Saturday, January 21, 2017

Is Sudan Coming in from the Cold?

World Politics Review published on 20 January 2017 an article titled "Is Sudan Coming in from the Cold?" by Andrew Green. The article reports on the recent easing of US sanctions against Khartoum and suggests this could be a prelude to eventual normalization of US-Sudan relations.

East Africa: Forbes' 2017 Listing of Best Countries for Business

Forbes has released its 2017 global listing of Best Countries for Business. It evaluated 139 countries on the basis of the following 11 factors: property rights, innovation, taxes, technology, corruption, red tape, investor protection, stock market performance, personal freedom, trade freedom, and monetary freedom.

Countries in East Africa did not score well. Kenya ranked best at number 105, followed by Uganda (107), Tanzania (122), and Ethiopia (130). Other countries in the Horn of Africa were not included in the survey.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Saudi Arabia Establishing Military Base in Djibouti

The Financial Times published on 17 January 2017 an article titled "Djibouti Finalizing Deal for Saudi Arabia Military Base" by John Aglionby and Simeon Kerr.

Saudi Arabia is in the final stages of an agreement to establish a military base in Djibouti, joining France, the US, Japan, and China. Djibouti reportedly turned down a request by Russia to establish a base there.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Lost Hopes for South Sudan

The New Yorker published on 18 January 2017 an article titled "The Lost Hopes for South Sudan" by Helen Epstein.

The article looks back at what went wrong in South Sudan.

China-Nigeria Relations

The Journal of Chinese Political Science published in its online edition on 5 January 2017 a study titled "Oscillation of Two Giants: Sino-Nigeria Relations and the Global South" by Dele Seteolu, Lagos State University, and Abdul-Gafar Tobi Oshodi, Center for Research and Peace Development in Leuven, Belgium.

The study looks at the positive and negative aspects of the China-Nigeria relationship.

Fault Lines in South Sudan

The Institute for Security Studies published on 12 January 2017 a study titled "Beyond ARCISS: New Fault Lines in South Sudan" by Christina Roque, PhD candidate at Oxford, and Remember Miamingi, South Sudan human rights expert.

This report looks beyond the issues in South Sudan concerning peacekeeping and analyzes what is required for a broader and more sustainable peace.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Trump, Africa, and China-Africa Relations: A Chinese View

He Wenping, senior fellow at the Chahar Institute and frequently a spokesperson for China on China-Africa issues, published in China-US Focus on 17 January 2017 a commentary titled "Effects of Trump's Election on Africa and China-Africa Relations."

The author offers a surprisingly negative view of African reaction to the Trump presidency and the likely impact of the Trump administration on US policy in Africa. She also argues that this will provide an opportunity for China to improve even further China's relations with Africa. The flaw in the argumentation is that no one knows what policy the Trump administration will follow in Africa.

Closure of Gulen-affiliated Schools in Morocco (in French)

Telquel.ma, an online news service in Morocco, published on 17 January 2017 an article titled "Qui tire les ficelles des ecoles Mohamed Al Fatih au Maroc? (Who pulls the strings on the Mohamed Al Fatih schools in Morocco)" by Thea Ollivier.

The article concerns the closure of the Gulen-affiliated schools in Morocco under pressure by the government of Turkey. This follows the earlier closure of the schools in the Gambia, Somalia, Sudan, and Ethiopia and is part of a Turkish government effort to shut down the Gulen Movement globally, alleging that it was behind the July 2016 failed coup attempt in Turkey.

My book, Hizmet in Africa: The Activities and Significance of the Gulen Movement, published in 2015 provides the background for these developments.

African Studies in China

The Brazilian Journal of African Studies published in its July/December 2016 edition an article titled "African Studies in China in the 21st Century: A Historiographical Survey" by Li Anshan, Peking University. It is available for downloading.

