Posts tagged ‘U.N. Security Council’

AROUND AFRICA: Nelson Mandela, Central African Republic

A Great Man’s Passing

Nelson Mandela in 2008 (Photo courtesy of South Africa The Good News / www.sagoodnews.co.za via Wikipedia)

Nelson Mandela in 2008
(Photo courtesy of South Africa The Good News / http://www.sagoodnews.co.za via Wikipedia)

Nelson Mandela, a boxer turned lawyer who fought for freedom and justice in his homeland and became the first black president of South Africa, has died.

Mandela, 95, passed away Thursday (December 5) at home in Johannesburg after years of declining health.

After 27 years in prison for battling the racist apartheid government in South Africa, Mandela was released in 1990, at age 72, following worldwide pressure on the white government in Pretoria. Mandela went on to become South Africa’s first president of color in the country’s first free, multi-racial elections in 1994.

He led the racially-polarized nation to reconciliation after years of brutality and injustice during apartheid. Mandela stepped aside after serving one five-year term, saying it was time for others to lead. It was a seldom-followed example for other African leaders.

Called “the father of his nation” by his many admirers, Mandela was praised by President Barack Obama. Mandela was mourned across Africa and praised by world leaders and ordinary people.

Central African Republic

The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved on Thursday (December 5) the deployment of French and African troops in the Central African Republic, where a coup in March has dissolved into chaos and violence, CNN reports.

Central African Republic (CIA World Factbook)

Central African Republic
(CIA World Factbook)

The Security Council also voted to impose an arms embargo on the CAR, which lies east of Cameroon and north of the Democratic Republic of Congo (see map).

France’s president, Francois Hollande, says a French-led operation to protect civilians in the CAR will be launched immediately following the latest outbreak of sectarian fighting, according to the BBC. Hollande said a contingent of 650 troops will be “doubled within a few days, if not a few hours.” The French troops, under U.N. auspices, will join up with an existing African peacekeeping force.

Hollande said the the French role will be different from the one mounted in Mali, where French and African troops hunted down Islamist militants in the desert. Instead, they will act more like gendarmes, separating violent factions, the BBC reported. The CAR’s prime minister, Nicolas Tiangaye welcomed the move, the BBC said.

Meanwhile, a senior crisis response adviser for the human rights group, Amnesty International, expressed concern about the security situation in the CAR following the clashes between rival armed groups in the capital, Bangui, the Voice of America reported.

An official with the medical relief group, Doctors Without Borders, told the New York Times that at least 50 people have been killed in the fighting, with 100 others wounded. Other reports put the death toll at around 100, the Times reported.

December 5, 2013 at 11:56 pm Leave a comment

AROUND AFRICA: U.N. Peacekeepers for Mali, Nigerian Foreign Loan and Violence

Security Council Votes

Mali (CIA World Factbook)

Mali
(CIA World Factbook)

The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously today (April 25) to approve a peacekeeping mission to the war-wracked North African nation of Mali.

A force of 11,200 soldiers and 1,440 police officers could be deployed as soon as July, the New York Times reported. About 6,000 troops already deployed by member countries from the Economic Community of West African States — as well as about 1,000 French troops — are expected to form the base of the peacekeeping mission. France intervened in its former African colony in January when militant Islamic extremists and Tuareg separatists threatened Bamako, Mali’s capital.

For nifty interactive timeline by the Times chronicling the 16-month-old crisis in Mali, once one of the few working democracies in West Africa, click here.

Meanwhile, Mali’s interim president has launched the country’s reconciliation commission to deal with security and governance issues in the country’s north. But a Tuareg separatist group, the MNLA, refuses to disarm before beginning negotiations with the Malian government, the Voice of America reports.

Nigeria: Business and Bullets

Nigeria (CIA World Factbook)

Nigeria
(CIA World Factbook)

Nigeria’s National Economic Council has approved a $9 billion foreign loan to fund new infrastructure, invest in agriculture and create jobs, Bloomberg reports. The lenders include the Export-Import Bank of China, rthe Islamic Development Bank and the African Development Bank. Capital interest rates on the loan will be as low as 2 percent and Nigeria will have more than 40 years to repay.

Meanwhile violence has erupted again in the country’s north, according to the Voice of America. Nearly 200 people were killed last weekend in an attack by the militant Islamist group in the fishing town of Baga. But some analysts say many of the slain may actually have been killed by security forces.

In a report that echoes earlier ones by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, the U.S. government says indiscriminate killings and detentions by security forces are “a seroious human-rights problem” in Nigeria, VoA reported.

 

April 25, 2013 at 11:25 pm Leave a comment

INDIA: At the Crossroads of 21st Century Commerce and Conflict

BRIC: India Becoming a Player in Defense Markets

When President Barack Obama travels to India this week as part of an extended Asia trip, he’ll arrive that is not just a regional power but a major player on the world stage.

One of the seven countries that acknowledges it has nuclear weapons (along with the U.S., UK, France, Russia, China and Pakistan), India also has the world’s second largest population – after China – making it the world’s largest democracy.

By year’s end, the heads of all five countries that make up the permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council – the U.S., Britain, China, Russia and France – will all have visited New Delhi. One reason is the quest to land an arms deal with India’s upgrading military.

Indian Naval Bases. (Wikipedia)

India, which has fought three wars with Pakistan and one with China since it gained independence from Britain in 1947, has been expanding its defense spending recently. Ron Somers, president of the U.S.-India Business Council, told The Economist last week that he expects India to spend $45 billion on military goods in the near term. And KPMG, the global consultancy, Forecast that India would spend $112 billion on capital defense acquisitions between now and 2016 — “one of the largest procurement cycles in the world,” the Telegraph of Calcutta reports. Part of that is going toward a $10 billion deal – yet to be concluded – to buy 126 multi-role jet fighter planes.

Aircraft makers from the U.S. (Boeing and Lockheed Martin), France (Dassault), Sweden (Saab), Russia (Mikoyan) and a European consortium (Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain) that makes the Eurofighter Typhoon, are all vying for the contract.

Meanwhile, the Indian Navy plans to acquire six diesel-electric submarines in a deal worth $11 billion, Defense Technology International reports, calling it India’s largest defense program yet. A request for information from potential contractors has been released by the Indian government. It seeks submarines displacing 7,000-to-8,000 tons, making them the largest non-nuclear subs ever and almost twice the size of any conventional subs in service now. India is already building six Scorpene-class diesel-electric attack subs.

All those new subs will be part of the growing maritime clutter in the Indian Ocean over the next two decades. That body of water — extending from Southeast Asia to the Middle East and East Africa, has become crucial to U.S. power in the 21st Century, author/journalist Robert Kaplan argues in his new book: Monsoon. Kaplan, author of Balkan Ghosts Soldiers of God: With the Mujahidin in Afghanistan; and Imperial Grunts, argues that in this volatile region – bordered by two nuclear states (India and Pakistan) and one wannabe (Iran), African states teetering on the brink of failure, key shipping lanes plagued by piracy, and much of the region unsettled by violent Islamic extremism – the U.S. must focus its attention to remain relevant in a fast-changing world.

Scorpene-class submarine. (Photo by Pline via Wikipedia)

Kaplan is a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Strategy, a Washington think tank which recently released a report noting the importance of improving U.S.-India relations.

Among the report’s recommendations:

The U.S. Should support India’s bid to become a permanent member of an enlarged U.N. Security Council; The U.S. Should modify its export controls and visa regulations to encourage more commerce with India; Indian should establish robust rules to protect patents and other intellectual property; Both countries should launch serious negotiations on the long-delayed Bilateral Investment Treaty.

November 3, 2010 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment


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