Journalists look at arms and ammunition which military commanders say they seized from Islamic fighters, Maiduguri, Nigeria, June 5, 2013 (AP photo by Jon Gambrell)

Crises and upheaval in the Sahel and West Africa have altered the regional security terrain. Challenges that were once disparate and manageable are increasingly becoming intertwined and more pronounced. With the growing mobility of conflicts, the need for a more cooperative regional context has never been as pressing. Each country in the region has a stake in improving stability, and collectively they have the capacity to tackle the threats to peace and security—but first, they each must overcome a host of domestic obstacles. The influence of four countries in particular—Morocco, Algeria, Chad and Nigeria—is a central fact of geopolitics in […]

President Joseph Kabila during an independence day celebration, Kindu, Democratic Republic of Congo, June 30, 2016 (AP photo by John Bompengo).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Associate Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. The attorney general in Democratic Republic of Congo announced he was investigating a former minister for his alleged role in violence in the central Kasai region that has killed hundreds in the recent months. The news came after the New York Times reported that the official, Clement Kanku, who until recently served as development minister, had been implicated in evidence, including a recorded phone conversation, collected by Zaida Catalan, one of two U.N. investigators shot and killed in Congo […]

Guineans ride on the back of a bus during a political rally, Conakry, Guinea, Oct. 7, 2015 (AP photo by Youssouf Bah).

Late last month, residents of Guinea’s northeast Siguiri region filed a complaint describing how they were thrown off their land to make room for an open-pit oxide gold mine controlled by AngloGold Ashanti, a Johannesburg-based mining company. The evictions were violent, according to the complainants and an organization advocating on their behalf. “Hundreds of families were forced off their land by the country’s most feared military unit,” says David Pred, managing director of Inclusive Development International. “They were not allowed to say no or to negotiate. Those who resisted were imprisoned and shot. Their homes were burned and their businesses […]

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and newly appointed army chief of staff Lt. Gen. James Ajongo Mawut attend a ceremony, Juba, South Sudan, May 18, 2017 (AP photo by Bullen Chol).

In late April, Stephen Dhieu Dau, South Sudan’s finance minister, visited his counterpart in Turkey to sign a trade and cooperation agreement. As the young country’s civil war drags on and relations with the U.S. and other traditional backers remain tense, South Sudan’s officials are pursuing ties with new diplomatic partners. In an email interview, Brian Adeba, associate director of policy at the Enough Project, describes that outreach and explains why the U.S. is still in a position to exert pressure on South Sudan’s government. WPR: How have relations between South Sudan and its traditional backers, especially the United States, […]

Soldiers look at the destroyed houses amid the wreckage of a car bombing in Somalia, one of the world's most fragile states, Mogadishu, May 17, 2017 (AP photo by Farah Abdi Warsameh).

The annual Fragile States Index was released last week, and no one will be surprised by the presence of South Sudan and Somalia, which remain the most fragile states in the world. By contrast, the indicators that middle powers, and even the United States and the United Kingdom, show some troubling signs of governance weakness might raise some eyebrows. Diplomats, military officials and development economists have yet to crack the code on what to do about weak and failing states. State fragility is a chronic reality of international politics, and the responses to it have only rarely produced success stories. […]

Burkina Faso troops provide security following an attack in January 2016 by Islamist extremists, one of several high-profile strikes in West Africa in recent years, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Jan. 18, 2016 (AP photo by Theo Renaut).

During his visit last week to northern Mali, Emmanuel Macron, France’s new president, announced that he would attend the next meeting of the G5 Sahel, a grouping of five countries—Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad—focused on mobilizing against extremist militants in the Sahel region. The G5 Sahel was originally created in February 2014, and plans for a multinational military force were announced the following year, at a November 2015 summit meeting in Chad. Since then, however, few details have been made available on the force’s composition and how it will operate. In an email interview, Nicolas Desgrais, a researcher […]

South Sudan government soldiers in the town of Koch, South Sudan, Sept. 25, 2015 (AP photo by Jason Patinkin).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and senior editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss the potential pitfalls of Donald Trump’s first overseas trip as U.S. president. For the Report, Andrew Green talks with Peter Dörrie about how Uganda is struggling to maintain its progressive approach to refugees as more than 2,000 South Sudanese cross into the country each day. If you’d like to support our free podcast through patron pledges, Patreon is an online service that will allow you to do so. To find out about the benefits you can get through pledging as little as $1 per […]

Emmanuel Macron, then a candidate for president, addresses his supporters during a rally, Arras, France, April 26, 2017 (AP photo by Thibault Camus).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Associate Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. France’s new president, Emmanuel Macron, visited Africa for the first time as head of state on Friday, traveling to northern Mali, where France led an intervention to drive out Islamist extremists in 2013. Greeted by Mali’s president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, in the northern city of Gao, where French troops are still stationed, Macron offered a vision largely in line with what he espoused during the campaign: tough talk on terrorism and an emphasis on the need for development so that […]

Senegalese soldiers take part in the opening ceremony of Flintlock, an annual military exercise that focuses on counterterrorism training by American and European security forces, Thies, Senegal, Feb. 8, 2016 (AP photo by Jane Hahn).

