Category Archives: Security Briefs

Creating Sustainable Peacekeeping Capability in Africa

Nearly half of all uniformed peacekeepers are African and countries like Ghana, Rwanda, Senegal, and South Africa have provided troops to UN and AU missions almost continuously over the past decade. Despite such vast experience, African peacekeepers are often reliant on international partners for training before they can deploy on these missions. Institutionalizing a capacity-building model within African defense forces is a more sustainable approach that maintains a higher level of readiness to respond to emerging crises and contingencies on the continent.



Mitigating Radicalism in Northern Nigeria

Ongoing attacks by Boko Haram and other violent Islamist groups coupled with an at times arbitrary response by Nigeria’s security forces have contributed to a deteriorating security situation in the north. Increasingly frequent attacks and bombings also mask longer-running radicalization dynamics. A sustained approach targeting every stage of the radicalization spectrum, from addressing socioeconomic grievances, to cross-cultural peacebuilding initiatives, to rehabilitating radicalized members of violent Islamist groups, as well as a more measured use of force are needed to reverse this broader trend.



Peace Operations in Africa: Lessons Learned Since 2000

More than 50 peace operations have deployed in Africa since 2000, including multiple African-led or hybrid African Union/United Nations initiatives. The frequency of these deployments underscores the ongoing importance of these operations in the playbook of regional and multilateral bodies to prevent conflict, protect civilians, and enforce ceasefires and peace agreements. Recent operations have featured increasingly ambitious goals and complex institutional partnerships. The achievements and shortcomings of recent peace operations offer vital lessons for optimizing this increasingly central but still evolving tool for addressing conflict and instability.



The Lessons and Limits of DDR in Africa

With organized DDR initiatives in 10 African states, there is widespread recognition of the importance of these programs to advancing stability on the continent. Even so, these initiatives are often under-prioritized and -conceptualized, contributing to the high rates of conflict relapse observed in Africa. DDR efforts across Africa over the past decade indicate that DDR cannot substitute for measures that address core conflict drivers and is often hobbled by expedient but fragile efforts to integrate nonstate militias with a national defense force.



Islamic Militancy in Africa

The rise in Islamic militancy in the Sahel, northern Nigeria, and the Horn of Africa has elevated attention to this evolving security concern. Hopes that Africa’s historically moderate interpretations of Islam would suffice to filter extremist views from gaining meaningful traction seem increasingly misplaced. More generally, understanding of this unconventional security challenge is often based more on speculation than informed assessment. Responses must avoid conflating distinct Islamist actors while addressing local level perceptions of disaffection and under-representation that underpin support for militants.



Building Africa’s Airlift Capacity: A Strategy for Enhancing Military Effectiveness

Growing security threats posed by agile and maneuverable forces such as narcotics traffickers, coastal pirate gangs, and nonstate militias have underscored the critical importance of security force mobility to monitor and protect Africa’s enormous land mass and more than 30,000 km of coastline. While commonly viewed as too expensive, airlift assets provide vital capabilities and multiply the effectiveness of Africa’s resource-limited militaries and collective peace operations.



Unfinished Business: A Framework for Peace in the Great Lakes

Despite numerous peace agreements, Africa’s Great Lakes region has been in a persistent state of conflict for the past two decades. The contributions and shortcomings of some of the most significant previous peace initiatives, however, offer vital lessons as to how to mitigate the local level tensions, national political dynamics, and competing regional interests that have led to recurring outbreaks of violence.



Boko Haram’s Evolving Threat

A surge in large-scale attacks over the past year by Nigerian Islamist terrorist organization Boko Haram presents a serious threat to stability in West Africa’s most populous state and the world’s sixth largest oil exporter. The group has successfully expanded its geographic reach, mastered new sophisticated tactics, and targeted symbols of international presence in Nigeria. In this Africa Security Brief, J. Peter Pham assesses the significance of this upsurge, examines the origins and goals of this opaque group, and puts forward priorities for responding to this threat.



Addressing Côte d’Ivoire’s Deeper Crisis

Although Côte d’Ivoire’s traumatic post-election standoff has been resolved, legacies of a national identity crisis have left this strategic West African country vulnerable to further instability.



Regional Security Cooperation in the Maghreb and Sahel: Algeria’s Pivotal Ambivalence

Laurence Aïda Ammour examines the central role that Algeria plays in regional cooperation and the considerations that shape its policies.