• African security

    An attack Tuesday on a military base in west Niger left 71 dead and a score missing, according to a statement from the Niger Ministry of Defense. Jihadists have increased the frequency, scope, and boldness of their deadly attacks in the Sahel, particularly in Mali, Niger, and Burkina, despite the increased presence of French troops, now numbered around 4,500, who take part in the Barkhane operation, and the presence of more than 14,000 UN peacekeepers in the area.

  • Energy & health

    With economies and populations surging, an industrial revolution is inevitable on the African continent. The question is, what’s going to power it? With renewable energy cheaper and more efficient than ever, countries in Africa have the unique opportunity to harness abundant renewable sources like wind, solar and geothermal to leapfrog the dependence on fossil fuels that has poisoned the air and environment in Europe, the U.S., India and China. But will they?

  • Perspective

    Russia has been testing new disinformation tactics in an enormous Facebook campaign in parts of Africa, as part of an evolution of its manipulation techniques ahead of the 2020 American presidential election. Unlike past influence campaigns from Russia, the Africa campaign targeted several countries through Arabic-language posts. Russians also worked with locals in the African countries to set up Facebook accounts that were disguised as authentic to avoid detection. The effort was at times larger in volume than what the Russians deployed in the United States in 2016 to help Donald Trump win the presidential election. The campaign underlined how Russia is continuing to aggressively try different disinformation techniques, even as it has come under scrutiny for its online interference methods.

  • African security

    Tension is rising between Egypt and Ethiopia over the huge Ethiopian dam project on the Nile. Egypt is worried that the construction of the Renaissance Dam, a $4 billion dollars project launched by Ethiopia in 2012 and scheduled to start operations in 2022, will substantially reduce water flow in the Nile. Egypt depends on the Nile for about 90 percent of its water supply. Egypt insists on a guarantee from Ethiopia that Egypt would receive a minimum of 40 billion cubic meters of water annually, but Ethiopia argues that this would give Egypt an unreasonably large share of the Nile’s water.

  • Perspective: Into Africa

    Russia is preparing to launch its first Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi on Oct. 24. The Russia-Africa Summit is the latest in a series of maneuvers by the Kremlin to present an image of a resurgent Russia in Africa. Judd Devermont writes that Russia’s return, even while at times ham-fisted and amateurish, does pose a threat to U.S. interests. The United States should resist the temptation to elevate Russia’s standing in Africa: It should focus on countering Moscow’s expansion and closing down its malign activities in Africa, instead of wasting time and energy framing Russia’s return as part of ‘great power competition.’”

  • Perspective: Conspiracy Theory

    Despite how predictable (and tiresome) it has become, the Maduro government’s repetitive use of elaborate plots and attributing Machiavelian-styled traits to its adversaries doesn’t come out of pure laziness; conspiracy theories have not just found their way into our political discussion for quite some time now, they’ve won acceptance.

  • Hemispheric security

    A UN report published Thursday has detailed the extrajudicial executions of thousands of young men by the special forces of the government of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela. The report offers evidence that that the Venezuelan government’s death squads are carrying out Maduro’s broad strategy for neutralizing the opposition to his regime and eliminating political opponents.

  • Terrorism

    The United States last week removed Eritrea from a list of countries uncooperative in the fight against terrorism. Until Wednesday, Eritrea was the only African country on the list, and it found itself alongside such pariah nations as Syria, North Korea and Iran.

  • Perspective

    Turkey features regularly in new debates about foreign influence in the Horn of Africa region, as does speculation about its motives. While Ankara fashions itself a benevolent power driven by an “enterprising and humanitarian” foreign policy, Gulf rivals say President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s moves in the Horn reflect a dangerous quest for a “neo-Ottoman” revival. Does Ankara have grand designs on the region, or have its ambitions been overstated? Zach Vertin writes in Lawfare that in confronting this question, three vantage points are helpful: a close look at its recent activity in Horn states, a medium-range focus on regional competition with Gulf rivals, and a wide-angle assessment of Turkish foreign policy making at a time of extraordinary domestic change.

  • African security

    The United States and its allies are not winning the counterterrorism war for the Sahel, the head of U.S. special operations forces in Africa said. The U.N. said last week that more than 100,000 people in Burkino Faso have been displaced by violence, and the country’s education minister has said more than 150,000 children are not going to school because of the jihadist threat.

  • African security

    The United States has sought to combat security threats in Africa – whether terrorism or, in a previous era, communism – principally by providing security sector assistance (SSA) to partner governments on the continent. Two new studies suggest that U.S.-provided SSA in Africa has largely failed to achieve its goals.

  • African security

    Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province is being held to ransom by an Islamist guerrilla movement. After months of skirmishes between police and members of the Al Sunnah wa Jama’ah, the region has now erupted into full violence. How did it reach this point? Several factors – social, economic and political – have allowed an Islamist insurgency to develop in the north of Mozambique. Most are local issues rather than the outcome of an international, cross-border conspiracy.

