As South Sudan meets its date with history on 9 July, the battle over Abyei, the disputed town at the border of Sudan and Southern Sudan, threatens to scuttle the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in 2005. South Kordofan, another border area, has also registered conflict and citizen displacement recently, thereby increasing the anticipation of the historic independence of South Sudan on 9 July. Abyei, the epicenter of the painful divorce, flared up on 21 May 2011 with an estimated 50,000 residents fleeing the border town after a Khartoum government-supported army attacked the Dinka Ngok residents while facilitating an influx of the nomadic Misseriya into the area. This was the North’s bid to change the demographics of the town before the Abyei referendum and 9 July 2011 split, according to UN field reports. The invasion has been likened to the earlier janjaweed invasion sponsored by the Khartoum government in the Darfur region.
Jacques Delors, the three-time President of the European Commission, once declared that “you cannot fall in love with the common market”. This surprising statement was uttered by the very person who ushered in the creation of the common market in an era characterised by euro-sclerosis. Arguably, the slow pace of European integration, combined with the lack of significant trade advantages deriving from the European Economic Community (EEC) membership set the pace for the creation of the common market.
In an interview at the height of his power, the Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladić once spitefully said to a foreign reporter: “I do not need the press, because I shall be vindicated by history”. Since his arrest in the small, sleepy village of Lazarevo in northern Serbia, the eyes of the world, and indeed of the press, have been turned to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). His wish to be judged by history will come true, as his trial in front of the first UN war crimes tribunal is due to start in the following months.
Deputy Secretary General of the East African Community (EAC) Beatrice Kiraso recently stated something rather obvious: “Instability in one country means instability for others. We should not allow this as it will undermine our integration efforts”. The EAC hopes those efforts will turn it into the EU of East Africa. It is also obvious then that the time is right for those words to be followed by actions in order to transform hope into reality. Deep-rooted competitive thinking amongst East African nations has to be replaced with true cooperation in order to ensure a prosperous and stable East African region that attracts both foreign investment and tourism.
CIA Director Leon Panetta is currently engaged in the latest round of talks in Islamabad, arriving the day after the head of the Pakistani Army, General Ashfaq Kayani, attempted to win back some respect from the Pakistani population by urging the US to divert some of its US$3 billion-a-year aid to “help the common man” while also advocating a forceful re-assertion of Pakistan’s sovereignty. These concerns would be heartening if they were not so transparent. Kayani’s concern for the “common man” must have been conspicuously absent when arming his 500,000 man army using American aid dollars.
Since the beginning of the revolt in Libya, the Italian government has been under pressure for its role in the management of the crisis. Its behaviour has been assiduously scrutinised by international observers. The shared history of Italy and Libya has bound the two countries in a special relationship, sometimes positive, other times negative. Libya’s grudge towards its colonial past has tarnished Italy’s image in the country. For this reason, Italian governments have progressively increased the level of bilateral cooperation with Tripoli in recent decades. Moreover, both left and right-wing Italian governments have supported Colonel Gaddafi’s re-entering the international political stage, gaining him some credibility and legitimisation as a “not-as-bad-as-the-others” African dictator. The apogee of that policy has been the signature of Italy-Libya treaty in Benghazi on 30 August 2008.
The challenges facing leaders and citizens are multiplying and becoming more complex in the post-Cold War international system. As President Barack Obama concluded his European tour in Poland, his rhetoric focused on a new reshaping of the international order for a new century. What has arisen from the various speeches and policy initiatives of the Obama administration is a blurred understanding of the post-1989 multipolar world composed of varied and competing interests. A constant theme is how this Administration builds upon the foreign policy agenda of George W. Bush, commonly referred to as the "Bush Doctrine".