As part of his tour through four African countries this week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a point of stopping over in Cote d’Ivoire, a country with which both Washington and Paris are seeking to deepen security ties following the collapse of France’s diplomatic relations in other parts of the region.
East Africa has long been a region of great geopolitical importance and, as a result, the object of fierce competition. Now, recent developments, including Sudan’s brutal civil war and Ethiopia’s port access deal with Somaliland, have shone a spotlight on the United Arab Emirates’ influential role in regional affairs.
On Dec. 28, South Africa filed a claim with the International Court of Justice alleging that Israel’s actions in Gaza since Hamas’ attack on Oct. 7 amount to genocide against the Palestinian population. Both Israel and the U.S. have called the case a distraction. They’re right, but not for the reasons they claim.
Many countries across Africa are experiencing an economic malaise. What began as a slump for commodity exporters in 2014 became a general slowdown with the shocks of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. But like Africa’s last “lost decade” in the 1980s, a moment of crisis could be an opportunity to set a different economic course.
Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo’s “Resilient Ghana” program, which seeks to halt and reverse deforestation while also boosting the country’s economy, has won plaudits abroad. But Ghanaians are more skeptical, and for good reason. Deforestation is a grave problem in Ghana, but successive governments have done little to address it.
With the international system stretched to the breaking point, the world’s attention remains focused on the wars in Ukraine and Gaza and the questions of moral legitimacy they raise. However, conflicts in Sudan and Ethiopia are also setting precedents that will further erode the moral and legal constraints on state and nonstate actors.
In Uganda, a new transport monitoring system, which recently began rolling out in Kampala, will soon allow authorities to constantly observe every vehicle on the road. But the controversial project has been criticized by human rights activists as a violation of the right to privacy, in a country known for suppressing political dissent.
In the four months since taking over in a coup, the junta leading Gabon appears to have consolidated power, relying on a multipronged approach intended to secure domestic popularity and the international legitimacy needed to distinguish from the military regimes that have seized power in other parts of Africa in recent years.
Over the past decade, the struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia for dominance in the Middle East has insinuated itself into nearly every regional issue, fracturing international alliances and sustaining wars across the region. Meanwhile, Hamas’ attack on Israel on Oct. 7 and the ongoing war in Gaza serve as reminders that the conflict between Israel and Palestine cannot be simply wished away by regional powers and the United States.