Africa

  • Nigerian Information Minster Discusses US-Nigeria relations, Boko Haram

    On Thursday, July 19, the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center hosted a roundtable discussion with the Minister of Information and Culture of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, H.E. Alhaji Lai Mohammed

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  • Reflecting on Mandela’s Centenary

    In the predawn hours of July 18, 1918, not far from the medieval cathedral town of Soissons in northeastern France, twenty-four French divisions, including two segregated American infantry divisions (the storied 92nd “Buffalo Soldiers” and the 93rd) under French command, supported by other Allied units—including eight other US divisions of the American Expeditionary Force led by Gen. John J. “Black Jack” Pershing for whom the day would bring one of their first combat operations—crossed the Marne River, launching the massive counterattack that, one hundred days and just over 271,000 casualties later, would lead to the armistice ending the “Great War,” the most brutal conflict known to humankind up to that point.

    That very same day, some 9,000 kilometers to the south, in the small village of Umtata, in the remote eastern part of the Cape Province of what was then the Union of South Africa, a baby boy was born among the local Thembu people. The child was given the name Rolihlahla, which in the Xhosa colloquial meant “troublemaker”; in later years, the man would be affectionally known by his clan name, Madiba (it was only when he was seven and sent to a nearby Methodist mission school that his teachers would have him christened with the English name of “Nelson” and register the name of his grandfather as his surname). Who would have predicted that the child would not just survive, but, overcoming his rather modest beginnings (his father died when he was not even ten years old, leaving behind four wives, four sons, and nine daughters) as well as the many vicissitudes of his long life, cause a great deal of “trouble” for some of the great and powerful of this world—all without recourse to arms?

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  • Diplomatic Relations Between Morocco and Iran Sour Over Western Sahara Dispute

    Morocco cut diplomatic ties with Iran on May 1, 2018 after allegations of Iranian meddling in the Western Sahara dispute. The Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Bourita, met with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammed Javad Zarif, in Tehran the following day to deliver a ‘secret dossier’ accusing Iran of aiding the separatist group Polisario Front in Western Sahara through its Embassy in Algeria, and positioning Hezbollah as a proxy. During his visit, Bourita revealed that a series of Iranian-mediated meetings took place between top Lebanese Hezbollah officials and Polisario representatives in the Sahrawi refugee camps in Algeria. Bourita went on to state that Hezbollah has smuggled weapons, including truck-mounted anti-aircraft missiles, and has provided military training to Polisario Front members.

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  • Lilley Joins BBC to Discuss Ethiopia and Eritrea


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  • Below the Surface, a Game Changer in Congolese Politics

    “Shikata,” or “remain seated” in Swahili, claim the posters on Congolese President Joseph Kabila’s effigy in the streets of Lubumbashi. But while everyone’s attention is focused on the regime’s contortions to stay in power, despite constitutional impediments to doing so and deep domestic discontent, the 2015 break-up of Congo’s existing provinces has upended politics below the surface with far-reaching consequences for the current regime and potentially destabilizing effects for whomever inherits the state come the end of this year (assuming that elections that have been repeatedly postponed actually take place on schedule this coming December 23).

    One of the reasons for the increase from eleven to twenty-six provinces was to break up Katanga and deprive its governor, key Kabila opponent Moïse Katumbi, of his provincial base. Beyond such political expediency, however, this policy’s main effect has been to create ethnically homogeneous provinces. As Alma Bezares Calderon, Lisa Jené, and I write in a recent report for the Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium, up to eleven of Congo’s provinces are made up primarily of a single ethnic group. This is an increase from three provinces with a single ethnic group prior to this policy.

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  • South African Trade Minister Advocates for Africa’s Greater Role in the Global Economy

    On Friday, July 13, the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center hosted a conversation with Minster of Trade and Industry of the Republic of South Africa the Hon. Rob Davies.

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  • To Stabilize Libya, Redistribute Oil Revenue

    Debate over Libya currently focuses on whether elections should be held in advance of a political agreement or to move forward in the absence of one. This debate is irrelevant. There are no governments or political leaders in Libya with the authority to conclude a political agreement that militias will recognize, nor are those same militias going to respect the results of an election in 2018 any more than they did in 2012 or 2014. Militias are the only groups with any authority in the country, and any solution will have to be negotiated with them. Militias’ main concern is money; therefore, any solution to their fighting over resources—primarily oil revenue and criminal rackets—must be primarily economic.

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  • Charai in Gatestone Institute: Ethiopia-Eritrea: A New Hope for Peace


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  • Why Djibouti Is the Loser of the Horn of Africa’s New Peace

    Ethiopians and Eritreans alike are celebrating the breakneck speed of a rapprochement between Addis Ababa and Asmara, two longtime enemies. Closer ties between the two, while not necessarily a done deal, could usher in a new era of peace and prosperity for the Horn of Africa, resuming a thriving trade relationship and granting landlocked Ethiopia access to a new port. Unfortunately, nearby Djibouti—which has successfully exploited its prime territory on the Red Sea to offer both port access and military bases to foreign countries—stands to lose. At the least, this tectonic shift will reduce the revenues available to President Ismail Omar Guelleh, in power since 1999, and undermine his ironclad grip on the country. At worst, Djibouti could prove a spoiler, which would threaten prospects for regional peace as well as longstanding US strategic interests in the Horn of Africa.

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  • Update on the Security Situation in the Central African Republic

    On Thursday, July 12, the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center, in partnership with the Enough Project, hosted Nathalia Dukhan, field researcher and analyst for the Enough Project and The Sentry, for a private roundtable discussion on increasing sectarian violence and political turmoil in the Central African Republic (CAR).

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