Friday, September 17, 2021

Chinese Media Influence in West Africa

 The Council on Foreign Relations blog posted on 14 September 2021 a paper titled "What is the Influence of Chinse Media in West Africa?" by Emeka Umejei, University of Ghana.

The study provides an audience analysis of Chinese media sources on the basis of interviews with journalists and policy makers in Ghana and Nigeria.

Somali Crisis Poses Problem for US

 The Council on Foreign Relations blog posted on 15 September 2021 a commentary titled "Somalia's Ongoing Political Crisis Exposes Fundamental Problem for U.S. Policy" by Michelle Gavin.  

Somalia's fragile government is again on the brink, consumed by the president and prime minister's tussle for the control of the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA).

New Crisis in Somalia

 Aljazeera published on 16 September 2021 an article titled "Somalia Crisis Deepens as President Withdraws PM's Powers."

Somalia's president has suspended the prime minister's power to hire and fire officials, plunging Somalia into a new crisis.  

U.S. Government Fact Sheet on Crisis in Ethiopia

 The White House published on 17 September 2021 a "FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration Actions in Response to Ongoing Crisis in Northern Ethiopia."

This document summarizes recent actions taken by the Biden administration to support development in Ethiopia and mitigate the effects of the humanitarian crisis.  

President Biden's Statement on Conflict in Ethiopia

 The White House published on 17 September 2021 a "Statement by President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. on the Executive Order Regarding the Crisis in Ethiopia."

President Biden said we fully agree with United Nations and African Union leaders that there is no military solution to the crisis in Ethiopia.  He pledged the U.S. will continue to press for a negotiated ceasefire.

The Executive Order he signed today establishes a new sanctions regime that will allow the U.S. to target those responsible for, or complicit in, prolonging the conflict in Ethiopia, obstructing humanitarian access, or preventing a ceasefire.  It provides the Department of the Treasury with the necessary authority to hold accountable those in the government of Ethiopia, government of Eritrea, the Tigray People's Liberation Front, and Amhara regional government, among others, that continue to pursue conflict over negotiations to the detriment of the Ethiopian people.

President Biden emphasized that these sanctions are not directed at the people of Ethiopia or Eritrea, but rather the individuals and entities perpetrating the violence and driving a humanitarian disaster.  

US Declares Ethiopia Crisis Threat to US and Lays Groundwork for Extensive Sanctions

 The White House issued on 17 September 2021 an executive order "On Imposing Sanctions on Certain Persons With Respect to the Humanitarian and Human Rights Crisis in Ethiopia."

President Joseph Biden determined that the situation in Ethiopia constitutes an extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States and declared a "national emergency" to deal with the threat.

The comprehensive executive order gives the Secretary of the Treasury authority to impose sanctions on any foreign person engaged in activities that contribute to the crisis in northern Ethiopia.  The order cites the government of Ethiopia, the government of Eritrea or its ruling People's Front for Democracy and Justice, the Tigray People's Liberation Front, the Amhara regional government, and the Amhara regional or irregular forces.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Attacks on Eritrean Refugees in Tigray Region

 Human Rights Watch published on 16 September 2021 a report titled "Ethiopia: Eritrean Refugees Targeted in Tigray."

The detailed account by Human Rights Watch indicates that the Eritrean government and Tigrayan militia forces have committed killings, rape, and other grave abuses against Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia's Tigray Region.  Eritrean forces also targeted Tigrayans living in communities surrounding the Eritrean refugee camps.  

UN Security Council Urges Action on Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

 The Associated Press published on 15 September 2021 an article titled "UN Encourages New Negotiations in Dispute over Ethiopian Dam" by Edith M. Lederer.

All 15 members of the UN Security Council urged Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan to resume at the initiative of the African Union negotiations aimed at finalizing the text of an acceptable and binding agreement on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

China's Risk Assessment in Post-coup Guinea

 The China-Africa Project posted on 15 September 2021 an article titled "Assessing the New Risks for Chinese Companies, Projects and Personnel in Post-coup Guinea" by Eric Olander.

