Thursday, January 18, 2018

Red Sea: Connecter and Divider

The German Institute for International and Security Affairs published in November 2017 a paper titled "Red Sea: Connecter and Divider Disruption Waves from the Arabian Gulf to the Horn of Africa" by Annette Weber.

The Red Sea connects the Horn of Africa with the Gulf States, although it also separates African and Arab political and social cultures. In order to avoid further rifts between the Horn of Africa countries as a consequence of the disruptive politics of the Gulf, the Horn needs to perceive itself as a region and find common interests rather than becoming fragmented and weakened.

Horn of Africa Countries: Human Rights Watch Report

Human Rights Watch has published its World Report 2018 that summarizes key human rights issues in more than 90 countries and territories, drawing on events from late 2016 through November 2017.

The summaries for Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, and Kenya are available in this posting.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

78 Former US Ambassadors to Africa Send Letter to President Trump

In a public letter to President Trump on 16 January 2018, 78 former US ambassadors to Africa urged him to reassess his views on Africa and its citizens, and recognize the important contributions Africans and African Americans have made and continue to make to our country, our history, and the enduring bonds that will always link Africa and the United States. I was proud to be among the 78.

Crisis Group Priorities for African Union in 2018

The International Crisis Group (ICG) published on 17 January 2018 a paper titled "Seven Priorities for the African Union in 2019." The paper is also available in French.

It described the seven priorities as important institutional and financial reforms of the AU; limiting any disruption to the AU's work caused by friction between Morocco and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic; helping resolve or avert election-related crises in the DRC, Cameroon, Mali and Zimbabwe; and managing conflicts in the Central African Republic, Somalia and South Sudan. As for the United States, while the Trump administration has largely ignored Africa, the ICG commented that the administration's counterterrorism operations risk further complicating crises in Somalia and the Sahel absent more comprehensive support for peace efforts.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

AFRICOM and Security Cooperation

The most recent issue of Joint Force Quarterly published an article titled "Implementing Guidance for Security Cooperation: Overcoming Obstacles to U.S. Africa Command's Efforts" by Major Andrus W. Chaney, formerly chief of the Office of Security Cooperation at the US embassy in Djibouti.

The article outlines four areas where AFRICOM can improve its efforts to operationalize and synchronize its security cooperation in the region.

China Implements Ban on Ivory Imports

World Press Review published on 12 January 2018 an interview titled "China Makes Good on Its Pledge to Curb Elephant Poaching with Ivory Trade Ban" with Grace Gabriel, regional Asia director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

At the beginning of this year, China implemented a ban on the domestic sale and processing of ivory. As the largest consumer of ivory, this move should significantly reduce the incentives for the poaching and killing of elephants in Africa.

Egypt Seeks to Ease Tension with Sudan and Ethiopia

World Press Review published on 16 January 2018 an article titled "Egypt's Leader Seeks to Defuse Tension with Sudan, Ethiopia" by Hamza Hendawi.

The article quotes recent conciliatory remarks about Sudan and Ethiopia by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi. Egypt hosted Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki last week and reportedly will host Ethiopian President Hailemariam Desalegn later this month.

China Filling Soft Power Void Left by US

The Conversation published on 8 January 2018 a commentary titled "China Steps into Soft Power Vacuum as the US Retreats under Trump" by Asit K. Biswas and Cecilia Tortajada, both with the National University of Singapore.

The authors argue that China is stepping into the global soft power vacuum created by the Trump administration, which is emphasizing America first. They conclude that American soft power is in retreat in Africa and elsewhere.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Somalia: Al-Shabaab Demanding Children

Human Rights Watch published on 14 January 2018 an account titled "Somalia: Al-Shabab Demanding Children." It reports on al-Shabaab's program that forces communities to hand over their children for indoctrination and military training.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Foresight Africa: Priorities for 2018

The Africa Growth Initiative at Brookings has just released a major report titled "Foresight Africa: Top Priorities for the Continent in 2018".

