lost during the election spin that will accompany much of the analysis not only of this preliminary hearing but of the handover as well:

There were echoes of past war crimes trials at Nuremberg after World War II, and at The Hague after the wars of the 1990's that ravaged the former Yugoslavia, when one after another of the men argued that he could not be held personally accountable for actions ordered by others, or carried out in the name of the "leadership," meaning Mr. Hussein and a handful of men in his innermost circle. All they had done, several defendants argued, was to follow orders or assent to actions they had no power to halt, even as high-ranking military or intelligence officials or as members of the Revolutionary Command Council, the country's most powerful and feared political body.

One who took this approach was Tariq Aziz, the 68-year-old former deputy prime minister, a Chaldean Christian who conducted many of Iraq's foreign negotiations, including the failed efforts to head off the Persian Gulf war after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Mr. Aziz cut a figure of unshakable self-confidence in power, stalking the marble halls of Baghdad's palaces pulling on a cigar, boasting until the last weeks before the American attack in March last year that he and other government leaders would be "shadows" by the time American troops arrived in Baghdad, uncatchable. In fact, he gave himself up shortly after Mr. Hussein's government was toppled.

At Thursday's hearing, he, like many others, was a shadow, in another sense, of his former self. His shoulders bowed, his head forward, he mopped his brow, bit his lip, blew his nose, and wrung his hands. He sat through the hearing with the chain used to manacle him dangling at his waist. Once a man who prided himself on his well-cut suits, he seemed not to notice the chain nestling against his ill-fitting, American-bought suit.

The swaggering thugs that looted and terrorized the Iraqi people are now revealed to be mere mortals who, having lost their lionized status, are being treated like the criminals they are and being held to account for their crimes. One has to wonder what people in countries like Iran and Zimbabwe think as they witness a murderous dictator and his once-merry band brought before the people they once terrorized and are forced to face justice.

Don't underestimate the value of broadcasting Saddam's trial to the world. It's going to give a lot of people ideas and maybe even hope.

Citing the precedent of Nuremburg invokes many principles: that genocidal murderers will not be given free passes just because they delegated murder to subordinates, that "following orders" is no defense (note that it wasn't an acceptable defense for the Abu Ghraib defendents), and that the world must not stand by while genocide occurs.

Contrary to the song, two out of three is bad. The U.N. has become an after-the-fact prosecutor of war criminals, thus glossing over it's feckless inability (or unwillingness) to prevent war crimes.

The situation in the Darfur region of Sudan is finally gaining widespread attention and the vanity that accompanies the U.N. as an internationally recognized font of legitimacy has been exposed for the facade that it is.

Again, from the NY Times an article by Marc Lacey

EL FASHER, Sudan, July 1 - There were only donkeys milling around in a soggy, trash-strewn lot on Thursday afternoon when the United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, and his entourage arrived at what was supposed to be a crowded squatter camp here in the troubled Darfur region of Sudan.

Gone were the more than 1,000 residents of the Meshtel settlement. Gone as well were their makeshift dwellings. Hours before Mr. Annan's arrival, the local authorities had loaded the camp's inhabitants aboard trucks and moved them.

"Where are the people?" Mr. Annan was overheard asking a Sudanese official who was accompanying his tour of Darfur, the region in western Sudan where the government has been accused of unleashing armed militias on the local population to quell a rebel uprising.

Al Noor Muhammad Ibrahim, minister of social affairs for the state of North Darfur, explained that the camp on Mr. Annan's itinerary no longer existed. He said the government had relocated its residents the evening before, sometime after United Nations officials had paid a visit at 5 p.m. on Wednesday in preparation for a stop by Mr. Annan.

"It's not because the secretary general of the United Nations is here that we moved them," Mr. Ibrahim insisted as incredulous United Nations officials looked on. Mr. Ibrahim said the conditions were too grim for the people there and that humanitarianism, not public relations, had motivated him to act. "We did not like seeing people living like that," he said.

Mr. Annan, who did not leave his vehicle, stayed silent as visibly agitated aides argued with the Sudanese authorities about the sudden relocation. The government urged Mr. Annan to visit another settlement, a nearby camp with far better conditions which Secretary of State Colin L. Powell had toured Wednesday during his brief stop in Darfur.

"Of course, it is of concern," that the government had moved so many people so suddenly, Mr. Annan said later in an interview. "We are trying to sort it out."

It is impossible for me to read this story and not have a snarky reaction, but that diminishes the real human tragedy of the situation in Darfur.

[Update 18:08: Ouch! Michelle Malkin is calling the relocations the Sudanese Shuffle.]

I think the USA has her hands full right now with Iraq, the nuclear threats from Iran and North Korea, and the missions in Bosnia, Kosovo, Haiti, etc. It's time for the enlightened international community to prove it's mettle by stepping up to the plate in Sudan (and no, I don't see that happening.)

Sadly, this would have been a perfect opportunity for Canada to assert herself as the world's foremost peacekeeping nation, but the years of neglect for the military up here have taken their toll and the true victims are people like those in Darfur.

21:23: This links to the Annan story at the Washington Post for anyone searching for the story past the NY Times's miserly expiration date.

Posted by Debbye at 12:29 PM | Comments (5)

June 22, 2004


June 22 - Another reality check for anyone who believes the U.N. is capable of leading in the cause of human rights: 45 corpses, all killed because of their skin colour: Genocide in Sudan. Families head for the hills to escape the murdering Janjaweed Arabs.

The U.N. is capable of only one thing: international hand wringing.

I am not prepared to place my safety in their hands.

(Via Jack's Newswatch.)

