Thursday, December 8, 2016

Eritrea: Coming in from the Cold

The Atlantic Council published in December 2016 an issue brief titled "Eritrea: Coming in from the Cold" by Bronwyn Bruton, deputy director of the Africa Center at the Atlantic Council.

The issue brief proposes a series of recommendations for a new US policy towards Eritrea. At the same time, it seems designed to single out Ethiopia for criticism.

2016 Global Real Estate Transparency Index and East Africa

The 2016 Global Real Estate Transparency Index ranks 109 countries, 16 of which are in Sub-Saharan Africa and five of these in East Africa and the Horn. Kenya has by far the best ranking at number 61 followed by Uganda (90), Ethiopia (94), Tanzania (99), and Djibouti (107).

Future of UN Mission in South Sudan

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) reprinted on 5 December 2016 an article from the Daily Maverick titled "Where To from Here for the UN in South Sudan?" by Meressa K. Dessu, ISS Addis Ababa.

The current UNMISS mandate will soon expire. The author argues that continuing with the same mandate would not allow UNMISS to be effective in protecting civilians and supporting the peace process. UNMISS needs a mandate similar to the one used during the transition of East Timor to independence where it exercised administrative authority and had robust rules of engagement.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Some Personal Comments About Africa

George Washington University's The Globe asked me to comment on US perceptions about Africa in a piece published on 7 December 2016 titled "A Conversation with Ambassador Shinn." I emphasized that the media tend to focus on negative stories about Africa and give scant attention to the positive ones.

Eritrea's Economy: Ideology and Opportunity

The Atlantic Council published in December 2016 a study titled "Eritrea's Economy: Ideology and Opportunity" by Seth Kaplan, Johns Hopkins University.

The author argues that like Cuba, Eritrea is not, and does not desire to become, a democracy. The experience of the three-decade liberation struggle has led the country instead to embrace a highly egalitarian, statist model.

China's Zimbabwe Risk

The Diplomat published on 7 December 2016 a commentary titled "China's Zimbabwe Risk" by Wang Xinsong, associate professor at Beijing Normal University.

The author lays out the tricky situation facing China and its close relationship with the aging Robert Mugabe. He concludes the worst scenario for China is a rudderless Zimbabwe, with neither of the ZANU-PF factions winning in a post-Mugabe government, a destructive but weak opposition party force, uncontrollable social turmoil, and the military stepping into politics.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Ethiopia's Response to Political Unrest Could Undermine Health Gains

The Center for Strategic and International Studies published in November 2016 a study titled "Imperiling Progress: How Ethiopia's Response to Political Unrest Could Undermine Its Health Gains" by Janet Fleischman and Katey Peck.

The authors conclude that the current political crisis presents serious risks to advancing women's and children's health since the ongoing violence and extensive restrictions associated with the state of emergency could disrupt access to health services and reverse the fragile gains.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Turkey and Hizmet in Africa

Al Jazeera published on 13 November 2016 a commentary titled "The Future of Turkish Engagement in Africa: The Question of Hizmet" by Thembisa Fakude, head of research relations at the Al Jazeera Centre for Studies.

The article argues that for the Turkish government to achieve its goals in Africa, it would be wise to take a non-aggressive stance towards Hizmet, the movement affiliated with Fethullah Gulen.

My 2015 book titled Hizmet in Africa: The Activities and Significance of the Gulen Movement offers a detailed background on the movement's activities in Africa.

The Sustainable Development Impact of Chinese and French Wind Farms in Ethiopia

The China-Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies published in November 2016 a study titled "A Comparative Analysis: The Sustainable Development of Two Wind Farms in Ethiopia" by Yanning Chen.

The study concluded that the Chinese-financed and constructed Adama Wind Farm provided similar sustainable development benefits as the French-financed and constructed Ashegoda Wind Farm.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Political Crisis in Ethiopia

The African Studies Association annual conference took place in Washington and included a panel session on 3 December 2016 concerning the current political crisis in Ethiopia. My remarks during the panel dealt with the drivers of the conflict and some thoughts for going forward.

