Thursday, July 20, 2017

Somalia and Maintaining Security Gains

The United States Institute for Peace posted a 27 minute video interview on 18 July 2017 with Somali ambassador-designate to the United Kingdom, Abdirahman Yusuf Ali Aynte, titled "Recovery in Somalia: How Do We Sustain Gains Against Al-Shabab?"

China's Military Facility in Djibouti

The National published on 16 July 2017 an article titled "China Has Opened a Military Base in Djibouti. The Geopolitics of the Middle East Will Never Be the Same" by David Rothkopf, CEO of the Rothkopf Group.

The author argues that the future of China's naval power in the region will be guided by fairly narrow self interests.

Dangers of Replacing Development Aid with Arms


The Conversation
published on 19 July 2017 my remarks titled "Merkel's Proposal to Transfer Weapons as Aid Needs to Be Approached with Caution."

Angela Merkel suggested the possibility of substituting some development assistance with military assistance so that African countries could more effectively combat militancy and terrorism. While all countries should be able to defend themselves, most of them already prioritize the purchase of military equipment and more equipment can lead to greater abuses.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

How Somalis View the Provisional Constitution

The Mogadishu-based Heritage Institute for Policy Studies published in July 2017 a policy brief titled "Survey of Public Opinion on Somalia's Provisional Constitution."

A majority of the 1,422 Somalis polled had a positive view of the constitution. But they were skeptical that Somali politicians intended to uphold it and they did not understand the roles and powers of the federal and regional governments.

Kenyan Elections and Violence in the North

The International Crisis Group published on 19 July 2017 a report titled "Ethnic Contest and Electoral Violence in Northern Kenya" by Abdullahi Abdille.

General elections in Kenya in August could trigger intercommunal fighting. In Isiolo and Marsabit, longstanding tensions primarily pitting the dominant Boran against minority ethnic groups are exacerbated by the electoral contest for county leadership.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Ethiopia Facing Drought and Climate Change

The Washington Post published on 18 July 2017 an article titled "Climate Change Threatens an Ancient Way of Life in Ethiopia" by Paul Schemm.

An estimated 8 million people, especially in Ethiopia's Somali Region, are in need of food aid. El Nino and climate change are among the causes.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Re-engaging Sudan

The Atlantic Council published in July 2017 a report titled "Sudan: A Strategy for Re-engagement" by Mary Carlin Yates and Kelsey Lilley.

The report is intended to assist the Trump administration in identifying opportunities for a recalibrated strategy in Sudan and in determining what a successful US-Sudanese relationship could look like in ways that both serve US interests and encourage improved peace and security for Sudan.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Africa and the Rule of Law

The Washington-based World Justice Project has released its annual Rule of Law Index for 2016. It considers 44 factors in constructing the index.

In 2016, it ranked 113 countries, including 21 in Africa. The highest ranked African country was South Africa at number 43 followed by Ghana (44), Botswana (45), and Senegal (46). The lowest ranked African countries were Kenya (100), Uganda (105), Ethiopia (107), Zimbabwe (108), Cameroon (109), and Egypt (110).

South Sudan at Year Six

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published on 7 July 2017 a commentary titled "South Sudan's Independence: Nothing to Celebrate in 2017" by Merkessa K. Dessu, ISS Addis Ababa.

The author concludes that six years after independence, South Sudan's humanitarian crisis is worse than ever, with grave violations of human rights and a lingering brutal civil war.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

US Sudan Sanctions Decision Delayed

Foreign Policy published on 12 July 2017 an article titled "Disorganized White House Blamed for Delay in Sudan Sanctions Decision" by Siobhan O'Grady and Robbie Gramer.

The White House announced it would put off any decision on extension of the partial lifting of sanctions against Sudan by an additional three months, a delay that former officials and Africa experts say reflects "chaos inside the U.S. government."

South Sudan's 6th Anniversary of Independence

The Institute for Defense Analyses Africa Watch published on 12 July 2017 an update titled "South Sudan: 6th Anniversary of Independence Marked by Violence" by Sarah Graveline.