Posted by Debbye at 08:02 PM | Comments (0)

May 15, 2004

Failure of the U.N. Mission in Chad (updated: and Kosovo and Eritrea)

May 15 - If the prisoner abuse was a "body blow" to US efforts in Iraq, what is the following to U.N. efforts in Chad, and, by extension, to anything they might undertake in Iraq?

Chad's poor left to help each other:

In the past year, Tine's population has more than doubled as refugees have poured out of the Darfur region of western Sudan, fleeing Arab militiamen mounted on horses and camels who are waging a campaign of ethnic cleansing against their black Muslim neighbours.

Many could only watch as members of their families were executed by the Janjaweed, as the militiamen are known. Most lost their possessions when their houses were burned down. All were exhausted after walking for days through the desert.

Sudan, by the way, is the new chair for the U.N. Human Rights Commission.

The United Nations has described the war in Darfur as the world's worst humanitarian crisis at the moment.

It is running an emergency relief programme for Darfur refugees but will not operate on the border, saying it is too dangerous.

Families have been waiting for up to two months, their lives at risk from shelling, cross-border militia raids and water shortages, to transfer to UN camps 20 miles into Chad.

Aid workers from other agencies have accused the UN of inefficiency and perhaps worse.

"What is going on here is very dark," said one western aid worker at a non-UN agency.

"Money seems to have disappeared. Who knows whether it has been stolen or whether it has just disappeared in the UN machine. The inefficiency is astounding."

Refugees cannot walk into the half-empty camps. Regulations demand that they must be turned away if they do.

It would seem that the United Nations has run out of money. Lorries supposed to transport refugees to the camps lie stranded as there is not enough for fuel. Drivers have been on strike because they have not been paid for a month.

Do you suppose that the murky doings and theft that accompanied the Oil for Food scandal was just business as usual at the U.N.?

Don't look for any NY Times editorials demanding that Kofi Annan resign, though, or for Sen. John Kerry to denounce the U.N. for its failure in leadership. It's been a four-year long election year, after all, and the U.N. represents that International Community which holds The High Moral Ground.

May 17 - 18:02: Looks like the missions in Kosovo, Serbia and Eritrea have produced a booming sex trade in those regions.

Posted by Debbye at 04:27 PM | Comments (0)

April 18, 2004

Canadian connection to March 11 attackers?

Apr. 18 - The Globe and Mail reports that, according to a Moroccan press report, a Montrealer is a member of a sleeper cell of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group which conducted a terrorist attack by placing bombs on trains in Madrid March 11.

A Moroccan extremist faction suspected of carrying out the March 11 bombings in Madrid had a sleeper cell in Montreal and Ottawa, according to a Moroccan press report.

The newspaper also claimed that Adil Charkaoui, the Montrealer held on a security certificate and alleged by authorities to be an al-Qaeda sleeper agent, is one of two members of the Canadian cell of that extremist group.

Yesterday's edition of Aujourd'hui Le Maroc said the information was given to investigators by Nouredine Nfia, an imprisoned leader of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group.

Mr. Charkaoui, the newspaper said, was in charge of logistics, sent a laptop computer to the group, and twice wired $2,000 (U.S.) to it.

The other Canadian sleeper agent was a 28-year-old Ottawa resident who was identified only as "Abdeslam the Canadian," it said.

The article notes that Nfia may have made these assertions under torture.

(I have no memory of where I came to find this link. My apologies if I lifted it from someone without credit.)

Posted by Debbye at 09:50 PM | Comments (0)

April 08, 2004


Apr. 8 - A few items on Sudan today. In the NY Times, Brutal Conflict in Sudan Brings Warnings by Bush and Annan. The latest civil war has served as an opportunity for Arab militias in Darfur to push over 100,00 black Africans into refugee camps in Sudan, and both the U.N. Secretary-General and the US President hav issued warnings to the government and called on it to allow humanitarian agencies access.

According to CNN, the Sudan government and rebels have reached a cease-fire agreement which is to be signed in Chad on Thursday.

Posted by Debbye at 08:21 PM | Comments (0)

April 06, 2004

Rwanda Memorial Conference II

Apr. 6 - Paul salutes Lt.-Gen. Romeo Dalliare (Ret.) who alone has the decency to attend the Rwanda Memorial Conference today.

Apr. 7 - 11:37: Interesting Op-ed in the NY Times by Emmanuel Dongala, who was in Brazzaville during the Rwandan genocide and became a refugee when the ethnic violence flared in Congo Republic. He poses some interesting questions and challenges, especially how the lessons we claim to have learned from Rwanda .

Today, I still think the genocide in Rwanda has not been the electroshock that should have jolted me and other African scholars from our "Africanly" correct way of thinking.

Some of our outdated ideological ideas must be challenged. With the backing of the government, Arabs are carrying out a massacre of genocidal scale against black Africans in Sudan, yet many academics and leaders in Africa are reluctant to speak out because of a misplaced sense of solidarity. We are also reluctant to face other unpleasant realities because we are afraid that would project the wrong picture of Africa to the world.

In 1958, Ahmed Sekou Toure of Guinea was the only leader of all the French African colonies to seek immediate independence. Because of this, we refused for a long time to denounce the crimes Toure was committing against his people. And because Robert Mugabe fought for freedom in Rhodesia (now called Zimbabwe), it is not acceptable to criticize his autocratic rule, for doing so would be siding with the white settlers. As for Rwanda, many people dare not speak against the crimes that Rwandan troops are committing in the Democratic Congo Republic because of the moral legitimacy President Paul Kagame gained by stopping genocide in his country.

