Monday, April 15, 2024

US Announces New Aid for Sudan

 National Public Radio posted on 15 April 2024 an interview with US ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield titled "The U.S.Announces New Aid for Sudan, Where Civil War Broke Out a Year Ago."

The United States announced $100 million in new food aid for Sudan, bringing total American aid to Sudan to $1 billion since the conflict began a year ago.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Chinese Peacekeepers End Service in Democratic Republic of Congo

 Defence Web published on 12 April 2024 an article titled "Chinese Sappers Exit DR Congo after 20 Years."

The DRC has asked the UN peacekeeping mission of 15,000 to shut down.  The People's Liberation Army (PLA) has provided an engineering unit for 20 years.   As a result of the DRC decision, the current PLA contingent of 220 ended its contribution last week, leaving a large Chinese peacekeeping force in only one African country--South Sudan.

Friday, April 12, 2024

Sudan Talks Falter and War Expands

 Atlas News published on 12 April 2024 an article titled "Sudan Talks Pushed Back as War Expands" by Sebastien Gray.

The proposed 18 April date for the resumption of peace talks between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Saudi Arabia has been pushed back to a time that has not yet been agreed upon.  A collection of militias in north Darfur known as the Joint Force has aligned with the SAF against the RSF, which controls most of Darfur.

Russian Troops Arrive in Niger

 The Washington Post published on 12 April 2024 an article titled "Russian Soldiers Arrive in Niger as Relationship with U.S. Deteriorates" by Rachel Chason.

Russian soldiers have arrived in Niger to train the Nigerien army, presumably replacing American trainers who remain at their base in the country.  It is not clear what will happen to the U.S. forces.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Africa Corps and Terrorist Attacks in Niger; Ethiopia-Somalia Tension; Al-Shabaab in Somalia

 Critical Threats Africa File published on 11 April 2024 several items titled "Kremlin's Africa Corps Nears Niger; Ethiopia-Somalia Rift Widens; al-Qaeda Affiliates Strengthen in the Sahel and Horn" by Liam Karr, Matthew Gianitsos, and Josie von Fischer.  

Russia is reported ready to send an Africa Corps contingent to Niger.  An al-Qaeda affiliate has increased its attacks in western Niger since the beginning of 2024.  Ethiopia is advancing bilateral partnerships with autonomous regions in northern Somalia, escalating tensions between the Somali Federal government and Ethiopia.  Al-Shabaab has stepped up attacks in south central Somalia.

Sudan: Halting External Support for Two Military Sides

 The Atlantic Council published on 10 April 2024 a commentary titled "A Diplomatic Solution in Sudan Demands Greater US Engagement with Its Arab Allies" by Menal Fatima.

Halting external support by Arab countries such as the UAE and Egypt for one of the competing armies in Sudan is essential to ending the conflict and putting the country on a path to civilian-led rule.

Sudan after a Year of Civil War

 The International Crisis Group (ICG) published on 11 April 2024 a statement titled "Sudan: A Year of War."

The ICG offers a summary over the past year of the conflict in Sudan between the Sudan Armed Forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.

Iranian Drones Help Sudan's Army against Rapid Support Forces

 Reuters published on 10 April 2024 an article titled "Sudan Civil War: Are Iranian Drones Helping the Army Gain Ground?" by Khalid Abdelaziz, Parisa Hafezi, and Aidan Lewis.

Iranian-made drones have helped the Sudan Armed Forces turn the tide of war against the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces by pinpointing positions in the Khartoum capital area for artillery strikes.  In return, Iran gets a staging post on Sudan's Red Sea coast.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Nigerian Researcher Analyzes Ethiopia-Somaliland Deal

 The Al Jazeera Centre for Studies, an independent research institution, published on 1 April 2024 an analysis titled "The Ethiopian-Somali Red Sea Agreement in the Context of the Geopolitical Rivalry in the Horn of Africa" by Hakeem Alade Najimdeen, a Nigerian researcher.

A West African researcher provides an analysis of the controversial and oft discussed Memorandum of Understanding between Ethiopia and Somaliland.  

Monday, April 8, 2024

Ethiopia Back on the Brink

 Foreign Affairs posted on 8 April 2024 a commentary titled "Ethiopia Back on the Brink" by Alex de Waal and Mulugeta Gebrehiwot Berhe, both with the World Peace Foundation at Tufts University.

