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The Life of a Diplomat: Assassination in Khartoum

On March 1, 1973, a terrorist attack led by the Black September Organization took place at the Saudi Arabian embassy based in Khartoum, Sudan. Five diplomats were taken hostage, of which only two survived. Jan-Willem Bertens, who was not only a diplomat in Uruguay, Costa Rica and Sudan, but also the party leader of D-66 in the European Parliament, and ... Read More »

Life of a Diplomat: Bridge Over River Nile

‘There is an Arab saying which claims that ‘When Allah created Sudan, he laughed’. Of course, it is impossible, Allah cannot laugh, because nobody saw his face!’, exclaims J. W. Bertens, when he remembers his assignment in Sudan. This is the second part of Checks&Balances’ interview with Jan-Willem Bertens, who was not only a diplomat in Uruguay, Costa Rica and ... Read More »

Move Over Somalia, here´s Africa´s Next Failed State

After 20 years of bloody conflict and several failed international interventions, Somalia finally seems to have turned the tides and to be heading towards stability. Although Al-Shabab is still a serious threat, it is losing ground to the troops of the African Union. This of course is great for Somalian government, the African Union and the Somali people in general, ... Read More »

African Terrorism With Global Ambitions: The Story of Al-Shabab

6 October 2013- In the poverty-stricken rural areas of central and southern Somalia, farmers pay taxes for owning land and transporting rice. They do not give this money to the Somali government, but to those responsible for the attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi. Islamic terrorists control most of the rural areas in Somalia: they exploit farmers, hunt elephants ... Read More »

Coptic Christians Accused of Egypt´s “Coup d´État”

August 14, 2013, a wave of violence is spreading through Egypt. In the city of Minya, in the north of Egypt, a Coptic church is destroyed and set on fire by a crowd of aggressive militants. Later that day, sunlight shining through the broken windows shows the black smouldering ash that covers the remnants of the floor. The surrounding streets ... Read More »

Our Future is Bright

Overpopulation, global food shortages and water wars. What the future will be like is unclear, but it will most likely be grim. The current trajectory of humankind is heading towards utter disaster. The aforementioned examples will be determining the face of our future world. Right. Doomsday predictions have been around ever since mankind learn the ability to speak, but so ... Read More »

Israel and its Ethiopian Diaspora

August 28 was a day of celebration for 450 Ethiopian Jews arriving at Ben-Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, but a day of grievance for many other of their compatriots. The Israeli government has decided to end the migration program that enabled Jews from Ethiopia to become a citizen of the Israeli state after three decades. Around 125,000 Ethiopians turned into ... Read More »

Bloody Ivory: Elephants and Instability in Central Africa

On a routine patrol, the Park Rangers of Garamba National park in North-Eastern Congo discovered 22 elephant carcasses. The group of elephants, including four babies, were all shot dead from above and their tusks had been removed. A few days later, a Ugandan military helicopter was spotted hovering above the park by the rangers. In a continent ripped apart by ... Read More »

Juggling poor thinking

By Victor Kuijpens What do you tell your friends when you come back from Africa? To be frank, I tell the same stories about poverty, corruption and rhythmic African music as everyone else does. In order to break the cliché, I will close off this blog series with a story about a remarkable man called Segun Ola, and his philosophy ... Read More »

No Beer, No Rape?

By Huub Brand Borren Say you are the head of police in one of the most criminal areas in the world. Every day about 1000 women are being raped, of which 30 percent are under age. The percentage of women that are raped is the highest in the whole world (33 percent). What do you do? Andy Mashaile, head of ... Read More »