Monday, June 17, 2019

The Rise of General Hamdan in Sudan

The New York Times published on 15 June 2019 an article titled "Sudan Ousted a Brutal Dictator. His Successor Was His Enforcer" by Declan Walsh.

The article describes the rise of Lt. General Mohamed Hamdan, also known as Hemeti, as the real power in Sudan. Although number two in the Transitional Military Council, General Hamdan's Rapid Support Forces seem to behind recent attacks on protesters and the center of power in the country.

Sudan's Uncertain Path to Democracy

The New York Times published on 15 June 2019 an editorial titled "Sudan's Uncertain Path to Democracy."

The editorial argues that the United States needs to support the forces in Sudan seeking to end military rule and those who are trying to establish democracy.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Who Is Real Winner in Kenya's Chinese-built Railway?

Kenya's Daily Nation published on 10 June 2019 an article titled "Chinese Firms True Winners of SGR Project" by Edwin Okoth.

The Chinese-financed and built standard gauge railway between Mombasa and Nairobi in Kenya has become largely an import tool to move cargo from Mombasa port inland with little being exported. For every 8 tons of cargo moving inland, just over one ton is exported. Much of the imported cargo comes from China.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Ethiopia-Eritrea Rapprochement: Has Anything Changed in Eritrea?

World Politics Review published on 14 June 2019 a commentary titled "Despite Historic Rapprochement with Ethiopia, 'Nothing Has Changed' in Eritrea" by Tanja Muller, University of Manchester.

Although the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea reopened temporarily, it has now closed again. Eritreans are asking if the rapprochement with Ethiopia will result in any change in their country.

Sudanese Opposition Needs Stronger International Support

The Council on Foreign Relations posted on 11 June 2019 a commentary titled "Sudanese Opposition Needs Stronger International Support" by Michelle Gavin.

The author correctly calls for stronger US engagement on behalf of the protest movement in Sudan as it tries to negotiate a civilian-led government with the Transitional Military Council.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Somalia: Recent Military Progress?

Stars and Stripes published on 12 June 2019 an article titled "AFRICOM Commander Sees Recent Signs of Progress in Somalia" by Chad Garland.

The US has about 500 troops in Somalia in the fight against al-Shabaab, which has an estimated 5,000 fighters. Al-Shabaab and more recently the Islamic State in Somalia have proven resilient but there are encouraging signs of military progress by UN forces and the Somali National Army.

Somalia: Negotiate with Al-Shabaab?

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published on 11 June 2019 a commentary titled "Time To Consider Negotiating with Al-Shabaab in Somalia?" by Akinola Olojo, ISS Pretoria.

The author makes the case for negotiating with al-Shabaab since the military option appears not to be working. The problem is that al-Shabaab has never demonstrated any inclination to compromise and seems to insist on the the total capitulation of the government of Somalia. This leaves no room for negotiation.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Chinese and American Military Bases Eyeball to Eyeball in Djibouti

Canada's The Globe and Mail published on 7 June 2019 an article titled "Parting the Red Sea: Why the Chinese and U.S. Armies Are Fortifying This Tiny African Country" by Geoffrey York.

Both China and the United States have significant military bases a few miles from each other in Djibouti. China and the United States use their respective bases to expand their geopolitical influence at this intersection of Africa and the Middle East. The author asks what could possibly go wrong?

Sudan and Algeria: Lessons from Egypt

Foreign Affairs posted on 10 June 2019 a commentary titled "What Algeria and Sudan Can Learn from Egypt: Lessons from a Failed Revolution" by Killian Clarke, Princeton University.

The author suggests that as Algeria and Sudan take their first steps toward democracy, they can draw on lessons from Egypt to keep their transitions on track. Egypt demonstrated that street protests have the power to influence the decisions of the military. It is important that the revolutionary forces in Sudan and Algeria remain united. Movements in both countries must also recognize the importance of cultivating foreign support.

US Efforts to Reign in Huawei May Backfire in Africa

The Washington Post Monkey Cage posted on 10 June 2019 an analysis titled "How Huawei Could Survive Trump" by Jordan Link, China-Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

China's Huawei has built about 70 percent of Africa's 4G network and is poised to dominate the 5G network because of its reasonable quality and low price. U.S. attempts to reign in Huawei in some parts of the world may push it even deeper into Africa, where many countries need quality communications at cheaper prices. Security concerns are less important.

US To Appoint Senior Sudan Advisor

Foreign Policy posted on 10 June 2019 an article titled "Accused of Inaction, Trump Team Set to Appoint Sudan Advisor" by Robbie Gramer and Justin Lynch.

In response to criticism that the United States is not sufficiently engaged in trying to resolve the crisis in Sudan, the Trump Administration reportedly will name former ambassador Donald Booth as senior advisor on Sudan to the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Ethiopia: Moving from Meles' to Abiy's Economy

Ethiopia Insight posted on 10 June 2019 a commentary titled "From Meles' 'Dead End' to Abiy's 'New Horizon'" by William Davison, editor of Ethiopia Insight.

The author argues that former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's concept of state-directed development is not the answer for Ethiopia. Abiy Ahmed's "New Horizon" offers more promise, although it not entirely clear what that policy entails.

Ethiopia and Kenya Struggle to Pay Off Chinese Railway Loans

Quartz Africa posted on 4 June 2019 an article titled "Ethiopia and Kenya Are Struggling To Manage Debt for Their Chinese-built Railways" by Yunnan Chen.

