April 21, 2013 by David H. Shinn
Chatham House published in April 2013 a briefing paper titled “Djibouti: Changing Influence in the Horn’s Strategic Hub” by David Styan, Birkbeck College, University of London. The study emphasized the expansion of the US Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) base in Djibouti, the reconfiguration of France’s military presence and the establishment of Japanese and other military facilities there. Djibouti has become an international maritime and military laboratory where new forms of cooperation are being developed.
Djibouti has accelerated plans for regional economic integration. Building on close ties with Ethiopia, existing port upgrades and electricity grid integration will be enhanced by the development of the northern port of Tadjourah. These strategic and economic shifts have yet to be matched by internal political reforms, and growth needs to be linked to strategies for job creation and a renewal of domestic political legitimacy.
April 18, 2013 by John Price
Nearly taken for granted by the West, education is a noble struggle in Somalia, requiring generous contributions from citizens and foreign donors to help ensure a future of stability and prosperity for Somali children.
Devastated by drought, famine and conflict in recent years, Somalia offers an arid, hardscrabble existence in which much of the populace subsists on just $1 per day. It has one of the lowest primary-school enrollment rates in Africa, and education is available to less than 20 percent of the country’s children. Only one-third of the students are girls.
But “with basic reading skills, a child has the opportunity to be lifted out of poverty,” says Hodan Guled, founder of the nonprofit Somali and American Fund for Education (SAFE).
April 13, 2013 by David H. Shinn
Christine Hackenesch, research fellow at the German Development Institute, published an article in the first issue for 2013 of the Journal of Current Chinese Affairs titled “Aid Donor Meets Strategic Partner? The European Union’s and China’s Relations with Ethiopia.”
Using Ethiopia as a case study, the paper assesses the “competitive pressure” that China’s growing presence in Africa exerts on the European Union’s development policy. The study draws on interviews conducted in China, Ethiopia and Europe between 2008 and 2011.
The author concludes that the European Union engages Ethiopia as an aid recipient, whereas China has developed a comprehensive political and economic partnership.
March 31, 2013 by Richard Lyman
November 18, 1962 was a day of public celebration in Gondar. Our Peace Corps director, Harris Wofford, arrived from Asmara and accompanied us to the “Unity Day – Ethiopia and Eritrea” celebration on Tukul Hill (the mountain behind the post office). There gathered were many hundreds of local nobles and officials from throughout the province. The Governor and other high officials were sheltered in a large army tent where a crush of men tried to sit as close to the Governor as possible. The celebration was held in recognition of the Eritrean assembly vote which dissolved the Federation of Eritrea with Ethiopia and allowed Eritrea to be annexed to Ethiopia.
A week after the event I spoke with a Tigryean merchant from Asmara who told me that the Emperor got the approval of the Eritrean Assembly by sending army trucks throughout Eritrea rounding up all the Assembly members and hauling them to Asmara at gun point. He went on to relate that the Ethiopian government would not let any of the American or European Counsels near the Assembly members on the day of the voting. A year later while I was learning more about Ethiopian agriculture during a two weeks’ stay at Alamaya Agricultural College, a student whose father had been a member of the Eritrean Assembly corroborated what the merchant had reported.
March 13, 2013 by Mohamud Uluso
Resolution 2093 adopted by the UN Security Council on March 6, 2013 endorses a long overdue partnership mission between the Federal Government of Somalia and the international community in the pursuit of peace and state-building. It is somewhat more significant than previous resolutions for a number of reasons. For one, it ends more than two decades of avoidance on the part of the international community in addressing the problem of statelessness of Somalia in comparison to other African failed states.
It reaffirms the commitment of the US government towards stability and peace in Somalia. It merges the conflicting strategies pursued by the individual or group members of the international community for their self-interests while moving supervision of Somalia’s peace-building agenda from the regional level to the global through the United Nations. When one looks closely at the Resolution, it addresses five key issues: the African Union forces in Somalia (AMISOM), the human rights and protection of civilians, the lifting of an arms embargo imposed on Somalia from 1992, the role of the United Nations in Somalia, and the violations of the ban on the charcoal export.
