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Roubini Warns : The violence and instability of North Africa is now spreading into Sub-Saharan Africa

Djibouti: The Middle East Meltdown and Global Risk – Impact of The Horn

New York (HAN) October 7, 2015 – Public Economic Diplomacy and the prospect of more onshore and offshore oil production in East Africa. Opinion By: Nouriel Roubini. A professor and was Senior Economist for International Affairs in the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers during the Clinton Administration. He has worked for the International Monetary Fund, the US Federal Reserve, and the World Bank.

Among today’s geopolitical risks, none is greater than the long arc of instability stretching from the Maghreb to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. With the Arab Spring an increasingly distant memory, the instability along this arc is deepening. Indeed, of the three initial Arab Spring countries, Libya has become a failed state, Egypt has returned to authoritarian rule, and Tunisia is being economically and politically destabilized by terrorist attacks.

The violence and instability of North Africa is now spreading into Sub-Saharan Africa, with the Sahel – one of the world’s poorest and most environmentally damaged regions – now gripped by jihadism, which is also seeping into the Horn of Africa to its east. And, as in Libya, civil wars are raging in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia, all of which increasingly look like failed states.

The region’s turmoil (which the United States and its allies, in their pursuit of regime change in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Egypt and elsewhere, helped to fuel) is also undermining previously secure states. The influx of refugees from Syria and Iraq is destabilizing Jordan, Lebanon, and now even Turkey, which is becoming increasingly authoritarian under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Meanwhile, with the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians unresolved, Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon represent a chronic threat of violent clashes with Israel.


What direction will US foreign policy take regarding this tension and will the next president have the power to be able to lead congress towards effective solutions ?
What influence will Russia, China and America have on the future of conflict and will foreign policy be part of the presidential debate ?

African Conflict & Sustainable Development

 

The following is taken from Center for Strategic & International Studies
Document
A Report of the CSIS Program on
Crisis, Conflict, and Cooperation
October 2014

Africa is the continent with the highest concentration of countries that are affected by violence and conflict and that appear regularly on lists of fragile states. CSIS senior fellow Robert D. Lamb sat down with Africa Program deputy director Richard Downie to talk about the conflicts and crises Africa is likely to face in the future and how the United States has positioned itself to deal with those challenges.

In Angola, the United States played an unhelpful role in prolonging the civil war through its continued support for U.N.I.T.A. [the National Union for the Total  Independence of Angola]. But elsewhere, it’s played a constructive diplomatic role, helping negotiate an end to conflicts in South Africa, Namibia, and Mozambique. This region—Zimbabwe aside—has for the past two decades been by far the most stable region of Africa.

China’s influence in Africa has been a net positive, actually, providing Africans with much-needed infrastructure and increased opportunities for trade and investment. At the same time, China’s avowed policy of noninterference in domestic politics has meant it’s been willing to do business with some of the continent’s most corrupt, authoritarian regimes, such as those in Sudan, Angola, and Zimbabwe. This has been a boon for incumbent autocrats. But it’s hard to make the case that China has directly fueled conflict and extremism in Africa. It shares with the United States an interest in peace and stability, and conflict threatens its business interests, in places like South Sudan, for instance. As its ties in Africa get deeper, China’s doctrine of noninterference is going to come under more strain.

China does limit U.S. influence in Africa although not to the extent commonly portrayed in the media mainly by offering itself as an alternative suitor to African governments who have no interest in heeding U.S. advice on promoting democracy and good governance.

There are two big, intractable problems that have implications for security in the region. The first is poor governance, which continues to blight a number of [African] countries. Indeed, that number has increased in recent years, reversing some of the positive progress made in the 1990s and early 2000s. One particular manifestation of this problem is leaders who remove constitutional term limits. By altering, or threatening to alter, constitutions in order to stay in office, leaders like Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso undermine their nations’ institutions and run the risk that opposition to their incumbency will take on increasingly desperate, even violent, forms.

The second big problem is the lack of viable African security institutions to respond to conflict in a timely, professional manner. The continent currently lacks political leaders with the skill and vision to take ownership of the issue and produce models for a homegrown and financially sustainable African security architecture.

In July 2014, former UK foreign secretary William Hague described a turbulent global landscape as one not simply experiencing a series of regular disruptions; instead, he suggested that the world was suffering from “systemic disorder.” In a similar vein, former U.S. national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski characterized the environment as “historically unprecedented in the sense that simultaneously, huge swaths of global territory are dominated by populist unrest, anger, loss of state control.

