• Out of Africa: U.S. Pulling Out Combat Troops Operating on Continent

    The United States is starting to change its force posture in Africa, announcing it is bringing home part of an infantry brigade and replacing them with specialized military trainers. Pentagon officials described the move as “the first of many” that will impact the way the U.S. military operates on the continent, as it shifts its focus from counterterrorism to the great power competition. The shift comes as a new U.S. report warns the danger from terrorist groups in Africa is spreading and that many African forces are not ready to take on the terror threat alone.

  • U.S. Says Some Troops to Stay in Africa to Counter Moves by Russia, China

    U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper says the Pentagon does not intend to remove all its forces from Africa, amid concerns from allies that Washington could abandon the continent militarily while China and Russia “aggressively” look to increase their influence and as the extremist threat remains. Esper is carrying out a global troop review meant to find ways to free up more resources to address challenges from China’s military in Asia.

  • How Weapons Smuggled by Turkish Criminals Are Fueling a Deadly Herder-Farmer Conflict in the Sahel

    A criminal gang operating out of Turkey has fueled one of West Africa’s deadliest conflicts by smuggling in vast amounts of high-powered pump action shotguns, a study by arm control experts has found. The gangsters have smuggled thousands of the weapons into Nigeria, where they have ended up being used in the escalating violence between nomadic herders and settled farmers in the country’s north and central belts. Weapons of the same specification have also turned up in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and the Central African Republic.

  • The Changing Face of Burkina Faso’s Terrorist Threat

    Burkina Faso has been experiencing regular attacks led by armed terrorist groups from neighboring countries. Surrounded by six countries, it is the northern part bordering Mali and Niger – particularly the Soum province – that has been most affected. And the security situation is only getting worse. But now the country faces a new terrorist threat. Terrorist groups are also flourishing within its borders.

  • America Shouldn’t Abandon Its Allies in the Sahel

    In mid-January the leaders of France, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, and Mauritania met to discuss how to bolster counterterrorism efforts in the Sahel region, where Islamist terrorist activity has been steadily increasing. The background for the summit meeting were reports that the United States was considering reducing its contribution to an involvement in that campaign against Islamist terrorism. “. For the people in the Sahel, a U.S. retreat would leave them even more vulnerable to future terrorist attacks. Simply put, an American withdrawal would be penny-wise, but pound-foolish,” Olivier Rémy-Bel writes.

  • Senators 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.

  • In 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.

  • France, 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.

  • Islamists 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.

  • Switching 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?

  • Russia 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.

  • Tensions 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.

  • Russian 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.’”

  • Conspiracy Theories Make Inroads in Venezuelan Politics

    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.

  • Venezuelan government's death squads kill thousands: UN

    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.