While the Resolution is ambitious in scope and provides concrete endorsement on the part of the international community in stabilizing the country, some of the principal challenges may actually come from the international community itself. The Federal Government must also a take a more active role and hold itself accountable if Somalia is to become successful in state-building.
February 25, 2013 by Caitlin Kennedy
In Sudan, President Omar al-Bashir has ruled for 24 years with an oppressive fist. He has acted on and furthered serious religious, ethnic, and racial tension by attempting to clear out the regions of South Sudan and Darfur. Although he has been indicted by the International Criminals Court for crimes against humanity and war crimes, he continues to rule by killing, starving, and ethnically cleansing people that he does not see as his equals. There are stories of people who hide in the mountainous border regions of Sudan and South Sudan as drones fly above, starving and living in constant fear of President al-Bashir’s government.
Their fate is tied to the decisions of the Sudanese government, and unexpectedly this has a direct impact on the everyday lives of Americans. Even if Americans don’t constantly live in fear of their government, or even need to take the time to consider the benefits of lasting peace between the Sudans, they must consider a change in U.S. policy for the region in terms of their own benefit.
The connection of the lives of the destitute Sudanese to that of the average American is one indispensible natural resource: oil. With the recent secession of South Sudan, the region’s supply of oil is in the south, while the infrastructure necessary to export the oil is in the north. There is also continued conflict over contested regions near the borders, particularly in the Nuba Mountains, which are said to be rich with oil deposits. Omar al-Bashir continues to justify racial hatred by terrorizing the people of the Nuba Mountains with air strikes, bombs, and other attacks. These actions only further complicate and volatilize an already unstable situation, worsening conditions for citizens by misallocating precious resources.
February 10, 2013 by Richard Lyman
Fifty years ago Gondar was a very different town. We understood that it had a population of a little over 10,000 and was compact enough so almost everyone, ourselves included, could easily walk on most errands. There were the Italian occupation buildings centered on the hill near and above the Piazza and many ancient castles and churches. Weeks after arriving there in September 1962, several of my students agreed to take me on a walking tour to some of the businesses in the town.
Early one Saturday morning we met on the Piazza in front of the Foto Prince Makonnen Shop across from the Cinema Bar so I could buy a roll of high speed black and white film. As I look at the photos I took that day, I can recall memories of my interactions with the shop owners and the bustling of daily life around Gondar.
February 6, 2013 by Scott Firsing
Last year Young People in International Affairs (YPIA) embarked on a search for the top 35 young African leaders in international affairs under the age of 35. What we found were some amazing individuals doing extraordinary things. We are proud to say that we accomplished our goal of finding people that can truly inspire others. Media in Africa and around the world also highlighted the stories and accomplishments of the 2012 Top 35 Under 35 winners.
Due to the project’s success, YPIA is proud to announce the second annual Top 35 Under 35, but with a twist. This year we are looking for foreigners under 35 years of age making an impact in one or more African countries in the fields of politics, business, media, education/academia, community development and science and technology.
We need your help. The call for nominations for the 2013 Top 35 under 35 is now open. To nominate yourself or another person, please complete the form by March 31, 2013 (see link below to access form).
To qualify, the nominee must met the following conditions:
1. Under the age of 35;
2. Not be a citizen of an African country;
3. Excelling in their respective field and area of expertise;
4. Making a substantial impact in one or more African countries on critical African issues and international affairs;
5. Recognised among colleagues and the broader community as a leader/future leader who is dedicated to helping the African continent;
6. Values ethics and human rights.
YPIA is an entity at the forefront of identifying and creating opportunities for international affairs enthusiasts throughout the African continent. YPIA promotes young African leadership and cooperation based on meeting the challenges of today’s international world.
For more information and to download the official nomination form, please click here.
