The recent rise in coups in Africa reflects a waning regional and international willingness to enforce anti-coup norms. Reversing the trend requires incentivizing democracy and consistently imposing real costs on coup makers.
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Russia’s strategic objective of degrading the model of democratic governance in Africa is frequently effected through the cooption of isolated African leaders.
The prospective deployment of Russia’s Wagner mercenaries should not be confused with addressing Mali’s security situation but is a means of expanding Russian influence while propping up the military junta.
Stabilizing northern Mozambique will involve more than defeating violent extremists. It will also require rebuilding trust with marginalized and traumatized local communities.
The rise of farmer-herder violence in Africa is more pernicious than fatality figures alone since it is often amplified by the emotionally potent issues of ethnicity, religion, culture, and land.
The integration of justice initiatives within conventional security efforts can mitigate conflict, improve societal resilience, and build a stronger culture supportive of the rule of law.
(This article originally appeared as a chapter in "Russia Strategic Intentions White Paper," Strategic Multilayer Assessment (SMA) publication series, NSI, May 2019.)
Russia has significantly expanded its engagements in Africa in recent years. These engagements often take the form of propping up embattled and isolated autocratic leaders of countries that are rich in natural resources. The United States can draw a distinction with Russia’s destabilizing role by pursuing a positive engagement strategy in Africa. The United States must avoid the Cold War trap of competing with Russia for the affections of corrupt, autocratic leaders in Africa, however, as such a policy would be disastrous for Africa while not advancing US interests.
While the insurgency in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado grows increasingly violent, the unpoliced coastline of Northern Mozambique allows for the trafficking of hundreds of millions of dollars of heroin. The ruling Frelimo party reportedly pockets at least of $100 million of revenue from this trade each year. Efforts to combat the insurgents, who doubt that the government’s deals for natural gas exploitation will benefit all citizens have stalled, worsened by heavy handed tactics of government forces and their allied Russian and South African mercenaries. A better understanding of the dynamics at play, along with a recognition that criminalized power structures seek to protect themselves, will be required to craft adequate responses to the violence.
West Africa has once again become a major route for Latin American cocaine to European markets. Criminal networks leverage growing regional instability to facilitate their work. Authorities in Africa and Europe have the capacity to physically screen less than 2% of containers moving through their ports. Drug seizures therefore rely instead on intelligence. Widespread corruption and uneven regulations in West African ports creates surveillance gaps. Regional initiatives have sought to strengthen regional cooperation and intelligence sharing, but governments should first target specific, problematic trafficking routes.
Proactive management of the transition to civilian rule would afford the Sudanese military more stability, budgetary support, and professional benefits.
A virtual academic program cohosted with the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism that focuses on effective community policing as a tool for countering violent extremism. This program provides an opportunity to capture and share insights, experiences, and lessons, among countries and across regions, about both the implementation challenges in community policing and the practical experiences in bridging gaps between the security sector and the communities they are entrusted with protecting and serving
African governments face a fast-evolving array of digital threats from espionage, critical infrastructure sabotage, organized crime, and combat innovation.