This week, the Homeland Security Policy Institute at The George Washington University released a new issue brief entitled “Pardon the Pivot, What about Africa?” designed to focus more attention on the myriad of security threats and development challenges across Africa. Joseph Clark, Frank Cilluffo and I collaborated to write an overview of the hybrid threats emerging in different regions of Africa and how these security challenges are nested in overlapping, complex regional challenges. In the coming months, HSPI will be working with Africa regional specialists to do indepth investigations into Africa threat groups and the regions in which they reside.
The paper is available at this link and here’s the introduction to the piece. More to follow in the coming months.
Islamist fighters, separatist violence, and France’s recent intervention in Mali took much of the news media by surprise. More than a few journalists were left, like the satirical Stephen Colbert, drawing vague contextual comparisons between Mali and Afghanistan. Unfortunately the media’s lack of knowledge may mirror a general lack of sustained and focused attention on the part of senior policymakers.
Mali, Algeria, and other troubled areas, have been (and continue to be) tinder boxes for the outbreak of conflict and spread of terrorism. In March 2012, Mali suffered a coup sparked by military frustration with the civilian leadership’s prosecution of the Tuareg rebellion. Despite the installation of interim civilian government in April 2012, the coup unleashed a series of destabilizing events that eventually allowed Islamist forces to charge south seizing territory this past January. These events led to France’s intervention — which the militants responded to by attacking a much softer target in Algeria. The attack against the In Amenas gas plant in Algeria was the deadliest terrorist attack on an oil and gas installation in the industry’s one-hundred and fifty year history.
Recent events in these two countries, and in other African nation-states, illustrate how quickly and easily certain parts of Africa may shift from potential to actual hotspots. Furthermore, the presence of longterm concerns and trends at the continental level illuminate the critical need for continued emphasis on the security environment in Africa.