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AfricaFocus Bulletins on Peace and Security - 2009-2010

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Jan 28, 2009  Congo (Kinshasa): Risky Steps towards Peace
    The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) has announced that it is providing logistical support for the joint Congolese-Rwandan military operation in eastern Congo, to maximize protection of civilians and reintegration of rebel forces into the Congolese national army. MONUC was not informed of the operation in advance, and there are real fears for the consequences for civilians. Nevertheless, most observers see the move, reflecting new agreement between Rwandan and Congolese governments, as a prerequisite for more fundamental peace-making measures.

Feb 16, 2009  Somalia: First Steps in a New Direction
    "The shortcomings of [the previous U.S.] approach are abundantly clear: violent extremism and anti-Americanism are now rife in Somalia due in large part to the blowback from policies that focused too narrowly on counter-terrorism objectives. The new U.S. national security team must make a clean break by defining and implementing a long-term strategy to support the development of an inclusive Somali government." - Ken Menkhaus

Mar 1, 2009  USA/Africa: Waiting for Change
    "While low visibility for Africa policy may not be entirely unexpected, considering the multiple crises the President faced entering office, it has disappointed many who had hoped the administration might quickly mobilize the high level attention that is needed to spur action on vital issues." - Reed Kramer,

Mar 9, 2009  Sudan: Into Uncharted Territory
    "Sudan has entered uncharted waters as a result of the ICC [International Criminal Court] arrest warrant against President Omar al Bashir. And indeed it is a nothing less than roll of the dice, a gamble with unknown consequences. Yesterday marks a turning point. We cannot say for sure in which direction Sudan will turn but there are many reasons to be fearful." - Alex de Waal

Mar 18, 2009  USA/Africa: Making Peace or Fueling War
    "Will de facto U.S. security policy toward the continent focus on anti-terrorism and access to natural resources and prioritize bilateral military relations with African countries? Or will the United States give priority to enhancing multilateral capacity to respond to Africa's own urgent security needs? If the first option is taken, it will undermine rather than advance both U.S. and African security." - Daniel Volman and William Minter, in new special report from Foreign Policy in Focus on AFRICOM and alternative policy frameworks.

Mar 25, 2009  Kenya: Crisis Renewed
    "I am shaken. I am shocked. And that is, apparently, the intent. For all of us to be shaken. For all of us to be shocked. For all of us to hear the threat, heed the warning. The threat and the warning implicit in last week's assassinations of Kingara Kamau and John Paul Oulu of the Oscar Foundation." - L. Muthoni Wanyeki, Kenya Human Rights Commission

Apr 21, 2009  Rwanda: Genocide Anniversary Reflections
    "Before the 10th anniversary, the international movement known as Remembering Rwanda was motivated by a fear that the genocide was being forgotten by the rest of the world. That concern has proved premature. Rwanda is probably as well known today as any tragic event very far from western countries, and causing direct harm to none of them, can be. ... Yet at the same time, as in virtually every other genocide, denial is alive and kicking." - Gerald Caplan

May 14, 2009  Africa: New Books 2009
    This issue of AfricaFocus features brief notices of 15 books published so far in 2009 that I think AfricaFocus readers are likely to be interested in. This listing, including 10 on continent-wide issues or countries outside South Africa and 5 on South Africa, is far from comprehensive. But it includes a good selection of thoughtful analyses by both African writers and experienced non-African observers of the African scene.

May 25, 2009  Africa: Arms & Air Transport
    "Air cargo companies involved in illicit or destabilizing arms transfers to African conflict zones have also been repeatedly contracted to deliver humanitarian aid and support peacekeeping operations, according to a report released today by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The report reveals that 90 per cent of the air cargo companies identified in arms trafficking-related reports have also been used ... to transport humanitarian aid, peacekeepers and peacekeeping equipment." - SIPRI

Jun 1, 2009  Africa: Economy and Human Rights, 1
    "Our first demand in our new campaign ["Demand Dignity"] is to the G-2 leaders, USA and China. The United States does not accept the notion of economic, social and cultural rights while China does not respect civil and political rights. We call on both governments to sign up to all human rights for all." - Irene Khan, Amnesty International

