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Published 23rd November 2001

Vol 42 No 23


Moving target

A state in turmoil offers no safe haven for terrorists feeling the onslaught in Afghanistan

If Usama bin Laden and his comrades headed for Somalia, they could find it even less comfortable than Afghanistan. American and French ships patrol the coastline and blockade some ports. There are reports of German troops joining them, a deployment unprecedented in modern times. Bossasso port in Puntland is a particular target. The unrecognised but de facto state is already at war. Heavy fighting broke out on 21 November between supporters of the deposed President, Colonel Abdullahi Yussef Ahmed, and backers of Jama Ali Jama, elected President by the Garowe conference of elders last week. Intelligence sources spoke of an Ethiopian invasion. Washington backs neighbouring Ethiopia, which is itching to defeat Islamists and Oromo rebels, and to settle old scores. Muslim Somalia itself, while plagued by its own Islamists, overflows with anti-Islamist militias with no love for Usama. So why is Somalia widely perceived as Usama's next base and an upcoming target for the US-led Coalition against Terrorism? So fragmented is the state, with its new Transitional National Government (AC Vol 42 No 22) forming only one authority among several, and such is the military experience of the numerous clan militias, that it would seem rash to seek refuge there. Yet the anti-terror warriors are interested for three reasons.

Mkapa winds it up

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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As Zanzibar calms down, corruption and recession hit the mainland

From now on, I will sleep more soundly', said President Benjamin Mkapa at the signing, on 10 October, of an agreement between Zanzibar's warring political parties. The pact had bee...

Gems for the martyrs

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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Tanzanite is a purple-brown crystal that, when superheated, turns into a pretty blue gem. Tanzanite sales in the United States alone are reckoned to be worth more than US$400 milli...

Brothers at war

Personal rivalries and war spoils spark a new crisis between Kigali and Kampala

Rwanda and Uganda risk repeating the disaster which overtook the equally revolutionary governments of Eritrea and Ethiopia, whose war in 1998-2000 cost over 100,000 lives and wreck...

No new order yet

Africa won one and a half of its demands in a week of fractious talks in Qatar

Africa's first meeting with the post-11 September world economic order wasn't encouraging. African delegations joined the 10-15 November World Trade Organisation negotiations in Do...

The killing of Cain

ZANU-PF targets the MDC after the unsolved murder of a war veteran

A cartoon in the state-owned daily Herald on 19 November showed the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, glad-handing his backers - the independent press, the European Union, Brit...


Guns for hire again

A born-again Executive Outcomes operation is at the centre of allegations of a military contract between ex-South African Defence Force soldiers and the Sudanese army. A former dir...

Armed and dangerous

Arms supplies to countries such as Zimbabwe and Congo-Kinshasa will be more tightly controlled, says Britain's Minister of State for Trade, Nigel Griffiths. UK-based arms dealers b...

Sweeping away

Floods made large parts of Algiers a sea of mud on 10 November. They were a nightmare for ordinary citizens, many of whom dug out neighbours with their bare hands - and for Algeria...

No more handouts

Belgium's Sabena went bust. Swissair was to have rescued it but followed it into financial collapse. For Africa's business travellers and public servants, it's a disaster. Swissair...