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Recommended US Response to Russian Activities in Africa

(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.

The African Union Wavers between Reform and More of the Same

Spotlight   published by Paul Nantulya on April 19, 2019

The African Union will need to overcome a lack of political will and address structural challenges if it is to be effective in responding to security crises on the continent, consistent with its founding mission.

Despots and Disruptions: Five Dimensions of Internet Shutdowns in Africa

Recommended research   published by Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) on March 18, 2019

African governments increasingly use internet disruptions as a tool to prevent information sharing and popular mobilization during elections or periods of conflict. In the first three weeks of 2019 alone, the governments of Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Sudan, and Zimbabwe blocked citizens’ access to the internet and social media. Over the last three years, governments in Africa that are less democratic or have been in power for the longest are more likely to order internet disruptions. All the African countries that have disrupted internet access in 2019 are authoritarian. Internet blackouts threaten election freedom and human rights and cause serious economic disruptions.

The Ever-Adaptive Allied Democratic Forces Insurgency

Spotlight   published by Paul Nantulya on February 8, 2019

The ADF, one of the least understood militant groups in the Great Lakes, has endured for over 20 years by instrumentalizing Islamist, ethnic, and secessionist ideologies to recruit and forge new alliances.

Weapons Compass: Mapping Illicit Small Arms Flows in Africa

Recommended research   published by Nicolas Florquin, Sigrid Lipott, and Francis Wairagu, Small Arms Survey and the African Union Commission on January 31, 2019

The scale of illicit small arms on the continent is hard to estimate as voluntary reporting is limited and most African states have not carried out national assessments or adopted tracking mechanisms. Nonetheless, cross-border trafficking by land is the most prominent type of illicit arms flow in Africa. Though many of the illicit weapons on the continent are legacies from past conflicts, recent seizures of newer models show that the arms trade is fueled by weapons diverted from national stockpiles and peacekeeping forces as well as arms imported from other regions as part of embargo-breaking transfers.

DRC Election Results Suggest a Rare Chance for Change

Spotlight   published by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies on January 12, 2019

Civic action has been vital to reach a historic outcome, however, many challenges remain to achieve a genuine democratic transition.

Parliamentary Oversight of the Security Sector: Uganda’s Experience

Spotlight   published by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies on November 28, 2018

In an interview with the Africa Center, Stephen Twebaze says that when MPs govern as representatives rather than political actors, even parliaments dominated by a ruling party can practice effective oversight.

Contemporary Security Challenges in the Horn of Africa

Program Materials  

October 16–18, 2018 Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti Read Ahead Program Schedule Bios Session 1 Ethnicity, Governance and Stability Presented by: Mvemba Dizolele (Slides) Session 2 Democracy and Governance Presented by: Mvemba Dizolele (Slides | Video: Congo’s Bloody Coltan) Session 3 Effectiveness of Counterterrorism Responses in the Horn of Africa Presented by: Amy Pate (Slides) Session 4... Continue Reading

Africa’s Contemporary Security Challenges

Program Materials  

Program materials for the Africa Center's 2018 Africa's Contemporary Security Challenges Workshop. Click here for syllabus, readings, presentation slides, and links to videos.

Setting Fire to Your Own House; Crisis in the Kasai: The Manipulation of Customary Power and the Instrumentalization of Disorder

Recommended research   published by Jason Stearns, Congo Research Group on July 31, 2018

Unlike conflicts in eastern DRC where regional actors support non-state armed groups, the Kamuina Nsapu crisis in the Kasai region is a domestic insurgency that results from both the central government’s neglect and its manipulation of traditional clan affairs. The government’s response to the crisis has been heavy-handed—the result of Congolese officials seeking to gain favor with Kinshasa—and has minimized the possibility of a peaceful solution. Efforts at demobilization of combatants and prosecution of abuses by the Congolese military have been non-existent, a further sign of the perceived neglect by the state that helped spur the conflict. The politicization of the conflict along ethnic lines is a troubling sign ahead of elections scheduled for December 2018.

From Urban Fragility to Urban Stability

Africa Security Brief No. 35   published by Stephen Commins on June 12, 2018

The growing share of Africa's urban residents living in slums is creating a further source of fragility. However, integrated urban development strategies that link local government, police, the private sector, and youth are strengthening social cohesion and enhancing stability.