Monday, December 6, 2021

Is National Dialogue Only Way Out for Ethiopia?

 Ethiopia Insight published on 6 December 2021 a commentary titled "Irreconcilable Aspirations: A Repressive Ethiopian Vision Spells the End of the Republic" by Adisalem Desta, international law and diplomacy expert.

The author argues an all-inclusive national dialogue is the only way to mitigate the current political disorder in Ethiopia and perhaps prevent fragmentation.  

Is US Influence Waning in Sudan?

 Foreign Policy posted on 3 December 2021 an analysis titled "The Battle for Khartoum Exposes Waning U.S. Influence" by Colum Lynch and Robbie Gramer.

The authors argue that the Sudan crisis offers a window into the messy and often convoluted nature of U.S. diplomacy as the United States' unipolar moment vanishes.  Sudan is a case study in how Washington's inattention to Africa over the decades has sown the seeds of waning U.S. influence across the continent, particularly on issues at the core of U.S. foreign policy, from the promotion of democracy and human rights to the war on terror.

Comment:  The U.S. unipolar moment vanished some time ago. While U.S. influence in Sudan may have experienced a decline in recent weeks, I don't see that anyone else has stepped in to replace it.   

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Russia's Role in the Central African Republic

 The International Crisis Group (ICG) published on 3 December 2021 an analysis titled "Russia's Influence in the Central Africa Republic" by Pauline Bax.

From a military point of view, Russia's mercenary intervention force, the Wagner Group, has served President Touadera well.  In the long term, however, the CAR government will have to muster the political will to extend its extremely limited services beyond the capital of Bangui if it is to maintain control over the areas its troops have recaptured from the rebels.  The military force is too small to push out all the armed groups and keep them out, and its relations with MINUSCA are too fraught to accomplish much beyond securing the mining zones.

Fate of Tigrayans in UN Peacekeeping Operations

 Ethiopia Insight published on 3 December 2021 a commentary titled "The UN is Failing Its Tigrayan Peacekeeping Troops" by Saba Mah'derom, a Tigrayan activist student in the United States.

Ethiopia has a long and proud history of contributing peacekeeping troops to UN operations, currently in Sudan and Somalia.  Following the outbreak of conflict between Tigrayan Defense Forces and Ethiopian National Defense Forces, the author argues that Tigrayan soldiers assigned to UN peacekeeping operations have been singled out by the government of Ethiopia for deactivation or worse.

Comment:  While this is written from a Tigrayan perspective, together with so many other incidents in Ethiopia attributed to both sides since the outbreak of conflict in November 2020, the allegations merit an investigation by the UN.

Russia-Africa Relations: More Talk than Action

 Global Research published on 3 December 2021 an interview titled "Russia-Africa Relations: Geopolitical Arena with Many Players Operating." Kester Kenn Klomegah interviewed Steven Gruzd, head of the Russia-Africa Research Program at the South African Institute of International Affairs.

Gruzd said that except for a focus on niche areas such as arms sales, nuclear energy, and resource extraction, Russia is invisible in economic sectors in Africa, despite boasting of decades-old solid relations with the continent.  In addition, the shadowy world of private miliary companies such as Russia's Wagner Group is causing concern in unstable countries like the CAR, Libya, and Mali.  

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

China and a Focus on Poverty Reduction in Africa

 Nikkei Asia published on 2 December 2021 a commentary titled "Xi Jinping Echoes Jack Ma as He Plots Future China-Africa Ties" by Lauren Johnston.

In an analysis of Xi Jinping's speech before the 8th Forum of China Africa Cooperation in Senegal, the author underscores the importance of China's promise to collaborate on realizing poverty reduction in Africa.  

Ethiopian Central Government Retakes Lalibela

 The BBC posted an article on 1 December 2021 titled "Ethiopia's Tigray Conflict: Lalibela Retaken - Government."

The BBC reports that Ethiopian National Defense Forces have retaken Lalibela from the Tigrayan Defense Forces.  The article also reports the visit of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Commentary on Ethiopian Anti-government Alliance

 Africa Portal posted on 22 November 2021 a commentary titled "Friends, Foes and the Deepening Crisis in Ethiopia" by Mohamed Mahad D. Darar, academic based in Colorado.  