January 21, 2013 by Mohamud Uluso
Consistent with his goal of speaking in the best interests of Somalia, Professor Michael Weinstein of Perdue University, Indiana, has tried one more time to reason with the Somali elite and the international community about the problems hobbling the Provisional Federal Government (PFG). Weinstein eloquently explains the structural weaknesses, responsible for the PFG’s slow performance.
By adding the adjective “provisional” to the Federal Government’s name, Weinstein reminds the Somalis that despite all the rhetoric, in the eyes of the international community, the present government isn’t any different from the previous transitional governments in legal, diplomatic and political terms. In short, without defending the competence and integrity of PFG leaders, he underscores that the donor-powers’ decision to starve the PFG, unless PFG leaders accept a kind of Trusteeship Administration for the next 20 years, is more ominous for the revival of Somalia.
The truth is that Somalia is trapped in an abusive relationship with the international community. The role of Somalia’s government is to rubber stamp international decisions on Somalia. The international photo-ops and red carpets granted to Somali leaders and the frequent three-hour visits of foreign dignitaries in Mogadishu mask the unequal power and foreign driven policies imposed on Somalia. It’s hard to miss the contradictions between the public statement and the official policy actions of donor and neighboring countries in dealing with the new government.
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 14, 2012 by John Price
My July 2012 commentary “Artistic Endeavor: Can Change the Face of Africa” was about Sundance Institute Theatre Lab’s play premiere “Africa Kills Her Sun”, which I attended. The play was a collaboration of African playwrights and actors, expressing the plight of the Ogoni tribe in Nigeria, under Dictator Sani Abacha’s corrupt regime; human rights abuses, and suppression of free speech. Sundance had brought into focus the injustices in Africa through a social awareness–reaching out to young minds.
December 10, 2012 by David H. Shinn
The Organization of African Unity (OAU) was established in 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. African leaders adopted a new charter in 2001 and the OAU became the African Union (AU). The principal organs of the AU are the Assembly, the most important component that consists of the heads of state and government from each of the 54 member states. The Assembly meets twice a year. The Executive Council consists of ministerial-level representatives from each country and is responsible to the Assembly. The Commission is the secretariat that has a permanent staff and handles the day-to-day management of the AU.
The Peace and Security Council is a 15-member elected body that manages strategic and operational decisions related to conflict. The Peace and Security Council began operations in 2004 as “a collective security and early-warning arrangement to facilitate timely and efficient response to conflict and crisis situations in Africa.”
November 30, 2012 by David H. Shinn
African countries have massive health care needs. A few basic facts as of 2009 provided by the World Bank about Sub-Saharan Africa illustrate the point. In 2009, life expectancy at birth for Sub-Saharan Africa was 52.5 years; for Ethiopia it was 55.7 years. The under-five mortality rate in Sub-Saharan Africa per 1,000 children was 130; for Ethiopia it was 104.
The prevalence of HIV in the 15-49 age group in Sub-Saharan Africa was 5.4 percent; for Ethiopia it was about 2 percent. The incidence of TB per 100,000 people in Sub-Saharan Africa was 344 cases; for Ethiopia it was 359 cases. The total number of clinical cases of malaria reported in 2009 for all of Sub-Saharan Africa was 72 million; Ethiopia accounted for 3 million of these cases. The number of reported deaths from malaria for all of Sub-Saharan Africa was 113,000; Ethiopia reported 1,100 of these deaths.
November 22, 2012 by Conn M. Hallinan
Africa is probably the single most complex region of the world and arguably its most troubled. While the world concerns itself with the Syrian civil war and the dangers it poses for the Middle East, little notice is taken of the war in the Congo, a tragedy that has taken five million lives and next to which the crisis in Syria pales.
Africa represents 15 percent of the world’s population, yet only 2.7 percent of its GDP, which is largely concentrated in only five of 49 sub-Saharan countries. Just two countries—South Africa and Nigeria—account for over 33 percent of the continent’s economic output. Life expectancy is 50 years, and considerably less in those countries ravaged by AIDS. Hunger and malnutrition are worse than they were a decade ago.