Showing posts with label Africa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Africa. Show all posts

16 December 2019

China in Africa’s Peace and Security Landscape

By Abdou Rahim Lema

With growing Chinese security engagements in Africa, Sino-African relations are at a critical juncture. This is not necessarily because of the ignited international attention on what China does in Africa, but rather because of the nature of — and scintillating mutuality in — the expanding China-Africa relationships. For instance, recently China has shown unprecedented willingness and (to some extent) readiness to put its shoulder to the wheel in Africa’s efforts to deal with cycles of insecurity and instability. Likewise, aiming for an “integrated, prosperous, and peaceful [Africa],” the continent — under the aegis of the African Union (AU) — has been striving to develop better strategies in working with external partners to achieve peace and stability. It is in that regard that peace and security have increasingly gained prominence in China-Africa engagements, ranging from growing multilateral cooperation on security challenges facing Africa to nascent (sub)regional initiatives to long-held bilateral partnerships with many African countries.

11 December 2019

Thank Lisbon for Macao’s Peacefulness

BY RICARDO BARRIOS 

The Macao Special Administrative Region turns 20 this year, and no one wants to celebrate it more than Beijing. As protests enter their seventh month in neighboring Hong Kong, China’s central government is increasingly turning to the Portuguese colony-turned-gambling haven as proof that its governing principle for the two cities—known as “one country, two systems”—is “entirely viable, doable, and able to win the heart” of local populations. That’s particularly important since the success of the system is also critical for winning over Taiwan—where the prospects of Beijing-favored electoral candidates in January’s elections are sinking fast.

But the only reason Macao looks like a viable model is the unique circumstances of its past. To be sure, Macao’s colonial history is just one factor in the territory’s relative quietude. As many scholars point out, demographics are a factor. Macao’s population is less than one-tenth that of Hong Kong, making it that much more susceptible to economic and sociopolitical forces such as investment and migration.

7 December 2019

The Cross Pollination of East Africa’s Armed Groups

By: Brian M. Perkins

East Africa and its peripheral countries, particularly the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), are experiencing an evolution of their security landscapes as jihadist ideologies continue to creep into domestic conflicts. On the surface, many of the domestic conflicts and armed groups in individual East African nations are locally concentrated and driven by local issues, with violent spillover mostly concentrated in small portions of bordering countries—al-Shabaab violence spilling from Somalia into Kenya, or the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) operating in DRC and neighboring Uganda. A closer look, however, shows an increasing level of cross pollination in ideology, tactics, and financing stemming from high levels of mobility across the region as a whole, and not just between neighboring countries.

Across East Africa and its periphery, Somalia, Kenya, and Tanzania have historically been the most affected by jihadist violence, with Kenya and Tanzania experiencing deadly attacks by al-Qaeda in the late 1990s and early 2000s and Somalia being host to al-Shabaab, a longtime al-Qaeda affiliate, and more recently an Islamic State (IS) branch. Mozambique, Uganda, and DRC, meanwhile, have historically struggled less with overt jihadist groups and more with anti-government rebel factions such as the ADF or FRELIMO. Over the past year, jihadist ideologies have taken root at a more alarming rate as IS expanded its presence into DRC and Mozambique through one of its newer branches, Islamic State Central Africa Province (IS-CAP) (See TM, November 6). While the pace and international focus on growing jihadist sentiment in East Africa has increased in the past year, groups that had once primarily been anti-government rebels have increasingly been exposed to the region’s jihadist-leaning groups. These groups have particularly made contact through highly lucrative smuggling and money laundering networks, as well as through loosely connected radical mosques that are exporting militants across the region.

Attacks in Northern Kenya Highlight al-Shabaab’s Enduring Ambition

By: Sunguta West

Deadly al-Shabaab attacks targeting security forces, civilians, and government installations in northeastern Kenya have continued to unfold despite security forces’ intensified actions to counter the militant group’s activities in the region.

Since 2011, when the Kenyan Defence Forces entered Somalia—the base of the al-Qaeda affiliate in East Africa—hundreds of small-scale terror assaults have been recorded.

In most of the attacks, the militants have used improvized explosive devices (IEDs) planted on roads to strike the military and police convoys on patrol. The consequence has been deadly with dozens of soldiers and police officers losing their lives. Civilians have also borne the brunt of terrorist attacks. The attacks have forced some of the region’s professionals, including teachers, nurses, public administrators, and construction workers to flee (Business Daily Africa , October 10, 2018).

