Monday, September 28, 2020

Ethiopia Charges Opposition Party Leader and Members

 Ethiopia Insight posted on 25 September 2020 an article titled "Ethiopian Prosecutors Charge Jawar with Training Terror Group in Egypt" by Leul Estifanos, freelance court reporter.

Ethiopian federal prosecutors charged opposition Oromo Federalist Congress leader Jawar Mohammed and 23 others with ten crimes including training a terrorist group in Egypt with the intention of toppling the Ethiopian government by force.  The author detailed the charges without commenting on them.  

Kenya Wants to Renegotiate Railroad Debt with China

 Global Construction Review published on 25 September 2020 an article titled "'We Are Not Able to Pay': Kenyan MPs Urge Renegotiation of Chinese Rail Debt" by David Rogers.

The China financed and built standard gauge railway between Mombasa and Nairobi was losing money even before COVID-19.  The pandemic has worsened the financial situation of the railway and members of Kenya's parliament are now asking China to renegotiate the repayment terms.  

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Overcomplicating US-Sudan Relations

 Foreign Policy published on 25 September 2020 an article titled "The White House Wants Peace with Sudan.  Congress Wants Khartoum to Pay" by Cameron Hudson, Atlantic Council.  

The article is a useful update on the state of play between domestic political calculations and current US-Sudan relations.  

What the article fails to explain is that Sudan's removal from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism, where it was rightfully placed in 1993, has no relationship to Sudan's recognition of Israel.  According to the State Department's annual report on terrorism, Sudan has cooperated with the United States for years in efforts to combat terrorism.  Removal from the state sponsors of terrorism list should be dealt with on its merits, not winning domestic political points.  

Not the Time to Pressure Sudan on Relations with Israel

 USIP posted on 24 August 2020 a commentary titled "Normalizing Sudan-Israel Relations Now Is a Dangerous Game" by Payton Knopf and Jeffrey Feltman.  

The authors explain that US efforts to push Sudan to recognize Israel in exchange for removing Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, which has nothing to do with the recognition of Israel, is a mistake.  Sudan is currently too fragile to play this game. 

The authors are correct.  While Sudan's recognition of Israel would eventually be a positive development, this is nothing more than a ploy by the Trump administration to curry favor with the US electorate before the 3 November election.  


Saturday, September 26, 2020

Chinese Long-distance Fishing Base in Mauritania

 Seafood Source posted on 24 September 2020 an article titled "China's Contrasting Policies on Yangtze, Mauritania Reveal Its Global Fisheries Agenda" by Mark Godfrey.

The article discusses China's role in overfishing of African waters with a focus on China's Poly Hong Dong Fishery Co. base in Nouadhibou, Mauritania. 

Friday, September 25, 2020

Up to African Union to Resolve Ethiopia-Egypt Water Conflict

 Foreign Policy posted on 24 September 2020 an article titled "The African Union Needs to Resolve Ethiopia's Dam Dispute" by Ola Owojori. a political risk specialist.

Negotiations to resolve disagreements between Ethiopia and Egypt over water allocation behind the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam involving the US Treasury Department and the World Bank have failed.  It is up the African Union, which has a better understanding of the problem, to propose a solution acceptable to Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan.  

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Challenges of Reporting COVID-19 in Ethiopia

 Ethiopia Insight posted on 24 September 2020 a commentary titled "Behind the Numbers: How the Media Covered COVID-19 in an Information Lockdown" by Yared Tsegaye, Ethiopia Insight reporter in Addis Ababa.

The author discusses the challenges of reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ethiopia when officials are reluctant to provide information beyond daily case counts.  

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The Egyptian-Ethiopian Water War on Social Media

 Foreign Affairs posted on 22 September 2020 an article titled "The Ethiopian-Egyptian Water War Has Begun" by Ayenat Mersie, a journalist based in Nairobi.  

The author reports that many Ethiopians and Egyptians are conducting cyberattacks on behalf of their countries' position on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and Nile water issues.  Hence, water war by social media.  

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Thirty Years of China's Participation in UN Peacekeeping Operations

 China's State Council published in September 2020 a document titled "China's Armed Forces: 30 Years of UN Peacekeeping Operations."

