“The Arab Spring opened up new partnership opportunities for Morocco,” according to Dr. Benjamin P. Nickels, Associate Professor of Transnational Threats and Counter-terrorism at the Africa Center.
“The Arab Spring’s echoes in sub-Saharan Africa are more complex than initially imagined” Professor Nickels wrote in Sada, an online publication by Carnegie Endowment for International Peace that publishes bilingual analyses of political change and reform trends in the Arab world. “The transitions in North Africa may set the stage for new forms of security cooperation in the Sahel,” he wrote. “A prime example is the upcoming January 2013 meeting of the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) in N’djamena, Chad, where Morocco will likely continue its steps to take command of the organization.”
By Joseph Siegle, Africa Center for Strategic Studies, The Christian Science Monitor - November 2011
The 'Arab Spring' has largely not spread south of the Sahara, but Africans are now less willing to stand by and accept stolen elections, gross abuses of power, and flaunting of inequality. [HTML]
By Africa Center for Strategic Studies | November 2011
Military coups in Mali and Guinea-Bissau and the persistence of “big-man” politics have renewed questions over the viability of democratic governance models in Africa. These developments have overshadowed a deepening institutionalization of democratic processes in Africa over the past decade. The Arab Spring, likewise, sparked a broader debate about the legitimate claims on authority across the continent. These crosscurrents reflect an ongoing struggle for governance norms in Africa that will require active engagement from African reformers and international partners to sustain Africa's democratic trajectory.
By Assis Malaquias, Africa Center for Strategic Studies, July 2011
Political violence in South Africa is worsening and indicates the country’s potential fragility. Since the end of apartheid, steadily rising inequality has deepened the divide between a wealthy minority and a poor majority. Frustration with an uneven pace of change often ignites into violent protest. Elite competition for financial and political resources available through the state also drives violence within and between competing political parties, usually at the local level where intimidation and assassination are sometimes used to ensure electoral success. Much competition exists in a grey area where the distinction between politics and crime is blurred.
South Africans still overwhelmingly support the democratic process and view the government as legitimate. From this foundation the state can move to head off emerging political violence and stem ebbing public trust. This will require breaking up the current intertwining of political authority and economic opportunity. Citizens must also see tangible evidence that government is interested in the socioeconomic priorities of ordinary people.
By Joseph Siegle, Global Dialogue | July 2011
In a just published article, “Stabilizing Fragile States,” in the journal Global Dialogue, ACSS Research Director,Joseph Siegle, reviews the challenges and priorities of integrating the political, security, and developmental objectives of stabilization efforts.
Africa is home to 23 of 28 of the world’s most fragile states, according to the State Fragility Index. While long recognized as centers of instability, these states also provide fertile soil to emerging opportunistic transnational threats such as narcotics trafficking, organized crime, piracy, and terrorist networks. Since the underlying challenges these states pose seem intractable, the tendency for regional and international actors is often to adopt “strategies of containment,” merely targeting the symptoms and illicit actors that thrive in these contexts. However, this does not address the underlying source of instability. Rather than imploding, these threats tend to metastasize – as seen with al-Shabaab and piracy in Somalia or narcotraffickers in Guinea-Bissau. Strategically investing in stabilizing fragile states has far greater payoffs for regional and international security. While the task is difficult, the success of previous efforts is often underappreciated, with many hard-earned and pertinent lessons learned. This article reviews some of the key insights from these experiences and the integrated governance, security, and development priorities they entail.
By Dr. Assis Malaquias, Africa Center for Strategic Studies | May 2011
The interconnectedness between domestic security and international relations has defined Angola’s post-colonial history. To survive various domestic security challenges, the country deployed considerable resources in two areas. Internally, Angola invested disproportionately in a strong security sector to deal with the immediate threats posed by opposing parties. Internationally, it focused diplomatic efforts on nurturing relations with key strategic allies, notably the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and Cuba, to help shape external environments to its advantage. This strategy has succeeded in ensuring regime survival.
With the end of the civil war and as the regime sought to consolidate its gains, an important foreign policy recalibration took place that resulted in the development of a strategic partnership with China. Recently, internal expectations and demands for fast economic growth within a democratic political system have meant that relations with mature democracies like the US are likely to take precedence.
This paper assesses the trajectory of Angola’s foreign policy as a reflection of its desire to manage three key historical challenges. These are survival, between independence in 1975 and the end of the civil war in 2002; reconstruction and growth, from the end of the civil war to the present; and the approaching task of democratic development. The paper suggests that for each stage, Angola has embraced a major international partner – the former USSR for survival; China for reconstruction and growth; and the US for democratic development.
By Joseph Siegle, The Christian Science Monitor | April 2011
Democracy activists in Egypt are on the defensive after a series of authoritarian crackdowns. Pushback is a common trait of democratic transitions. Yet democratic reforms are vital if Egypt is to achieve real social and economic progress. Reformers must organize quickly, for the long-term.
By Joseph Siegle, One Blog | February 2011
Historic events in Egypt and Tunisia in recent weeks have fed speculation over whether the demands for change will spread to other closed regimes in the Arab world. However, reverberations from Egypt may also be felt throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, where the Egyptian protests have drawn a rapt following. ACSS Director of Research Joseph Siegle assesses the potential implications, arguing that while its culture, history, and geo-strategic role differ significantly from Sub-Saharan Africa, many of the frustrations faced by Egyptian youth - illegitimate government, corruption, growing inequality, and despair - resonate deeply throughout the continent. This coincides with a dramatic upsurge in the accessibility of cell phones and social media in the region - and the demands for greater accountability.
By Davin O'Regan, Africa Center for Strategic Studies | July 2010
Africa is facing an increasingly menacing threat of cocaine trafficking that risks undermining its security structures, nascent democratic institutions, and development progress. Latin America has long faced similar challenges and its experience provides important lessons that can be applied before this expanding threat becomes more deeply entrenched on the continent - and costly to reverse.
By William M. Bellamy, Africa Center for Strategic Studies
A significant development in Africa over the past decade has been the generalized lessening of violent conflict. Revitalized, expanded international peacekeeping, bolstered by a newly launched African Union (AU) determination to tackle security challenges, has reinforced this trend. But, much more cohesive interagency coordination under strong White House direction is required if the United States is to contribute to Africa’s sustained stability given the region’s persistent conditions of poverty, inequality, and weak governance.