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AfricaFocus Bulletins on Peace and Security - 2011-2012
Jan 10, 2011  Sudan: Reflections, 2
    ?In this context we should also remind ourselves that Sudan has always been a multi-ethnic African state. Should it divide into two countries, it will divide into two diverse, multi-ethnic African states. Some writers on Sudan have spoken of an 'African' south and an 'Arab' north. However we are firmly of the view that both Southern and Northern Sudan are equally African." - Thabo Mbeki, University of Juba, January 7, 2011

Jan 10, 2011  Sudan: Reflections, 3
    "I do not believe that either the ruling National Congress party (NCP) in Khartoum or the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), which governs the south, want to fight. War would almost certainly bring an end to NCP rule in the north and devastate an already impoverished south. Leaders on both sides are smart enough to know that." - Mo Ibrahim

Jan 10, 2011  Sudan: Reflections, 1
    "Both the Government of Sudan and the SPLM have made the solemn and vitally important commitment that should the people of South Sudan vote for secession, they will work to ensure the emergence and peaceful coexistence of two viable states, informed by the objectives of renewed friendship and cooperation between the people of the North and the South." - Thabo Mbeki, University of Khartoum, January 5, 2011

Feb 28, 2011  Cote d'Ivoire: Crisis Facts & Debates
    There is a real threat of return to open civil war in Côte d'Ivoire, driven primarily by the failure of former President Laurent Gbagbo to admit electoral defeat. But despite a broad international consensus on the election results, the presence of UN peacekeeping forces, and active mediation efforts, there is no consensus on what measures would actually help rather than run the risk of accelerating the turn to violence.

Feb 28, 2011  Côte d'Ivoire: Human Rights Reports
    "The political stalemate resulting from the elections has been characterized by the use of excessive force by supporters of Mr. Laurent Gbagbo, including elements of the security forces loyal to him, to repress public demonstrations, harassment and intimidation, incitement to ethnic and political violence, arbitrary arrest and detention, sexual violence, torture, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings." - Report by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, February 2011

Mar 5, 2011  North Africa: New Threats to Migrants
    "Sub-Saharan African workers [in Libya] are in dire need of evacuation because of the threats they face. The people most in need are mainly from poorer countries in Asia and Africa... whose governments have apparently been unable or unwilling to rescue them" - Human Rights Watch

Jun 10, 2011  Cote d'Ivoire: No War, but No Security
    "Between May 13 and 25, Human Rights Watch interviewed 132 victims and witnesses to violence by both sides during the battle for Abidjan and in the weeks after Gbagbo's arrest. Killings, torture, and inhumane treatment by Ouattara's armed forces continued while a Human Rights Watch researcher was in Abidjan, with clear ethnic targeting during widespread acts of reprisal and intimidation." - Human Rights Watch

Jun 14, 2011  Guinea-Bissau: Drug Trade in Broader Context
    "In Guinea-Bissau, drug trafficking ... is a consequence of the pre-existing lack of stability that allows smugglers to establish their networks in the region and operate to and from there. Ignoring the structural causes of the problem (endemic poverty, corruption, impunity) will have an even deeper impact on the local population than the illegal drug trade, and will leave unaddressed the very conditions that continue to foster trafficking opportunities in the future." - February 2011 report from Norwegian Peacebuilding Center

Jun 22, 2011  Sudan: UN Debate
    Northern and Southern Sudan today [June 20] signed an agreement to pull their troops out of the disputed central Abyei region, scene of fierce fighting over the past few weeks, African Union mediator Thabo Mbeki announced as he urged the Security Council to move quickly to ensure implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the two sides. - United Nations

Jun 22, 2011  Sudan: New Violence, Uncertain Future
    "The remainder of [Sudan] remains saddled with the 'Sudan Problem', where power, resources and development continue to be overly concentrated in the centre, at the expense of and to the exasperation of the peripheries. A 'new south' is emerging in the hitherto transitional areas of Abyei, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile that -- along with Darfur, the East and other marginal areas -- continues to chafe under the domination of the NCP. Unless their grievances are addressed by a more inclusive government, Sudan risks more violence and disintegration." - International Crisis Group

Aug 5, 2011  Somalia: Updates and Reflections
    It is difficult to get beyond dichotomies. Either focus on responding to undeniably massive life-threatening famine or on understanding the multiple causes and the reasons that it is happening again. Highlight one cause or another among the factors responsible: drought, global warming, war, failures of governments and international agencies, and more. Nor is it sufficient to say "all of the above."

Sep 12, 2011  Africa: Dead End for Diamond Monitoring?
    According to a new analysis from Partnership Africa Canada, the Kimberley Process, a joint government-industry-civil society group intended to monitor "conflict diamonds" is "unable and unwilling to hold to account participating countries that repeatedly break the rules." Unless governments are willing to support significant reforms, which seems unlikely, activists must seek other mechanisms to prevent diamonds from fueling violence and human rights violations.