This is a useful summary of China's contributions to UN peacekeeping operations up to the present time.  Seventeen of the twenty-five operations are in Africa.

Ethiopia: Self-determination for More Southwestern States?

 Ethiopia Insight posted on 22 September 2020 a commentary titled "Respecting Self-determination Could Prove Good Governance Model for Ethiopia's Southern Nations" by Kulle Kursha, Hawassa University.

In 2019, the Sidama people voted for autonomy from the Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples' Regional State (SNNPRS) and in 2020 became Sidama National Regional State, Ethiopia's tenth state.  Eleven more ethnic groups in SNNPRS have now requested similar status.  The author argues that reorganizing SNNPRS into multiple regional states would be a positive step irrespective of their small size.

Sudan's Juba Peace Accord Likely to Fail

 War on the Rocks published on 22 September 2020 an analysis titled "A Chance for Peace? The Impact of the Juba Peace Deal on Sudan's Fragile Transition" by Jean-Baptiste Gallopin, independent researcher.  

The author argues that the Juba peace accord on conflict in Darfur, Southern Kordofan, and Blue Nile regions of Sudan will not bring peace because it offers no solution to the intercommunal conflicts that define the new patterns of violence in Sudan's peripheries and is silent on key issues of implementation.

Chinese Company Environmental Impacts on Africa

 The South China Morning Post published on 20 September 2020 an article titled "China Lectures Zimbabwe on Environmental Duty and Transparency after Permits to Mine Park Cancelled" by Jevans Nyabiage.

The article looks more broadly at the environmental impact of mining and logging activities in Africa by Chinese companies.  

Monday, September 21, 2020

China's Evolving Role in Mali

 The China-Africa Research Initiative published in August 2020 a study titled "Development, Security, and China's Evolving Role in Mali" by Lina Benabdallah and Daniel Large.

The study explores the links between development and security in the context of conflict to understand the extent to which China's security approach in Africa is adequately conceptualized, successful, or challenged.  It finds that China's development-for-security approach has pronounced limitations when applied in Mali.

Russia Looking to Benefit from Coup in Mali

 The Foreign Policy Research Institute posted on 16 September 2020 an analysis titled "Why Russia Is a Geopolitical Winner in Mali's Coup" by Samuel Ramani, University of Oxford.

The author suggests that Russia may be the big winner following the recent coup in Mali, threatening France's traditional position and raising questions about China's role there.  

Political Assassinations Dog Ethiopia

 Foreign Policy published on 20 September 2020 an article titled "Political Violence Could Derail Ethiopia's Democratic Transition" by Tom Gardner and Lule Estifanos, both based in Addis Ababa.

The authors cite the on-going assassinations or attempted assassinations in Ethiopia affecting persons of different political persuasion, adding they could prevent a democratic political transition.  

China's New Director of African Affairs Outlines Africa Policy

 Kenya's Capital FM posted on 19 September 2020 remarks by Wu Peng, former Chinese ambassador to Kenya and now director-general of the African Affairs Department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, titled "Wu Peng: China-Africa Ties Destined for Greatness."

Wu Peng emphasized four themes in China-Africa relations: strengthened cooperation in combatting COVID-19, encouraging more Chinese businesses to invest in Africa, promotion of local African production, and cooperation in free trade. 

Friday, September 18, 2020

Primer on China's Lending to Africa

 Pinsent Masons published on 12 August 2020 an article titled "Chinese Financing: Banking with Chinese Lenders" by Kanyi Lui, a partner at Pinsent Masons law firm in Beijing.    

This is a very useful explanation of Chinese loans to Africa, which totaled $148 billion between 2000 and 2018.  China offers three categories of loans:  interest free loans from the Ministry of Commerce (about 5 percent of loans to Africa and the only ones that are forgiven); subsidized concessional loans from the China Export-Import Bank (about one-third of loans to Africa); and commercial rate loans from state-owned banks and other institutions (all of China's remaining loans to Africa).  The author provides typical interest rates and repayment periods.  

China Close to Eliminating Malaria in Comoro Islands

 The China Africa Project posted on 18 September 2020 a report titled "Combatting Malaria in the Comoros Islands: How China Almost Got It Right" by Esther Ejiroghene Ajari, director of The TriHealthon, a youth-led nonprofit promoting health equity in Africa.  

