Last week, I highlighted the “bad news” that came out of Brasilia with regards to Washington’s Iran policy. There was, however, a silver lining that should not be ignored. Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva hosted two meetings that week — that of the Brazil-Russia-India-China group (BRIC) and another for the India-Brazil-South Africa forum (IBSA). What is interesting to note is that China’s interest in playing a greater role in IBSA — with some even talking about expanding that group to become CHIBSA — was politely rebuffed. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stressed that IBSA is not simply a […]

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Algeria, Mali, Niger and Mauritania are setting up a joint command headquarters in southern Algeria to counter a growing al-Qaeda threat in the Sahara Desert region. AFRICOM was deliberately left out of the coalition for fear that U.S. involvement will stoke the flames of insurgency. Al Jazeera’s Clayton Swisher reports.

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Announcements by New Zealand and the United States this week on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples moved the world community tantalizingly close to achieving consensus on a human rights issue with ongoing relevance in many parts of the world. The declaration protects indigenous rights related to land, resources, cultural identity, education and others issues. Only four countries — Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States — opposed it when the U.N. General Assembly originally voted on it in 2007. Australia dropped its opposition to the instrument last year. On Monday, New Zealand said it […]

On April 16, a Chadian helicopter with at least three people aboard crashed in Adre, a town abutting the border with Sudan in the desert region shared by the two countries. One person died in the crash, while two were injured. The incident was an unwelcome reminder of five years of conflict between the two impoverished nations — even as that conflict finally shows signs of winding down. On April 17, the two countries re-opened their official border crossings. “Sudanese taxis are going back and forth and so are the people,” a government official in Adre told AFP. Until a […]

In a country where political intrigue has often substituted for governance, Kenya’s two-year-old National Accord offered a pragmatic solution to ending post-election violence and restoring democratic rule. Now the possibility of a new constitution offers fresh hope that Kenya’s bumpy road back to democracy might get smoother. But as the country lurches toward constitutional reform, the tradition of “winner-take-all” politics — as well as the accompanying fears of “loser-lose-all” outcomes — is proving tough to leave behind. For Kenya, as with too many African countries, democracy is still thwarted by a zero-sum system that encourages bare-knuckle politics as well as […]

The assault on Somalia’s radio stations came from three directions. On April 3, the Islamic armed group Hizbul Islam threatened to shut down FM radio stations in the areas it controls in the country’s south. The group accused the stations of playing music it deemed “un-Islamic.” “You have only 10 days to prepare for new programs to substitute for those evil voices to which you are accustomed,” Hizbul Islam spokesman Moalim Hashi said. Then on April 9, al-Shabab, a rival Islamic group and the major power throughout much of southern Somalia, targeted the BBC’s radio broadcasts. For a decade the […]

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In Egypt, political opposition has reached a fever pitch as concerns surrounding the twilight of the Mubarak regime mount. In early March, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak flew to Germany, where a team of surgeons removed his failing gall-bladder along with a benign growth. Three weeks later, the president was back on Egyptian soil to resume his recuperation in the coastal city of Sharm-el-Sheik. That the deeply insular leader would announce his poor health was sufficient cause for concern. But if his homecoming ended wild speculation surrounding the president’s condition, Egyptians are now faced with the impending likelihood of life after […]

Just 12 years ago, in writing a research memorandum on the future of global telecommunications, I noted the oft-quoted estimate that roughly half of the planet’s population had never made a phone call in their lives. Fast forward to today, and best estimates are that 55 percent of the planet owns a mobile telephone. Factor in that the highest rates of growth are occurring among the poorest and most disconnected populations, where communal use of cells is the norm, and it seems likely that this pool of phone-call virgins has been cut in half — or better. With virtually universal […]