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[经济学人] [2007.09.15]Niger-A radioactive rebellion









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发表于 2010-4-29 02:16 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式

A radioactive rebellion疯狂的叛乱
Sep 13th 2007 | NIAMEY∣写于2007年9月13日 尼亚美
From The Economist print edition∣摘自经济学人杂志印刷版

A combustible mix of rebellious nomads, uranium, oil and poverty

THE last time there was a crisis in the landlocked Saharan country of Niger, the president claimed his people were well-fed, yet images of skeletal children shocked the world and aid workers scrambled to deal belatedly with a famine. That was two years ago. Now nomadic rebels have taken up arms again in the north, but President Mamadou Tandja says they are nothing but a bunch of bandits.
在最后一次尼日尔撒哈拉内陆地带出现危机之时,国家总统称人民们丰衣足食,而瘦骨嶙峋的儿童照片却足以使全世界感到震惊,救援工作者们纷纷赶来治理饥荒也未能及时到来。那是两年前的事情了。现在,游牧部落的叛乱者们又一次在尼日尔北部地区拿起了武器,但总统马马杜•坦贾(Mamadou Tandja)却说他们对国家形成不了威胁,那只是一群乌合之众罢了。

It is a lot more menacing and complicated than that. Seven months after its first attack on Niger's army, the Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ) is rattling Mr Tandja. Fifty government soldiers have been killed and dozens more kidnapped. The entire north has been turned into a battle zone, with army checkpoints and both sides laying landmines. Charter flights no longer bring tourists to gaze at the dunes.

Even if the president does not openly recognise the gravity of the rebellion, he is plainly determined to crush it. He has dispatched 4,000 soldiers to the northern region of Agadez. On August 24th he declared a state of alert, giving them a free rein to operate. Television and radio stations have been banned from discussing the crisis live on air and journalists are barred from going near the affected area. “You can't report up there: there's a blackout,” an official told The Economist's correspondent when he asked for accreditation.


This rebellion is the latest in a series of uprisings led by the Tuareg. They are Saharan nomads who were split up between five post-colonial countries (see map). Long complaining of neglect, they first rebelled against their new masters in the 1960s, in Mali. In the 1990s they again rebelled there and also in Niger. Both countries are now dealing with fresh revolts that are loosely connected.

Depicted by some as simple nomads wandering around the desert on camels or motorbikes, in fact the MNJ is well organised. Heavily armed and guided by GPS systems and satellite phones, its guerrillas launch lightning attacks before fading back into the desert sands. The MNJ's contacts in Europe or underground in the capital, Niamey, then inform the world via the group's website. Keen not to depict themselves as a purely Tuareg movement, the rebels say they want a fairer slice of the country's wealth, especially from its gold, oil and uranium, all found in the north. The UN rates Niger, despite its natural resources, the poorest country in the world.

While Mr Tandja sounds firmly against negotiation, some people in and outside his government may be readier to talk. But he is under pressure from his southern-dominated army not to give ground.

The conflict could spread

Regional politics are also at play. Neighbouring Libya has a longstanding territorial dispute over Niger's north and many in Niamey, including some in the government, accuse Muammar Qaddafi and his regime in Tripoli of backing the revolt.
地区性的紧张政局也初见波澜。邻国利比亚长久以来就争议着尼日尔的北部地区,包括许多政府要员在内的尼亚美人也指责穆阿玛尔•卡扎菲(Muammar Qaddafi)及其在的黎波里(Tripoli)的政权对暴乱的支持。

Uranium is a big factor too. With more governments around the world planning for nuclear power and Niger producing some 3,500 tonnes of uranium a year, the apparently empty wastes of northern Niger are suddenly worth fighting over. A French nuclear company, Areva, which operates in the north but recently lost its 36-year monopoly, has been labelled sympathetic to the rebels, who recently seized a Chinese uranium worker, presumably to deter China from backing Niger's government. Niger's uranium production is still going up; 90 new exploration permits have been handed out in the past year.

The Sahara is also at the centre of an American initiative to stop terrorism getting a foothold in Africa. But apart from the odd smuggling deal over guns, drugs or cigarettes, no solid links between the Tuareg and Islamist groups have been established. Still, Western governments may have to take the rebellion seriously. It is unlikely to be squelched by military means alone. Muhammad Anacko, a former rebel leader in the 1990s who is now Niger's commissioner for peace, is calling for dialogue. The rebellion “may last five years or 15 years but it will end in talks,” he says. “Why don't we just go to them now?”
撒哈拉地带也是美国重点打击的对象,以防止恐怖主义分子在非洲找到立足点。但是,柏柏尔人除了偶尔从事一些枪支、毒品或烟叶的走私,他们与伊斯兰教团体并没有证据确凿的关联。但西方国家的政府仍然会严肃对待尼日尔的叛乱事件。而对于此事件,尼日尔政府可能不会仅靠军事行动来压制。现任安全委员穆哈曼•安纳扣(Muhammad Anacko)现在主张进行和谈,而此人正是十九世纪九十年代的前任叛军领袖。叛乱事件“可能会持续五年或十五年,但最终还是要进行和谈”,他讲道,“为什么我们现在不采取此明智之举?”

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