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Category Archives: Africa

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Ethiopia and Tigray: A Region of Conflict

November 11, 2021 11:38 AM
This November will mark the first anniversary of the Tigray and Ethiopian conflict, a conflict that questions the power of leaders, the value of stability, and the role of the international community in such affairs.
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Concerns with the Coup in Guinea

October 15, 2021 01:36 PM
On September 5th military leader Doumbouya blocked off roads and took the capital by force. He removed President Conde as President. U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price opposed the rise to power of Doumbouya and the military. Additionally, the UN states call for the release of the president from the custody emplaced by Doumbouya.
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Monthly Archives: September 2019

Robert Mugabe’s Death: Telling of China’s African Involvement?

June 17, 2021 02:10 PM
The former president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, died at 95 on September 6, 2019 in Singapore, after receiving medical treatment there.[1] Mugabe began his political career as Prime Minister in 1980; however, when Zimbabwe’s parliament amended the constitution in 1987, Mugabe was declared the executive President. This new position allowed Mugabe to dissolve parliament, declare martial law, and run for an unlimited number of terms.[2] During his time as President, Mugabe was a controversial figure. His early work focused on liberating Zimbabwe from British colonialism, imperialism, and white minority rule. He was praised as a revolutionary in the struggle for African freedom from Western powers. Two years after he assumed the presidency, the economy sustained limited growth and Mugabe implemented new clinics and schools for the disenfranchised black population.[3] However, resentment toward him and his administration grew as he began to seize land from the white population without compensation, and he refused to amend the one-party constitution. Mugabe’s government officials awarded themselves pay raises while the country’s inflation continued to soar.[4] In 2008, Mugabe lost the presidential election to the leader of the opposition party, Morgan Tsvangirai; however, Mugabe refused to cede power and demanded a re-election. In the interim, Mugabe had the opposition supporters attacked and killed, until Tsvangirai withdrew from the race. This violent repression of his political opponents led many critics to labelling him a dictator.[5]
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Monthly Archives: August 2019

Libya in Transition

June 17, 2021 01:34 PM
Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar began his military career by taking part in the 1969 coup that overthrew King Idris and established Muammar Qaddafi as the head of the Libyan state. Shortly thereafter, Haftar became Qaddafi’s chief of staff of the armed forces and was given control over Libya’s conflict with Chad.[1] Although loyal to Qaddafi, when Haftar and his men were captured as prisoners of war in Chad in 1987, Qaddafi repudiated him and demanded that Haftar’s soldiers be returned to Libya; however, the United States moved them to Zaire. Qaddafi’s disavowal angered Haftar and in 1988 he joined the C.I.A.-supported National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL) while in Chad.[2] When the NFSL was unable to overthrow Qaddafi, the United States flew Haftar and his men to Virginia, where Haftar lived for the next 20 years while gaining U.S. citizenship.[3]
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Monthly Archives: August 2019

U.N. Assessment of Islamic Extremist Terror Threats – Europe and Africa

June 16, 2021 09:50 PM
A United Nations Security Council communication released in July warned that although the incidence rate of Islamic-motivated terrorism has declined in the last months, the terror threat is still high. The Security Council noted that while ISIL no longer has any geographic holdings, its presence in Iraq and surrounding states combined with its ideology and ability to undermine fragile West African political structures still pose threats. Furthermore, the progress made by Al-Qaida and its allies, although financially less formidable than ISIL, creates similar cause for concern.
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Monthly Archives: January 2014

China’s Economic Woes

April 27, 2021 04:29 PM
Since the formation of the Chinese Communist party, the world has watched China evolve into the world power it is today. While it is clearly evident that China is continually increasing its soft power around the world, it is less evident that China is in the midst of serious economic woes. Many of China’s efforts to expand its soft power focus on utilizing its comparative economic might, others, however, focus on expanding China’s culture. Through its acclaimed Confucian Institutes, China is planting footholds throughout Africa. These footholds increase awareness and notoriety for China throughout the entire continent. In addition, China is pouring capital into Africa, Iceland, and the United States. These foreign investments indicate a weakening homeland where Chinese billionaires do not want to store their capital. China is playing a deceiving game of economic protectionism masked by a rise in soft power. Given China’s current track, competing world powers need not fear China’s total economic dominance.
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North African Militancy

