Saturday, July 13, 2024

Niger-Benin Dispute Imperils Chinese Oil Project

 The South China Morning Post published on 13 July 2024 an article titled "As Crises Hit Plagued Niger-Benin Oil Pipeline, It May Be Up to China to End the Deadlock" by Jevans Nyabiage.

A dispute between Niger and Benin is blocking the export of Niger's oil through a port in Benin.  A Chinese company financed, built, and operates the pipeline.  It may be up to China to resolve the dispute so that Niger's oil can reach the world market.

Ethiopia's Leader Meets Sudan's Leader in Port Sudan

The Sudan Tribune published on 9 July 2024 an article titled "Ethiopia's PM Ahmed Visits Sudan, Discusses Peace with Burhan."

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was the first foreign head of government to meet with Sudan Armed Forces leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan in Sudan.  Abiy briefly visited Port Sudan on 9 July where the two leaders discussed the war in Sudan and Ethiopia-Sudan relations.

Friday, July 12, 2024

China-Tunisia Economic Relations in Decline

 Chinamed Data recently posted a series of charts that track China-Tunisia economic relations.  They demonstrate a decline in Chinese investment stock in Tunisia, fewer Chinese contract workers in the country, less contracts awarded to Chinese companies, and declining Tunisian exports to China.  The only category that increased was Chinese exports to Tunisia, which reached $2 billion in 2023 compared with only $250 million dollars of Tunisian exports to China.  

Can the US Take Advantage of China's Economic Challenges in Africa?

 The Hill published on 10 July 2024 a commentary titled "China's Losses in Kenya Are America's Opportunities in Africa" by Gordon G. Chang.

China is Kenya's biggest bilateral creditor, holding $8 billion of its external debt, which has contributed to country-wide protests.  The author argues that this is a time when the United States can improve its position in Africa as China struggles with some of its economic relationships.

Can US Sanctions End the Mayhem in Sudan?

 The Center for Strategic and International Studies published on 11 July 2024 a commentary titled "Washington Is Becoming Irrelevant in Sudan.  A Sanctions Strategy Could Change That" by Cameron Hudson.

It is clear that limited US sanctions aimed at ending the conflict in Sudan have had no effect.  The author proposes more strategic US sanctions might work.

Comment:  It is difficult to envisage what sanctions the US could employ in the current situation in Sudan that would cause the two protagonists to end the fighting.  Personal sanctions on Sudan Armed Forces leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and Rapid Support Forces leader, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, while perhaps a good idea, would not likely have any impact on their future actions. The situation today in Sudan is not comparable to the one that existed in the earlier Darfur genocide era.  Remaining US sanction options, in isolation, just do not offer much leverage.  

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

The Right Way to Counter Russia in Africa

 Foreign Affairs published on 9 July 2024 an article titled "The Right Way for America to Counter Russia in Africa" by Frederic Wehrey and Andrew S. Weiss, both with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Washington should continue helping African states make progress with good governance, economic opportunities, and security for their citizens. In the case of those countries that have opted for Russian security assistance, the best response may be to step back and allow Russia's appeal to fade on its own.  Moscow is often its own worst enemy.   

Ethiopia's Challenged National Dialogue Commission

 Ethiopia Insight published on 9 July 2024 a commentary titled "Ethiopia's Next Steps along a Troubled Road to Democracy" by Nebiyu Daniel Meshesha, former Ethiopian diplomat.

Since the government established the National Dialogue Commission in December 2021, it has done little to bring armed groups and opposition parties that declined to participate into the process.  The author argues it is essential to include all key stakeholders.  If the government moves forward without them, the process cannot achieve a legitimate outcome.

Monday, July 8, 2024

US Sends New Carrier Strike Group to Red Sea

 Stars and Stripes published on 8 July 2024 an article titled "Houthi Threats Continue Amid Imminent Arrival of USS Theodore Roosevelt in Middle East" by Alison Bath.

The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group is arriving in the Red Sea soon to replace the Dwight D. Eisenhower.  It includes 2 destroyers.  The purpose is to neutralize Houthi drone and missile attacks on international shipping.  

Sunday, July 7, 2024

Sudan after 15 Months of Civil War

 Aljazeera published on 7 July 2024 an article titled "What's Sudan Like after 15 Months of War, Displacement, and Inhumanity?"

