South Asia

China expands Indian Ocean military footprint

In addition to stationing troops on the disputed islands it claims in the South China Sea, Beijing is rapidly expanding its network of commercial ports across the Indian Ocean. This comes as China is sending warships into the Ocean with growing frequency, leading to fears that the commercial ports could presage military bases, The latest addition is the port of Hambantota in Sri Lanka, acquired in a debt swap deal—the Colombo government was forgiven $1 billion in debt to Beijing in exchange for the Hambantota facility. China has also gained access to facilities in Burma, Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Maldives, Seychelles and Oman as part of the maritime component of its Silk Road trade and infrastructure initiative. While the Silk Road is an ostensibly civilian project, China has also established its first foreign military base at Djibouti, leading Western wonks to warn that Beijing is seeking a "string of pearls" network of bases across the Indian Ocean.  (Map via CIMSEC)

Africa

DRC opens rainforest to oil, logging interests

Concern is mounting for the Democratic Republic of Congo’s vast forests and rich wildlife as logging concessions and licenses to explore for oil in protected areas are prepared ahead of presidential elections later this year. A moratorium on industrial logging, in place since 2002, has been broken with three concessions reportedly handed out by the DRC environment ministry to Chinese-owned logging companies. A further 14 logging concessions are expected to be granted within months, according to a Greenpeace investigation. In addition, the government is preparing to reclassify large areas of Salonga and Virunga national parks—both UNESCO World Heritage sites—to allow oil exploitation. (Photo via Global Forest Watch)

Africa

Zimbabwe: new leader implicated in massacres

The swearing in of Zimbabwe's new President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa is being hailed as opening a new era for the country that had been ruled by Robert Mugabe from independence in 1980 until his dramatic downfall this week. But  some are demanding accountability over Mnangagwa's role in ethnic massacres against the country's Ndebele minority people in the 1980s.

Africa

China sends combat troops to South Sudan

A 700-strong Chinese battalion is headed for South Sudan as part of a UN "peacekeeping" mission—but the deployment follows China's massive investment in the country's oil sector.

Africa

Boko Haram steps up Cameroon raids

Escalating attacks by Boko Haram militants from across the Nigerian border have led to curfews, fear and privation in Cameroon's remote and impoverished Far North Region.

Oceania

Rival trade pacts vie for Pacific hegemony

China is proposing a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP) in  a race with the US-backed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) for hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region.

Africa

South Sudan: Yes, another war for oil

South Sudan may be developing into proxy war, pitting US client states Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia against Khartoum in a struggle for control of pipeline routes.

North Africa

Strike at Chinese uranium mine in Niger

Workers went on a 72-hour strike at the Chinese-owned Somina uranium mine in northern Niger, demanding better wages and the release of unpaid bonuses.