AfricaSource|Strategic Insight on the New Africa

The primary political fault line running through Cameroon, a country in Central Africa, is not ethnic, but linguistic – the population is divided between its English and French speaking parts. In recent months, the linguistic cleavage has started to widen, with increasing demands for Anglophone autonomy and secession. This amplification of decades-old divides is in large-part due to the repressive strategies employed by the Francophone central government in response. A continuation of this dispute may heighten the growing violence and security concerns in the country and threaten the stability of a region already facing extensive intra-state conflict.

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The ongoing military intervention in Zimbabwe effectively marks the end of Robert Mugabe’s thirty-seven-year hold on power, according to J. Peter Pham, director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center.

“In whatever way the developments of the last twenty-four to forty-eight hours play out, it is quite clear that the near-absolute grip that he had on power for almost four decades, that era has come to an end,” said Pham. 

The military said it has put Mugabe, who has led the country since 1980, under house arrest.

“The military seems to be taking a very careful approach in not formally declaring this a coup, but it is quite clear that, at least for now, they are in charge,” said Pham.

J. Peter Pham spoke in an interview with the New Atlanticist’s Ashish Kumar Sen. 

To read the interview, please click here. 

On November 3, the United States carried out two separate airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in Somalia, the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) announced in a statement. The operations marked the first time that US forces have targeted ISIS militants in the conflict-ridden Horn of Africa country, where al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab has been the primary focus of American and partner efforts in recent years. 

The strikes also underscore the shift in ISIS’ center of gravity following the group’s losses not only in Iraq and Syria this year, but also the routing of its affiliate in Libya last December. These developments have sent surviving fighters and arms flowing into more remote areas, including the Sahel, where the killing of four US Special Forces troops in an ambush in Niger in October focused attention on the new front lines of the fight. While most of the counterterrorism focus is on North and West Africa, where many ISIS recruits originally came from, the eastern side of the continent presents its own vulnerabilities.

To read more, click here.

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, delivered a stern message to South Sudanese President Salva Kiir in their meeting in Juba on October 24: the United States is “disappointed” in Kiir’s leadership and he must not take US assistance for granted. In a stark reminder of the perilous situation in the six-year-old nation, Haley was later forced to hastily evacuate South Sudan after a group of anti-Kiir protesters turned violent.

Haley’s tough rhetoric raises the question: what, if anything, can the United States do to prevent the world’s youngest nation—one that it helped foster—from unraveling under the pressures of a protracted war, corrupt leaders, acute famine, and the displacement of its people?

To read more, click here.

This weekend’s truck bombing in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, was the worst assault on civilians in that country’s long, sad history. But such attacks are a weekly event in Somalia and have been for the past decade. This attack was dramatically worse than most, but surely it won’t be the last. And it highlights a truth that Washington cannot afford to ignore any longer: its “strategy” in Somalia just is not working.

To read more, click here.

Over the past three years, as thousands of refugees drowned off Europe’s coasts, Germany’s open-door policy towards asylum seekers propelled the country to a position of global humanitarian leadership, and turned its chancellor, Angela Merkel, into a global icon for human rights advocates. As of 2016, the nation of 82.5 million absorbed 890,000 refugees, and a majority of the German population has warmly supported the influx of foreigners. However, the Berlin Christmas attack by a rejected asylum seeker, and the 1,200 sexual assaults reported in numerous German cities over New Year in 2016 (allegedly perpetrated by immigrants of North African descent), has sparked widespread outrage fueling debate to reduce the number of refugees granted asylum. Facing a competitive reelection race in September, Merkel has responded to public pressure on the migration question without surrendering Germany’s moral and thought leadership on the issue.

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Ten years after the guns of the three-decade-long Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency went silent, northern Uganda’s local leaders are concerned that the deadly war raging across the South Sudanese border could disturb the fragile region.

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Across Africa, trafficking is on the rise. Boko Haram’s kidnapping and sale of some of the 276 Chibok schoolgirls into slavery, Guinea-Bissau regressing into a “narco state,” and rebels loyal to the Mozambican National Resistance using poaching to sustain their fledgling movement are several examples in recent memory. These crimes are not isolated incidents. Rather, they all concern conflict, security, and governance and unite under a single banner: human, drug, and wildlife trafficking that is thriving off—and promoting—instability in Africa.

A new Atlantic Council report draws attention to illicit trafficking’s lofty profits. They make up part of the $50 billion—just slightly over Tanzania’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016—that African governments lose in illicit financial flows per year. Trafficking far outpaces the earning potential of local security forces and law enforcement, sowing the seeds of corruption and undermining efforts to eliminate bribery and illicit trading. The same report notes that both terrorist groups and organized crime syndicates are accruing substantial profit from trafficking and using those profits to spoil peace efforts and perpetuate insecurity in their respective regions.

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The global HIV/AIDS epidemic and the 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak varied in length, number of lives lost, and geographic areas affected. However, both posed national security risks to the United States, and both therefore prompted large-scale US government responses: the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and Operation United Assistance in Liberia, respectively. Today, the United States is confronting these kinds of public health crises as well as a score of terrorist threats, and it is possible that the two problems could merge as terrorists seek to use bioterrorism to achieve their goals. US national security has traditionally focused on security’s “hard” elements—terrorism, state collapse, and crime. But public health threats—whether introduced deliberately through bioterrorism or emerging from natural causes as the 2014 Ebola outbreak did—also pose a significant threat to the homeland and thus deserve to be prioritized by the United States.

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Explicitly invoking the US aid initiative that rebuilt Western Europe’s devastated infrastructure and weakened economies after World War II as a bulwark against Communist expansionism, the German government unveiled its ambitious framework for a “Marshall Plan with Africa” (Eckpunkte für einen Marshallplan mit Afrika) on January 18 with the twin objectives of increasing trade and development on the continent and hopefully reducing mass migration flows north across the Mediterranean.

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