Friday, March 22, 2019

Ethiopian and Egyptian Positions on Nile Waters

The International Crisis Group posted on 20 March 2019 two podcasts of just over 2 minutes each offering the Ethiopian position and the Egyptian position on the Nile waters question.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Postponing Somaliland's Elections

The Institute for Security Studies posted on 19 March 2019 a comment titled "Somaliland's Fragile Democracy Faces More Election Delays" by Omar S. Mahmood.

Elections for Somaliland's Lower House of Parliament and the local councils scheduled for this month have been postponed to December for technical and political reasons.

Military Bases in Somaliland and Djibouti Complicating Regional Politics

Foreign Policy posted on 19 March 2019 an analysis titled "For Somaliland and Djibouti, Will New Friends Bring Benefits?" by Matt Kennard, journalist based in London, and Ismail Einashe, journalist based in Nairobi.

The United Arab Emirates has signed an agreement to build a military base in Berbera, Somaliland. There are multiple military bases in Djibouti. All of this military engagement is complicating relationships in the region.

Playing the International Donors in South Sudan

African Arguments posted on 20 March 2019 a commentary titled "South Sudan: How Warring Parties Play International Donors" by Daniel Akech Thiong, independent consultant.

The author explains how the warring parties in South Sudan manipulate the international mediators and sources of aid and argues that power sharing is doomed to fail.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

China and the African Internet

Foreign Policy posted on 19 March 2019 an article titled "For Africa, Chinese-Built Internet Is Better Than No Internet at All" by Amy Mackinnon.

The Chinese company Huawei has built about 70 percent of Africa's 4G networks, leaving European companies far behind and American companies almost absent. African governments seem unconcerned about Western charges that they may be leaving themselves vulnerable to espionage.

Nile Waters Dispute: Fill Rate Behind the Dam

The International Crisis Group published on 20 March 2019 a report titled "Bridging the Gap in the Nile Waters Dispute."

The study focuses on the different positions of Ethiopia and Egypt on the fill rate behind the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam under construction on the Blue Nile so that the downstream flow of Nile water does not adversely affect Egypt.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

No End to Protests in Sudan

Chatham House posted on 15 March 2019 a commentary titled "Pressure from the People in Sudan" by Dame Rosalind Marsden.

The author concludes that the protests in Sudan have become a war of attrition, with neither side willing to give up. What is clear, however, is that pressure for change will continue to come from the Sudanese street, and that the government has not articulated answers to the root causes of the crisis.

Monday, March 18, 2019

China Buys Influence in Africa: Build Parliaments

Pulse.ng posted on 14 March 2019 a story titled "7 African Countries Whose Parliament Buildings Today Stand Tall Courtesy of Chinese Money".

In 2012, China funded and built the $200 million headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and recently agreed to fund and build the headquarters for the Economic Community of West African States in Abuja, Nigeria. In addition, China has built or rebuilt in recent years parliament buildings for the Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, Gabon, and Sierra Leone.

Friday, March 15, 2019

The Branding of Al-Shabaab

The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) published in March 2019 an analysis titled "How East Africa's Terrorists Build Their Brand Strength" by Matthew Freear, communications manager at RUSI's Nairobi office.

Branding is how an organization sustains relations with its audiences over the long term. Among other themes, al-Shabaab is determined to build an image as a credible alternative to the Somali government. The analysis explains some of the ways that al-Shabaab is having success with its branding effort.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

South Sudan: The Perils of Payroll Peace

UK Aid and the London School of Economics and Political Science published in March 2019 a paper titled "South Sudan: The Perils of Payroll Peace."

Payroll peace is the practice of putting large numbers of soldiers and civil servants on the state payroll as an incentive for them, and the belligerent parties, to accept a peace agreement. This has become standard practice in South Sudan. The paper argues that at best it is corruption, at worst it is violently explosive.

Creating a Red Sea Forum

Brookings posted on 12 March 2019 a proposal titled "Red Sea Blueprints: Designing a Forum for Gulf and Horn States" by Zach Vertin.

It explains why there has not yet been a forum created for states on both sides of the Red Sea to discuss areas of conflict and cooperation. It concludes with four suggestions for creating a viable Red Sea Forum.

China-Mediterranean Website

The China-Mediterranean website contains useful information pertaining to China's relations with a number of countries in the northern part of Africa. It includes Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Mauritania, Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti.

Salvaging South Sudan's Fragile Peace

The International Crisis Group (ICG) published on 13 March 2019 a report titled "Salvaging South Sudan's Fragile Peace Deal."

The peace deal under discussion neither resolves the power struggle between President Salva Kiir and erstwhile rebel leader Riek Machar nor outlines a final political settlement for South Sudan. Rather, it establishes a wobbly Kiir-Machar truce and grafts it onto the previous failed peace terms. ICG argues that to stave off renewed civil war, external actors should urge the belligerents to strike new bargains on security and internal boundaries and accept a third-party protection force for the capital of Juba.

