"In the case of arms trafficking," they advise, "there are arms dealers eager to sell AK-47s to conflict zones all over the world. There are shipping and air transport services willing and able to transport the weapons to warlords who are destabilizing much of West Africa. The warlords trade diamonds for guns, and the arms brokers and transporters in turn launder the diamonds with brokers in Antwerp and deposit the money in Swiss banks" (Milward & Raab, 2003, p. 413). Likewise, Warah (2004) reports that shortly following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., the Washington Post identified a disturbing aspect of the illegal diamond trade in West Africa that linked it directly with international terrorists. In their article published on 2 November 2001, war correspondent Douglas Farah reported that the Al Qaeda network had managed to "reap millions of dollars in the past three years from the illicit sale of diamonds mined by rebels in Sierra Leone"; furthermore, the report showed that three senior Al Qaeda operatives had visited Sierra Leone at different times in 1998 and thereafter. At the time, Farah also maintained that the West African Shi'ite Lebanese community was sympathetic to Hezbollah and often served as a link between the RUF rebels and Al Qaeda; according to Gberie, though, much of the evidence linking West Africa's Lebanese community to global terror networks has been primarily "anecdotal and circumstantial" (Warah, 2004, p. 21).
Furthermore, some political leaders in the Middle East suggest that Hezbollah is not the ruthless terrorist organization that many observers believe. For example, in 2003, Lebanese Ambassador Farid Abboud presented a talk on the current state of Hezbollah and the misconceptions surrounding the nature of the organization, particularly following the U.S. demand that Lebanon freeze the group's assets following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. According to Ziad (2003), "The ambassador began by stressing that Hezbollah was not a terrorist group, nor 'a fringe element that commits outrages now and then.' Rather, he said, it is a broad-based political party that participates in elections, with representatives in parliament and a legitimate political presence in the system" (p. 72). According to the ambassador, Hezbollah's agenda is not to create an Islamic state in the U.S. Or in any other country. In fact, according to Abboud, "[Hezbollah] doesn't give a hoot about the way of life in this country. Its agenda is very localized, and its practices are indicative of this" (Ziad, 2003, p. 72). Finally, the ambassador suggested that Hezbollah primarily seeks a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: "We will not disqualify it from the Lebanese polity," the ambassador added, "just because its agenda is anti-Israel" (Ziad, 2003, p. 72). To drive home the point, the ambassador concluded by saying: "If you [the United States] want to use certain moral and legal parameters to judge one side, then judge the other side as well. Otherwise, go back to politics. Hezbollah is just one part of the conflict that exists between the Arabs and Israelis, the crux of which is the Israeli occupation of Palestine" (Ziad, 2003, p. 72). Notwithstanding the ambassador's characterization of what is taking place in the Middle East and beyond today as being "very localized," the fact remains that Hezbollah and other Islamic fundamentalist groups are increasingly seeking funding through illicit channels in some West African nations today, and these trends are discussed further below.
Current and Future Trends.
In the recent past, though, the illegal trade in diamonds has become the source of an increasing amount of international scrutiny, a process that has made it much more difficult for middlemen and smugglers to operate. According to Warah (2004), the past few years have witnessed the emergence of a program of policy research, education and advocacy to help ensure the integrity of the international diamond industry for the primary benefit of the countries where the diamonds originate. "It has also extensively published reports that have uncovered the secret dealings and James Bond-style manoeuvres of the middlemen and smugglers in the industry who operate often with the full knowledge and approval of Governments (or rebel movements), and act as conduits for diamonds smuggled from neighbouring countries" (Warah, 2004, p. 21). An international certification process for rough diamonds, known as the Kimberley Process, was initiated by the Government of South Africa in May 2000; since that time, there has been more and more participation among the regional stakeholders and to date, more than 35 nations have been meeting on a regular basis to develop the system, which was established in 2003 (Warah, 2004). In Sierra Leone, the diamond certification system was instituted in October 2000, four months after the UN Security Council passed a resolution that banned diamond exports until a certification system was established; during the year that followed after the system was introduced, legal exports increased from $1.3 million to $25.9 million worth of diamonds; nevertheless, authorities continue to believe that many of the better quality diamonds are still being smuggled and are not going through the official certification system. "In other words," Warah concludes, "the illicit diamond trade continues to operate through informal agreements that are sealed with a nod, a wink and no paper trail" (emphasis added) (Warah, 2004, p. 21).
Part 3. Methodology
According to Neuman (2003), a comprehensive literature review methodology involves a critical analysis of a wide variety of sources to identify common areas of interests and current trends. Therefore, this study consulted both university and public libraries, online sources such as Questia, EBSCO and others, as well as relevant governmental and organizational Web sites considered relevant to contributing to the objectives of providing timely answers to the guiding thesis statement. In this regard, Wood and Ellis (2003) also identified the following as important outcomes of a well conducted literature review:
It helps describe a topic of interest and refine either research questions or directions in which to look;
It presents a clear description and evaluation of the theories and concepts that have informed research into the topic of interest;
It clarifies the relationship to previous research and highlights where new research may contribute by identifying research possibilities which have been overlooked so far in the literature;
It provides insights into the topic of interest that are both methodological and substantive;
It demonstrates powers of critical analysis by, for instance, exposing taken for granted assumptions underpinning previous research and identifying the possibilities of replacing them with alternative assumptions;
It justifies any new research through a coherent critique of what has gone before and demonstrates why new research is both timely and important.
To complement the literature review thus far and to identify which nations of West Africa represent the primary players in the trade of diamonds, Table 1 below provides a list of each of the respective natural resources of the 16 nations that comprise West Africa today; those nations with diamond resources are highlighted for easy reference.
Natural Resources of West African Nations.
Small offshore oil deposits, limestone, marble, timber
The economy of Benin remains underdeveloped and dependent on subsistence agriculture, cotton production, and regional trade; is also a transshipment point for narcotics associated with Nigerian trafficking organizations and most commonly destined for Western Europe and the U.S.; vulnerable to money laundering due to a poorly regulated financial infrastructure.
Manganese, limestone, marble; small deposits of gold, phosphates, pumice, salt
Formerly Upper Volta; one of the poorest countries in the world.
Salt, basalt rock, limestone, kaolin, fish, clay, gypsum
Cape Verde continues to exhibit one of Africa's most stable democratic governments.
By contrast to its neighbors, Ghana enjoys a good source of natural resources and has roughly twice the per capita output of the poorer countries in West Africa.
Bauxite, iron ore, diamonds, gold, uranium, hydropower, fish, salt classic example of a "resource-cursed nation," the CIA reports that Guinea possesses major mineral, hydropower, and agricultural resources, but continues to be an underdeveloped nation. The country possesses almost half of the world's bauxite reserves and is the second-largest bauxite producer. The mining sector accounted for over 70% of exports in 2004.
One of the 10 poorest countries in the world, Guinea-Bissau depends mainly on farming and fishing.
Iron ore, timber, diamonds, gold, hydropower
Civil war and government mismanagement have destroyed much of Liberia's economy, especially the infrastructure in and around Monrovia, while continued international sanctions on diamonds and timber exports…