The author discusses the forces in Ethiopia aligned against the government of Abiy Ahmed.  

Ethiopian Central Government Forces Claim Military Progress

 Aljazeera published on 1 December 2021 an article titled "Ethiopian Gov't Says It Retook String of Towns from Tigray Forces."

Ethiopian National Defense Forces claim to have retaken several small towns in Amhara and Afar Regions from Tigrayan Defense Forces in recent days.  A news blackout of the fighting makes it difficult to corroborate reports from the front lines.  

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Who Can Mediate Ethiopian Crisis?

 Daily Sabah, a Turkish pro-government daily, published on 30 November 2021 a commentary titled "The Conflict in Ethiopia and Prospects for Mediation" by Ismail Numan Telci, Sakarya University in Serdivan, Turkey.  

The author proposes a number of mediators for the Ethiopia crisis, including Qatar, which he argues can play an important role in mediating Ethiopia's rival parties.

Should the US Act More Like China in Africa?

 Foreign Policy published on 29 November 2021 a commentary titled "Washington Needs a Better Message in Africa than 'Don't Trust China'" by Henry Tugendhat, US Institute of Peace, and Kamissa Camara, Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.

The authors argue that while the Forum on China Africa Cooperation continues to be a successful tool for China's Africa policy, it is a painful reminder of America's diplomatic shortfalls in Africa.  There is simply no comparison in the depth and breadth of relationship building that China has developed with African leaders and future leaders for at least the past decade.  

Comment:  While the title of this commentary is accurate in that the US should not base its Africa policy on concerns about China, that is not currently the only basis for Washington's policy in Africa.  The subsequent argumentation then overstates the success of China in Africa, especially once you look beyond relations with African officialdom and include civil society, and understates the success of the United States in relationship building over the decades.  While there is plenty of room for legitimate criticism of US policy in Africa, there are also plenty of unmentioned missteps by China.   

Sudan's Post-Coup Agreement

 The Africa Center for Strategic Studies published on 24 November 2021 an analysis titled "What the Post-Coup Agreement Means for Sudan's Democratic Transition" by Joseph Siegle.

The Burhan-Hamdok post-military coup agreement has largely not been viewed as credible by Sudan's key domestic stakeholders.  Instead, it is seen as a means of affirming and legitimizing the role of the military in government and Burhan's position as head of state.  

Africa and Chinese Debt

 The Review of African Political Economy published on 24 November 2021 a commentary titled "China's Spatial Fix and Africa's Debt Reckoning" by Tim Zajontz, University of Freiburg.

The author argues that Chinese capital is central to Africa and China, just like other creditors, uses debt for the conquest of Africa and its resources.  

Africans Have Lost Some of Their Illusions about China (in French)

 Jeune Afrique published on 27 November 2021 an interview with Thierry Pairault, French economist and Sinologist, titled "Sur la Chine, les Africains ont perdu une part de leurs illusions" by Olivier Marbot.

Pairault says the last two years have not been easy ones for China in Africa.  It remains to be seen if China understands the changing views of Africans on certain aspects of their relationship.  

Sudan Street Protests Continue

 Reuters published on 30 November 2021 an article titled "Tens of Thousands March against Military Rule in Sudan, Met with Tear Gas."

Large street protests continue in Khartoum and other cities in spite of the reinstatement by the military of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.  

Monday, November 29, 2021

Way Forward for Peace in Ethiopia

 Chatham House in London published on 29 November 2021 a commentary titled "Can Ethiopia Avert Deep Turmoil and Prioritize Peace?" by Ahmed Soliman.  

The author calls for the engagement of regional leaders such as Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to help establish a cease fire in Ethiopia that would be monitored by a UN-mandated commission.  Eventually there must be an Ethiopian national political dialogue to accommodate different ideas.  

Communist Party of China Strengthens Ties with African Media

 Kenya's Capital News published on 26 November 2021 an article titled "China Media Group Sets Up Collaboration Platform with Africa."