The solidarity expressed by "Africanly" political correctness is not necessarily a bad thing, but the genocide in Rwanda reflected that this unity reflects words and not sentiments among the peoples of Africa. Like many other Westerners, though, I am reluctant to scold and advise Africans on the best course; yet when I see mounting death tolls from tribal conflicts, I feel we should be doing more to stop it.

I wonder if the hesitation to intervene was due more to concerns about appearing "culturally insensitive" than total indifference. When all recourses are laden with risk it is easier to do nothing, and the US would probably have been reviled and condemned as racist had we intervened militarily.

I don't know. Today, the mindset of 1994 is a vague memory.

Belmont Club makes several observations about the criticism Dalliare received at the memorial, but the key one is this:

First, it is a candid admission that the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission was wholly unprepared to fulfill its mission.
Dallaire was harshly criticized by two Belgiums and didn't respond by asking them why their troops pulled out when it became clear that a genocide was beginning. He's a better man than I am. (End of update)

On the other hand, Paul isn't saluting the decision of unnamed morons to keep the Snowbirds (Canada's aviation aerobatic team) in the same jets until the year 2020 (that is not a misprint.)

Posted by Debbye at 02:44 PM | Comments (2)

April 03, 2004

Sudan: Rwanda or Kosovo (Updated)

Apr. 3 - A short while ago there was a lot of talk - lots and lots of talk - about how badly Kofi Annan felt that he did nothing to stop the massacres in Rwanda (actually, he did "something": he ordered the withdrawal of a large body of UN troops.)

April 7 marks the anniversary of the bloodshed, but naturally the "world leaders" aren't going to attend the memorial service in Rwanda, all too Bloody Typical, as Paul notes.

There have been several danger signs in Sudan with claims that Arab militias are forcing black Africans out of their villages and into refugee camps in neighbouring Chad, and the UNSC is having a meeting about it.

"I have no reason to believe that the government is actively planning it, but I have reason to say that little is done to stop it, and therefore it seems as if it is being condoned," Jan Egeland, the world body's humanitarian affairs chief, said after briefing the Security Council.

"Scorched-earth tactics are being employed throughout Darfur, including the deliberate destruction of schools, wells, seed and food supplies, making whole towns and villages uninhabitable," he said, describing an "organized campaign" that has driven hundreds of thousands from their homes and triggered "one of the world's worst humanitarian crises."

Following his briefing, the 15-nation council issued a statement calling on the Sudan government and rebel groups to protect civilians in the northeast African nation, help aid workers gain access to needy regions, agree on a humanitarian cease-fire and "reach a political settlement to the dispute."

Darfur peace talks opened this week in N'Djamena, the capital of neighboring Chad, where the United Nations says tens of thousands of Darfur refugees have fled.

But the talks have gotten off to a slow start, with the first few days devoted to "talking about talks," Egeland said.

US diplomats say that representatives from Pakistan and Algeria "watered down" the resolution, the two countries deny it, and, in short, the UN shows how vital and effective it is when dictatorships control the agenda in the name of multilateralism.

The Sudanese government this week arrested a leader of the Opposition and several others on charges they had tried to overthrow the government, but even so, Sudan's U.N. ambassador, Elfatih Mohamed Ahmed Erwa, says the claims of the UN are exaggerated.

Egeland noted that the situation in the Sudan should not be compared Rwanda as the inhabitants are being forced out of the area but not being killed.

Am I supposed to feel better that the situation is closer to that in Kosovo, another country in which the UN failed to act?

Remind me again why multilateral institutions like the UN are essential to world peace and the advancing of human rights. As talk is cheap, surely the UN is the biggest 'ho house in town.

23:41: Lt.-Gen. Romeo Dallaire (Ret.) will attend the April 7 ceremony.

Apr. 5 - 23:10: This NY Times piece explains the "talks about the talks" comment:

The most important step now, he said, was to get a cease-fire declared. But reports from Ndjamena, the Chadian capital, where talks were under way, indicated that the combatants' representatives would not even enter the same room. The negotiations had descended into "talks about talks" while people continued to die, Mr. Egeland said.

Posted by Debbye at 09:33 AM | Comments (4)

April 02, 2004

Bomb found under Spanish train tracks

Apr. 2 - I guess you can't appease everyone: a bomb was found on the Spanish rail line that runs between Madrid and Seville. 10-24 kg of dynamite were connected to a detonator by a 131 m (430 ft.) cable. The bomb was defused by the Civil Guard. [Note in update that Ángel Acebes, the Minister of the Interior, says there was no detonator.]

Media reports have not been confirmed by officials. There may been a telephone call warning of the bomb, and a contractor hired to build new tracks may have found the bomb.

14 people are being held in connection with the Mar. 11 terror attack on Madrid trains. A Spanish judge released two Syrians without charges and a Moroccan was released but ordered to report daily by the judge.

There are international warrants for six others - one Tunisian and five Morrocans. Tunisian Sarhane Ben Abdelmajid Fakhet is thought to be the leader. Morrocan Jamal Ahmidan rented the premises where the bomb was built and Mohamed Oulad Akcha, his brother Rachid Oulad Akcha, and Abdennabi Kounjaa procured the explosives and made the bombs. Said Berraj is believed to be the link to al Qaeda.

15:11: Paul has information from La Vanguardia account on some of the details, including the fact that the bomb was minus a detonator.

18:15: Iberian Notes reports that the timer wasn't set. Official consensus seems to be that whoever was planting the bomb was interrupted. He says: "La Vangua ran a story saying that they suspect there are 300 Moroccan Islamist Combatent Group affiliates in Spain, which means there are plenty more where Jamal Zougam and Abderraman Balkh came from."

18:30: Tim Blair's update is from Franco Alemán of Hispa Libertas who says that there was no telephone warning and it had been raining all night (which is why the dryness of the bomb was important.)

