Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Africa burning...

Over the weekend, rebels based along the border between Sudan's violence-racked Darfur province and the central African nation of Chad pushed across the desert into the Chadian capitol, engaging in fierce battles with government forces. At one point, the rebels managed to seize control of most of the capitol city of N'Djamena and surround the presidential palace where President Idress Deby found himself holed up. A counter-attack by helicopter gunships and tanks appears to have driven the rebels into the outskirts of the capitol, at least for the time being.



A lull in fighting on Tuesday has allowed for a mass refugee crises to develop in neigboring Cameroon, where some 20,000 people have crossed the river border to flee the violence. An exact death toll in the fighting has yet to be reported, seeing as many aid workers have been evacuated. However, those who remain in the city are reporting that the streets are littered with dead bodies.

This is from the BBC:

One refugee, who preferred not to give his name, escaped the fighting in Chad and fled south to Nigeria.

"I am now in Kano but have no money left and don't have my documents," he told the BBC.

"I don't know what to do. I telephoned my friend in N'Djamena and he told me that my mother, my father and my fiancee had all been shot. I don't know whether to cry or kill myself."
The horrific and heart-wrenching quote above shows just how serious the situation has become. Chad is accusing the regime of Omar Al-Bashir in Sudan of supporting the rebels. Bashir, a military dictator who is among the most repressive leaders in the world, is also suspected of arming and supporting Arab militias in Darfur that continue to committ atrocities and genocide against the black African population.

Interestingly enough, a peacekeeping force from the European Union was set to arive in Chad with a mandate to protect Darfur refugees when the rebels began advancing on N'Djamena. Perhaps the Sudanese regime is trying disrupt the progress of a solution to the Darfur conflict. Back in 2006, a "peace accord" was agreed upon by the government only to be violated repeatedly.

United World analysis:

As the Presidential Election nears, we are sure to be hearing about important issues that will be politicized and used to score points with voters. Just look at all this talk about an "economic recession" and the continuing obsession with all things negative in Iraq. Interestingly enough, oil prices have fallen since the fighting began raging in Chad, supposedly over economic worries. Seeing as the central African nation is a major oil producer, the "speculators" should be a lot more concerned about rebel militiamen seizing control of an oil-producing nation than the "recession" so many in the media are hoping for. Not to make this a pro-Bush post, but there's little doubt that a recession is taking priority over Africa's woes because it can be used as another example of a failure by the Bush Administration. The horrific events happening in Chad today can only be blamed on the rebels carrying out the the assault and the international community that will more than likely stand by and do nothing to stop it.

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