The article describes what Chinese Africanists have studied and written about from 2000 to 2015. It discusses their focus and new interests, achievements, young scholars, references and afterthoughts.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

African Studies Quarterly - Special Issue on China-Africa

The December 2016 issue of the African Studies Quarterly published by the University of Florida is devoted to China-Africa relations. All of the articles are open access. They include the following:

--Introduction - China-Africa Relations: Political and Economic Engagement and Media Strategies by Agnes Ngoma Leslie.
--Sino-optimism in Africa by Seifudein Adem.
--China's Peace and Security Strategies in Africa: Building Capacity is Building Peace? by Lina Benabdullah.
--China and South Sudan's Civil War, 2013-2015 by Daniel Large.
--The Political Economy of Galamsey and Anti-Chinese Sentiment in Ghana by Richard Aidoo.
--China-Democratic Republic of Congo Relations: From a Beneficial to a Developmental Cooperation by Claude Kabembe.
--Zambia and China: Workers' Protest, Civil Society, and Role of Opposition Politics in Elevating State Engagement by Agnes Ngoma Leslie.
--Does Chinese Employment Benefit Africans? Investigating Chinese Enterprises and Their Operations in Africa by Tang Xiaoyang.
--Chinese Traders in Kampala: Status, Challenges, and Impact on Ugandan Society by Ward Warmerdam and Meine Pieter Van Djik.
--The Image of Africa in China: The Emerging Role of Chinese Social Media by Liangxing Li.
--The Dragon Shapes Its Image: A Study of Chinese Media Influence Strategies in Africa by Michael Leslie.

China-Nigeria Relations Scrutinized

Ventures Africa published on 16 January 2017 a commentary titled "One China: Nigeria's Legacy of Poor Negotiations" by Akinkunmi Akingbade.


The commentary follows Nigeria's recent announcement that it asked the government of Taiwan to move its trade office from the political capital of Abuja to the commercial capital of Lagos. Beijing has been urging such a move for years. The author suggests that Nigeria's "One China" policy and obsession with financing from China has caused it to negotiate poorly with China.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Russia Competing for Access to Africa

Modern Diplomacy posted on 16 January 2017 an article titled "Africa: Russia's Strategy and Global Competitors" by Kester Kenn Klomegah, an independent researcher.

The author interviewed a wide range of experts on Africa and/or Russia. Nearly all of them agreed that Russia has not been very successful in competing in Africa with the likes of China, EU, US, India, and Japan. Several noted the relative absence of Russia from Africa.

China's Anti-Piracy Deployments in the Gulf of Aden

The Institut Francais des Relations Internationales published in November 2016 a study titled "China's Military Deployments in the Gulf of Aden: Anti-Piracy and Beyond" by Jerome Henry, a lieutenant commander at French Navy Headquarters in Paris.

The author argues that while the PLAN deployments in the Gulf of Aden were originally intended to protect Chinese shipping interests against piracy, the mission changed as the piracy problem came to an end. The Chinese task forces now have the objective of contributing to the development of a Chinese blue water navy, enhancing power projection capability, and acquiring Far Seas experience.

Djibouti President Worries Africa Will Become Low Priority for US

The Voice of America ran on 12 January 2017 a brief article titled "Djibouti President Doubts Africa Will Be High on Trump Agenda" by Mohamed Olad Hassan.

The article quotes Djibouti President Ismail Omar Gulleh as saying "Africa does not appear on the foreign agenda of the U.S. president-elect, Donald Trump, but as Djibouti, we had a good and deep relationship with U.S. government which I am hopeful will continue."

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Africa's Unique Vulnerability to Violent Extremism

Project Syndicate published on 9 January 2017 a commentary titled "Africa's Unique Vulnerability to Violent Extremism" by Mohamed Yahya, Africa Regional Program Coordinator for the United Nations Development Program.

The author argues that an exclusively military response to extremism can be a waste of resources. Poverty and underdevelopment can not be ignored if we are to combat extremism effectively.

I wrote an article on this subject for the summer/fall 2016 issue of the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs titled "Poverty and Terrorism in Africa: The Debate Continues." I came to a similar conclusion, arguing that poverty is not the root cause of terrorism but contributes to an environment that has enabled terrorist organizations to draw support. Supporting poverty reduction in Africa is the right thing to do for a number of reasons, regardless of its limited benefits in the fight against terrorism.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Strategic Importance of Djibouti

Future Directions International, an independent, non-profit, Australian research institute published on 1 December 2016 an analysis titled "Djibouti: A Tiny Haven with Strategic Importance in a Troubled Neighborhood" by Stephanie Goche.

