Most recent bulletins on peace and security
February 11, 2019 Nigeria: Many Candidates, Few Alternatives
“The presidential contest ... will likely be a straight contest
between incumbent Muhammadu Buhari of the ruling All Progressives
Congress (APC) and challenger Atiku Abubakar of the People’s
Democratic Party (PDP). Dozens of other candidates will be
competing. These include: Oby Ezekwesili, the former minister and
founder of the Bring Back Our Girls movement; Professor Kingsley
Moghalu, the former deputy governor of the Central Bank of
Nigeria; and Omoyele Sowore, the owner of the media outlet Sahara
Reporters. But when it comes down to it, it will be a two-horse
race.” - Idayat Hassan
January 30, 2019 USA/Africa: Paradigms of Foreign Intervention
“[In her new book Foreign Intervention in Africa after
the Cold War, Schmidt´s] aim is not to provide a
comprehensive narrative or advance an explanatory
theory, but to introduce a series of case studies,
taking into account global narratives and common factors
as well as the particularity and nuances of each case. …
As Schmidt explains, global narratives are both
essential and misleading in explaining the course and
outcomes of intervention in specific conflicts.” -
AfricaFocus Editor William Minter
January 30, 2019 USA/Africa: China, Bolton, and Jimmy Carter
When National Security Advisor John Bolton presented
the administration´s "New Africa Strategy" at the
conservative Heritage Foundation on December 13, the
Washington Post headlined Bolton´s warning that
“´predatory´ China is outpacing the U.S.
In Africa" (http://tinyurl.com/ydgrr7ep). And, according to the
New York Times, "Bolton Outlines a Strategy for
Africa That’s Really About Countering China"
(http://tinyurl.com/yc73fx9j). But however prominent
the theme of U.S.-China competition in current news,
neither this framework nor any other overarching
theme is likely to prove a reliable guide as either a
description or prescription for actual policy.
July 30, 2018 East Africa: Ethiopia/Eritrea Peace Hopes, Cautions
For those seeking good news from Africa, there is no better recent example than the
dramatic rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Pictures and videos of
the overjoyed crowds in Asmara and Addis Ababa greeting the other country's leaders
on mutual visits circulated rapidly on social media as well as in international news
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