• ISIS in Africa: Implications from Syria and Iraq

    Leaving aside the mismatched ethno-linguistic groupings included in the vast territory stretching from Eritrea and Somalia in the east to Mauritania in the west, ISIS’s interest in establishing a presence in that part of Africa has long been a part of its vision for a global caliphate. Battlefield setbacks in ISIS’s strongholds in Iraq and Syria since 2015, however, raise questions of what impact this will have for ISIS’s African aspirations.

  • Foreign military bases in Africa

    In recent years Africa has become more important to Western security for two reasons: terrorism and migration. The two areas on which the West’s attention is focuses are the Sahel and the Horn of Africa. U.S. drones and French soldiers have helped African armies to fight Islamist militants and push them into the hinterlands.

  • Mali should engage separatist, Islamist groups in talks: Bamako peace conference

    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.

  • Mali: Spate of killings by armed groups

    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.

  • Less armed conflict but more political violence in Africa

    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 holds annual Resources and Assessments Workshop

    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.

  • U.S.-Morocco enduring friendship highlighted at 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.

  • Morocco reaps rewards of major changes in its diplomatic strategy

    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.

  • Time to rethink the peace operations partnership in Africa

    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.

  • When ideas of peace meet politics of conflict

    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.”

  • The Bible as a weapon of war

    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.

  • In West Africa, investment key in adapting to climate change

    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.

  • UN chief: New talks needed in 40-year Western Sahara Impasse

    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.

  • Nigerian security services thwarts Boko Haram plan to hit U.S., U.K. embassies

    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.

  • Rise in Boko Haram Child Suicide Bombers ‘Alarming’: UNICEF

    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.