The continued attacks are lending credence to suspicions that the militant group has existing cells in the region which it is using to radicalize and recruit Kenyan youths. In June, the group said it had recruited an army of fighters in Kenya. The mass recruitment strategy fits well with the latest attacks inside Kenya, including the DusitD2 office attack in January. Ali Salim Gichuge, the lead attacker on DusitD2, was an ordinary Kenyan youth who was born and raised in non-Muslim regions (Daily Nation, November 15).

30 November 2019

Sending Refugees Back Makes the World More Dangerous

By Stephanie Schwartz

The oft-repeated refrain that the world is witnessing an unprecedented refugee crisis is both misleading and dangerous. While the number of refugees worldwide has nearly doubled in the past decade, if there is a crisis today, it is one of refugee return. Despite the fact that non-refoulement—the prohibition against sending asylum-seekers back to a country where their life or liberty is endangered—is considered one of the strongest norms in international law, governments across the world are going to great lengths to send refugees back. Some, such as the United States, are blatantly flouting non-refoulement with plans to send Central American asylum-seekers directly back into the violence they are fleeing.

One of the primary goals of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s invasion of Syria in October was to capture territory where he could then send the millions of Syrians currently seeking refuge on Turkish soil. Other countries, such as Germany and Lebanon, have taken more subtle approaches, offering payments to refugees who opt to go back to Syria, or simply making life for refugees so miserable that many feel they have no alternative but to return.

27 November 2019

Bolivia After Morales

By Santiago Anria and Kenneth M. Roberts 

In the days since Evo Morales stepped down as president of Bolivia and fled to Mexico, two starkly divergent accounts of his downfall have emerged among observers around the world. In one, Morales is the victim of a brazen right-wing coup, the latest in a long line of progressive Latin American leaders toppled by reactionary forces. In another, Morales had turned increasingly autocratic, clinging to power with little regard for checks and balances, and his ouster was a rare victory for democracy and the rule of law at a time when authoritarianism is on the upswing.

Neither narrative captures the whole story, yet both contain a kernel of truth. Morales and his allies all too often used their popularity as license to concentrate political power and marginalize opponents, and in so doing laid the groundwork for his ultimate downfall. Yet in his nearly 14 years in power, Morales also oversaw social and economic reforms that vastly reduced inequality and gave countless Bolivians a new voice and influence over how the country was run—a remarkable legacy of social transformation that any future government should work to preserve.

26 November 2019

River of the Dammed


In October, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in starting peace negotiations with Eritrea. But his country is still in the middle of another major dispute that threatens regional stability. This one is over the waters of the Nile River, specifically, Ethiopia’s plans to build the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the river’s Blue Nile tributary. Egypt considers the dam to be a looming threat to its very survival. Ethiopia, on the other hand, sees the undertaking as essential for its development and has vowed to continue the project no matter the ramifications.

Ethiopia and Egypt are two of Africa’s most populous and powerful countries; any ongoing showdown between them is a major threat to peace, which is why the international community should press for an equitable settlement.

Both countries have expressed their preference for a negotiated long-term settlement for the dispute, but the road there has not been smooth. A round of negotiations in early October—following many others over the last few years—failed to reach a compromise. Egypt accuses Ethiopia of dismissing concerns its officials have raised about the threat to its water security. Ethiopia insists that pending issues will be resolved before the completion of the dam.

20 November 2019

What does Russia really want from Africa?

Jideofor Adibe

Last month’s Russia-Africa summit—the first of its kind—ended with the usual optics and photo-ops, but also spawned $12.5 billion in business deals, largely in arms and grains. Beyond the splashy show of unity and camaraderie, the summit also raised a number of questions—namely, what does Russia really want from Africa? How will Africa’s traditional allies, especially the United States, respond to Russia’s newfound love for the continent? And, does Russia have what it takes to compete with China in Africa?

It will be simplistic to frame the just-concluded Russia-Africa summit as a copy-cat jamboree organized by Russia to latch on the bandwagon of the increasingly fashionable trend of organizing and institutionalizing Africa summits by countries like China, India, Japan, France, and the United States. The truth is that, since the 2000s, there has been a noticeable re-awakening of Russia’s interest in Africa. Indeed, between 2005 and 2015, Africa’s trade with Russia grew by 185 percent, and Russia has several reasons to engage Africa more intensely.

Goal 1: Projecting power on the global stage

In supporting African countries—who, notably, constitute the largest voting bloc in the United Nations—Russia is cultivating allies in its challenge to the current United States and Euro-Atlantic-dominated security order. This strategy is not going unnoticed: Indeed, in 2018 former U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton accused Russia of selling arms to African countries in exchange for votes at the United Nations, among other nefarious motivations.

