16 April 2014
by Cedric Barnes
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Losing Hearts and Minds in Kenya

Suspected Somali illegal migrants and refugees arrested in a police swoop arrive at a holding station in Kenya's capital Nairobi, April 7, 2014. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Suspected Somali illegal migrants and refugees arrested in a police swoop arrive at a holding station in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, 7 April, 2014. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

The Crackdown on Somalis Will Probably Backfire

By Cedric Barnes (@CedricHoA)

The round-up and mass detention of Somalis in Nairobi, which began in earnest on 31 March, deliberately conflated immigration issues with counter-terrorism and has widened dangerous communal divides. Al-Shabaab and its extremist allies in Kenya will be very satisfied. What the attack on Nairobi’s Westgate mall last September failed to do – sow division among Kenyans – might well be achieved by these detentions and deportations. This month’s events brought out the worst in Kenya, from the prejudice shown, especially in social media, by ordinary citizens, to petty point scoring by the political class, to police extortion of bribes from lawfully resident Somalis, to the extrajudicial execution of the controversial Muslim preacher known as Makaburi (“graveyard”).

The terrorist threat is real enough. In March, security forces seized a pick-up truck packed with explosives, reportedly part of a planned multi-pronged attack in Mombasa. (Authorities believed the truck was one of several devices.) Soon thereafter, armed gunmen killed six worshipers at a Christian Church in the Likoni area of Mombasa. There was also a spate of grenade attacks targeting Christians, and claiming another six lives, in the Nairobi suburb of Eastleigh, where people of diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds live side by side.

The Westgate mall attack killed indiscriminately and brought a unified response: private Kenyan citizens, including of Somali origin, were applauded for their individual heroism and community support, and the nation, led by President Kenyatta, stood as one. By contrast, the recent attacks were targeted and the government’s security operations in response quickly exposed divides between majority and minority communities, even between MPs within the ruling Jubilee coalition. The operations also drew a belated but firm response from the opposition Orange Democratic Coalition.

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1 April 2014
by Africa Program Staff
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Des troupeaux aux frontières

Carte des routes de transhumance vers et en dehors de la République centrafricaine 

Carte des routes de transhumance vers et en dehors de la République centrafricaine

Carte des routes de transhumance vers et en dehors de la République centrafricaine. CRISIS GROUP

Ce post est aussi disponible en anglais.

Le pastoralisme, source de richesse et d’interdépendance économique, génère des conflits, souvent liés à la compétition pour les ressources naturelles (eau et pâturages). Ces conflits se sont intensifiés du fait de l’insécurité croissante et la prolifération des armes légères ; le changement climatique, qui pousse les pasteurs plus au sud ; l’éclatement des couloirs traditionnels de transhumance, notamment transfrontaliers ; l’extension des cultures et l’augmentation des cheptels.

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1 April 2014
by Africa Program Staff
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Herds at the Border

A Map of Pastoral Routes In and Out of Central African Republic

This map shows the cattle migration routes in and out of CAR and the areas where pastoralists finish their seasonal journeys inside CAR

This map shows the cattle migration routes in and out of CAR and the areas where pastoralists finish their seasonal journeys inside CAR. CRISIS GROUP

This post is also available in French.

Pastoralism generates wealth and economic interdependence but also causes tensions, usually over water or pasture. In the last few years, conflicts have intensified because of growing insecurity and small-arms proliferation; climate change and the shift of cattle migration southward; multiplication of transnational herding routes; expansion of cultivated areas into traditional grazing lands; and growing cattle herds.

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27 February 2014
by Africa Program Staff
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Nigeria: Boko Haram’s Deadly School Attack

Map of Nigeria locating 25 February attack in the town of Buni Yadi, Yobe State. AFP

Crisis Group’s Africa Program staff assembled this Q&A following Boko Haram’s attack of 25 February. Crisis Group will release a full-length report on Boko Haram in mid-March.

What happened?