It contains the following chapters:

--Unleashing Africa's Inner Strengths: Institutions, Policies and Champions.
--Sustainable Financing for Economic Development: Mobilizing Africa's Resources.
--Broadening the Benefits of Growth: No One Left Behind.
--Rethinking Africa's Structural Transformation: The Rise of New Industries.
--Harnessing Africa's Digital Potential: New Tools for a New Age.
--Reassessing Africa's Global Partnerships: Approaches for Engaging the New World Order.

Is Ethiopia Falling Apart?

Foreign Policy published on 11 January 2018 a commentary titled "Ethiopia Is Falling Apart" by Mohammed Ademo, a freelance journalist based in Washington, and Jeffrey Smith, executive director of the Vanguard Africa Movement.

The authors conclude that tepid reforms and halfhearted concessions won't save Ethiopia from its existential crisis and that EPRDF leaders have no choice but to change course.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Sudan-Egypt Tension Complicates Ethiopian Dam Project

Foreign Policy published on 11 January 2018 an article titled "Egypt-Sudan Spat Muddies Prospects for Deal at Big Nile Dam" by Keith Johnson.

The author suggests that problems in relations between Egypt and Sudan may complicate negotiations between Egypt and Ethiopia on the issue of filling the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile, which supplies water to both Sudan and Egypt.

Somaliland after the Election

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published on 10 January 2018 a commentary titled "Somaliland's New President Has Work To Do" by Omar S. Mahmood, ISS Addis Ababa.

Somaliland has achieved an impressive record of elections and peaceful transfer of power. But the vote last year was highly contested and divisions can carry over between electoral cycles and become further entrenched if not properly managed.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

US-African Partnerships

The Institute for Defense Analyses published in December 2017 a paper titled "U.S.-African Partnerships: Advancing Common Interests."

The paper summarizes the presentations at a conference held in September 2017 co-sponsored by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, the Institute for Defense Analyses, the National Intelligence University, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the US Institute of Peace. It considers economic relations, security, governance, terrorism and democracy. It also looks at the situation in Libya and Somalia and the impact of China's engagement in Africa.

Monday, January 8, 2018

North Korea's Military Links with the Horn of Africa

The Diplomat published on 6 January 2018 a commentary titled "North Korea's Military Partners in the Horn of Africa" by Samuel Ramani, University of Oxford.

While Sudan and Uganda reportedly are no longer violating sanctions against North Korea, the author suggests that Somalia, Eritrea, and Ethiopia are continuing to do so. He argues that Eritrea and Somalia are unlikely to suspend military links with North Korea, although Ethiopia may be in the process of complying with sanctions.

Japan-China Cooperation in Africa?

The South China Morning Post published an article on 4 January 2018 titled "Japan's Abe 'Keeping Enemies Close' by Offering Joint Africa Development Projects to China" by Julian Ryall.

The author reports that Japan is proposing collaboration between Japan and China on four existing development projects in Africa. But can Japan offer sufficient carrots to attract China to cooperate in Africa?

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Turkey-Africa Economic Relations

The Journal of Sustainable Development Law and Policy, published by Nigeria's Afe Babalola University, contains a 2017 analysis titled "Economic Relations between Turkey and Africa: Challenges and Prospects" by Elem Eyrice Tepecikliogu, Yasar University in Turkey.

The study explores the evolution of Turkish-African relations and concentrates on Turkey's economic engagement in Africa. It analyzes recent Turkish initiatives in Africa's energy sector. It argues that although the low level of attention previously paid to Africa has changed, the pace of development of relations with Africa is still slow and suggests more steps should be taken to further improve relations with the continent.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Regional Responses to China's Influence in the Indian Ocean Region

The East Asian Strategic Review 2017, published by Japan's National Institute for Defense Studies, contains a chapter titled "Security in the Indian Ocean Region: Regional Responses to China's Growing Influence" by Mari Izuyama and Masahiro Kurita.

Although the focus is on India and Pakistan, it provides an overview of China's influence in the Western Indian Ocean, including Africa's Indian Ocean countries and the Gulf of Aden.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Ethiopia to Release Some Political Prisoners

The Washington Post published on 3 January 2018 an article titled "Ethiopia Plans To Release Some Imprisoned Politicians in Bid for National Dialogue" by Paul Schemm.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced on 3 January that some members of political parties under prosecution will be released and that those convicted will be pardoned in an effort to enhance the national political dialogue. This is a step in the right direction, although the devil remains in the details.

