Monday, June 21, 2021

Illegal Chinese Mining and Logging in Sierra Leone

 The Sierra Leone Telegraph published on 20 June 2021 an investigative report titled "Massive Illegal Chinese Goldmining Uncovered in Eastern Sierra Leone" by James Fallah-Williams.

The report uncovered massive, industrial-scale illegal Chinese gold mines and illegal logging in Sierra Leone.  

Stakes Are High in Ethiopia's Election

 The Conversation published on 17 June 2021 a commentary titled "Ethiopia's Election: The Stakes Are High Amid Fear, Mistrust and Violence" by Mohammed Girma, University of Roehampton.  

The author identified the following weakness in Ethiopian politics:  "The typical tactic for winning has been eliminating the competitor.  Dialogue and compromises remain alien concepts."  

Ethiopia's Parliamentary Election

 The National Interest published on 20 June 2021 a statement titled "Ethiopia's Elections: A New Life for an Old Hope" by Birtukan Midekssa, Chair of the National Elections Board of Ethiopia.

The author acknowledges that Ethiopia's parliamentary election on 21 June is beset with serious challenges but says it still offers the best hope for Ethiopian democracy.  

Ethiopia: New York Times and Washington Post Articles on Election Eve

 The New York Times published on 21 June 2021 an article titled "From Nobel Hero to Driver of War, Ethiopia's Leader Faces Voters" by Declan Walsh.  

The Washington Post published on 20 June 2021 an article titled "Ethiopia's Historic Election Overshadowed by a Cascade of Crises and Conflict" by Max Bearak.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Ethiopian Statement on Way Forward in US-Ethiopia Relations

 The Ethiopian Press Agency published on 19 June 2021 a statement titled "The Way Forward to Ethiopia-U.S. Relations: Collaboration or Confrontation?" by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Demeke Mekonnen.

The statement concludes that "what Ethiopia needs from its traditional partners such as the U.S.A. is enhanced, expanded and robust financial, technical, diplomatic, and political supports." 

Comment:  While there is no argument on either side of the ocean that this is what Ethiopia needs from its partners, what is missing from the otherwise constructive statement is a stronger commitment to end the humanitarian emergency in Tigray Region and for the immediate departure of Eritrean troops from Ethiopian soil.  If the United States is expected to expand "financial, technical, diplomatic and political" support, Ethiopia should not be offended when the Biden administration makes what it believes to be reasonable requests.  

Friday, June 18, 2021

Situation in Ethiopia's Benishangul-Gumuz Region

 Ethiopia Insight posted on 18 June 2021 a commentary titled the "The Spiraling Situation in Ethiopia's Benishangul-Gumuz Region" by Tsegaye Birhanu, Linnaeus University in Sweden.

The author argues that people in Benishangul-Gumuz Region, which borders Sudan and is the location of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, are not receiving the humanitarian support they need and the attention they deserve.  Ethnic violence is common and over 100,000 people, mainly Amhara and Agaw, have been displaced.  Major roads are closed and food shortages are serious.

Arab Street in North Africa and ME View China and Russia

 The Atlantic Council published on 15 June 2021 an analysis titled "What Does the Arab Street Think of China and Russia? The Answers May Surprise You" by Li-Chen Sim, Khalifa University  in UAE and Lucille Greer, Wilson Center in Washington.  

The article looks at recent public opinion surveys that include Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, and Tunisia.  China generally scores more favorably than Russia.  

Why Ethiopia's 2021 Elections Matter

 The US Institute of Peace published on 17 June 2021 an analysis titled "Why Ethiopia's 2021 Elections Matter" by Aly Verjee and Terence Lyons.

There are serious questions whether the 21 June elections in Ethiopia will advance democratization or lead to further political polarization.  At least 76 of the 547 constituencies will not be voting.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Video Program on Tigray Conflict and Impact on the Region

 Network 2020, an organization that bridges the gap between the private sector and foreign policy worlds, posted on 17 June 2021 a one hour video broadcast titled "Ethiopia and Tigray: Why the Conflict Matters for the Horn of Africa."

