Africa Week in Review – September 6, 2013

  • Tom Dispatch published an investigative piece regarding the U.S. military presence in Africa. The article examines Department of Defense briefings and documents a vast U.S. military presence on the continent. Author Nick Turse details U.S. military base constructions, security cooperation engagements, training exercises, advisory deployments, special operations missions, and a growing logistics network throughout Africa. USA Today reported this week that U.S. military’s Office of Net Assessment has hired contractor Booz Allen Hamilton to study what future challenges Africa may pose for U.S. policymakers. 
  • The conflict in Northern Nigeria, in the states of Borno and Kano, escalated after Boko Haram insurgents launched “retribution” killings against those suspected of being members of local vigilante groups, known as the “Civilian Joint Task Force.” The media reports that the military supports these vigilante movements. Analysts expressed concern that involvement of vigilante may bring about further atrocities against civilians. For more information, read our blog post on the topic. 
  • Fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo between M23 rebels and government troops appears to be decreasing.  With MONUSCO support, government forces have been able to reclaim strategic hills surrounding the city of Goma. Defense ministers and foreign ministers from around the Africa’s Great Lakes region met Wednesday to discuss regional implications of the conflict. Thursday, regional leaders met in Uganda to discuss the prospects for a lasting peace and issued a statement demanding the resumption of talks between the government and rebels. Chief among the summit’s discussion points was the alleged Rwandan support for the M23 rebels. U.S. special envoy Russ Feingold joined the conference.
  • Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for an uptick of attacks in Somalia this week. On Twitter, it announced the deployment of several hundred newly trained combatants. Somali President Mohamud narrowly escaped an assassination attempt on his life that al-Shabaab.  The terrorist group claimed responsibility on Thursday for a series of explosions that rocked Mogadishu, as well as for a grenade attack on a UN office in Beledweyne.  Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned that while recent gains are encouraging, Somalia is still at risk of “failing.”

Quick Hits from Across Africa:

  • The United Nations released a report examining the effects of transnational organized crime threats in East Africa. “Transnational Organized Crime in Eastern Africa: A Threat Assessment” focuses on human trafficking from Ethiopia and Somalia to Yemen and Saudi Arabia, drug trafficking from Asia, ivory trafficking through Eastern Africa to Asia, and piracy around Somalia.
  • The New York Times published an in depth profile of Rwandan President Paul Kagame. Author Jeffrey Gettleman examines the U.S. government’s unwillingness to confront the Rwandan president regarding civil rights abuses in the country and an increasingly despotic leadership style.
  • Kenya voted to cease all cooperation with the International Criminal Court, making it the first country to withdraw from the court. President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto both are due to stand trial at the court for allegedly inciting post election violence in 2007.
  • Human Rights Watch published a report last week on the pervasive corruption of the Liberian police force. According to the report, “rampant police corruption denies Liberians equal and impartial justice and impedes the country’s postwar development.” In response, Liberia’s Police Inspector General Chris Massaquoi defended the Liberian police performance. According to Massaquoi, HRW ignored “existing extenuating challenges” and unfairly represented the “shortcomings” of the Liberian police. 
  • Human rights groups in Angola released a statement decrying police brutality, including the inhumane and cruel treatment of prisoners.
  • The European Union announced a maritime security partnership with Somalia. The EU is also preparing to increase maritime security efforts in West Africa in order to fight piracy.
  • Central African Republic launched a weapon collection program in a bid to curb rampant violence and petty crime.
  • On Tuesday, South Sudan’s President Kiir and Sudan’s President Bashir discussed an agreement to ensure cooperation regarding oil exports, which remains a point of contention between the two countries.

Center for International Policy intern Kyle Dallman contributed to this blog post.

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