People wave Polisario Front flags while taking part in a demonstration in support of the Polisario Front and a free Western Sahara, Pamplona, Spain, March 23, 2022 (AP photo by Alvaro Barrientos).

In mid-March, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez sent a letter to Moroccan King Mohamed VI, supporting Rabat’s plan to grant Western Sahara autonomy over its internal affairs, while remaining under Moroccan sovereignty. The move appeared to be an abrupt departure for Spain, which has maintained a position of careful neutrality over its former colony’s efforts to gain independence from Morocco for nearly 47 years. When the Moroccan Foreign Ministry eventually made Sanchez’s support public, it provoked an uproar in Spain centered around two primary questions. First, Does this really constitute a major policy change for Spain, given that it has never explicitly ruled out the Moroccan autonomy […]

Customers watch Lt. Col. Henri Sandaogo Damiba address the nation on national television in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Jan. 27, 2022 (AP photo by Sophie Garcia).

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso—In 2014, Arouna Loure, a Burkinabe activist, anesthesiologist and leader of the grassroots political group Les Revoltes, took to the streets, risking his life in a popular uprising against the government of then-President Blaise Compaore. Having seized power in a military coup in 1987, Compaore ruled the country in a semi-authoritarian manner for 27 years, before being subsequently driven from power by the popular mobilization in which Loure participated. After a transitional period, Roch Marc Christian Kabore was elected president, becoming the first person to hold the office who did not have ties to the military. He later won […]

Nigerian youths protest in front of the state television station during nationwide strikes against the removal of a fuel subsidy by the government of then-President Goodluck Jonathan, Lagos, Nigeria, Jan. 12, 2012 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

Even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine pushed the price of crude oil above $100 a barrel for the first time since 2014, global oil prices had been on the rise for several months. After the pandemic-induced slump, the spike in prices is expected to create a boon for oil-producing countries. But for Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer and the holder of the 10th-largest proven oil reserves in the world, higher prices will be a mixed blessing at best. In fact, they might not provide a financial windfall at all, due to the country’s diminished oil production capacity, large-scale corruption in […]

Col. Assimi Goita meets with a high-level delegation from the West African regional bloc ECOWAS at the Ministry of Defense in Bamako, Mali, Aug. 22, 2020 (AP photo).

The court of the West African Economic and Monetary Union yesterday ordered that sanctions imposed on Mali by West African leaders should be lifted. Along with the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, the eight-nation grouping known by its French-language acronym UEMOA had imposed economic and financial restrictions on Mali in January, after the country’s interim military government reneged on a pledge to hold elections by February 2022 as part of Mali’s return to civilian rule.  UEMOA had instructed all financial institutions under its jurisdiction to suspend Mali immediately and cut off its access to regional financial markets. […]

A woman walks past the World Bank building in Washington, April 5, 2021 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

In mid-February, the World Bank issued a warning: Many low-income countries hit hardest by the pandemic are now on the brink of serious debt crisis, complicating the global economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. While worries about the accumulated burden of sovereign debt and the possibility of a debt crisis have been present for years, the pandemic has exacerbated an already precarious situation for many low-income countries, revealing fundamental flaws in the current architecture for sovereign debt restructuring. These flaws are likely to become more evident in 2022, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine contributes to higher global energy and food prices, […]

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat speak at the State Department, Washington, March 11, 2022 (AP photo by Balce Ceneta).

The war in Ukraine might be distant from the African continent, but its effects are proving to be far-reaching. From skyrocketing fuel prices to disruptions in food supply chains, Africans are feeling the real-life consequences of a conflict many of them regard as peripheral to their concerns and believe has little to do with them. But in addition to exacerbating the myriad difficulties African populations are grappling with, the war is also threatening to hobble the international collaborations their governments are trying to develop to address those challenges. That dynamic was on display at last week’s eighth annual high-level dialogue between the […]

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrive at a BRICS Summit event at the Itamaraty Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, Nov. 14, 2019. (AP photo by Eraldo Peres).