Sep 19, 2011  Libya: Reflections, Zeleza
    "That the West has always had a nefarious agenda in Africa is not news--we all remember the slave trade, colonialism, and structural adjustment. But we give the West too much power when we absolve our dictators because the West likes or detests them ... Our peoples' struggles and fundamental interests for well-being and freedom should be our only principled guide in supporting struggles for change. In focusing on NATO's role in the Libyan campaign it is tempting to underplay the role of the rebels themselves and the struggles and desires of the majority of Libyan people for freedom from Gadhafi's despotism." - PT Zeleza

Sep 19, 2011  Libya: Observations & Questions
    As was the case for Tunisia and Egypt, there has been no shortage of day-to-day news coverage (often contradictory) and impassioned international policy debate on the Libyan component of the Arab Awakening. But there has been much less solid analysis, as the popular overthrow of Libya's dictator was complicated not only by the turn to armed conflict but also by the decisive role played by NATO air power and significant external assistance to the rebels, primarily from France, Britain, and Qatar.

Sep 19, 2011  Libya: Reflections, Mamdani, Cole
    "Whereas the fall of Mubarak and Ben Ali directed our attention to internal social forces, the fall of Gaddafi has brought a new equation to the forefront: the connection between internal opposition and external governments. Even if those who cheer focus on the former and those who mourn are preoccupied with the latter, none can deny that the change in Tripoli would have been unlikely without a confluence of external intervention and internal revolt. ... One thing should be clear: those interested in keeping external intervention at bay need to concentrate their attention and energies on internal reform." - Mahmood Mamdani

Oct 7, 2011  Sudan: Civil War in the North?
    "New thinking is required to take into account a Khartoum regime now in the hands of Sudan Armed Forces generals, a unifying opposition that seeks regime change, and an international community that seems to be losing the ability to engage coherently on Sudan's problems. Continuing with the current ad hoc approach to negotiations and short-term arrangements to manage crises will not address the underlying causes of conflict." - International Crisis Group

Nov 3, 2011  Somalia: Economies of War
    "Al-Shabaab's resilience, despite its lack of popular support and the chronic divisions within its leadership, is principally due to the weakness of the Transitional Federal Government, and the latter's failure to broaden its political appeal or share power with other de facto political and military forces in the country. The endemic corruption of the leadership of the transitional federal institutions ... is the greatest impediment to the emergence of a cohesive transitional authority and effective State institutions." - UN Monitoring Group

Dec 12, 2011  Africa: Books New & Notable 2011
    It's past time for one of our too infrequent book issues. I've organized this one into three groups of new books I've come across this year: three books on current priority issues that I recommend to readers as "must reads," new and notable books by AfricaFocus subscribers, and other new and notable books on a variety of topics.

Jan 30, 2012  Sudan/South Sudan: A Lose-Lose Scenario
    Sudan and South Sudan seem to have entered a "lose-lose" scenario, precipitated by failure to agree on payments for transport of oil from fields in South Sudan through the pipeline in the north to the Red Sea. Despite African Union mediation and pressure for compromise not only from Africa but also from the United Nations, China, and the United States, South Sudan has closed the oil fields, with likely disastrous economic and humanitarian consequences for both countries.

Mar 14, 2012  Africa: KONY 2012, Selected Reflections
    "The reason why the LRA continues is that its victims - the civilian population of the area - trust neither the LRA nor government forces. Sandwiched between the two, civilians need to be rescued from an ongoing military mobilization and offered the hope of a political process. Alas, this message has no room in the Invisible Children video that ends with a call to arms." - Mahmood Mamdani, Professor and Director of Makerere Institute of Social Research in Kampala and Herbert Lehman Professor of Government at Columbia University, New York City.

Mar 14, 2012  Africa: KONY 2012, Military Realities
    "Chasing the leaders, which seems to be the strategy preferred by both the Ugandan People's Defence Force and the US military, is a hit or miss approach that will call down more attacks on unprotected civilians as the LRA instrumentalise them to send their twisted message and replace battlefield losses by abducting new fighters. While the Ugandan/US strategy has produced some attrition, it has also generated a bloody response and a massive recruitment campaign that seems to have gone unnoticed." - Philip Lancaster, co-author of Diagnostic Study of the Lord's Resistance Army, and former military assistant to Gen. Romeo Dallaire in Rwanda

Mar 29, 2012  Congo (Kinshasa): Democracy Still Deferred
    African and world leaders have celebrated the democratic election in Senegal this month, and moved quickly to condemn the coup in Mali, urging a return to democratic rule. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), however, there is hardly any international attention to the post-election crisis following last November's election. This despite the prominent role of the United Nations and "donor" countries in sustaining the government of this strategically located country, the largest by area in sub-Saharan Africa.

