Africa Week in Review – September 20

  • Nigerian newspaper The Leadership reported that President Goodluck Jonathan will meet President Obama on September 24th, when both are in New York for the UN General Assembly, to discuss Nigeria’s security situation. Council on Foreign Relations’ John Campbell pointed to an upsurge of violence in Nigeria since the state of emergency in May. This week, the conflict between the Nigerian military and Boko Haram continued, with 150 rebels reported dead.  A counter strike by Boko Haram killed 87. The military-backed vigilante movement—the civilian Joint Task Force — clashed with law enforcement officers, which caused riots in Maiduguri. Simultaneously, central Nigeria experienced conflict between “ethnic militia groups,” causing the Nigerian military to divert some forces from the North to the Nassarawa State.  The governing party, the People’s Democratic Party, split, causing brawls in parliament. The new faction does not support Goodluck Jonathan’s reelection, indicating waning support.
  • Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir requested a U.S. visa to attend next week’s United Nations General Assembly meeting, causing a diplomatic dilemma. The President has an outstanding arrest warning at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes and genocide. The court asked the United States to arrest the leader, while human rights activists call on the U.S. to oppose the visit.  As the host nation of the UN, the U.S. historically is obliged to grant visas for statesmen visiting the UN. While the U.S. is not a signatory to the ICC,  it “is a member of the Security Council, which voted to refer prosecutions for Darfur atrocities to the International Criminal Court,” reports the New York Times. U.S. ambassador to the UN, Samantha Powers, commented on the trip: “Such a trip would be deplorable, cynical and hugely inappropriate…it would be more appropriate for him to present himself to the ICC and travel to The Hague.” Sudan threatened to cut relations and to expel the U.S. special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, appointed to work on mitigating tensions between the two countries.  To date, the State Department has not made a decision, pointing to “a variety of considerations.”
  • Somalia and the European Union held a “New Deal” conference, which resulted in pledges of $3.6 billion for peace- and statebuilding in Somalia. The U.S. pledged to contribute $69 million to “promote and strengthen already existing programs in community stabilization, economic growth, education, and enhancing democracy, governance, and rule of law.” A day after the summit in Brussels, Saudi Arabia announced that it would be donating an additional $300,000 to Somalia in an effort to combat piracy in the Gulf of Aden. Italy signed a military training agreement with Somalia.  Aljazeera analysts noted however that the New Deal appears to tackle  “old problems,” pointing to huge security concerns and the threat Al-Shabab continues to post.

Quick hits:

  • Reuters reports the U.S. and its allies are moving to restrict Hezbollah’s reach in West Africa by targeting illicit flows of money from Lebanese communities across West Africa back to Hezbollah. Targeted communities complain the policy “penalizes charity and family ties with Shi’ite areas of Lebanon” and fails to distinguish that these same networks are often used to send remittances home.  
  • The Atlantic published an in-depth examination of the threat of Islamist terrorism in the Sahel region of Africa. 
  • U.S. Africa Command (Africom) continues to increase its presence on the continent, as is seeks private contractors to move “military equipment and supplies” into and out of the countries under its responsibility, plus Egypt. For more information, read out blog.
  • ProPublica outlines in detail how the Obama administration and the U.S. House of Representatives have opposed moves towards transparency around U.S. security assistance.
  • The Foreign Minister of Niger stated he would “welcome armed U.S. drones” in order to counter the threat of religious extremists and drug traffickers.
  • Reuters reports that a UN internal mission document determined that the UN peacekeeping force in Democratic Republic of Congo strategy to protect civilians was failing, and that reform was needed: “MONUSCO is delivering false reassurance – maintaining the illusion of protection – through static presence and consuming significant resources to little enduring effect.”
  • The UN Security Council voted to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) for another year to allow Liberia to build up an effective security sector.

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

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