Restraint Urged in Response to Sudan Protests

African Arguments published on 30 November 2016 a commentary titled "Sudan Protests: Why It's in the Government's Interests to Respond with Restraint" by Magnus Taylor, Crisis Group Horn of Africa analyst.

Peaceful protests in Khartoum and other Sudanese cities have so far been met with restraint, although Sudan has a history of using excessive force. The author makes the argument that the government should be conciliatory and continue to tolerate legitimate dissent.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Somalia: Survey on Leadership, Security and the Electoral Process

The Mogadishu-based Center for Policy Analysis and Research (CfPAR) published in December 2016 "Somalia: Survey on Leadership, Security and the Electoral Process." CfPAR collected the data using Survey Monkey software. There were 135 respondents from different parts of the world, mostly from Somali diasporas in Europe and North America.

The questions dealt with leadership satisfaction/dissatisfaction, AMISOM satisfaction/dissatisfaction, public perception of the electoral process, and critical components for recovery.

North Korea-Africa Cooperation

The Institute for Security Studies published on 30 November 2016 a major study titled "Cooperation between African States and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea" by Annie DuPre, Nicolas Kasprzyk, and Noel Stott.

Most African states have refrained from explicitly condemning North Korea's nuclear weapon and delivery system-related activities as a threat to international peace and security. The authors suggest this may be the result of the legacy of North Korea's military support of African liberation movements and the contemporary political and economic relations that many African states still have with Pyongyang. North Korea has built arms factories in the DRC, Ethiopia, Madagascar, and Uganda. Namibia has contracted with North Korea to build military sites and ballistic missile manufacturing lines have been sold to Egypt and Libya.

On 30 November 2016, the UN Security Council in a unanimous vote of 15 members put new sanctions on North Korea for its nuclear and ballistic missile tests. The three non-permanent African members--Angola, Egypt, and Senegal--voted in favor of additional sanctions.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

US Proposal for Arms Embargo on South Sudan Lacks Support in UN Security Council

Foreign Policy published on 30 November 2016 an article titled "U.S. Push to Halt Genocide in South Sudan Unravels at United Nations" by Colum Lynch.

A belated effort by the United States to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan does not have sufficient support in the UN Security Council and seems doomed to fail as the dry season begins and major conflict is almost certain to resume.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Somaliland: Study of Youth and Propensity towards Violence

Mercy Corps published in November 2016 the results of a recent study in Somaliland titled "Critical Choices: Assessing the Effects of Education and Civic Engagement on Somali Youths' Propensity towards Violence."

The study sponsored by USAID and conducted at 60 schools in Somaliland concluded that giving youth the ability to participate in civic engagement activities alongside formal education fulfilled a common desire to do something positive, meaningful and impactful. Addressing this need is one way to steer youth away from a path towards violence. What matters to youth is not just having an opportunity to learn, but also being able to use their capabilities to achieve their ambitions and shape their future and the trajectories of their communities and nation.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Ending South Sudan's Civil War

The Council on Foreign Relations published on 28 November 2016 a report titled "Ending South Sudan's Civil War" by Katherine Almquist Knopf, director, Africa Center for Strategic Studies, National Defense University.

The author argues that the only remaining path to protect South Sudan's sovereignty and territorial integrity, restore its legitimacy, and politically empower its citizens is through an international transitional administration, established by the United Nations and the African Union, to run the country for a finite period.

Africa: The Obama Legacy and Prospects for the Trump Administration

The VOA Encounter program with Carol Castiel ran over the weekend of 25 November 2016 a half-hour discussion of President Obama's legacy in Africa and the outlook for President-elect Trump. The guests were J. Peter Pham, director of the Atlantic Council's Africa Center, and myself.