On the night of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, South African Defense Minister Thandi Modise attended a reception at the Russian Embassy in Pretoria, held in honor of the Russian armed forces. Four days later, officials from the ruling African National Congress, or ANC, celebrated 30 years of Russian-South African friendship over drinks at a reception held at the Russian consulate in Cape Town. Though both episodes are shocking, neither should come as a surprise. South Africa’s foreign policy has been on a long, downward ethical trajectory since the Mandela era, when the promotion of democracy and human rights were […]

People work in a sawmill, with downtown Lagos in the distance, Lagos, Nigeria, May 12, 2020 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

In late February, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, released its most recent report, summing up the latest research on how climate change is affecting ecosystems as well as the effectiveness of the various climate adaptation measures governments across the world have enacted so far. On the latter score, the report concludes that the current pace of adaption is insufficient and finds that the measures being implemented are not holistic enough to address the major climate challenges the world faces. According to the report, some of climate change’s impacts on the natural world and human societies are now considered […]

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks via video link during the 76th Session of the U.N. General Assembly, New York, Sept. 23, 2021 (AP photo by Spencer Platt).

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the reaction it has drawn from the United States and the European Union, has been described by many observers as having “revitalized the liberal international order,” as Kori Schake of the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute wrote in The Atlantic. Ivo Daalder, the president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and a former U.S. ambassador to NATO, tweeted that “the West isn’t weak, divided or declining after all.” Other commentators have drawn similar conclusions following the stronger-than-expected response on both sides of the Atlantic to Russia’s incursion into Ukraine. But many observers outside the core countries of the […]

People gather in a bar to watch the presidential inauguration of Junta leader Lt. Col. Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba during his swearing-in ceremony broadcast on national television, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Feb. 16, 2022 (AP photo by Sophie Garcia).

A national conference in Burkina Faso has approved a charter setting out a three-year transition period before the country schedules national elections, following the coup that overthrew former President Roch Kabore in January. Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, the officer who led the coup and was already serving as Burkina Faso’s interim head of state, was immediately sworn in as president for the duration of the transition. He subsequently appointed a transitional prime minister to head the 25-member Cabinet, while pledging to make improvements to security and the restoration of “territorial integrity” his key priorities as head of state. The announcement of the charter came after […]

Tunisians demonstrate in support of Tunisian President Kais Saied in Tunis, Tunisia, Oct. 3, 2021 (AP photo by Hassene Dridi).

Today, the Ukrainian people are fighting—quite literally—for their right to determine their own fate, independently and democratically. It was not so long ago that millions of people in multiple nations of the Middle East and North Africa rose up to fight for democracy at home in a wave of revolutions that, while markedly different from the events, circumstances and challenges in Ukraine, involved a quest to secure some of the rights that Ukrainians are today battling to preserve. At the time, these uprisings, known as the Arab Spring, inspired high expectations. Then, they derailed into tragedy. Back in 2011, observers […]

People chant slogans during a protest to denounce the October 2021 military coup, Khartoum, Sudan, Jan. 2, 2022 (AP photo by Marwan Ali).

The United States is currently faced with multiple international crises that are occupying much of Washington’s attention, but it should not lose sight of events in Sudan. Since last October’s military coup, millions of people across the country have taken to the streets week after week to show their determination to get Sudan back on the path toward democracy. The U.S. reacted swiftly after the military takeover with words of support for a return to civilian rule and blocks on bilateral aid to the coup regime. But these necessary steps have not changed the calculations of Sudan’s military leaders, and the country […]

African residents in Ukraine wait at the platform inside Lviv railway station, Lviv, Ukraine, Feb. 27, 2022 (AP photo by Bernat Armangue).

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last Thursday, major developments that will reshape global politics both immediately and for years to come have rapidly unfolded one after the other. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced that Germany would boost its defense spending this year by $113 billion and meet NATO’s target of 2 percent of GDP in the future. The U.S. and European Union announced a new round of sanctions against Russia that has sent the ruble crashing. And the EU announced that its member states will grant Ukrainians fleeing the war the right to stay and work in the bloc for […]

Colonel-Major Ismael Wague, center, spokesman for the soldiers identifying themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People, holds a press conference at Camp Soudiata in Kati, Mali, Aug. 19, 2020 (AP photo).

When United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addressed the Security Council in October, he urged it to act against the “epidemic of coup d’etats” plaguing the international community. Guterres’ warning came in the aftermath of a successful coup in Sudan—the fifth in the world that year. Though it’s just started, 2022 has brought even more coup attempts, including a successful one in Burkina Faso on Jan. 23 and a failed one in Guinea-Bissau in early February. In total, there have been nine military coup attempts since January 2021, of which six—in Myanmar, Sudan, Chad, Guinea, Mali and Burkina Faso—were successful. This recent spree has led some to suggest that, despite waning in the post-Cold War era, […]