Friday Top Five – March 21st

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1) Story: What the Boys Found

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A little late to the party with this week’s list opener. In January an article written by Timothy D. May called “No Country for Young Men,” came up on Foreign Policy. The following is an except on a piece that examines members of the ‘Lost Boys’ thoughts on the new South Sudan and the recurring violence. What was really interesting was that Peter Magai Bul, a ‘lost boy’ and coordinator of Hope of Sudan Alliance, spoke of a distinction that sets them apart from other members of the diaspora: they traveled together and are bound as a group.

Former Lost Boys who returned from exile to help their struggling homeland are deeply upset by the fighting, though they say they are determined not to allow the current political upheaval and violence to derail their work. said John Dau, founder of the Lost Boys of Central New York and the John Dau Foundation, a non-profit based in Syracuse, New York, that opened the Duk Lost Boys Clinic in Jonglei state in 2007. “They’ll box, they’ll kick, they’ll use nails,” Dau added. “Just taking the arms away doesn’t help. You have to disarm their hearts. You have to bring surgery, clinics, roads, schools. Help them, sit down with them, and let them understand that if you stop fighting, the government can do this, the international community will help. We can bring peace to South Sudan.”

2) Lens: Congo Gallery

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POLITICO posted a photo gallery titled “On the Ground in Congo’s Rebellion” by Elizabeth Ralph. This got picked up in similar types of articles. On enough: the project to end genocide and crimes against humanity they wrote:

On the Ground in Congo’s Rebellion, a photo essay from Politico Magazine, provides a look into the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the violence that has ensued the country since the M23 rebel group mutinied against the government in April 2012. In September 2012, a Human Rights Watch report accused the M23 of “widespread war crimes, including summary executions, rapes, and forced recruitment.” These acts of violence and human rights violations led to the displacement of more than 2 million Congolese. Now the Congo, Africa’s second largest country, is struggling to obtain peace and stability from a rebellion responsible for the deaths of millions of its people.

It was also posted in a Christian Science Monitor article titled 5 African Stories you probably missed. I’m not sure if it’s because they’re African stories that people missed them . . . They also aren’t so much stories as topics. . . but don’t worry because: “The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of Africa bloggers. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers’ own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs.”

3) State: Kerry and Egypt

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There’s been a lot of grumbling about the disagreements between Kerry and the Obama Admin. about what the US should do in Egypt.

The following are some links for context on the positions involved and where Kerry lies on the Muslim Brotherhood. To start with earlier this week an op ed was posted on the Washington Post detailing Kerry’s criticism of Egyptian democracy:

It’s encouraging that Mr. Kerry seems to be connecting a resumption of aid to tangible“reforms” in Egypt. But those words were at odds with his assurance that he would be able to move forward “in the days ahead . . .I mean short term.” A meaningful response on the items he mentioned would require a radical — and most unlikely — change of course by the Sissi regime, which, far from pursuing “inclusivity,” has been seeking to destroy Egypt’s largest Islamic movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, while imprisoning the secular leaders of the January 2011 revolution against the previous military-backed autocracy.

Kerry has been propelling this attitude for a while. In November of last year in an article in The Guardian, Egyptian correspondent Patrick Kingsley wrote about The Brotherhood’s usurping of the protestors’ dreams of democracy:

In a set-piece speech to American businessmen on Wednesday, Kerry argued that Egypt’s 2011 uprising was inspired by a demand for everyday freedoms, rather than a desire for religion to play a bigger role in public life. “Those kids in Tahrir Square, they were not motivated by any religion or ideology,” said Kerry, referring to the thousands of protesters who camped in Cairo’s central square in early 2011, and called for the overthrow of the then dictator Hosni Mubarak. “They were motivated by what they saw through this interconnected world, and they wanted a piece of the opportunity and a chance to get an education and have a job and have a future, and not have a corrupt government that deprived them of all of that and more.” He added: “And then it got stolen by the one single most organised entity in the state, which was the Brotherhood.”

