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A Planet’s Future Threatened by the Fate of Its Children

“This is a war against normal life.” So said CNN correspondent Clarissa Ward, describing the situation at this moment in Syria, as well as in other parts of the Middle East. It was one of those remarks that should wake you up to the fact that the regions the United States has, since September 2001, played such a role in destabilizing are indeed in crisis, and that this process isn’t just taking place at the level of failing states and bombed-out cities, but in the most personal way imaginable. It’s devastating for countless individuals — mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, friends, lovers — and above all for children.

Ward’s words caught a reality that grows harsher by the week, and not just in Syria, but in parts of Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya, among other places in the Greater Middle East and Africa. Death and destruction stalk whole populations in Syria and other crumbling countries and failed or failing states across the region.  In one of those statistics that should stagger the imagination, devastated Syria alone accounts for more than five million of the estimated 21 million refugees worldwide. And sadly, these numbers do not reflect an even harsher reality: you only become a “refugee” by crossing a border.  According to the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR), in 2015 there were another 44 million people uprooted from their homes who were, in essence, exiles in their own lands.  Add those numbers together and you have one out of every 113 people on the planet — and those figures, the worst since World War II, may only be growing.

Source: Tomgram: Karen Greenberg, A Planet’s Future Threatened by the Fate of Its Children | TomDispatch

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2017 in Middle East

 

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The U.S. Military Moves Deeper into Africa

General Thomas Waldhauser sounded a little uneasy.  “I would just say, they are on the ground.  They are trying to influence the action,” commented the chief of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) at a Pentagon press briefing in March, when asked about Russian military personnel operating in North Africa.  “We watch what they do with great concern.”

And Russians aren’t the only foreigners on Waldhauser’s mind.  He’s also wary of a Chinese “military base” being built not far from Camp Lemonnier, a large U.S. facility in the tiny, sun-blasted nation of Djibouti.  “They’ve never had an overseas base, and we’ve never had a base of… a peer competitor as close as this one happens to be,” he said.  “There are some very significant… operational security concerns.”

At that press conference, Waldhauser mentioned still another base, an American one exposed by the Washington Post last October in an article titled, “U.S. has secretly expanded its global network of drone bases to North Africa.”  Five months later, the AFRICOM commander still sounded aggrieved.  “The Washington Post story that said ‘flying from a secret base in Tunisia.’  It’s not a secret base and it’s not our base… We have no intention of establishing a base there.”

Waldhauser’s insistence that the U.S. had no base in Tunisia relied on a technicality, since that foreign airfield clearly functions as an American outpost. For years, AFRICOM has peddled the fiction that Djibouti is the site of its only “base” in Africa. “We continue to maintain one forward operating site on the continent, Camp Lemonnier,” reads the command’s 2017 posture statement.  Spokespeople for the command regularly maintain that any other U.S. outposts are few and transitory — “expeditionary” in military parlance.

Source: Tomgram: Nick Turse, The U.S. Military Moves Deeper into Africa | TomDispatch

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2017 in Africa, North America

 

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‘We All Live in Fear’: How Climate Change Is Devastating to Refugees

“I had 120 animals,” Amina Abdul Hussein, a mother of three tells me as we sit inside her ragged cloth tent in Maxamad Mooge camp, temporarily shielded from the midday glare of the sun. “But the drought killed all of them.”Dozens of unofficial camps like this are scattered across the outskirts of Hargeisa, the capital of the self-declared independent state of Somaliland in East Africa. The UNHCR reports that nearly 40,000 people have already been forced out of their native rural villages by drought in the last three months. Trigged by El Niño, the drought has been worsened by climate change, according to a new study published by the American Meteorological Society.

Source: ‘We All Live in Fear’: How Climate Change Is Devastating to Refugees – Vice

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2017 in Africa

 

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How Will Trump Reshape the Middle East?

Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential race has more than domestic implications. The Middle East has been a major focus of US policy-making in the post–Cold War period. George W. Bush arguably engaged with it more than any other part of the world. Despite Barack Obama’s desire to rebalance toward East Asia, he was repeatedly pulled back into the Middle East by the 2011 youth revolutions and their aftermath, and by the rise of ISIL in Iraq and Syria. What impact will Trump’s policies have on the region?One difficulty in answering this question lies in the quixotic character of Trump himself. He has often taken both sides of a controversial question. For instance, he criticized his predecessors for becoming too entangled in the Middle East, then at one point last March suggested sending in a division (20,000-30,000) of US troops to fight ISIL. As it happens, ISIL as a territorial state could already have been defeated by the time he takes office. Another question is whether, given his erratic statements and behavior, Trump’s cabinet and the permanent Washington bureaucracy (the “deep state”) will actually let him change the direction of US foreign policy radically. But let us assume for the sake of argument that where he repeatedly voiced a sentiment, he will have a policy bias toward it, and that he may actually be allowed to implement it.