Reviewing Why America Loses Wars

Adam Wunische

THE POLITICAL LIMITS OF THE MILITARY PIVOT

The national defense and foreign policy establishments in the United States are collectively looking away from Afghanistan and Iraq and towards China and Russia. As such, debates now center around how the military should be organized to deal with near-peer conventional conflict rather than the counterinsurgency conflicts it has been fighting for the better part of two decades. The debate is long overdue. Doctrinal documents and international developments are now beginning to refocus the military’s attention on high-intensity conventional conflict. However, reorganizing the military for new missions is far from sufficient. Reorganizing the military for great power competition and then selecting yet another conflict that requires counterinsurgency and stability operations will leave warfighters unprepared and dangerously exposed, as has happened repeatedly in the 70 years since World War II. Poor political decisions have the potential to undermine any advantageous reorganizing of the military, and a new book by Donald Stoker suggests this is likely to occur yet again. 

19 November 2019

Guinea's President Tempts Fate to Extend His Reign


Guinea's President Alpha Conde greets his supporters in the capital, Conakry, on Oct. 31, 2019, after weeks of violent protests against the leader's perceived bid to prolong his rule claimed around 10 lives.

Guinean President Alpha Conde's attempt to remove his term limits via a constitutional referendum will spark months of violent protests and security crackdowns.

To retaliate against the government, there's a chance protesters could start targeting the country's lucrative mining operations.

As clashes escalate, Russia may also eventually come to Conde's aid to protect its own political and economic interests in Guinea. 

As 2019 nears an end, a new and likely bloody political battle in Guinea is just unfolding. The West African country's 81-year-old president, Alpha Conde, is seeking to hold a constitutional referendum that would let him run in the 2020 election for a third term. The effort has already mobilized serious protests, setting the scene for more violent confrontations as opposition groups try to run out the clock on Conde's grand plan before next year's presidential vote. But as Guinea's president heads down the familiar path that so many of his African peers have trodden, it will come with similar pitfalls and likely ramifications for the resource-rich country's foreign suitors — and in particular, Russia.

18 November 2019

River of the Dammed


In October, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in starting peace negotiations with Eritrea. But his country is still in the middle of another major dispute that threatens regional stability. This one is over the waters of the Nile River, specifically, Ethiopia’s plans to build the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the river’s Blue Nile tributary. Egypt considers the dam to be a looming threat to its very survival. Ethiopia, on the other hand, sees the undertaking as essential for its development and has vowed to continue the project no matter the ramifications.

Ethiopia and Egypt are two of Africa’s most populous and powerful countries; any ongoing showdown between them is a major threat to peace, which is why the international community should press for an equitable settlement.

Both countries have expressed their preference for a negotiated long-term settlement for the dispute, but the road there has not been smooth. A round of negotiations in early October—following many others over the last few years—failed to reach a compromise. Egypt accuses Ethiopia of dismissing concerns its officials have raised about the threat to its water security. Ethiopia insists that pending issues will be resolved before the completion of the dam.

15 November 2019

Nile Basin Water Wars: One Step Closer To An Agreement – OpEd

By Emily Palios

Earlier last month during the Sochi Summit, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi agreed to resume talks surrounding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD); a project that has increased tensions and hostilities between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan since the beginning of its construction in 2011. On November 6, Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Hassan Shoukry, Ethiopian foreign minister Gedu Andargachew, and Sudanese foreign minister Asma Mohamed Abdalla attended a meeting in Washington, with hopes of easing these tensions and encouraging cooperation, in order to reach decisions regarding how the dam will function and the impact it will have on the water supply of each country. The meeting was spearheaded by US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, with US President Donald Trump and World Bank Group President David Malpass also in attendance and acting as mediators for the discussions.

8 November 2019

Hot Issue – The Race for Bases, Ports, and Resources in the Horn of Africa Heats Up

By: Michael Horton

Executive summary: The battle for access and influence in the Horn of Africa is intensifying as the Gulf States, Turkey, and China race to secure footholds. At the same time, rivalries between Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, and Turkey are shaping how these countries interact with state and non-state actors in the Horn. The insertion of the Gulf States’, Turkey’s, and Iran’s regional disputes into the politics of the countries that make up the Horn will exacerbate instability in what are already fragile states.

Over the last five years, the battle between outside powers for influence in—and access to—the Horn of Africa has intensified. The Gulf States, Turkey, and China, in particular, are all competing for footholds in what is one of the world’s most strategic regions. After years of relatively little interest in the countries that make up the Horn of Africa, outside powers are investing billions of dollars in the region.