China has financed new standard gauge railways in both Ethiopia and Kenya. While both of them have significantly improved the transportation infrastructure, their economic success is not guaranteed and both countries are struggling with loan repayments.

China and the Development of Ports in Africa

The Center for Strategic and International Studies published in June 2019 a study titled "Assessing the Risks of Chinese Investment in Sub-Saharan African Ports" by Judd Devermont, Amelia Cheatham and Catherine Chiang.

Chinese entities have financed, constructed or have operational involvement in at least 46 ports in Sub-Saharan Africa. The ports fuel African growth, reinforce China's image as a development partner, and increase its political influence but also raise questions about future use for Chinese security purposes.

US Policy on Sudan

Lawfare posted on 9 June 2019 a commentary titled "Sudan at a Crossroads: Rethinking U.S. Policy" by Jason M. Blazakis, Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

As leverage on Sudan's Transitional Military Council (TMC), the author urged that the United States remove Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, which it has been on since 1993. While this step is long overdue, his ideas for putting pressure on the TMC to accept a new civilian-led government in Sudan fall far short of the mark.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Need To Step Up Pressure on Sudan's Military

The International Crisis Group (ICG) posted on 7 June 2019 a statement titled "Sudan: Stopping a Spiral into Civil War."

The ICG urges Western and Gulf States to take urgent steps to compel Sudan's interim leaders to accept a civilian-led transitional administration before the country spirals into civil war.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Ethiopia: Internal Oromo Politics

Ethiopia Insight posted on 7 June 2019 an analysis titled "Two Steps Forward, One Step Back for Oromia" by Ermias Tasfaye, a reporter in Ethiopia.

The analysis looks at the state of internal Oromo politics and especially the future of the Oromo Liberation Front and the Oromo Liberation Army.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Rare Earths: Is Africa an Alternative to China?

Business Africa posted on 6 June 2019 a five minute podcast titled "Rare Earths: Africa, an Alternative to China?".

China currently produces 71 percent of the world's production of rare earths and has threatened to withhold exports to the United States as a result of the trade war. The only producing mine in Africa today is located in Burundi, with a production of 1,000 metric tons as compared to first place China's 120,000 metric tons and third place United States' 15,000 metric tons. But there are unexploited reserves of rare earths in Kenya, Gabon, Madagascar, Malawi, Tanzania, and Namibia. Can these reserves be exploited in an environmentally sound way to make Africa a major supplier of rare earths?

Sudan: Gulf States Filling Void Left by West

Foreign Policy posted on 5 June 2019 an analysis titled "Arab States Foment Sudan Chaos While U.S. Stands By" by Justin Lynch and Robbie Gramer.

The authors argue that Sudan is on the brink of a total breakdown and in the absence of the United States, several Gulf States are filling the void.

African Union Suspends Sudan

Aljazeera posted a story on 6 June 2019 titled "African Union Suspends Sudan Over Military Crackdown." I am quoted in the article that meaningful negotiations between the military and the protest groups are not possible so long as the military is killing fellow Sudanese.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Is Sudan's Revolution Following the One in Egypt?

African Arguments posted on 5 June 2019 a commentary titled "This Is How Our Revolution in Egypt Failed. Sudan, Please Be Warned" by Osama Gaweesh, an Egyptian journalist in exile in the UK.

After Egypt's 2011 revolution, the military soon acted to retake power. The author argues that Sudan's military is behaving in a similar manner.

China and Incidents of Violence in African Mines

The China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) published in 2019 a policy brief titled "Disasters While Digging: Rates of Violence Against Mine Workers in Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, and Zambia" by Christian Freymeyer, MA candidate at SAIS.

The author looked at the question of instances of violence against workers and if they occur more frequently at Chinese-owned mines in the DRC, South Africa and Zambia than they do at other foreign owned mines. Contrary to the perception that Chinese mines are more prone to worker-based violence, mining companies from South Africa and the United Kingdom were at the top of the list, with eight instances each. These were followed by China (5), Australia (4), Switzerland (2), and Canada (2). The author acknowledged, however, that western companies have a larger footprint, more workers, and ultimately higher risk of violent incidents.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Warming of US-Eritrea Relations

Ventures Africa posted on 3 June 2019 an article titled "Eritrea Finally Out of Doghouse" by Caleb Ajinomoah.

The United States in 2008 placed Eritrea on the list of countries believed to be uncooperative in the global fight against terrorism, primarily over allegations that it was supporting al-Shabaab in Somalia. Washington has now removed Eritrea from the list and recent high level US visits to Asmara suggest an improvement in US-Eritrea relations.

Sudanese Land Grabs Contribute to Unrest

The Pulitzer Center posted on 30 May 2019 an article titled "Land Grabbing and Its Implications for Sudanese--Views from a Scholar" by Fredrick Mugira and Annika McGinnis. The article is based on an interview with Stefano Turrini, a scholar studying Sudanese dry lands agriculture as a PhD candidate at Padova University in Italy.

Since the beginning of this century, Sudan has significantly increased the number of long term leases it has granted to foreign companies for the purpose of growing and exporting food crops, animal feed such as alfalfa, and biofuels. These are often seen by Sudanese as land grabs and resulting in growing concerns. Most of the leases are obtained by companies from Qatar, Egypt, Lebanon, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Syria.

Monday, June 3, 2019

"Inside Story" Discussion of Sudan

Al Jazeera's Inside Story ran on 3 June 2019 a half hour discussion on Sudan with Aly Verjee, US Institute of Peace, Awol Allo, Keele University, and me. It covered the violence in Khartoum on 3 June and the role of international players such as the UAE, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.