November 01, 2023
Second front: Ukraine should take the fight to Russia in Africa
Recent claimed that Ukrainian special services were “likely” behind strikes on Russian-backed forces in Sudan. While still unconfirmed, this isn’t the first time Ukraine has thought about flexing its muscles beyond Europe to target Russia. Ukraine’s previously devised plans to attack Russian forces in Syria with clandestine Kurdish assistance, according to a leaked top-secret U.S. intelligence document. The objective behind targeting Russian units in Syria was to potentially compel Russia to redirect its MILITARY assets from Ukraine to bolster its defenses in Syria. The , the same Russian mercenary organization implicated in atrocities in Ukraine and across Africa, has played a key role in extending Moscow’s reach in Africa. It has helped Moscow pillage Africa’s resources while “prop up some very unsavory regimes in exchange for free rein to plunder the valuable resources of mineral rich countries including Mali, Sudan and Libya.” According to the , “Wagner mercenaries and Malian soldiers have been accused of a massacre in the village of Moura, killing hundreds of people — including many unarmed captives and people who had no apparent ties to the insurgency— during a five-day siege last March.” If Ukraine has the resources and ability to strike Russia in Africa, it could help Ukraine achieve three strategic objectives. First, as with the plans in Syria, if Ukraine is actively able to strike Russian soldiers and bases in Africa, then Russia will likely be forced to focus more resources on Africa and less on Ukraine. It could also affect Russia’s financial resources, as Russia has been plundering African gold to boost the war effort in Ukraine. Russia collaborated with Sudan’s military leadership to divert billions in gold, depriving Sudan of substantial state revenue. It backed the 2021 military coup that ousted the transitional civilian government, undermining the pro-democracy movement that had previously removed President Omar al-Bashir. A former U.S. official that Russia has exploited Sudan’s resources and supported the coup to retain access. Second, if Ukraine is successful in defeating Wagner-supported forces in Africa, it could help Ukraine and the West keep pro-Western governments and democracies in power. One of Wagner’s focuses in Africa has been to assist in coups and protect dictators. This is important because Ukraine has struggled heavily with trying to sway African countries from neutrality or even from taking Russia’s side in the Russo-Ukrainian war. Ukrainian Foreign Minister promised to “free Africa from Russia’s grip,” but so far the response to Ukraine’s diplomatic efforts has been lukewarm. In March 2022, the United Nations passed a denouncing Russia’s incursion into Ukraine. Of the 54 African nations represented in the UN, 28, or slightly over 51 percent, supported the resolution. This is in stark contrast to the overwhelming 81 percent approval from non-African countries. And in April 2022, the UN moved to suspend Russia’s membership in the UN Human Rights Council. Of the 54 African nations, only 10 endorsed this suspension, nine objected, while 35 either abstained or were not present for the vote. Third, if Ukraine is targeting and destroying Russian fighting capabilities in Africa, it will chip away at Russia’s international prestige and influence. By targeting Russia in Africa – where they think they can operate with impunity – it shows that Russia is not the superpower it thinks it is. During a coup in in July 2023, many of the coup supporters openly expressed their distaste for France, Niger’s former colonial ruler. Thousands marched through Niger’s capital, where they expressed their hatred of France, and many of these demonstrators waved Russian flags, signifying Russia’s emerging influence in the region. The New York Times that in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, where there have been military coups recently, the Russian flag, “has emerged as a trendy accessory, much like a Che Guevara illustration a generation ago in the West.” Russia has been strategically expanding its influence in Africa as a counter to Western powers, while Ukraine has actively pursued essential diplomatic relations with African countries. For over a decade, Moscow has positioned itself as Africa’s primary arms provider, accounting for nearly half of the continent’s military imports. By blockading Ukrainian ports since the full-scale invasion in February 2022, Russia has been restricting Ukrainian grain from global markets, with Moscow attempting to capitalize on elevated grain prices, profit from the Ukrainian grain seized in the occupied areas and weaken Ukraine’s economic economy. This disruption in grain exports from Ukraine and Russia’s port blockades has exacerbated supply shortages, resulting in skyrocketing in Africa. However, Ukraine has not had much success in countering Russian disinformation in Africa nor convincing African states to stand against Russia. The problem only compounds as Wagner keeps helping install pro-Russian regimes. Five former French colonies in Africa have had their governments since 2021. The new leaders of Mali and Burkina Faso, are “overly pro-Russian” and in Mali and the Central African Republic, have taken the place of French troops. If Western countries can provide the financial backing, perhaps it’s time for Ukraine to go on the offensive against Russia in Africa. Ukraine could lend its drone expertise and help coordinate drone attacks against Russian forces, as they already appear to have done in Sudan. It could also deploy special forces to conduct strategic attacks against Russian forces. Ukraine’s capability to target and neutralize Wagner forces outside its borders could boost morale within the country and potentially diminish Russia’s operational strength in Ukraine. Ukrainian special forces and possess the expertise to execute advanced operations in regions beyond their homeland. Successfully undertaking such missions necessitates a comprehensive network, robust infrastructure, and local backing. With proper support from the West, Ukraine can have a devastating impact on Russian forces in Africa. The struggle against Russian imperialism transcends Europe. Ukraine has the potential to contribute significantly to Russia’s defeat in Africa.
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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