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POMPEII, ITALY - Officials at the Pompeii archaeological site in Italy announced Saturday the discovery of an intact ceremonial chariot, one of several important discoveries made in the same area outside the park near Naples following an investigation into an illegal dig.

The chariot, with its iron elements, bronze decorations and mineralised wooden remains, was found in the ruins of a settlement north of Pompeii, beyond the walls of the ancient city, parked in the portico of a stable where the remains of three horses previously were discovered.

The Archaeological Park of Pompeii called the chariot “an exceptional discovery” and said "it represents a unique find - which has no parallel in Italy thus far - in an excellent state of preservation.”

The eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD destroyed Pompeii. The chariot was spared when the walls and roof of the structure it was in collapsed, and also survived looting by modern-day antiquities thieves, who had dug tunnels through to the site, grazing but not damaging the four-wheeled cart, according to park officials.

The chariot was found on the grounds of what is one of the most significant ancient villas in the area around Vesuvius, with a panoramic view of the Mediterranean Sea. on the outskirts of the ancient Roman city.

Archaeologists last year found in the same area on the outskirts of Pompeii, Civita Giulian, the skeletal remains of what are believed to have been a wealthy man and his male slave, attempting to escape death.

The chariot's first iron element emerged on Jan. 7 from the blanket of volcanic material filling the two-story portico. Archaeologists believe the cart was used for festivities and parades, perhaps also to carry brides to their new homes.

While chariots for daily life or the transport of agricultural products have been previously found at Pompeii, officials said the new find is the first ceremonial chariot unearthed in its entirety.

The villa was discovered after police came across the illegal tunnels in 2017, officials said. Two people who live in the houses atop the site are currently on trial for allegedly digging more than 80 meters of tunnels at the site.

 

By SERENA CHIODO

ROME - Flying below the radar, given the recent upheaval within the Italian government, is the small but significant steps taken to improve Italy's migration policies.

Late last year, the Italian Senate finally amended the so-called Immigration and Security Decree – signed by the far-right former interior minister Matteo Salvini in 2018 – that eroded protections for asylum seekers and unleashed serious legal repercussions for those who assist them.

That said, while some positive reforms have been introduced, it still falls far short of what is needed for a fair and humane migration policy.

Nevertheless, the new legislation could herald the beginning of a slow fightback against 'Fortress Europe' and can be a useful springboard from which to advocate for wider change across the bloc.

The first constructive step is the reintroduction of special protection permits for people with close family links and an established life in Italy, people with serious mental or physical health issues and those that do not qualify for asylum but would face risk degrading treatment if returned.

This will be a relief to the potentially hundreds of thousands of people thrown into irregular status after Salvini abolished the permits in 2018.

Elsewhere however adjustments are far too minor; the time required for citizenship application submissions has been reduced from from four years to three, which is still far too long.

Asylum seekers will once again have access to Italy's reception and integration system run by municipalities and NGOs. It was previously limited to recognised refugees and unaccompanied children, leaving asylum seekers 'warehoused' in large interior ministry-run centres.

Widening integration programmes is crucial for all migrants and refugees across Europe and it is a welcome development that the soon-to-be introduced protection permits can be converted to longer-term work visas.

Under Salvini's reign, NGOs rescuing migrants adrift in the Mediterranean were routinely harassed by the authorities, prevented from disembarking and threatened with fines of up to €1m.

Significantly reduced, these financial penalties still remain though can now be avoided if NGOs cooperate with "maritime authorities coordinating search-and-rescue operations."

While this may sound reasonable, one of the countries that Italy and other EU members deem to be a competent maritime rescue coordination centre is Libya - a country where migrants are routinely enslaved and abused.

In the first mission of 2021, OpenArms SeaRescue noted that 160 people were taken back by the Libyan coastguard.

On a hopeful note, Salvini is currently standing trial for kidnapping after two high-profile incidents where migrants were detained at sea for weeks as a result of his closure of the ports to NGOs.

Message for Malta and Greece
If the courts find against him, this could send a powerful message to other EU member states such as Malta and Greece who have similarly impeded the work of search and rescue organisations.

Aspects of the new decree are promising, though much is simply rolling back egregiously punitive measures undertaken by a particularly reactionary interior minister.

In the meantime, refugee and migrant advocates should highlight the improvements and push for them to go further.

The finer details of the EU Migration and Asylum Pact of September 2020 are still being debated but it still indicates that the European Commission is kowtowing to hostile member states like Hungary and Poland by continuing to emphasise border security over dignity and human rights.

An approach to migration that has always characterised Europe and its member states, and which burdens people: what is happening in Bosnia is a catastrophic example.

The discourse around migration is too often presented as a 'crisis' that needs urgent solutions, rather than a phenomenon that can be sensibly and humanely managed.

