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Published 2nd November 2012

Vol 53 No 22


Sudan

Target Khartoum

SUDAN Khartoum: The El Shifa factory, which was bombed in 1998 by the USA.
SUDAN Khartoum: The El Shifa factory, which was bombed in 1998 by the USA.

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

Israel’s attack on a Khartoum arms factory highlights its tougher line in Africa and Sudan’s growing ties with Iran

Taken by surprise, Khartoum officials at first offered contradictory explanations for the devastating attack on the El Yarmouk arms factory in Khartoum at around midnight on 23-24 October. After emergency discussions, the regime blamed Israel and complained to the United Nations Security Council. Although Iran and Arab governments condemned the attack, there was little real Arab support and virtually none from elsewhere. The trigger for the bombing of the El Yarmouk Industrial Complex was an attack on Israel from Gaza using Sudanese-made rockets, a senior Sudanese opposition source claimed. Opposition parties have supporters – and therefore sources – even in government organisations. As always, Israel declined to confirm or deny the attack but one serving official told Africa Confidential that the reason was developments in the Sinai Desert, where Al Qaida and other jihadists had built up bases as Egypt’s former regime under President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak was losing control.


The $100 billion bash

Government efforts to ignore a comprehensive new report on oil and gas industry corruption arouse deep suspicions

Findings by a government-commissioned task force that over US$100 billion has been siphoned off from Nigeria’s oil and gas industry since 2002 is causing a political storm. It may ...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

Africa will watch the United States’ election on 6 November with a sense of history as its candidate Barack Obama vies for a second term, says a West African academic. However, Africa will watch China’s leadership transition, which begins that same week, with a sense of economic destiny. No question about that on the numbers. This year, China’s trade with Africa – fo...

Africa will watch the United States’ election on 6 November with a sense of history as its candidate Barack Obama vies for a second term, says a West African academic. However, Africa will watch China’s leadership transition, which begins that same week, with a sense of economic destiny. No question about that on the numbers. This year, China’s trade with Africa – forecast at US$220 billion – is set to overtake that of both the USA and the European Union.

The history factor could produce a sharp change in US-Africa strategy, should Obama win a second term. He is under fire for the lack of impact of his two new policies in Africa, the climate change initiative and Feed the Future agriculture programme. Washington insiders predict Obama will assemble a more coordinated, aggressive team to push these plans ahead. Policymakers are also working on a stronger version of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, offering African exporters greater access to the US market.

The stakes and the ideologies at play in China’s leadership change are far less clear. The new General Secretary of the Communist Party, Xi Jinping, has a reputation for being both pragmatic and enigmatic. However, there is a growing economic anxiety in China, caused by flaws in the state capitalist model, the slowdown in Western markets and increasing popular protests, all suggesting the need for sweeping economic reforms. These reforms – and their political side effects – will again change China’s relations with Africa.

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Shell and the Delta litigations

The next hearing of the case of the 11,000 people of Bodo versus the Anglo-Dutch oil company Shell in the High Court is scheduled for 5 November, when a judge will hear arguments a...


Sovereign wonga fund

The glitzy launch of the Sovereign Wealth Fund has bedazzled the international financial world, although many of the details are unclear

Amid much fanfare, Luanda formally launched its US$5 billion Fundo Soberano de Angola on 17 October. The Fsdea was formed from the Fundo Petrolifero set up by the government early ...


Soldiers get ready

As Europe steps up offers of military training and equipment, and Algeria agrees to help, preparations intensify for Bamako’s march northwards

This week, teams of West African, African Union and United Nations military planners descended on Bamako to get an agreement from President Dioncounda Traoré’s government on a stra...


Uganda accused

A new UN report accuses both Uganda and Rwanda are running the M23 rebellion: foreign support for Kampala could soon be suspended

The United Nations Group of Experts on eastern Congo-Kinshasa has indicted the Ugandan government as co-sponsor of the Mouvement du 23 mars (M23) rebellion in Kivu alongside Rwanda...


Opposition shakes Trovoada

Anti-government protestors demonstrate against the Prime Minister’s manipulation of national television

The biggest challenge yet to the government of Prime Minister Patrice Trovoada saw the three opposition parties band together in a major demonstration on 19 October with ‘Save Demo...


Three men in a boat

The triumvirate of Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara officially holds the key to the constitutional referendum. It faces major challenges

President Robert Mugabe opened the final Stakeholders’ Conference on the draft constitution on 22 October. When the audience dispersed three days later, nobody seemed clear on what...


Not yet spring in Mogadishu

Disputes over politics and money, especially income from Kismayo and Mogadishu ports, threaten the new President’s new order

Political rivals, warlords and some regional officials are already testing the mettle of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, just over a month after his election. Relatively untarnish...



Pointers

Juba jitters

Security is still being tightened after coup rumours, along with discontent triggered by the 27 September agreements with Sudan. The arrest of a senior Sudan People’s Liberation Ar...


Was it a coup?

A small, apparently unorganised, armed group attacked Bra air force base near Bissau on 21 October and troops killed six men. The transitional government promptly (but without evid...


Addis on a caution

A packed court in Addis Ababa saw 29 protestors face charges of ‘terrorist acts’ on 29 October. Ethiopian law defines ‘terrorism’ as including serious damage to property and the di...


Bienvenido a Malabo

President Teodoro Obiang Nguema will host a summit for the 80 member states of the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific group in Malabo on 13-14 December. Herman van Rompuy, President of ...