Is it time for NATO to begin wrapping up its Libya operation? The observance of Ramadan will begin in a few days, and even though Islamic tradition permits those involved in combat to be exempted from the requirements of the fast, most analysts expect a dramatic slowdown in major combat operations on the part of both pro-Gadhafi and anti-government forces during August. While NATO spokesmen have indicated that sorties will continue to be flown during the holiday, the pace of combat will lessen. This, in turn, may reinforce conditions on the ground, which Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff […]

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The crackdown on opposition protesters by Malawi’s democratically elected government led to the deaths of 19 people last week and triggered the U.S. suspension of a prized $350 million development grant to the tiny sub-Saharan African nation. According to Kim Yi Dionne, a political scientist at Texas A&M University and former Fulbright Scholar in Malawi, the U.S. held off in announcing the suspension until this week in hopes that Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika might condemn the crackdown. “The U.S. probably waited to see if he didn’t order the police to shoot people,” Dionne told Trend Lines yesterday. “They didn’t […]

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The United Nation’s declaration of a famine in two regions of southern Somalia has been accompanied by horrific reports of starvation and news of more than 100,000 internally displaced people flooding into Mogadishu. Already bearing the burden of a 20-year-old civil war, the Somali capital now appears to be emerging as the epicenter of the famine’s misery as well. However, the exodus of starving Somalis may also have volatile regional ramifications, specifically in neighboring Ethiopia and Kenya, says Elizabeth G. Ferris, codirector of the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement in Washington. Ferris reminded Trend Lines yesterday that Kenya is already […]

When historians come to write the history of the European Union in the period following the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009, they are likely to describe it as a litany of jarring crises. They will naturally prioritize the financial shocks to the eurozone in 2010 and 2011. But they will also have to make space for at least two major humanitarian crises that sparked angry debates about the EU’s global role. The first was the earthquake that hit Haiti in January 2010. The second was the man-made disaster in Libya that began in February 2011. The Haitian catastrophe […]

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A recent assessment of information flows in Libya by the international media development group Internews explored the ambitions and needs of new media outlets in Benghazi. After 42 years of authoritarian rule, enthusiasm for journalism and free expression runs high in rebel-held Libya.

CAIRO, Egypt — As demonstrators continue to hunker down in central Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the Muslim Brotherhood’s official website has blamed a number of groups for infiltrating the now two-week-long protest and fomenting instability by inciting confrontation. Undercover remnants of the deposed National Democratic Party-led regime, Ikhwan Online claimed last week, are responsible. State security, formerly a notorious government apparatus, is also culpable. And, not surprisingly, Israelis are involved. According to the website, foreign “thugs” were apprehended in Tahrir on July 8, wielding knives, carrying foreign currencies and exhibiting Star of David tattoos. “These accusations are nothing new,” says Tel […]

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I had the pleasure of participating in France 24’s panel discussion program, The World This Week, last Friday. The other panelists were Paris Match’s RĂ©gis Le Sommelier, France 24’s Annette Young and Global Post’s Mildrade Cherfils. Topics included the News of the World scandal, the U.S. and European debt crises, and the Libya war. Part one can be seen here. Part two can be seen here.

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In late-June, the U.N. Security Council renewed the mandate of the peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), despite calls by DRC leaders for its withdrawal and fierce criticism of the mission’s failure to halt the country’s rape crisis. In an email interview, Theodore Trefon, senior researcher at the Royal Museum of Central Africa in Belgium and author of the forthcoming book “Congo Masquerade,” discussed the U.N.’s peacekeeping mission in the DRC. WPR: What are the main challenges facing the U.N. in the DRC? Theodore Trefon: Powerlessness is the word that best captures the challenges facing the […]

An open-ended sit-in in Cairo’s Tahrir Square will enter its seventh day today and may grow larger if calls for another major Friday protest are met. Five months after an 18-day uprising brought down President Hosni Mubarak, a substantial number of Egyptians feel that the pace of change has been too slow to satisfy their revolutionary demands. They are holding major demonstrations in Tahrir Square and around the country, explicitly condemning the ruling military council that took over after Mubarak’s resignation and pushing for faster and deeper reforms. In the week since the latest round of protests began, the interim […]

On Saturday, South Sudan achieved formal independence from the central Sudanese government in Khartoum. The event was cause for considerable celebration as well as several rounds of expressions of concern from observers in Africa and the West. While the status quo was untenable, the prospects for South Sudan look far from bright. It lacks both a well-defined border with its hostile mother-state and control over much of its own territory, and appears to have minimal administrative, military or normative capacity. In other words, it’s a disaster waiting to happen. The bleak scenario facing Juba raises the question: What have we […]

KIGALI, Rwanda — Young, radiant and eloquent, Clare Akamanzi is anything but modest as she outlines her government’s plans for Rwanda’s future. As chief operating officer of the Rwanda Development Board, an institution mandated with fast-tracking private sector growth, Akamanzi is a rising star among Rwanda’s best and brightest and the day-to-day brains behind one of the boldest development visions on the planet. Here, in this former conflict-ridden backwater best known to the world for its grisly 1994 genocide, officials are determined to forge Africa’s first knowledge-based society — turning away from small-scale agriculture and embracing services like information and […]

In 1999, Amartya Sen, an Indian economist who a year earlier had won the Nobel Prize for Economics, published “Development as Freedom.” Sen mapped out two arguments for a general audience. First, he defined economic development as the expansion of individual freedom, challenging “narrower” views that reduced development to GNP growth or a rise in personal incomes. Sen’s ideas spurred the creation of the U.N. Human Development Index, which created a composite measure of development that included income, health and education. Second, Sen maintained that democratic political arrangements, defined as the existence of civil and political freedoms, were necessary to […]

With a territory as large as France, the Republic of South Sudan became the world’s 193rd independent country on July 9. But while the South Sudanese now have an independent state with vast natural resources, they have yet to build a nation out of some 50 different tribes with diverse languages, beliefs and other key characteristics. Many obstacles will impede progress toward this end, and the outcome depends primarily on the South Sudanese themselves. But the international community can make important contributions to help realize this goal. We in the United States know these challenges well. When Americans declared independence […]

A former resident of Addis Ababa returning today after an absence of five years would find the city almost unrecognizable. In that time, Ethiopia has transformed itself economically, and nowhere is that transformation more on display than in its capital. In terms of infrastructure and housing, Addis Ababa has blossomed from perhaps Africa’s worst example of urban planning into a grid of paved streets and multilane ring roads, with corresponding glass-walled high rises and luxury villas comparable to Johannesburg, South Africa. The Ethiopian government has used its unlimited power to bulldoze whole neighborhoods, evicting residents with little notice or compensation […]

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