Showing posts tagged as "africa"

Showing posts tagged africa

5 Aug
Pentagon confronts militant dilemma in Africa | William Wallis in Washington and Katrina Manson in Nairobi
The hum of US drones is becoming more familiar over African skies.
From Nigeria to Somalia, US military presence on the continent is a creeping reality. US troops may be thin on the ground, with the Pentagon preferring to rely on training and financial support to allied forces, but special forces are now operating at any given moment.
The trend has its most recent roots in the aftermath of the September 2001 attacks on the US, when US officials scoured the globe for “ungoverned spaces” with the potential, like Afghanistan, to foster anti-American extremists. Several African countries cropped up on the radar, notably Somalia. In the semi-desert underbelly of the Sahara, Mali was identified among other weak states vulnerable to jihadi influence spreading south from the Maghreb. Nigeria, too, soon featured in assessments of threats.
These were either prescient musings by US spies or a self-fulfilling prophecy coaxed partly into reality by US meddling – there are subscribers to both camps. Either way, Islamist extremism in Africa has metastasised just as the Pentagon and the CIA assessments predicted.
FULL ARTICLE (Financial Times)
Photo: United States Marine Corps/flickr

Pentagon confronts militant dilemma in Africa | William Wallis in Washington and Katrina Manson in Nairobi

The hum of US drones is becoming more familiar over African skies.

From Nigeria to Somalia, US military presence on the continent is a creeping reality. US troops may be thin on the ground, with the Pentagon preferring to rely on training and financial support to allied forces, but special forces are now operating at any given moment.

The trend has its most recent roots in the aftermath of the September 2001 attacks on the US, when US officials scoured the globe for “ungoverned spaces” with the potential, like Afghanistan, to foster anti-American extremists. Several African countries cropped up on the radar, notably Somalia. In the semi-desert underbelly of the Sahara, Mali was identified among other weak states vulnerable to jihadi influence spreading south from the Maghreb. Nigeria, too, soon featured in assessments of threats.

These were either prescient musings by US spies or a self-fulfilling prophecy coaxed partly into reality by US meddling – there are subscribers to both camps. Either way, Islamist extremism in Africa has metastasised just as the Pentagon and the CIA assessments predicted.

FULL ARTICLE (Financial Times)

Photo: United States Marine Corps/flickr

29 Apr

Sudan and South Sudan: The Humanitarian Crisis in South Sudan (Part 4)

Casie Copeland, Crisis Group’s Consulting Analyst and Jérôme Tubiana, Crisis Group’s Sudan Senior Analyst, discuss the relationship of China, the biggest consumer of South Sudanese oil, with both Sudan and South Sudan.

crisisgroup.org

Sudan and South Sudan: The Humanitarian Crisis in South Sudan (Part 3)

Casie Copeland, Crisis Group’s Consulting Analyst and Jérôme Tubiana, Crisis Group’s Sudan Senior Analyst, stress the increasingly regional nature of the conflict in South Sudan.

crisisgroup.org

Sudan and South Sudan: The Humanitarian Crisis in South Sudan (Part 2)

Casie Copeland, Crisis Group’s Consulting Analyst and Jérôme Tubiana, Crisis Group’s Sudan Senior Analyst, highlight the growing humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, recently declared a “Level 3” global emergency by the UNOCHR, a distinction shared only by Syria and the Central African Republic. The UN has worryingly issued a warning of famine in a country where perhaps 1 million people have been displaced in the last 3 months.

crisisgroup.org

25 Apr
"The CNDD-FDD leadership is so power-hungry and insecure that it wants to reduce the political space as much as it can before the 2015 elections"

—Thierry Vircoulon, Central Africa Project Director for the International Crisis Group on Burundi’s upcoming election, Al Jazeera

11 Apr
Guinea-Bissau: the challenge of economic recovery | RFI
Lamine came to drink tea with his old friend Felix. At Diolo their neighborhood, there is no water or electricity. Poverty is everywhere. It’s harder every day. ”  I was married, I worked in boats. When there was the coup (in April 2012, ed) , the boss, a Spaniard, stopped its activities. Now we are unemployed. So I find myself here to beg, I’m doing door to door for the whole family. It’s not easy.  ”
Today, nearly two-thirds of the population live below the poverty line. Since the coup of April 2012, international donors have suspended most of their cooperation. Even trade cashew first income countries is in crisis.
FULL ARTICLE (RFI)
Photo: Gabor Basch/Flickr

