Home > Roundup > Roundup of Analysis and Investigative Articles: Mercenaries in business, and politics in Gaza, France, and the Congo

Roundup of Analysis and Investigative Articles: Mercenaries in business, and politics in Gaza, France, and the Congo

Making a killing: how private armies became a $120bn global industry. The sector is now worth up to $120bn annually with operations in at least 50 countries, according to Peter Singer, a security analyst with the Brookings Institution in Washington. “The rate of growth in the security industry has been phenomenal,” says Deborah Avant, a professor of political science at UCLA. The single largest spur to this boom is the conflict in Iraq. (Daniel Howden and Leonard Doyle, The Independent)

Welcome to Planet Gaza. The Israeli cabinet’s edict to declare the Gaza Strip a “hostile territory” and slowly grind its population even further down is only the latest strategy to sabotage any attempt by Hamas to govern the Strip properly. It’s also a template for US logic in Iraq. (Pepe Escobar, Asia Times)

A Hamas Truce? An exchange of signals, including indirect contacts, between Israel and Hamas this past week offer an opportunity to examine both the balance of forces and each side’s current aspirations. On September 16th, 2007, Hamas spokesman Taher al Nunu suggested that Hamas will implement the truce with Israel as part of the (no longer existing) unity government’s decisions. The rationale given for the (belated) truce was the desire to improve conditions during the month of Ramadan. Maybe the successful rocket attack on an Israeli military base outside Gaza in which about 60 soldiers, were wounded – most lightly, provided a ‘high note’ before a new course. The next day, Matan Vilnai, Israel’s Deputy Minister of Defense, (who was head of Southern Command when the IDF pulled out of the Strip in 1994) suggested that if Hamas stopped rocket fire against Israel for one to two weeks, than Israel should study the possibility of a truce with Hamas. Then, yesterday Hamas leaked to Reuters that Ghazi Hamad, the Hamas’s spokesman, contacted Vilnai through an intermediary. Hamas offered a truce in return for Israel’s agreement to open the crossings between Gaza and Egypt and Gaza and Israel. The Israeli government not only rejected the proposal, but on September 19th declared Gaza an “enemy entity,” a legal designation that it could use to further limit supplies to Gaza. (Gershon Shafir, Informed Comment: Global Affairs)

France: Two Years After Riots, Little Has Changed. Clichy-sous-Bois gained an unwelcome iconic significance two years ago following the deaths of Bouna Traore and Zyed Benna, two youths from immigrant families who were electrocuted while trying to hide from the police. The deaths, a particularly grim chapter in a long history of simmering tension between local youths and the police, set off rioting and civil unrest around France. Almost 9,000 cars were burnt, and dozens of buildings were set on fire. Close to 130 police and firefighter staff were injured, and nearly 2,900 people were arrested. Few steps were taken to address the fact that, in some suburbs, unemployment hovers around nearly 20 percent — double the national average. The figure for 21-29-year-olds stands at more than 30 percent. A study conducted in 2004 by sociologist Jean-François Amadieu and Adia, one of the largest human resource and temporary job companies in Paris, found that job applicants with a traditionally French sounding surname or a more desirable address code were five times more likely to be called in for a job interview than a prospective employee with an Arab or African-appearing name or an address in the suburbs. (Michael Deibert, IPS)

A restless Sarkozy vows to lead Europe into a new era. He took credit for pushing through a revised treaty for the European Union. He declared that France would return to NATO’s military command if his conditions are met. He announced that the French Navy would help protect food delivery to Somalia. He assailed his fellow Europeans for having no ideas.For Sarkozy, the most burning issue is Iran’s nuclear program. France’s position, he explained, is clear: “No nuclear weapon for Iran, an arsenal of sanctions to convince them, negotiations, discussions, firmness. And I don’t want to hear anything else that would not contribute usefully to the discussion today.” (Elaine Sciolino and Alison Smale, International Herald Tribune)

A People’s History of Congo’s Jean-Pierre Bemba. Who is Jean-Pierre Bemba and how did he rise to power in the heart of darkness? Did Bemba order his rebel soldiers to cannibalize pygmies? What is Bemba’s relationship to the competitors of George W. Bush and the friends of Bill Clinton? How is Bemba linked to blood diamonds in Africa and mercenary armies in Iraq? Why have troops from Uganda recently re-invaded Congo and why have the United Nations and international press been silent about it? A look at Bemba’s infamous history answers these questions and more. (Keith Harmon Snow, Toward Freedom)

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