The CSS Blog Network

Beyond Piracy: What Next for African Maritime Security?

A Royal Navy Merlin Helicopter Provides Cover for Royal Marines

This article was originally published by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS Africa) on 8 February 2016.

Last year saw an almost total absence of reports of piracy and armed robbery at sea in the western Indian Ocean and off the coast of Somalia. This is the laudable outcome of concerted international and regional counter-piracy efforts.

Since 2012, there has been an annual decline in the total number of reported attempted and actual attacks in the region. The decline has led to calls for reforms to four key international counter-piracy institutions in the new ‘post-piracy’ environment.

These reforms are important, but will not provide lasting solutions if African maritime, economic and developmental interests are neglected.

It will therefore be vital that local stakeholders, such as the African Union (AU) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), drive new developments.

The drop in piracy figures means that many counter-piracy institutions and mechanisms are now seen as costly, inconvenient, cumbersome and unjustified. In their present configuration, many of these measures also seem inadequate. New maritime security tasks entail more than simply keeping piracy suppressed, but are also about simultaneously building blue economies and conducting peacebuilding in Somalia.

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What (else) to Expect in Africa in 2016?

“Africa” written in the evening sky in Malawi

This article was originally published by ISS Africa on 12 January 2016.

Africa starts the New Year with many burning issues that escalated in 2015 and need urgent action. The crisis in Burundi, where grave human rights violations are continuing, and the war in South Sudan are the two most pressing among these.

This year will also see a number of important elections taking place in Africa. Uganda’s presidential polls are being held next month, and those scheduled for the Democratic Republic of Congo later this year will also be top of mind for most Africa watchers.

It will also be a very challenging year for Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, who will now have to make good on his 2015 election promises.

This includes effectively dealing with terror group Boko Haram and bringing back the kidnapped Chibok girls. Africa’s most populous nation will also look to him to continue the fight against corruption and boost economic development, despite the slump in the oil price.

But what are we missing, beyond the big newsmakers?

In 2016, we should watch for surprises from unexpected quarters. One of these might be from Zimbabwe. President Robert Mugabe, who turns 92 next month, is not immortal – even if his supporters vow to push him onto the stage in a wheelchair to celebrate his victory at the next party elections in 2019.

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The Political Pope Comes to Africa

Pope Francis I. during his inauguration mass. Image: Catholic Church of England and Wales Photostream/Flickr

This article was originally published by The Institute for Security Studies on 22 October, 2015.

Can the ‘political Pope,’ as he is increasingly being called, advance peace and promote reconciliation in Africa where so many others have failed?

In his brief 30 months in the Vatican, Pope Francis has shown himself unafraid to venture forth from the cloisters into the messy world of politics in pursuit of his spiritual agenda. Nowhere was this more evident than in the key role he played in restoring diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba earlier this year, ending 54 years of bitter isolation. » More

American Commandos Use Niger for Training and More

US AFRICA COMMAND Flintlock 2014 in Niger.

This article was originally published by Offiziere.ch on 24 August 2015. Republished with permission.

The Pentagon is looking to open up a new gas station for its planes in southern Niger. As terrorists and militant groups have cropped up across North and West Africa, Washington has turned to Niger as an important hub for military activates in the region (see also “US Expands African Drone Aprons“, offiziere.ch, April 6, 2015; Joseph Trevithick, “Niger is the New Hub for American Ops in North, West Africa“, offiziere.ch, May 20, 2014). » More

The AU’s Plans for an African Passport a Pie in the Sky?

Stamps in an African Passport. Image: Jon Rawlinson/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by ISS Africa on 15 July, 2015.

Amid the furore over Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s attendance, along with celebrities like Angelina Jolie, some of the discussions at last month’s African Union (AU) summit in Johannesburg went largely unnoticed.

One of these is a renewed call for African countries to open their borders and for regional economic communities (RECs) to do this by no later than 2018.

Is the AU way ahead of its time? Or is this just a desperate measure to find alternatives for Africans who are so eager to leave their own countries that they risk life and limb to settle elsewhere? » More

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