The city of Shanghai's department of commerce recently posted a fascinating six-point analysis (in Chinese) of the risks confronting Chinese companies operating in Guinea following the recent overthrow of President Alpha Conde by a military junta.  

The city identified the following six risks:

--The new military government may face international sanctions that could have a direct impact on Chinese investments in Guinea.

--The new regime could pressure Chinese mining companies in Guinea to pay more regardless of any existing contracts.

--The coup could exacerbate ethnic and religious tensions, which may provoke conflict.

--Ongoing instability is leading to higher aluminum prices, which will impact downstream sales.

--The coup and its aftermath may adversely impact companies' solvency and their ability to abide by existing contracts.  

--For companies that engage in commodities futures trading, problems may arise due to market volatility brought on by the coup, which could lead to misjudgments and poor trading strategies.

Russian Mercenaries Headed to Mali?

 Reuters published on 13 September 2021 an article titled "Deal Allowing Russian Mercenaries into Mali Is Close - Sources" by John Irish and David Lewis.  

A deal is close that would permit Russian mercenaries known as the Wagner Group to operate in Mali.  They would train Malian military and provide protection for senior officers.  France opposes the deal.  

An African Agenda for China

 Development Reimagined, an African-led consultancy based in China, published recently a major report titled "From China-Africa to Africa-China: A Blueprint for a Green and Inclusive Continent-wide African Strategy towards China."

The report, intended primarily for African leaders, suggests a comprehensive  blueprint (28 recommendations) for a continent-wide strategy for Africa in its interaction with China.  The focus is on the economic development relationship and movement of people between Africa and China.  

Ethiopia's Tigray Conflict: Role of AU and China

 War on the Rocks published on 13 September 2021 a commentary titled "What Tigray Portends: The Future of Peace and Security in Africa" by Sam Wilkins, U.S. Army Special Forces Officer.

The author argues that the deadly convergence of the ineptitude of the African Union and the increasing centrality of China's power in Ethiopia's conflict points towards a dangerous new era for Africa.  

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Ethiopia: Human Rights Violations by All Sides

 UN News published on 13 September 2021 an article titled "Multiple Reports of Alleged Human Rights Violations in Tigray."

UN human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, deplored "multiple and severe reports of alleged gross violations of human rights, humanitarian and refugee law" committed by all parties to the conflict in Tigray.

Somali Shenanigans

 The International Crisis Group (ICG) published on 14 September 2021 a statement titled "Somalia's Politicians Play with Fire - Again."

Tension between Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble and President Mohamed Abdullahi "Farmajo" have burst into the open, triggering another clash between rival branches of the federal forces.  They follow the unexplained murder of a national intelligence agent and Roble's subsequent suspension of the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) chief.  The murdered NISA officer was apparently poised to blow the whistle on the training of Somali troops in Eritrea, most of whom have not returned to Somalia. There is speculation they were sent to the front lines in Ethiopia's war in Tigray Region.  

Monday, September 13, 2021

China and Africa's Digital Authoritarianism

 The London School of Economics blog posted on 9 September 2021 a commentary titled "Don't Blame China for the Rise of Digital Authoritarianism in Africa" by Mandira Bagwandeen, University of Cape Town.  

The author argues that by blaming digital authoritarianism in Africa on China alone, and overlooking the roles of other offenders, risks oversimplifying a complex environment.  

Russia Is Building Military Influence in Africa

 CNBC published on 13 September 2021 an article titled "Russia Is Building Its Military Influence in Africa, Challenging U.S. and French Dominance" by Elliott Smith.

Russia is trying to expand its presence in Africa.  The second Russia-Africa summit is scheduled for 2022.  It recently signed security cooperation agreements with Nigeria and Ethiopia.  

Saturday, September 11, 2021

US State Department Condemns Attacks on Civilians in Ethiopia

 The US Department of State issued a statement on 10 September 2021 titled "Ongoing Conflict and Human Rights Abuses in Northern Ethiopia." 

The State Department condemned in the strongest possible terms recent reports of continued human rights abuse and atrocities in Ethiopia by the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, the Eritrean Defense Forces, Amhara regional and irregular forces, the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF), and other armed groups.  It added there is no military solution to the conflict in northern Ethiopia and urged the Ethiopian government and TPLF to enter at once into negotiations without preconditions.  