For a second year, South Sudan canceled its 9 July Independence Day celebrations. The author concluded that the likelihood of South Sudan securing a lasting peace appears distant.

Africa and China's Belt and Road Initiative

The Hong Kong Trade Development Council posted in mid-July 2017 a commentary titled "Is China's BRI Programme Aligned with Africa's Long-Term Interests" by Mark Ronan, a correspondent in Cape Town.

After posing the question whether China's interests in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) correspond with those of Africa, the author concludes that they largely do. There are, however, two flaws in the analysis. Most of the Chinese infrastructure projects cited as part of the BRI in Africa were either announced or under construction before the BRI was even announced. The infrastructure projects are also referred to as Chinese investments (as in FDI?) whereas they are projects financed by loans from China or international banks that must be paid back and where there is no ownership component by China.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

North Korea's Ties to Africa

The Washington Post published on 10 July 2017 an article titled "North Korea's Surprising, Lucrative Relationship with Africa" by Kevin Sieff.

The author concludes that North Korea's ties to Africa allow it to show it still has friends abroad and benefits from their political support, sometimes violating UN sanctions in the process.

The UN Security Council published on 27 February 2017 a UN panel of experts report on North Korea that offers more detailed links between North Korea and a number of African countries, including Eritrea, Egypt, Namibia, Mozambique, Angola, DRC, Sudan, Uganda, and Tanzania.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Russian Arms Sales to Africa

The pro-Russian Strategic Culture Foundation posted on 18 May 2017 an informative piece titled "Russia Makes Big Strides to Expand Arms Sales in Africa" by Alex Gorka.

The posting provides details on recent Russian arms transfers to Egypt, Algeria, Nigeria, and Uganda. Africa accounted for 11 percent of Russia's arms exports from 2011 to 2015. Russia supplied 30 percent of the heavy weapons going to North Africa and 27 percent to Sub-Sahara Africa. It is building military helicopter service centers in a number of African countries.

China's Policy in South Sudan

The International Crisis Group published on 10 July 2017 a study titled "China's Foreign Policy Experiment in South Sudan."

Because of its oil interests in South Sudan, China has advocated a more flexible interpretation of the non-interference policy and taken a more proactive approach to its exercise of diplomacy. China continues to draw a line at intruding on matters of domestic governance; opposes regime change or unilateral military intervention; and believes that showing respect, rather than exerting pressure or inflicting punishment, is how to elicit cooperation and improvement in governance. But its considerable economic and political influence inevitably bring leverage to the table that traditional mediation efforts sometimes lack.

China and Angola: A Cautionary Railway Tale

Business Live posted on 6 July 2017 an account titled "Angola's Ghost Railway" by journalist John Grobler.

The rehabilitated 1,348 kilometer Benguela railway between Lobito port on the Atlantic and Angola's border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was to have served as the artery for exporting minerals from the DRC to the Atlantic. The railway, rehabilitated by the Chinese Railway Engineering Corporation and financed by sending Angolan oil to China, ends abruptly on the Katanga side of the Angola-DRC border, a casualty of Angola's crippled economy. The project has also been hobbled by inappropriate Chinese locomotives, faulty bridges, and poorly engineered rail sidings.

The author concludes that the rail project "seems destined to remain a very expensive, made-in-China white elephant."

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Africa and China's Maritime Silk Road

China published on 20 June 2017 its most detailed explanation so far of the Maritime Silk Road titled "Vision for Maritime Cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative."

The purpose of the document is to synchronize development plans and promote joint actions among countries along the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. A key component as concerns Africa is the building of the China-Indian Ocean-Africa-Mediterranean Sea Blue Economic Passage. As for projects being implemented in Africa, the document cites the railway linking Addis Ababa and Djibouti, the railway between Mombasa and Nairobi, and the Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone in Egypt. Interestingly, there is no mention of China's new military facility in Djibouti.

