While the world's attention has been focused on events in Iraq and the impact of the general global crackdown on terrorist organisations upon Middle East relations, the effect upon Africa has largely been ignored.
Yet East Africa is increasingly being pushed to the fore in the US campaign in the war against terrorism. It is impossible to consider all the ramifications of counter-terrorist operations on the continent but it would be wrong to regard Africa as being on the periphery. The effect upon the Kenyan tourist industry may be obvious to all but there are several more unexpected implications of the current uncertainty.
One of the main areas of focus in Africa in the global campaign against terrorism has been conflict diamonds. Several of Africa's main diamond producers have been involved in long running civil wars which have allowed a variety of different interest groups to take control of different mines.
The original motivation behind attempts to prevent the trade in conflict diamonds was a desire to stop funding to the many armed groups involved in these civil wars. Now, however, it has been claimed by several campaign groups that diamond revenues have found their way into the coffers of Al Quaida and other international terrorist organisations.
UK based Global Witness has warned that the existing plan to stop the trade in conflict diamonds--known as the Kimberley Process--contains a number of loopholes. The organisation has produced a report supporting the link between diamond trading and Al Quaida.
Countries which depend upon diamond exports, and which mine and trade diamonds in a legal and official manner, such as Botswana, are concerned that the campaign against conflict diamonds will have a knock on effect upon demand for their own production and on global prices. The chairman of the Kimberley Process' certification scheme, Abbey Chikane, says: "Even though we still have a lot to do in improving the system, we have a very solid basis." The US, which purchases two thirds of global diamond production, joined the process last week when a law was passed authorising diamond certification. In East Africa, however, another certification scheme has proved more successful in protecting a local industry against the side-effects of the campaign against international terrorism.
An article in the Wall Street Journal in 2001 claimed that proceeds from the sale of the semi-precious tanzanite were finding their way to...