Kerry’s remarks are likely to please Egypt’s new army-backed administration, who argue that the Brotherhood’s removal was necessary to prevent the country falling into the hands of religious extremists, and who are increasingly frustrated at the west’s lukewarm reaction to both Morsi’s removal and the subsequent brutal suppression of his supporters. But Kerry’s position will naturally infuriate Morsi’s supporters, many of whom took part in Mubarak’s 2011 overthrow alongside the liberal youth Kerry mentioned in his speech. Kerry’s words may also frustrate White House officials, who want Kerry to take a firmer stance against Egypt’s current administration, according to recent reports. Egypt’s new cabinet has been accused of being just as illiberal as Morsi’s and Mubarak’s governments, drafting new legislation that would obstruct the right to protest and the freedom of association.

Around the same time, Josh Rogin for The Daily Beast wrote about Kerry, the White House and Susan Rice:

“John Kerry doesn’t agree with Susan Rice on big portions of our Egypt policy, and he made a deliberate and conscious decision not to mention Morsi in his Cairo meetings,” an administration official told The Daily Beast. “Susan Rice wasn’t happy about it.”

Two other administration officials confirmed the Kerry-Rice rift over Egypt. The secretary and national security adviser’s disagreement about how to handle the tumultuous and troubled U.S.-Egypt relationship is only the latest example of how the White House has steered America’s approach to Egypt in a way that conflicts with the views and desires of the State Department and the Pentagon, said the two officials.

Finally there is an article in The New York Times before any of the above links detailing the position Rice holds on Egypt:

The president’s goal, said Ms. Rice, who discussed the review for the first time in an interview last week, is to avoid having events in the Middle East swallow his foreign policy agenda, as it had those of presidents before him.

“We can’t just be consumed 24/7 by one region, important as it is,” she said, adding, “He thought it was a good time to step back and reassess, in a very critical and kind of no-holds-barred way, how we conceive the region.”

Not only does the new approach have little in common with the “freedom agenda” of George W. Bush, but it is also a scaling back of the more expansive American role that Mr. Obama himself articulated two years ago, before the Arab Spring mutated into sectarian violence, extremism and brutal repression.

4) Our own: Aaron’s Research

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A fellow GPIAer Aaron Leaf spent break doing thesis research in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia. Check out a sample from his blog reposted in The New Context.

It was an old joke to talk about the “motorbike wing” of JFK hospital. Police claimed there were over 1,000 motorbike casualties last October alone. Then in November, a school bus accident killed a rider resulting in the bus getting burnt in retaliation. This was the last straw.  Now bikes are banned completely from the city center. This has crippled many people’s commutes but also made the center of town less chaotic and a lot quieter.

5) Favorite: World Water Day! 

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Saturday is World Water Day, it’s a day in which people can raise awareness of massive disparities that exist in access to water. Here are some resources and articles that talk about access issues.

For some perspective on the issues of addressing access check out Mackenzie Klema‘s, a student at Wellesley College, article “For Bringing Safe, Clean Water to Slums in Sub-Saharan Africa, Market-Based Strategies Are Not the Answer:”

The failure of private water is a daily challenge for many in urban SSA. With state-sponsored privatization doing little for squatter communities, illegal small-scale private water providers, such as water vendors, provide 50 percent of urban Africa with its water. In Kibera, women and children spend one to four hours a day locating a water vendor, waiting in line, and carrying the water home. When there is a shortage, women can spend all day looking for water.

Some context of water scarcity in relation to food security issues can be found in an article from the UN News Centre titled “Water scarcity among critical food security issues in Near East and North Africa:”

“The region has made significant strides in two decades in developing its water usage and storage capacities, but there is still much work to be done to improve water efficiency in agriculture, protect water quality, and address challenges related to climate change,” said Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for the Near East and North Africa. FAO noted in a news release that per capita fresh water availability in the region has plummeted by two-thirds over the past 40 years, heightening concerns over the degradation of water quality and the impact of climate change.

In case you still need more The Guardian also posted an article titled “How to teach … World Water Day,” check it out for additional resources and background.

 

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That’s it. Thoughts? Comment below!

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