The Problems with “African Solutions” | Comfort Ero
On 6 and 7 December, Paris will host the annual France-Africa summit. In a year in which Africa and the West clashed over the International Criminal Court – and amid growing doubts over the UN Security Council’s legitimacy, in part because of its unrepresentativeness – there will be no shortage of issues that Africa’s leaders will seek to address.
President François Hollande has chosen to focus the agenda on peace and security. Following the deployment of French troops to end crises in Mali and the Central African Republic (an additional 800 troops are expected to arrive soon in Bangui, bringing the total to 1200), he does not want to be dragged into another intervention and would like African states to assume greater responsibility, particularly financial, in resolving the continent’s conflicts. France and the AU both want much greater African financial contributions for peace operations, in part to make them more sustainable. Since becoming AU Commission chairperson in 2012, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has pushed for a more self-sufficient AU to end its perpetual and disruptive dependence on external funding.
FULL ARTICLE (Crisis Group Blogs)
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Pursuing Peace Together: Make a Meaningful Gift This #GivingTuesday
Last month I shared how your support enables our work in Afghanistan, Syria, the Central African Republic and Colombia. This #GivingTuesday – as we welcome significant steps toward peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo and via the Iran nuclear accord – I want to thank you for standing with us in our collective efforts to prevent and resolve deadly conflict. Your involvement keeps us on the frontlines.
Overcoming Violence in Mexico
As drug-related violence continues to claim thousands of lives, we are calling on the Peña Nieto administration to enact reforms and seize the opportunity for Mexico to serve as a model for other countries grappling with a similar cycle of violence.
“Without significant institutional reforms, efforts to combat violence will be useless; on the other hand, with reforms coupled with programs aimed at the poor, there is hope to end this devastating problem”. Javier Ciurlizza in Proceso.
Easing Conflict in the North Caucasus
With the approach of the Sochi Winter Olympics, Moscow wants quick solutions for Europe’s worst armed conflict. We are pressing authorities to end repressive counter-insurgency tactics that risk exacerbating religious and ethnic disputes and focus on addressing the root causes of this deadly violence.
“Facilitating the North Caucasus’s integration with the rest of Russia, is essential for the country’s security, healthy ethnic relations and stability”. Ekaterina Sokirianskaia in The Challenges of Integration.
Building Stability in Mali
Following the French military intervention, we continue to draw attention to the need to restore the north of the country to government control and for a rapid and meaningful dialogue by all national and international interlocutors.
“Indeed, this war is not won and Mali’s challenges remain legion. Failing to address them systematically… will pose dangers not just for Mali’s stability but for the stability of the entire Sahel”. Jean-Hervé Jezequel in our African Peace Building Agenda blog.
Thanks to you we are able to shed light and provide new thinking on these conflicts, whether they are headline news or largely forgotten by the wider world. This #GivingTuesday we invite you to consider making a gift to support our mission to prevent conflict and end wars. Together we are making a difference.
President & CEO
International Crisis Group
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Jihad et contrebande, un dangereux mélange qui menace la Tunisie selon Michaël Ayari, analyste à l’International Crisis Group | Sarah Ben Hamadi
Le dernier rapport de l’International Crisis Group (ICG), “La Tunisie des frontières: Jihad et contrebande” paru le 28 novembre, analyse la situation des frontières tunisiennes et les raisons du développement de la contrebande, en pointant du doigt la montée de “l’islamo-banditisme.”
Selon l’organisation, le relâchement sécuritaire après la révolution de janvier de 2011 et la guerre en Libye ont entraîné la réorganisation des “cartels de la contrebande” sur les frontières. Dans les zones périurbaines des principales villes du pays, criminalité et islamisme radical tendent à devenir indissociables, et le phénomène gagne en ampleur. Mais pour ICG, la solution ne peut pas être uniquement sécuritaire, elle doit aussi être sociale et économique. Interview avec Michaël Béchir Ayari, analyste principal pour la Tunisie à l’International Crisis Group.
Lire tout l’interview (HuffPost Maghreb)
Photo: Prof. Martel/Flickr
Africa’s Crumbling Center
By Thibaud Lesueur and Thierry Vircoulon
The Central African Republic is often called a forgotten country, but that isn’t quite right. It has had a long and substantial international presence and sizable foreign investment. It’s just that those efforts haven’t made much difference. As the country rapidly descends into greater violence, the difficult truth is that more — and much better — international and regional involvement is its only hope.
France has had an almost continuous military presence since the country gained independence in 1960, including the 400 soldiers deployed at the start of the current crisis. The European Union has a delegation in Bangui and has been the main donor for 10 years. United States Army personnel arrived in 2011 as part of efforts to capture Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, who has been indicted on war crimes charges by the International Criminal Court and is believed to be hiding somewhere in Central Africa.
The foreign presence is not limited to Western countries. South Africa had a bilateral military cooperation program from 2008 to 2012. Last March, 13 of its troops were killed attempting to keep President François Bozizé in power. The regional Economic Community of Central African States has maintained a peacekeeping force since 2008. Its 2,500 troops will soon come under the command of the African Union-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (Misca). Moreover, the United Nations has been working to rebuild the country since 2010.
The Central African Republic was supposed to be a test case for the latest thinking on how to deal with fragile states. Given all this political, military and development assistance, it is difficult to understand why the country is not only weak, but dissolving.
President Bozizé was ousted by a loose alliance of guerrilla fighters from throughout the region known as Seleka, which supported his successor, Michel Djotodia. In September, Mr. Djotodia, in a move that contributed to instability, disbanded Seleka. With no chain of command, the fighters descended into banditry and widespread violence. With no effective national army to challenge them, violent militias are now protecting some elements of the population and terrorizing others.