The author notes that in addition to its location at the southern entrance to the Red Sea, the proximity of Djibouti to troubled Somalia and Yemen provides foreign troops with the ability to take action against threats to global security.

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Book Revolution in South Sudan

Ventures published on 11 January 2017 a brief account titled "The Book Revolution in South Sudan" by Iroegbu Chinaemerem Ori.

This human interest story demonstrates how a South Sudanese entrepreneur is surviving in the middle of a civil war by operating a small book shop in Malakal.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

China's Involvement in the South Sudan Peace Process

The Lowy Institute published on 22 December 2016 a commentary titled "Explaining China's Involvement in the South Sudan Peace Process" by Aly Verjee.

The author looks beyond the oft-cited rationale of oil interests and suggests China's engagement in the South Sudan peace process is also linked to several basic Chinese narratives that explain how China acts in and interprets the world.

Egypt and Saudi Arabia: Strait of Tiran and Bab el-Mandeb

The Middle East Institute (MEI) published on 10 January 2017 a brief update titled "Saudi Interest in the Red Sea Islands of Tiran and Sanafir Grows as Its Security Interests Expand" by Geoffrey Aronson, scholar at MEI.

The article deals with the expected transfer of the Egyptian islands of Tiran and Sanafir, which protect the entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba, to Saudi Arabia and Saudi Arabia's goal to establish a military base at Djibouti, which overlooks Bab el-Mandeb, the southern entrance to the Red Sea. These moves constitute an extension of Saudi naval power in the Red Sea region, perhaps at the expense of Egypt.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Changing World Order: China's Rise in Africa

The American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS) at Johns Hopkins University published on 29 December 2016 an essay titled "A Changing World Order: China's Rise in Africa" by Anna Stahl, most recently a research fellow at AICGS.

The author comments that while Europe and the United States have been Africa's traditional partners, China is starting to challenge their influence on the continent. The essay compares how Europe and the U.S. have responded to China's growing influence in Africa. It argues that in the current context of global uncertainty, transatlantic policy coordination on China is needed to contribute to a more stable and predictable international environment and to avoid that the rise of new powers and the ongoing power transition will lead to confrontation.

Somalia: Paying for AMISOM

The International Peace Institute's Global Observatory published on 11 January 2016 a commentary titled "Paying for AMISOM: Are the Politics and Bureaucracy Undermining the AU's Largest Peace Operation?" by Paul Williams, George Washington University.

The changes over time in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) have had the predictable knock-on effect of causing political arguments between the
African Union, the AMISOM troop-contributing countries, and some of the mission's key partners, most notably the European Union.

ISIS Strugges for Influence in Somalia

World Politics Review published on 11 January 2017 an article titled "As ISIS Struggles for Influence in Somalia, al-Shabab Remains the Main Threat" by Joshua Meservey.

The author concludes that while there are small numbers of ISIS sympathizers in Somalia, they are preoccupied with dodging al-Shabaab death squads. Winning many Somalis' acquiescence or loyalty is beyond the Islamic State's capacity at the moment.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A New Stage in China-Egypt Relations

The Middle East Review of International Affairs published in its Winter 2016 edition a study titled "Comprehensive Strategic Partnership: A New State in China-Egypt Relations" by Mordechai Chaziza, Ashkelon Academic College in Israel.

The author argues that since 2014 China has entered a closer political and economic relationship with Egypt. While economic interests are the primary consideration, the strategic potential of Egypt's geographic location and the size of its economic market make it a promising partner for China's wider ambitions in the region.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Djibouti: Focus on Infrastructure and Energy

The Oxford Business Group published on 21 December 2016 in French and English a review of Djibouti's economy in 2016. It noted that Djibouti's GDP growth rate in 2016 was 6.5 percent and is expected to rise to 7 percent in 2017. The focus has been on building infrastructure and increasing energy supply.

How Donald Trump Could Give China a Real Boost in Africa

The China Africa Project did a half hour podcast on 7 January 2017 titled "How Donald Trump Could Give China a Real Boost in Africa" with Janet Eom, research manager at the China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins University in Washington.

The podcast with Eric Olander and Cobus van Staden covered a range of issues that included trade, Power Africa, Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, human rights, and LGBT issues.