article card

Against the backdrop of starvation and warfare, there are signs that Somalia’s decline might soon turn around. At this point in Somalia’s tortured history, the country’s fortunes are tethered to its resurgent Islamist groups. In early November, one of southern Somalia’s major ports fell to an advancing Islamist army. The U.N. had been using the “beach port” at Merka to deliver thousands of tons of food aid to refugee camps on the outskirts of Mogadishu. With its fall to the Islamists, there was concern that food shipments might be disrupted. But Pete Smerdon, a U.N. spokesman in Nairobi, Kenya, told […]

BOGOTÁ, Colombia — An uncomfortable silence filled the officers’ mess at the Macarena military base in southern Colombia as the lunchtime news broadcast the purge of 27 high-ranking army officials. “That’s not going to be the end of it,” said one army colonel as he shook his head in disbelief. He was right. Several days later, Colombia’s veteran top army commander, Gen. Mario Montoya, resigned. The firing of the army officers — including three generals — earlier this month followed a government probe into the disappearance of 11 men from Soacha, a poor neighborhood outside of Bogotá. The young men […]

In late October, U.S.S. Kearsarge, a 40,000-ton amphibious assault ship, arrived off the coast of Trinidad and Tobago laden with hundreds of doctors, nurses and engineers, and tons of medical supplies. The tiny developing country was the fifth stop in Kearsarge’s four-month tour of Latin America, advancing a new Pentagon strategy for creating security through good deeds. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates calls it “soft power” — and it’s all the rage in a military exhausted by five years of hard combat. The Navy’s three-dozen amphibious ships, with their extensive medical facilities, along with its two specialized hospital ships, are […]

LIMA, Peru — Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim met last week with his Iranian counterpart in Tehran, where the two diplomats discussed expanding bilateral economic ties. Trade between Iran and Brazil quadrupled between 2002 and 2007, and if Iran gets its way, it will further increase as much as five-fold, from $2 billion to $10 billion annually. The move reflects the fact that while Washington’s attention has been focused in recent years on Iraq and the War on Terror, Iran’s influence in Latin America has quietly but steadily grown. In addition to Brazil, Iran has signed dozens of economic agreements […]