As the highly publicized rollout of the new U.S. policy on Sudan made clear, Sudan has become an unlikely foreign policy priority for the Obama administration. For this, the Sudanese can thank the Darfur advocacy movement, which effectively put the nation on the map for the American public over the past six years. Sudan certainly deserves every bit of attention it receives. If Africa’s largest nation again implodes, it threatens to further destabilize what is already an unstable region of the world. But the internal tension hidden within President Barack Obama’s newly formulated Sudan policy is that Darfur is no […]

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B. Lynn Pascoe, Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs, briefed on eastern and southern Africa, focusing on Somalia. “We have to give the people there a real chance,” he said. He continued by saying that without development aid, it will be difficult for the Somali government to show what it can do.

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The latest report (.pdf) on Sudan by U.N. Secretary General says that there has not been adequate implementation of the peace agreement in Sudan. Notably, Sudan is still without a scheduled date for elections and there has been a proliferation in arms in parts of the country.

This week, “The Thinkers 50” Web site named their 50 most influential business thinkers in the world. Atop its list stood the Indian-born, University of Michigan professor, C.K. Prahalad — a visionary whose analysis of the market opportunities to be found in the emerging global middle class is must reading for anyone seriously given to strategic thought in the age of globalization. Globalization is often described as a “race to the bottom,” whether to the lowest price or the least protection for workers and the environment. While relevant, these statements are untrue: High levels of globalization connectivity clearly correlates with […]

The United States and France have joined a chorus of disapproving African states to condemn recent events in Guinea — events that have dimmed hopes that the isolated and resource-rich West African nation might finally achieve democratic civilian rule following the death last December of longtime autocrat Lansana Conté. One voice that has opted against singing from the international hymn book, however, is arguably Guinea’s most important interlocutor: China. Instead of opprobrium, Beijing appears to have offered Guinea incentive, in the form of a multi-billion dollar investment in oil and minerals — the latest installation of the checkbook diplomacy that […]

First there was Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. Then there was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran. And now there is Omar al-Bashir in Sudan. In many ways, this is no surprise. President Barack Obama pledged during his campaign that he would, unlike his predecessor, engage in talks with even the country’s most ominous adversaries. In April at the Summit of the Americas, when the president ran into Chavez, the moment made for a remarkably smiley photo opportunity. No such meeting has occurred with the Iranian president, but intense negotiations have resulted in a possible breakthrough in the standoff over Tehran’s nuclear program. […]

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International efforts to certify diamonds as “conflict free” — known as the Kimberley Process — are failing, raising the specter of a return of “blood diamonds” to the international market, Partnership Africa Canada warns in its latest annual review of the certification scheme. “The cost of a collapse would be disastrous for an industry that benefits so many countries, and for the millions of people in developing countries who depend, directly and indirectly, on it. A criminalized diamond economy would re-emerge and conflict diamonds could soon follow. The problems can and must be fixed,” the report warns (.pdf). The Kimberley […]

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Zimbabwe’s fragile unity government is facing yet another crisis. The development is all the more unfortunate because, asVoice of America reports, the new government has actually made some progresstoward stabilizing the ailing Zimbabwean economy. The introduction ofthe U.S. dollar and South African rand has been particularlyinstrumental in bringing inflation under control and facilitatingcommerce, though life remains very hard for most Zimbabweans. Voice ofAmerica’s Scott Bobb reports from Harare.

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Zimbabwe’s national unity government, limping since its formation on Feb. 15, 2009, is now threatened with an ultimate collapse. After a meeting of its leadership committe last Thursday, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s mainstream Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party announced that it was temporarily pulling out of the coalition with President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU (PF) and the smaller MDC faction led by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara. The angry reaction was spurred by Wednesday’s indictment of Roy Bennet, the party’s treasurer. But the MDC said that some outstanding policy issues and a hardliner stance within Mugabe’s […]

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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced a new U.S.strategy toward Sudan Monday. The new strategy “is the result of anintensive review across the United States government,” Clinton said. A State Department press release characterized it as the “first comprehensive U.S. policy on Sudan that recognizes the linksbetween the Darfur crisisand implementation of the Comprehensive PeaceAgreement.” Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, and Presidential Special Envoy to SudanGeneral Scott Gration joined Clinton at the announcement. Related from WPR: Lord’s Resistance Army Threatens South SudanPeacekeeping General’s Dangerous Darfur Pronouncement

ABOARD USS DONALD COOK — The blue-painted fishing dhow with the suspicious hooks on its railings appeared as a low, curved shape on the destroyer U.S.S. Donald Cook’s high-powered security cameras. It was a day in mid-September, three months into the Virginia-based warship’s deployment to the Gulf of Aden as part of a five-ship NATO counterpiracy task force. With hijackings declining across East African waters, Donald Cook’s 250 crew had had little to do on most days. The appearance of the dhow and, on it, what looked like grappling hooks useful for boarding large vessels, raised the prospect of a […]

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In December 2008, Guinean army captain Moussa Dadis Camara tookpower following a coup d’état. Last month, scores of oppositionsupporters were killed by a rampaging army that Camara ostensibly controlled, though he has denied any responsibility for the massacre. A France 24 reporter whovisited Camara in Conakry was met by bizarre behavior. The junta leadermet the reporter in bed, and referred to himself in the third person and in prophetic terms.

NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenya’s “window of opportunity to deliver reform is rapidly closing,” former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan warned, putting the country at risk for a recurrence of the political violence that brought the East African powerhouse to its knees after disputed elections in 2007. Though delivered in his characteristic velvet tones, Annan’s message was firm: Accelerate the reform agenda and take decisive action, or risk the potential of an irretrievable decline into crisis that will have economic as well as political consequences. “Kenya is already at — or past — the halfway mark between the formation of the […]

ABOARD USS DONALD COOK — It was a rare moment of excitement on a long, tedious counter-piracy patrol. On the evening of Sept. 24, lookouts on the USS Donald Cook, a Virginia-based destroyer assigned to a NATO flotilla in the Gulf of Aden, spotted a mysterious shape on the horizon. The distant vessel did not respond to Donald Cook’s hails as it loomed closer. With the cry, “Ship of interest,” crew members summoned Donald Cook’s captain, Derek Granger. Interrupted during a rare bit of down-time, Granger climbed to the bridge wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Lighting his customary cigar, he […]

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has recently responded to criticisms of its policies toward the world’s least developed countries (LDCs), by reforming its approach (.pdf) to “development” lending. The fund has long been a favorite target of civil society groups, who claim that the institution has no expertise in formulating development policy, that its stringent conditions often worsen already dire economic situations, and that its governance structure is highly undemocratic. The fund, they often seem to argue, should either be overhauled, or removed from LDC lending altogether. So, is the new, gentler version of the fund an improvement for poor […]