Somalia Is at Peace—Somalia Is at War

Somalia is the archetypal failed state. A nation that has fractured so completely that for 20 years no central authority was able to control more than a few square kilometers of the capital.For many outsiders, the word “Somalia” evoked images of Black Hawk Down, pirates and Islamist rebels stoning civilians found guilty of adultery. An attack on the Somali parliament that killed 18 people on May 24 only reinforced the stereotype of a country gone to Hell.But there are reasons to hope for Somalia. A robust intervention by the African Union, manned mostly by Ugandan troops, improved security and helped ...

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Sending Commandos to #BringBackOurGirls is a Really Bad Idea

Despite the good intentions, the #BringBackOurGirls campaign has produced a number of stupid ideas and gross misinterpretations. There is singer Chris Brown and the BBC using completely unrelated photos of girls from Guinea-Bissau—some 1,000 miles away from where Boko Haram kidnapped 270 Nigerian girls one month ago—without even asking the photographer for permission. But it is probably Sen. John McCain who added the least helpful contribution to the debate about how to reunite the girls from Chibok with their families. “If they knew where they were, I certainly would send in U.S. troops to rescue them, in a New York ...

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Terror in Nigeria – World to the Rescue?

I had the great pleasure to be on Deutsche Welle, discussing with fellow guests Zainab Ahmed Mohamed and John Emeka Akude, who are both awesome, about the current situation in Nigeria. Enjoy: I had the great pleasure to be on Deutsche Welle, discussing with fellow guests Zainab Ahmed Mohamed and John Emeka Akude, who are both awesome, about the current situation in Nigeria. Enjoy:

The Australian Navy Just Grabbed One Ton of Heroin off the Kenyan Coast

Aussie sailors found 1,032 kilograms of heroin hidden between sacks of cement on a dhow—a slim fishing boat—sailing between Somalia and Kenya. Maybe one the largest heroin seizures ever in Africa, the operation highlights the continent’s growing role as a hub for the international drug trade—a trade that intersects with the trafficking of people and weapons. The profits often flow to terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda and the Lebanese group Hezbollah. Heroin is probably only the third most important drug being trafficked in Africa. The illicit trade of cocaine garners the most media attention, but in terms of global importance, ...

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Pentagon Gets to Keep Vital African Base — For a Price

You won’t find any foreign locale more important to U.S. security interests than Camp Lemonnier, the sprawling air and sea base in Djibouti, a tiny nation on the Horn of Africa. Djibouti borders Somalia—and Yemen is just a short flight away over open water. The U.S. conducts operations against Al Qaeda and affiliated terror groups in both countries. Djibouti also commands the entrance to the Red Sea, with its shipping lanes connecting the Middle East to Europe and America. After meeting Djiboutian president Ismail Omar Guelleh at the White House on Monday, U.S. president Barack Obama announced that the Pentagon ...

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South Sudan’s Army Will Make or Break the Country

The ongoing civil war in South Sudan wasn’t started by a fringe rebel group in a far-flung part of the country. It began at the heart of the army, in the barracks of the presidential guard.Can one of the world’s youngest countries reform its volatile armed forces … before it’s too late?Tension between different political factions within the ruling Sudan’s People Liberation Movement ran high after president Salva Kiir fired his deputy Riek Machar in July 2013. Bitter political rivals, Kiir and Machar are also widely perceived as champions for their respective ethnic groups, the Dinka and Nuer.The political conflict ...

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U.S. Special Operations Forces Screwed Up in Mali

The total collapse of the Malian army in the face of a Tuareg rebellion in 2011—and a subsequent coup by junior officers against the democratically-elected government—proves an important point. That U.S. military cooperation with Mali up to 2011—specifically, efforts by U.S. Army Special Forces to train Malian troops—was an overall failure. What’s been missing until now is a thorough analysis of exactly what went wrong. Army Maj. Simon Powelson’ new master’s thesis at the Naval Postgraduate School is the most insightful account of U.S.-Malian military cooperation prior to the crisis, which escalated into the capture of half the country by ...

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Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, the Reformer Despot Who Saved a Nation

The president of Rwanda is either a nation-saving reformer or a despot in disguise—or both. But figuring that out is your problem. Because Paul Kagame doesn’t give a shit what you think of him. Twenty years ago, hundreds of thousands of his people died in one of history’s worst atrocities. “Twenty years is short or long depending on where you stand but there is no justification for false moral equivalence,” Kagame said during the April commemoration of the Rwanda Genocide. “The passage of time should not obscure the facts, lessen responsibility or turn victims into villains.” Many regard Kagame as ...

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Why Are African Countries Buying All These High-Tech Jet Fighters?

Africa’s air forces are on a buying spree. Flush with oil cash, many African states are investing heavily in modern multirole jet fighters, deadly helicopter gunship and even sophisticated air-defense systems with radars and surface-to-air missiles. The deals are worth hundreds of millions of dollars in countries still lacking many basic social services. So it’s worth asking exactly what Uganda, Angola, Sudan and the like are planning to do with their new air forces. Some of the most interesting acquisitions involve modern, or modernized, Russian hardware. The Sukhoi Su-30—NATO codename “Flanker-C”—is a particular favorite of African governments. In just the ...

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Think Africa Press: How Much Longer Can Compaoré Rule Last?

On October 15, President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso will celebrate his 25th year in power. To spend that much time in office, he had to run coups against two governments. In the first in 1983, he helped his friend and fellow revolutionary Thomas Sankara become president. In the second, four years later, Compaoré took power. Sankara was killed and Compaoré lost all appetite for socialism. He put in place a system of power so exploitative that 25 years later Burkina Faso remains one of the least developed countries in the world. During this time, Compaoré has expertly managed to ...

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