|Africa News Digest
Six African Nations To Build Nuclear Power Plants
The first African Regional Conference on Nuclear Energy, in Algiers Jan. 9-10, drew representatives from 45 African nations and the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei. Press reports say that Algeria, Libya, Egypt, and Morocco described their plans to go nuclear, and that Namibia also plans a small nuclear plant. South Africa has nuclear power now, and plans to build additional plants.
The conference was opened by Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. The Secretary General of the Algerian Foreign Ministry, Ramtane Lamamra, noted that "Africa is entitled to reap the benefits of atomic energy, without any constraints or obstacles being put in its way," within the bounds of international agreements. Algeria currently operates two research reactors, and has submitted an application with the IAEA to build commercial nuclear power plants.
ElBaradei stressed that nuclear technology is key to the UN's Millennium Development goals, in water management, pest control, human health, and energy production. "Capacity building in science and technology is a prerequisite for addressing national and global challenges associated with basic human needs," he stated.
The results of the nuclear conference will be presented to the heads of state attending the summit of the African Union at the end of January.
Italian Parliamentarian: LaRouche Is Right on Somalia
"LaRouche is right about Somalia: We will ask the Italian government to take a stand against Bush and Cheney," was the comment of an Italian Member of Parliament in response to LaRouche's Jan. 11 webcast (see InDepth this week), and in particular to the U.S. raids in Somalia, a country which is historically connected to Italy. "Bush's raids have created tremendous complications and increased tensions; Somalia has a key strategic position for the Gulf, and I share LaRouche's view that this goes in the direction of an imperial control over Southwest Asia," he said.
"When it convenes again Jan. 15, the Italian Parliament will discuss refinancing the Italian military mission in Afghanistan, and we will demand a clear stand of the Italian government against Bush and Cheney's policy," the Deputy said. He is also planning to raise the issue of a New Bretton Woods in the Parliament.
Pentagon: Somalia Ops a Model for Global Irregular Warfare
Ongoing military operations in Somalia by U.S. Special Operations Forces, as well as the use of Ethiopian troops to root out alleged al-Qaeda operatives there, are "a blueprint" that the Pentagon hopes to use increasingly around the world, the New York Times reported Jan. 13.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Peter Pace testified Jan. 12 that the Somalia strikes were carried out under a directive issued by former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, and authorized by the White House, shortly after the 9/11 attacks.
Whether the bombing and strafing of Islamist positions in southern Somalia actually killed any al-Qaeda suspects among the scores that were killed, is still not known, according to Pentagon officials.
When Ethiopia began preparing to invade Somalia, the U.S. provided it with up-to-date intelligence on Islamist fighters' positions there, and a small number of American "advisors" accompanied Ethiopian troops when they went into Somalia.
Bush Administration Seeks More Control Over African Union
The Bush Administration appointed Dr. Cindy Courville as ambassador to the African Union (AU) in Addis Abeba, and with no other responsibilities, just days before the Ethiopian offensive in Somalia, on Dec. 18. Ambassadors to Addis Abeba customarily also served as ambassador to the AU; the U.S. has become the first country to send a dedicated ambassador to the AU. Courville has been special assistant to the President and Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council.
Courville will support the creation of an Africa Center for Strategic Studies, and President Bush is expected to announce the formation of a U.S. Africa Command before the end of January, CNS News reported Jan. 8.
Courville is a heavyweight, according to her official State Department biography. She "went to the NSC from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), where she served as a Senior Intelligence Officer in the Office of the Chief of Staff. In her career at DIA, she also served the Deputy Assistant Defense Intelligence Office for Africa Policy as a liaison to the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Africa, the National Security Council, the Department of State, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Ambassador Courville was also the Director for East African Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense where she was responsible for the coordination of U.S. military and security policy with East Africa and the Horn of Africa." She was at one time a Shell Oil Fellow at the University of Denver.
Somali Deputy PM Says Islamic Courts Have British Funding
Somali Deputy Prime Minister Hussein Aideed charged that the Somali Islamists receive British funding and manpower, the London Independent reported Jan. 10. "The Deputy Prime Minister of [Somalia's] transitional government accused Britain of being the main source of money and men for the fighters of the Islamic Courts Union (IUC)," the Independent said. It quoted Hussain Mohammed Aideed stating that: "The ICU's main support was coming from London, paying cash to the IUC against the government. Those who died in the war with the IUC were British passport-holders and American passport-holders." The article continued, "Mr. Aideed is the son of the warlord the American forces tried to kill or capture in their ill-fated intervention in Somalia in the early 1990s. Mr. Aideed, a former member of the US armed forces, who grew up in America, told More4News: 'They were the elite who went outside, were indoctrinated differently and were told that the government is not a Muslim government, but that it is a government backed by infidels.'"
The article's author Kim Sengupta, continued, "The Independent, in Mogadishu after the Somali capital was taken over by Islamist forces last summer, discovered a significant number of young Somalis who had returned to fight for the Islamists from the diaspora in the West. I spoke to at least half a dozen young men, including two brothers from Wood Green in north London who were acting as bodyguards for Sheik Yusuf, one of the main Islamist commanders."
The article reports Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi as saying that nationals from Britain, Canada, Pakistan, and Sudan were among those captured or injured in the violence.
Uganda Backs Away From Sending Troops to Somalia
Uganda, a U.S. client state, and the only African country that has said it would send "peacekeeping" troops to Somalia in response to Bush Administration requirements, is now making that commitment conditional. "Uganda is unwilling to contribute to a peacekeeping mission for Somalia unless its mission and an exit strategy are clearly defined, a government official said," on Jan. 2, according to Reuters. "State Minister for Foreign Affairs Oryem Okello told Reuters, Uganda wanted to consult regional heads of state, especially Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, on the mission's purpose and exit strategy, before going in. 'We want to know: what is our objective? How long are we going to stay? And how will we be able to pull out? All these have to be answered before we consider going in,' Okello said."
"Okello said even after [the] Cabinet approves a final decision to deploy, it would still have to go to a vote in Parliament. 'We're in no rush,' he said," according to Reuters.
Somali Islamic Council Sought U.S. Dialogue in November
The Supreme Islamic Council of Somalia sought a dialogue with the U.S. a month before the Ethiopian offensive in Somalia. "We are inviting the United States to send a delegation to see what is happening in Somalia," said Abdurahim Muddey, spokesman for the Supreme Islamic Council of Somalia, according to the government-controlled Ethiopian Herald, in an article on or before Nov. 28, which was then posted on the Ethiopian website AigaForum.com. The Supreme Islamic Council is the legislative body of the Union of Islamic Courts.
"The US delegation will be received by our Foreign Relations Chief, Ibrahim Hassan Addow, who is himself an American citizen," Muddey was quoted as saying. The Supreme Islamic Council was particularly concerned about U.S.-sponsored UN Resolution 1725 calling for "peacekeepers," which had not yet been approved by the UN Security Council at that time.
The article continues, "There was no immediate reaction to the invitation from the US embassy in neighboring Kenya which handles Washington's Somalia portfolio. But a positive response was unlikely as the United States accuses some Islamists of ties with al-Qaida."