• Focus: Mali

    A peace conference meeting in Bamako, Mali, this past weekend said the Mali government should begin talks with the leaders of Islamist groups which, in 2012, led north Mali to break away from the rest of the country to create the independent Republic of Azawad and which, more recently, have launched deadly attacks on Malian and French soldiers and UN peacekeepers.

  • Focus: Mali

    Armed groups have carried out a wave of killings in central Mali since January 2017. The killings, by Islamist armed groups, self-defense militias, and, to a lesser extent, government soldiers, have resulted in at least fifty-two deaths, led to the displacement of over 10,000 people, and dramatically elevated ethnic tensions. The Malian authorities are not doing enough to investigate and prosecute all those responsible.

  • Political violence

    While Africa accounted for only 16 percent of the global population in 2016, more than a third of global conflict took place here last year. Conflict data sources show fewer armed conflicts, but political violence in Africa is rising and it is more complex than before. But it is significantly less deadly than in previous decades, according to a number of conflict data sources.

  • AFRICOM

    U.S. Africa Command held its annual Resources and Assessments Workshop in Heidelberg, Germany to discuss fiscal matters and the way ahead. Topics discussed included the future posture of U.S. forces in Africa, current operations, crisis management, West Africa Logistics Network concept, and construction projects.

  • Flintlock 2017

    This year marked the tenth iteration of Exercise Flintlock, which focuses on building partner capacity and enhancing interoperability among twenty-four African and Western partners training in seven partner nations. The threat posed by violent extremist organizations around the world demands proficiency, coordination and enhanced interoperability in order to counter it. While regional security was the main focus of Exercise Flintlock 2017, “the lessons learned and investments in relationships will allow us to share the burdens of managing conflicts and improve our ability to provide security solutions that meet threats at their origin,” AFRICOM said.

  • Moroccan diplomacy

    At a time when the European Union is bemoaning the loss of the United Kingdom, Morocco has rejoined the African Union, ensuring that every African country is again a member. Morocco has also served formal notice that it will apply to join the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). At a time when there’s a growing northern backlash against free trade areas, Morocco has been actively negotiating with more than one of these in Africa. Morocco has been on a massive diplomatic drive, using both its political and economic muscle. Since his coronation in 1999, the king has led over forty visits to African countries south of the Sahara. And 85 percent of Moroccan foreign direct investment is in other African countries.

  • Peace keeping

    About 75 percent of all personnel in multilateral peace operations are now deployed on the African continent. Currently, the global partnership with African actors on peace operations is not sufficiently equitable and balanced. The underlying assumptions of the relationship between African and external actors need to be reconsidered, according to a new report, if peace operations are going to counteract current and future challenges to security (for example, terrorism, criminality and insurgency) and respond to the needs of local citizens and communities.

  • Conflict resolution

    Burundi has experienced cycles of violence, civil war, and even genocide since achieving independence from Belgium in 1962. So, when this small central African country finally held democratic multiparty elections in 2005 following a lengthy peace process, the international community cheered. Here, perhaps, was a nation set to become a model for post-conflict inclusive governance. A model for building peace. Research by an expert in peacebuilding shows, however, how international ideas, practices, and language of conflict resolution are transformed when they meet African “realities and politics on the ground.”

  • LRA

    Joseph Kony, the genocidal leader of the murderous Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), claimed to have been sent by God to liberate the people of Northern Uganda. From the start of their insurgency in 1987, Kony’s LRA claimed as their major objective the establishment of a government based on the Ten Commandments. How do former Lord’s Resistance Army soldiers – men, women, and children who have used the Bible as a weapon of war – learn to reread the scriptures once they return home? This is the puzzle facing researchers from Uganda and Cambridge.

  • Food security

    Climate change will likely have negative impacts on food production in West Africa, with crop yields and grass for livestock grazing likely to decline in the future. A new study provides insights on how strategic planning by decision makers could ease or exacerbate food security challenges in the region.

  • Western Sahara

    U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says he wants to revive negotiations to resolve the Western Sahara conflict, which has seen Morocco and the Polisario Front independence movement go at each other for forty 40 years. In a report to the UN Security Council this week, Guterres proposed relaunching the negotiations “with a new dynamic and a new spirit.” He said the goal should be reaching “a mutually acceptable political solution” that would include “an accord on the nature and form that the exercise of self-determination” would take for the disputed and mineral-rich Western Sahara area. Morocco annexed Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, in 1975 and fought the Polisario Front, which wanted to create an independent state in the territory. The UN negotiated a cease-fire in 1991 and established a peacekeeping mission to monitor it and to help arrange for a referendum on the territory’s future – but the referendum has never taken place.

  • Boko Haram

    Nigeria’s security services said Wednesday that they had prevented a plot by Boko Haram militants to attack the British and U.S. embassies in the capital Abuja. A statement from the Department of State Services said that the security services broke up a cell late last month – a cell which had “perfected plans to attack” the embassies along with “other Western interests” in Nigeria’s capital. The statement said five suspects who had been based in Benue State and the Federal Capital Territory were arrested. The U.S. State Department issued an updated travel warning for Nigeria on 5 April, advising travelers that Boko Haram had targeted government installations and other venues in the Federal Capital Territory and elsewhere.