  • African security

    The attack on the U.S. troops in Niger last October, which left four American troops dead and two wounded, was a surprise to the American public because the presence of the U.S. forces in Africa was mostly off the media. The Niger operation is one of the several U.S. military missions ongoing in about twenty African countries, mostly in the northern half of the continent. Most of these missions have one goal: “rolling back Islamist extremism.”

  • North Korea’s nukes

    Just days after North Korea announced it was suspending its testing program, scientists revealed that the country’s underground nuclear test site had partially collapsed. The collapse may have played a role in North Korea’s change in policy. If correct, and with the hindsight of this research, we might have speculated that the North Koreans would want to make such an offer of peace. This shows how scientific analysis normally reserved for studying natural earthquakes can be a powerful tool in deciphering political decisions and predicting future policy across the globe.

  • African security

    After the Arab Spring, North African countries experienced growing instability, and jihadist groups capitalized on both social unrest and local conflicts. As these groups strengthened, jihadists expanded their operations into the Sahel, and were able to propagate their transnational ideology to new audiences. The threat that jihadist groups in Africa pose to Western interests has grown over the past decade, as groups operating in North Africa, the Sahel, West Africa, and the Horn of Africa have honed their capabilities. Different terrorist organizations in these areas launched 358 attacks against Western targets and interests between January 2012 and October 2017.

  • The Africa watch

    · The female Quran experts fighting radical Islam in Morocco

    · Egypt hits Sinai targets, killing 16 and arresting dozens

    · African migration to Europe is not a crisis. It’s an opportunity.

    · The G5 Sahel Joint Force gains traction

    · Observers call for deeper diplomatic engagement in the Sahel

    · Tunisia rejects proposal for NATO presence: Official

    · “Tunisia is finished”: Smugglers profit as downturn drives European exodus

    · Funding Al-Shabaab: How aid money ends up in terror group’s hands

    · U.S. and Egypt pledge allegiance in IS fight raging in Sinai

    · Cameroon imposes curfew in restive English-speaking regions

    · Zimbabwe won’t return land to white farmers: Mnangagwa

    · How Djibouti became China’s gateway to Africa

    · Qaddafi ties halt return to Libya ghost town in peace setback

    · Sudan finalizes joint military program with Russia

  • African security

    Turkey’s engagement with Somalia is striking for its brevity and ostensible success. Turkey has been involved in Somalia since just 2011, yet Ankara can point to a string of reported accomplishments and an arguably outsized presence in an often violent country regularly described as a failed state. Turkey’s presence in Somalia certainly embodies one of the most interesting regional geopolitical developments in the past decade. It also represents one of the most misunderstood and confusing. Why did Turkey choose Somalia? And, after its initial humanitarian intervention in 2011, what internal and external forces have shaped and expanded that involvement? Furthermore, what explains Turkey’s reported triumphs? Turkey’s actions have arguably improved the situation in Somalia over the past six years. This is because Ankara has actually attempted to assuage rather than solve Somalia’s long-standing problems outright. Investment is largely driven by profits and assistance is targeted, coordinated and based on needs. These interventions rarely come with the types of strings attached that characterize other efforts seeking to restructure Somalia. This has been welcomed by many Somalis for whom requirements for political reform or the creation of accountability mechanisms ring hollow.

  • Epidemics

    Viruses have been moving between organisms for millions of years. And not always in a way that causes harm: Animals and humans alike host millions of different microorganisms, many of which are beneficial. For those that do harm humans, the first step is to come in contact with us. And that’s becoming more and more likely as we invade pristine forests in search of food, building materials, space for commercial developments or land upon which we can create new grassland for our livestock — or catch critters for bushmeat, pets or the “wildlife selfie” trade. Two ambitious projects aim to understand when and how the next human disease will emerge from wildlife, and what we can do to minimize harm when it does.

  • Climate change & migration

    New research predicts that migrants applying for asylum in the European Union will nearly triple over the average of the last fifteen years by 2100 if carbon emissions continue on their current path. The study suggests that cutting emissions could partially stem the tide, but even under an optimistic scenario, Europe could see asylum applications rise by at least a quarter.

  • African security

    Boko Haram militants have killed more than 20,000 people and displaced more than two million others in north east Nigeria since 2009. The militants left government and its security forces looking powerless and people in the region helpless. No place was safe. Rather than flee, join the insurgents, or risk being killed, some chose a fourth option – self- defense. People began to organize into emergency community vanguards to defend themselves. The involvement of vigilantes in counter-insurgency operations in Nigeria has been a subject of contentious debate. It’s apparent that they have contributed to improving security for some communities. But there are also concerns that in the long run they could pose a threat given their heavy-handed approach. Examples include extra-judicial killings, violation of human rights, extortion and criminal impunity.