|Africa News Digest
South Africa To Set Up Africa's First Space Agency
Jan. 16 (EIRNS)The government of South Africa early this year will establish Africa's first space agency. According to Dr. Peter Martinez, who is coordinating the national working group that is creating the agency, while South Africa has been involved in space technology for many years, this has been sporadic. Martinez told The Times of South Africa, that efforts would include disaster monitoring, Earth sensing, and technologies for economic growth. He said South Africa hopes to eventually join other nations in space exploration.
The Russian space agency Roscosmos will be providing technical advice and training for South African specialists. In the works is creation of a Russia-South Africa Permanent Working Group on Space. Last November, South African officials visited Russia, met with various space research and industry representatives, and toured Russian space facilities. An agreement was signed to launch the South African-built satellite, SumbandilaSat, on March 25 on a Soyuz. This small satellite will do remote sensing, and was built by South African SunSpace & Information Systems. Later meetings in Durban extended the cooperation to include possible joint work in Earth remote sensing.
British Asset al-Turabi Threatens Sudan's Existence
Jan. 16 (EIRNS)Like most Islamic jihadis and radical intellectuals, Sudan's Hassan al-Turabi has long been an asset of the British intelligence. Now the British intelligence-tainted Amnesty International has come out expressing concern following Turabi's arrest by the Sudanese authorities.
Turabi was arrested after he demanded that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir take responsibility for alleged war crimes in Darfur, and surrender to the International Criminal Court (ICC), to face war-crimes charges resulting from the Darfur war.
A spokesman at Sudan's London embassy said the arrest came as no surprise, as Turabi was known to have links with the Darfur rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), which the spokesman described as a "terrorist organization." The JEM kicked off the Darfur conflict in 2003 with a coordinated attack on police and other governmental institutions in the Darfur region. JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim was a close collaborator of Turabi.
"This is quite normal; as you know, in many countries, including the United States, people can be arrested for investigation for up to 40-something days," Khalid al-Mubarak told the BBC's Focus on Africa program today.
Turabi made his demand on Jan. 12, two days before a 15-nation African Union/Arab League meeting was to discuss the danger posed to Sudan by the threatened ICC warrant for Bashir's arrest. Turabi claimed that the ICC was Sudan's only access to justice, and that without justice, the country could break up and become worse than Somalia. (This imperial scenario has been previously promulgated by the London financial cartel.) Turabi's arrest came two days later, before the Doha meeting.
On that day, Sudan's Vice President Salva Kiir, who is from the South, said that if the warrant is issued against Bashir, the 2005 peace deal which ended the 21-year North-South civil war, would likely be abandoned, and civil war would be re-ignited.
High Risk of Dissolution of Sudan
Jan. 14 (EIRNS)Andrew Natsios, former special envoy to Sudan, warned of the dissolution of Sudan, at a forum in Washington today on "Challenges to Sudan's Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA)," organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Speaking with Natsios was Sir Derek Plumbly, chairman of the Sudan Assessment and Evaluation Committee (an independent Assessment and Evaluation Commission that was established in 2002 to monitor the implementation of the Peace Agreement and conduct a mid-term evaluation of the unity arrangements established under the Peace Agreement); Darfur expert Alex de Waal, program director for the Social Science Research Council; and Dr. Edward Thomas, author of a Royal Institute of International Affairs report, "Against the Gathering Storm: Securing Sudan's Comprehensive Peace Agreement." All of the participants agreed that the future of Sudan depends on supporting the fragile CPA, which has kept the peace between North and South in Sudan since it was signed in 2005.
Natsios was the most outspoken about the risk of dissolution, saying that, if the CPA fails, the disintegration of Sudan will be rapid and bloody. He said international support to ensure the success of the CPA is more important than Darfur. De Waal discussed how the expected indictment of President Gen. Omar al-Bashir by the International Criminal Court (ICC) has become almost the exclusive focus of the Khartoum government, diverting attention from pressing issues still to be resolved between northern and southern Sudan.
When EIR raised the danger of a deliberate attempt to trap the new Obama Administration into an aggressive military posture against Sudan, including a no-fly zone over Darfur, the speakers reacted vociferously. Natsios responded, "For what purpose do you want to inflict pain through these types of military deployments?" He said that the deaths in Darfur are as low as 100 per month, as the result of a low-scale insurgency. "Are you going to force parties to sign a peace agreement by blockading the port? There are 13,000 aid workers feeding 2.5 million hunger people in Sudan. What will happen to them if there is a military attack?" De Waal also responded by asking, "Pressure for what? ... Any coercive measures must be subservient to supporting the CPA."
African Leaders Confer on Economic Collapse
Jan. 17 (EIRNS)African leaders are underlining the severity of the economic collapse, even if they still think the downturn is cyclical.
Trevor Manuel, Finance Minister of South Africa, told the first-ever meeting of the African Committee of 10 (C10) in Cape Town on Jan. 16, that if the current collapse continues for five years, "then everything will go backwards."
The C10, convened by the African Development Bank and other institutions, currently consists of the finance ministers of South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Cameroon, and Tanzania, and the central bank governors of Botswana, Kenya, Algeria, the West African States, and the Central African States. The group is establishing a committee to develop an African response to the global crisis, and to issues on the G20 agenda.
African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka (of Rwanda) stated, "This is not simply a financial crisis; it is not a narrow financial crisis. It comes on top of the food crisis, volatility in the energy markets, and also deepening poverty in Africa."
Manuel identified some of the features of the collapse in its current phase in Africa:
* Capital outflows as foreign investors retreat;
* Export markets rapidly closing to African products because of falling consumer demand and increasing protectionism;
* Tax bases shrinking as taxable economic activity declines;
* A need for rising government spending "to meet the most elementary levels of service provision."