Jun 1, 2009  Africa: Economy and Human Rights, 2
    "There is still an enormous gap between the rhetoric of African governments, which claim to protect and respect human rights, and the daily reality where human rights violations remain the norm. ... So many people are living in utter destitution; so few of them have any chance to free themselves from poverty. Their dire situation is exacerbated by the failure of governments in the Africa region to provide basic social services, ensure respect for the rule of law, address corruption and be accountable to their people." - Amnesty International, 2009 annual report

Jun 12, 2009  Nigeria: Delta Violence Past & Present
    "It is impossible to separate the actions of the oil multinationals operating across the Niger Delta from the actions of the Nigerian government in the region. ... In exchange for the oil removed from the Niger Delta, the oil companies, with the support of the Nigerian state, have left behind an ecological disaster, reducing whole towns and villages to rubble, causing death by fire and pollution, and the guns of the Nigerian military." - Sokari Ekine and Firoze Manji

Jun 12, 2009  Nigeria: Midterm Results Disappoint
    "Every Nigerian hopes Yar'Adua's administration will start delivering those political goods which every society is entitled to, and what Yar'Adua promised in his Inaugural Address. But the strength of the hope dwindles with each passing day. As Nigerians, we must raise our voices to demand for these goods, and pray for our leaders to appreciate that they are in office to solve societal problems - not just to make a few friends, relations and cronies better off." - Nasir El-Rufai

Jun 24, 2009  USA/Uganda: Recovery from Conflict?
    "We applaud the commitment of the bill [in the U.S. Congress] to bring about stability and development in the region. However, we as the Acholi religious leaders whose primary concern is the preservation of human life, advocate for dialogue and other non-violent strategies to be employed so that long term sustainable peace may be realized. Let us learn from the past experiences where we have seen that violence only breeds more violence." - Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative

Jul 10, 2009  USA/Africa: Obama in Ghana, What Kind of Change?
    President Barack Obama's trip to Ghana, beginning today, will be rich in symbolism. But those hoping for a new direction in U.S. Africa policy are tempering their hopes with skepticism. The issue posed, parallel to that in other policy spheres, is to what extent change will remain symbolic or reflect substantive shifts, even if small, away from U.S. policies based on unilateral geostrategic goals or unexamined economic policy assumptions.

Jul 21, 2009  USA/Africa: After the Speech
    President Obama's speech met with mixed reviews. In Africa as well as in the United States, there was applause for the criticism of corrupt African rulers and the inspiring rhetoric calling for Africans to take responsibility for their future. But many commentators also called for a reality check.

Aug 4, 2009  Kenya: National Government of Impunity?
    On July 30, only days before this week's visit of U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to Kenya, the first stop on her 7-country Africa trip, the Kenyan Cabinet decided to reject special prosecution of those responsible for post-election violence in 2007 and 2008, whether under a domestic special tribunal or by the International Criminal Court (ICC), to which the case has been referred. Kenyan human rights advocates have been scathing in their critique of the Cabinet decision, and will be closely parsing the signals from the Clinton visit.

Aug 4, 2009  USA/Kenya: What Kind of Partnership?
    "Many people had hoped that Kenya's 2007 presidential elections would cement Kenya's democratic progress and would provide a solid foundation for the country to break out of its economic doldrums and begin to achieve some of its enormous economic potential. Instead, the 2007 elections brought trade and commerce to a halt, polarized the country along regional and ethnic lines and for a brief moment nearly brought the country to the edge of civil war." - Johnnie Carson, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa

Sep 15, 2009  USA/Somalia: Slippery Slope
    A U.S. commando raid in Somalia on Sept. 14 reportedly killed Kenyan Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, accused of links with al-Qaeda and of responsibility for a terrorist truck bomb at a Mombasa hotel in 2002. It is being applauded as a win by U.S. counter-terrorism officials, not least for its success in avoiding civilian casualties. But critical observers warn that its impact could nevertheless be counter-productive, producing new recruits for extremist groups in Somalia and reinforcing accusations that the fragile Somali government is too close to Washington.