The spreading conflict has also taken on a religious dimension, with fighting between Muslims and Christians. The transitional authorities are weak and the modest African peacekeeping force is no deterrent against the militias, which includes mostly Muslim fighters.
After intervening successfully in Mali, France is preparing to salvage another of its former colonies, beginning with an additional 800 troops. Last Monday, the United Nations deputy secretary general, Jan Eliasson, asked the Security Council to reinforce the African Union-led mission and ultimately to transform it into a United Nations peacekeeping force. Discussions are underway on a new resolution. The United States has proposed a budget of $40 million.
But United Nations peacekeepers are not going to arrive any time soon and the situation in Bangui is fast deteriorating. With a prompt and robust mandate accompanied by effective funding, African and French troops might be able to pull the country back from the brink. But the key to ending the country’s nightmare will also lie in the ability of Africa, France and the United Nations to forge a well-coordinated strategic partnership to restore order and rebuild the institutions necessary to preserve order.
When the Security Council meets this week, it should beef up logistical support to the African-led peacekeepers and authorize France to use all necessary means to support that mission. The United States, along with the European Union, should move quickly to provide the necessary financial support.
At the same time, Africa’s leaders must step up to the plate and provide more support to the African Union. Stabilizing the Central African Republic will require a doubling of the proposed 3,600 Misca troops. Securing the capital will only be a beginning: This mission should also safeguard the main roads, starting with the major commercial artery running from Bangui to Garoua-Boulaï, at the Cameroonian border. This would both stabilize the Central African Republic and reduce the very real threat of violence spreading to its neighbors.
The Security Council has a precious opportunity to restore security. Without this, the task of implementing the transitional political road map cannot begin, there will be no reforms, elections expected in early 2016 will be difficult to convene, and the transition may stall and even collapse with only one result: civil war with unspeakable consequences for Africa’s volatile center.
The New York Times
Tunisia’s Borders: Jihadism and Contraband
Tunis/Brussels | 28 Nov 2013
Unless the permeability of the country’s borders is addressed, cross-border trafficking will increase jihadis’ disruptive potential and intensify the corruption of border authorities.
In its latest report, Tunisia’s Borders: Jihadism and Contraband, the International Crisis Group examines the widening gap between a Tunisia of the borders – porous, rebellious, a focal point of jihad and contraband – and a Tunisia of the capital and coast that is concerned with the vulnerability of a hinterland it fears more than it understands. Beyond engaging in necessary efforts to resolve the immediate political crisis, actors from across the national spectrum should implement security and socio-economic measures to reduce the permeability of the country’s borders.
The report’s major findings and recommendations are:
The aftermath of the Tunisian uprising and of the Libyan war has provoked a reorganisation of contraband cartels, thereby weakening state control and paving the way for far more dangerous types of trafficking.
Hard drugs as well as (for now) relatively small quantities of firearms and explosives regularly enter the country from Libya. Likewise, the northern half of the Tunisian-Algerian border is becoming an area of growing traffic of cannabis and small arms.
Criminality and radical Islamism gradually are intermingling in the suburbs of major cities and in poor peripheral villages. Over time, the emergence of a so-called islamo-gangsterism could contribute to the rise of groups blending jihadism and organised crime within contraband networks operating at the borders.
Addressing border problems clearly requires beefing up security measures but these will not suffice on their own. There also is a need for dialogue with the local populations so as to improve relations between the central authorities and residents of border areas and reinforce the intelligence capacities.
“Even with the most technically sophisticated border control mechanisms, residents of border areas will remain capable of enabling or preventing the transfer of goods and people”, Michaël Béchir Ayari, Tunisia Senior Analyst. “The more they feel economically and socially frustrated, the less they will be inclined to protect the country’s territorial integrity”.
“In the long term, only consensus among political forces on the country’s future can enable a truly effective approach to the border question”, says Issandr El Amrani, North Africa Project Director. “In the meantime, Tunisian actors need to work together to reinforce border controls and improve relations between the centre and residents of border areas while Maghreb states should improve their cooperation”.
As Sudan prepares to write a new permanent constitution, it needs to identify and make use of a forum that is genuinely comprehensive and national and so can address the core questions of its identity and system of rule, as well as wealth and power sharing. Otherwise, the spreading civil war in the peripheries may well lead to further fragmentation of the country”. — EJ Hogendoorn, Crisis Group Africa Program Deputy Director, Sudan: Preserving Peace in the East
The East’s problems cannot be resolved without addressing governance at the centre. Left unaddressed, demands could well rise to self-determination. For many now, separation must happen, whether by evolution or revolution. — Cedric Barnes, Crisis Group Horn of Africa Project Director, Sudan: Preserving Peace in the East
Central African Republic on the verge of genocide, France warns UN | Xan Rice and Javier Blas
The Central African Republic is “on the verge of genocide”, according to its former colonial master, France, which is urging the UN to authorise a stronger African peacekeeping force supported by French troops.
The comments on Thursday by Laurent Fabius, France’s foreign minister, mark an escalation in French rhetoric on the crisis in Bangui.
FULL ARTICLE (Financial Times)
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To Save the Peace Process, Get Religion | Yair Rosenberg
A new International Crisis Group report released today argues that in order to forge Israeli-Palestinian peace, negotiators must take into account the concerns of the Jewish state’s religious right, rather than exclude them from the discussion as obstacles. Many are used to thinking of Israel’s religious community–particularly its settlers–as part of the problem. But the ICG says they can–and must–be part of the solution. “If the national religious often have played the spoiler, it is no small part because their concerns have been neglected,” the report observes. “But given that they largely shaped the conflict on the ground and now are in a position to shape its future, continuing this approach could be self-defeating.”
FULL ARTICLE (Tablet)
Photo: Robert Croma/Flickr