Guinea-Bissau: the challenge of economic recovery | RFI

Lamine came to drink tea with his old friend Felix. At Diolo their neighborhood, there is no water or electricity. Poverty is everywhere. It’s harder every day. ”  I was married, I worked in boats. When there was the coup (in April 2012, ed) , the boss, a Spaniard, stopped its activities. Now we are unemployed. So I find myself here to beg, I’m doing door to door for the whole family. It’s not easy.  ”

Today, nearly two-thirds of the population live below the poverty line. Since the coup of April 2012, international donors have suspended most of their cooperation. Even trade cashew first income countries is in crisis.

FULL ARTICLE (RFI)

Photo: Gabor Basch/Flickr

10 Apr
South Sudan: A Civil War by Any Other Name
Addis Ababa/Juba/Nairobi/Brussels  |   10 Apr 2014
Refocusing international engagement as well as the peace negotiations is essential to stop South Sudan’s raging civil war from claiming ever more lives. 
South Sudan’s four-month civil war has displaced more than a million and killed over 10,000; an escalating humanitarian crisis threatens many more. In its latest report, South Sudan: A Civil War by Any Other Name, the International Crisis Group looks at the longstanding political and military grievances behind spiralling violence and examines the steps necessary for peace and reconciliation. Communal conflicts cannot be separated from political disputes, and resolving both requires sustained commitment from South Sudanese and international actors.
The report’s major findings and recommendations are:
The dispute within the governing Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM) that led to the conflict was primarily political, but ethnic targeting and communal mobilisation quickly led to appalling levels of brutality against civilians. As peace talks between the government and the SPLM/A in Opposition stalled, both sides sought gains on the battlefield to strengthen their position in negotiations.
Peace talks and reconciliation efforts must expand considerably beyond deals between political elites to include other militarised actors as well as community-based organisations, religious groups, women’s associations and others.
To address the rapidly growing humanitarian crisis, armed actors must permit unconditional humanitarian access to civilians in areas they control. Aid providers must prepare to scale up humanitarian service delivery to prevent an avoidable famine.
Plans by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to deploy a Protection and Deterrent Force raise the prospect of even greater regional involvement. IGAD should only do so with a clear mandate that supports a political resolution of the conflict. 
The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is called upon to be an impartial actor in conflict-affected areas and to carry out state-support tasks in others. This dual mandate creates confusion and should urgently be amended to focus on the protection of civilians, human-rights reporting, support for IGAD’s mediation and logistical help to the African Union Commission of Inquiry.
“Many communities are aligning themselves with military factions, giving the conflict a dangerous ethno-military nature”, says Casie Copeland, Consulting South Sudan Analyst. “To prevent further catastrophe, South Sudan’s leaders and its international partners need to consider a radical restructuring of the state. New constituencies have to be admitted to a national dialogue, including armed groups previously not included, civil society actors and disaffected communities”.
“The conflict that broke out on 15 December 2013 was decades in the making. Resolving it requires not a quick fix but sustained domestic and international commitment”, says Comfort Ero, Africa Program Director. “The democratic space that was closed after independence in July 2011 must be reopened to enable peace and reconciliation processes to take hold”.
FULL REPORT

South Sudan: A Civil War by Any Other Name

Addis Ababa/Juba/Nairobi/Brussels  |   10 Apr 2014

Refocusing international engagement as well as the peace negotiations is essential to stop South Sudan’s raging civil war from claiming ever more lives. 

South Sudan’s four-month civil war has displaced more than a million and killed over 10,000; an escalating humanitarian crisis threatens many more. In its latest report, South Sudan: A Civil War by Any Other Name, the International Crisis Group looks at the longstanding political and military grievances behind spiralling violence and examines the steps necessary for peace and reconciliation. Communal conflicts cannot be separated from political disputes, and resolving both requires sustained commitment from South Sudanese and international actors.

