August 17, 2017

A New Burst of Energy in Africa’s Industrial Activity

A civil quality controller at Medupi Power Station in Limpopo, South Africa. (Photo by Panos/Robin Hammond via Africa Renewal)

Carlos Lopes, the executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), often talks about Toblerone, the famous chocolate bar manufactured in Switzerland by Kraft Foods, an $18 billion company. Cocoa for Toblerone bars is imported, probably from Africa, where 70% of the world’s cocoa is harvested. Mr. Lopes once pointed this out to Côte d’Ivoire’s president, Alassane ... Read More »

Democratic Republic of Congo at a Crossroads

Downtown Kinshasa, DRC. (Photo by Tom)

GDP growth is soaring, inflation is low, and the resource potential is huge. Can the Democratic Republic of Congo achieve its potential or will vested interests trip it up? On the 53rd anniversary of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) independence from Belgium on 30 June, President Joseph Kabila said the country has “all of the advantages necessary to join ... Read More »

Why Deadlock in US-Afghan Security Pact Talks?

Scouts from 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment search a village below the Chowkay Valley in Kunar Province. One of the diverging point in the talks is Afghanistan’s demand from the US to protect it against any foreign aggressions. (Photo by US Army)

Negotiations between Afghanistan and the United States over a Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) have reached a crucial stage as the two sides are wrangling over key terms of the pact that would allow presence of US forces in Afghanistan beyond 2014. American officials have renewed warnings that the delay in reaching a timely agreement on the future status of the ... Read More »

No Clear Trends Ahead of Afghan Presidential Elections

Election posters on display on a municipal property in Jalabad in eastern Afghanistan ahead of elections in 2011. (Photo by by imtfi, Creative Commons License)

No other topic is of interest for Kabul’s chattering classes these days than the upcoming presidential election. The making and breaking of political and electoral alliances, the likely candidates and the expected winner are discussed threadbare as the Afghans prepare for their third presidential election since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001. This would be the first election ... Read More »

Maldives Election Fiasco: ‘Betrayal of Democracy’

(Photo via The Diplomat)

  An Indian Ocean archipelago of more than 1,992 coral islands scattered across the Equator, the Maldives is known for its emerald green waters and pristine beaches. Visiting tourists usually view it as a tranquil paradise. Maldivian politics, though, have rarely been peaceful. A British protectorate until 1965, the Maldives has been under authoritarian rule for most of its post-Independence ... Read More »

What’s With The Skullcaps?

(Photo by Hindustan Times Via Nepali Times)

  Nepal has two months to go for polls, India’s general elections are six months away, and bizarre things are happening as campaigning picks up. But even by subcontinental standards, nothing can quite surpass the spectacle of India’s Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) bringing to its rallies people sporting skullcaps and burqas and shepherding them into a reserved enclosure as happened ... Read More »

Iran to Unveil New Submarine, UAVs, Fighter Jets

(Photo via The Diplomat)

  Over the last few days Iranian defense and military leaders have announced that they will soon unveil a slew of new domestically built weapon systems, including submarines, advanced torpedoes, surveillance and possibly combat UAVs, fighter jets and various kinds of missiles. Shortly after taking over the Defense Ministry, for instance, Hossein Dehqan announced that Iran would be unveiling a ... Read More »

US and Chinese Interests Align in Pakistan

(Photo via The Diplomat)

  Although Barack Obama and Xi Jinping sported wide grins and open collars at a June summit in California, the forced collegial atmosphere didn’t pass the smell test. “There is enormous scope for future cooperation between China and the U.S.” President Xi told skeptical reporters at a press conference following the bilateral meeting. The cordial rhetoric proved unconvincing to the assembled press corps, ... Read More »

Uncertain Future of Myanmar’s Democratic Reforms

National League for Democracy (NLD) party supporters have their eyes fixed to a screen, showing results from vote counting in parliamentary by-elections, in Yangon, Myanmar, 01 April 2012. (Photo via East Asia Forum)

  John Blaxland recently acknowledged that return to military rule in Myanmar is becoming an increasingly marginal (but not impossible) prospect. The expected international and domestic retaliatory actions to a return to military rule in Myanmar are a major deterrent, as they could potentially derail Myanmar’s political stability, economic development and threaten important cease-fires. This, combined with an entrenched position in the ... Read More »

Thousands of Libyans in Militia Prisons

Former inmate on a return visit to his cell at Tripoli’s Abu Salim prison where he was held for several years. (Photo by  Iason Athanasiadis/UNSMIL)

  TRIPOLI:  Thousands of people in Libya remain locked up in militia prisons, outside of state control, more than two years after the revolution, according to a new UN report presented to the Security Council. The report says many are suffering torture and mistreatment and calls the situation “unacceptable”. “We have a big problem. But it is a problem we are trying ... Read More »