Joanna Gwozdziowski moderated the conversation with Alex de Waal, Tufts University, and myself.  The discussion covered the crisis in Tigray, Ethiopian elections, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, the Ethiopia-Sudan border conflict, the role of Eritrea, UN peacekeeping operations in Sudan, and regional security issues.  

Ethiopia's Upcoming Election

 The International Crisis Group (ICG) published on 17 June 2021 a Q and A titled "Ethiopia Votes, But Balloting Will Not Ease the Country's Deep Crisis" with William Davison, ICG senior analyst for Ethiopia.  

This is a wide ranging discussion of Ethiopia's parliamentary elections scheduled for most parts of the country on 21 June.  

Sexual Violence and the War in Tigray

 Lawfare published on 16 June 2021 a study titled "Sexual Violence and the War in Tigray" by Hilary Matfess, University of Denver.

This piece takes an academic approach to the issue of rape and sexual violence in Ethiopia's Tigray Region by Eritrean Defense Forces, Ethiopian National Defense Forces, and Amhara militia.  

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Podcast on Ethiopia's 21 June Election

 The International Crisis Group (ICG) posted on 16 June 2021 a 34-minute podcast titled "Ethiopia's Rocky Transitional Election" with William Davison, ICG's senior analyst for Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is holding parliamentary elections on 21 June.  Violent flare-ups in parts of the country, a poll boycott by some opposition political parties, and postponed votes in several locations cast a shadow over the election.  

Ethiopia Rejects Arab League Call for UN Security Council Meeting on Dam

 Reuters published on 15 June 2021 an article titled "Arab States Call on U.N. Security Council to Meet over Ethiopian Dam."

An Arab League meeting in Qatar on 15 June passed a resolution calling on Ethiopia to negotiate "in good faith" with Egypt and Sudan and asked the UN Security Council to take up the issue of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Aljazeera published on 16 June 2021 an article titled "Ethiopia Rejects Arab League Resolution on Renaissance Dam."

Ethiopia responded that the GERD is an African issue that can only be resolved in the spirit of finding African solutions to African problems.  

Washington Post Argues Starvation is Weapon of War in Ethiopia's Tigray Region

 The editorial board of The Washington Post published on 15 June 2021 an opinion piece titled "Starvation Has Become a Weapon of War in Ethiopia.  U.S. Action Is Urgent."

The editorial board of The Washington Post has concluded that the government of Ethiopia is using starvation in Tigray Region as a weapon of war and calling on the Biden administration to take additional actions if those responsible do not reverse course.  

Chinese "Private" Security Companies Expand in Africa

 The Africa Center for Strategic Studies published on 15 June 2021 an analysis titled "Chinese Security Firms Spread along the African Belt and Road" by Paul Nantulya.

China is increasingly relying on so-called private Chinese security firms to protect its interests in Africa.  But Chinese security firms are not private.  At least 51 percent of their capital must be state-owned.  They are controlled by the state and serve its interests.  

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Is Landlocked Ethiopia Planning to Build Naval Bases in the Red Sea?

 Al-Monitor published on 9 June 2021 an article titled "Ethiopia's Plan to Build Red Sea Military Bases Fuels Tension with Egypt" by Ahmed Gomaa.

Ethiopian spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dina Mufti, said on 2 June 2021 that landlocked Ethiopia is determined to build military bases in the Red Sea. 

If this is the intention of Ethiopia, it is not clear where the bases would be built.  Possibly Ethiopia's current alliance with Eritrea would provide an opportunity.  Djibouti is another possibility.  The bigger question is what is the point. 

Ethiopia, Refugees, and Economic Inclusion

 Refugees International published in June 2021 a report titled "From Displacement to Development: How Ethiopia Can Create Shared Growth by Facilitating Economic Inclusion for Refugees" by Jimmy Graham and Sarah Miller.  

Ethiopia is home to about 800,000 refugees, mostly from South Sudan, Somalia, and Eritrea.  The conflict in Tigray Region has complicated the refugee situation.  The report argues that the Ethiopian government must seek long-term solutions to hosting refugees, moving away from its long-standing system that restricts most refugees to camps with limited economic activity and toward a system that allows for greater refugee economic inclusion.