Apr. 3 - 08:58: AP confirms that the bomb material matches that used Mar. 11. This report says the bomb failed to detonate because it wasn't properly connected, and CNN is confirms that no initiator was found.

The Washingtn Times carries a report from AP which refers to a claim in the Spanish paper El Mundo reporting that the Spanish Embassy in Egypt received a letter from the Brigade of Abu Hafs al-Masri threatening to attack again unless Spain withdraws troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Posted by Debbye at 10:37 AM | Comments (2)

March 31, 2004

Sudan gov't says coup plot thwarted

Mar. 31 - The Sudanese government arrested Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi on charges that he was plotting to overthrow the President, Omar al-Bashir. According to the BBC report:

Those detained are also being linked to the uprising in the Darfur region. On Wednesday talks between the government and the Darfur rebels got under way.

Although the government delegation and a number of rebel representatives failed to appear at the opening ceremony in the Chadian capital, N'Djamena, on Tuesday, the opposing sides are now involved in indirect talks.

Ten military officers and seven opposition leaders have also been detained.

Bakri Hassan Salih said state security discovered the group was planning "acts of subversion on a number of strategic and service establishments." "The group was planning to carry out its plot in the coming few days, as a pre-emptive move to abort the current peace process in the country," Salih said on state-run television.

Salih said the officers, led by a colonel, had been planning the coup since the middle of last year, assisted by the opposition Popular Congress, whose leader was arrested earlier Wednesday.

The fighting in the Darfur region has killed unknown numbers and forced inhabitants to flee.
Communications Minister El-Zahawi Ibrahim Malik said Turabi was arrested because he had issued a provocative statement in which he had advocated "regionalism and tribalism."
Again from the BBC report,
The Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) and Justice and Equality Movement (Jem) rebels say the government has been oppressing blacks in favour of Arabs.

The United Nations humanitarian co-ordinator for Sudan, Mukesh Kapila, said that government-backed Arab militias have been systematically raping and killing in Darfur.

Posted by Debbye at 11:09 PM | Comments (0)

March 30, 2004

March 11 Update (s)

Mar. 30 - This Inside Europe: Iberian Notes post has some interesting information about one of the suspects in the March 11 train bombing in Spain and an earlier post here makes some pretty sharp comments about the implications of the attack having Moroccan connections.

And it was only three weeks ago, on March 13 and 14, that everyone was screaming that the government had lied and they wanted the facts. Well, here's the facts, Jack: this was an Al Qaeda hit, the Moroccan Combatents Group is an Al Qaeda franchise, and Al Qaeda would have hit Spain whether it had sent troops to Iraq or not.
And on the troop rotation out of Iraq
The exchange of the Spanish troops in Iraq for new soldiers began yesterday; 160 left Zaragoza last night. Aznar demanded that Zap and the PSOE put their consent in writing; Zap did so grudgingly. Zap can't oppose the rotation of troops because the army guys there deserve to go back home; they've done the spell they were told they were going to do and now they must come home. But he's going to look like a real moron when he pulls the new troops out just a week after they all got there.
Would it be out of line if I started referring to PM Zapatero as Zap? It would? Oh well.

Iberian Notes recommends (and I concur) this by Michael Ledeen, which connects al-Zarqawi to the Madrid bombing, Tehran, and points to a potential for a terrorist attack in Italy.

Apr 1 12:44: Tunisian Sarhane Ben Abdelmajid Fakhet named as ringleader.

Posted by Debbye at 09:11 PM | Comments (0)

March 26, 2004

Rwanda Memorial Conference

Mar. 26 - What happens when UN Sec.-Gen. Kofi Annan and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister share sanctimony and a platform? Absolutely nothing (unless you count me getting a 3-aspirin headache.) The concept of "happens," which presupposes an ability to "act," doesn't exist in their dimension.

But there were a lot of sanctimonious words from both men over their dereliction of duty which led to the Rwanda genocide (At Rwanda Memorial, Annan Takes Blame for U.N.) but which (surprise!) stopped short of actually suggesting some corrective measures:

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Friday opened a memorial conference on the 1994 Rwanda genocide by accepting institutional and personal blame for the slaughter of 800,000 civilians that was initially ignored by world leaders.

"The international community is guilty of sins of omission," said Annan, who was head of the United Nations peacekeeping agency at the time and had asked countries to provide troops.
Next time try to state what the mission was. Some of us still remembered Somalia.
"I believed at the time that I was doing my best. But I realized after the genocide that there was more that I could and should have done to sound the alarm and rally support," Annan said in a speech to open the "Memorial Conference on the Rwanda Genocide."

It was not the first time that the secretary-general had criticized the United Nations and his own mistakes, but he said the painful memory of Rwanda and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the mid-1990s "has influenced much of my thinking, and many of my actions" as head of the world body.

Name a subsequent UN action that was influenced by events in Rwanda, just to humour me. Hint: answering a phone call from the next man assigned to a mission similar to that of Dallaire doesn't count. (Come to think of it, you didn't respond when two peackeepers in the Congro were in trouble, either.)
Canada, which has been a leading organizer of much of the U.N.'s self-examination
Is that another way of saying collective but still unproductive naval-gazing?
over Rwanda, said on Friday that the international community had not yet learned how to build structures capable of withstanding such brutality next time.
Because Iraq doesn't count. That genocide was being funded through the UN Oil-For-Food program.
"Or, to put it more starkly, we have learned what we need to do but I suggest, colleagues, we lack the political will
We? Who we? Not my we, although maybe your we.
to achieve the necessary agreement on how to put in place the type of measures
Predator. Hellfire. End of problem.
that will prevent a future Rwanda from ever happening again," Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham told the memorial conference.
As for Canada, events in Rwanda and Bosnia-Herzegovina startled the government into awareness that if Canada was to lead the world in peacekeeping efforts they would need to re-invest in their military after the deep spending cuts that had reduced Canada's once-proud military to sub-standard. /sarcasm

After all, Chretien's purchase of two executive jets from Bombardier came out of the defense budget, remember? /not sarcasm

And millions of dollars were skimmed by person or persons unknown at the DoD for fraudulent invoices from someone who no longer workds for H-P. /not sarcasm

Many thanks to reader Nik for the link.