In the early hours of Tuesday 25 February, about 50 gunmen from the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram stormed a co-educational, federal government boarding school in Buni Yadi, Yobe State, about 65km from the state capital, Damaturu. The attackers locked a dormitory and set it on fire, killing many students inside. Students who tried to escape were shot or knifed to death. In all, there were 59 fatalities; all killed were males; some female students were abducted, others ordered to quit school and go get married or be killed in future attacks. The school’s 24 buildings were completely burned down.

What has been the government’s reaction?

President Goodluck Jonathan has called the attack “a callous and senseless murder … by deranged terrorists and fanatics who have clearly lost all human morality and descended to bestiality”. A military spokesman in Yobe State, Captain Lazarus Eli, said troops were “in pursuit of the killers”, but military authorities offered no further details. Many commentators on social media and radio/television talk programs dismiss these reactions for being insufficient.

What is the local reaction?

This incident, and several other attacks this month, are seen as further examples of the failure of the government and the military to protect Nigeria’s citizens. The rising casualties from recent attacks are fuelling an already considerable anger, not only in the north east, which is worst hit by the violence, but across the country.

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25 February 2014
by Africa Program Staff
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Pour une mission efficace en République centrafricaine

Des combattants anti-balaka patrouillant dans le quartier de Boeing, à Bangui (24 février 2014). REUTERS/Camille Lepage

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Par Thierry Vircoulon (@TVircoulon) and Thibaud Lesueur

Incapable d’agir quand Crisis Group et d’autres organisations envoyaient des signaux d’alerte et qualifiaient la Centrafrique d’Etat fantôme, la communauté internationale doit dorénavant s’impliquer massivement, à des coûts largement supérieurs, suite aux pertes humaines considérables et aux déplacements massifs de population, et avec des chances de succès beaucoup plus faibles. Le nouveau gouvernement centrafricain (le troisième en un an) semble prometteur et la sécurité dans la capitale, Bangui, s’est très légèrement améliorée. Pour autant, jusqu’à maintenant, la réponse internationale est toujours minée par des divergences de vues, notamment entre les Nations unies et l’Union africaine. La nouvelle présidente centrafricaine, Catherine Samba-Panza, a demandé l’envoi d’une mission de maintien de la paix des Nations unies et le Tchad, un des acteurs principaux dans la région, qui s’y opposait fortement, s’est finalement déclaré en faveur d’un tel déploiement. Le Conseil de sécurité des Nations unies a soutenu le prochain déploiement d’une mission de l’Union européenne. Pourtant, pour réussir, les opérations de maintien de la paix (Union européenne et autres) doivent s’inscrire dans le cadre d’une stratégie cohérente de stabilisation, qui prenne réellement en compte les besoins de la République centrafricaine (RCA) sur le long terme.

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24 February 2014
by Africa Program Staff
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Central African Republic: Making the Mission Work

Anti-balaka fighters patrol in the Boeing district of Bangui, 24 February 2014. REUTERS/Camille Lepage

This post is also available in French.

By Thierry Vircoulon (@TVircoulon) and Thibaud Lesueur

By failing to engage when Crisis Group and others warned that the Central African Republic had become a phantom state, the international community has now had to become much more heavily involved, at much greater expense, after horrifying loss of life and massive displacement, with much greater odds of failure. The new CAR government (the third in one in a year) looks promising and the capital, Bangui, enjoys slightly more security. Yet the international response continues to be riven by divisions, most notoriously between the African Union and the UN. CAR’s new president has called for a UN peacekeeping mission and Chad, an important regional player which initially opposed this option, now agrees. The Security Council has itself approved a European Union mission, soon to be deployed. But peacekeepers (EU and otherwise) must be guided by a stabilisation strategy that is coherent, comprehensive and meets the needs of CAR not just in the short-term but over the long haul.

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13 February 2014
by Africa Program Staff
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Puntland’s Boundary Issues: What Will Abdiweli Gas’s Call for Unity Really Mean?

Somalia Puntland President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, makes his acceptance speech in Garowe, January 14, 2014. REUTERS/Abdiqani Hassan

By Cedric Barnes @CedricHoA and Zakaria Yusuf

Additional research by Abdullahi Abdille.