Indeed, every day seems to bring news of emerging crises and deeper chaos, with few signs the world’s troubles are abating. China’s assertive posture in Asia has the neighbors scrambling to bolster their armed forces, reinforce territorial claims, and buttress relations with the United States. Russia’s confrontation with Ukraine and NATO holds the prospects of conflict in Europe. A worsening in one or both of these regions could herald a new economic downturn worldwide.Beginning in North Africa in late 2010, the Arab Spring offered the promise of economic opportunity, justice, and self rule. But four years later, the region has more often witnessed despair, economic paralysis, and violence. The players include countless militias, insurgents, terrorists, government security services, and political factions all contesting control of territory, populations, and resources. The integrity of Libya, Syria, and Iraq are in serious jeopardy at the same time insurgent groups like ISIS are surging in influence and capability and in some places governing as a state.

At the heart of this turmoil are two distinct but related phenomena. States are less able or willing to exercise power and authority over their people, territory, and (shrinking) resources, while actors at the sub state level are simultaneously wielding greater capabilities than ever before. This is not a new state of affairs, but the trend has worsened sharply over the past year. Incompetent or corrupt regimes are failing to provide basic services and opportunity to their populations. Filling that void are ethnic- or sectarian based groups and sophisticated criminal gangs that are not only supplanting traditional government roles but challenging states on the battle field. The ongoing confrontation between ISIS and several powerful nations bears witness to this reality.

Caught in the middle are millions of citizens with scant economic opportunities, security, and little control over their own lives. With their own governments often at fault, many people look to alternative sources of authority and service provision. Violent extremist groups offer a respite for those seeking relief, along with a promise of empowerment and even revenge very appealing choices for many individuals in this environment, given their lack of other options.

Despite the strong desire by many to avoid these cofounding problems, there is little doubt that the United States will remain deeply engaged in finding solutions. The prospects for continued violence, radicalization, and global “systemic disorder” appear to be very strong, and the United States and its partners must prepare themselves for a rough ride ahead.

At the end of the Cold War, humanitarian assistance by civilian aid workers to alleviate suffering evolved into “humanitarian intervention.” This dramatic shift in conflict from interstate wars, which declined during the last decade of the twentieth century, to intrastate conflicts arising from weak and fragile states tested the capacity of both civilian and military agencies to find appropriate responses to the dual crises of human suffering and bad governance.

Urban growth was rapid over the course of the twentieth century, and it will continue to advance quickly over the next 20 years. The overall world population reached 7.3 billion people in 2014 and is projected to exceed 8.3 billion by 2030. Notwithstanding its scale, this rate of population growth will not match the projected scale of urban growth over the same period: urban populations will grow from 3.8 billion in 2014 to more than 5 billion in 2030. Most of this growth will occur in Asia and Africa.

Every year, millions of men, women, and children relocate to periurban spaces. The newly urbanized commonly find themselves forced to live in the most insecure spaces, such as along the edges of ravines, on flood prone streambeds, on unstable slopes, or in slums and shantytowns so densely populated that they become marked with ignominious titles such as Lagos’s “Face Me, I Face You” complexes. The speed and nonuniformity of this migration overwhelms existing urban infrastructure and service provision capacities, generating interrelated negative social, health, and economic externalities. The severity of this insecurity is nowhere more apparent than for the 930 million inhabitants in developing countries, specifically in sub-Saharan Africa, who live in a slum.

Organized crime and the potential for violence from terrorist or insurgent networks pose a further challenge to human security in quickly urbanizing environments. Problems found in mega cities economic disparity and high unemployment make them a prime breeding ground for violent non state actors. Many fear the sheer size of these cities will allow criminal groups to flourish undetected by local government or legal authorities. The absence of rule of law and basic services has the potential to provide safe haven to organized criminals, insurgents, and other violent non state actors.

Transnational criminal organizations corrupt and intimidate governments and facilitate illicit trafficking, which makes them one of the more pernicious non state actors. UNODC emphasizes in its 2013 West African Threat Assessment that underserved communities particularly those in border areas can profit from the flow of contraband, “leading them further and further from the reach of the state.”

Livelihoods that benefit from governance vacuums are unsustainable but usually preferable to poverty. Those involved in illicit trade are willing to defend themselves violently when their livelihoods are threatened whether by the state or by rivals. To make matters worse, wealth accrued through illicit trafficking is often sufficient to buy cooperation from high levels of government, meaning corruption is both enabled by and an enabler of organized crime.

