After he stepped down as the U.N. special envoy for Syria in May, Lakhdar Brahimi was asked what he thought would become of the country. “It will become another Somalia,” he replied. “It will not be divided, as many have predicted. It’s going to be a failed state, with warlords all over the place.” As early as 2012, Brahimi began issuing warnings of the “Somalization” of Syria. While analysts following Syria acknowledge it may not yet be Somalia, “Brahimi’s warning is timely and appropriate,” according to Peter Neumann, professor of security studies at the Department of War Studies at King’s […]

In his inaugural address on May 24, South African President Jacob Zuma identified “rapid economic transformation” and “inclusive growth” as the policy centerpieces of his second and final term in office. This emphasis on transformation reflects an underlying post-election unease within the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and represents a tacit recognition that Zuma’s first term was largely squandered due to scandals, managerial incompetence at all levels of government and internecine strife within the ruling party. The ANC hierarchy is aware that another five years of drift and underachievement will lead to a hemorrhage of votes in the 2016 municipal […]

Spanish police have recently begun to crack down on Islamist militants in its exclaves Ceuta and Melilla in North Africa. In an email interview, Gerry O’Reilly, senior lecturer in geography and international affairs at St Patrick’s College, Dublin City University, discussed Spanish policy toward both autonomous territories. WPR: What is Spain’s logic for maintaining its two North African exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla? Gerry O’Reilly: Spain maintains the exclaves for historical and security reasons: Spain acquired these territories as part of the 15th-century “Reconquista” crusade. Spain’s security imperative remained with Ceuta given its geostrategic importance, as it faces the British […]

The race to succeed Ban Ki-moon as secretary-general of the United Nations is heating up. More or less open candidates are emerging with growing frequency. This may seem premature: Ban will not leave office until the end of 2016, and he has a lot of unfinished business to attend to. He hopes to seal deals on climate change and the future of international development next year. He also needs to contain the crises in South Sudan and Syria, both of which threaten to cast a profound shadow over his legacy. The pressure seems to have given Ban extra energy. He […]

The notion of disarming, then disbanding and rehabilitating former soldiers in the aftermath of conflict is as old as war itself. Tens of thousands of soldiers were voluntarily disarmed and returned to their villages after the Roman-Etruscan wars, and similar practices have followed virtually every conflict since. The expectation has always been that these activities can prevent a relapse of warfare, and potentially kick-start the long road to reconstruction. In recent times, the concept has assumed a kind of orthodoxy in the peace, security and development community. Bilateral and multilateral donors such as the United Nations (U.N.) and World Bank […]

A large part of ending civil wars and insurgencies is about finding new political solutions to old political conflicts. One such political solution and instrument has at times been to convert armed groups into political parties. Convincing former warring parties to enter formalized democratic politics is not an easy task however, and even when armed groups transform into political parties, the challenges for long-term democracy continue. Research related to the political integration or reintegration of armed groups has been quite extensive. But political integration of armed groups is only one facet of a larger question about political integration of various […]

China has agreed to deploy additional peacekeepers to South Sudan, significantly raising its security profile in the war-torn country. With the failure of two cease-fires in South Sudan’s six-month-long conflict, China has committed a brigade of 850 soldiers to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), bringing the force’s total deployment to roughly 20,000 in the coming months. The move reinforces a shift in tactics for China, from noninvolvement toward forging peace. China’s decision comes after months of turmoil that has impacted every facet of South Sudanese society. Since December, interethnic conflict between Dinkas supported by President Salva Kiir […]

Over the past two years, whenever Russia has undertaken steps in the international arena that the United States disapproves of, there has been a predictable response in Washington: a parade of somber-faced U.S. officials solemnly warning Moscow that its actions are opposed by the “international community” and that Russia risks isolation by its policy choices. Indeed, #RussiaIsolated has become the hashtag of choice in the State Department’s social media arsenal. Certainly, the U.S. has had some successes in turning the hashtag into reality: winning some symbolic votes at the United Nations; getting a coalition of states to impose limited sanctions […]

The election of Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi as president of Egypt will further inflame the jihadist insurgency that took off after the Egyptian military removed Mohamed Morsi, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, from power in 2013. If history is any guide, el-Sisi, a former general, will hold tightly to power, justifying it as the only way to protect Egypt’s security, thus repeating a common pattern across Africa and the Middle East as elections lead to de facto dictatorships with a few trappings of democracy. Invariably this will further anger and radicalize the Islamist opposition, empowering the extremists who believe that the […]

In late May, the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab staged two major attacks on the same Saturday, striking Mogadishu’s parliament building as well as pulling off the first-ever suicide attack in neighboring Djibouti. In one day, the group demonstrated not only its continuing ability to strike the heavily defended heart of the Somali capital, but also to reach new targets. The attacks, which killed at least 10 people in Somalia and at least three in Djibouti, occurred after weeks of sustained global focus on Nigeria’s Boko Haram, which kidnapped some 276 schoolgirls in mid-April. They raised the question of whether, amid […]

Fostering agricultural growth is commonly seen as a core strategy for overall development in Africa, particularly for reducing poverty, because the majority of Africa’s poor are largely dependent on farming. Therefore, different African governments have embarked on developing and implementing agriculture-led development strategies. Yet agricultural productivity and growth lags behind overall economic performance in Africa, and the continent’s volatile agricultural performance has fallen further behind the agricultural performance of other developing regions of the world. A little over a decade ago, in July 2003, at the African Union (AU) summit held in Maputo, Mozambique, African heads of state reaffirmed the […]

Last week, Cameroon sent some 1,000 troops to its border with Nigeria in an effort to combat Boko Haram, which has increased its activity along the poorly defended border. In an email interview, Uyo Salifu, a researcher for the Institute of Security Studies’ transnational threats and international crime division, explained the state of border security cooperation between Nigeria and Cameroon. WPR: How tightly does Cameroon control its border with Nigeria? Uyo Salifu: Nigeria and Cameroon share a vast border, which spans 1,050 miles. Cameroon has made some efforts to enhance border security, but there is room for improvement. Cameroonian authorities […]