May 17, 2013 by John Price
The Arab Spring that prompted the ouster of authoritarian regimes in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya also led to the rise of Islamists who are bent on creating Islamic states that adhere to Shariah law — and that fate could await Syria after dictator Bashar Assad falls. The democratically elected governments of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya are either led or beset by Islamists.
Libyan President Mohammed Magerief, leader of the General National Congress, is at risk of being overthrown by the Islamist extremists. Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki faces a similar challenge from radical Salafists — members of a fundamentalist Islamic sect. Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood is pressing to create an Islamic state ruled under Shariah law.
May 11, 2013 by Madeleine Conley
To what extent should a country preserve the rights of its citizens abroad who plan attacks against it? This question led some to protest the targeted killing of Anwar al-Awlaki in 2011, an American citizen and high-ranking al-Qaida member. Writing in the Daily News in 2011, Ron Paul, former Texas congressman and former presidential candidate, argued shortly after a drone strike killed the al-Qaeda leader, “Awlaki was a U.S. citizen. Under our Constitution, American citizens, even those living abroad, must be charged with a crime before being sentenced. As President, I would have arrested Awlaki, brought him to the U.S., tried him and pushed for the stiffest punishment allowed by law. Treason has historically been judged to be the worst of crimes, deserving of the harshest sentencing. But what I would not do as President is what Obama has done and continues to do in spectacular fashion: circumvent the rule of law.”
In dealing with terrorists linked to the September 11 attacks or involved in planning future attacks like al-Awlaki, the United States relies heavily on the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), a joint resolution passed by the U.S. Congress in 2001 following the September 11 attacks. Although the document addresses the country’s position regarding foreigners involved in terrorism, it lacks the procedure for dealing with Americans engaged in terrorism abroad. As a result, it is unclear whether the United States has an obligation to uphold certain guaranteed rights, specifically due process.
April 10, 2013 by Scott Firsing
It was a story that many people missed. United States president Barack Obama met with four African leaders in Washington in late March 2013: President Sall from Senegal, President Banda from Malawi, President Koroma from Sierra Leone, and Prime Minister Neves from Cape Verde.
A positive step in the right direction for America in Africa, but it is time for Obama to return the favor and once again set foot on the continent. It was announced late last year that Obama was planning a long overdue African tour sometime in 2013. As a specialist in US-Africa relations and an American living in Africa, I remember thinking simply “Amen!”
There are dozens of reasons why Obama needs to be “here,” but to only mention a few. Firstly, there has been a large amount of key personnel changes when it comes to American foreign policy and its African “leadership.” It would prove beneficial for these individuals to accompany Obama on Air Force One for the ride across of the Atlantic, which in turn would help smooth the transition.
March 26, 2013 by John Price
I have been writing about Mali, even before the military coup that took place last March, since my friend Yeah Samake, the mayor of Ouelessebougou, was running for president. The coup destabilized the country, and the elections were called off. Islamist extremists took advantage of the ensuing lack of governance in the northern region and seized control of the towns of Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu. They instituted Sharia law and brutalized the Malian people in these towns and surrounding villages.
There was also an influx of insurgents from countries as far away as Pakistan and Afghanistan. Northern Mali — about the size of France — had become the epicenter for the Islamists in the Sahel. Many of these insurgents were involved in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.
On Jan. 10, Malian President Dioncounda Traore called French President Francois Hollande and asked for military help, since a large group of extremists from al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MOJWA) had moved south and taken over the town of Konna, just 300 miles from Bamako, the capital. The next day French troops and Mirage jets arrived from nearby Chad.
February 28, 2013 by Thomas Hauschildt
Known for topping the list of failed states, Somalia seems to be rising from the ashes of war and all its connotations. Its capital Mogadishu, infamously known for Black Hawk Down and often described as one of the most dangerous cities on earth, has seen a revival since August 2011 when AMISOM ousted Al-Shabaab fighters from the city after four years of intense battle. Just a few days ago, AMISOM reported to have secured further cities in Middle and Lower Shabelle in the surrounding region of Mogadishu. Al-Shabaab announced a temporal tactical withdrawal – they have not yet returned.
