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  • Author: Terrance Lyons
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Eritrea’s saga of achieving independence in 1993 entails a brutal 30-year war and the mobilization of a remarkable national liberation movement. In the late nineteenth century, this small state in the Horn of Africa suffered under the colonial domination of the Italians, followed by Ethiopia’s imperialism and military rule. Self-determination, not secession, was sought by Eritrean nationalists because they never accepted colonial rule or Ethiopia’s sovereignty. After a war that included near victory in the mid-1970s, internecine splits, and a strategic retreat to a mountain redoubt in the far northwest, the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) defeated the Soviet-backed Ethiopian army and seized control of all of Eritrea in May 1991. The postwar independence era started with great hopes, a referendum in which 99 percent of the population voted in favor of independence, the conversion of the rebel movement into a ruling party, and the creation of a consultative process to write a new constitution. In 1998, however, a border war broke out with Ethiopia, resulting in the almost complete militarization of Eritrean society. In 2001, a group of leaders who played key roles in the liberation war demanded political reforms and were arrested by President Isaias Afwerki. Since then Eritrea has experienced the complete closure of political space, economic decline, international sanctions, and isolation. It ranks near the bottom of global assessments regarding democracy, human rights, religious freedom, and free media.
  • Topic: Nationalism, Military Strategy, Geopolitics, Independence
  • Political Geography: Africa, Eritrea
  • Author: Judd Devermont
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: It is election season again in sub-Saharan Africa. Roughly every five years, the region faces a tidal wave of elections. In previous cycles, starting in the mid-1990s, the outcome was generally predictable. The ruling party leveraged its considerable advantages—including access to state resources—to secure another term. If the incumbent party rigged the poll, international monitors easily spotted the fraud and strenuously objected, even if to little effect. For the past two decades, five out of every six elections have produced the same result. This next batch of some two dozen elections will be different. A combination of demographic, technological, and geostrategic developments is disrupting the region’s electoral landscape. African leaders, opposition, and publics are adapting and writing a new playbook in the process. From street protests and parallel vote counts to election hacking and internet shutdowns, sub-Saharan African politics are becoming more competitive and more unpredictable. The case for democracy and improving the quality of elections is not simply a moral or altruistic one. U.S. national security objectives, including promoting prosperity and stability, are more achievable in democratic systems. Autocratic regimes, in contrast, worsen corruption, undercut sound economic management, and fail to produce long- term growth. Indeed, recent research indicates that Africa’s democracies grow at a faster rate than its autocracies, and this is more pronounced among countries that have been democracies for longer.1 Moreover, historically, democracies rarely have gone to war with one another. If the United States wants to advance its broad objectives in the region, it will need to reconceptualize its investments, partnerships, and interventions regarding elections.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Elections, Democracy, Election Interference
  • Political Geography: Africa, North America, United States of America, Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Author: Judd Devermont, Catherine Chiang
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly, President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana warned of the repercussions of escalating U.S.-China trade tensions on African nations. Although largely absent from the discourse surrounding the so-called “trade war,” sub-Saharan Africa has suffered from its impacts. Uncertainty hovering over global and African markets has already undermined investor confidence, triggering drops in commodity prices and local currencies. A slowdown in Chinese production and global growth could threaten to throw African markets further off balance. U.S. protectionist measures stand out for their repercussions on African economies and U.S.-Africa relations. Tariff tensions risk indirectly undercutting U.S. goals of promoting African self-reliance, increasing U.S.-Africa trade and investment, and countering China’s expanding influence on the continent.
  • Topic: Development, Hegemony, Conflict, Trade Wars
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Getachew Diriba, Christian Man
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has been widely hailed for his promises to open political space, usher in economic liberalization, and remake the country’s poor record on human rights. However, to truly transform his country, Dr. Abiy must first transform agriculture, which is the nucleus of the Ethiopian economy and by far the largest employer. Drawing on interviews and focus groups with seventy stakeholders, this report examines the past wins, current endeavors, and future challenges of Ethiopia’s Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA), a federal entity established in 2010 to drive fundamental changes for the country’s 15 million smallholder farmers. It highlights the relationship between the ATA and the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture, the importance of innovation in agricultural transformation, and the role donors like the United States government can play in supporting such-efforts for country-led development.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Development, Economics, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: Africa, Ethiopia
  • Author: Daniel F. Runde, Romina Bandura
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: While other countries have ramped up their economic engagement with Africa via trade, investments, and private sector financing, the United States has remained, for the most part, disengaged. Though decades-long U.S. government initiatives in Africa are indicative of longstanding relations, the reality is that these initiatives have not been enough for the United States to compete in the changing development landscape. On December 13, 2018, the Trump administration launched the Prosper Africa initiative, which seeks to open markets for American businesses, grow Africa’s middle class, promote youth employment opportunities, improve the business climate, and enable the United States to compete with China and other nations who have business interests in Africa. This short report discusses some of the challenges and opportunities for U.S. engagement with the continent and presents a series of recommendations for the policymakers driving the Prosper Africa initiative forward.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Hegemony, Economic Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Africa, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Janet Fleischman
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Many of the fastest growing populations are in the world’s poorest countries, putting them at a critical threshold: either they will accelerate economic growth and innovation by investing in their burgeoning youth population or the rapid population growth coupled with a shortage of opportunities for young people will undermine advances in health, development, and ultimately security. These demographic trends, most notable in sub-Saharan Africa, are often referred to as a “youth boom” or a “youth bulge.” Given the enormous implications of these demographic shifts, U.S. assistance should promote young people’s health and development, with particular emphasis on empowering young women. Investments in human capital and gender equality would yield enormous benefits in improving health, reducing poverty, and increasing economic and political stability. Given that these goals align so strongly with U.S. national interests, they benefit from strong bipartisan support. The U.S. government has an important role to play in helping countries address these demographic issues by expanding access to adolescent health, voluntary family planning, HIV services, educational opportunities for girls, and youth employment, and ensuring the meaningful engagement of young people in program design and implementation. This builds on a remarkable legacy of U.S. engagement in many areas that could help countries to empower young people and build critical life skills and resilience. This paper outlines a number of policy options that Congress could undertake to advance these goals, including: establishing a youth health and empowerment fund within USAID to incentivize USAID missions to develop a cross-sectoral package of services to address both the root causes of the demographic trends and the immediate needs of young people; holding hearings on the demographic trends and their potential impact (both positive and negative) on U.S. health, development, and security goals for the region, to determine if a new, multi-sector approach is needed; ensuring that the new U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (IDFC) invests in women’s economic empowerment and health in developing countries; and requesting more in-depth analysis from the intelligence community examining how gender inequality and the demographic trends—including youthful age structure and rapid urbanization—in fragile states contribute to economic and political instability and pose threats to regional security.