Apr 25, 2012  Congo (Kinshasa): Call for Real Security Reform
    An impressive array of Congolese and international civil society organizations have issued a new call for real security sector reform in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to be impelled by more coordinated pressures from African and other international partners as well as Congolese civil society.

Jun 1, 2012  USA/Africa: Rising Pressures for Militarization
    "The committee believes that activities that utilize U.S. Special Operations Forces and an 'indirect approach' that leverages local and indigenous forces should be used more aggressively and surgically in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula in close coordination with and in support of geographic combatant commander and U.S. embassy country team requirements. The committee believes that current indirect activities are not fully resourced and underutilized to counter gains and preclude the expansion of Al Qaeda affiliates in these regions." - Report of the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013

Jun 20, 2012  USA/Africa: Reject "Terrorist" Designation for Boko Haram
    Bills introduced in the U.S. House and Senate in May, if passed, would require the U.S. Secretary of State to present a report on whether Boko Haram in Nigeria should be formally declared a "Foreign Terrorist Organization." Such a move, which would be a change in U.S. policy advocating a multifaceted approach to the threat from Boko Haram, would be a counterproductive mistake with far-reaching negative consequences for both Americans and Nigerians.

Jul 31, 2012  Mali: Warnings against Escalation
    "The reason West Africans and others make the Afghan comparison [for Mali] is to sound the alarm over an emerging Islamist safe haven in the Sahara that could be used as a launching pad for international attacks. ... The Saharan debacle is serious stuff, no doubt, and it has implications well beyond the boundaries of the countries that share the desert. But here's one Mali-Afghanistan comparison that does work: It represents a golden opportunity for outsiders to turn a nasty mess into a complete disaster." - Gregory Mann

Sep 16, 2012  Somalia: New Start, Stubborn Realities
    The unexpected election of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, an educator and civil society activist, as the new president of Somalia, has aroused hopes of a new start in that country. But the stubborn realities he and other Somalis face include not only the continuing threat from Al Shabaab, which launched a suicide assassination attack on the new president on September 12. Even more daunting is the challenge of embedded corruption in the government he will head, which has been fostered by a long history of external dependence.

Oct 15, 2012  Mali: No Shortcuts to Security
    With thousands of nationalist demonstrators in Bamako calling for military intervention to regain control of the north of Mali from Islamic extremists, and a unanimous Security Council resolution, initiated by France, approving in principle action by an ECOWAS force with support from the African Union, United Nations, and France, one might think that such an intervention is imminent. Those appearances are almost certainly deceptive. Significant skeptical voices, including UN officials, U.S. diplomats and military officials, Mali's northern neighbor Algeria, and expert civil society analysts say an "ill-prepared" intervention could be catastrophic.

Nov 5, 2012  Nigeria: "Security" Forces Escalate Insecurity
    Even as new reports from international human rights groups document a pattern of major offenses against human rights by both Boko Haram extremists and government security forces in northern Nigeria, new incidents in the most affected area of Nigeria's northeast include execution of some 40 people by security forces in Maiduguri and the assassination the next day of retired General Muhammadu Shuwa. Boko Haram has denied government charges that they were responsible for killing the general.

Nov 15, 2012  USA/Africa: A Rare Policy Success
    "In 2011, the number of successful pirate attacks fell by half compared to 2010. This year, in 2012, the number of successful attacks off the Horn of Africa has continued to decline. To date, pirates have captured just ten vessels this year, compared to 34 in 2011 and 68 in 2010." - U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Andrew J. Shapiro

Nov 28, 2012  Congo (Kinshasa): War in the East, 1
    In a statement issued earlier this week, a coalition of Congolese organizations has called for sanctions against Rwanda, Uganda, and any other individuals or entities that threaten the territorial integrity of the DRC. They also called on the UN to urgently appoint - in consultation with the African Union - a special representative for the Great Lakes.

Nov 28, 2012  Congo (Kinshasa): War in the East, 2
    "The 'International community' invested in an army, but after all these years the FARDC [Congolese national army] has remained much more a part of the problem then a part of the solution. Programs and policies meant to reinforce democracy and security were designed and implemented by people in offices far away from the complex realities on the ground, by people with very limited understanding of them." - Kris Berwouts

Dec 20, 2012  Africa: Books New & Notable
    This annual books issue contains 22 books that have come to my attention that seemed to me to be of particular interest. It's hardly a systematic selection, and I've only read a couple of them so far. But they cover a wide range of topics, and I think most AfricaFocus readers will find at least of a few ot them well worth their time.