NATO Copters for Afghanistan

One of the more prevalent military hardware stories that’s been flying just under the radar for the past few years is the shortage of helicopters for multilateral deployments. The EUFOR Chad force ultimately had to accept a Russian offer of eight copters, along with their operating teams, in order to cover the huge theater of operations under their jurisdiction. This Defense Industry Daily article describes how Coalition forces in Afghanistan have been forced to lease copters for non-military use from private contractors, in order to free up military copters for operations. This is a false shortage, to the extent that […]

Niger Delta Once Again on the Brink?

Nigerian President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua proposed amnesty last Thursday for Niger Delta rebels willing to lay down their arms. The move has all the trapping of an attempt to deflect international criticism of what’s to come: There are reports that the Nigerian army’s special Niger Delta Joint Task Force is gearing up for what looks like a new attempt — codenamed Operation Restore Hope — to clamp down on the militant activity which has disrupted Nigeria’s oil output by about a million barrels per day. (Even taking into account recent declines in the price of oil, that’s real money.) However, […]

The Red Lama

When the government of South Africa denied the Dalai Lama an entry visa last week, it was not the first time it had snubbed him. In 1999, then-President Mbeki canceled a meeting with the Tibetan leader after the Chinese vehemently protested. Whatever backbone Mbeki may have at one time had when working against apartheid seems to have turned to jello on that occasion. The South African government claimed that last week’s episode was not a snub, but merely an attempt to keep any ensuing diplomatic incident from deflecting attention from next year’s World Cup. But it’s hard to see the […]

When the International Criminal Court issued its ground-breaking warrant for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on March 4, human rights activists celebrated the move as a major milestone. The action would not only boost hope in Darfur — Bashir is alleged to have played a key role in the tragic conflict — but it would also help prevent atrocities everywhere. For the first time, a sitting president faced the threat of arrest, forcing other perpetrators and would-be perpetrators of crimes against humanity to consider the trials awaiting them should they follow in Bashir’s footsteps. Less than a month […]

Swaziland: In the Court of King Ubu

In a world where abuses of human rights are often government policy, the regime of King Mswati III of Swaziland stands out. Since 1973, the last self-proclaimed “royal” family” on the continent and its enablers have launched a systematic attack on democratic practices, trade unions, press freedom, etc. And what did Swaziland’s grateful citizens get in exchange for the trampling of their human rights? The highest rate of AIDS infection in Southern Africa. Swaziland is often portrayed as a “garden-spot” destination for tourists and nature lovers. Nestled between South Africa and Mozambique, it boasts bucolic scenery and friendly locals. Left […]

NAIROBI, Kenya — When Kenya welcomed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the first stop of his first tour of sub-Saharan Africa in mid-February, it reflected how Nairobi’s emphasis on bilateral relations with Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian countries is increasingly overshadowing its ties to traditional Western allies. Beginning in 1963, when Kenya attained independence from Britain, Western countries were routinely accorded a “first amongst equals” status. A military pact signed between Kenya and the United States in 1980, allowing the U.S. Navy use of the local port of Mombasa to monitor the Far East in return for military and economic […]

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