UPDATE: Mar. 28 - 10:02: Dalliere recounts his anguish. Note this:

Dallaire, 57, has been widely lauded as a hero for his efforts to draw the UN's attention to what was about to happen in Rwanda in early 1994. He warned that unless more soldiers were sent and his orders changed to allow his troops to use force to prevent slayings, then a massive number of lives would be lost.

Instead, the UN cut its peacekeeping force from about 2,500 international soldiers to just 270. Dallaire and other military officers in Rwanda believe they could have prevented what happened if the United Nations had beefed up its peacekeeping force to 5,000 troops. (Emphasis added)

One might say the UN cut and ran when the going got tough.

UPDATE: Mar. 29 - 01:03: Good article from the Economist Rwanda, Remembered.

Posted by Debbye at 05:06 PM | Comments (12)

March 19, 2004

Important stories from Wednesday

Mar. 19 - These are some important stories I missed Wednesday:

There was an ugly incident of anti-Semitism here: T.O. police probing anti-Semitic hate crimes in north Toronto.

Part of the rise in anti-Semitism last year is being blamed on the war in Iraq, which produced a spike in hate crimes. The ongoing tensions and violence in Israel is apparently giving licence to hate mongers.
The Canadian media, always ready to Blame America.

More news from Syria about Syria uprisings and Syrian officials blame US for the Kurdiah uprising because US flags were spotted in crowd. I'll own up to such that blame inspiration gladly and gratefully.

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda yesterday accused France of direct responsibility for the 1994 genocide of at least 800,000 people in the central African country.

M Kagame claimed that the French government supplied weapons, logistical support and even senior military planners to the regime of militant ethnic Hutus responsible for the slaughter of 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus. (UPDATE: Mar. 24 - See this for seeming verification of the charge.)

France's growing closeness to the Chinese leadership was signalled yesterday when the two countries held joint naval exercises and the European Union said it wanted to scrap its post-Tiananmen Square arms embargo. Hmm, Chretien was visiting China when Adscam broke out.

SAN'A, Yemen (AP) - Nine suspects in the 2000 bombing of the destroyer USS Cole have been arrested, the government of Yemen said Tuesday, including eight who escaped from jail last year.

These and other stories were on my daily email from Jack's Newswatch which I can keep and use the links to refer back to important stories as they develop.

Jack changes the page daily, so bookmark it for your first stop visit to catch Canadian and international news stories.

Incidently, Jack is a veteran, and pays special attention to Canadian troops troops and to the history of the regiments in Canada. In a country that all but ignores it's military unless it makes for a good sound-bite, Jack is a lone voice of support.

You can sign up to be on his mailing list with an email to Jack Davies (contact address at the site.)

Posted by Debbye at 10:29 AM | Comments (0)

January 25, 2004

Hutton Inquiry Findings, Mugabe, Cheney on Iran, EU coruption

Jan. 25 - Hutton will clear Blair over Kelly death which is to say Blair will not be personally criticized, but Alistair Campbell and Andrew Gilligan are among those who will be. So a BBC reporter can misrepresent Dr. Kelly's statements (who should never have been speaking to the BBC to begin with) and thus violate every ethical standard of journalism to put forward his own point of view and Blair was put on the defensive? And Campbell did wrong . . . how? By standing up for the truth. No chastisement can be harsh enough for that crime.

And journalists complain that people don't watch the news or read the papers. Maybe because they don't trust big media? Hmm?

Mugabe flown to South Africa because he collapsed. Money quote:

"We were ordered not to give any details of the president's illness in case it brought people out on to the streets," a senior member of the 'Green Bombers', the notorious youth brigade created by Mr Mugabe, told The Telegraph.
Paul claims he's trying to resolve issues with his video card (or something like that) but I say he's been sacrificing chickens again. Good work! Today Mugabe, tomorrow . . . oh, kind of a big field there. I vote for Arafat, but I'll let Paul decide.

Dick Cheney is taking a hard line on Iran's Council of Guardians.

"Democracies do not breed the anger and the radicalism that drag down whole societies or export violence," he said. "Terrorists do not find fertile recruiting grounds in societies where young people have the right to guide their own destinies and to choose their own leaders."
Ineptitude in the EU?:
The report, by the parliament's budgetary control committee, notes that "no Commissioner has so far accepted political responsibility" for the fiasco at Eurostat, from which at least £3.5 million disappeared in slush funds and fictitious contracts, although some have admitted mistakes. Much of the fraud took place before the current commission took office in late 1999, but MEPs are furious that dubious contracts ran on, unchecked, until at least 2002.
Ever wonder where the UN learned its bookkeeping methodology? And these poor commissioners might receive a vote of censure! Oh, the humanity!

Posted by Debbye at 12:49 PM | Comments (0)

January 20, 2004

Dallaire testifies

Jan. 20 - The testimony of Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire at the trials of 4 officers accused of orchestrating genocide during the Rwandan massacres of 1994 for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda is grim and horrifying in its starkness.

Read both articles.