Chinese Fishing Fleet in West Africa

Quartz Africa published on 23 November 2016 an article titled "A Glimpse of Life Onboard the Chinese Fishing Boats Dominating West Africa's Seas" by Lily Kuo.

China now has the largest fishing fleet in the waters off West Africa and environmentalists worry that the waters cannot support this level of fishing for long.

Chinese Provincial Actors in Uganda

The China-Africa Research Initiative at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies published in July 2016 a policy brief titled "Provincial Chinese Actors in Africa: The Case of Sichuan in Uganda" by Shi Xuefei.

The brief explores how "twinning" has led to clustering of Chinese actors from Sichuan Province in Uganda, and how twinning and clustering are related to China's foreign aid program.

US Expands Legal Basis for Attacks against Al-Shabaab

The New York Times published on 27 November 2016 an article titled "Obama Expands War with Al-Qaeda to Include Shabab in Somalia" by Charlie Savage, Eric Schmitt, and Mark Mazzetti.

The US has decided to deem al-Shabaab to be part of the armed conflict that Congress authorized against the perpetrators of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks. The move is intended to shore up the legal basis for an intensifying campaign of airstrikes and other counterterrorism operations, carried out largely in support of African Union and Somali government forces. This decision is not expected to change significantly US military operations in Somalia.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

China and the Peacekeeping Challenge in South Sudan

The Wall Street Journal published on 15 November 2016 an article titled "China Discovers the Price of Global Power: Soldiers Returning in Caskets" by Jeremy Page and Matina Stevis.

Two Chinese peacekeepers were killed in Juba, South Sudan, in July 2016 not long after the death of another peacekeeper assigned to the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali. The Chinese government and public are now dealing with the issue of Chinese peacekeepers returning in caskets following death in combat. This is a new experience for China and underscores the price paid for reaching great power status.

Quartz Africa carried an article on this incident on 11 July 2016 titled "China Reacts to the Death of To Peacekeepers in South Sudan with Grief and Rage" by Lily Kuo and Echo Huang. This article provides additional background.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

US-China Cooperation on African Security

Brookings published on 1 November 2016 a commentary titled "US-China Cooperation on African Security" by Yun Sun.

She argues that both China and the United States have an interest in African peace and security. While US-China cooperation is taking place through multilateral mechanisms such as UN peacekeeping and anti-piracy efforts, there "remains great potential for more bilateral cooperation on African security issues."

China's Aid and Other Forms of State Financing to Africa

The University of Heidelberg Department of Economics published in October 2016 a paper titled "Apples and Dragon Fruits: The Determinants of Aid and Other Forms of State Financing from China to Africa" by Axel Dreher, Andreas Fuchs, Bradley Parks, Austin M. Strange, and Michael J. Tierney.

The authors argued that much of the controversy about Chinese aid stems from a failure to distinguish between China's official development assistance (ODA) and more commercially-oriented sources and types of state financing. They found the allocation of Chinese ODA to be driven primarily by foreign policy considerations, while economic interests better explain the distribution of less concessional flows.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Ethiopia and the State of Emergency

Chatham House published on 18 October 2016 a commentary titled "Ethiopian Politics Beyond the Vanguard?" by Jason Mosley.

Mosley concluded that protests this past year in Ethiopia indicated the population--especially the youth, which has benefitted from the expansion in education--no longer accepts the EPRDF's vanguard role. The coming months will reveal whether there is a future for the EPRDF government beyond the vanguard, potentially opening the way for more genuinely participatory governance.

Somalia: Al-Shabaab vs Islamic State

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published on 21 November 2016 a commentary titled "Does the Islamic State Threaten Al-Shabaab's Hegemony in Somalia?" by Omar S. Mahmood, researcher at ISS.

The author concluded that so far the Islamic State has had limited influence in the region but is working to expand its influence. Sustained resistance by al-Shabaab ensures the Islamic State has an uphill battle to gain greater acceptance in a region where al-Qaeda has historically been more important.