Thursday, August 30, 2012

Chinese gangsters in Africa

a couple days ago there was an article about Angola deporting Chinese criminals from that country, but I didn't post it for obvious reasons (not Zimbabwe related).

But StrategyPage has this in one of their articles on China: Three problems: spreading guns that encourage violence/crime, chinese criminals, and cheap imports that fall apart or kill locals (while undermining local manufacturing jobs)...

China is also having more problems keeping its arms exports secret. This is not a problem when the weapons go to some dictatorship and stay there. But in Africa, the secret Chinese weapons shipments tend to spread around. The UN has noted that Chinese weapons are increasingly showing up in trouble spots. When captured, the owners of these weapons simply say they got the weapons from some local arms dealers. The dealers are hard to capture, or even identify, but the weapons are obviously of Chinese origin. China denies everything, but that approach is getting old and there are growing demands for international cooperation to investigate and measure this underground Chinese weapons market. 
Africa has become a new land of opportunity for adventurous and ambitious Chinese. But this has also attracted Chinese criminal gangs. The Chinese gangsters mainly prey on the growing Chinese populations in Africa, using kidnapping, extortion and robbery to get a share of the new wealth being created by the hard working Chinese migrants. Local governments have a hard time coping with this sort of thing, and in the past year China has offered to send police investigators to find out who the bad guys are and, in cooperation with the local police, arrest and deport these crooks back to China for prosecution. Angola recently arrested and deported 37 Chinese under this program. 
Meanwhile, the temptation remains for Chinese gangsters. Goods from China are cheap, if shoddy compared to European or American items. But in Africa low prices are king, and the Chinese know how to play that way. The Chinese also don’t mind the nasty remarks from the locals. Chinese traders have been going abroad, often into hostile environments, for thousands of years. For the Chinese government, these “overseas Chinese” are an economic, diplomatic, and sometimes military, bridgehead into foreign lands. The “overseas Chinese” can be a source of military intelligence, and local knowledge for espionage and other missions. Most Western nations have pulled their diplomatic and intelligence people out rural areas in Africa, losing touch with what’s going on out there. Not so the Chinese, where the Chinese entrepreneurs will go anywhere that appears capable of providing some profit. There are over a million Chinese in Africa now, most of them recent migrants.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Southern Accord

There has been a slow but quiet movement of US special forces into Africa, mostly to help the African Union to fight terror groups in the Somali area, but also to help Uganda to get Kony's group.

But this is the first I've heard them moving in Southern Africa,

Photo from StrategyPage:

U.S. Army and Botswana Defense Force engineers improve an existing pond used for watering livestock and some agricultural needs in a small village near Mkankake Range in Botswana, Aug. 20, 2012. The engineers are participating in Southern Acord 2012, an annual joint exercise to enhance military capabilities and interoperability. The U.S. engineers are assigned to engineers the 631st Engineers Company. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. James D. Sims

and here is an article about the Illinois National Guard's part of these exercizes:

Illinois Army National Guard from Streator, Ill., and their counterparts from the Botswana Defense Force, have been running both static and mobile re-fueling operations at Thebephatswha Air Base, Botswana.

Southern Accord 2012, or SA 12, is an annual combined, joint exercise which brings together U.S. military and Botswana Defense Force, or BDF, personnel to conduct humanitarian assistance/disaster relief operations, peacekeeping operations and aeromedical evacuation to enhance military capabilities and interoperability.

With more than 10,000 gallons of diesel fuel and 2,000 gallons of aviation fuel on the ground, the combined team is responsible for providing fuel for both ground and air assets during the exercise.

and yes, the docs are there too:

THEBEPHATSHWA AIR BASE, Botswana (Aug. 10, 2012) -- Soldiers from the 909th Forward Surgical Team out of Fort Sheridan, Ill., provided medical training to soldiers of the Botswana Defense Force Aug. 2, in The Republic of Botswana, Africa.

 and the Hawaii National Guard are there too, helping teach about helicopters.

these things always make me a bit nervous: no, I don't think anyone is expecting Zimbabwe to attack Botswana, but contingency plans like this allow fast response for mass emergencies, as the presence of a US and Austrailian navy units helped local response after the tsunami (and in several Filipino diseasters)

when you train together, it means you know each other and someone has hands on experience in the area.

and "The area" would,  of course, include South Africa, Namibia, and Zimbabwe....such as the floods two years ago in South Africa.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Kony update

Austin Bay at Strategypage has an update on the search for Kony.
The immense LRA dispersal area is roughly comparable to the state of Texas in size. It slices through five desperately poor nations — the Congo, South Sudan (Juba government), Sudan (Khartoum government), the Central African Republic (CAR) and Uganda. Among these five nations, only Uganda's security forces can reasonably assert that they control their national territory.
Kony maintains hideouts in the territory's most remote regions and uses its size and political divisions to his advantage. He crosses international borders to cover his tracks and create diplomatic complications for pursuing enemies. Remote certainly applies to the southeastern CAR's Chinko River area and Sudan's western Darfur region, the two areas where Ugandan security officials say they believe he is likely hiding....
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