April 27, 2021 09:39 AM
Introduction
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Hijacking a Rebellion: New Trends in al-Qaeda Tactics

April 26, 2021 06:50 PM
Events in the Middle East and North Africa in recent months indicate a major shift in strategy by al-Qaeda and its affiliates. While many officials mistake this shift as a sign of al-Qaeda’s looming defeat, it actually displays a rapidly growing danger to U.S. national security. Al-Qaeda’s new ability to capitalize on instability amid preexisting rebellions is quite disturbing, and is occurring in several locations. The place of most significance for al-Qaeda is Syria, but a look at their ongoing late-phase operation in Mali can offer some insights into future developments in Syria.
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A new glimpse into al-Qaeda

April 23, 2021 09:44 AM
To coincide with the anniversary of the raid that killed Osama bin laden, the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at West Point released 17 de-classified documents obtained in bin Laden’s Abbattobad compound. These 17 documents are a small fraction of the thousands of documents recovered from the raid. Despite their small number, these documents add color to our understanding of al-Qaeda’s leadership; namely, the relationship that al-Qaeda leaders maintained with its affiliates was the subject of internal debate and scrutiny. The insights gained from these prior inner workings may offer a glimpse into understanding the current dynamics of al-Qaeda methodology
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Important Developments in North Africa

April 23, 2021 09:17 AM
In recent weeks, Mali, a democratic West African nation, experienced two events that threaten the stability of the country: a military coup and a rebellion that took over a significant portion of the country. Although this may not seem like such an abnormal event, given the seeming regularity of coups in Africa, it is in fact a sign of the changing nature of the war with al-Qaeda and its growing umbrella of affiliated groups. The terrorist organization may be weaker than it was a decade ago, but it is less centralized and is spreading into an increasing number of ungoverned areas. The problems in Mali represent the long term issues we may be facing in regards to al-Qaeda.
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Water Scarcity and Political Instability

April 22, 2021 07:42 PM
An intelligence report released last week discussed a security threat that presents a frightening picture of the world, one in which clean, usable water is increasingly scarce. Water scarcity is in large part a result of increasing demand due to world population growth. U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said in a speech given at the World Bank that “by 2025, we believe that it could be as much as two-thirds of the world’s population, including in more areas within developed countries where people will be living under water stress.” She continued to explain that “water security for us is a matter of economic security, human security, and national security, because we see potential for increasing unrest, conflicts, and instability over water.”
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Recent Trends in Radicalization

April 22, 2021 07:37 PM
The attack in France this past week at the hands of the terrorist Mohammed Merah is reawakening Europe to the realities of radicalization. This event should not be viewed as the beginning of a complex new terror campaign domestically but should be seen as an infrequent reality of war with terror groups. The majority of attempted domestic attacks have been unsuccessful for a number of reasons, and most people who are successfully recruited end up going to conflict areas in order to train and act out their new sense of ideology rather than stay in their country. A quick overview of some aspects of the radicalization process will reveal that there is no trend towards coordinated attacks or rampant radicalization in the West.
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The Iran-Al Qaeda Connection

April 22, 2021 06:29 PM
This past week has seen Al-Qaeda rise after a period of weakening and transition. After losing a number of its leadership, most notably Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki, it was thought that the organization would be further crippled until it could no longer operate effectively. However its recent actions in Iraq, Somalia, and possibly even Syria demonstrate that Al-Qaeda is transitioning itself to regain a foothold in the Middle East. At the same time, Iran has been penalized by the U.S. Treasury for its support of Al-Qaeda. Furthermore, a district court in 2011 found Iran guilty of being linked to the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania by Al-Qaeda. Although it has long been known that Iran is the largest state-backer of terrorism, this link to Al-Qaeda is especially important to understand the Iranian regime’s attempt to gain dominance in the Middle East.
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Monthly Archives: July 2019

