With One Arrest, Congo May Have Broken a Notorious Rebel Group

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In a heavy blow against one of Africa’s most notorious militias, Col. Leopold Mujyambere — chief of staff of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR — was arrested last week by Congolese intelligence officers in the town of Goma and later transferred to the capital Kinshasa, where he awaits either a trial or extradition.

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It’s a Good Time to Be a Dictator Again

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There was a brief period of time when it looked like openly fraternizing with authoritarian rulers might go out of style, especially in Africa.

The Cold War’s end suddenly obviated the West’s need to prop up local allies — and Russia simply didn’t have the means anymore to do the same thing. The brutal civil wars of the 1990s and 2000s brought the deadly consequences of dictatorship to the fore, and a new crop of African rulers promised to usher in multi-party democracy.

In stark contrast to the situation in the Middle East, most African countries weren’t strategically significant. To top it all off, the Arab Spring discredited Western foreign policy in North Africa — specifically, the hemisphere’s dealings with the likes of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt.

Western governments promised to have seen the error of their ways and solemnly swore to really push for democracy in Africa, and without foul compromises this time around.

Well, those feelings were short-lived. With right-wing populists breathing down the necks of European governments due to the migrant crisis and defense companies in dire need of sales after the financial crisis massacred Western defense budgets, any autocrat who has something to offer is back in the game.

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Africa’s Defense Industry Is the Most Corrupt in the World – In the worst cases, armies have in effect taken over their governments

Of the world’s inhabited continents, Africa has by no means the biggest defense sector. Fifty-four African states are responsible for less than three percent — or about $50 billion — of the world’s military expenditure. But the continent also has experienced the largest increase in military spending, an astronomical 90 percent since 2005.

This by itself isn’t surprising. Conflict in a number of North and Sahelian African countries, and a boom in commodity prices in the years after the financial crisis, swelled the war chests of many resource-dependent governments in the region.

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Nigeria Wants to Double the Size of Its Army – It’s probably a bad idea

The Nigerian ground forces wants to add 100,000 new officers and enlisted men to its ranks, doubling its size to 200,000 soldiers, Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Yusuf Buratai announced in a lecture at the National Defense College in Abuja.

In most countries, this would be kind of a big deal, with media, pundits and politicians furiously debating the merits of such a dramatic step. But in Nigeria, only the initial report received some attention in various newspapers. The lack of critical debate around the planned expansion of the armed forces, which according to Buratai will take place over eight years, points to continued tensions between the military establishment and democratic institutions in Nigeria.

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Podcast: Africa’s Boom and Bust

Mansour Sy and Lorenzo Fioramonti join us to share some very different but equally thought-provoking visions on how Africa should approach falling commodities prices, a trend that has thrown many African economies into disarray.

Listen to Podcast on African Arguments.

The African Union Becomes a Dictator’s Best Friend – Annual summit decides to live with, not solve, the continent’s conflicts

“African Solutions to African Problems” has been a rallying cry for both African governments and citizens — for good reason. Western nations and international powers, disillusioned by the lack of progress managing conflict on the continent, make ill-informed decisions which affect millions of people.

But a more perverse meaning of this vision has begun to take shape — courtesy of the African Union and the current crop of geriatric would-be presidents-for-life running the show. The new cry is for keeping these leaders, many of them corrupt and authoritarian, in power for as long as possible…

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Der Traum der Goldgräber

Am Goldbergbau in Burkina Faso verdienen vor allem Minenbetreiber und große Handelshäuser. Die Bergleute dürfen dafür schuften – aber sie hoffen beharrlich auf den großen Fund.

Feiner grauer Staub durchsetzt die Luft in Alga. Wie Mehl legt er sich über Gebäude, Maschinen und Tausende von Menschen, die auf der Suche nach Gold einen Stollen nach dem anderen in den harten Fels treiben. Seit mindestens drei Jahrzehnten werde hier nach Gold gesucht, erzählt Elia Sawadogo, dessen Cousin einen der Schächte finanziert. Der richtige Boom kam vor ein paar Jahren, als ein großes Vorkommen des Edelmetalls gefunden wurde. „Jeden Tag kommen 40 neue Goldgräber“, sagt Sawadogo.

Read more on Weltsichten.

Podcast: On South Africa’s doom and gloom

In this podcast, we are joined by Martin Plaut and Gushwell Brooks to discuss the deplorable state of South African politics.

 

Podcast: Hip-Hop Sparks a Political Awakening in Senegal’s Youth

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR Editor-in-Chief Judah Grunstein and host Peter Dörrie discuss implementation day for the Iran deal, Chinese drones and elections in Benin. For the report, Amanda Fortier, a journalist and communications consultant, joins us to explain the relationship between hip-hop youth culture and politics in Senegal.

Published on World Politics Review.

Conspiracy Theories Multiply After Terrorist Assault in Burkina Faso – Attack which killed 30 has this quiet nation on edge

The bloodiest terror attack West Africa has experienced in recent times was a shock, but not surprising. Three years ago, I lived in Burkina Faso’s peaceful and relaxed capital, Ouagadougou, where it wasn’t rare to hear talk about the possibility of a large-scale atrocity as Islamist groups rampaged through neighboring Mali.

On Jan. 15, three assailants detonated two car bombs along the city’s central Avenue Kwame Nkrumah, before spraying the Café Cappuchino — a stylish hangout popular with wealthy Westerners and Burkinabé — with bullets. The attackers then moved on to the upscale Splendid Hotel across the street and took hostages.

Read more on War is Boring.