The document stresses development projects, infrastructure construction, marine ecoesystems, climate change, anti-poverty programs, maritime security, economic growth, and mechanisms for collaboration in creating the blue economy. Nearly all of these initiatives have been on-going components of China's policies in Africa and the specific projects cited for Africa predate the announcement of the Belt and Road Initiative three years ago.

Friday, July 7, 2017

China, Africa, and Climate Change

Oxfam's Africa-China Dialogue Platform published on 6 July 2017 a summary of recent developments concerning China's collaboration with Africa on climate change titled "African Countries' Engagement with China in Addressing Climate Change."

The summary cites China's support for Africa's climate change challenges while also noting that its support for industrialization in Africa may come result in environmental concerns.

Egypt and Nile Water Issues

World Politics Review published on 7 July 2017 an article titled "How Egypt Is Slowly Losing Its Hold Over the Nile River" by Julian Hattem, a journalist based in Kampala, Uganda.

The author argues that downstream Nile Basin countries, especially Ethiopia and Sudan, are gradually seizing the initiative from Egypt when it comes to use of Nile waters.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Economic Diplomacy and Africa's Foreign Partners

This is my presentation at Fudan University in Shanghai, China, on 27 June 2017 titled "Economic Diplomacy and Africa's Foreign Partners: Focus on the United States and China." It looks particularly at recent trade ties between Africa and its major trading partners.

Maritime Domain Awareness in the Western Indian Ocean

The Institute for Security Studies published on 4 July 2017 a policy brief titled "Effective Maritime Domain Awareness in the Western Indian Ocean" by Christian Bueger, Cardiff University.

The policy brief reviews current activities to identify opportunities through low-tech solutions, human resources and collaboration for improvement of maritime domain awareness in the Western Indian Ocean. Despite the efforts of regional projects, such as the Djibouti Code of Conduct and the Programme to Promote Regional Maritime Security, the region remains dependent on international navies for reliable maritime domain awareness.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Evolution of China's Economic Relations with the Maghreb (in French)

The Spring 2017 edition of Revue de la regulation published an article titled "La Chine au Maghreb: de l'esprit de Bandung a l'esprit du capitalisme" by Thierry Pairault.

The paper traces the evolution of China's economic policy in the Maghreb from the 1955 Bandung Conference to the present. It argues that China's policy has evolved from "revolutionary romanticism" to market rationale and concludes that today commercial forces determine the relationship.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

English Scientist Disappears in Somalia

Foreign Policy published on 31 May 2017 an article titled "The Watson Files" by Laura Heaton, a journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya.

This is the story of a UK climate change scientist, Murray Watson, who after 10 years living in Somalia disappeared from Puntland in 2008. He was kidnapped, presumably by al-Shabaab. His family could not pay the ransom, variously said to be $2 million or $4 million. While he has never been seen since, interest in his climate change work continues.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The China-Africa Economic Relationship

McKinsey & Company published in June 2017 a major report titled "Dance of the Lions and Dragons: How Are Africa and China Engaging, and How Will the Partnership Evolve?" by Irene Yuan Sun, Kartik Jayaram, and Omid Kassiri.

To access report, go to Google and type "Dance of the lions and dragons." A PDF option titled "Dance of the lions and dragons - McKinsey & Company" appears. Open this option and then download the report.

The report aims to provide a fact-based picture of the Africa-China economic relationship. Its foundation is a large-scale data set about the economic relationship between Africa and China, including on-site interviews with more than 100 senior African business and government leaders, as well as the owners or managers of more than 1,000 Chinese firms and factories spread across eight African countries that together make up approximately two-thirds of Sub-Saharan Africa's GDP.

China's Maritime Power

The European Council on Foreign Relations published on 23 June 2017 an essay titled "Coming to Terms with China's Maritime Power" by Mathieu Duchatel.

The author concluded that the upcoming 19th Party Congress will consolidate the status of the PLAN as the key service providing protection to the next phase of China's economic globalization, characterized by higher levels of foreign direct investment, contracted infrastructure projects, and their associated loans. In Africa, the new Chinese military facility in Djibouti is an example of the PLAN's power projection.