A parliament has been elected, a constitution has been written, and refugees and UN workers return to Mogadishu. Turkey among some other states opened an embassy and Turkish Airlines, as the first European Airline in twenty years to do so, added the city to the list of its destinations. Further, and to the delight of the international community, piracy decreases. Construction material is being shipped into Mogadishu’s port on an increasing level and property prices rise. Art and sport has returned and restaurants can be found on the beach-side. A multitude of good news not heard for a long time form this corner of the planet.
February 10, 2013 by Binoy Kampmark
We should regain for ourselves the faith of our founding fathers in the dignity of man and bend every effort to see that the rights which they cherished are denied to none in our time.
– Willard B. Spalding, “Americanism”, The Phi Delta Kappan, Apr. 1946
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), in questioning John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s nomination for the role of CIA director, showed the delicate foot tapping currently taking place in the Senate. The issue was, as ever, the program that is emblazoned on John Brennan like a conspicuous coat of arms. Yes, we are having a nice chat about drones and the handiwork of their operators, which we should expect if the questioner is the chairperson of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “One of the problems is, once the drone program is so public, and one American is caught up, people don’t know much about this one ‘American citizen’ – so called.”
February 1, 2013 by Ramzy Baroud
The British security firm G4S is set to rake in massive profits thanks to crises in Mali, Libya and Algeria. Recognized as the world’s biggest security firm, the group’s brand plummeted during the London Olympics last year due to its failure to satisfy conditions of a government contract. But with growing unrest in North and West Africa, G4S is expected to make a speedy recovery.
The January 16th hostage crisis at Algeria’s Ain Amenas gas plant, where 38 hostages were killed, ushered in the return of al-Qaeda not as extremists on the run, but as well-prepared militants with the ability to strike deeply into enemy territories and cause serious damage. For G4S and other security firms, this also translates into growing demands. “The British group (..) is seeing a rise in work ranging from electronic surveillance to protecting travelers,” the company’s regional president for Africa told Reuters. “Demand has been very high across Africa,” Andy Baker said. “The nature of our business is such that in high-risk environments the need for our services increases.”
January 30, 2013 by John Price
“The Secretary of State is responsible for the overall coordination and supervision of all United States Government activities and operations abroad…. The Secretary of State must protect all United States Government personnel on official duty abroad….”
– President George W. Bush, January 2002, (Excerpts-Letter of Instruction to U.S. ambassadors)
As former United States ambassador to three island nations in East Africa, I had a number of attack threats to deal with during my service from 2002-2005. I am appalled that Secretary Hillary Clinton would minimize the importance of the murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens stating: “What difference at this point does it make”. Madam Secretary, a U.S. ambassador is dead—you were his boss, and should have had security measures in place to minimize the risk of a fatal attack. A chief of mission knows there are risks serving in conflicted areas, but with the on-going jihad against the United States, the State Department needed to be better prepared to protect the diplomatic troops.
January 15, 2013 by Binoy Kampmark
The French government has decided to take it upon itself to intervene in the conflict plagued state of Mali to stop the advance of the Islamic Jihadi. On Monday, France’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gerard Araud, explained that France had received UN Security Council approval to intervene. An aerial campaign on Thursday had commenced at the request of Mali’s government against al-Qa’ida linked rebels marching on Bamako.
The fears from France and her allies is that the al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) poses a grave threat in its efforts to create what would amount to a Taliban styled regime.
January 8, 2013 by John Price
As the next Secretary of State, Senator John Kerry will need to focus on changes at the Foggy Bottom headquarters in Washington, DC. At the top of the list is redundancy—overlapping job descriptions—which needs to be streamlined. The constant rotations of Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) should be considered, followed by an overhaul of the Employee Evaluation Review (EER) system for promotions, in which peers take part in the preparation and approval process. Above all, the State Department needs to change how we deal with the host countries. To win back friends, we need to be more consistent, and not just be a provider of aid.
January 8, 2013 by Abukar Arman
Just as the temperature of a ‘security threat’ slowly declines in Somalia, it increases in other parts of East Africa. Elements of political, religious, and clan/ethnic nature continue to shift and create new volatile conditions. Though not entirely interdependent these conditions could create a ripple effect across different borders.