Source: How Will Trump Reshape the Middle East? | The Nation

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2016 in Middle East, North America

 

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‘Death Awaits’: Africa Faces Worst Drought in Half a Century 

Herdsman Ighale Utban used to be a relatively prosperous man. Three years ago, he owned around a hundred goats. Now, though, all but five of them have died of thirst at a dried-up watering hole, victims of the worst drought seen in Ethiopia and large parts of Africa in a half-century.
Utban, a wiry man of 36 years, belongs to a nomadic people known as the Afar, who spend their lives wandering through the eponymously named state in northeastern Ethiopia. “This is the worst time I’ve experienced in my life,” he says. On some days, he doesn’t know how to provide for himself and his seven-member family.
“We can no longer wander,” Utban says, “because death awaits out there.” For now, he’ll have to remain in Lii, a scattered little settlement in which several families have erected their makeshift huts. Lii means “scorching hot earth.”
‘First the Livestock Die, Then the People’
Since time immemorial, shepherds have wandered with their animals through the endless expanses of the Danakil desert. They live primarily off of meat and milk, and it was always a meagre existence. But with the current drought, which has lasted for over a year, their very existence is threatened. “First the livestock die, then the people,” Utban says.
The American relief organization USAID estimates that in Afar alone, over a half million cattle, sheep, goats, donkeys and camels have perished. Reservoirs are empty, pastures dried up, feed reserves nearly exhausted. With no rain, grass no longer grows. Many nomads are selling their emaciated livestock, but oversupply has led to a 50 percent decline in prices.
Currently, millions of African farmers and herders are suffering similar fates to Utban’s. The United Nations estimates that more than 50 million people in Africa are acutely threatened by famine. After years of hope for increased growth and prosperity, the people are once again suffering from poverty and malnutrition.

http://m.spiegel.de/international/world/a-1091684.html#spRedirectedFrom=www&referrrer=

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2016 in Africa, Reportages

 

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TERRORISME ISLAMISTE : L’Afrique désarmée

Terrorisme islamiste

La prise d’otage à l’hôtel Radisson Blu de Bamako est une preuve supplémentaire que le phénomène terroriste cible de plus en plus le continent africain. Jadis circonscrit à la Somalie, la Libye (depuis la chute de Kadhafi), la Tunisie et les pays du bassin du lac Tchad, le fléau essaie, via la mouvance wahhabite, de se généraliser. En face, les Etats africains, déjà confrontés à la pauvreté et à des expériences démocratiques plutôt laborieuses, n’ont pas toujours l’arsenal et le savoir sécuritaires pour opposer la résistance qu’il faut. D’où l’inquiétude et l’angoisse qui hantent bien de dirigeants qui se savent impuissants.

http://www.ledjely.com/2015/11/24/terrorisme-islamiste-lafrique-desarmee/

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2015 in Africa, Reportages

 

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Life Along the Mosquito Coast

Near the beginning of “A Bend in the River,” V. S. Naipaul’s magisterial novel about Africa, his narrator, Salim, a trader of Muslim Indian heritage, tries to explain his peculiar sense of identity:

    Africa was my home, had been the home of my family for centuries. But we came from the east coast, and that made the difference. The coast was not truly African. It was an Arab-Indian-Persian-Portuguese place, and we who lived there were really people of the Indian Ocean. True Africa was at our back . . . we looked east to the lands with which we traded—Arabia, India, Persia. These were also the lands of our ancestors. But we could no longer say that we were Arabians or Indians or Persians; when we compared ourselves with these people, we felt like people of Africa.

http://www.newyorker.com/culture/photo-booth/guillaume-bonn-life-along-the-mosquito-coast?mbid=rss

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2015 in Africa

 

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Africa: An Early Warning Ahead of High-Risk Elections

Recent events in Burkina Faso, following the 16 September coup d’état, are a grim reminder of what can happen when the run-up to crucial presidential elections goes awry.

http://allafrica.com/stories/201510151454.html

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2015 in Africa

 

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Target Africa

“Morning dawns at length in Africa. The night has been long and dark. The opening day has a hopeful outlook and also an aspect of uncertainty. … For many years little colonies, trading-posts, and slave-marts have fringed its borders; but the vast interior has remained a blank.” — Historical Sketch of the Missions of the American Board in Africa, Samuel Bartlett (1880)

https://theintercept.com/drone-papers/target-africa/

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2015 in Africa, North America, Reportages

 

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Cecil During Wartime

On the first day of a trip to Zimbabwe, in 2008, at the height of Robert Mugabe’s campaign of land seizures, directed at his country’s minority population of white farmers, I met an American hunter. A friend and I had driven up from Johannesburg, and entered the country by crossing the Limpopo River that afternoon. We planned to spend the night in a lodge in a wildlife preserve a few hours from the border. A hunting guide, the sort of man who used to be called a “white hunter,” lived nearby, and he and his client came to the lodge for dinner.

They looked exhausted, especially the American. They had spent the day hunting for hippo, and had begun before dawn. As they told it, they had lain in wait at a concealed spot on the shores of the Limpopo, but it wasn’t until mid-afternoon that the American, who called himself Dick, was able to make a shot. He had fired a single round with his rifle, a powerful .375-calibre elephant gun, into the brain of a good-sized bull. The shot had killed the hippo, and it had remained where it died, out in the middle of the river. They had spent the remaining daylight hours arranging with some men in a nearby community to retrieve the carcass for them the next morning. In return for their labours, the local men would be given the meat; the American would take the hide and the head.

via Cecil During Wartime — www.newyorker.com.

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2015 in Africa, Reportages

 

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