Friday, January 30, 2015

Splits in Sudan People's Liberation Movement

Good Governance Africa published on 1 February 2015 an analysis titled "Fresh Blood from Old Wounds" by Kevin Bloom.  It discusses the long-standing personal rivalry in the Sudan People's Liberation Movement that has led to the split between Salva Kiir and Riek Machar. 

Africa and China's Maritime Silk Road

The Diplomat published on 29 January 2015 an article titled "China's 'Maritime Silk Road': Don't Forget Africa" by Shannon Tiezzi. While China's Silk Road project is focused primarily on Asia, the article notes there is an important African component. 

Bank Crackdown Threatens Remittances to Somalia

Foreign Policy published on 30 January 2015 an article titled "Bank Crackdown Threatens Remittances to Somalia" by Jamila Trindle.  The article notes that Merchants Bank of California, which handles 60 to 80 percent of the remittances sent to Somalia from the United States, announced it is dropping the accounts of companies that transfer money on behalf of Somalis in the United States.

Is China Selling Armed Drones to Nigeria?

The War is Boring website published on 28 January 2015 a story titled "It Seems a Chinese Missile Drone Just Crashed in Nigeria: Is Beijing Selling Killer Robots in Africa?" by Adam Rawnsley.  This is a fascinating story with excellent visuals.  Decide for yourself. 

Turkish President Visits Horn of Africa

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has just completed a visit to Somalia, Djibouti, and Somalia in an effort to revive Turkey's focus on Africa.  Al-monitor.com published on 28 January 2015 commentary on the visit titled "Erdogan's Africa Tour" by Fehim Tastekin.  Daily Sabah published on 27 January 2015 another account titled "Erdogan: We Cannot Remain Silent on Africa."  Daily Sabah also published an analysis of the visit on 21 January 2015 titled "'No Going Back' for Turkey-Africa Trade."

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Sudan and South Sudan's Merging Conflicts

The International Crisis Group (ICG) published on 29 January 2015 a report titled "Sudan and South Sudan's Merging Conflicts."  It analyses the cross-border alliances that have formed and argues that strong measures are required by the UN Security Council as well as more strategic engagement by the wider international community in support of mediation efforts by the regional bodies, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, and the African Union. 

China: Embracing Africa, But Not Africans

The Diplomat published on 29 January 2015 a commentary titled "China: Embracing Africa, But Not Africans" by Paul R. Burgman Jr., a  graduate student at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. 

The author argued that China must still convince Africans that its interest in their continent is authentic.  He suggested that if you scour the internet under the keywords, "Chinese prejudice against Africans in China" you will find a litany of blogs and articles on the experiences of young African migrants, students, and travelers, many of whom are proficient in Mandarin, as they recount their experiences in China.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

South Sudan: Arusha Reunification Agreement

The Juba-based Sudd Institute published on 27 January 2015 an analysis titled "Simplifying the Arusha-SPLM Reunification Agreement" by Augustino Ting Mayai and Jok Madut Jok.

The analysis reviews the Arusha Reunification Agreement and attempts to spur public debate on a newly instituted effort towards a genuine search for peace in South Sudan.  

Monday, January 26, 2015

Leaked World Bank Report and Villagization in Ethiopia

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published on  20 January 2015 a story titled "Leaked Report Says World Bank Violated Own Rules in Ethiopia" by Sasha Chavkin.

The full World Bank report is available in the web posting.  The issue concerns Anuak people in Gambella region of Ethiopia who were resettled, allegedly forcibly, in order to make room for large agricultural investment projects.  The World Bank contributed to the funding of the program, known as villagization, which ended in 2013. 

China Sending an Infantry Battalion to South Sudan

The Washington-based Institute for Defense Analyses published on 26 January 2015 an article titled "Trading White Hats for Blue Ones? China Sends an Infantry Battalion to South Sudan" by Eliza Johannes. 

A small advance party of this Chinese combat force arrived in South Sudan early this year.  The number is expected to reach 520 soldiers by March and eventually a full battalion of 700.  They are assigned to the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in the capital of Juba and will be in addition to the 350 Chinese engineers and medical staff located to the northwest in Wau.  China is the largest investor in South Sudanese oil, which underscores its interest in encouraging political stability in this conflicted area. 

