Workers at a trading facility for charcoal from Somalia, in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, Dec. 5, 2013 (AP photo by Kamran Jebreili).

The bitter Arab rivalry in the Persian Gulf is reshaping traditional spheres of influence and exacerbating fault lines farther south, in the Horn of Africa, the continent’s most volatile region. The spat between fellow members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which began a year ago when Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates led an embargo of neighboring Qatar that shows no sign of ending, has sparked frantic diplomatic and economic activity across the Red Sea, with serious security consequences. Thrust center-stage into these changing political geographies is Somalia, among the world’s poorest and most conflict-prone countries. The fragile nation, […]

A demonstration in support of anti-government protests in the northern Rif region, Rabat, Morocco, May 29, 2017 (AP photo by Mosa'ab Elshamy).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. In October 2016, a 31-year-old Moroccan fishmonger named Mohsen Fikri got into an altercation with police in the northern town of al-Hoceima. The police had confiscated Fikri’s swordfish, and when he tried to retrieve it from the back of a garbage truck, he was crushed to death. The incident sparked a wave of protests known as al-Hirak al-Shaabi, or the Popular Movement, that was intended to draw attention to the lack of development and general marginalization of Morocco’s northern […]

Malawi’s president, Peter Mutharika, at a news conference during the U.S.-Africa Summit at the Institute of Peace in Washington, Aug. 6, 2014 (AP photo by J. Scott Applewhite).

Malawi’s next presidential election is still nearly a year away, yet the incumbent, Peter Mutharika, is already facing potential challenges from unlikely corners. Recent indications that former President Joyce Banda as well as Saulos Chilima, Mutharika’s own vice president, may mount bids for the country’s top office, combined with a spate of protests against persistent corruption and economic stagnation, underscore widespread disappointment with Mutharika’s record so far. But any opposition candidates will have a tough time defeating the incumbent at the ballot box, which means Malawian voters have every reason to be skeptical that genuine reforms addressing their country’s most […]

Former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre leaves a courthouse in Dakar, Senegal, Nov. 25, 2005 (AP photo by Schalk van Zuydam).

Since it was formally established in 2002, the International Criminal Court has been far more active in Africa than in any other region of the world. The court currently has investigations open in nine countries on the continent, and is conducting “preliminary examinations” in three others. As demonstrated this month when the ICC overturned its 2016 conviction of Jean-Pierre Bemba, the former vice president of Democratic Republic of the Congo, the court’s activities can have major political consequences in all these places. Yet when it comes to transitional justice, the ICC is hardly the only game in town in Africa. […]

American and French soldiers attend a daily briefing with the Nigerien military commander in charge of the fight against Boko Haram at a Nigerien military base in Diffa, Niger, March 26, 2015 (photo by Joe Penney).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss the high-profile political crises over Italy’s refusal to offer safe haven for boats carrying rescued asylum-seekers, and the Trump administration’s family separation policy for asylum-seekers at the southern border. For the Report, Joe Penney talks with WPR’s senior editor, Robbie Corey-Boulet, about the U.S. military’s growing presence in West Africa, the secrecy that often obscures it, and what that means for the region’s fragile democracies.If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for […]

South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, and opposition leader Riek Machar, right, shake hands during peace talks at a hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, June 21, 2018 (AP photo).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. The embrace lasted for only a few seconds, but each one seemed to be more awkward than the last. South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, the former vice president who is now a rebel leader, met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, this week for the first time in nearly two years. At one point, appearing before the media, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed attempted to bring the two men together for a hug. “Peace is coming to our […]

Zimbabwe’s president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, greets the crowd upon his arrival at the National Sports Stadium for celebrations marking the country’s independence anniversary, Harare, Zimbabwe, April 18, 2018 (AP photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

Since his elevation to the presidency following the November 2017 military intervention that removed Zimbabwe’s longtime ruler Robert Mugabe from power, Emmerson Mnangagwa has embarked upon a global charm offensive. This has been designed to restore the country’s reputation, which was badly battered by the turmoil triggered by Mugabe’s violent land seizures; repression of the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, or MDC; and a series of rigged elections. In stark contrast to the belligerent anti-imperialist rhetoric of Mugabe, Mnangagwa has adopted the vocabulary of “reform” while seeking to build bridges to previous adversaries such as Britain and […]


