ABECHE, Chad — Three weeks after Chadian rebels mounted their third major challenge this year to President Idriss Déby’s troubled regime, the fighting has dwindled to a few isolated gunfights on the barren eastern border with Sudan. Instead of the regime-toppling attack that the Sudan-based rebels promised in their press releases — something akin to their February offensive that reached downtown N’Djamena on the country’s western border — the spring attacks apparently never reached more than 50 miles inside Chad. In mid-June, rebels briefly occupied a number of towns, only to depart hours later regardless of whether the Chadian army […]

Chad Dispatches

I’d just like to flag a couple of WPR articles for any readers who might enter the site directly through the blog. David Axe, who is a frequent WPR contributor, has travelled to Eastern Chad to report on the humanitarian crisis in the region as over 250,000 Darfur refugees, refugees of the Central African Republic’s civil war, and internally displaced Chadians converge on the frontier delta. I covered the story last March for WPR from the comfort of Paris. David’s conditions are quite a bit more dangerous, and his first two dispatches (here and here) are well worth a read. […]

ABECHE, Chad — As the world marked U.N. World Refugee Day June 20, a new humanitarian emergency was quietly brewing next door to a far more widely known crisis. In southern Chad, just a few hundred miles from camps housing a quarter-million Darfuri refugees, some 60,000 displaced persons from Central African Republic, having fled a growing civil conflict in their own country, have been moved to a cluster of new U.N. camps. The Central Africans’ plight is widely overlooked as a result of the intense focus on the five-year-old civil war in Sudan’s Darfur region and the hundreds of thousands […]

A former official in the Algerian civil service and the author of four previous novels, the Algerian novelist Boualem Sansal has recently published a new book titled Le village de l’Allemand: “The German’s Village.” Via the reflections of two brothers of Algerian origin living in the Parisian banlieues, it tells the story of the brothers’ father: Hans Schiller, a hero of the Algerian war of independence as a member of the National Liberation Front (FLN) — and, as so happens, before that an officer in the dreaded Nazi paramilitary force, the SS. For Boualem Sansal, “the line separating Islamism from […]

Part I: Series IntroductionPart II: NATO Reintegration and European Defense PARIS — In assessing the strategic environment to which the Livre Blanc, France’s strategic posture review, must respond, none of the French officials and experts interviewed by World Politics Review could really speak with much certainty. Taken together, the conversations we had gave the distinct impression that outside of the stable if evolving configurations of the European Union and the Atlantic alliance, France’s emerging strategic vision is driven more by questions than by answers. Russia’s determination to reclaim its former influence presents both opportunities for partnership and more alarming scenarios […]

Twenty-six Americans are presently being tried in absentia in an Italian court for the 2003 abduction of the Egyptian cleric Osama Mostafa Hassan Nasr: better known, as “Abu Omar.” The Americans are accused of having kidnapped Nasr as part of the CIA’s program of “extraordinary renditions.” They are supposed to have held him in an American military base before “rendering” him to Egypt for interrogation. Seven Italian intelligence officials who allegedly aided in the operation have been charged as well. Last month, the New York Times, Associated Press, and Los Angeles Times all ran stories citing in dramatic and sometimes […]

Africa’s Telecom Boom

The macroeconomic analysis site RGE Monitor (subscription only) reports that Africa appears to be in the midst of a telecommunications boom. “Mobile phones now account for more than 90% of lines in Africa as mobile-phone technology has made owning a phone affordable and convenient for the first time,” the site says. “Africa has added 65 million new subscribers during 2007.” Roughly 250 million people in Africa are now cell phone subscribers, but with a contintent-wide population of 900 million, there remains a lot of room for growth. The RGE Monitor also says that developing-world multinationals are taking advantage of the […]

NAIROBI, Kenya — “We hurriedly buried the seven in the shallow grave and fled due to fears of attacks,” explained cattle farmer Joseph Mwangi-Macharia last month as armed police accompanying him went through the motions of unearthing the bodies of his entire family, unwitting victims of the violence that followed Kenya’s disputed December 2007 election. “This was my lovely wife. They decapitated her when she pleaded that they spare her 18-year-old granddaughter,” said the 52-year old Mwangi-Macharia amid sobs, “Why in God’s name did they have to kill her in this fashion?” As the seven bodies were interred in Kenya’s […]

Any celebration of Eritrean independence stands as a contradictory exercise. One of Africa’s newest countries, the recent 17th anniversary of independence serves as an important reminder of the prolonged struggle for statehood. Eritreans first shrugged off a host of distant occupiers, including the Turkish, the Italians and the British. Then the international community, particularly the United States and the United Nations, falsely promised them a chance to vote for independence after spending a decade in a federation with Ethiopia, which saw their country as its own. When Ethiopia annexed Eritrea by force, the desire for freedom led to a 30-year […]

FORMER CONGO OFFICIAL ARRESTED ON ICC WARRANT — Belgian authorities arrested former Democratic Republic of the Congo Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba May 24 on an International Criminal Court warrant. Bemba is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity for the actions of troops under his command in the neighboring Central African Republic in 2002-2003. Bemba’s subordinates were responsible for mass rape and torture, according to human rights groups. The 45-year-old has conceded the events took place but argues he is not responsible because he did not specifically order his troops to commit the abuses. Human rights advocates have called […]

Rolling Back AFRICOM

I always feel a sense of satisfaction when the mainstream press catches up to a story that WPR has been out ahead of, like the scaling back of AFRICOM (here from a few weeks back in the CSM, and here from today in the WaPo and over at Phil Carter’s Intel Dump). It’s a fascinating story that combines a novel vision of an interagency military command with some highminded operational objectives, and throws them headlong into the wall of Africa’s political realities, both historical and contemporary. There’s a lot going on here, and while AFRICOM is being downgraded to a […]