A drill in the biocontainment unit in Omaha, Neb., Oct. 28, 2006 (AP photo by Nati Harnik).

Delta Airlines Flight 217 leaves Leopold Senghor International Airport in Dakar each Wednesday at 11:15 AM, bound for New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. During the 8-hour, 25-minute flight, the plane’s passengers can enjoy a variety of movies, have a meal and take advantage of the plane’s WiFi connection in relative comfort. And any one of them could be carrying the Ebola virus to New York, extending the epidemic’s reach to North America. The current Ebola outbreak in West Africa has prompted a wider discussion about the ability of the United States and other industrialized democracies to respond to […]

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni arrives at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Aug. 4, 2014, to attend the U.S.-Africa Summit (AP photo by Cliff Owen).

Last month, senior diplomats from Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo met to discuss bilateral relations, specifically a $10 billion fine the International Court of Justice levied on Uganda in 2005 over its incursions into the DRC. In an email interview, Gaaki Kigambo, a journalist in Uganda, discussed current efforts to improve relations between Uganda and the DRC. WPR: What is the history of Uganda’s intervention in the DRC’s wars since the 1990s? Gaaki Kigambo: Uganda first entered the Democratic Republic of Congo—then called Zaire—in 1996, apparently in hot pursuit of rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) who […]

Rwandan President Paul Kagame speaking at the London Summit on Family Planning, July 11, 2012 (U.K. Department for International Development photo).

Last month, three high-ranking Rwandan military figures close to President Paul Kagame were arrested and charged with so-called crimes against state security. The military purges have fueled fears of a political crisis for Kagame with dissension among the ranks of his party and backers in the army. Although officers have been arrested in the past and former Kagame supporters have fled the country and openly opposed him, last month’s detentions reveal growing insecurity within the regime, particularly when viewed in conjunction with a crackdown on other internal suspects of what the government considers “subversion.” Kagame’s Tutsi-dominated regime, which came to […]

Morgan Tsvangirai at the World Economic Forum on Africa, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, May 6, 2010 (World Economic Forum photo).

The main opposition party in Zimbabwe, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), is facing serious financial problems and infighting in the lead-up to its party congress next month. In an email interview, Stephen Chan, professor of international relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies, discussed the state of Zimbabwe’s opposition. WPR: What accounts for the emerging splits in the MDC party, and how likely is Morgan Tsvangirai to maintain his party leadership? Stephen Chan: The current splits in the MDC reflect fissures that have been building for a long time. Tendai Biti, the finance minister in the earlier […]

Sudanese men wave Iranian and Sudanese flags celebrating Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit with President Omar al-Bashir in Khartoum, Sudan, Sept. 26, 2011 (AP photo by Abd Raouf).

As headlines in the Middle East continue to be dominated by the civil war in Syria and the rise of the Islamic State group, the region’s shifting geopolitics are also making their impact felt in other parts of the world. The Horn of Africa is a case in point, as illustrated earlier this month when Sudan closed Iranian Shiite cultural centers operating in the country and expelled a diplomat responsible for them. Sudan’s famously complex politics have long been influenced by the bitter rivalries of outside powers: the Soviet Union versus America during the Cold War; the Egypt of Nasser […]

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika sits on a wheelchair after taking oath as President, April 28, 2014, in Algiers (AP photo by Sidali Djarboub).

Earlier this month, Algeria and Russia signed a nuclear energy cooperation deal. In an email interview, Bruno Tertrais, senior research fellow at the Paris-based Fondation pour la Recherche Strategique (Foundation for Strategic Research), discussed Algeria’s nuclear program. WPR: What is the current status of Algeria’s civil nuclear program? Bruno Tertrais: Algeria has had a nuclear research program for almost three decades. Algeria has two main research facilities: Draria, which hosts a small 1-MW reactor near Algiers, and Ain-Oussera, a 15-MW reactor in the Sahara desert south of Algiers. The country has had plans for nuclear power reactors for a long […]

President Barack Obama speaks at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

When President Barack Obama announced plans for calibrated U.S. air strikes in Iraq last week, he set off heated debates about the wisdom and chances for success of his strategy to “degrade, and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State group operating there and in neighboring Syria. This week, the White House announced another military deployment that, despite involving not air strikes but some 3,000 American boots on the ground, evinced barely a second glance: the medical humanitarian mission to West Africa to contain the ongoing outbreak of the Ebola virus there. The reason for the contrast in reactions is of course […]

Spanish Marine Sgt. Cole Mulbah Ruiz watches as members of Cameroonian Rapid Intervention Battalion practice their marksmanships skills, April 6, 2009 (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Elsa Portillo).