The race for bases and ports in the Horn of Africa is well underway. Somalia hosts Turkey’s largest overseas military base and Turkish companies run Mogadishu’s port and airport. Turkey’s ally and benefactor, Qatar, is also working to establish itself in southern Somalia. Further north in the independent but unrecognized Republic of Somaliland and in the autonomous region of Puntland, United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based companies operate the ports of Berbera and Bosaso. The UAE has also built a naval and air base at Assab in Eritrea. Djibouti, wedged between Somaliland and Eritrea, hosts bases for the United States, Japan, France, Italy, and China. Saudi Arabia has an agreement with Djibouti to build its first overseas base in the country, but construction of the base has not begun.

7 November 2019

Africa Is a Continent on the Brink ... but of What?


It makes sense that a continent home to 54 countries and 1.2 billion people would also house a mass of contradictory developments. Africa features several of the world’s fastest-growing economies and a burgeoning middle class. But much of the continent remains mired in debt, ravaged by conflict, disease or terrorism, and plagued by elites clinging to power.

Even as economies expand, people are driven to migrate—either within Africa or across continental borders—because of humanitarian catastrophes or because opportunities are not coming fast enough for everyone. Yet, many remain behind and look to disrupt the status quo. Civilian-led reform movements have toppled regimes in Algeria and Sudan already this year.

From a geopolitical perspective, European nations and the United States are looking to shore up bilateral trade across the continent. These moves are driven both by an interest in spurring individual economies to help stem migration flows, but also to counter China’s growing presence in Africa. On the back of its Belt and Road Initiative, China has been leveraging infrastructure financing deals for access to resources and increasing influence.

25 October 2019

Assessing past and future strategies for reducing poverty in Africa

Louise Fox

Assessing past and future strategies for reducing poverty in Africa

When the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were announced in 2015, it was clear that success on SDG1—eradication of extreme poverty—depended on Africa’s performance. Recent forecasts from the United Nations and the World Bank suggest that Africa is not going to make it.

We should all be concerned, but what can be done? The recent World Bank study, Accelerating Poverty Reduction in Africa, offers governments and stakeholders both new suggestions as well as new takes on old recommendations, providing a clear if bumpy road map for future strategies and intervention designs. Despite its length, the report is well worth our time. I have no doubt that it will serve as a key reference volume in the coming years.

Former Chief Economist - USAID

Why has poverty in Africa stayed so stubbornly high despite record economic growth? According to the report, three main reasons: (i) less of Africa’s growth translates into poverty reduction because of high initial poverty, including low asset levels and limited access to public services, which prevent households from taking advantage of opportunities; (ii) Africa’s increasing reliance on natural resources for income growth rather than agricultural and rural development excludes the 85 percent of the poor population living in rural areas; and (iii) Africa’s high fertility and resulting high population growth mean that even high growth translates into less income per person—a point too often ignored in discussions on the sub-continent and in Washington.

Assessing past and future strategies for reducing poverty in Africa

Louise Fox

When the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were announced in 2015, it was clear that success on SDG1—eradication of extreme poverty—depended on Africa’s performance. Recent forecasts from the United Nations and the World Bank suggest that Africa is not going to make it.

We should all be concerned, but what can be done? The recent World Bank study, Accelerating Poverty Reduction in Africa, offers governments and stakeholders both new suggestions as well as new takes on old recommendations, providing a clear if bumpy road map for future strategies and intervention designs. Despite its length, the report is well worth our time. I have no doubt that it will serve as a key reference volume in the coming years.

Former Chief Economist - USAID

Why has poverty in Africa stayed so stubbornly high despite record economic growth? According to the report, three main reasons: (i) less of Africa’s growth translates into poverty reduction because of high initial poverty, including low asset levels and limited access to public services, which prevent households from taking advantage of opportunities; (ii) Africa’s increasing reliance on natural resources for income growth rather than agricultural and rural development excludes the 85 percent of the poor population living in rural areas; and (iii) Africa’s high fertility and resulting high population growth mean that even high growth translates into less income per person—a point too often ignored in discussions on the sub-continent and in Washington.

24 October 2019

Hot Issue – The Race for Bases, Ports, and Resources in the Horn of Africa Heats Up

By: Michael Horton

Executive summary: The battle for access and influence in the Horn of Africa is intensifying as the Gulf States, Turkey, and China race to secure footholds. At the same time, rivalries between Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, and Turkey are shaping how these countries interact with state and non-state actors in the Horn. The insertion of the Gulf States’, Turkey’s, and Iran’s regional disputes into the politics of the countries that make up the Horn will exacerbate instability in what are already fragile states.