Gibe III Dam in Ethiopia

The Gibe III dam on the Omo River in southwestern Ethiopia is moving toward completion.  The Washington-based Institute for Defense Analyses published on 26 January 2015 an article titled "African Hydropolitics--Ethiopia's Other Dam" by George F. Ward. 

Because of its environmental impact on the lower Omo River in Ethiopia and Lake Turkana in Kenya, this has been a controversial project.  The author concludes that in spite of these concerns Ethiopia is likely to continue its progress toward an initial operating capability later this year.

Somali-Turkish Relations

Aljazeera published on 21 January 2015 a commentary titled "Erdogan: The Hero of Somalia" by Abukar Arman, Somalia's former special envoy to the United States. 

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is scheduled to visit Somalia in the aftermath of a bombing at a hotel in Mogadishu.  Part of an African tour, the trip is designed to strengthen the strategic relationship between Turkey and Somalia.  The author believes the timing of the visit in the aftermath of the bombing will only enhance Erdogan's reputation in the region.  

Chinese Agribusiness Entrepreneurship in Ghana and Nigeria

The China-Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins University published in January 2015 a policy brief titled "Chinese Agribusiness Entrepreneurship in Africa: Case Studies in Ghana and Nigeria" by Yang Jiao, a PhD candidate at the University of Florida. 

The policy brief explores the motivation, challenges, and initial social impact of a private Chinese agribusiness enterprise in Ghana and a Chinese state-owned enterprise in Nigeria. 

Egyptian President to Visit Ethiopia

The New York Times published on 26 January 2015 an oped titled "Sisi Goes to Addis Ababa" by Alex de Waal, executive director of the World Peace Foundation at Tufts University.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is scheduled to visit Addis Ababa this weekend.  This will be the first visit to Ethiopia by an Egyptian president since 1995.  De Waal urges el-Sissi to take advantage of this visit to finally make progress on joint management of the Nile River.  He argues that Egypt should cooperate with Ethiopia to manage the Nile's waters and join the Nile Basin Initiative's Cooperative Framework Agreement.

South Sudan: Internal US Debate on Arms Embargo

Foreign Policy published on 26 January 2015 an article titled "Mediating Mass Murder: Susan Rice Has Stalled the American Push for an Arms Embargo in South Sudan" by Colum Lynch.  The piece argues that President Obama's National Security Adviser, Susan Rice, is resisting the imposition of an arms embargo on South Sudan while U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, and U.S. ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, favor an embargo. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

China's Response to Importation of Illegal Timber

Chatham House published in December 2014 a study titled "Trade in Illegal Timber: The Response in China" by Laura Wellesley, a research associate at Chatham House.

The report concludes that the government of China has made notable progress in its efforts to tackle illegal logging and the associated trade.  It has also developed guidance for Chinese companies operating overseas to promote sustainable forest products trade and investment.  Nevertheless, illegal trade remains a significant problem.

Since 2000, there has been a marked increase in high-risk imports of high-value hardwood logs, particularly rosewood, from the Mekong region and African countries such as Mozambique, Benin, The Gambia, and Ghana.  Another cause for concern is the continued, and in some cases increased, import of logs into China from countries in which a log export ban is in place--namely, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, and Cote d'Ivoire.

A Chinese translation of this report is also available.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

China Daily Coverage of China-Africa Event in Washington

China Daily covered a panel session in Washington on 21 January 2015 concerning China and Africa hosted by the Maryland-China Business Council.  The 23 January article titled "China, US Should Cooperate on Doing Business in Africa: Expert" was written by Hua Shengdun.  I was on the panel and emphasized the need for cooperation between the United States and China on issues such as African economic development, peacekeeping, and political stability. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Human Rights Watch Report on Violations of Media Freedoms in Ethiopia

Human Rights Watch published in January 2015 a lengthy, critical report titled "'Journalism Is Not a Crime': Violations of Media Freedoms in Ethiopia."  The report describes the dire state of Ethiopia's media and the resulting impact on freedom of expression and the media.

It concludes that "the ruling party has treated the private media as a threat to its hegemony, and is using various techniques to decimate private media, independent reporting, and critical analysis, with drastic results." 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

China-Africa Military Relations

The blog War Is Boring recently ran a piece titled "China Is Getting Ready to Surge Troops into Africa: Military Deploying to Protect Beijing's People and Investments" by Peter Dorrie.  The commentary accurately reports my comments, although I believe part of the heading "China Is Getting Ready to Surge Troops into Africa" is misleading.  China is deploying about 700 combat troops to join its noncombat contingent with the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan.  To the best of my knowledge, no additional Chinese troops are scheduled to deploy in Africa.  At the same time, China is concerned that its growing number of nationals and interests in Africa may be subject to increasing threats.  At some point, this may lead to more military engagement.