Islamist extremist groups that were once confined to slivers of territory in the most marginalized areas of West Africa are increasingly expanding their operational footprint in the region. Whether it is Boko Haram, which has rebranded itself as the self-proclaimed Islamic State’s West African affiliate, or the myriad al-Qaida offshoots that occupied northern Mali following a coup in 2012, insurgent operations are no longer confined by these groups’ countries of origin. The Islamic State’s West Africa Province, as Boko Haram now calls itself, has spread beyond its base in northeastern Nigeria into neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger, which all have […]

Chadian troops participate in the closing ceremony of Operation Flintlock, N'Djamena, Chad, March 9, 2015 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

On the morning of May 5, Boko Haram militants attacked a Chadian military post in the Lake Chad region near the border with northeast Nigeria, where the extremist group is based. Nine soldiers were killed, the latest casualties suffered by Chad’s military as it responds to a crisis that, on Chadian territory alone, has left hundreds dead and displaced more than 100,000. The following day, in the capital, N’Djamena, the Chadian Convention for the Defense of Human Rights reported that Maounde Decladore, one of its activists, had been arrested. Decladore is also a spokesman for the group “It Must Change,” […]

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, center, with government officials after Friday prayers at the presidential palace, Abuja, Nigeria, May 5, 2017 (Nigeria State House photo by Sunday Aghaeze via AP).

From Jan. 19 to March 10, Nigeria’s 74-year-old president, Muhammadu Buhari, took an extended medical leave in London. After returning home, he remained weak; sometimes he missed Cabinet meetings and appeared gaunt in photographs. Then, last week, on May 7, he left again for London, framing the trip as a “follow-up” to his earlier leave. Unlike the late Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua, whose prolonged incapacitation in 2009 and 2010 caused a constitutional crisis, Buhari has avoided short-term turmoil by formally designating his vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, as acting president during his absences. Whereas Yar’Adua’s inner circle clung to power and […]

South Sudanese refugees line up at a supply distribution point after they arrive at their resettlement area at the Imvepi Camp, Uganda, April 4, 2017 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

Uganda has been celebrated for its progressive approach toward refugees. But its open-door policy is being tested by the ongoing flood of arrivals from neighboring South Sudan. The conflict in South Sudan has been raging for more than three years, but it has proliferated after a tentative peace deal collapsed in July 2016. Since then, more than 841,000 South Sudanese have fled the country, raising the total number of refugees to nearly 1.7 million, according to the United Nations. Roughly half of them have headed to Uganda. Listen to Andrew Green discuss this piece on WPR’s Trend Lines Podcast: On […]

Sierra Leone's president, Ernest Bai Koroma, arrives for talks with Gambia's then-president, Yahya Jammeh, to urge Jammeh to respect  last year's election result, Banjul, Gambia, Dec. 13, 2016 (AP photo by Sylvain Cherkaoui).

On April 27, in his Independence Day address to the nation, Sierra Leone’s president, Ernest Bai Koroma, gave the clearest and most public assertion yet of his intention to leave office in March 2018. “My fellow citizens,” he declared, “in just a little over a year, my tenure will come to an end and I will graciously hand over power to my successor in a democratic transition.” Having served two terms as leader, Koroma is constitutionally ineligible to stand for a third. Despite his public remarks to the contrary, there remains a degree of skepticism in Sierra Leone that the […]

Riek Machar, South Sudan's former first vice president, and President Salva Kiir, right, after the first meeting of a new transitional government, Juba, South Sudan, April 29, 2016 (AP photo by Jason Patinkin).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Associate Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. South Sudan President Salva Kiir’s decision to remove his army chief, Gen. Paul Malong, risked aggravating a civil war that has already killed tens of thousands and created conditions that the U.N. has warned could result in genocide. Malong’s dismissal was announced Tuesday. Reuters noted that it came “after a slew of resignations by senior generals alleging tribal bias and war crimes.” A presidential spokesman initially denied there was a feud between Malong and Kiir, and Malong himself vowed not […]

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi delivers a speech, Tunis, May 10, 2017 (AP photo by Hassene Dridi).

Echoing the symbolic spark of the 2011 uprising, a Tunisian vendor set himself on fire on Wednesday in the town of Tebourba outside Tunis, after police had instructed him to close his fruit stand. Riots ensued, and a crowd of young men clashed with police as the vendor was hospitalized for treatment. The incident took place at a tense moment in Tunisia’s stumbling democratic transition, which entered its seventh year in January. Protests over economic marginalization have multiplied across the south of the country, and on Tuesday, Chafik Sarsar, the head of the country’s electoral commission, resigned—refusing, he said, to […]

Women sleep on benches outside a hospital, Gabu, Guinea-Bissau, May 21, 2012 (AP photo by Rebecca Blackwell).

Patience is in short supply in Guinea-Bissau these days. More than a year and a half has passed since President Jose Mario Vaz dismissed the government of Prime Minister Domingos Simoes Pereira, precipitating an extended political crisis. Four new prime ministers have been appointed since then, but the parliament has not been meeting, meaning one of the world’s least-developed and most chronically unstable countries—with a ranking of 178 out of 188 on the United Nation’s Human Development Index—has been unable to pass laws or a budget. Last September, politicians agreed to a six-point roadmap out of the crisis. The following […]

A herder drives his animals away after watering them at one of the few watering holes near the drought-affected village of Bandarero, Kenya, March 3, 2017 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

The drought affecting the Horn of Africa has aggravated conflicts over land use in northern Kenya this year, leading to dozens of deaths. Since March, security forces have been trying to evict herders who have occupied ranches and conservancies. The situation briefly received global attention last month when Kuki Gallmann, a celebrated conservationist and author, was shot during an altercation with armed herders. In an email interview, Murithi Mutiga, Horn of Africa senior analyst with the International Crisis Group, describes the recent history of resource conflict in the area and what role politics might be playing in the violence this […]

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