African and European leaders gather for a group photo at an EU-Africa summit, Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, Nov. 29, 2017 (AP photo by Geert Vanden Wijngaert).

Last April, the International Organization for Migration released a report documenting “shocking events on North African migrant routes.” Interviews with West Africans trying to reach Europe revealed that migrants were being kidnapped, beaten, raped and “sold as slaves” in public squares and garages in Libya. A spokesman for the agency went so far as to describe Libya as a “torture archipelago.” The findings generated a fair amount of news coverage, but before long they were folded into the broader story about the dangers of trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea—a story that has been on the world’s radar for several […]

French President Emmanuel Macron, center right, and Burkina Faso’s president, Roch Marc Christian Kabore, center left, wave during a visit to a school in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Nov. 28 , 2017 (AP photo by Ahmed Yempabou Ouoba).

After a first six months spent focused on matters domestic and European, French President Emmanuel Macron has begun to travel farther afield. He is in West Africa this week, having arrived yesterday in Burkina Faso and continuing on to Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. Earlier this month he traveled to the Persian Gulf for a planned visit to the United Arab Emirates, making an unplanned stopover in Saudi Arabia on his way back to Paris. In West Africa, Macron will try, as all new French presidents must, to reset a relationship burdened by the historical legacy of colonial exploitation and postcolonial […]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry during a press conference, Jerusalem, July 10, 2016 (AP photo by Dan Balilty).

The Arab League’s economic boycott of Israel stretches back to the state’s founding in 1948. Today, only two Arab countries, Egypt and Jordan, have formal relations with Israel as a result of peace treaties, while the Arab League’s boycott remains in place for its other members. Yet backdoor cooperation with Israel is growing among some Arab states, creating the prospect of more economic and trade relations. The king of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, reportedly even called for an end to the boycott of Israel in September. In an email interview, Paul Rivlin, an economist and senior research fellow […]

The sun sets near the town of Flic en Flac, Mauritius, April 8, 2008 (dpa photo by Lars Halbauer via AP images).

Radical Islam has traditionally held little appeal for the multiethnic and multicultural population of Mauritius, though there are signs Islamist extremism it is making some inroads. A review of the government’s response offers lessons for countries where political power is divided explicitly along ethnic or religious lines. In late 2014, Mauritian intelligence services discovered that a handful of Muslims from Mauritius had traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight for the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Many of those jihadi recruits were swayed and enabled by a small yet troubling network of ideologues in the tropical island nation, which is located in […]

A young girl marches during a military parade at the inauguration of new Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Harare, Zimbabwe, Nov. 24, 2017 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

As Zimbabwe finally enters the post-Robert Mugabe era, neighboring South Africa has an opportunity to play a constructive role in helping put in place a democratic roadmap. Despite being the dominant regional power and current chair of the 16-nation Southern African Development Community, or SADC, South Africa has, for too long, essentially endorsed the disastrous status quo in Zimbabwe. Mugabe’s unexpected ouster by the military should push South Africa to change course, making its Zimbabwe policy more in line with the values that underpin the South African constitution and inform the founding charters of the African Union and the SADC—though […]

A man takes pictures of blood stains of victims after masked gunmen ambushed a bus carrying Coptic Christians to a monastery, Maghagha, Egypt, May 27, 2017 (AP photo by Amr Nabil).

On Thursday, an assault on a Sufi mosque in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula killed 305 worshippers in what officials have called the deadliest terrorist attack in modern Egyptian history. The staggering number of victims was a sign of the shifting nature of violence in which Egypt has been mired for nearly five years. Militants in Sinai who have waged an insurgency against the government are expanding their campaign to include not just agents of the state, but a rapidly growing number of civilians. The ongoing violence has weakened the position of the military-led regime of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who came […]

A group of school children look at a solar eclipse in Accra, Ghana, March 29, 2006 (AP photo Olivier Asselin).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series about education policy in various countries around the world. In September, Ghana’s government implemented two significant education reform policies, making secondary education free and requiring new licensing requirements for teachers. Despite the progressive steps, previous attempts at education reform have not always achieved the desired results, and the latest one is already showing similar signs of struggle. In an email interview, Veronica Dzeagu, the national coordinator for the Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition, a network of civil society groups and educational research institutions, discusses the state of the country’s education […]

Zimbabwean soldiers bump fists with joyful protesters thanking them for their intervention, Harare, Zimbabwe, Nov. 18, 2017 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

Robert Mugabe became Zimbabwe’s prime minister in 1980 in the country’s first multiracial elections, after it finally won its independence from British rule. He has served as president or prime minister of the country ever since. Roughly 85 percent of Zimbabwe’s population has never known another leader. Despite his frail health and various opposition movements over the years, Mugabe has repeatedly found a way to hold on to power. Until last week. Early Wednesday morning, shortly after tanks started appearing on the streets in and near Harare, members of the Zimbabwe Defense Forces went on the national broadcaster, ZBC, to […]

A U.S. Marine major walks past a line of soldiers from the Uganda People’s Defense Force as they engage in weapons training at the Singo facility in Kakola, Uganda, April 30, 2012 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