Posted by Debbye at 12:30 PM | Comments (0)

January 14, 2004

Euro-terror news

Jan. 14 - Instapundit has a partial round-up of "Euro-terror news" and some links to terror activity in Thailand which seems to be of an Islamist nature.

Little Green Footballs links to a piece in The Observer Terror cells regroup - and now their target is Europe which has a summary of some key arrests in Europe, the emergence of groups in Eastern Europe, and provides a useful table:

The targets, the death toll and the suspects

Istanbul November 2003, 62 dead
Target: British consulate and bank, synagogues
Suspect: Local Islamic group thought to be linked to al-Qaeda or Abu Musab Zarqawi

Baghdad August-October 2003, 50 dead
Target: Al-Rasheed hotel, UN and Red Cross headquarters.
Suspect: European suicide bombers believed to have been recruited by Mullah Fouad in Syria.

Casablanca May 2003, 41 dead
Target: Jewish community centre and Spanish social club
Suspect: Local Islamic group. The authorities want to interview a Moroccan cleric, Mohammed al-Garbuzi, who is believed to be in Britain.

Riyadh May 2003, 34 dead
Target: Luxury compounds in Saudi capital
Suspect: Swiss arrest an eight-strong 'logistics cell'.

Mombasa November 2002, 16 dead
Target: Israeli tourists at Paradise hotel
Suspect: Kenyan Islamic cell. Some funds allegedly provided by a Somali-born militant living in London, arrested in Milan and 'a part of Zarqawi's cell'.

Little Green Footballs also has information about the Cleveland arrest of Imam Fawaz Mohammed Damrah.

Posted by Debbye at 01:01 PM | Comments (0)

January 08, 2004

AIDS in Africa

Jan. 8 - This is odd: Aids in Africa 'overestimated'.

The preliminary report of the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey suggested that HIV has infected about one million adults in the country. Previous estimates put the number at up to three million.

Earlier surveys in Mali, Zambia and South Africa hinted that Aids might not be as widespread as believed, but scientists said the new data provided conclusive evidence. It will allow them to extrapolate the findings across the continent, which would reduce infection estimates by at least a quarter.

A leading western expert on Aids said: "We have the same thing coming from the south of Africa, from the west, from the centre and now from the east."

Smaller numbers don't change the need for immediate efforts to combat the spread of the virus, of course, but I am perplexed that the numbers seem to be so far off.

Posted by Debbye at 09:43 PM | Comments (0)

January 04, 2004

Red Sea crash

Jan. 4 - These days it is hard to convince people that accidents can happen, especially when a passenger plane goes down as happened yesterday during a state of high alert. (Red Sea jetliner crash kills 148)

France's deputy transportation minister, Dominique Bussereau, said in Paris that the pilot of flight FSH604 detected problems shortly after takeoff and tried to turn back.
The article states there was no distress call. Would a pilot turn back without notifying the traffic controllers?

Expat Yank remembers the Egypt Air Crash in 1999 and, after quoting from divers who claim the black box is in water too deep in the Red Sea to be recovered, makes the key point:

Given that they don't have the flight recorders, it is curious how quickly they have claimed "technical" problems were the reason. Remember, experts can get intact black boxes from just about anywhere -- just as they've previously fished them out of the North Atlantic.
That's been at the root of my skepticism too, that they were just too quick to deny anything untoward happened.

Even after seven years, there's still a lot of questions about what really happened to TWA Flight 800 which came down over Long Island in 1996. Maybe it's just that once the public's suspicions have been aroused, restoring credibility becomes nearly impossible.

It's a hmm moment, not a full-blown aha although there may be more information forthcoming. I'd just feel more confident if they had given the usual "We are vigorously pursuing the investigation" line.

UPDATE: Aaron Klein isn't happy with the French rush to judgement either. In another story, the crash is now being blamed on a catastrophic power failure although the black box has not yet been recovered.

(World Net Daily and Daily Telegraph links via Jack's Newswatch.)

Posted by Debbye at 08:30 PM | Comments (0)

December 29, 2003

Burundi papal nuncio killed

Dec. 29 - Burundi papal nuncio shot dead

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- The pope's ambassador in Burundi was shot and killed by gunmen who opened fire at his car in the Central African nation, the Vatican and a missionary news agency said Monday.

Monsignor Michael Courtney was shot in the head, shoulder and a limb, according to the Misna missionary news agency. He died from a major hemorrhage during surgery.

A Vatican official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the death of the papal nuncio but would offer no details until his relatives had been informed.

CNN has some information about the intermittent civil war there.

The report from Fox is from the same AP feed, but they do offer a bit more information about Monsignor Courtney:

Courtney was born in 1945 in Nenagh, 85 miles southwest of Dublin. He was ordained in 1968, and worked as a parish priest around Ireland until 1976, it said. He then moved to Rome and entered the Pontifical Diplomatic Academy.

Beginning in 1980, he was a papal representative in South Africa, then in Zimbabwe, Senegal, India, Yugoslavia, Cuba and Egypt, the 2000 announcement said. Prior to going to Burundi, he worked for five years as special envoy in Strasbourg, France, monitoring the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights.

Given the rumours about a terrorist threat against the Vatican, I thought it worthwhile to find out what I could about religion in Burundi. According to this, 67% are Christians (62% are Roman Catholics and 5% are Protestants,) 23% retain indigenous beliefs, and 10% are Muslims.

The civil war there is the most likely connection, but I haven't found any theories as to which faction could be behind it or how it would advance anyone's cause.

UPDATE: This report from the Daily Telegraph (UK) says that Courtney was well-known to the rebels of the Forces for National Liberation (FNL), the prime suspects, because last year he had negotiated the release of a fellow priest held hostage by the FNL.