The report’s major findings and recommendations are:

The dispute within the governing Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM) that led to the conflict was primarily political, but ethnic targeting and communal mobilisation quickly led to appalling levels of brutality against civilians. As peace talks between the government and the SPLM/A in Opposition stalled, both sides sought gains on the battlefield to strengthen their position in negotiations.

Peace talks and reconciliation efforts must expand considerably beyond deals between political elites to include other militarised actors as well as community-based organisations, religious groups, women’s associations and others.

To address the rapidly growing humanitarian crisis, armed actors must permit unconditional humanitarian access to civilians in areas they control. Aid providers must prepare to scale up humanitarian service delivery to prevent an avoidable famine.

Plans by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to deploy a Protection and Deterrent Force raise the prospect of even greater regional involvement. IGAD should only do so with a clear mandate that supports a political resolution of the conflict. 

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is called upon to be an impartial actor in conflict-affected areas and to carry out state-support tasks in others. This dual mandate creates confusion and should urgently be amended to focus on the protection of civilians, human-rights reporting, support for IGAD’s mediation and logistical help to the African Union Commission of Inquiry.

“Many communities are aligning themselves with military factions, giving the conflict a dangerous ethno-military nature”, says Casie Copeland, Consulting South Sudan Analyst. “To prevent further catastrophe, South Sudan’s leaders and its international partners need to consider a radical restructuring of the state. New constituencies have to be admitted to a national dialogue, including armed groups previously not included, civil society actors and disaffected communities”.

“The conflict that broke out on 15 December 2013 was decades in the making. Resolving it requires not a quick fix but sustained domestic and international commitment”, says Comfort Ero, Africa Program Director. “The democratic space that was closed after independence in July 2011 must be reopened to enable peace and reconciliation processes to take hold”.

FULL REPORT

8 Apr
Voter anger, parties’ disarray could bring change in Bissau | Bate Felix and Alberto Dabo
Disarray in Guinea-Bissau’s political parties and frustration among voters could open the way for a Harvard-educated political outsider to win a presidential election next week aimed at turning the page on years of coups and crime.
Guinea-Bissau - a transit route for South American cocaine into Europe which has been dubbed Africa’s first ‘narco-state’ - was plunged into chaos two years ago when soldiers stormed the presidential palace days before an election for that post.
FULL ARTICLE (Reuters)
Photo: Gabor Basch/Flickr

Voter anger, parties’ disarray could bring change in Bissau | Bate Felix and Alberto Dabo

Disarray in Guinea-Bissau’s political parties and frustration among voters could open the way for a Harvard-educated political outsider to win a presidential election next week aimed at turning the page on years of coups and crime.

Guinea-Bissau - a transit route for South American cocaine into Europe which has been dubbed Africa’s first ‘narco-state’ - was plunged into chaos two years ago when soldiers stormed the presidential palace days before an election for that post.

FULL ARTICLE (Reuters)

Photo: Gabor Basch/Flickr

Guinea-Bissau: Elections, But Then What?
Brussels  |   8 Apr 2014
Guinea-Bissau’s elections are an important first step, but to address its economic and political fragility, the country needs strong international help, as well as political and military will for reform.
In its latest briefing, Guinea-Bissau: Elections, But Then What?, the International Crisis Group examines the bumpy road to the 13 April 2014 elections and the challenges a new government will face. Redistributing power and resources in a country where participation in government has been the main method for acquiring wealth will threaten a fragile balance of forces.
The briefing’s major findings and recommendations are:
International pressure and a crippled economy have finally forced the military and its political allies – two years after the April 2012 military coup – to hold legislative and presidential elections. But much like in 2012, they are concerned with a potential hegemony of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC). They could be tempted to resort to violence again, should their access to the formal and informal benefits associated with power be removed.
Peaceful elections and, more broadly, the fate of the ongoing transition, will depend largely on the leverage of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which has supported the transition authorities from the start but is tired of paying the bills for a regime that is close to bankruptcy.
The elections are only the first stage of a long-term effort to solve problems that have undermined progress for years. Given the country’s fragility, the political stakes in play, a suspicious military and a weak economy, real transformation will only be possible with strong international involvement, political and financial.
The international community should closely monitor the crucial post-elections period. It should use the lifting of individual sanctions on coup makers as an incentive to cooperate. Donors should be ready to help the government pay immediate expenses, including public sector wages, provide long-term funding for development programs and push for improved economic governance.
The new authorities will need to promote consensus as well as ethnic and political pluralism. This includes passing the proposed amnesty law for the coup makers agreed during the transition.
“The new government will have to call into question the privileges enjoyed by senior military officers and carefully resume the security sector reforms that prompted the army to stage the coup” says Vincent Foucher, West Africa Senior Analyst. “This time round, the government should proceed with caution and seek compromise to avoid a violent reaction from the army”.
“The election winners will face numerous challenges”, says Comfort Ero, Africa Program Director. “Nonetheless, this is an opportunity for a new generation of politicians, who are more willing to compromise internally and internationally and are able to manage the country well enough to allow the re-legitimisation of the state and convince the military to consent to the modernisation needed”.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Guinea-Bissau: Elections, But Then What?