The authors point out that the war in Tigray Region has been followed by rebellion in Amhara Region and continuing unrest in Oromia.  Famine threatens both Tigray and Amhara Regions.  The United Arab Emirates is keeping the Abiy Ahmed government afloat but is also encouraging reckless projects.  

Study Finds Trucking Preferred Over Kenya's Chinese-built Railway

 The Standard published on 7 April 2024 an article titled "Manufacturers Shun Railway over Cost, Flexibility Concerns" by Brian Ngugi.

A study by the Kenya Association of Manufacturers found that trucking is still the preferred way to move cargo following completion of the Chinese-built standard gauge railway (SGR) from the port of Mombasa to Naivasha.  Trucking is less costly, more flexible, and avoids other limitations of the SGR, which does not have last mile connectivity.  Nor has the railway project identified a source of funding to extend the SGR to the Ugandan border and eventually Kampala.   

Saturday, April 6, 2024

China's Cultural Presence in Africa

 The Stuttgart-based Institut fur Auslandsbeziehungen published in 2023 a major study titled "China's Institutionalised Cultural Presence in Africa: Cultural Investments, Perceptions and Implications for China-Africa Cultural Relations" by Avril Joffe.

This study, which is available online, provides insight into Chinese international cultural policy.  There is a special focus on South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria.  There are sections on China's strategy in Africa, Chinese investments in cultural infrastructure, media, film, music, Confucius Institutes, libraries, studying in China, and perceptions of China in Africa.  

Ethiopia, Turkey, Somalia, and Somaliland: It's Complicated

 The Conversation published on 3 April 2024 a commentary titled "Turkey and Ethiopia Have Had Close Ties for Many Years: Somalia Maritime Deals May Shift the Dynamics" by Michael B. Bishku, Augusta University.  

Long standing Ethiopia-Turkey ties are being put to the test as a result of Ethiopia's deal with Somaliland for a military base and reportedly diplomatic recognition.  Turkey has a military base in Somalia, which opposes the Ethiopia-Somaliland deal, and is training Somali soldiers and equipping its naval force.  This situation poses a dilemma for Turkey's relations with Ethiopia.

Video on China's Reaction to Red Sea Crisis

 CNA Insider, a multinational news channel owned by Singapore's state-owned public broadcaster, posted on 6 April 2024 a nine-minute video titled "Why China's Navy Isn't Intervening in Red Sea Houthi Attacks."

The video points out that PLA Navy ships, although they are assigned in the Gulf of Aden for anti-piracy duty, have not engaged in efforts to end Houthi attacks on international shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.  One Chinese commentator said China prefers to emphasize political communication and dialogue.  

China Is Gaslighting the Global South

Foreign Policy posted on 5 April 2024 a commentary titled "China Is Gaslighting the Developing World" by Robert A. Manning, Stimson Center. 

The author argues that it is unclear if the Global South really wants "a post-American future--let alone a Beijing-dominated one."  China's vision of multilateralism and equality are camouflage for its own hegemonic ambitions.

Most of China's initiatives are aimed at delegitimizing and displacing U.S. power.  China envisions the BRICS, for example, as "a Sino-centric network," a competitor or eventually even replacement for the Bretton Woods institutions.

The author concludes: "China appears, at best, an immature great power, its aspirations far exceeding its grasp and appeal.  Beijing's wannabe post-U.S. order faces a legitimacy deficit." 

Friday, April 5, 2024

Niger Pivots from Washington to Moscow

 The Foreign Policy Research Institute published on 5 April 2024 an analysis titled "Niger's Pivot to Moscow: What's Next for US Engagement in Africa?" by Raphael Parens, Christopher Faulkner, and Marcel Plichta.

Niger's military regime has asked US forces to leave the country while pivoting toward Russia.  The United States is trying to salvage some influence and presence in the country as Russia works to remove it entirely.  Should Russia's Africa Corps move into Niger, it will likely be used to keep the regime in power rather than confront the country's serious ISIS terrorist threat.  

US/EU Lobito Corridor Project Could Counter China's Efforts

 The Washington-based Center for European Policy Analysis posted on 2 April 2024 a commentary titled "Confronting the China Challenge in Africa: The Lobito Corridor" by Eduardo Castellet Nogues.

