Most recent bulletins on peace and security
April 23, 2018 Ethiopia: Wax, Gold, and "Ethiopianness"
The appointment of Abiy Ahmed as prime minister of Ethiopia on April 2 was met with
relief and with high expectations by Ethiopians as well as internationally. Although
he is a leader of one of the parties in the ruling coalition, he is young (he turns
42 today) and has a reputation as someone open to inclusion and diverse views. Yet
the structural problems he and the country face are profound. Ethiopians as well as
other informed observers are cautious about predicting to what extent promises will
meet expectations, or, in a classic Ethiopian expression, how much gold there is
beneath the wax.
February 12, 2018 Sudan: Perilous Crossroads on Refugee Map
Sudan is one of the central crossroads for African migrant journeys, particularly
for refugees from Eritrea and other counties in the Horn of Africa.
The international media spotlight falls most often on the deadly crossing of the
Mediterranean or slave auctions in the Libyan dessert. But the vulnerability and
deadly perils facing those forced to flee by war, repression, or the struggle for
economic survival extends to a far wider terrain, of which Sudan is one example.
January 29, 2018 Africa/Global: Humanitarian Attention Deficits
The international system of response to humanitarian crises is flawed. And the often-repeated
call to focus on addressing causes of crises and structural flaws in the
system, instead of only providing short-term relief, is undeniably justified. But
current trends, paralleling austerity programs and cuts in services at domestic
levels in the United States and around the world, are not moving in the direction of
fundamental reform. Instead, they are further diminishing the already inadequate
resources devoted to saving lives.
December 18, 2017 Cameroon: Speech, Rights, and Aging Autocracy
Cameroonian-American writer Patrice Nganang, an acclaimed novelist who writes in
French and teaches at the State University of New York, Stonybrook, remains in prison
in Cameroon after his detention at the airport on December 6. His friends and
colleagues around the world have mobilized protests, which has evoked international
attention and pressure. But the aging autocracy of Cameroon President Paul Biya is
pressing charges against him, and is even more resistant to addressing the issues of
discrimination he highlighted in an article just a day before his arrest.
November 13, 2017 Africa/Global: Counterproductive Counterterrorism
What strategies work to counter terrorism effectively, whether in Africa or anywhere
else in the world? Few would claim to have a convincing answer to that question.
However, there is some real evidence of what strategies do not work and
are even counterproductive. For example, a new UNDP study studying recruitment to
violent extremism, based on interviews with former extremists in Nigeria, Kenya,
and Somalia, found a number of factors underlying the growth of violent extremism.
Particularly striking was the finding that 71 percent of recruits interviewed said
that it was some form of government action that was the 'tipping point' that triggered their final decision to join an
November 13, 2017 USA/Sahel: Questions Asked, Unasked, Half-Answered
The U.S. military presence in Africa, which has been growing steadily since the years
following the 9/11 attack, has been having a spotlight in U.S. media after the death of
four U.S. soldiers in Niger on October 4. But despite numerous questions raised, and
the prominent attention given to the characteristically obtuse and insensitive
response from the White House, the questions raised have been at best half-answered. And
fundamental questions about counterterrorism strategy and U.S. policy were left
unasked in the Washington-focused debate.
October 30, 2017 Africa/Global: Recent Books Read & Recommended
As with other publications largely focused on current events, AfricaFocus Bulletin is
confronted with an exponentially increasing bombardment of daily news. My approach as
the editor is to select a particular topic of interest, sometimes highlighted in the
news and sometimes not, and try to put it into context for readers with excerpts from
the most relevant sources. But I also find it essential to try to step back and
refresh my understanding of the wider context. For that, I find I must turn to books.
October 19, 2017 Somalia: Not Only a Somali Tragedy
"I think it's really quite tragic that a strategy run from Washington, D.C., and from
the European headquarters in Brussels pays so little attention when over 300 people
are killed, massacred, and another 500 people are struggling for their lives, and
that very little support comes from the United States and the European Union to help
the Somali government clean up this, help the people who have been injured or people
who have lost their parents or their children." - Dr. Abdi Samatar
August 23, 2017 USA/Africa: No Policy? Bad Policy? Or Both?
"Africa is terra incognita for the Trump Administration: a continent it cares
little--and understands even less--about. With no dyed-in-the-wool Trumpian Africa
hands available, the administration appears ready to cede Africa policy making to
career civil servants and a few mainstream Republican appointees." - Matthew T. Page
May 24, 2017 Nigeria: Corruption Undercuts Boko Haram Fight
"Nigeria's corrupt elites have profited from conflict; with oil prices at a record
low, defence has provided new and lucrative opportunities for the country's corrupt
kleptocrats. Former military chiefs have stolen as much as US $15 billion – a sum
equivalent to half of Nigeria's foreign currency reserves – through fraudulent arms
procurement deals." - new report on "Weaponizing Tranparency"
April 3, 2017 South Africa: Rising Outcry for Zuma to Go
"We call on Ministers and leaders of the ANC who care about the
future of democracy and the Constitution to speak up and call on the
President, in the best interests of the country, to step down. We
call on the parliamentary leadership of the ANC, supported by all
opposition parties, to insist that parliament be recalled
immediately to debate a motion of no-confidence, proposed by the ANC
leadership in parliament. We call on all members of Parliament to
unite and support a motion of no-confidence." - Statement by the
Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, March
March 28, 2017 Liberia: Mining, Displacement, and the World Bank
"The roots of the New Liberty Gold project stretch back before 1995,
when a resource extraction license was issued by former warlord
turned president Charles Taylor to a mysterious company called
KAFCO. The permit changed hands a few times and, today, Avesoro holds its
permit via a wholly-owned subsidiary, Bea Mountain Mining Corp – a
company created in 1996 by Keikurah B. Kpoto, one of Taylor's
closest associates. In 1998, foreign interests bought Bea Mountain
Mining. The beneficiaries of the sale were well hidden. According to
a document IRIN procured, three quarters of its capital belonged to
a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands. The rest was
held by owners of bearer shares." - IRIN investigative report, March