The ongoing conflict in Somalia has largely been ignored by the Western world. Since the 1991 overthrow of the oppressive regime of President Siad Barre, intense fighting between Somali warlords and their respective clans has left the country in a state of almost constant war. Al-Shabaab, whilst the largest and most active, is by no means the only Islamic extremist group fighting against the forces of the AU. Although the UN is unwilling to commit troops or materiel in support of the AU on the ground, the Western world and the US in particular remain concerned by the recent and substantial gains made by al-Shabaab and its affiliated organisations.Absent a centralised form of government for twenty years, the country is ensnared in a cycle of unrelenting violence that has accounted for the deaths of up to a million Somalis, with a further quarter of a million having been displaced as a direct result of the violence.
Mathieu Yamba, the Chairman of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, in late June announced the lifting of a ban which had formerly prevented the sale of diamonds mined in the Marange diamond fields in eastern Zimbabwe. The Kimberley Process’ role is to certify the source of rough diamonds as being free from any conflict financed by the production of such diamonds and to ban diamonds that are not considered to be conflict-free. Yamba’s announcement followed a meeting of the Kimberley Process in Kinshasa, and it prompted civil society members and non-governmental participants to walk out in protest as it is still widely believed that Marange diamonds continue to be tainted by gross human rights violations and, as such, their sale should remain prohibited.
As South Sudan meets its date with history on 9 July, the battle over Abyei, the disputed town at the border of Sudan and Southern Sudan, threatens to scuttle the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in 2005. South Kordofan, another border area, has also registered conflict and citizen displacement recently, thereby increasing the anticipation of the historic independence of South Sudan on 9 July. Abyei, the epicenter of the painful divorce, flared up on 21 May 2011 with an estimated 50,000 residents fleeing the border town after a Khartoum government-supported army attacked the Dinka Ngok residents while facilitating an influx of the nomadic Misseriya into the area. This was the North’s bid to change the demographics of the town before the Abyei referendum and 9 July 2011 split, according to UN field reports. The invasion has been likened to the earlier janjaweed invasion sponsored by the Khartoum government in the Darfur region.
Deputy Secretary General of the East African Community (EAC) Beatrice Kiraso recently stated something rather obvious: “Instability in one country means instability for others. We should not allow this as it will undermine our integration efforts”. The EAC hopes those efforts will turn it into the EU of East Africa. It is also obvious then that the time is right for those words to be followed by actions in order to transform hope into reality. Deep-rooted competitive thinking amongst East African nations has to be replaced with true cooperation in order to ensure a prosperous and stable East African region that attracts both foreign investment and tourism.
Since the beginning of the revolt in Libya, the Italian government has been under pressure for its role in the management of the crisis. Its behaviour has been assiduously scrutinised by international observers. The shared history of Italy and Libya has bound the two countries in a special relationship, sometimes positive, other times negative. Libya’s grudge towards its colonial past has tarnished Italy’s image in the country. For this reason, Italian governments have progressively increased the level of bilateral cooperation with Tripoli in recent decades. Moreover, both left and right-wing Italian governments have supported Colonel Gaddafi’s re-entering the international political stage, gaining him some credibility and legitimisation as a “not-as-bad-as-the-others” African dictator. The apogee of that policy has been the signature of Italy-Libya treaty in Benghazi on 30 August 2008.
Following two successful protest movements on either side of the country, Libya itself fell victim to the encroaching Arab Spring. The protests spread quickly in Libya, beginning in mid-February in the east of the country, and then quickly moved to the outskirts of Tripoli in the west within a week. There were celebrations in the streets of Libya, and the optimism spread to Libya’s politicians and diplomatic corps as nearly every major embassy shifted their allegiances from Muammar Gaddafi to the people.
Leaders in South Sudan have much work ahead to establish strength in the brand new nation. Success will be underpinned by four points: coordination, nation-building, civil peace and stability. But before looking toward the future, let us first examine the past. South Sudanese longings for independence go as far back as 1899. Under the British Condominium, the whole of Sudan was governed through what the British labelled "Indirect Rule" or "Devolution", and therefore administered by indigenous structures. The British Foreign Office initially devised this ruling model into two separate administrations (North and South), which eventually led to growing disparities between them.