Why Sudan Needs an Agreement Before Regional Powers Settle In

July 14, 2019 05:54 PM
The constant tumult in Sudan is keeping the international community on its toes. After months of protesting and violence, the military overthrew President Omar al-Bashir in April of this year and established a transitional military council. The TMC declared there would be a two-year transitional period after which the state would hold elections. Pro-democracy protests continued as demonstrators called for a civilian-led transitional body, citing that the TMC was no better than the previous regime they had fought to remove. On June 3, the TMC massacred hundreds of protestors and instituted an internet black out worse than any during al-Bashir’s rule. After another mass protest on June 30, the TMC and the civilian opposition began negotiating with the help of envoys from Ethiopia and the African Union. These negotiations led to an agreement on a joint sovereign council comprised of eleven members: five military, five civilian, and an unknown eleventh member. This council would govern for three years while organizing elections. The military will rule for the first 21 months, and the civilian government will assume control for the next 18 months. On Thursday, Sudan was rocked by another military coup, an attempt that was shortly foiled by security forces. Skeptics say the coup was fabricated by the military in order to pressure the civilian opposition group into signing the deal. This constant political flux works in the military’s favor, leaving civilians at a disadvantage at the negotiating table.
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Monthly Archives: June 2019

Recent Developments in Sudan

June 22, 2019 02:20 PM
Since December, the streets of Sudan have been filled with tens of thousands of peaceful protestors (Abdulbari). These demonstrations began over cuts to bread and fuel subsidies, but quickly turned to calls for the overthrow of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, whose 30-year rule has been marked by a deteriorating economy, rapidly increasing inflation, and widespread corruption (“Sudan’s inflation…”). In January, security forces in Khartoum began firing tear gas, stun grenades, and live ammunition at protestors gathered at sit-ins in an attempt to quell protests (Lewis). Over 1,000 have been detained since the beginning of the demonstrations (“Sudan’s Omar…”).
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Monthly Archives: June 2019

Bouteflika's Succession Plan in Flux

June 03, 2019 04:48 PM
The Algerian presidential elections have been in a state of flux since the beginning of 2019. Initially former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika intended to run for reelection to a fifth term in office, but amid an outpouring of protests at this prospect due to allegations of corruption he withdrew his reelection bid and postponed the election as a result. The election was originally scheduled for April 18, 2019 has been rescheduled for July 4th (“Alegeria sets presidential…”). Shortly after announcing he would not seek a fifth term Bouteflika resigned as president leaving the head of the Council of the Nation (Algeria’s upper house of parliament), Abdelkader Bensalah, to be acting head of state. Bensalah is not able to participate as a candidate in the election under Algerian law (“Algerian Constitutional Council…”).
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Monthly Archives: May 2019

Algerian Presidential Turmoil

May 25, 2019 02:15 PM
Beginning in February 2019, Algeria played host to months of fierce protesting over wheelchair-bound President Bouteflika’s bid for re-election that was scheduled to take place in April. The election was subsequently postponed by interim President Bensalah to July 4th. Speculation has been rife in Algeria as well as the foreign media as to whether the election will indicate a maintaining of the status quo or an overhaul of the entire Algerian political system.
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Monthly Archives: February 2019

Democracies, Militaries, and Insurgencies: Islamic Fundamentalism in Libya and Chad

February 09, 2019 03:06 PM
After the death of Muhammar Ghaddafi and the subsequent end of the Libyan Jamahiriya, Libya’s transitional government has since crumbled into a multifaceted conflict with different political groups vying for power and influence over potent oil fields. The General National Congress (GNC) took control over Libya after the death of Ghaddafi as a representative assembly. Internal fragmentation in the GNC precluded agreements on political issues and was unable to withstand several other warring factions. Several former political officials fled Tripoli (and the GNC) to Tobruk, a city on the eastern border of Libya, and established a second parliament known as the House of Representatives. The Libyan National Army (LNA), headed by Khalifa Haftar, is recognized as a quasi-military unit, comprised of trained military officials alongside tribal and regional groups of soldiers. The LNA is not recognized by the GNC as a military force; instead, the GNC recognizes Haftar as an agitator and a “warlord”. In addition to the two existing governments and the LNA, Islamic fundamentalist groups loyal to ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood exist throughout the state and commit various terrorist acts and beheadings.
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