Over the last five years, the battle between outside powers for influence in—and access to—the Horn of Africa has intensified. The Gulf States, Turkey, and China, in particular, are all competing for footholds in what is one of the world’s most strategic regions. After years of relatively little interest in the countries that make up the Horn of Africa, outside powers are investing billions of dollars in the region.

The race for bases and ports in the Horn of Africa is well underway. Somalia hosts Turkey’s largest overseas military base and Turkish companies run Mogadishu’s port and airport. Turkey’s ally and benefactor, Qatar, is also working to establish itself in southern Somalia. Further north in the independent but unrecognized Republic of Somaliland and in the autonomous region of Puntland, United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based companies operate the ports of Berbera and Bosaso. The UAE has also built a naval and air base at Assab in Eritrea. Djibouti, wedged between Somaliland and Eritrea, hosts bases for the United States, Japan, France, Italy, and China. Saudi Arabia has an agreement with Djibouti to build its first overseas base in the country, but construction of the base has not begun.

19 October 2019

Corruption Is Corroding Democracies Around the World


The world is constantly reminded that corruption knows no geographic boundaries. In South Africa, former President Jacob Zuma is embroiled in an inquiry into whether he ran a patronage system that drained money from the country’s treasury. A money laundering investigation launched in Brazil in 2008 expanded to take down a vast network of politicians and business leaders across Central and South America. And U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has been plagued by officials who have used their offices for private gain and been forced to resign.

The impact of actual corruption is devastating, whether it siphons money from public use or drives policy that is not in the public interest. The effects can be particularly pernicious in developing countries, where budgets are tight and needs are vast. The United Nations estimates that corruption costs $2.6 trillion in losses every year.

A street cleaner walks past a poster promoting Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra and his proposed reforms aimed at tackling corruption, in Lima, Peru, June 4, 2019 (AP photo by Martin Mejia).

18 October 2019

After Xenophobic Attacks, Nigeria and South Africa Try to Reset Ties

Alex Thurston 

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari traveled to Pretoria in early October to meet his South African counterpart, Cyril Ramaphosa, just weeks after the latest outbreak of attacks against foreigners—including Nigerians—in South Africa in September. The visit was intended to smooth over bilateral relations between Africa’s two largest economies, which have been bumpy in recent years, in part because of periodic episodes of xenophobic violence in South Africa.

Xenophobic violence has been a problem in South Africa for years, with recent peaks in 2008 and 2015 prior to the most recent attacks in September. Analysts have pointed to numerous causes, notably a sense among some South Africans that foreigners compete for scarce jobs and are responsible for the country’s high crime rate. Both accusations lack much basis, however. In reality, unemployment, crime and poverty are so widespread in South Africa that the relatively small foreign population—less than 2.5 million people out of a total population of more than 55 million—cannot be credibly blamed for the problems. Foreigners, nevertheless, sometimes become scapegoats for frustrated South Africans. ...

15 October 2019

Hot Issue – The Race for Bases, Ports, and Resources in the Horn of Africa Heats Up

By: Michael Horton

Executive summary: The battle for access and influence in the Horn of Africa is intensifying as the Gulf States, Turkey, and China race to secure footholds. At the same time, rivalries between Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, and Turkey are shaping how these countries interact with state and non-state actors in the Horn. The insertion of the Gulf States’, Turkey’s, and Iran’s regional disputes into the politics of the countries that make up the Horn will exacerbate instability in what are already fragile states.

Over the last five years, the battle between outside powers for influence in—and access to—the Horn of Africa has intensified. The Gulf States, Turkey, and China, in particular, are all competing for footholds in what is one of the world’s most strategic regions. After years of relatively little interest in the countries that make up the Horn of Africa, outside powers are investing billions of dollars in the region.

The race for bases and ports in the Horn of Africa is well underway. Somalia hosts Turkey’s largest overseas military base and Turkish companies run Mogadishu’s port and airport. Turkey’s ally and benefactor, Qatar, is also working to establish itself in southern Somalia. Further north in the independent but unrecognized Republic of Somaliland and in the autonomous region of Puntland, United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based companies operate the ports of Berbera and Bosaso. The UAE has also built a naval and air base at Assab in Eritrea. Djibouti, wedged between Somaliland and Eritrea, hosts bases for the United States, Japan, France, Italy, and China. Saudi Arabia has an agreement with Djibouti to build its first overseas base in the country, but construction of the base has not begun.