As Boko Haram increasingly devastates northeastern Nigeria and crosses into Nigeria’s neighbors, Cameroon has attracted more international attention, both positive and negative. The International Crisis Group recently wrote that “Cameroon’s apparent stability and recent government reforms can no longer hide its vulnerabilities.” The report assesses the political risks of President Paul Biya’s apparent desire to remain in power indefinitely, despite his advanced age and lack of a clear succession plan. Alongside these medium-term risks are two short-term problems that deserve special scrutiny: the potential for destructive escalation in Cameroon’s fight with Boko Haram and the ambiguous effects of an aggressive […]

A man sits alone near the road between the Dakhla Refugee Camp and Awsaard Refugee Camp, June 24, 2003 (UN photo by Evan Schneider).

The Western Sahara conflict is fast approaching its 40th anniversary with no end in sight. A web of geopolitical interests keeps the conflict in a permanent state of limbo. At the heart of this web is the U.N. Security Council, which has managed the conflict since the late 1980s. The council has been historically reticent to take dramatic action to resolve the dispute and remains so today. Though there has been “peace” in Western Sahara since 1991 when a cease-fire came into effect, all efforts to reconcile Morocco’s claim of sovereignty against the local population’s right to self-determination have failed. […]

M-PESA advertisement in a coffee shop in Kenya, June 30, 2012 (photo by Wikimedia user Raidarmax licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license).

Last month the Kenyan-based mobile money transfer system M-PESA launched in Romania. In an email interview, Diane Mullenex, a partner at the law firm of Pinsent Masons, discussed the expansion of M-PESA outside of Africa. WPR: Why did M-PESA choose Romania as its first European country of operations? Diane Mullenex: M-PESA’s success in Kenya was primarily due to several factors, including the existence of a mostly “unbanked” population, a high penetration rate of mobile phones and a non-competitive market. Naturally, when it decided to expand its M-PESA service, Vodafone searched for countries presenting the same characteristics. After India in 2013, […]

Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta waves to the crowd as Kenya celebrates 50 years of independence in Nairobi, Kenya, Dec. 12, 2013 (AP photo by Sayyid Azim).

On Sept. 5, the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) announced it was “indefinitely” halting its prosecution of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is on trial for allegedly directing the ethnic violence that followed the country’s 2007 elections. The presiding ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, claimed that amid many delays since the start of the trial, the evidence required to bring a case against Kenyatta had still not materialized. But other factors may be at play: The lapsed prosecution, in fact, appears to reflect the limited authority of the ICC as well as unease over global governance jurisdiction in sub-Saharan Africa. Key […]

Afghan army soldiers get shooting instructions at a training facility in the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 26, 2013 (AP photo by Anja Niedringhaus).

It seems the default policy recommendation of much of the U.S. foreign policy community these days to the outbreak of any sort of violence in another part of the world is for the United States to “train and equip” local forces. It is not difficult to see why this option is so attractive to Washington policymakers. It allows the U.S. to be seen as “doing something” to respond to far-off crises, but without having to cross the momentous political line of putting “boots on the ground.” Instead, “train and equip” pairs advanced U.S. military technology with non-Americans who are willing […]

Army personnel outside the military headquarters in Maseru, Lesotho, Aug. 31, 2014 photo (AP photo).

South African President Jacob Zuma visited Lesotho today to try to resolve a political crisis now in its second week. On Aug. 30, Lesotho’s Prime Minister Thomas Thabane fled to South Africa—which entirely surrounds his small, mountainous country—claiming to have escaped an attempted military coup. Thabane has since returned to the capital of Maseru, where, at his request, he is under the protection of a South African civilian police force. Meanwhile, an insurgency drawn from Lesotho’s elite Special Forces Unit, led by the ousted armed forces chief Lt. Gen. Tlali Kamoli, has raided state armories and taken to the hills. […]

Lake Malawi, March 24, 2007 (photo by Flickr user Yoni Lerner licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license).

Last month, Malawian President Peter Mutharika reaffirmed his country’s claim to Lake Malawi, also known as Lake Nyasa, fueling Malawi’s ongoing dispute with Tanzania over access rights to the lake. In an email interview, Aditi Lalbahadur, researcher at the South African Institute of International Affairs, discussed Malawi and Tanzania’s long and unresolved territorial fight. WPR: What is the history of Malawi and Tanzania’s competing claims to Lake Nyasa? Aditi Lalbahadur: The border dispute between Malawi and Tanzania stems as far back as independence in these countries. Evidence suggests that the issue was raised in several parliamentary sessions in Tanzania and […]