The United States has always been a reluctant superpower. While most political leaders and observers have believed that promoting security around the world benefits the United States, the public has to be sold on the idea of global activism. Among other things, this makes it important to control the costs of involvement in distant places without direct ties to the United States, particularly U.S. military casualties. This has been done in two ways: by relying on security partners to bear the brunt of deterring and fighting adversaries, and by sustaining an advanced U.S. military to overmatch enemies when it does […]

Somali soldiers at the scene of a suicide car bomb attack, which al-Shabab quickly claimed responsibility for, Mogadishu, Somalia, Jan, 2, 2017 (AP photo by Farah Abdi Warsameh).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Associate Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent.One of Donald Trump’s first policy moves related to Africa was his decision last March to expand the Pentagon’s authority to carry out airstrikes in Somalia, home of the al-Qaida-linked Islamist extremist group al-Shabab, as well as a growing presence of fighters affiliated with the self-proclaimed Islamic State. The decision heralded an increasingly aggressive role for the U.S. military in Somalia, the extent of which is starting to come into focus. Beginning Nov. 9, the U.S. carried out airstrikes for […]

Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, meets with Corneille Nangaa, president of Congo’s election commission, Kinshasa, Congo, Oct. 27, 2017 (AP photo by John Bompengo)

During her visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo last month, Nikki Haley, the U.S ambassador to the United Nations, appeared to have a singular goal in mind: getting a firm commitment on a new deadline for the country’s long-delayed elections. “The president must say that we’re going to have elections in 2018,” she said before her meeting with President Joseph Kabila. “We will not support with funding, resources, anything, if the calendar does not specifically specify no later than 2018 for these elections to happen.” Nine days later, Congo’s election commission announced a new timeline that seemed to align […]

An armed soldier patrols a street in Harare, Zimbabwe, Nov. 15, 2017 (AP photo).

In what appeared to have all the makings of a coup, Zimbabwe’s military took control of the capital, Harare, early Wednesday and was said to be holding 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe in custody. The move comes one week after Mugabe fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who had previously been seen as a potential successor, in what was widely viewed as an attempt to ease the path to power for his wife, Grace. To help put the takeover in context, WPR has collected eight articles tracing the recent evolution of power dynamics in Zimbabwe. The following eight articles are free to […]

U.N. forces from Rwanda patrol the streets of Bangui, Central African Republic, Feb. 12, 2016 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

On Nov. 15, the United Nations Security Council will meet to decide on the fate of the U.N. mission in Central African Republic, known by its acronym MINUSCA. In stark contrast to the debate over the U.N. mission in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, which the U.S. pushed to reduce last April after citing its ineffectiveness and cost, few in New York expect cuts to the Central African Republic (CAR) mission. To the contrary, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited CAR at the end of October and called for increasing the mission’s authorized troop ceiling, currently just over 12,000, by […]

Worshipers attend a sermon during Eid al-Adha at the Martyrs Square, Tripoli, Libya, Sept. 24, 2015 (AP photo by Mohamed Ben Khalifa).

As a political solution to Libya’s civil war remains elusive, with rival governments operating in Tripoli in the west and Tobruk in the east, running a fully functioning economy has been all but impossible. Once a major oil exporter, the war-torn country has had to make do with less production and, given the collapse in global prices, less revenue. In an email interview, Mohamed Eljarh, a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, discusses what remains of Libya’s non-hydrocarbon economy and the toll that the deteriorating economic situation is taking on the country’s people […]

Maatalla Mboirick, who was born into slavery but later escaped, in Nouakchott, Mauritania, Aug. 19, 2017 (Photo by Jillian Kestler-D’Amours).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s Judah Grunstein and Frederick Deknatel discuss the regional implications of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s power grab in Saudi Arabia. For the Report, Jillian Kestler-D’Amours talks with Peter Dörrie about the enduring legacy of slavery in Mauritania as well as new grassroots efforts to address the social and legal inequalities still faced by descendants of enslaved people—and root out slavery where it is still being practiced in that country. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines, as well as what you’ve seen on WPR, please think about supporting our work by […]

Emmerson Mnangagwa, left, chats with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe after a ceremony during which Mnangagwa was sworn in as vice president, Harare, Zimbabwe, Dec. 12, 2014 (AP photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Associate Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Speculation about the end of Robert Mugabe’s reign as president of Zimbabwe typically centers on the 93-year-old’s health. This week, however, the conversation turned to a different kind of threat, as Mugabe encountered what The Guardian described as “his biggest political challenge in almost two decades.” On Monday, Mugabe fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who had formerly been seen as a potential successor. In announcing the move, Khaya Moyo, the information minister, said Mnangagwa had “consistently and persistently exhibited […]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan walks with Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed during a welcome ceremony, Ankara, Turkey, April, 26, 2017 (Presidency Press Service photo via AP).

At the end of September, Turkey opened a military base in Somalia, its largest overseas base, just weeks before the deadliest terrorist attack in the nation’s history claimed the lives of hundreds of Somalis. Amid Somalia’s chronic instability, Turkey is quickly becoming the country’s most important external partner, while Somalia has become the launchpad for Turkish ambitions in East Africa. In an email interview, Michael Woldemariam, an assistant professor of international relations and political science at Boston University’s Pardee School of Global Studies, explains the basis for deepening Turkish-Somali ties and what they reveal about the Turkish government’s wider aims […]

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