Oct 11, 2009  Sudan: Policy Debates and Dilemmas
    In the debate on international policies towards Sudan, analysts as Alex de Waal and Mahmood Mamdani have convincingly critiqued Save Darfur movement and the International Criminal Court for counterproductive "humanitarian fundamentalism." After recent years of alternating bluster and failure to put real pressure on the Sudanese government from the U.S. under President Bush, the Obama administration and the "international community" seem to be gearing up to give diplomacy a serious chance. But the unanswered question is whether even forceful and skillful diplomacy can overcome Khartoum's long-practiced strategies for delay and deception.

Oct 11, 2009  Sudan: Between Peace and War
    The pace of diplomacy on Sudan is increasing, with talks set to resume on Darfur and active engagement by the African Union, the United Nations, and the United States in efforts to move Sudan's Comprehensive Peace Agreement forward as it approaches the last year of a projected 6-year interim period. But, says veteran Sudan analyst John Ashworth, in fact the agreement "is not Comprehensive, nor Peace, nor an Agreement. Its failure could ignite a new war even more deadly than the two previous conflicts in Southern Sudan.

Oct 11, 2009  Sudan: African Union Panel Reports
    "Repeatedly during our process of consultation, the Darfurians insisted that the Panel would fail in its mission if it did not identify and address what they called "the root cause of the crisis in Darfur". ... a gross imbalance between a strong centre and a marginalised periphery, which resulted in political power and wealth being concentrated in the centre, with the consequent negative consequences on the periphery." - African Union High-Level Panel on Darfur

Oct 23, 2009  Guinea (Conakry): More than an Inquiry?
    "Three weeks after over 150 people were killed in a military crackdown on demonstrators in the capital Conakry, with women and girls raped, Guineans are coping with the aftermath, some still searching for disappeared relatives' bodies. Uncertainty and tension reign." - UN IRIN News, Oct. 21, 2009

Dec 15, 2009  South Africa: 30+ New Books
    The most popular of these new books from and about South Africa is undoubtedly that by John Carlin on Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation, now available in two editions as well as in the newly released Clint Eastwood movie. But probably the one most in need of greater international attention is the one edited by Tawana Kupe and colleagues - Go Home or Die Here: Violence, Xenophobia and the Reinvention of Difference in South Africa. This photographic and analytic portrayal of the xenophobic violence of 2008 poses fundamental questions about the shape of today's South Africa.

Dec 18, 2009  Africa: New Books from AfricaFocus Subscribers
    This AfricaFocus Bulletin has recent books (2008 and 2009) from AfricaFocus subscribers, including authors, editors, contributors, and publishers. It's a very substantial list, but I'm sure some have escaped my notice. If you are an AfricaFocus subscriber, check this out for your own books and those by the your fellow subscribers. If you are an author or editor and don't find your recently published book here, do let me know (at, and I'll add it below.

Dec 22, 2009  Congo (Kinshasa): Militarization of Mining Well-Entrenched
    "The illicit exploitation of natural resources is not a new phenomenon in eastern DRC. It has characterised the conflict since it first erupted in 1996 and has been well documented by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the United Nations Panel of Experts and Group of Experts, journalists and others. Twelve years on, the patterns remain the same, and despite abundant evidence of these activities, no effective action has been taken to stop this murderous trade." - Global Witness

Dec 22, 2009  Congo (Kinshasa): Conflict Fueled from Many Sources
    "Minerals and arms smuggling worth millions of dollars persists in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) despite international sanctions, fuelling rebel strength despite national army operations, and army and rebel soldiers continue to kill civilians, according to a new United Nations report that calls on the Security Council to take action to plug the gaps." - UN News, reporting on independent Group of Experts on sanctions on DRC

