Africa Blog Roundup: Somalia’s Famine, Boko Haram, East African Cybersecurity, Malawi Protests, and More

Reuters has an audio slideshow of two decades of Somali history. Wanderlust examines issues of aid delivery and interference from al Shabab amid Somalia’s famine.

Laura Seay argues against John Prendergast’s idea of giving air defense systems to South Sudan. Laurenist has more.

Amb. John Campbell teases out some of the implications of reports that Boko Haram, Northeastern Nigeria’s Muslim rebel movement, has split.

The State Department’s Christopher Painter reports on an “East African Workshop to Address Cybersecurity.”

Kim Yi Dionne is providing excellent coverage of the protests in Malawi.

Andrew Harding asks whether British Prime Minister David Cameron’s “trade message [will] be heard” in Africa, and African Arguments gives an overview of a recent British government delegation visit to Mauritania where AQIM, among other issues, was discussed.

Sophia Jones looks at efforts to revamp Kenya Railways.

Saratu on “the limits to NGOs’ effectiveness.”

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10 thoughts on “Africa Blog Roundup: Somalia’s Famine, Boko Haram, East African Cybersecurity, Malawi Protests, and More

  1. I think you should look at this. The president in Nigeria is favourably disposed towards modifying the revenue sharing formula to give more resources to the states.

    http://www.thenationonlineng.net/2011/index.php/mobile/news/13260-jonathan-backs-push-for-new-revenue-formula.html

    This is in line with what I earlier wrote, the Nigerian elite is quickly moving to quash the minimum wage irritation and face more weighty matters like the Boko Haram insurgency.

    • These numbers would be a big change, though, right? If they take the govs’ proposal and go from 52-27-21 to 35-42-23, wouldn’t that really weaken the federal government?

      I think you are right that they do want to resolve the minimum wage issue quickly – or perhaps just propose a solution that mollifies everyone. Implementation will be a key issue also, it seems to me.

      • State Governors, for selfish reasons will be very happy with an increase in their revenue allocations.

        However, on a more serious note, I don’t think either the Niger Delta nor regional power brokers like Tinubu nor Christian minorities in the North will shed many tears if the center is further weakened.

        The center has traditionally been controlled by the Muslim far North and it is in the interest of other power brokers to limit the potential of the Muslim far North to dominate the politics of Nigeria.

        I see a modification in the revenue allocation formula, it may not be as drastic as you outlined, but it will definitely happen.

  2. I can’t see anti-air weapons (even ballistic ones) being used on civilians. The main problem is more likely to be the military balance between the two Sudans.

    • Thanks for posting this. I’ve been trying to follow the reports of this split, but I don’t know how serious they are either.

      • I am sceptical, it is just to convenient to be true. It looks like a good counter-insurgency con job orchestrated by some Nigerian Intelligence agency.

        On another note an organisation called “Akhwat Akwop” which claims to be the Christian rival to “Boko Haram” has been distributing leaflets warning of retaliation against Boko Haram. Knowing Nigeria and witnessing the Zangon-Kataf crisis, I think their threats should be taken seriously.

        http://www.vanguardngr.com/2011/07/boko-haram-rival-group-drops-threat-leaflets-in-10-northern-states/

        Nigerian Christians have demonstrated the capacity for very serious acts of violence when they feel threatened. That is why in earlier posts I warned that we should not merely view the Boko Haram threat via the classical Western counter-terrorism prism but we should also consider its impact on other religious groups.

        Nigeria does not lack a steady supply of young men willing to do violence.

  3. Alex Thurston,

    I really need your views on this.

    I just read about a Boko Haram bomb throwing incident that killed a couple of Christians at Suleja (near Abuja). I heard about it earlier but the report at the “Christian Post” brought it home.

    This is very dangerous, because if Boko Haram triggers an all out fight against Nigeria’s largely evangelical Christian population, I doubt the Nigerian state can survive it.

    Secondly, the Evangelical Christian community in Nigeria has very extensive ties to the Evangelical Christian community in America. As you know, Evangelicals are a rising political force in the United States. My question is this: what are the potential side effects on American policy in Africa if the situation in Nigeria escalates? (We recall that the evangelical community was one of the early supporters Southern Sudan).

    As I said earlier, I think your analysis should go beyond the usual counter-terrorism / AQ inspired national security framework. Nigeria had serious problems with ethnicity / religion even before Usama Bin Laden was born and the British cynically swept all these differences under the carpet.

    Consequently, there is a deep suspicion and outright hatred of the British in many parts of Nigeria. There is also a view that the Americans have chosen the intellectually lazy option – i.e. merely reproducing age old British prejudices and packaging them as “Nigeria policy”.

    • Maduka, sorry for the late response. I do not know if Boko Haram was behind the bombing in Suleja. When there was violence in Suleja in April it does not seem people linked it to Boko Haram. Maybe it doesn’t matter, since it seems there’s now a climate where some incidents are attributed to BH even if it’s not confirmed that they were the culprits. Either way it’s worrying, because as you say there is real potential for Muslim Christian conflict.

      As to American foreign policy, from what I can tell most policymakers are interested in the continued unity of Nigeria. I do not think the idea of a divided Nigeria would have much support in official circles in Washington.

      Your points about analysis are well taken. I am definitely trying to situate Boko Haram in the broader historical and political dynamics of Nigeria. I do not see it as a movement like AQ, but rather as a movement with origins in feelings of political exclusion and marginalization in the North – in addition to many other factors and causes, too many to list here.

      Hope that helps.

  4. Seasonal rains in Somalia threaten to spread disease among the hundreds of thousands of internally displaced residents who have fled famine conditions in hopes of finding food.

    With out a good government Somalia still remains in shambles.

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