Turkey-Sudan Relations: A Turkish Military Base in the Red Sea?

Al-Monitor, a Washington-based media site with a focus on the Middle East, published on 3 January 2018 an article titled "Erdogan's Ottoman Dream Causes Storm in Red Sea" by Fehim Tastekin.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently visited Sudan, where he signed 13 agreements. Those with a financial commitment reportedly are financed by Qatar, a current ally of Turkey. Turkey's aid agency, TIKA, is already working to restore relics of its Ottoman heritage on Sudan's Red Sea island of Suakin. President Erdogan reportedly asked Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir if Turkey could establish a military base at Suakin. If this were to happen, it would anger Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE while it would be welcomed by Iran and Qatar and possibly even Somalia and Ethiopia. In any event, it would change the political/security dynamic in the Red Sea region.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Turkey's Policy in Somalia

The Istanbul Policy Center, an independent policy research institute, at Sabanci University published in December 2017 an analysis titled "From Benign Donor to Self-assured Security Provider: Turkey's Policy in Somalia" by Pinar Akpinar.

At a cost of $50 million and with a goal of training 10,000 Somali soldiers, Turkey established a military training facility in Mogadishu that demonstrates Turkey's support for the government of Somalia. The author concludes that a prudent approach by Turkey could enable it to secure a long-term presence in Somalia both as a benign donor and a self-assured security provider.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Implications of China's Base at Djibouti

China Brief published on 22 December 2017 an analysis titled "China's Overseas Military Base in Djibouti: Features, Motivations, and Policy Implications" by John Fei.

The author says it is unclear whether China's military base in Djibouti represents an effort by China just to enhance its peacekeeping and humanitarian and disaster relief capabilities, or suggests greater ambitions. China will probably use the base, however, primarily to support its economic engagement in the region, increase its abilities to provide humanitarian and disaster relief, and conduct anti-piracy and counterterrorism operations.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Somali-Oromo Clashes in Ethiopia

The Institute for Defense Analyses Africa Watch published on 21 December 2017 a brief analysis titled "What Does Unrest in Oromia Signify?" by Stephanie Burchard.

The author comments on ethnic clashes between Somalis and Oromos in northern Oromia. Traditionally, conflict between these two ethnic groups has been attributed to access to land and scarce resources.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

China's Involvement in South Africa's Renewable Energy

The China-Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies published in November 2017 a study titled "China's Involvement in South Africa's Wind and Solar PV Industries" by Lucy Baker and Wei Shen.

The paper explores the different modes of involvement of Chinese companies in South Africa's solar PV and wind energy sectors, and how the differentiated technological and industrial trajectories of Chinese companies are interacting with South Africa's unique national context.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Should Africa Emulate China's Development Model?

Ventures Africa published on 15 December 2017 an article titled "Why African Countries Should Emulate China's Development Model" by Felicia Omari Ochelle. The article draws primarily on comments made by Helen Hai, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Goodwill Ambassador and CEO of the Made in Africa Initiative.

Hai argues that "Africa should follow China's development model and aim to become a light-manufacturing hub." Hai says that in the next few years, some 85 million jobs will be exported from China. If African countries can capture many of those jobs, they can enjoy the same economic transformation that China had. The 54 African countries, one by one, will be able to attain this transformation, she argues.

If only it were so easy. UNIDO seems to be on a campaign to move light manufacturing jobs from China to Africa. While this is a noble goal, it is about more than lower wages in Africa than in China. Some non-African countries that are also building their light manufacturing capacity have lower wages than most African countries. It is also a matter of good infrastructure, access to ports, availability of skills, good nutrition and health, good governance, and lack of conflict and corruption. While a few African countries are well positioned to take advantage of light manufacturing jobs moving out of China, most would probably be better advised, at least for the time being, to focus on expanding and reforming agriculture.