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Vol 44 No 6

Published 21st March 2003


Catching the flak

Africa opposes a war in Iraq which will worsen the region's economic and security problems

The United States-led war against Iraq is as unpopular in Africa as it is in Europe, the Middle East and the rest of Asia. African governments, none of which, except Sudan, have close ties with President Saddam Hussein's regime, fear more economic and security problems arising from a new conflict in the Middle East. Nearly half of the continent's people are Muslims and many of them see a war against Iraq as an attack on Islam. Capitalising on anti-war sentiment, Islamist groupings in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania are said to be planning violent protests against the US action. African security services fear a new wave of terror attacks against US and British targets on the continent. In the two major Islamist attacks in Kenya, the overwhelming majority of victims were Kenyan, not the Americans or Israelis targeted. Angola, Cameroon and Guinea - Africa's three non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council this year - have been wooed energetically by the pro-war (USA and Britain) and anti-war (France and Russia) factions on the UN Security Council. Alongside Chile, Mexico and Pakistan, the three African states make up the key 'Undecided Six'. After the USA and UK abandoned efforts to secure UNSC backing for the war, the votes of the Undecided Six will remain critical in trade-offs for subsequent UN operations as the war unfolds.

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