Passport

Qaddafi's Tuareg fighters return home

Back in March, I did a quick post about concerns in Niger and Mali that the Tuareg mercenaries recruited by Muammar al-Qaddafi would retun home better-armed -- putting a short-lived ceasefire in the Tuareg insurgency in jepoardy. It appears this is now happening

Hundreds of armed Tuaregs from Mali and Niger who fought for toppled Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi have started to return to their home nations, security sources said, raising fears of conflict.

"Hundreds of Malian and Nigerian Tuaregs are coming home from the Libyan front. Among them are former Malian and Nigerien rebels, but also Tuaregs of Malian origin who were in the Libyan army," said a security source at Gao in the north of Mali.[...]

Officials from Niger on Sunday told AFP that Nigerien mercenaries, mainly Tuaregs, had begun returning to the northern town of Agadez on the edge of the Sahara desert, after Kadhafi's forces were routed by Libyan rebels.

"We need to fear a destabilisation of the whole Sahel with this new development. States like Mali and Niger are not prepared for this situation," said Mamadou Diallo, a teacher at Bamako University in Mali.

"What's going to become of these fighters? They have vehicles, weapons and expertise," he added. "This is dangerous."

The association of the conflcit in Libya with the Arab spring has tended to obscure its effects on countries to the south. Qaddafi has been meddling in African politics for decades and his downfall is likely to have widespread and surprising ripple-effects throughout the continent. 

 

MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images

Passport

Why is China really afraid of Lady Gaga?

Last week, China's culture ministry added 100 songs to an internet blacklist, including hits by Lady Gaga, Beyonce, and the Backstreet Boys. Chinese music websites have until Sept. 15 to remove the offending songs, unless record labels submit the songs for official approval. The ministry hopes to regulate the "order" of the Internet music scene, noting that songs that "harm the security of state culture must be cleaned up and regulated under the law."

Two years ago, in an attempt to crackdown on China's widespread illegal downloading, the culture ministry also declared its intentions to keep "poor taste and vulgur content" off Chinese internet airwaves.

Most of the newly-banned songs are from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Japan. Lady Gaga leads the American pack with six banned songs off her new album, Born This Way (although curiously, the LGBT-friendly title track was not included on the list).

Of course, one can hardly blame the Chinese government for looking to keep these subversive songs far away from Chinese ears. Let's take a look at what's so particularly offensive about these newest banned tunes.

Katy Perry's "Last Friday Night (TGIF)"

While ostensibly, the culture ministry might have wanted to keep Chinese youth away from Perry's flippant attitude regarding "ménage a trois" and "blacked out blur[s]", the truly offensive lyric is a celebration of American fiscal irresponsibility:

Last Friday night/ Yeah we maxed our credit cards

China, the single largest holder of American public debt, has some qualms about the voracious American appetite for debt. It makes sense that the government would want to discourage such behavior at home. China's strategy of intensive exports, with minimal domestic consumption, has been a boon to its burgeoning economy and it's not about to let an American pop singer threaten 30 years of Socialism with Chinese characteristics. Deng Xiaoping trumps Smurfette.

Lady Gaga's "Hair"

Whenever I'm dressed cool my parents put up a fight   /   And if I'm hot shot, mom will cut my hair at night   /   And in the morning I'm short of my identity   /   I scream, "Mom and dad, why can't I be who I wanna be, to be?

Gaga doesn't do much here to show respect for her elders. Famed Chinese philosopher Confucius once described old age as a "good and pleasant thing" which caused one to be "gently shouldered off the stage, but given a comfortable front stall as spectator." With the advent of the one-child policy, Chinese parents, who could traditionally expect that their children would take care of them through old age, now find themselves at the whim of their little emperors. For all the good Gaga does for one's self-esteem, this song clearly refutes centuries of ancestor worship.

Beyonce's "Run the World (Girls)"

My persuasion can build a nation/Endless power, with our love we can devour/ You'll do anything for me ...Who are we?/What we run? The world (who run this motha, yeah)

At the start of the 21st century, China's leaders articulated a policy known as the peaceful rise, an attempt to alleviate global fears about China's growing economic and political power. In 2004, Chinese premier Wen Jiabao said China's rise "will not come at the cost of any other country, will not stand in the way of any other country, nor pose a threat to any other country." Beyonce's aggressive attitude toward world domination is not what Wen had in mind.

Backstreet Boys "I Want it That Way"

I want it that way

Maybe "That way" = democracy? Who cares if the song is 12 years old?

SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images