  • Topic: Demographics, Economic Growth, Innovation, Empowerment
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Daniel Mahanty, William Meeker
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: A troubling increase in violent attacks in Niger suggests that conflict could be spilling further into the interior of the country, placing a challenge before a Nigerien government under domestic and international pressure to respond, and putting stress on a largely military that is already stretched to its limits. As the government in Niamey along with its partners in Washington and Paris formulate strategies to contend with the violence, they would be well served to ensure that additional investments in military capacity are carefully balanced with an emphasis on accountability and governance, civilian protection, and finding appropriate channels to address conflict through localized political processes.
  • Topic: Governance, Political stability, Domestic Policy
  • Political Geography: Africa, West Africa
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: In fairness, peace almost always consists of a pause in the fighting that becomes a prelude to war. Taking modern Europe as an example, the Napoleonic wars were punctuated by failed peace attempts, and then led to the rise of Germany and a whole new series of wars with Austria, Denmark, and France. The repressive peace settlements following Europe’s upheavals in 1848 set the stage for decades of new rounds of conflict and revolution. World War I led to World War II, and then led to the Cold War and now to the Ukraine. Nevertheless, the current U.S. efforts to support peace negotiations in Afghanistan and the Middle East seem remarkably weak even by historical standards. In the case of Afghanistan, “peace” is being negotiated without even the same cosmetic level of local government participation that occurred in Vietnam. It is being negotiated when there is no political stability to build upon, and no apparent prospect that the coming election can bring real unity or effective leadership.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Conflict, Peace
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Africa, Iraq, Middle East, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Judd Devermont
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: It has recently become fashionable to host a regional summit with African leaders. The Arab states, China, the European Union, France, India, Russia, and Turkey all established high-profile diplomatic forums with African counterparts. Japan has been one of the pacesetters, inviting African governments, as well as multilateral institutions, to attend TICAD since 1993. TICAD’s seventh iteration, which was staged in Yokohama from August 28- 30, 2019, welcomed 42 African presidents, vice presidents, and prime ministers and witnessed the signing of 110 memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with African countries and private-sector companies.1,2 The United States chaired one such event, the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, in August 2014. While it represented a milestone in U.S.-African diplomatic engagement, the United States has not attempted anything on the same scale since. In 2016, the U.S. Department of Commerce with Bloomberg Philanthropies chaired a second U.S.-Africa Business Forum. President Trump met with eight sub-Saharan African leaders on the margins of the UN General Assembly in 2017 and separately invited Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari and Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta to the White House in 2018. If the U.S. government decides to resume the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, it has the potential to deepen ties between the United States and African counterparts, as well as promote trade and investment and advance signature initiatives.
  • Topic: Development, Foreign Aid, Leadership, Humanitarian Intervention
  • Political Geography: Africa, Japan, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The United States, its allies, and international organizations are just beginning to come to grips with the civil dimensions of "failed state" wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, the Sudans, Syria, and Yemen. In each case, it is clear that the civil dimension of the war will ultimately be as important as the military one. Any meaningful form of "victory" requires far more than defeating the current extremist threat in military terms, and reaching some temporary compromise between the major factions that divide the country. The current insurgent and other security threats exist largely because of the deep divisions within the state, the past and current failures of the government to deal with such internal divisions, and the chronic failure to meet the economic, security, and social needs of much of the nation's population. In practical terms, these failures make a given host government, other contending factions, and competing outside powers as much of a threat to each nation’s stability and future as Islamic extremists and other hostile forces. Regardless of the scale of any defeat of extremists, the other internal tensions and divisions with each country also threaten to make any such “victory” a prelude to new forms of civil war, and/or an enduring failure to cope with security, stability, recovery, and development. Any real form of victory requires a different approach to stability operations and civil-military affairs. In each case, the country the U.S. is seeking to aid failed to make the necessary economic progress and reforms to meet the needs of its people – and sharply growing population – long before the fighting began. The growth of these problems over a period of decades helped trigger the sectarian, ethnic, and other divisions that made such states vulnerable to extremism and civil conflict, and made it impossible for the government to respond effectively to crises and wars.
  • Topic: Security, War, Fragile/Failed State, ISIS, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Africa, United States, Iraq, Middle East, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, South Sudan, Sundan