Recent controversies involving the U.S. military in Africa highlight how the Pentagon uses ambiguous language and outright secrecy to obscure its activities. At times, this has involved subverting democratic processes in partner countries, an approach that runs counter to years of diplomatic engagement. AGADEZ, Niger—In early May, Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, the head of U.S. Africa Command, addressed a group of journalists gathered in a staid, gray room at the Pentagon. The press conference had been called to disclose the main findings of the Defense Department’s investigation of an ambush seven months earlier in the West African nation of Niger. […]

Morocco’s Romain Saiss reacts after his teammate Aziz Bouhaddouz scored an own goal during the team’s opening loss to Iran at the 2018 World Cup, St. Petersburg, Russia, June 15, 2018 (AP photo by Andrew Medichini).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. This week’s vote to determine who would host the World Cup in 2026 was a major letdown for Morocco, made worse by a crushing loss to Iran in its opening match of the tournament Friday. The country had hoped to become just the second in Africa to secure hosting rights, after South Africa in 2010, but instead it lost decisively to the joint bid from the United States, Canada and Mexico. The final vote tally by the members of […]

Kenyans take part in an anti-corruption demonstration in downtown Nairobi, May 31, 2018 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

It seemed, at first glance, like a fairly humdrum story about bilateral cooperation among African officials. Earlier this week, The Star, a Kenyan newspaper, reported that lawmakers from Zambia had traveled to Kenya to meet with members of the government’s Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission at their offices in Nairobi. The Zambians’ goal, the report said, was “to learn how to effectively fight corruption.” In the current political environment in Kenya, however, the story prompted immediate expressions of derision and exasperation. As it made the rounds on social media, a number of Kenyans made clear their conviction that if Zambian officials […]

Ethiopian soldiers face protesters, Bishoftu, Ethiopia, Oct. 2, 2016 (AP photo).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Four months after Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced he would resign, and two months after Abiy Ahmed was sworn in as his replacement, the pace of change in Ethiopia seems only to quicken. This week saw a dramatic shift in the government’s stance toward Eritrea, its neighbor and longtime foe, as well as significant political, economic and security reforms at home. On Tuesday, the government announced that it was finally ready to implement the terms of a peace […]

A portrait of Mozambique’s opposition leader, Afonso Dhlakama, during his state funeral, Beira, Mozambique, May 9, 2018 (AP photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

On May 3, Afonso Dhlakama, the long-time leader of the Mozambican rebel group and later political party Renamo, died unexpectedly. His death came as Mozambique’s National Assembly was considering amendments to the country’s constitution that would extend elected government to provinces, districts and municipalities nationwide. Most administrations at these levels are currently appointed by the national government, a cause of tension in Renamo strongholds. The amendment was one of two pillars of a deal negotiated earlier this year by Dhlakama and President Filipe Nyusi, meant to end a low-intensity conflict that flared back up in 2012—20 years after the end […]

Cote d’Ivoire’s president, Alassane Ouattara, attends the opening ceremony of an African Union summit, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Jan. 30, 2016 (AP photo by Mulugeta Ayene).

The quiet, behind-the-scenes preparations for Cote d’Ivoire’s next presidential election in 2020 were given a jolt this week by a man many expected would play only a supporting role in the process. In an interview published Sunday by the magazine Jeune Afrique, President Alassane Ouattara, who is nearing the end of his second term, said the West African nation’s new constitution would enable him to run twice more, in 2020 and again in 2025. Cote d’Ivoire limits presidents to two terms, and Ouattara had previously said numerous times that he would abide by the restriction. But by claiming that the […]

African Union peacekeepers detain a suspected anti-Balaka militia member, Bangui, Central African Republic, Jan. 22, 2014 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. For well over a year, activists have been buzzing about the potential for a new tribunal in the Central African Republic to foster a tradition of domestic accountability and deter fighting of the sort that has rocked the chronically unstable nation since 2012. The court’s prosecutor, the Congolese military magistrate Toussaint Muntazini Mukimapa, arrived in the country in February 2017, and hopes were high that he would be able to move fast in building cases. Yet as recently as […]