Brussels  |   8 Apr 2014

Guinea-Bissau’s elections are an important first step, but to address its economic and political fragility, the country needs strong international help, as well as political and military will for reform.

In its latest briefing, Guinea-Bissau: Elections, But Then What?, the International Crisis Group examines the bumpy road to the 13 April 2014 elections and the challenges a new government will face. Redistributing power and resources in a country where participation in government has been the main method for acquiring wealth will threaten a fragile balance of forces.

The briefing’s major findings and recommendations are:

International pressure and a crippled economy have finally forced the military and its political allies – two years after the April 2012 military coup – to hold legislative and presidential elections. But much like in 2012, they are concerned with a potential hegemony of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC). They could be tempted to resort to violence again, should their access to the formal and informal benefits associated with power be removed.

Peaceful elections and, more broadly, the fate of the ongoing transition, will depend largely on the leverage of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which has supported the transition authorities from the start but is tired of paying the bills for a regime that is close to bankruptcy.

The elections are only the first stage of a long-term effort to solve problems that have undermined progress for years. Given the country’s fragility, the political stakes in play, a suspicious military and a weak economy, real transformation will only be possible with strong international involvement, political and financial.

The international community should closely monitor the crucial post-elections period. It should use the lifting of individual sanctions on coup makers as an incentive to cooperate. Donors should be ready to help the government pay immediate expenses, including public sector wages, provide long-term funding for development programs and push for improved economic governance.

The new authorities will need to promote consensus as well as ethnic and political pluralism. This includes passing the proposed amnesty law for the coup makers agreed during the transition.

“The new government will have to call into question the privileges enjoyed by senior military officers and carefully resume the security sector reforms that prompted the army to stage the coup” says Vincent Foucher, West Africa Senior Analyst. “This time round, the government should proceed with caution and seek compromise to avoid a violent reaction from the army”.

“The election winners will face numerous challenges”, says Comfort Ero, Africa Program Director. “Nonetheless, this is an opportunity for a new generation of politicians, who are more willing to compromise internally and internationally and are able to manage the country well enough to allow the re-legitimisation of the state and convince the military to consent to the modernisation needed”.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

