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Author: Rebecca Brocato

The Ripple Effect of Somalia’s Chaos

Somalia’s decades of lawlessness have had major ramifications for its neighbors. This week, two stories highlight the spillover effects of Somalia’s violence across the border in Kenya. Both reports highlight the worrisome increasing trend of extremist groups recruiting over the border, namely in northern Kenya and in Nairobi’s Somali quarter. Reporting for the Christian Science Monitor, Heba Aly narrates life in Nairobi’s Somali neighborhood, Eastleigh, where one finds strong support for al-Shabaab, the Islamist rebel movement currently fighting inside Somalia. Aly describes just how easily funds flow across the border, noting that an estimated 3 million dollars a year flows ...
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The Who’s Who of the Somalia Crisis

The Who's Who of the Somalia Crisis
Somalia’s brutal and anarchic recent history often seems to be an impenetrable quagmire of shifting alliances and ill-advised foreign interventions. However, it is critical for international actors engaging with issues on the Horn to understand who is fighting whom and why, a task that is intimately tied to a familiarity with Somalia’s history. A useful article from IRIN today does a good job of providing historical context and laying out Somalia’s key players. Importantly, the piece discussed in detail the alliance of militias that make up the forces of Sheik Sharif Ahmed’s frail Transitional Federal Government, or TFG, noting that ...
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Somalia: Peacekeepers Battle Insurgents and Malnutrition

Somalia: Peacekeepers Battle Insurgents and Malnutrition
A recent spate of deaths due to malnutrition and chronic funding problems (the force has never received the $800 million dollars it had been promised) underlines the severity of the day-to-day hardships the African Union peacekeepers in Somalia encounter ...
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Zuma in Zimbabwe: South African President Sees Way Forward

Zuma in Zimbabwe: South African President Sees Way Forward
Gwede Mantash, the secretary general of South Africa’s leading ANC, said Wednesday that Zuma would not shy away from being vocal, noting that the South African president would “become more vocal in what we see as deviant behavior in our neighbor.” ...
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Zuma in Zimbabwe: Farming May Not Be the Only Discussion Topic

South African President Jacob Zuma is set to head to Zimbabwe this week for the first time since he was inaugurated in May. Zuma will be in the capital, Harare, on Thursday to participate in the opening ceremonies of a farm trade show. However, what he will or will not say about Zimbabwe’s continually fragile unity government remains the real question. A report from IRIN underscores the tension between MDC and ZANU-PF officials regarding the purpose of Zuma’s visit. President Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba recently noted, “President Jacob Zuma is coming here to officially open the agricultural show and not ...
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Somali Extremists Pledge to Fight through Ramadan

Somali Extremists Pledge to Fight through Ramadan
Today, extremist groups Hizbul Islam and al-Shabaab flatly rejected calls from Somali President Sharif Sheik Ahmed to suspend fighting for the holy month of Ramadan, which began on Friday. Reuters reported Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys, Hizbul Islam’s leader, had this to say at a press conference: “We will not accept that cease-fire call…This holy month will be a triumphant time for mujahedeen and we will fight the enemy.” There seems to be no end in sight for Somalia’s raging violence. More than 100 people died last week as a result of fighting between government forces and the insurgents. Friday saw ...
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Zimbabwe: Arrest of MDC Parliamentarians Highlights Fragile ‘Unity’

In Zimbabwe political unity suffered another blow yesterday when Zimbabwean police officials arrested 10 parliamentarians who are members of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement of Democratic Change. The officials were arrested while visiting a senior official within the finance ministry, which is a notoriously corrupt stronghold of Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF. Reuters reported that those arrested were at the office attempting to investigate the current status of MP allowances as well as a vehicle loan scheme. Tafadzwa Mugabe, the lawyer for those detained told AFP that the officials were “detained for causing disturbances at the offices belonging to the permanent secretary ...
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In Sri Lanka, Humanitarian Emergency Underscores Plight of Tamil Minority

In Sri Lanka, Humanitarian Emergency Underscores Plight of Tamil Minority
In northeastern Sri Lanka, the humanitarian situation for displaced Tamils has been steadily worsening in recent months but seemed to reach a desperate level over the weekend when flash floods saturated the region in the northwestern part of the country where roughly 280,000 people remain in camps following the showdown last spring between the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan government. OCHA is reporting that more than 16,000 people are at great risk after heavy rains destroyed tents and critical facilities in a series of zones inside the Vavuniya District and the Manik Farm camp. The deteriorating situation led to ...
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The Brains Behind the LRA

The Brains Behind the LRA
Joseph Kony, the brutal and cultish figure at the helm of the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA, has terrorized civilians throughout Central Africa for more than two decades. His appalling tactics, which include abduction, forced conscription of child soldiers, and sexual slavery, now destabilize and wreak havoc on civilian populations in four countries. Understanding how the LRA functions and how the LRA organizes its fighters can be difficult because there is very little information about the organization’s command structure. However, such knowledge is necessary to truly understand the LRA’s activities as well as the best way to end the violence ...
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Clinton Laments Current US Relationship to ICC

Clinton Laments Current US Relationship to ICC
Among the positive developments coming out of Secretary Clinton’s trip thus far are her unabashed comments in support of the International Criminal Court, or ICC. On two occasions, she called the US decision to not ratify the Rome Statute that established the ICC a “great regret.” ...
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