Jan 24, 2010  Rwanda: Beyond Reasonable Doubt
    "The April 6, 1994 assassination of Rwandan President Habyarimana was the work of Hutu extremists who calculated that killing their own leader would torpedo a power-sharing agreement known as the Arusha Accords. The landmark deal would have ended years of conflict by creating a broad-based transitional government and an integrated Rwandan army. ... Despite the far-fetched conspiracy theories that have circulated over the years, the assassination plot was relatively straightforward. Colonel Bagosora was intimately familiar with the president's travel schedule and sufficiently powerful that the night before the summit, he was able to change the composition of the Rwandan delegation to ensure that Army Chief of Staff General Deogratias Nsabimana - who opposed Bagosora's genocidal plans - would be on the president's plane." Mutszinzi Report,

Mar 30 2010  Somalia: Somali-Led Peace Processes
    "How do Somali communities deal with their need for security and governance in the absence of a state? The reality is that since 1991 numerous Somali-led reconciliation processes have taken place at local and regional levels. Often these have proven more sustainable than the better resourced and better publicized national reconciliation processes sponsored by the international community." Pat Johnson and Abdirahman Raghe in new report from Conciliation Resources and Interpeace

Mar 30 2010  USA/Somalia: Engage or Disengage?
    With continuing conflict in Mogadishu, and reports of a forthcoming Transitional Federal Government offensive to gain control of areas of the city now controlled by Al-Shabaab rebels, debate about the extent of U.S. involvement intensified this month. Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson held a press conference to refute media reports of direct U.S. involvement in the anticipated offensive, and a Council on Foreign Relations report called for "constructive disengagement."

Mar 30, 2010  Somalia: Situation Reports
    "The current military stalemate in southern Somalia is less a reflection of opposition strength than of the weakness of the Transitional Federal Government. Since the nomination of Sheikh Sharif to the presidency and the withdrawal of Ethiopian forces from Somalia early in 2009, armed opposition groups -- Al-Shabaab in particular -- have lost their popular support base and been gravely weakened. ... Despite infusions of foreign training and assistance, government security forces remain ineffective, disorganized and corrupt." - UN Monitoring Group on Somalia, March 2010

Apr 25, 2010  Sudan: No Easy Ways Ahead
    "A vote for secession [in the 2011 referendum] is a foregone conclusion - given overwhelming Southern popular sentiment - but the time remaining to ensure that the process is orderly, legitimate, and consensual is desperately short. The potential flashpoints for a new war are many. Any new armed conflict runs the risk of becoming rapidly regionalized and difficult to contain, let alone resolve." - Alex de Waal

Apr 25, 2010  Sudan: "Too Big to Fail?"
    In the minds of its sponsors, the CPA [Comprehensive Peace Agreement] is "too big to fail." ... The bailout is simple: support the SPLM/NCP to muddle through no matter how flawed or sham the elections may be. - - Ahmed Elzobier in Sudan Tribune, April 21, 2010

May 31, 2010  South Africa: Israel/Apartheid Connections
    "Polakow-Suransky puts Israel's annual military exports to South Africa between 1974 and 1993 at $600 million, which made South Africa Israel's second or third largest trading partner after the United States and Britain. ... He puts the total military trade between the countries at well above $10 billion over the two decades." - Glenn Frankel in review of new book "The Unspoken Alliance"

Jun 18, 2010  Zimbabwe: Whose Diamonds?
    Zimbabwe's diamond wealth, which could potentially provide a decisive boost for economic recovery, is instead still a resource shared by diamond smugglers, army officers and police, and by cliques of top officials in the country's security apparatus, says a new report from "conflict diamonds" researchers at Partnership Africa Canada (PAC).

Jun 29, 2010  Western Sahara: Forgotten Conflict
    The Western Sahara conflict, notes analyst Yahia Zoubir, is now in the 35th year, with no sign of resolution. While the United Nations is ostensibly responsible for its resolution, France and the United States provide implicit support for Moroccan occupation of the territory, failing to support a referendum which might include the option of independence. The issue continues to poison relations between Algeria and Morocco, blocking hopes of regional economic integration in the Maghrib.

