• African securitySenators to Secretary Esper: Reconsider AFRICOM Drawdown

    U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Chris Coons (D-Delaware) last week sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper concerning the possible troop reduction or complete withdrawal from the AFRICOM area of responsibility. “Africa is a continent full of potential, and this is the wrong time to withdraw U.S. troops serving to stabilize fragile regions of the continent, the senators write.

  • TerrorismIn Niger, 89 Killed in Islamic State Attack

    Islamic State claimed responsibility for the 9 January attack on a military base in Niger, in which 89 soldiers were killed. It was the deadliest terrorist attack in the Sahel region since Islamist groups began to escalate their activities in the region in 2015, and it came one month after a similar attack on another military base in Niger killed 71 soldiers. In 2019, Islamist terrorists killed more than 4,000 people in Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso.

  • TerrorismFrance, Five African States Launch New Anti-Terrorist Coalition for the Sahel Region

    The presidents of France, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Chad on Monday formulated a new framework for expanding military operations against Islamist terrorism in the Sahel region. The new framework – with greater contributions from France, the five African states, and several European countries – has become necessary because of the dramatic increase in terrorist activity in the region, and because of the Pentagon’s plans to reduce the U.S. military and intelligence presence in West Africa, and a corresponding reduction in the overall U.S. involvement in fighting Islamist terrorism in Africa.

  • African securityIslamists Kill 71 Soldiers in Niger as Terrorist Attacks in the Sahel Region Increase

    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 & healthSwitching to Renewable Energy May Save Thousands of Lives in Africa

    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?

  • PerspectiveRussia Tests New Disinformation Tactics in Africa to Expand Influence

    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 securityTensions Rise between Egypt and Ethiopia over Nile Dam Project

    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 AfricaRussian Theater: How to Respond to Moscow’s Return to the African Stage

    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.’”

  • TerrorismEritrea removed from U.S. terror list

    By Salem Solomon

    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.

  • PerspectiveTurkey and the new scramble for Africa: Ottoman designs or unfounded fears?

    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“We are not winning” counterterror war in Sahel, U.S. military leader in Africa says

    By Carla Babb

    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 securityU.S.-provided security sector assistance in Africa largely failed

    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 securityMozambique’s own version of Boko Haram is tightening its deadly grip

    By Eric Morier-Genoud

    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 securityU.S. troops help fight terrorists in Africa -- quietly

    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 nukesEarthquake science could have predicted North Korea’s nuclear climbdown

    By Stephen Hicks

    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.