Friday, June 15, 2012

An interesting African Map

Several days ago I posted on The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches from the Fault Line between Christianity and Islam by Eliza Griswold. The book, arising from her years of reporting, describes the clash between Muslims and Christians in three African nations and three Asian nations.

Yesterday the Washington Post published an article on the use of small aircraft used by U.S. intelligence agencies for surveillance across Africa. The following map is drawn from that article.

Moving from west to east across this map:

  • An earlier WP article refers to the 2008 coup in Mauritania related to Islamist threats to the former French colony. 
  • In Mali al-Qaeda sympathizers recently declared an independent Islamist state in the northern half of the country.
  • A spokesperson from Burkino Faso describes the utility of the U.S. flights against Islamist incursions that he feared might occur from the north.
  • The map shows concern for al-Qaeda incursions in Niger.
  • Boko Haram, an Islamist movement is shown as embedded in the north of Nigeria.
  • The Lords Resistance Army, with roots in a Christian cult, is shown influencing South Sudan and the eastern Central African Republic (after having left north Uganda).
  • The Sudan, recently divided into two countries (Sudan and South Sudan) recognizing both ethnic and religious differences.
  • Islamic Somalia was occupied by troops from Christian Ethiopia until recently, and is still the site of fighting between militant Islamists and troops from African nations further to the south.
The map us useful in illustrating the band across Africa where the Muslim North African cultures clash with the Sub Saharan African cultures.

Incidentally, the unmanned and manned small aircraft described in the article should be useful in many civilian applications. Think how important remote sensing from such aircraft supported by appropriate data processing capabilities would be in disaster relief. That technology could support crop surveys to give early warning of crop failures and the need for food aid. It could help monitor the spread of crop diseases and pests infestations. It could provide information on desertification and deforestation, as well as flood warnings.

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