New Research Series on Africa Security Issues – “Pardon the Pivot”

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.

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  1. I have read the HSPI paper quickly. It is too much like an early lessons noted.

    Yes Africa has problems with terrorism, but they pale into insignificance when compared to other issues in Africa. How much of a threat to US national interests are ALL the issues in Africa? President GW Bush thought combating AIDS warranted massive resources.

    Does Africa need the tender care of AFRICOM? After the debacle for the USA with its assistance to the Mali state, far more needs to be learnt.

  2. Thanks for the comment.

    First, the paper series is designed to look at security and terrorism issues and then identify some of the root causes of these issues. I agree that Africa has much larger problems but there are many aid and development research organizations that focus on these. HSPI is a center for examining security issues so the approach is a function of the center’s focus.

    Second, the pieces will not be centered on AFRICOM but will instead be more focused on an overview of the threats and issues related to different regions. The goal is to help inform organizations rather than to evaluate them.

    Thanks for reading and I’ll do a post on the first one, which just came out this past week.

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