With the ongoing Mali conflict brining the West's attention to the major wars still existing in Africa, we look at the six major African conflicts that everyone needs to be more aware of...
The War in Somalia
Somalia is similar to Afghanistan, but with more banditry and a coastline. There are two sides to the war; there is a land war against Islamic extremists, and a sea war against pirates. The capital Mogadishu went into meltdown in 1991 after rebel forces overthrew the dictator Siad Barre. The country was 100% lawless for a long time which meant drug pushing warlords were in charge. Then in amongst the mess an extremist Islamist group emerged. Today a large part of the country is ruled by a jihadist force named Al Shabaab. Trying to take back land from the Sharia imposing hardliners is the official Somali Government with help fromEthiopia.
Like a lot of African wars, the conflict in Somalia is a civil war where powerful men are free to do as they please to make cash. The biggest money making scheme is piracy.
The Somalian war against the sea-faring bandits involves a massive international force, navies from the US, China, France and the UK stop machine gun wielding speedboat robbers from hijacking supertankers and demanding big ransoms.
The Tuareg rebellion in Mali
Tuareg is a Volkswagon crossover four wheel drive – and the name of a tribal people who have rebelling against government authority since French colonialists tried to quash them in 1916.
The nomadic tribe is dispersed over five nations in Northern Africa; in Malithe clan decided to form their own country. Since 1990 they have been trying to find a state to call their own. Tuareg mercenaries were employed in Gaddafi’s army, after the dictator was killed in Libyathe soldiers were out of work so they moved into Mali- with extra militant power available – it was a good opportunity for rebel commanders to have another go at taking over the Azawad region of the country – they got their way and defeated Malian government forces. Independencewas declared on April 6th 2012. At the moment it is stalemate as the Mailian government is too weak to take back control of the region. However, Al Qaeda is on the prowl in the newly declared state, and theUnited States could send in troops to help out Malian forces to take back control the Tuareg held land at some point.
The War in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Like a lot of modern wars it’s a fight for control of resources, a conflict which is all about getting hold of copper, gold and all kinds of exotic rocks. DR Congo is a huge country and most of the action happens in the eastern part of the country, in a region named North and South Kivu, around a lake namedLake Kivu.
The region is lawless; warlords, militia groups – rebel groups backed by neighboring countries – and DR Congo’s own government forces are all trying to take and hold power. DR Congo has mega mineral reserves, and any country or organization that gets caught up in the country wants some of the wealth. In 2007, even UN officers were accused of stealing gold and selling guns back to the people they were supposed to be fighting. Of all the current wars in Africa, the war in DR Congo is the most brutal; out-of-control militants swarm into villagers and rape, mutilate and kill anyone they get their hands on – on a daily basis.
The Conflict in the Niger Delta
The Niger Delta is huge oil producing region in southernNigeria. The population is 28 Million, there are 606 fields, 5,284 wells, 4350 of pipelines, ten export terminals, 275 flow stations, four refineries – all run by multinational oil corporations. And there is an angry militia group called MEND who wants to wreck it all. The heavily armed militants make life difficult for the oil men by smashing up industry infrastructure – attacks have been known to change the world crude oil price. The mega corporations employ mercenaries who use helicopter gunships to punish the guerrilla force for destroying pipelines and wells. Poverty and inequality are the root cause of the insurgency. Billions of dollars worth of oil are extracted in the region, and all the profits go to the global energy firms and the big men inLagos, the capital. The local people see hardly of the money, and they are not happy about it.
The War in Ivory Coast
The war in Ivory Coast is more straight forward than most civil wars because the country has no massive oil or mineral wealth up for grabs. Like a lot of African nations, the country is still trying to find an identity after gaining independence from colonial rule. The war is a struggle among various people and groups. It’s all about powerful men who want to rule the place and ethnic groups who want the government to do more things for them.
The war has been in two parts so far; the first part of the conflict started in 2002 after rebel forces representing marginalized people tried to take control of the country. The battle lasted until 2006 when Didier Drogba begged for peace on national TV, the former Chelsea player put in motion talks which put in place a cease-fire. In 2011 things went bad again when the ruler Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down after he was voted out of office. Militia groups working for Alassane Ouattara, the guy who won the elections managed to take control and Laurent Gbagbo was arrested and sent toThe Haguefor butchering opponents. Ouattara is now in power, and the country is in a state of precarious peace and likely to fall back into a state of war soon.
The Sudan Conflict
Sudan has been in a state of on-off civil war since the whole country got independence from Britain. The war is between Arab Muslims in the North and African Christians in the South. The South has wanted to be separate and autonomous since 1955 and the North does not want them to be. The first part of the conflict lasted until 1972 when a shaky peace agreement was found -
11 years after, in 1982 the Southern rebels got active again. The South Sudanese rebel army – The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement fought the official Sudanese Government for independence for 22 years – until 2005 – this time they got their way.
The South Sudanese got their own state as part of a peace deal. In 2011 the country split and the southern part became known as South Sudan and the northern part remained Sudan, but smaller. Peace didn’t last long, when both sides split, there wasn’t a proper agreement over who gets the big oil wells on the border. Petro-dollars kept Sudan’s GDP respectable. Not long after official independence a war kicked off over the oil. And in April of this year Omar Bashir, Sudan’s dictator declared total war on South Sudanand told supporters of plans to storm the country and seize the capital. If the hardcore leader gets his way the resource war on the border will turn into a full-on civil war again.
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