The China Media Group, whose parent organization is the Propaganda Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC), issued a joint declaration with 36 African partners to establish a new collaboration platform with Africa.  The platform envisages exchange of content, exchange of staff, and co-production.  The head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee gave an opening address at the event in Nairobi, Kenya.  

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Oromo Group Calls for Confederation in Ethiopia

 Foreign Policy published on 27 November 2021 a commentary titled "Ethiopia's Breakup Doesn't Have to Be Violent" by Teferi Mergo, University of Waterloo in Canada, and Kebene Kejela, University of St. Gallen in Switzerland.  Both are affiliated with the Baro Tumsa Institute, an organization registered in the state of Maryland with ties to the Oromo Liberation Front.  

The authors of this controversial piece call for the different parts of Ethiopia to decide their future by holding referenda according to article 39 of the constitution, resulting in a "confederation" of Ethiopian states.  

Comment:  After posting this blog, one of the authors contacted me and explained that the Baro Tumsa Institute (BTI) is not affiliated with the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).  While some BTI members might have affiliations with the OLF, it is not accurate to link BTI with the OLF.  There are BTI members who have no affiliations with the OLF or with any Oromo political organization.  

I apologize for misleading readers of my blog post.  

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Ethiopia: Humanitarian Situation Deteriorates in Tigray, Amhara, and Afar Regions

 UN News published on 24 November 2021 a report titled "Ethiopia: Humanitarian Aid Needed as Situation Deteriorates in Tigray."

Tigray, Amhara, and Afar Regions are in dire need of humanitarian assistance.  On 23 November, 40 trucks with humanitarian supplies arrived in Tigray Region, the first convoy to arrive since 18 October.  Tigray Region requires about 500 trucks per week to meet its needs.  Humanitarian supplies also arrived in Kombolcha and Dessie towns in Amhara Region.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Comments to Aljazeera on Sudan

 Aljazeera asked me to comment on 25 November 2021 on the situation in Sudan in the aftermath of the reinstatement of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.  

Ethiopian Hate Speech on Social Media

 The BBC posted on 23 November 2021 an account titled "Ethiopia's Tigray Conflict: What Are Facebook and Twitter Doing about Hate Speech?" by Peter Mwai.

Both pro and anti-government users of Facebook and Twitter have posted hateful and inflammatory content in Amharic, Afan Oromo, Somali, and Tigrinya.  Social media platforms are caught in the middle as they try to manage these postings.  

China's Official Update on China-Africa Relations

 China's State Council Information Office released on 26 November 2021 a white paper titled "China and Africa in the New Era: A Partnership of Equals."

The release of the white paper was timed just before the meeting in Senegal of the Forum on China Africa Cooperation at the end of November.  While China remains an important partner in Africa, it is striking that its trade, aid, and investment have been flat or even declined over the last six or seven years.  

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Are Sudan's Generals Serious about Civilian Rule?

 The PBS News Hour posted on 22 November 2021 an article titled "What Reinstating Sudan's Prime Minister Means for the Country."

This is a good discussion of the options following the decision by Sudan's military to reinstate the country's civilian prime minister.  It raises the question, however, whether a civilian government, free elections, and democracy are realistic prospects for Sudan.  

The Crisis in Sudan

 The Council on Foreign Relations posted on 22 November 2021 a commentary titled "The Crisis in Sudan: What to Know" by Michelle Gavin.

This is an update on the situation in Sudan following agreement by the generals to reinstate civilian Prime Minister Hamdok to his position.  

Africa's Rising Cities

 The Washington Post published on 19 November 2021 a major piece titled "Africa's Rising Cities: How Africa Will Become the Center of the World's Urban Future" by Max Bearak, Dylan Moriarty, and Julia Ledur. 

By the end of this century, Africa will be the only continent experiencing population growth and 13 of the world's 20 biggest urban areas will be in Africa.  Using numerous graphics and pictures, this piece takes a detailed look at the future of Lagos, Nigeria; Khartoum, Sudan; Kinshasa, DRC; Mombasa, Kenya; and Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire.