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Boko Haram, the radical Islamist sect behind a recent surge of violence in Nigeria, launched a series of attacks Friday that left at least 185 people dead in Kano, the country’s second-largest city. The attacks struck multiple security buildings as well as the regional police headquarters, and were the deadliest yet by the militant organization. The group, which aims to overthrow the Nigerian government and impose Sharia law, has grown increasingly violent, with its August 2011 bombing of the United Nations building in Abuja, the capital, as well as its attacks on churches raising alarm among international observers. “Boko Haram […]

ELDORET, Kenya — In a milestone ruling issued Monday, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has decided to bring four prominent Kenyan political figures to trial for war crimes allegedly committed during the 2007-2008 post-election violence that engulfed the country, East Africa’s economic powerhouse and former paradigm of stability. Striking at the core of Kenyan political society, presidential frontrunners and Members of Parliament William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta will now face charges of masterminding the grassroots violence that claimed 1,200 lives, injured countless more and displaced hundreds of thousands. Civil service chief Francis Muthaura and radio broadcaster Joshua arap Sang will […]

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Law enforcement officials from seven West African countries met in Sierra Leone last month to discuss increasing anti-corruption efforts at a conference organized by the U.S. State Department and U.S. Justice Department under the auspices of the West Africa Cooperative Security Initiative (WACSI). In an email interview, Boubacar N’Diaye, an associate professor of black studies and political science at the College of Wooster, discussed the WASCI. WPR: What is driving the West Africa Cooperative Security Initiative, and which U.S. government agencies are involved? Boubacar N’Diaye: The driving force behind the WACSI is the United States’ desire to curtail drug trafficking […]

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The International Criminal Court will decide over the next few days whether six men accused of orchestrating post-election violence in Kenya in 2008 should stand trial. Tens of thousands of people who fled the violence are still living in refugee camps. World News Videos by NewsLook

MONROVIA, Liberia — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled to West Africa this week looking to highlight the Obama administration’s efforts to promote democratic institutions and credible elections. But in Liberia, a staunch ally that receives more than $200 million annually in American foreign assistance, the conversation in the run-up to the visit concerned a different policy: the first government-wide effort by the U.S. to combat the criminalization of homosexuality overseas. President Barack Obama signed a memorandum outlining the policy on Dec. 6. In a speech that day at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Clinton proclaimed that […]

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The Egyptian government is currently in talks with the International Monetary Fund over an emergency loan of $3 billion, after having declined a similar offer from the IMF last year. In an email interview, Magda Kandil, the executive director and director of research at the Egyptian Center for Economic Studies, discussed Egypt’s international borrowing. WPR: How dependent has Egypt been historically on international financing, and how has that changed since the revolution? Magda Kandil: Egypt has been dependent on financing to close the gap in the fiscal deficit. However, most of the borrowing has been domestic. Currently, public debt is […]

Globalization’s historical expansion from Europe to North America to Asia has featured a familiar dynamic: The last region “in” becomes the integrator of note for the next region “up.” Europe was the primary investor, customer and integrator for the U.S. economy in its rise during the 19th and 20th centuries, and America subsequently “paid it forward” with East Asia in the decades following World War II. Recently, it has been Asia’s turn, primarily through China, to pay it forward once again with Africa, arguably the hottest integration zone in the global economy today. Nonetheless, in Washington — and especially inside […]

The release of President Barack Obama’s strategic guidance to the Department of Defense on Jan. 5 has already unleashed a storm of commentary. The final document, “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense,” was prepared after months of consultations with the national security team and senior military leaders, and is a first attempt to begin prioritizing both defense missions as well as geographic regions that are most vital to U.S. interests. The guidance puts a premium on what might be termed “expeditionary firepower” — naval and air assets capable of projecting power over a wide area — and […]

The Sept. 11 attacks made a household name out of al-Qaida, an organization whose existence had earlier concerned only intelligence professionals and a handful of journalists. As 2012 begins, al-Qaida has suffered a series of harsh blows, leading some to conclude that the once-predominant purveyor of terrorism and extremist ideology in much of the world has become a spent force, one without much of a future. To be sure, 2011 was a devastating year for the organization. But al-Qaida is not about to fade quietly into the sunset. Like a virus that mutates to survive its host’s most potent defenses, […]

CAIRO — Increased hostility from Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) over the past few months has led the United States to begin preparing for a future without the Egyptian military. On Dec. 29, Egyptian security forces raided the offices of three U.S.-affiliated NGOs, in addition to 14 others, in what was widely seen as a politically motivated crackdown on pro-democracy and human rights organizations. “Actions like these are another reason why my Appropriations subcommittee refused to give a blank check of foreign aid to the Egyptian military,” U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy said […]

Last week, in the Gulf of Oman, the Arleigh Burke-class missile destroyer USS Kidd seized an Iranian fishing dhow that had been hijacked and used as a mother ship by Somali pirates. In the course of the seizure, 13 Iranian hostages were freed, and 15 Somali pirates were taken into U.S. custody. The Iranian crew has now returned home after more than a month in captivity. In and of itself, the rescue was not extraordinary. Other vessels participating in the U.S.-led multilateral naval task force fighting Somalian piracy in the region — known as CTF-151 — carry out such rescues […]

This week, a general strike has paralyzed much of Nigeria’s economy while anti-government protests have occurred in many of the country’s major cities. The protests were triggered by the federal government’s decision to remove a subsidy on fuel on Jan. 1. The ensuing rise in the cost of a liter of fuel, from approximately $0.45 to $0.94, dealt a powerful blow to most Nigerians, many of whom live on less than $2 a day. Some protesters, fearing for their economic survival, feel they have no choice but to take to the streets. But the protests also encompass concerns that extend […]

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Outbreaks of violence between the Lou Nuer and Murle tribes in South Sudan, which began last month and continued into this week, have left hundreds dead and tens of thousands displaced in one of the most remote corners of the youngest nation in the world. The intertribal fighting in Jonglei state, near the South Sudanese-Ethiopian border, serves as a reminder that South Sudanese independence does not mean an end to conflicts within its own borders, said Alan Goulty, former U.K. Special Representative for Sudan and Darfur and a senior scholar in the Africa program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center […]

Although extended periods of one-party dominance may be endorsed by voters in free and fair elections, they can also prove detrimental to the health of democratic government in various ways. Corruption — in particular, the misappropriation of public resources for private gain — is a pronounced feature of dominant-party systems and one of the more obvious means by which those systems can pose a threat to clean, transparent and efficient government. As South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) celebrates its 100th anniversary and enters its 18th year in power, its experience in government is largely serving to confirm this familiar, […]

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The Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), the oldest armed rebel group in Ethiopia, announced earlier this week that it plans to drop its long-held demands for secession and instead work within the political system. The OLF’s move from insurgent activity to electoral competition is both surprising and significant, explains John Harbeson, an African Studies lecturer at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and emeritus professor of political science at the City University of New York. “It is a complete 180 from what at least a faction of the OLF has always wanted to do,” he said, pointing to the […]

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