• Islamist Militant Groups Cast Deadly Shadow Over Africa in 2015

    Boko Haram deadlier than ISIS, says Atlantic Council’s J. Peter Pham

    As 2015 draws to a close, our experts take a look back at the year that was and look ahead to 2016.

    This interview is part of a series.

    J. Peter Pham
    is the Director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center.

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  • Rwanda: Term Limit Controversy Masks Real Issues

    The decision by Rwanda’s Supreme Court to allow a popular referendum on the lifting of presidential term limits has all but cleared President Paul Kagame’s path to a third term in office. Rwanda’s constitution currently restricts the president to two seven-year terms, the second of which President Kagame began in 2010, but the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) has sought to remove those limits ahead of the 2017 election. Despite serious questions surrounding whether an amendment to the term limit clause is allowed by the constitution, the RPF has acted under the assumption of legality and ignored or discredited arguments to the contrary, drawing international criticism.

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  • The Cost of Kenyan Corruption

    In Swahili, a language spoken throughout East and Central Africa, “kitu kidogo” means “a little something.” In Kenya, the phrase is shorthand for the small bribes necessary to navigate virtually any encounter with Kenyan officialdom. In Nairobi, the country’s capital, it is wise to factor in extra time, and a lot of extra patience, for resisting bribe requests for anything from getting an identification document to having one’s water turned back on.

    Were Kenyan graft contained to balky bureaucrats, the problem would be only an irritation. But as illustrated in April by the attack by the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab on Garissa University College, which killed 147 people, it is far worse than that. Corruption in Kenya costs lives. It corrodes the security services’ capabilities and alienates Kenyans whose cooperation is critical to countering domestic extremism. If Kenya is to avoid another Garissa massacre, it must fight the corruption that leaves it vulnerable to a...

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  • Burkina Faso Update: Missed Opportunity?

    The “soft landing” that so many, both in Burkina Faso and abroad, had worked so hard to achieve is not to be.

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  • Burkina Faso: The Consequences of Burning Down the House

    The events that have followed each other in rapid succession this week in the West African country of Burkina Faso are, at one level, relatively straightforward. What is not so readily apparent—certainly not to the tens of thousands of protesters-turned-rioters, much less to those far-off outsiders who, wittingly or unwittingly, egged them on—are the consequences of what they have wrought.  

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  • As ISIS Upends States in the Mideast, Boko Haram is Doing the Same in Africa

    Governments and Media, Seized With Iraq-Syria Crisis, Are Paying Scant Attention in Nigeria

    In the ninety days since ISIS militants suddenly seized Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, international news media, governments, and even last week’s NATO Summit have swung their attention and agendas to debating how to counter the explosive growth of the group’s apparent capacities and its threat to Iraq and the wider region.

    Alarmingly similar is the upheaval spreading with little notice in north-central Africa. The Boko Haram militant group is “achieving many of the same operational and strategic successes . . . including significant dominion over territory and populations,” according to J. Peter Pham, director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center. Except for a brief spasm of attention last spring – after Boko Haram kidnapped nearly...

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  • Africa’s Islamic State?

     Even as, coming out of the annual NATO summit in Wales, the United States and its allies are promising to ratchet up their response to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, another militant group, Boko Haram, is rapidly gaining ground in Africa, achieving many of the same operational and strategic successes that have made ISIS such a force to be reckoned with, including significant dominion over territory and populations.

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  • Succession in Somalia: al-Shabaab after Godane


    Ahmed Abdi Godane, leader of al-Shabaab, the Somali terrorist group and al-Qaeda affiliate, may have been killed in a US airstrike on Monday. The Pentagon said on Tuesday that the military was gunning for Godane in the strike and that it was confident it hit the target, though there is no confirmation Godane is dead.

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  • Palacio: Africa Beyond Ebola

    Atlantic Council Executive Committee Member Ana Palacio writes for Project Syndicate on why despite this summer's Ebola threat, there are still many reasons to be optimistic about emerging opportunities in Africa:

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  • US-Africa Leaders Summit: Highlights

    The Africa Center hosted a busy week of events around the US-Africa Leaders Summit, welcoming four heads of state, the head of a regional governmental organization, numerous ministers, corporate executives, and other stakeholders for lively and thoughtful conversations about the important African issues of the day. Below is a sampling of some of our favorite photos from the week—we hope they will give you a feel for the breadth and diversity of our events, and the interesting discussions they provoked among participants.

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