Monday, June 14, 2021

US State Department Statement on Ethiopian Elections

 The U.S. State Department issued a statement on 11 June 2021 titled "Elections in Ethiopia."

While the United States is "gravely concerned about the environment" under which the 21 June elections are taking place, it argues the period following the elections will be critical for Ethiopia to come together to confront ethnic divisions.  The US stands ready to help Ethiopia address these challenges and find a path to a brighter future.  It stands with all Ethiopians working toward a peaceful, democratic, and secure future for the country.  

Sunday, June 13, 2021

G-7 Statement on Ethiopia's Tigray Region; Ethiopia Tries to Pre-empt Statement

 The G-7 Summit Communique issued on 13 June 2021 contains a paragraph (no. 54) that deals with Tigray Region of Ethiopia.  It condemns ongoing atrocities, including sexual violence, calls for an immediate cease fire, unimpeded humanitarian access, and the immediate withdrawal of Eritrean forces. 

Politico posted on 12 June 2021 an article titled "Ethiopia Tires to Pre-empt G7 Criticism over Tigray" by David M. Herszenhorn.

Ethiopia's deputy prime minister tried to pre-empt the G-7 statement before it was agreed upon by demanding that the G-7 "desist from these unhelpful activities."  He added "what the country needs at this critical moment is the support of friends and partners."

Friday, June 11, 2021

Ethiopia: Elections Postponed in Somali Region

 Ethiopia Insight posted on 11 June 2021 a commentary titled "New Faces, Old Problems: Reforms, Clans and Parties in Ethiopia's Somali Region" by Abdirahman Ahmed, Jigjiga University.  

The author discusses party, personality and clan dynamics in Somali Region in the runup to Ethiopia's parliamentary elections scheduled for later this month.  

The day before this commentary appeared, Ethiopia announced that elections in Somali Region will be postponed until September, citing irregularities and problems with the printing of ballots.

Children at Risk of Death in Ethiopia's Tigray Region

 The BBC posted on 11 June 2021 an article titled "Ethiopia Conflict: 33,000 Tigray Children Risk Death from Hunger - UN."

UNICEF has warned that 33,000 severely malnourished children in Tigray Region are at high risk of death.  The UN report puts most of Tigray Region in phase 4 (emergency) status.  Parts of Afar Region and Amhara Region are in phase 3 (crisis) status.  

Highlighting Democracy in Somaliland

 The Royal United Services Institute published on 4 June 2021 a report titled "Spotlighting an African Rarity: A Poor but Democratic Nation" by Greg Mills, John Githongo, John Steenhuisen, Abbasali Haji, Chipokota Mwanawasa, and Tendai Biti.

The report concludes that Somaliland's progress should shame those much richer African countries where political incumbents are rolling back democracy because it threatens their power and financial privilege.  

China's Belt and Road Initiative and Closure of Suez Canal

 China Brief published on 7 June 2021 an analysis titled "Suez Closure Brightens the Future of China's New Silk Road" by John Daly.

The author explains how the six-day closure of the Suez Canal last March underscores the importance of China's rail transport program across Central Asia as a replacement should the Suez experience future closures.   

Thursday, June 10, 2021

American and Chinese Companies Collaborate on Upstream Oil Project in Uganda

 Upstream posted on 9 June 2021 an article titled "US-Sino Pairing Scoops $2bn Contract to Build Major Oil Facilities in Uganda" by Iain Esau.

A consortium of US-based McDermott International and China's Sinopec International Petroleum Service Corporation have secured a conditional letter of award for a $1.9 billion contract to build the upstream facilities for TotalEnergies oil facilities on the shores of Lake Albert in Uganda.  

In the current Sino-American political environment, this is a rare and significant case of business cooperation in Africa by American and Chinese companies.

Ethiopia: UN Says There Is Now Famine in Tigray Region

 Reuters published on 10 June 2021 an article titled "About 350,000 People in Ethiopia's Tigray in Famine - U.N. Analysis" by Michelle Nichols and Giulia Paravicini.  

United Nations agencies report that more than 350,000 people in Ethiopia's Tigray Region are suffering famine conditions with millions more at risk.  The number of people living in famine conditions is higher than anywhere in the world.  Most of the 5.5 million Tigrayans now need food aid.