Many countries in sub-Saharan Africa are still experiencing a new kind of threat as stateless armies of criminal actors threaten the peace and security of many countries. In 2014, we still face the problem of accepting how long it takes to build strong institutions, grow civil society, and restore economic growth. Foreign assistance budgets are developed in five year bundles, yet reality tells us that state building is a 20 year task at a minimum. A generation is usually needed to see the results of stabilization and institution building, yet the high level of demand for the immediate resolution of conflict, often characterized by impatience and quick fixes, checking a box on a “to-do” list, fails to create a genuine understanding of how any short-term development interventions support a path to national development and a return to stable governance.

The rapid changes and instability emergent today require a comprehensive and effective response that brings people together to resolve differences peacefully and strengthens their ability to better overcome future potential conflict or strife.

I would like to focus here in conclusion, on two sub- Saharan African countries  that have overcome some  challenges and made some progress towards a modern democratic civil society. South Africa & Zimbabwe have enormous natural resources some of which contribute to their GDP and also a revenue stream for the government which can be further strengthened with bilateral trade agreements with their trading partners. Both countries share a common history in that they have had precolonization and colonization and are now in the third stage of their history which is post colonization.

The countries share a border and there is a certain amount of commonality with the challenges that they face moving into the Twenty First Century. South Africa & Zimbabwe are both part of the South African Development Community and the African Union. Ideally for progress to happen and for them to reach their full potential, truth, trust and transparency in government are paramount. Sustainable development that is part of a transformative state requires a collaborative and consultative approach with all of the stakeholders. There are many real challenges ahead, some of which were addressed in the Millennium Development Goals. The Sustainable Development Goals have continued the MDGs and also focus on future remaining challenges.

Governments can to be proactive regarding matters such as health, education, employment, infrastructure, gender equality, food security, population growth, structural reforms(whether they are regulatory, or institutional, or political, or fiscal, or social) and climate change, which will benefit the current citizens and future generations. It also is the duty and responsibility of foreign governments to work with these two countries to establish mutually beneficial relationships that benefit the citizens.

The proactive approach that government needs to address with structural reform is highlighted by a 2012 report by KPMG (http://www.kpmg.com/Africa/en/IssuesAndInsights/Articles-Publications/Press-Releases/Documents/Africa%20Fraud%20Barometer%20June%202012.pdf ) where it claims ” Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa make up 74 percent of all fraud cases reported in Africa. While fewer cases are reported in South Africa, the overall value of these cases is far greater in Nigeria”.

The writer welcomes and feedback and or ideas regarding the subject and appreciates the work that C.S.I.S. carries out and the contribution that is makes globally.

Zimbabwe Challenges

https://foreignpolicy.com/2015/06/03/ominous-warning-signs-resurface-in-zimbabwe/

Ominous Warning Signs Resurface

in Zimbabwe

Ominous Warning Signs Resurface in Zimbabwe

The southern African nation of Zimbabwe has fallen off the international radar screen in recent years, but alarm bells should be ringing loud and clear. Over the course of the past few months, we have witnessed an ominous series of warning signs: bitter political infighting within the country’s ruling party, the worsening of already deplorable economic conditions, the abduction and disappearance of a prominent human rights activist, and a surge of inflammatory rhetoric and political violence. According to a report by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, these are all telltale signs of growing atrocity risk — and precisely why the United States, and its allies, must wake up and take a proactive stand.

Political violence has long shaped the landscape of Zimbabwe, home to an estimated 14 million people. After a bloody liberation struggle against British colonial rule, Robert Mugabe, the only head of state Zimbabwe has ever known, spoke of reconciliation, peace, and social cohesion at independence in 1980. Mugabe’s words, however, brazenly belied the reality on the ground. Wartime emergency measures were kept in place, and we now know that plans for massacres against the Ndebele people in Midlands and Matabeleland provinces — what would later be known as Gukurahundi — were well underway. This calculated campaign of terror against an ethnic minority, executed with assistance from North Korea, was a key component of Mugabe’s plan to eliminate any opposition to his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF). This scorched-earth campaign left at least 20,000 people dead and thousands more displaced. Thirty years later, no one has been held accountable, and the perpetrators remain in positions of power.

For a brief moment during Zimbabwe’s coalition government, from 2009-2013, the situation seemed as if it might be improving. The shattered economy stabilized and slowly began to recover, political space re-opened, and the most blatant forms of state-sponsored aggression declined. In reality, however, ZANU-PF and Mugabe were merely adjusting their tactics: Instead of physically assaulting opposition leaders in front of TV cameras, they undermined their influence through manipulation of the courts; instead of firebombing newspapers, they quietly intimidated the media and civil society activists; instead of beating up and maiming opposition supporters, they craftily rigged the polls to win the vote in July 2013. This more subtle approach worked, even leading to a softening of European sanctions earlier this year.