Depending on one’s perspective, there is anxiety in the Horn of Africa—especially in the area that I would refer to as the triangle of threat – Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. These three countries are bound by complex web of history, geopolitics, and kinship which became the foundation of transnational fault lines which snake through them. Though the same could be argued in relation to Djibouti, the absence of certain clan dynamics and any flammable residual mistrust (active or dormant) makes it an anomaly.
January 5, 2013 by Mohamud Uluso
The setting up of local public administrations in the regions of Gedo, Lower Jubba and Middle Jubba which have yet to be entirely liberated from the Al Qaeda affiliated Al Shabaab has generated passionate debate for four reasons.
First, as result of clan based federalism, it stirred up the majority and minority struggles between communities in those regions at village, district and regional levels. Second, it brought to the front the divergent interests and goals of the multiple foreign, national and local actors claiming stakes in the process. Third, it represented a special significance for the federal government since it defines the values and meaning of the post-transition political dispensation and implementation of the Provisional Constitution (PC) on territorial jurisdiction and citizenship supremacy. Fourth, the ban by the UN Security Council on the export of charcoal in the area adversely affected the local economy.
December 20, 2012 by John Price
On December 11, 2012, Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra was removed from office by Mali’s military. This comes on the heels of the March ousting of President Amadou Toure, by a junta led by Captain Amadou Sanogo. Mali’s destabilization is the result of the Arab Spring that led to the conflict in Libya–where regime change was the goal–without an endgame plan. Large caches of weapons were left unprotected, which reached radical Islamists in northern Mali.
On December 11, 2012 the Foreign Policy article, Rice: French plan for Mali intervention is ‘crap’, noted, “The crisis in Mali underscores the rising threat…Islamic militancy in North Africa and the Sahel [is] the clearest evidence of blowback from the U.S.-backed military campaign that toppled Qaddafi”. The article also noted that France wanted swift military action in Mali, “with a rapid deployment of an African stabilization force”.
December 19, 2012 by Ramzy Baroud
France is insisting on ‘rapid’ military intervention in Mali. Its unmanned drones have reportedly been scouring the desert of the troubled West African nation – although it claims that the drones are seeking the whereabouts of six French hostages believed to be held by Al-Qaeda. The French are likely to get their wish, especially following the recent political fiasco engineered by the country’s strong man and coup leader Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo. The Americans also covet intervention, but one that would serve their growing interests in the Sahel region. African countries are divided and have no clear alternative on how to restore Mali’s territorial integrity – and equally important political sovereignty – disjointed between Tuareg secessionists and Islamic militants in the north and factionalized army in the south.
The current crisis in Mali is the recent manifestation of a recurring episode of terrible suffering and constant struggles. It goes back much earlier than French officials in particular wish to recall. True, there is much bad blood between the various forces that are now fighting for control, but there is also much acrimony between Mali and France, the latter having conquered Mali (then called French Sudan) in 1898. After decades of a bitter struggle, Mali achieved its independence in 1960 under the auspices of a socialist government led by President Modibo Keita. One of his very early orders of business was breaking away with French influence and the Franc zone.
December 13, 2012 by Anis Bajrektarevic
The cynical and misleading claim currently circulating European Union (EU) policymaker circles is: ‘multiculturalism is dead in Europe’. Truth be told, the EU has silently handed over one of its most important debates – that of European identity – to the wing-parties for years. In turn, it is no wonder that recent selective foreign policy actions serve to challenge EU-member cohesion.
Europe’s economic unity, its fundamental future realignment as well as the maintenance of its overall public standing are embodied in the credibility of its strategic neighborhood and its enduring partnership. The reinvigoration of the EUs “everything but institutions” transformative powers including the European Neighborhood Policy, primarily that of the Barcelona Process, and the Euro-Med partnership (OSCE) remains a forgotten lever of consequential progress available.
By correlating the hydrocarbons with the present political and socio-economic landscape, scholar Larry Diamond’s research suggests that 22 states in the world, which earn 60 percent or more of their respective GDP from oil (and gas), are non-democratic/authoritarian regimes. All of these nations maintain huge disparities, steep socio-economic cleavages, sharp political inequalities and lasting exclusions, not to mention extremely dismal human rights records.