It should have been a democratic success story. The presidential election in Côte d'Ivoire, West Africa in October 2020 was expected to put an end to three decades of political unrest with the first peaceful transfer of power. Instead, though the constitution says the president can only stay in power for two terms, Alassane Ouattara ran for and won a third presidential term amid ethnic violence, extreme police brutality and the jailing of his opponent, thus barging his way to a presidency for life.
The West is accusing Russia of preparing to invade Ukraine. Both Moscow and Kiev are flexing muscles and deploying troops waiting for a “major war.” But is the Kremlin really interested in another land grab, or is Russia’s harsh rhetoric just a message to the Western leaders, primarily to the US President Joe Biden?
Last October, reporter Hiroko Tabuchi tweeted that she’d “been thinking a lot about fossil fuels and white supremacy recently,” noting that nearly every oil industry official she’d encountered as a reporter was white and male. ExxonMobil complained the tweet was a “baseless claim alleging industry links to white supremacy,” and Tabuchi later deleted it. But according to University of Notre Dame historian Darren Douchuk, Tabuchi’s tweet reflected something real.
Some Members of Congress are speaking out against the strikes. “We cannot stand up for Congressional authorization before military strikes only when there is a Republican President,” Congressman Ro Khanna tweeted, “The Administration should have sought Congressional authorization here. We need to work to extricate from the Middle East, not escalate.” Peace groups around the country are echoing that call. Rep. Barbara Lee and Senators Bernie Sanders, Tim Kaine and Chris Murphy also released statements either questioning or condemning the strikes.
On November 16, 2020, Vladimir Putin authorized his Ministry of Defense to sign an agreement with Sudan to create a permanent Russian military base in Sudan on the Red Sea, guaranteeing Russia’s first substantial military foothold in Africa since the fall of the Soviet Union. In a continent which is fast becoming the new focus of East-West rivalry for control of its abundant natural resources--chief among them oil—observers are assessing Russia’s motives. What lies behind Moscow's decision to open a naval base in Sudan? And how has Russia’s chief adversaries in the great game for oil – the United States and its allies – responded?