Jul 6, 2010  Africa: Book Notes
    This AfricaFocus contains a diverse selection of recent books likely to be of interest and new to AfricaFocus readers. You will find, for example, new books by Africa's distinguished elders, such as Achebe, wa Thiong'o, and Mandela. Selected new books from publishers such as Africa World Press, HSRC Press, and Aflame Books. Books on topical themes such as SMS activism and other ICT developments, on India and China's relations with Africa, and on xenophobia and migration. And more.

Aug 2, 2010  Congo (Kinshasa): UN Peacekeeping in Question
    For more than a year and a half, UN peacekeepers have continuously supported military operations conducted by the Congolese armed forces (FARDC) against the Rwandan rebels of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) in North and South Kivu. This policy has failed, says International Crisis Group analyst Thierry Vircoulon. Despite pledges to protect civilians and reduce abuses, there has in fact been an increase in human rights violations.

Aug 2, 2010  USA/Africa: New Evidence on Lumumba Death
    "A 1975 U.S. Senate investigation of alleged CIA assassinations concluded that while the CIA had earlier plotted to murder Lumumba, he was eventually killed 'by Congolese rivals. It does not appear from the evidence that the United States was in any way involved in the killing.' It is now clear that that conclusion was wrong." - Stephen R. Weissman, author of new article "An Extraordinary Rendition"

Aug 2, 2010  USA/Congo (Kinshasa): Conflict Minerals Law
    There is little doubt that exports of "conflict minerals" -- including cassiterite, columbite-tantalite, wolframite and gold -- controlled by rebel groups and by units of the Congolese army itself contribute to ongoing conflict in eastern Congo. It is more difficult to say how much difference the new legislation requiring transparency from U.S. companies about the supply chain of these minerals will make.

Aug 6, 2010  Africa: Migrant Rights Updates
    "An astounding 100 deportees a month come to ARACEM [in Mali] for shelter, food and clothing. They are expelled from Libya, Morocco and Algeria as they make the way from Central and West Africa in an attempt to find work. These three North African countries have signed agreements with European countries to act as external border control agents to prevent migrants from reaching Europe."

Aug 6, 2010  South Africa: Xenophobia & Civil Society
    "Virtually every author concludes that violence against African migrants will continue and increase unless some profound socio-economic and attitudinal changes occur. This text thus sounds a loud warning bell to South Africa about our future. And it does so not merely based on the opinions of the authors, but because of the views of ordinary South African citizens that informed the research. ... survey after survey, focus group after focus group, have shown deeply xenophobic attitudes rising steadily over time." - David Everatt in introduction to report on South African Civil Society and Xenophobia, July 2010

Oct 14, 2010  Sudan: Post-Referendum Issues
    "It is in our interest to see that the North remains a viable state, just as it should be in the interests of the North to see Southern Sudan emerge a viable one too. The North is our neighbour, it shares our history, and it hosts our brothers and sisters. Moreover, I have reiterated several times in my speeches in the past that even if Southern Sudan separates from the North it will not shift to the Indian Ocean or to the Atlantic Coast!" - Sudanese First Vice President Salva Kiir

Nov 17, 2010  Western Sahara: Violence Brings Rare Attention
    "On November 8, Moroccan occupation forces attacked a tent city of as many as 12,000 Western Saharans just outside of Al Aioun, in the culminating act of a months-long protest of discrimination against the indigenous Sahrawi population and worsening economic conditions. Not only was the scale of the crackdown unprecedented, so was the popular reaction: In a dramatic departure from the almost exclusively nonviolent protests of recent years, the local population turned on their occupiers, engaging in widespread rioting and arson." - Stephen Zunes

Dec 14, 2010  USA/Africa: Wikileaks Highlights, 2
    It should be no surprise to anyone that South African diplomats been been frustrated both with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, or that Kenya and the United States have enjoyed close military to military ties despite vocal U.S. criticism of the Kenyan government. Wikileaks cables released to date, such as the ones included in this AfricaFocus Bulletin, provide some nuances and may be embarrassing, but provide no "smoking guns" or startling revelations.