Posted by Debbye at 03:32 PM | Comments (0)

December 22, 2003

Next step: human rights in Libya

Dec. 22 - I like Peter Worthington (not the least because he spells the name of Libya's ruler almost the same way I do!) and he delivers his judgement on the unilateral move by Libya to break with the Axis of Evil with a suggestion for a Canadian application in today's column Khadaffy's new stance break in war on terror.

When Libya (Khadaffy) was elected to chair the UN Human Rights Commission (members included such repressive regimes as Zimbabwe, Vietnam, China, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Syria) it was a low-water mark for the UN -- and typical of the flaccid values of that increasingly impotent body.

Only three of 33 countries voted against Libya's chairmanship (the U.S., Canada and Guatemala), while 17 ideologically craven countries (mostly European) abstained.

Is it too much to hope that Khadaffy will now take human rights seriously? His is a brutal regime that dabbles in torture and slavery, but if he benefits from abandoning his WMD program and terrorism, perhaps the next phase will be easing intolerance inside Libya.


Iraqis, too, want normality, and already have more freedom than they ever had under Saddam.

Arab countries aren't brainless.

The gesture of Moammar Khadaffy, who is as "Arab" as any, will not be lost on other tyrants and quasi-despots.

That Libya will now benefit should be a guide for our own foreign aid policy: Help countries that behave decently, give nothing to tyrannies that use our aid to entrench their repression.

The Cold War is over. It's past time to adjust policies and use foreign aid to encourage better, higher goals such as the pillars articulated by Pres. Bush in his Whitehall Speech and principles of international human rights the Canadian federal government claims to respect.

Posted by Debbye at 09:24 AM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2003

Libyan Surprise

Dec. 20 - I was caught off guard (in a good way) when I saw Libya's surprise announcement late last night, and however much spin Gadhafi's son may put on it, anyone who doubts that the declaration of the war on terror and US presence in Iraq isn't having predictable results is either living on another planet or never studied history.

Did anyone bookmark an article that appeared a few months ago in which Italian President Berlusconi said he received a phone call from Gadafi asking for help in repairing relations with the US? It was shortly thereafter that a settlement for the Lockerbie victims was reached (until France got greedier).

I hate posting information based on my own memory, but if I posted the article I can't find it.

CNN remembered last weekend whose side they were on when they reported the news of Saddam's capture, and today they remembered how much they despise the French when they reported on the international reactions to the news from Libya:

However, French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin urged Libya to "implement without delay" its commitment to compensating families of victims of the bombing of a French airliner in 1989.


De Villepin said France wanted more compensation for the families of 170 victims of a UTA plane bombed over Niger in line with the $2.7 billion Libya paid to families of 270 people killed in the 1988 bombing of an airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland.

The French, having settled that claim already, wanted to re-negotiate. Remember why we don't trust the French? They themselves make it hard to forget the reasons.

A giggle note: a CNN poll on this page asks Will it be possible to trust Libya again and welcome the country back to the international community?

CNN notes the 1986 attack ordered by President Reagan, but Fox has a timeline of US relations with Libya which notes (unlike the CNN report) the Berlin discotheque bombing and the 1979 ransacking of the US embassy in Tripoli.

CNN has "C" and "L" but still needs to buy two vowels: "U" and "E."

Okay, I'm a bitca today. I have to leave for work shortly so I'm just anticipating.

UPDATE: The Daily Telegraph (UK) calls it a case of good cop, bad cop of US-British dealings with Libya. The Sun calls it a massive coup for Blair and Bush and notes

Colonel Gaddafi's move also further undermines the anti-war stance of French President Jacques Chirac and many Labour MPs. They claimed liberating Iraq would make the world more dangerous. But Libya's decision hugely vindicates the invasion.

It is also a blow to Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'ida terror network as it shows the West and previously hostile Muslim nations can work together to find peace.

It's too soon to do the Dance of Victory, but this will be interesting. I've no doubt Howard Dean has his own spin, but is anyone listening?

Colby Cosh says "Bush lied, people died, Colonel Gadaffi came onside" makes a nice couplet.

Posted by Debbye at 12:37 PM | Comments (0)

December 16, 2003

Archbishop Tutu

Dec. 16 - Despite my sarcasms, I have sympathy for those who, on the one hand are distressed by policies and actions in their own countries, organizations and even families yet, on the other, do not wish to appear disunited in public. They aren't entirely wrong to fear that others might see and exploit differences to make the country or organization weaker.

On that level I can comprehend why some African nations defend Robert Mugabe, but this man has decided that principles outweigh dubious solidarity: Tutu hits out at Mugabe's African supporters:

The archbishop hit out at those who have called for the Mugabe regime to be readmitted to the Commonwealth in the face of continuing human rights violations and abuse of the rule of law.

Archbishop Tutu, a Nobel peace prize winner, said the struggle against apartheid would not have been won if Mr Mbeki's logic had been applied in the 1970s and 1980s.

"Had the international community invoked the rubric of non-interference then we would have been in dire straits in our anti-apartheid struggle," the former archbishop of Cape Town said in a statement released yesterday by his office.

"We appealed for the world to intervene and interfere in South Africa's internal affairs. We could not have defeated apartheid on our own. What is sauce for the goose must be sauce for the gander too."

The former head of the Anglican Church in South Africa also said he was "baffled" by the behaviour of Mr Mbeki and other apologists for the Mugabe regime.


"Human rights are human rights and they are of universal validity or they are nothing.

"There are no peculiarly African human rights, what has been reported as happening in Zimbabwe is totally unacceptable and reprehensible and we ought to say so regretting that it should have been necessary to condemn erstwhile comrades. The credibility of our democracy demands this.

