The cost of ignoring Africa is immense—and may be ultimately measured in American lives lost. Left unchecked, Al Qaeda affiliates in North Africa will soon be able to strike at Americans overseas and at home. Ignoring North Africa today is like ignoring Afghanistan in 1998, as Bin Laden’s minions began to plan the September 11 attacks. North Africa is becoming the “new Afghanistan”—a string of toterring and largely ungoverned nations running from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad left for Benin on Sunday for his first stop on a three-nation West African tour that will also take him to Ghana and Niger, the world’s fourth-largest uranium producer.
Energy will be high on Ahmadinejad’s agenda during the trip and Benin said talks with President Thomas Boni Yayi would also focus on education and agriculture. According to the World Nuclear Association industry group, uranium from landlocked Niger is trucked to ports in neighbouring Benin for export, with most of it sent to Areva subsidiary Comurhex in France.
Will armies battle each other, as the cry for “blue gold” gets furious? Will “water wars” be as prevalent as conflict for the “black gold” of oil? Two documentary films have wetted public interest – Blue Gold: World Water Wars, and Last Call at the Oasis, and a dystopia novel – The Water Wars – warns of its imminence.
In actuality, history’s pages are already splashed with dozens of conflicts. In 2,450 B.C. the Sumerian cities of Lagash and Umma warred over Tigris-Euphrates water. More recently, Senegal and Mauritaniabattled in 1989 over grazing rights in the Senegal River Valley – hundreds were killed, 250,000 fled their homes. The Pacific Institute provides an excellent map and timeline of 225 water skirmishes.