  • Boko Haram

    UNICEF said on Wednesday that an “alarming” number of children, most of them girls, have been used by Boko Haram as suicide bombers in the first months of 2017. The Islamists have increasingly been using children to attack crowded markets, mosques, and camps for internally displaced people in northeast Nigeria and the broader Lake Chad region. Experts said the number of children used in suicide attacks by Boko Haram surged to twenty-seven in the first quarter of this year, compared to nine over the same period in 2016. Since 2014, 117 children — the “vast majority” of them girls — have been used to carry out attacks in public places across Nigeria, Chad, Niger, and Cameroon, the UN children agency said.

  • Niger

    The university campus of Niger’s capital Niamey was shut down “until further notice” on 10 April in the wake of violent clashes between students and security forces. Twenty students were reported injured in the protests in which security forces fired tear gas. Students demonstrations are now allowed in Niger, but tens of thousands of students took to the streets to demand better living and studying conditions. The Union des scolaires nigériens (Niger Students Union, USN) called on some 23,000 students to join demonstrations both in Niamey and elsewhere in the country. In Niamey, pupils and students quickly occupied roads and blocked traffic near the campus, erecting barricades with tree trunks and rocks and setting fire to tires.

  • Migrants

    West African migrants are being bought and sold openly in modern-day slave markets in Libya, survivors have told a UN agency helping them return home. Trafficked people passing through Libya have previously reported violence, extortion and slave labor. But the new testimony from the International Organization for Migration suggests that the trade in human beings has become so normalized that people are being traded in public. “The latest reports of ‘slave markets’ for migrants can be added to a long list of outrages [in Libya],” said Mohammed Abdiker, IOM’s head of operation and emergencies. “The situation is dire. The more IOM engages inside Libya, the more we learn that it is a vale of tears for all too many migrants.”

  • Morocco

    Les autorités marocaines ont annoncé ce mercredi avoir démantelé une “cellule terroriste” qui était en charge du recrutement de jeunes pour le compte du groupe jihadiste Etat islamique (EI). Cette cellule “affiliée” à l’EI est composée de sept membres et était active dans les villes de Fès et Moulay Yacoub (centre-nord), précise le ministère marocain de l’intérieur, dans un communiqué. Elle recrutait et envoyait des volontaires marocains dans les bastions jihadistes en Irak et en Syrie, ajoute le ministère, précisant que les perquisitions ont permis de saisir des armes blanches, des uniformes militaires, des sommes d’argent et des équipements électroniques.

  • Senegal

    Le sinistre s’est déclaré en pleine retraite spirituelle, appelée “Daaka” à Médina Gounass, dans la région de Kolda. Les causes de l’incendie ne sont pas encore connues. Le feu s’est déclaré dans l’après-midi du mercredi, ravageant plusieurs tentes dressées sur ce site où des milliers de personnes convergent chaque année. Le bilan est lourd mais encore provisoire, selon un communiqué du gouvernement sénégalais confirmé par le commandant Khalil Mbathie, du groupement national des sapeurs-pompiers, chef des opérations de secours sur place.

  • Senegal

    Deux Marocains et un Nigérian, “présumés terrorists,” ont été arrêtés entre fin mars et début avril à Dakar, où ils demeuraient détenus en attendant la fin d’enquêtes en cours, selon un communiqué de la police sénégalaise reçu mercredi par l’AFP. Dans le communiqué, daté de mardi, le Bureau des relations publiques de la police sénégalaise parle d‘“un Nigérian et deux Marocains présumés terroristes arrêtés.” Le 29 mars, selon le texte, des agents de la police de l’air et des frontières ont appréhendé à l’aéroport international de Dakar “deux ressortissants marocains supposés liés à l’Etat islamique (EI),” groupe jihadiste ayant pris en 2014 le contrôle de vastes régions en Irak et en Syrie mais ayant, depuis, subi d’importants revers.

  • Nigeria

    Just hours after the Dutch police raided the offices of Royal Dutch Shell last year as part of an investigation into a controversial $1.3 billion Nigerian oil deal, Ben van Beurden, the chief executive of the oil giant, placed a worried call to its chief financial officer. The investigators were “quite forceful and brusque” and “rattled a few people,” van Beurden told the finance chief at the time, Simon Henry, when Henry returned his call. But van Beurden said he was also worried about something else: Shell’s own investigators had discovered internal emails that could cast the company in an even more negative light and widen the investigation by drawing in the United States law enforcement authorities. In what he called “loose chatter,” van Beurden told Henry — who had been on leave — that the emails among employees contained language like, “I wonder who gets a payoff here.”

  • Morocco

    De violents affrontements ont éclaté jeudi à Fès, dans le centre du Maroc, entre forces de l’ordre et étudiants de la gauche radicale, faisant plusieurs blessés des deux côtés, a-t-on appris de source officielle. Ces affrontements ont eu lieu jeudi aux abords de la cité universitaire de Fès et devant le tribunal de la ville, après une intervention des forces de l’ordre pour disperser un sit-in “illégal” d’étudiants d’une fraction estudiantine de la gauche radicale, ont indiqué les autorités locales, citées par l’agence officielle MAP. Ces étudiants “basistes”, terme qui désigne les militants de la gauche radicale, étaient venus soutenir deux étudiants gauchistes devant le tribunal où se tenait leur procès.