The 13 months since Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down have been turbulent and chaotic for the country. But it is only now, with a presidential election scheduled to begin in eight weeks and a committee being put in place to write a new constitution, that full-on political crisis seems to be looming. In recent days, the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), which took power when Mubarak resigned and has been overseeing the transition process, has found itself in conflict with the Muslim Brotherhood over the powers and responsibilities of the recently elected parliament. At the same time, secular […]

The Egyptian activists whose protests brought down the dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak in February 2011 are becoming increasingly alarmed as their dream of a liberal, secular and egalitarian democracy in Egypt is starting to look unattainable. In a severe blow to their hopes, Islamist members of parliament brazenly staked out a large majority of the positions in the newly chosen constitutional assembly, all but ensuring that the fundamental law of the land will be written by members of the Muslim Brotherhood and the more radical Salafists, with only minimal, easily discardable input from other sectors of society. By a conservative […]

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The international community has quickly and strongly condemned the coup d’état in the West African state of Mali after soldiers overthrew the democratically elected government of President Amadou Toumani Touré last week. The country, which had been regarded as a strong model of democracy, was preparing to hold elections in April, and Touré had already announced he would be stepping aside rather than seeking a thrid term in office. But frustrated with the handling of the Tuareg insurgency in the north of the country, a group of mid-level officers from the military and security forces took matters into their own […]

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Several hours after polls closed for Senegal’s presidential election Sunday, President Abdoulaye Wade, the 85-year-old incumbent whose decision to seek a third term in office led to waves of protest across the country, conceded defeat to Macky Sall, 50, and even called to congratulate Sall on his victory. Many had feared that Wade, whose popularity has suffered since he took office in 2000 due to rising levels of unemployment, the soaring cost of living and increasingly visible corruption, would remain in office regardless of the election results. But with a peaceful transfer of power, the results of the runoff voting […]

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Five days after army officers overthrew the Mali government, representatives from over 200 parties and pressure groups have formed a new political front. The aim is to challenge the military coup through negotiation. It is calling for the reinstatement of constitutional law and the holding of new elections.

The past year could have been a disastrous one for U.N. peacekeeping. Twelve months ago, Côte d’Ivoire appeared to be on the brink of renewed civil war in spite of the presence there of United Nations and French forces. South Sudan’s vote for independence in January 2011 also had the potential to unleash mass violence. From Haiti to Liberia to the Democratic Republic of Congo, peacekeepers were charged with overseeing elections that might have resulted in significant instability. In Somalia, U.N.-mandated African Union (AU) forces were locked in grinding combat with Islamist al-Shabab rebels. The risk of one or more […]

As the fighting between the Tuareg rebels of the National Movement for the Liberation of Awazad (MNLA) and the Malian army enters its third month, there are few indications that the conflict will be resolved in the near future. On a military level, the advantage lies with the well-equipped and experienced Tuareg fighters, many of whom are veterans of earlier rebellions and the Libyan civil war. Using long-range guerrilla tactics, mainly surprise attacks launched over distances of hundreds of miles with four-wheel-drive pickup trucks, they have sacked at least seven Malian garrison towns so far, including one this past weekend. […]

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On March 5, the advocacy group Invisible Children uploaded a 30-minute documentary about Joseph Kony, the rebel leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The film was an effort to raise awareness about the LRA, which originated in Northern Uganda more than two decades ago and has since become known for its extreme brutality — including the kidnapping, rape and killing of tens of thousands of victims. Invisible Children achieved its goal: The video went viral, racking up 76 million views and counting, as the #StopKony hashtag flooded Facebook walls and Twitter feeds. But it has since been the subject […]

Since the spring of 2010, South Sudan has been facing an onslaught of militia activity in Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei states. For the most part, the government has pursued an “amnesty and integration” policy toward these militias, whereby members are offered amnesty for their past actions and integrated into the Southern People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), the former rebel group that now comprises the majority of South Sudan’s official security forces. The notable exception to this approach was George Athor, the rebel general who arguably posed the greatest internal threat to the government. Having refused multiple government overtures to persuade […]

Washington’s successful efforts to kill top al-Qaida leaders, combined with the emergence of strong pro-democracy movements in the Muslim world, have led many to conclude that al-Qaida is fizzling out. But while the conventional wisdom increasingly portrays the group as becoming gradually but steadily a spent and irrelevant force, there is evidence that this optimistic conclusion is grossly premature. Judging by the mayhem and death toll the group is inflicting in several countries — including hundreds killed by its militants in just the past few days — al-Qaida appears to be catching a second wind. The dramatic Navy Seal operation […]

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In an effort to lower drug prices, South Africa and Swiss pharmaceutical firm Lonza Group agreed last month to create a $211 million joint venture in Pretoria to manufacture chemicals used in drugs that treat HIV. In an email interview, Peter Navario, an adjunct associate professor of public policy at New York University and a former global health fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, discussed South Africa’s HIV/AIDS policy.* WPR: How has South Africa’s HIV/AIDS policy evolved over the past 10 years? Peter Navario: Over the past 10 years, South Africa has gone from global laggard to playing a […]

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Moroccan Foreign Minister Saad-Eddine El Othmani traveled to Algeria in January for talks with Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci and President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. In an email interview, Ahmed Aghrout, a specialist in the international relations of the Maghreb at the University of Salford, Manchester, discussed Morocco-Algeria relations. WPR: What is behind past tensions between Algeria and Morocco, and how have they impacted regional issues such as terrorism and Western Sahara? Ahmed Aghrout: The relationship between the two neighbors has, in the main, been marked by mutual distrust and, at times, by antagonism. The beginning of the tensions can be traced […]

When U.N. peacekeepers withdrew from Somalia in early 1995, a brief era of concerted international pressure aimed at bringing stability to the embattled Horn of Africa nation ended in defeat. The U.N. mandate to restore law and order in the Somali capital failed dismally: A shattered Mogadishu was abandoned, and prevailing wisdom deemed the country too difficult a challenge. Today, Somalia remains the globe’s archetypal “failed state,” plagued by pervasive poverty and endemic lawlessness. But faint glimmers of hope are now emerging. As Somalia prepares to draft a new constitution and end its period of transitional governance, indicators on the […]