Puntland’s new president, Abdiweli Gas, was a prominent mourner in Mogadishu last week at the graveside of Abdirizak Haji Hussein, a former prime minister of Somalia (1964–67). It was Abdiweli’s first visit to the national capital since his election on 8 January, though he had previously served as a minister (2010-11) and prime minister (2011-2012) in the then Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (TFG). The twitter account of the newly established Somalia Federal Government (SFG) presidency (@theVillaSomalia) hailed the late Abdirizak as a “lion and patriot of Somalia” and highlighted his contribution to “national unity”. The wording will not be lost on Abdiweli Gas. Not only is he of the same lineage and region as the late Abdirizak, but he also now leads the regional state authority that has done the most to promote federalism in Somalia –which, for many Somalis, has dug the grave for national unity.

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21 January 2014
by Africa Program Staff
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La République centrafricaine : une troisième transition en 13 mois

Catherine Samba-Panza reacts after she was elected as Central African Republic’s interim president. PHOTO: Reuters/Siegfried Modola

Catherine Samba-Panza reacts after she was elected as Central African Republic’s interim president. PHOTO: Reuters/Siegfried Modola

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Par Thierry Vircoulon (@TVircoulon) et Thibaud Lesueur

Pourquoi la Communauté économique des Etats d’Afrique centrale (CEEAC) a-t-elle forcé le Président centrafricain de la transition (Michel Djotodia) et le Premier ministre (Nicolas Tiangaye) à démissionner, ouvrant la voie à une nouvelle transition ?

En 2013, la République centrafricaine s’est effondrée : les salaires des fonctionnaires ont été payés par des bailleurs étrangers (notamment le Congo-Brazzaville) ; la sécurité est complètement assurée par les forces internationales; il n’y a plus de gouvernement en place et tous les services étatiques se sont effondrés. La décision de l’Union Européenne (du 20 janvier) d’envoyer des troupes – dans l’attente de la résolution des Nations Unies attendue pour la fin de la semaine – indique que l’engagement international va s’intensifier.

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21 January 2014
by Africa Program Staff
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Central African Republic: The Third Government in Thirteen Months Gets Under Way

Catherine Samba-Panza reacts after she was elected as Central African Republic’s interim president. PHOTO: Reuters/Siegfried Modola

This post is also available in: français

By Thierry Vircoulon (@TVircoulon) and Thibaud Lesueur

Why did the Economic Community of Central African States force Central African Republic President Michel Djotodia and the prime minister, Nicolas Tiangaye, to resign, opening the way for a new transition?

In 2013, CAR collapsed: the wages of civil servants were paid by foreign donors (notably the government of Congo Brazzaville); security disappeared, and efforts to reinstate it could only be conducted by international forces; there is no government in place and all state services have dissolved. The European Union’s decision yesterday (20 January) to send troops – pending a UN Security Council resolution expected for later this week – indicates that international involvement will only be deepening.

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19 December 2013
by Thibaud Lesueur
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République centrafricaine : les options de réponse internationale pour 2014

Samantha Power, United States Permanent Representative to the UN. PHOTO: UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

Samantha Power, United States Permanent Representative to the UN. PHOTO: UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

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La venue aujourd’hui en République centrafricaine de Samantha Power, ambassadrice des États-Unis aux Nations unies, a remis la crise centrafricaine au centre des préoccupations et a renouvelé l’attention sur la réponse internationale et plus particulièrement sur l’implication américaine dans la résolution de cette crise. Cependant, les options offertes à la communauté internationale demeurent globalement inchangées.

Quelles sont ces options ? Aujourd’hui, la responsabilité de la Force africaine de maintien de la paix en République centrafricaine (Misca) a été officiellement transférée de la Communauté économique des Etats d’Afrique centrale (CEEAC) à l’Union africaine (UA). Or au centre du problème de la gestion de la crise centrafricaine réside l’absence de crédibilité d’une force africaine de maintien de la paix qui, par défaut, a conduit à l’intervention militaire française.

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