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The international offensive against the Islamist al-Shabaab organization in Somalia appeared to take a new turn last week as hundreds of Ethiopian troops accompanied by armored personnel carriers reportedly crossed the border into the famine- and war-torn nation. The U.S. had already expanded its drone war into Somalia over the summer, and Kenyan troops have been fighting al-Shabaab in southern Somalia since last month. A significant incursion now by Ethiopia could shift the dynamics of the already chaotic war. But according to Bronwyn E. Bruton, deputy director of the Michael S. Ansari Africa Center at the Atlantic Council in Washington, […]

NAIROBI — Targeting East Africa as an area of vital strategic interest, Israel is heightening its regional presence, most notably through a security pact signed last week with Kenyan political and security leaders. The move comes at a critical time for Kenya. The country’s military campaign aimed at eradicating al-Qaida-linked al-Shabaab in Somalia has now entered its sixth week, and domestic security concerns continue to escalate. Speculation over the nature of the enhanced bilateral ties emerged after Kenyan political leaders provocatively declared the alliance. Officials from both nations have since been tight-lipped, and details remain murky. But Israeli officials in […]

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Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho visited Angola earlier this month to promote greater investment from his country’s former colony. In an email interview, Pedro Seabra, a researcher at the Portuguese Institute of International Relations and Security, discussed Portugal-Angola relations. WPR: How have relations between Portugal and Angola evolved in the past decade? Pedro Seabra: Since Angola’s civil war ended in 2002, bilateral relations with Portugal have skyrocketed both in political and economic terms. Overall, there has been a clear political drive from both countries to try to make up for lost time while at the same time seeking to […]

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Thanks to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and the two wars they spawned, it seemed like the near entirety of President George W. Bush’s two terms in office were characterized by efforts to define, harness and exploit fear. Despite living in the most peaceful, prosperous and predictable period in world history, Americans became convinced that they faced an unending era of war, impoverishment and chaos. That muddled mindset put us painfully out of touch with the rest of the planet. Enter then-Sen. Barack Obama, whose masterful presidential campaign in 2008 spoke openly and honestly about healing that growing rift. […]

Nairobi’s Operation Linda Nchi, or Protect the Country, was launched in October as a counterterrorism measure after kidnappings of foreign tourists and aid workers inside of Kenya were linked to the Somalian militant group al-Shabaab. For a country that has seen lucrative tourism revenues, especially from cruise ship visits, dry up in the wake of the instability emanating from Somalia, the abductions were the last straw. But an unintended side benefit of the intervention has been its impact on piracy. In the face of the military operation, with Kenyan army units pushing up toward the port of Kismayo, Somali pirate […]

DHOBLEY, Somalia — Less than a mile from the Kenyan border, dozens of soldiers toting AK-47s saunter along the derelict and flooded roads that snake through Dhobley’s ramshackle homes and markets. Some are members of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG). Others pledge allegiance to a local, allied militia. The majority don immaculate camouflage, though some wear casual, civilian dress. All are pitted against the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabaab militant group that has gained a significant footing in southern Somalia since the ouster of the Union of Islamic Courts in 2006. And all welcome Kenya’s two-week-old military foray into Somalia that aims to […]

The governments that emerge in the aftermath of the uprisings in the Middle East will face a challenge as daunting as any faced by the men who ruled for decades before them: They must urgently improve living standards for the millions who now demand change — and they must do it in the wake of unrest that has caused already-dismal economic conditions to worsen even more. Despite the loud calls for democracy and freedom, the real engine of the Arab revolts has not been philosophical or political. Above all, the popular revolutions have been motivated by a pressing need for […]

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The number of pirate attacks off the coasts of Benin and Nigeria has reportedly dropped recently due to joint patrols by the two countries. In an email interview, Martin N. Murphy, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Ansari Africa Center, discussed West African piracy.* WPR: What is the recent history of piracy off West Africa? Martin N. Murphy: Piracy has been a serious problem off Nigeria since the 1970s. Back then it was concentrated around the port of Lagos, where ships often sat at anchor for months waiting to unload. This came to an abrupt end in 1981 when the […]