Approaching its 16th month of war, conflict is spreading to new areas, some IDPs are fleeing to yet different locations and their numbers are growing, refugees continue to increase, and deaths are mounting.  The risk of famine is growing, relief agencies are severely stretched, and peace talks are going nowhere. 

Ethiopia Needs Peace before Transitional Justice

 Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published on 3 July 2024 an analysis titled "Without Peace in Ethiopia, Transitional Justice Will Be Difficult" by Tadesse Simie Metekia, ISS Addis Ababa, Tessema Simachew Belay, Bahir Dar University, and Wubeshet Kumelachew Tiruneh, Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights.

One of the primary goals of Ethiopia's policy is to end the cycle of violence through institutional reform.  The authors argue, however, that without first ending ongoing conflicts and addressing the structural issues that led to the fighting, it might be impossible to guarantee the non-recurrence of violations.

Saturday, July 6, 2024

Houthis Adapt Red Sea Tactics to Counter Allied Attacks

 Seatrade Maritime News published on 3 July 2024 an article titled "Houthi Tactics Take a Dangerous New Turn" by Nick Savvrides.  

Houthis in Yemen may be co-locating weapons, manufacturing and training facilities in the center of civilian populations to deter US and UK air strikes.  The Houthis have developed a robust infrastructure of arms manufacturing within Yemen in an effort to be less reliant on Iran.  They are also making greater use of unmanned surface vessels to attack commercial ships in the Red Sea.

Sudan: The Pot Calling the Kettle Black?

 Aljazeera published on 5 July 2024 an article titled "Sudan's Army Chief Says Many Countries 'Turn a Blind Eye' to RSF Crimes."

In an exclusive interview with Aljazeera, Sudan Armed Forces General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said many countries are ignoring the war crimes committed by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.  He did not identify the silent countries.  

Friday, July 5, 2024

Ukraine Works to Counter Russia in Sudan and Syria

 The Hill published on 2 July 2024 a commentary titled "Ukraine Is Taking the Fight to Russia in Africa, Syria" by David Kirichenko.

The article focuses on Ukrainian intelligence and training support for the government of Sudan to combat Russia's Wagner Group and for rebels in Syria to counter Russian forces supporting the government of Syria.  

Thursday, July 4, 2024

Congolese Militia Kills 6 Chinese Miners and 2 Soldiers in DRC

 The Associated Press published on 4 July 2024 an article titled "A Militia Attack on a Congo Gold Mine Kills 6 Chinese Miners and 2 Congolese Soldiers" by Ruth Alonga.

A Congolese militia group on 3 July killed 6 Chinese miners, 2 Congolese troops, and abducted 2 other miners at a gold mine in the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo.  Competing militias in the region often carry out attacks to obtain valuable natural resources. 

Houthi Red Sea Attacks Turn to Drone Boats

 Reuters published on 3 July 2024 an article titled "Houthi Explosive Drone Boat Attacks Escalate Red Sea Danger" by Jonathan Saul and Renee Maltezou.  

In recent weeks, at least 3 ships in the Red Sea have been attacked by Houthi unmanned surface vehicles (USVs).  In one of the attacks, the USV contributed to the sinking of a bulk cargo carrier.  The USVs are a relatively new asymmetric Houthi tactic to interrupt international shipping in the region.  The USVs strike ships at the waterline and have the potential for considerable damage.  

Video on Current Crisis in Sudan

 Aljazeera posted on 3 July 2024 a 12-minute video titled "What's Happening in Sudan's Civil War?" narrated by Sandra Gothmann.  

The video summarizes the events that led up to Sudan's civil war and then focuses on the current situation there, especially in the western region of Darfur.  The overriding theme is that the world is not paying sufficient attention to ending the war and the growing humanitarian crisis.  

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Is Libya Russia's Gateway to Africa?

 The Middle East Institute posted on 21 June 2024 an analysis titled "Libya Remains the Key for NATO to Counter Russian Malign Activities in Africa" by Jonathan M. Winer, former US special envoy for Libya.  

The author argues that Russia's military engagement in Libya remains crucial to its future success in Africa.  Russia has double downed on its military build-up in Libya.  He is critical of NATO's careful approach to Russian engagement in Libya and, without providing specific policy changes, urges NATO pursue a more robust response.