The US Development Finance Corporation and the Export-Import Bank, together with European partners, are funding a huge infrastructure project in the Lobito Corridor that runs from Zambia's copper fields, through the mineral rich Democratic Republic of the Congo, to the Angolan port of Lobito.  China has been the principal infrastructure partner in this part of Africa throughout this century.  If the project is successful, it could counter China's Belt and Road Initiative in this part of Africa.   

China-Africa Cooperation on Artificial Intelligence

 The Cyberspace Administration of China published on 3 April 2024 an announcement titled "2024 China-Africa Internet Development and Cooperation Forum: Chair's Statement on China-Africa Cooperation on AI."

The China-Africa Internet Development and Cooperation Forum was held online in Xiamen, China on 2-3 April 2024.  The participants held in depth exchanges on China-Africa cooperation on artificial intelligence (AI).  

In 2023, China launched the Global AI Governance Initiative, which is designed to implement its concept of building a community with a shared future for mankind and to realize the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative, and the Global Civilization Initiative.  

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Atrocities in Ethiopia's Amhara Region

 Human Rights Watch published on 4 April 2024 a report titled "Ethiopia: Military Executes Dozens in Amhara Region."

Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that the Ethiopian military summarily executed scores of civilians in Merawi, a town in Amhara region, during fighting in January and February with Fano militia.  HRW called for an independent inquiry by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Russia Strengthens Eritrea Ties with High Level Naval Visits

 The Eritrean Ministry of Information published on 4 April 2024 a press release titled "Russian Delegation Visits Northern and Southern Red Sea Regions."

The deputy commander of the Russian navy led a delegation to Eritrea in early April when it toured a variety of port and airport facilities.  

Military Africa published on 3 April 2024 an article titled "Russian Navy's Udaloy Class Frigate Visits Eritrea to Strengthen Ties" by Kazim Abdul.

Coinciding with the Russian deputy naval commander's visit, the Udaloy class frigate, Marshal Shaposhnikov, and guided missile cruiser, Varyag, made a five-day visit to Massawa marking the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Eritrea and Russia.  

Critical Threats published on 4 April 2024 an article titled "The Kremlin's Red Sea Ambitions in Eritrea" by Liam Karr. 

The article provides additional detail on the Russia-Eritrea relationship.

Chinese Company Opens Lithium Processing Plant in Zimbabwe

 The Herald published on 3 April 2024 an article titled "Mutoko Lithium Processing Plant Complete" by Victor Maphosa.

A Chinese company has completed a processing plant for the production of lithium in Zimbabwe, an increasingly important African source for this product used in the manufacturing of rechargeable batteries, mobile phones, and aircraft parts.  

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

US Troops in Niger: To Stay or Not to Stay?

 The Hill published on 2 April 2024 a commentary titled "The United States Needs to Get Troops Out of Niger" by William Walldorf, Wake Forest University.

The Niger military government asked the United States to remove its troops from the country while Washington negotiates with the regime to keep a contingent in place.  The author suggests this is a bad idea and makes the arguments for pulling all the troops out as requested by Niger.

Comment:  The author makes a strong case, but it would be helpful to see the arguments on the other side of this issue.

PLA Navy Ships Call at Maputo, Mozambique

 Defence Web posted on 2 April 2024 an article titled "Chinese Naval Task Force Visiting Mozambique" by Guy Martin.

The PLA Navy's 45th 3-ship anti-piracy naval task force that recently completed its rotation in the Gulf of Aden made a 5-day visit to Dar es Salaam and then continued to Maputo, Mozambique for another 5-day visit.  

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Sudan: Warring Factions Target Civil Society

 Aljazeera published on 1 April 2024 an article titled "Are Sudan's Civil Society Activists Being Targeted by Both Warring Sides?" by Mat Nashed.

There are recent reports that both the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) are targeting and sometimes arresting civil society activists who operate soup kitchens for the poor and provide other help in their "emergency response rooms."  The goal of the RSF and the SAF apparently is to maintain control over all elements of civil society.

Podcast on China and US Engagement in Africa

 The US-Asia Institute hosted a one-hour long podcast on 28 March 2024 titled "Exploring China-Africa Cooperation Through the Lens of the 2035 Vision" with Ding Fei, Cornell University, Lina Benabdallah, Wake Forest University, and me.

This wide-ranging discussion dealt with issues such as critical minerals, the Belt and Road Initiative, trade, loans, debt, infrastructure, human rights, foreign direct investment, security, and African agency.  There was also a review of the background and future prospects for US-China competition and cooperation in Africa.