Africa Blog Roundup: Muslim Protests in Ethiopia, Oil Contracts, Elections in Sierra Leone, Gold in South Sudan, and More

Chris Blattman recommends, and highlights some powerful quotations from, Robert Worth‘s “Can American Diplomacy Ever Come Out of Its Bunker?”

Alemayehu Fentaw on Muslim protests in Ethiopia:

There is little evidence to support the Ethiopian Government’s claim that its own Muslim community poses a legitimate threat to national and regional security.  It only seems to be driven by a shrewd strategic calculus. Since Ethiopia is a critical partner in the West’s ‘War on Terror’, the government thinks it helps to foment fear of the rise of radical Islam in Ethiopia that would lead to an improbable takeover of power by political Islam.  The current Ethiopian Government seeks to keep Western support and aid flowing into the country through characterizing the Muslim community as linked to Islamic radicals and thus a threat to national security.

Baobab on Sierra Leone’s elections.

Duncan Green/The World Bank: “What Have We Learned from Five Years of Research on African Power and Politics?”

Two on oil:

  • Loomnie: “Oil Contracts: How to Read and Understand Them.”
  • Laine Strutton: “A Very Brief Chronology of the Nigerian Oil Economy.”

Orlando Reade: “Revolutions and Dancing.”

Amb. John Campbell comments on “a new report by the Global Commission on Elections, Democracy and Security, ‘Deepening Democracy: A Strategy for Improving the Integrity of Elections Worldwide.’”

Roving Bandit on artisanal gold mining in South Sudan.

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10 thoughts on “Africa Blog Roundup: Muslim Protests in Ethiopia, Oil Contracts, Elections in Sierra Leone, Gold in South Sudan, and More

  1. I live in Nigeria and I’m always struck by how freely the Chinese live here in contrast to Westerners who live behind security barriers (exception: those who have to interact with the locals as part of their work).

    The message the US and the West is passing to the rest of the World is that the World outside the West is too dangerous for Westerners to live in. It is just a matter of time before we hear the inevitable “we agree, please don’t bother coming”.

    And I can see it coming very clearly. With every passing year, the US is doing its very best to become less, not more accessible to the World. This has consequences for the next generation of Americans who will have to live in a World less controlled by the US.

    • Generally the Chinese don’t see international terrorist groups and local versions bombing their embassies or kidnapping their aid workers. That might be starting to change (and if so we’ll see how China handles it) but for the present there seems to be a difference in security issues.

      • You forgot to add that the Chinese are closer to Africans in the socio-economic ladder. Thus, they are more likely to shop in the same markets and live in the same parts of town. Those things just don’t change due to the threat of terrorism.

        Secondly, why are Americans frequently targets of terrorists? Does it have anything to do with US foreign policy and the way US/the West conducts itself abroad.

        Case in point is the Niger Delta, for more than 40 years, Western oil firms operated in a zero risk environment while conducting bad environmental practices & hiring government thugs to stifle dissent in local communities. That has changed today, but it was entirely predictable.

        Actions have consequences – and do I see the Chinese pulling off a “Niger Delta” elsewhere in the continent? No, (disregard all those “red scare” articles).

      • South Sudan, Libya, Darfur. No word that I know of on the last one but it probably isn’t an accident that China’s had difficulties on the first two.

    • Gyre,

      I chose my words carefully. You can’t compare either Darfur or Libya to the environmental disaster in the Niger Delta.

      • Really? Supplying weapons and planes used for a conflict where the government and allies are committing genocide (and it’s proven that China sent the weapons knowing exactly where they would be used) is comparable? Funny, usually you would think it was the other way around.

      • 3 million people died needlessly during the Nigerian Civil War. Who supplied the weapons (hint: it wasn’t the Chinese). Who supplied the weapons during the Angolan Civil War? The list is endless.

        I find it difficult to stomach Westerners who have an almost religious belief in the “innate goodness of the West”.

      • Here’s the funny thing, if we think a genocide is occurring (and it’s gotten far easier to tell even when our governments don’t want to formally label it genocide) we DON’T sell weapons. I’m getting sick of African governments and citizens who moan on and on about Western oppression and hypocrisy with never a word about China or Russia when Africa is still the continent most likely to see genocide, blood resources and backsliding on democracy and it’s generally NOT Russia and China that criticize it or push for international organizations to stop it.

        When people I know do get involved in African businesses they’re demonized for supporting dictators. When they don’t they’re demonized for sticking to old stereotypes and not supporting progress. The different peoples and nations in Africa had better make up their minds, what do they want?
        South America’s managed to generally improve itself to the point where you could call it more democratic than not, where’s Africa?

    • Harold Wilson was democratically elected by the British people, so the British people are complicit in the murder of 3 million people – the same way the Iraqi people were “punished” for being led by Saddam Hussein and Iranians are being “punished” for being led by Ahmadinejad.

      Reagan was democratically elected by the American people, so the American people are complicit in whatever atrocities were committed by the US backed side during the Angolan Civil War.

      Barack Obama was democratically elected by the American people, so the American people are complicit in whatever atrocities are committed by the drone campaign and whatever innocent people were killed.

      That Americans have the right to protest and exercise it, does not change these uncomfortable facts.

  2. Chike,

    You hit the nail on the head. The way Westerners talk about Nigeria oil industry one will think that none has been operating in the Niger Delta all the while. For over 40 years Western oil companies have a field day, sleeping with Nigerian dictators, exploiting the Niger Delta people while producing oil under extreme favourable fiscal and zero risk environment while the Arabs, Asians and Latin American countries kicked them out. Very few oil countries have their oil industry so dominated by Western oil companies as Nigeria yet they are not as vilified as She is.

    The current state of the Niger Delta was very predictable to any serious observer, especially how oil was explored and produced in the Delta (from the 1950s to the late 1990s when there was no sabotage, no bunkering, no kidnapping, etc.) without regard to the natives and environment. It was only a matter of time for it to happen.

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