"If we are seemingly indifferent to human rights violations happening in a neighbouring country what is to stop us one day being indifferent to that in our own?" (Emphasis added)

What indeed?

Like so many Telegraph articles, this one ties Archbishop Tutu's comments to other issues in South Africa, notably Nelson Mandela's position on AIDS which is markedly different from that of Mbecki's as well as a seeming generational divide in the African National Congress, so RTWT and follow some of the links.

Posted by Debbye at 04:20 PM | Comments (0)

December 05, 2003

Chretien on Africa

Dec. 5 - Doesn't it just figure that in his final days as Canada's Prime Minister, Jean Chretien would not only make sense but fail to blame the West for all the ills of the world?

The PM, attending his last Commonwealth leaders meeting [in Nigeria], said African nations have to help themselves.

He said nervousness would disappear when they can assure business they have "an honest system of justice, that the decisions of the courts will be implemented, that human rights will be protected, and that elections will be fair."

He also told his audience they must "stop this bloody conflict that you have too often in some parts of Africa" and restore political stability.

"There's nothing more nervous than a million dollars," the outgoing PM lectured. "It does not speak French, it does not speak English, it does not speak German and it moves very fast."

Normally I would point that that Chretien's personal fortune is several million dollars, he too doesn't speak any of those languages and his speed is subject to personal whimsy, but my mind is boggled at this truly frightening prospect: Is it possible that he's always been lucid?

Posted by Debbye at 01:52 PM | Comments (0)

September 25, 2003

Ivory Coast

Sept. 25 - New problems in the Ivory Coast. Following unilateral military intervention, the French had imposed a coalition government last April (Ivory Coast is a former French colony) on both the rebels and the ruling elite, but the rebels have withdrawn from that government, and the President, Laurent Gbagbo is responding by ridiculing rebels.

Good ole BBC. They say the French brokered an agreement, without mentioning that it was French troops that did the brokering and that when the coaliton government was imposed, the rebels warned it was unlikely that Gbagbo would honour the agreement.

Posted by Debbye at 11:09 AM | Comments (0)

August 16, 2003

Amin's son plotting rebellion

Aug. 16 (Au) -- more from Australia:Amin's son plotting rebellion

File this under un-freaking-believable:

A UGANDAN army officer says a son of former Ugandan dictator IDI AMIN, based in Congo, is plotting a rebellion in his late father's home region.

Brigadier Kale Kayihura, a military adviser to President Yoweri Museveni, says Taban Amin is recruiting fighters near the junction of the borders of Uganda, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

He says the overthrow of the Kampala government is a dream they keep dreaming.

His statement follows the announcement today of Idi Main's death in a Saudi hospital.

Posted by Debbye at 10:28 AM | Comments (0)

July 11, 2003


July 11 - There seems to be new meme in the blogosphere that the only wars liberals want the U.S. to wage are the ones she can't win. As if to prove it, this report from Reuters:

"MONROVIA (Reuters) - Liberia's main rebel faction threatened on Friday to fight any peacekeepers deployed before President Charles Taylor steps down, casting a cloud over plans to send West African and possibly U.S. troops into the country."
Even though Taylor says he won't leave before troops are deployed? My "Beware: Huge Freaking Trap" alarm just went off. Again.

"Washington is wary after the humiliating and bloody retreat of U.S. forces from Somalia 10 years ago. The U.S. army is already stretched by complex and costly operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Liberia has little strategic importance."
Yep. The Unites States is a nation at war, and things like strategic importance do matter.
Foreign troops have been sucked into West Africa's brutal wars before. British soldiers in Sierra Leone and French troops in Ivory Coast have both had to confront -- and sometimes kill -- drunken, drugged-up fighters during missions to end wars.
Uh huh. And some of those are children.

I really want to help the Liberians. But I think we have to remember that there is a vast difference between what is happening in the city of Monrovia and what is happening in the rest (most) of the country.

Posted by Debbye at 06:12 PM | Comments (0)

July 08, 2003

Jack Kelly on Liberia

July 8 - Jack Kelly in a commentary for The Washington Times writes Weighing risks and rewards in Liberia:

"Mr. Dean might not be so enthusiastic about sending troops to Liberia if he had read Ryan Lissa's article in the July 2000 issue of the New Republic, which documents Mr. Taylor's connections to al Qaeda. Liberals tend to support U.S. military action only when it is detached from U.S. security interests.

Liberals (by and large) supported military interventions in Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq when Bill Clinton was president, but changed their minds about Iraq when Mr. Bush became president.

Much of this is mere partisanship. But many liberals really think that if U.S. soldiers risk their lives in conflicts in which U.S. security is at stake, the military intervention is for that reason illegitimate.

Many Americans, most of them conservatives, oppose putting U.S. troops in harm's way unless a vital national security interest is threatened. That's a sound principle. But, as Emerson said: 'A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.'

I opposed intervention in Haiti (where we replaced a corrupt, incompetent, pro-American dictator with a corrupt, incompetent, anti-American dictator), supported it in Bosnia, opposed Kosovo (though that has worked out better than I thought it would), and regret that we did not intervene in Rwanda. "
Thank you, Mr. Kelly. That is precisely my problem, too. I too remember Rwanda and Somalia. I even remember Vietnam.

How paranoid am I? Something about this whole thing is just too pat. It appeals to altruistic, feel-good sensibilities and is an indulgence that a country at war may not be able to afford.

The fact that the US administration is taking its time before charging in gives me hope that the right decision will be made for the right reasons.

Posted by Debbye at 08:02 AM | Comments (0)