Ankara is strengthening ties with Sahelian capitals, building mosques and hospitals and opening up export markets. Its defence pact with Niamey has led rivals to suspect its intentions. Turkey and other outside powers should do what they can to avoid unnecessary additional competition in the region.
Originally published in World Politics Review
To accompany this month’s CrisisWatch, Interim President Richard Atwood looks at the dramatic turn of events in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, the danger of new fighting and its implications for Horn of Africa geopolitics.
In mid-December, Sudanese troops moved into al-Fashaga, an agricultural area on the frontier with Ethiopia, expelling Ethiopian farmers and building fortifications. Fighting threatens to escalate. With assistance from outside mediators, the two countries should convene talks about restoring the shared land-use agreement that prevailed beforehand.
Deadly conflict in Mozambique’s ruby- and natural gas-rich northernmost coastal province feeds on a mix of colonial-era tensions, inequality and Islamist militancy. To tame the insurrection, Maputo needs to use force, with bespoke assistance from outside partners, and to carefully address underlying grievances.
A spate of mass killings in Niger’s Tillabery region has raised the spectre of broader civil strife. Most worrying is the ethnic dimension to the crimes. Authorities should move quickly to prioritize civilian protection lest vigilantes take matters into their own hands.
Nigeria’s latest plan for curbing herder-farmer conflict is facing obstacles, including staff and funding shortages as well as political opposition. If this initiative fails, there could be more rural violence. Abuja should work with donors to raise both money and awareness of the scheme’s benefits.
Dans le sud-ouest du Niger, le banditisme armé pourrait renforcer la méfiance entre les communautés et favoriser des insurrections susceptibles d’être exploitées par les jihadistes. Les autorités nigériennes devraient agir pour remédier aux injustices subies par les communautés vivant de l’élevage, initier des dialogues intercommunautaires et mieux encadrer les groupes d’autodéfense embryonnaires.
Both federal and resistance forces are digging in for a lengthy battle in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. Conditions for civilians are dire, with famine a growing danger. Outside powers should urge Addis Ababa to let more aid into the war zone, while maintaining pressure for talks.
Al Shabaab is fully embedded in Somali society, especially in areas under their control, where local populations have little choice but to engage the group.
The current violent blowback indicates that [President] Abiy and his allies cannot achieve peace and prosperity for all Ethiopians by imposing their vision and party on Ethiopia using the coercive power of the state.
[South Sudan] is just, unfortunately, in a much worse spot than it was 10 years ago. Whenever I talk with various diplomats from different countries [...] they all fear cutting humanitarian aid to South Sudan would just cause more misery. Both the South Sudanese and the outside world feel a bit stuck at the moment.
The persistent targeting of schools in [Kaduna] suggests the armed groups may be trying to break the state government’s resolve not to pay ransom to criminal groups.
The fact that the U.S. and its allies have secured [a UNSC] meeting is itself a signal that Ethiopia has lost some credibility […] and it opens up the possibility that the Council will take further action down the road.
It's imperative that [the Sudanese government] communicate properly to the population...on this [IMF debt relief program] so people don't look up and just see the pain.
The world's youngest country needs an overhaul, Crisis Group Interim Vice President and Africa Program Director Comfort Ero and South Sudan Senior Analyst Alan Boswell write in Foreign Affairs.
Originally published in Foreign Affairs
Ethiopia’s military withdrew from Tigray’s capital on 28 June, having suffered a string of battlefield reversals. Addis Ababa and Tigrayan leaders should now work on extending immediate aid to a population at risk of famine. They should also pursue political reconciliation in due time.
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood and Naz Modirzadeh talk to Alan Boswell, senior analyst for South Sudan, for an in-depth look at South Sudanese statehood ten years after independence.
Originally published in Le Point Afrique