|Africa News Digest
Chinese Oil-Prospecting Site in Ethiopia Attacked
April 24 (EIRNS)Prof. Kenneth Menkhaus of Davidson College in Davidson, N.C., a leading U.S. authority on Somalia, reported to EIR that: "We had breaking news today of an attack on an oil site north of the town of Jijiga, in Somali-inhabited Ethiopia. Seventy-four people died in that attack, mainly Ethiopians, but also nine Chinese oil workers were killed, and several Chinese were also taken hostage. This attack was conducted by the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF). It is a long-running, armed insurgency of Somali Ethiopians against the government of Ethiopia.
"Its objectives have been at times unclear. Sometimes it's discussed secessionist aims, other times, simply self-determination within Ethiopia. It represents the grievances of the Somali Ethiopians who feel marginalized in Ethiopia. A fairly unusual attack, this was, far and away, the most lethal attack it has ever launched. It has not engaged in more than a handful of these kinds of attacks, per year, and usually much smaller in scale. So this is a major new development. It is almost certainly linked to the ONLF condemnation of Ethiopia's offensive into Somalia. We were fearing that the ONLF would eventually take action, and in fact it has."
Asked if this attack could be a catalyst for the kind of spread of warfare now inside Ethiopia, Dr. Menkhaus responded: "It could, and we'll all stand by to see what kind of reaction this elicits from the Ethiopian government, which of course now has some of its forces stretched along the border with Eritrea, which continues to be a flashpoint for potential violence. It's got some of its forces in Somalia; now it's going to have to react to the ONLF's attack in eastern Ethiopia. And at some point, the Ethiopian military is going to get overstretched."
Dr. Menkhaus has spent time in Somalia periodically since 1984, has worked as an advisor to the UN, and assisted many U.S. governmental institutions in developing policy recommendations. He is uniquely situated to provide an insider view on developments in Somalia and the Horn of Africa. (An extended interview with Dr. Menkhaus will appear in an upcoming issue of EIR.)
Ghana Celebrates Freedom with Beethoven's 'Ode to Joy'
April 24 (EIRNSLa Scala Principal Guest Conductor Daniel Barenboim took Milan's 160-member La Scala orchestra and chorus to Ghana, where yesterday he conducted a performance of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" at the National Theater in Accra, as part of Ghana's year-long Golden Jubilee Celebration of 50 years of independence from Brutish Colonial Rule. Last December in New York, Barenboim's friend, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, had given Barenboim the idea. Beaming after the extraordinary event, Annan said: "In international affairs, you have to learn how to create pillars and foundations in order to realize dreams."
A BBC reporter asked if it was really worth $600,000 to charter an Airbus to fly the orchestra and chorus 6,000 miles to Ghana, for a single Beethoven performance. Barenboim's answer was an emphatic "yes," and he said he would like to return to Africa, either with La Scala or to give a series of solo piano recitals in various African countries.
Barenboim first conducted the Ghana National Anthem, and then Italy's anthem. He then pointed out to the audience that the performance was special, because he had learned that this was the first live performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in Ghana. Music, he pointed out, is a universal phenomenon, and cuts across boundaries and racial lines.
Indicating how he uses music to focus on a higher level, he said two years ago: "As musicians and creators of culture, we must not wait for politicians: we must be active." Barenboim, an Israeli citizen, has spoken of a dream in which he is Prime Minister of Israel, and "my baton conducts a magnificent new symphonya treaty celebrating the harmonious coexistence of Israelis and Palestinians."
Global War on Terror in Somalia Spreads Assymetric War
April 27 (EIRNS)The worst violence in the Somali capital of Mogadishu in the 16 years that Somalia has not had a government, took place during the last two weeks. Bodies rotted in the streets for days, as Ethiopian troops, backing the puppet Transitional Federal Government (TFG), which has no legitimacy, brought in more tanks. At the behest of the Bush Administration, and in the name of the Global War on Terror, Ethiopian troops have been propping up the TFG since their late-December invasion. On April 24, a truck bomb blew up inside an Ethiopian military base outside Mogadishu.
Doctors and hospitals are overwhelmed, as the city has been pounded by tanks, mortars, artillery, and car bombs, which have destroyed buildings, killed up to 1,500 people, and driven 350,000 people out of the city. Aid and food supplies have been held up by the TFG. The UN reported that more people have been displaced in Somalia in the last two months, than any other country.
As in Iraq, Dick Cheney's much-vaunted Global War on Terror is turning Somalia into a training ground for extremists from other countries. The assymetric war that has developed after the Ethiopian invasion, now threatens to spread to other nations in the region, as well as the rest of Africa.
Ambassador Confirms UN Troop Deployment to Sudan
April 26 (EIRNS)Sudanese Ambassador John Ukec Lueth confirmed to EIR today that the announcement of 3,000 UN troops being deployed to Darfur was part of the agreement worked out in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia Nov. 16-18, 2006, and in Abuja, Nigeria, Nov. 30.
The decision by the government of Sudan to accept this deployment was made prior to the arrival of Assistant Secretary of State John Negroponte April 16 in Sudan. These troops, to be deployed to protect civilians, displaced persons, and government troops, is Phase II of the three-phase agreement proposed by then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan last November, which called for a hybrid UN-AU (African Union) force under AU command.
Phase I has been already accomplished, consisting of approximately 105 civilian advisors, 35 police, and 85 military personnel. This Phase II deployment is expected to begin by June, as UN member-nations contribute troops.
The remaining approximately 10,000 troopsPhase IIIcould be deployed by the end of the year, which, combined with the 8,000 AU troops already there, will bring the force up to about 21,500. Lueth stressed that there has to be peace in order for peacekeepers to do their job, and that those militia which did not sign the Darfur Peace Agreement in May 2006, are presently at war with the nation of Sudan.
China Now Biggest Foreign Investor in Zimbabwe
April 23 (EIRNS)With at least 35 Chinese companies operating in this southern African nation, and more Chinese companies eyeing opportunities there, China is now the biggest investor in Zimbabwe, said the state-run Herald newspaper in Zimbabwe, according to an Agence France Press report today.
Zimbabwe and China have had relations dating back to Zimbabwe's 1970s liberation struggle, when Beijing provided arms and training to the black nationalist movement fighting the white minority government led by Ian Smith. The strengthening of China-Zimbabwe relations developed further following the latest visit by Jiang Qinglin, chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, on an April 20-24 trip to Zimbabwe.
On April 21, officials from China handed over a $58 million check that will be used to purchase farming equipment, implements, and tools that Zimbabwe needs badly. Under the agreement, China's CAMC Engineering Co. will supply agricultural equipment. In return, Zimbabwe will deliver 110,000 tons of tobacco to China over the next two years.
"It is heartening to know that China is now the largest investor in Zimbabwe and her investment now stands over $600 million," Zimbabwe's parliamentary speaker John Nkomo said in his speech at a dinner honoring the visiting Chinese officials. The friendship between China and Zimbabwe was rekindled when President Robert Mugabe, shunned and vilified by the West, adopted a "look East" policy, forging close ties with China, India, Malaysia, and Indonesia.