Seven years after beginning a project to eliminate malaria from the three islands comprising the Comoro Islands, Moheli and Anjouan have been declared malaria-free.  The project is ongoing on Grand Comore.  The project is widely regarded as China's most successful health project in Africa.  There has been a controversy over the medication, Artequick, used to eliminate malaria.  Although approved by health agencies in China and the Comoros, it has not yet received certification by the World Health Organization.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Eritrea Continues National Service during Pandemic

 Africa Is a Country just posted a commentary titled "Eritrea's Deteriorating State" by Abraham T. Zere, US-based exiled Eritrean journalist.  

Eritrea is continuing its required National Service and training that concentrates young Eritreans at its military facility at Sawa in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Ethiopia: Making Room for Muslims

 Ethiopia Insight posted on 16 September 2020 a commentary titled "Proclamation Finally Decrees Equality for Ethiopian Muslims" by Endris Mekonnen, University of Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Ethiopia's lower house of parliament approved in June a bill to legally establish the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council. Ethiopia has a large Muslim minority.  The author spells out why this seemingly modest step is significant.  

China Nearing Completion of Third Aircraft Carrier

 The Washington Post published on 16 September 2020 an article titled "China's Third Aircraft Carrier Takes Shape, with Ambitions to Challenge U.S. Naval Dominance" by Gerry Shih.


China is building at its Jiangnan shipyard its third aircraft carrier.  This is the first one equipped with modern technology and will likely be larger than the previous two that were based on outdated Soviet designs.  It is not clear whether the new carrier will have an electromagnetic catapult to efficiently sling fighter jets off its deck.  The new ship could go in the water by the end of this year to be fitted out.

International scholars estimate that China intends to build a fleet of at least six carriers.  The U.S. Navy has eleven nuclear-powered carriers in service and plans to introduce several more.  The new Chinese carrier will probably result in its appearance in the Indian Ocean region.  

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Ethiopia Needs Strong Institutions

 Ethiopia Insight posted on 15 September 2020 a commentary titled "For Prosperity, Ethiopia Needs Institutional Not Individual Strength" by Fikremariam Molla Gedefaw, University of Toronto.

The author argues that now more than ever, Ethiopia needs strong institutions such as parliament, independent judiciary, and the media.  

China and UN Peacekeeping Operations

 Brookings posted on 14 September 2020 an analysis titled "China's Pragmatic Approach to UN Peacekeeping" by Richard Gowan.

China's contribution of troops to UN peacekeeping operations has actually declined since Xi Jinping announced in 2015 that China would make available an additional 8,000 troops.  In terms of top providers of troops to UN peacekeeping operations, China is now number ten after countries like Ethiopia, Bangladesh, and Rwanda.  On the other hand, it has more the double the combined total of personnel assigned to UN missions by the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council.  To some extent, these lower Chinese PKO numbers reflect a global reduction in UN peacekeeping troops.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Weaponizing the Belt and Road Initiative

 The Asia Society Policy Institute Published in September 2020 a study titled "Weaponizing the Belt and Road Initiative" by Daniel R. Russel and Blake H. Berger.  

The study argues that China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is the embodiment of a whole-of-government effort to develop close coordination between military struggle and political, diplomatic, economic, cultural and legal efforts to foster a strategic environment conducive to China's rise.  Whether China can effectively weaponize the BRI by creating a Sino-centric ecosystem of trade, technology, finance, and strategic strongpoints will be a function of Beijing's choices and those made in Washington.  

The South China Morning Post published a story on 11 September 2020 on this report titled "China's Belt and Road Builds Network Its Military Could Use: US Report" by Catherine Wong.  

US-Ethiopia Relations Take a Wrong Turn

 Allafrica.com published on 10 September 2020 a commentary titled "U.S.-Ethiopia Relations Take a Wrong Turn" by Johnnie Carson, former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.

Carson writes that the Trump administration's decision to suspend development assistance to Ethiopia over the filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is misguided and shortsighted.  The decision will undermine Washington's relations in one of Africa's most significant states.  

I previously expressed similar views on this blog.