Dorrie published another version of this story on 24 January 2015 titled "China Deploying Troops to Africa to Protect Its  Investments and Nationals."

Chinese Naval Strategy and the "String of Pearls" Debate

The National Defense University in Washington issued a major report in October 2014 on "Chinese Overseas Basing Requirements in the 21st Century" by Christopher D. Yung, Ross Rustici, Scott Devary, and Jenny Lin.  It deals with the so-called Chinese "String of Pearls" strategy in the Indian Ocean and has rekindled an old debate.  This discussion is relevant to future Chinese naval interests along the East African coast.  One of the authors responded to recent criticism of the report in a piece published in The Diplomat on 22 January 2015 titled "Burying China's 'String of Pearls'."

The original report argues that China's expanding global interests will generate increased demands for out-of-area naval operations and predicts that China is likely to establish at least one "dual-use" civilian/military base, probably at Karachi, to provide logistics support for increased People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) operations.  The report also concluded that China is unlikely to attempt to dominate the Indian Ocean region militarily and suggested the "String of Pearls" model has long outlived its usefulness as a strategic concept.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Story of Convicted Somali-born Basaaly Moalin

The New Yorker published on 26 January 2015 a long article titled "The Whole Haystack" by Mattathias Schwartz.  The focus of the article is Somali-born Basaaly Moalin, who was living in San Diego and convicted of financing Somali extremists.  Much of the article is devoted to the issue of access to phone records and whether that is the best way to catch a terrorist. 

The China-Africa Knowledge Project

I call to your attention The China-Africa Knowledge Project at the Social Science Research Council (SSRC).  The project aims to deepen understanding of China's engagement with Africa and locate scholarship on China and Africa within broader scholarly and policy discourses.  It does this by institutional collaboration and developing web-based resources and activities.  It is funded by the Henry Luce Foundation and the SSRC. 

The project has an international and interdisciplinary Working Group on China-Africa tasked with facilitating new research collaboration.  The SSRC is working to strengthen and expand the Chinese in Africa/Africans in China Research Network.  The China, Africa, and the UN stream of work explores the evolution of China's engagement with multilateral cooperation and the United Nations.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

China in Africa: One among Many

The Economist published on 17 January 2015 a brief commentary titled "China in Africa: One among Many."  The sub-title is "China has become big in Africa. Now for the backlash."

The statistics used in the article suggest it is referring only to Sub-Saharan Africa and not all 54 countries in Africa.  A main theme is that Africans are increasingly suspicious of Chinese firms and their unfair deals and environmental damage.  It concludes that after years of talk about "win-win" partnerships, "China seems belatedly aware of the problem."

While there is some truth to the criticism in the article, it strikes me as somewhat overwrought.  The most useful point is that we should not lose sight of the fact that collectively countries such as the US, UK, France, India, and Italy count for much more trade and investment in Africa than does China. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

South Africa's ANC Moves Closer to China's CPC

The newstatesman.com published on 8 January 2015 a commentary titled "Why Is the ANC Following the Example of the Chinese Communist Party?" by David Plaut. 

South Africa's ruling African National Congress is constructing a political school and policy institute.  The idea is to model the institute on the Chinese Communist Party's cadre training organization--the Chinese Executive Leadership Academy Pudong.  The author notes that President Jacob Zuma has promised that the ANC will rule until the second coming of Christ. 

A Greater Maritime Role for China in the Gulf of Guinea?

The China Brief published on 9 January 2015 an analysis titled "Maritime Insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea: A Greater Role for China?" by Hang Zhou and Katharina Seibel. 

In 2012, attacks on ships off the Gulf of Guinea for the first time exceeded the number of attacks by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden.  A couple of Chinese vessels and additional Chinese nationals on vessels from other countries have been subject to attack.  Except for the sale of coastal patrol boats to countries in and near the Gulf of Guinea, China has not been especially active compared to the US and European Union in trying to stem the problem.  The authors wonder if the time has come for China to become more engaged in countering piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.