Over the past several months, however, the mood in Zimbabwe has markedly changed.

On March 9, prominent human rights defender Itai Dzamara was abducted in broad daylight. Diplomats claim that his disappearance bears all the hallmarks of an operation by Zimbabwe’s intelligence services, which has long operated with impunity under the direction of Mugabe and his security chiefs. More than two months later, Dzamara remains missing. Not only have the police ignored a High Court judgment, which ordered them to provide bi-weekly updates on the investigation and search for Dzamara, but a government minister went so far as to suggest that Dzamara staged his own disappearance.

Dzamara’s abduction is not an isolated incident. Zimbabwe’s history is replete with examples of human rights and opposition political activists who have been abducted, tortured, forcibly disappeared, or murdered by state agents. Most recently, on April 26, ruling party operatives publicly assaulted six traditional leaders at a campaign rally in Mashonaland, in full view of the police, for supporting an independent candidate running for local office. Two of the headmen have been reported missing by the local press.

The recent uptick of incendiary rhetoric espoused by leaders in ZANU-PF has also raised red flags. Last month, for example, Zimbabwe’s current Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, while on a campaign stop in Midlands, likened Zimbabwe’s political opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), to Satan, announcing to the crowd “we have come to cleanse you of the sins of the MDC.” Importantly, Mnangagwa — who is also minister of justice and the most likely successor to the 91-year-old Mugabe — was a chief architect of Gukurahundi as then-minister of defense.

This type of dog-whistle rhetoric — including from Mugabe himself — is eerily reminiscent of Zimbabwe’s dark past. The ethnically-charged words are strategically chosen: meant to strike fear in the hearts and minds of would-be voters, but also to send a clear warning to those in ZANU-PF who might challenge Mugabe’s authority. In December 2014, for example, during the height of a frenzied intraparty struggle for power, Zimbabwe’s longtime vice president and liberation war hero Joice Mujuru — nicknamed “Spill Blood” — was ousted after allegations that she had planned to assassinate Mugabe. To date, Mujuru has maintained that the accusation is false and many observers, both inside Zimbabwe and out, believe the smear campaign was part of a more sinister plot to neutralize a political rival who had been gaining popularity.

Even prior to this latest incident, Mujuru knew full well the ramifications of crossing Mugabe and ZANU-PF, whether intentional or perceived. Her late husband, Solomon Mujuru, a highly revered figure in Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle and former defense minister, was killed in an eerily suspicious house fire in 2011. Following Joice Mujuru’s political demise this past year, the first lady of Zimbabwe and current chairwoman of the ZANU-PF Women’s League, Grace Mugabe, declared that if Mujuru were killed, “dogs and fleas would not disturb her carcass.”

In Zimbabwe, this type of odious rhetoric has often coincided with political violence: It was a common tactic deployed during land invasions in the early 2000s, during a forced “urban clearance campaign” in 2005, and exemplified by targeted political attacks during and after the 2008 election period, when Robert Mugabe lost a first round but then unleashed a cascade of violence to force the opposition to withdraw.

The latest developments in Zimbabwe come at a time when the country’s economy is again collapsing and the political elite are tearing themselves apart in a battle for succession. Monitors of mass atrocity risk typically watch for ethnic exclusion, hate speech, and indicators of political and economic stress. The greatest indicator of a country’s atrocity risk is whether it has suffered from similar events in the past. All of these factors are currently, and ominously, present in Zimbabwe.

This is a dangerous moment for the citizens of Zimbabwe, and for the southern African region writ large.

This is a dangerous moment for the citizens of Zimbabwe, and for the southern African region writ large. The United States government recently dispatched a delegation, including one of the State Department’s top human rights officials, to Harare. But the Obama administration will need to keep a keen and close eye on the ongoing events in Zimbabwe, including tasking the intelligence services for an assessment of the potential for mass violence. This should include elevating the issue of Zimbabwe to the president’s Atrocities Prevention Board, which can readily address the early warning indicators of mass atrocities that currently prevail. Just as important, authorities in the capital, Harare, must know that the world is watching. Preventative steps must be taken now by engaging with the African Union (which Mugabe currently chairs), other African heads of state, as well as the United Nations Security Council to dissuade the Mugabe government from going down this tragic road once again.

Mugabe and his inner circle of ZANU-PF loyalists must also understand that those who continue to commit violence against their own people will ultimately be held accountable. The United States and its allies should make it profoundly clear, both publicly and in private, that visa bans, asset seizures, and even war crimes prosecutions are all viable policy options that remain on the table.

Jekesai Njikizana/AFP/Getty Images