French President Warns about China in Africa

Reuters published on 11 March 2019 an article titled "Macron Warns of Chinese Risk to African Sovereignty" by John Irish.

French President Emmanuel Macron on a recent visit to Djibouti cautioned that conditions attached to Chinese loans to African states could be dangerous in the long term.

Update on Somaliland's Postponed Parliamentary Elections

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) posted on 13 March 2019 a 12 minute podcast on Somaliland's parliamentary elections with Omar S. Mahmood, ISS Addis Ababa.

Mahmood concluded that Somaliland's two major political parties need to compromise to allow the oft-postponed parliamentary elections to move forward. Clan-based politics is making compromise difficult.

China as Africa's Partner of Choice and Debt

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published on 13 March 2019 a commentary titled "High Cost of Having China as Africa's Partner of Choice" by Stellah Kwasi, ISS Pretoria.

Because of China's policy of not attaching political conditions to its aid and loans, many African countries have turned to Beijing as the partner of choice. The author argues that the relationship is raising questions about the true cost of the benefits Africa is receiving as debt piles up in some countries.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Sudan, Climate Change, and Conflict

The New Arab published on 13 March 2019 an article titled "Iraq and Sudan Show How Climate Change Fuels War" by Austin Bodetti, a freelance journalist.

The author draws parallels between conflict in Iraq and Sudan, noting the negative impact of climate change and drought.

Monday, March 11, 2019

What Protests in Algeria and Sudan Mean for China

The Diplomat posted on 8 March 2019 a commentary titled "What Protests in Algeria and Sudan Mean for China" by Guy Burton, London School of Economics.

Algeria and Sudan are among China's more important economic and political partners in northern Africa. The author concluded that whatever governments eventually emerge in Algeria and Sudan, they will not overturn the bulk of previously established projects and activities with China.

US Steps Up Airstrikes in Somalia

The New York Times published on 10 March 2019 an article titled "U.S. Airstrikes Kill Hundreds in Somalia as Shadowy Conflict Ramps Up" by Eric Schmitt and Charlie Savage.

The article explains that U.S. airstrikes against al-Shabaab in Somalia have stepped up during the Trump administration and says there are about 500 American troops, mostly Special Forces, in Somalia.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Ethiopia: Regional Land Disputes Add to Displaced Persons

Ethiopia Insight published on 8 March 2019 an analysis titled "Benishangul Conflict Spurred by Investment, Land Titling, Rumors" by Mehdi Labzae, French Center for Ethiopian Studies.

A land dispute involving the Gumuz and Oromo people in western Ethiopia has resulted in the displacement of more than 150,000 persons, mostly Oromo. A donor-sponsored land registration program and agricultural investment contributed to the conflict.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Major and Middle Power Competition in the Red Sea Basin

These are remarks I made on 7 March 2019 titled "Competition in the Red Sea: Perspectives from the African Side." The primary focus is on China, Russia, France, Turkey, and Egypt.

Russia's Africa Ambitions

The National Interest published on 7 March 2019 a commentary titled "Russia's Africa Ambitions" by Peter Brookes, Heritage Foundation.

The author argues that many of Moscow's recent moves in Africa reflect Russia's resurgent foreign policy under President Vladimir Putin and his desire to return his country to great-power status.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

China Expands Its Engagement in North Africa

The Atlantic Community, a German online foreign policy think tank, published on 27 February 2019 an analysis titled "China's Emerging Diplomatic Economic Presence in North Africa" by Tom Bayes, Mercator Institute for China Studies in Berlin.

China has established "strategic partnerships" with Morocco, Sudan, Algeria and Egypt, the latter two being at the "comprehensive" level. China is among the top three sources of imports for all countries in North Africa and is in the top ten for exports from Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, and Sudan. Trade balances, however, are very much in China's favor. North African countries have embraced China's Belt and Road Initiative.

Impact of Offshore Oil and Gas on Kenya-Somalia Relations

The Institute for Security Studies posted on 1 March 2019 a commentary titled "Is the Scent of Oil a Solution for Somalia?" by Peter Fabricius.

Somalia is in a dispute with its southern neighbor, Kenya, over claims that Somalia tried to auction off oil and gas exploration blocks in territorial waters that Kenya claims. Somalia denied the allegations, saying that while the maps presented at the auction included territory that Kenya claims, this was just a marketing exercise.

Impact of US Airstrikes in Somalia on Al-Shabaab

Foreign Policy posted on 7 March 2019 an article titled "U.S. Bombardments Are Driving Somalis from Their Homes" by Amanda Sperber, a journalist based in Nairobi and Mogadishu.

The author concludes that increased U.S. airstrikes in Somalia against al-Shabaab have forced the terrorists to change tactics but have not made the group less of a threat.