[in] focus

The Malian crisis and its embarrassment for a ‘sovereign’ Africa

If the 2011 NATO expedition in Libya was thought to be insulting to Africa, then the ongoing French-led military intervention in the north of Mali can best be characterised as an embarrassment to African leaders and their people who are often critical and suspicious of Western intervention. When NATO carried out its military campaign in Libya almost two years ago, ostensibly to contain the late Muammar Gaddafi’s assault on protesting civilians, the general refrain from a significant part of the African political and intellectual leadership was that the offensive amounted to a violation of the continent’s sovereignty. This was the case, even though all three African representatives in the UN Security Council (Gabon, Nigeria and South Africa) voted in favour of the resolution authorising the use of ‘all necessary measures’ to protect civilians in Libya, and which formed the basis for NATO’s intervention.

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Taiwan anticipate to ease off tension in the East China Sea row, how will China and Japan respond?

Tension is mounting in the East China Sea over the Diaoyutai islands (named in China) or Senkaku Islands (named in Japan). The Republic of China (Taiwan), however, proposes to resolve the territorial dispute through meaningful dialogue but that’s if China and Japan come on board to support the initiative. Already having support from a number of states in the international community, Taiwan seeks to play a major role in diffusing the tension based on its peace initiative and trilateral dialogue to avoid conflict on the issue between China and Japan.

Since tension escalated in September 2012, after Japan purchased the disputed Islands from a private owner which led to a major protest against Japanese businesses in China, discussions around the tension painted the picture that both nations are determined to secure their interest in the islands at any cost, creating a room of military confrontation.

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Have the AU and SADC failed the Swazi nation’s democratic aspirations?

Swaziland is to go to elections in August 2013 and the tensions preceding these elections, as was the case in 2008, do not augur well for this southern African country. Both the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) aim to, among other things, promote democratisation in their member states, which include Swaziland. Yet the Swazi people continue to wait patiently for rescue from the firm grip of their absolute monarchy. The question that this article discusses is whether the people of the kingdom of Swaziland can realistically expect the AU and SADC to help meet their democratic aspirations.

For 39 years now, Swaziland has been under a post-colonial monarchy, which in the recent past has faced difficulties that a state of emergency, the banning of political parties ,systematic repression of critical civil society, restriction of freedoms of association and assembly, and other draconian legislations have failed to resolve. Instead, the country has reached the brink of economic collapse. This has put to sharp scrutiny the extravagant lifestyle of the head of state, King Mswati III, which is in sharp contrast to the abject poverty that 80 percent of the population live under. The socio-economic malaise deepens by the day.

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The Mali-Algeria crisis and the Western Sahara Question

This is a ‘quick and dirty’ take on the fast-moving Saharan crisis unfolding in Africa’s northwest. It appears that in the cut-and-thrust of the French intervention to roll back Islamist insurgents in northern Mali and the hostage crisis in Algeria, that virtually all commentaries on the security vacuum in trans-Saharan Africa have missed the point as they missed it in Libya. It boils down to two words: Western Sahara.

This is the long and the short of it as far as post-Qaddafi regional instability is concerned and for all interested parties, not the least the African Union (AU) but also the West. The current crisis should propel the unresolved Western Sahara stalemate to the top of the international security agenda as it relates to Africa, Europe and the Mediterranean.

It is one that underlines the geostrategic spatial interdependencies between Africa and Europe to the detriment of Africa’s continental sovereignty which, by the way, is a hell of a lot more important than the sovereignty of either Mali or Algeria – or for that matter, the Western Sahara.

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Bilateral relations and why they matter: the case of South Korea

South Africa’s (SA) dynamic engagement in foreign affairs has the potential to yield favorable outcomes for the South African economic and development agenda. At the multilateral level SA’s participation in BRICS, IBSA and BASIC present potentially positive outcomes, including significant increase in trade and investment. Bilateral relations are particularly important in expanding South Africa’s national interest, both within and outside these multilateral groups, and play a significant role in respect of trade and investment relations. SA’s relations with the Republic of Korea (ROK) are a case in point.

ROK is Asia’s fourth-largest economy; a major player among the world’s top exporting nations. It is a high-tech industrialized nation, its automobile, shipbuilding, steel making, and IT industries are on the leading edge in global markets. In South Africa, the presence of ROK has increased and trade between the two nations include a vast range of products, from minerals and semi-finished products to sophisticated high-technology electric and electronic products, and adding to that is the success of ROK companies such as Samsung, LG and Hyundai that makes ROK to be better known in SA than ever before.

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