Friday, September 10, 2021

China, Africa and COVID-19

 ACCORD published on 8 September 2021 an analysis titled "China's Role in COVID-19 in Africa: Tuanjie (Solidarity) or Zhanlue (Strategy)" by Paul Nantulya, Africa Centre for Strategic Studies.

The author reviews China's support for Africa's battle against COVID-19 and argues it is based on both solidarity with Africa and an expectation of receiving something in return.  

Military/Civilian Lines Blur in Ethiopian Fighting

 The Associated Press published on 10 September 2021 an article titled "At Scene of Ethiopia's New Killings, Some Fight, Some Flee."

As Tigrayan forces move into Amhara Region, civilian and military casualties are becoming increasingly blurred.  The Ethiopian government called on all citizens to stop the Tigrayan advance.  Some took up the call for action.  Amhara claim the Tigrayans are killing civilians.  Tigrayans say Amhara civilians took up arms to stop them.  At this point in the conflict, it would appear that atrocities are occurring on all sides of the conflict.   

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Ethiopian Government Accuses Tigrayan Forces of Atrocity in Amhara Region

 The World published on 10 September 2021 an article titled "Ethiopia Officials Accuse Tigray Rebels of Massacre as Conflict Expands" by Halima Gikandi.  

Ethiopian officials have accused Tigrayan forces of killing more than 120 Amhara civilians in Amhara Region as the civil war expands.  The TPLF described the charges as a "fabricated allegation."  

Chinese Financing Falls in Africa

 Global Trade Review published on 8 September 2021 an article titled "Chinese Contractors in Africa Turn to Europe for Financing" by Jacob Atkins.

As major Chinese financing institutions such as the China Export Import Bank and China Export and Credit Insurance Corporation (Sinosure) hit exposure limits in heavily indebted African countries, Chinese contractors in Africa have begun seeking financing from European banks and export credit agencies.  

Russia-Guinea Relations in Aftermath of Coup

 The Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) published on 7 September 2021 an analysis titled "Guinea: Coup d'Etat or Coup de Grace?" by Nikita Panin, RIAC staff member.  

Since independence in 1958, Guinea has had a close relationship with the former Soviet Union and subsequently with Russia.  Russia recently signed a military cooperation agreement with Guinea while Russian companies have significant investments in the development of Guinea's bauxite mines.  The author believes that "nothing will fundamentally change for Russian businesses in Guinea" although it is not clear how much public support there is for the coup.  

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Does Coup in Guinea Signal Change in China's Noninterference Policy?

 Foreign Policy published on 8 September 2021 a commentary titled "China Is OK with Interfering in Guinea's Internal Affairs" by Charles Dunst, Eurasia Group.

In response to Guinea's military coup that overthrew President Alpha Conde, China responded that it "opposes coup attempts to seize power and calls for the immediate release of President Conde."  The author argues that because of China's major economic investment in Guinea, it chose to engage in the internal affairs of the country contrary to its stated policy of non-interference.  

Africa Is the New Epicenter of Global Jihadi Terror

 The CTC Sentinel published in September 2021 an article titled "Twenty Years after 9/11: The Threat in Africa--The New Epicenter of Global Jihadi Terror" by Tricia Bacon, American University, and Jason Warner, West Point.  

The authors point out that Africa has become the global epicenter of jihadi violence.  The persistence of al-Qaeda affiliates, the rise of Islamic State partners, the endurance of facilitating domestic African social conditions, and ineffective counterterrorism efforts have led to this alarming outcome.  A US commitment to countering jihadi violence will improve its position in Africa vis-a-vis China and Russia.  

Will Coup in Guinea Impact Aluminum Production in China?

 Nikkei Asia published on 8 September 2021 an article titled "Guinea Coup Upends China Strategy as Aluminum Prices Soar" by Takeshi Kumon and Iori Kawate. 

China, the leading aluminum producer globally and the biggest consumer of bauxite, obtains much of its bauxite from Guinea, the world's leading supplier.  The question is whether the recent military coup in Guinea will upend the bauxite market.  So far, the impact has been minimal.