3 Apr
Curbing Violence in Nigeria (II): The Boko Haram Insurgency
Abuja/Dakar/Nairobi/Brussels  |   3 Apr 2014
In an environment of poverty, injustice and lack of political will for reform, Boko Haram’s growing strength and dissemination is increasingly putting local and regional stability at risk.
In its latest report, Curbing Violence in Nigeria (II): The Boko Haram Insurgency, the International Crisis Group examines the emergence, rise and evolution of a movement whose four-year insurgency has killed thousands, displaced close to a million, destroyed public infrastructure and weakened the country’s already poor economy, particularly in the North East. The government’s failure to provide security and basic services makes poor youth, in particular, an easy recruitment target for anti-state militias. As Boko Haram’s network expands into Cameroon and Niger, a military response is not enough. Only deep political and socio-economic reform can ease the injustices that fuel the insurgency.
The report’s major findings and recommendations are:
Boko Haram’s evolution since 2002 is strongly linked to failed governance, economic hardship, rising social inequality, corruption and impunity. Most Nigerians are poorer today than at independence in 1960. Poverty is most dire in the north, where Boko Haram, the latest of many northern fundamentalist movements, has tapped into Muslim revivalism and hopes to establish an Islamic state.
Since 2010, the group’s campaign has grown, targeting not only security forces and politicians, but also civilians, traditional and religious leaders, public institutions, the UN presence and schools. It is more dispersed than ever, with many leaders in Cameroon and Niger, both of which are poorly equipped to address an armed Islamist threat. Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, seems to have little control over its factions, including Ansaru, which focuses on foreign targets.
Insecurity in much of the north may also worsen political violence and undermine the credibility of the 2015 elections, further damaging government legitimacy.
Federal and state governments must end impunity by prosecuting crimes by security services, government officials and Boko Haram members alike, and urgently develop and implement a socio-economic intervention program for the North East region.
Civic education to halt politicisation of religions, effective development and anti-corruption efforts, and police who are seen as partners to citizens are all vital.
“Boko Haram’s insurgency is tapping into governance, corruption, impunity and underdevelopment grievances shared by most people in the region” says EJ Hogendoorn, Deputy Africa Program Director. “It’s a serious challenge and a manifestation of more profound threats to Nigeria’s security. Yet, the government’s response is largely military”.
“Radical reform of governance and political culture is a big agenda, one some Nigerian elites have not yet demonstrated they have the will to address”, says Comfort Ero, Africa Program Director. “But if they do not, Boko Haram, or groups like it, will continue to destabilise large parts of the country”.
FULL REPORT

Curbing Violence in Nigeria (II): The Boko Haram Insurgency

Abuja/Dakar/Nairobi/Brussels  |   3 Apr 2014

In an environment of poverty, injustice and lack of political will for reform, Boko Haram’s growing strength and dissemination is increasingly putting local and regional stability at risk.

In its latest report, Curbing Violence in Nigeria (II): The Boko Haram Insurgency, the International Crisis Group examines the emergence, rise and evolution of a movement whose four-year insurgency has killed thousands, displaced close to a million, destroyed public infrastructure and weakened the country’s already poor economy, particularly in the North East. The government’s failure to provide security and basic services makes poor youth, in particular, an easy recruitment target for anti-state militias. As Boko Haram’s network expands into Cameroon and Niger, a military response is not enough. Only deep political and socio-economic reform can ease the injustices that fuel the insurgency.

The report’s major findings and recommendations are:

Boko Haram’s evolution since 2002 is strongly linked to failed governance, economic hardship, rising social inequality, corruption and impunity. Most Nigerians are poorer today than at independence in 1960. Poverty is most dire in the north, where Boko Haram, the latest of many northern fundamentalist movements, has tapped into Muslim revivalism and hopes to establish an Islamic state.

Since 2010, the group’s campaign has grown, targeting not only security forces and politicians, but also civilians, traditional and religious leaders, public institutions, the UN presence and schools. It is more dispersed than ever, with many leaders in Cameroon and Niger, both of which are poorly equipped to address an armed Islamist threat. Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, seems to have little control over its factions, including Ansaru, which focuses on foreign targets.

Insecurity in much of the north may also worsen political violence and undermine the credibility of the 2015 elections, further damaging government legitimacy.

Federal and state governments must end impunity by prosecuting crimes by security services, government officials and Boko Haram members alike, and urgently develop and implement a socio-economic intervention program for the North East region.

Civic education to halt politicisation of religions, effective development and anti-corruption efforts, and police who are seen as partners to citizens are all vital.

“Boko Haram’s insurgency is tapping into governance, corruption, impunity and underdevelopment grievances shared by most people in the region” says EJ Hogendoorn, Deputy Africa Program Director. “It’s a serious challenge and a manifestation of more profound threats to Nigeria’s security. Yet, the government’s response is largely military”.

“Radical reform of governance and political culture is a big agenda, one some Nigerian elites have not yet demonstrated they have the will to address”, says Comfort Ero, Africa Program Director. “But if they do not, Boko Haram, or groups like it, will continue to destabilise large parts of the country”.

FULL REPORT