South Africa Puts Duty on Solar Panels to Equalize Chinese Imports

 Moneyweb posted on 3 July 2024 an article titled "Trade Watchdog Introduces 10% Duty on Imported Solar Panels" by Amanda Visser.  

South Africa imposed a 10 percent general import duty on solar panels to protect the country's only remaining producer from low-priced imports, mostly from China.  The duty is expected to equalize the cost between local and imported solar panels for large commercial projects.  Chinese producers of solar panels have the advantage of export subsidies.  

Russia's Growing Influence in Africa

 South Africa's Institute for Security Studies published on 26 June 2024 an analysis titled "Russia's Growing Influence in Africa Calls for More Balanced Partnerships" by Denys Reva.

Russia's efforts to expand its influence in Africa have fallen short for 3 reasons.  First, its trade volume with Africa and especially its imports from Africa remain minimal.  Second, Ukraine's success in ending Russia's naval blockade in the Black Sea eased export restrictions on grain in 2023.  Third, the 2023 Russia-Africa Summit resulted in most African states opting for non-alignment.  Russia's greatest success in Africa comes from its bilateral security agreements, including training and arms transfers.

Monday, July 1, 2024

The Challenge of Stopping Houthi Attacks on International Shipping

 Foreign Policy published on 1 July 2024 an article titled "Why Can't the U.S. Navy and Its Allies Stop the Houthis?" by Keith Johnson and Jack Detsch.

The allied military response to stop Houthi missile and drone attacks on international shipping in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and beyond has not succeeded.  While the authors don't fully answer the question why the counter measures have not worked, they note that not enough ships are in the region to deal with the attacks.  In addition, it is far more expensive to down a missile or drone than the cost of the projectiles being neutralized.  The high cost of the operation is raising serious concerns.  

What Game Is Russia Playing in Sudan?

 Eurasia Review published on 1 July 2024 a commentary titled "Sudanese Armed Forces Agrees to Russian Red Sea Base in Exchange for Weapons" by the Africa Defense Forum published by US Africa Command.  

The Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) has revived talks with Russia for establishing a logistics and refueling base, "not a fully equipped naval facility," in the Red Sea.  This raises the question if Russia plans to shift its previous support for the Rapid Support Forces to the SAF or tries to play both sides of the conflict.  

Rapid Support Forces Extend Control in Sudan

 Aljazeera published on 30 June 2024 an article titled "Sudan's RSF Claims It Has Captured a Key City in the Southeast."

The paramilitary Rapid Support Forces is expanding its grip over parts of Sudan, reportedly capturing Singa, capital of Sennar State, southeast of Khartoum.  

China Controls More Congo Cobalt

 Reuters published on 27 June 2024 an article titled "China's Norinco Agrees to Buy Struggling Congo Cobalt Miner Chemaf."

Family-owned cobalt miner Chemaf SA has agreed to sell assets in the DRC to Chinese state-owned China North Industries Corp (Norinco).  Chinese state-owned companies are the largest investors in the DRC's cobalt and copper mining sectors.   Chinese companies have been aggressively expanding ownership of African cobalt for its electric vehicle manufacturers.

Sunday, June 30, 2024

Russia's Africa Corps Is Absorbing the Wagner Group

 The New York Times published on 25 June 2024 an article titled "Year After Failed Mutiny, Russia Tightens Grip on Wagner Units in Africa" by Elian Peltier.

The Russian Ministry of Defense has largely taken control of the Wagner Group's mercenary activities in Africa and placed it under the new Africa Corps.  Russia's military intelligence agency, the GRU, oversees Africa Corps operations.  Some Wagner Group operatives remain in the Central African Republic and Mali.  

Saturday, June 29, 2024

Houthis Claim New Attacks in Red Sea and Mediterranean

 Euronews published on 29 June 2024 an article titled "Yemen's Houthi Rebels Target More Ships in the Red Sea and Mediterranean."

Yemen's Houthi rebels claim in the last 24 hours to have hit 4 ships in the Red Sea and eastern Mediterranean.  While there has been no confirmation of actual strikes, the Houthis have increased the number of attempts.  Since the beginning of their attacks, they have targeted over 60 vessels with missiles or drones.  Many of the ships have little or no connection to the Israel-Hamas war.