The Covid-19 pandemic will only worsen the economic and security situation in some of the world's most fragile states and prompt further displacement, making it all more vital that receiving countries like Italy develop a widespread reception system involving local communities that emphasises inclusion and self-determination.


AUTHOR


Serena Chiodo works for the Italian human rights NGO Forum per Cambiare l'Ordine delle Cose [Forum to Change the Order of Things].

 

 

By Jordi Solé

Brussels/Barcelona - Some years ago, when the Catalan pro-independence movement was reaching its high point in terms of popular mobilisation, quite a few politicians and commentators in and outside Spain argued that it was mainly a reaction to the long-standing hardships caused by the 2008 financial crisis.

That when the economy would recover, support for independence would quickly get back to pre-crisis levels—that is, around 15 percent of popular support.

They preferred to overlook the underlying factors because they confused wishes with reality.

The main lesson from the elections to the Catalan Parliament that took place on the 14 February is that the wish for independence in Catalonia is not temporary or something that will simply vanish into thin air.

On the contrary, it is a resilient, deep-rooted aspiration able to slowly grow even under very difficult circumstances, such as years of legal persecution, with politicians in prison or exile, or amid a pandemic, the fight against which has been led in Catalonia by the two main pro-independence parties forming the coalition government.

Despite all these difficulties, pro-independence forces were able to increase their absolute majority - from 70 to 74 seats out of 135 - and for the first time, to win over 50 percent of the popular vote - 51.3 percent to be precise - if we count all the votes cast for all pro-independence parties, including those that managed to win seats and those that didn't.

The flip side is that unionist parties failed once again to oust the pro-independence majority from parliament.

True, the Catalan socialists came first, but their run for the Catalan government will fail.

They won in number of votes - albeit with the same number of seats as Esquerra Republicana - but this result will not allow their candidate, former Spanish health minister Salvador Illa, to form a new government because he lacks the parliamentary support.

The second main lesson from the elections is that the argument for dialogue and negotiation to solve the political conflict between Catalonia and Spain has been strengthened.

Esquerra Republicana, the pro-independence party that has been most vocal in advocating a negotiated solution, now leads the pro-independence bloc and our lead candidate, Pere Aragonès, will most probably hold the presidency of the next Catalan government.

At the same time, those parties represented in the last parliament who are clearly against any dialogue for a political solution, i.e. Ciudadanos and Partido Popular (PP), are now marginal.

Support for Ciudadanos collapsed, with a loss of 30 of their 36 seats. PP, the second biggest party in Spain, has now become the smallest faction in the Catalan parliament, with just three seats.

Most of their losses regrettably went to the far-right, ultra-nationalist party Vox -but these have only managed to get in Catalonia half of the support they have in Spain.

The current Spanish PSOE-Podemos government has recognised that there is indeed a political conflict between Catalonia and Spain. Much as it seems evident to us, former prime minister Rajoy's government never acknowledged it was.

When tested at the ballot, the call for amnesty and dialogue based on the right to decide our own future has grown bigger than ever in Catalonia.

Madrid must react. Sánchez cannot keep from taking decisions any longer.
Sceptical Tarragona

We still have a way to go until our project for a Republic for the Catalans can materialise. We still need to convince more people, especially in those densely-populated areas around Barcelona and Tarragona where support for independence is still relatively small.

We need to make our case stronger before the international community, and before the EU which cannot ignore Catalonia's right to self-determination.

And we still have to get our leaders out of jail and exile back home. Amnesty cannot wait.

But every democratic victory at the polls makes our case stronger. In the end, even those many in Spain who thought that going the hard way against Catalonia would pay off may regret their choice.

Not only did they not manage to get rid of pro-independence parties. The stubborn fact is that, election after election - and it's already three consecutive absolute majorities - they cannot convince the majority of Catalans that our democratic rights and a better future can be attained within the Spanish kingdom.


Author


Jordi Solé is an MEP with Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (Greens/EFA), president of the EFA group in the European Parliament and vice president of the Greens/EFA group.


DISCLAIMER

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's

 

 

LONDON - A new report from a group of aviation bodies has laid out a programme for eliminating all European airlines emissions by 2050.

According to the research, which was conducted by bodies including airports group ACI Europe, emissions from flights within and departing from the European Economic Area, Britain and Switzerland can be cut to et zero within the time frame.

The groups said European aviation could cut 92 per cent of its emissions and offset the remainder using carbon removal technologies.

That’s despite the fact that passenger numbers are expected to grow 1.4 per cent a year up to 2050, notwithstanding the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The authors added that the sector alone would not be able to deliver net zero, but called on the EU to support the transition.

“We need the EU to deliver the policy and regulatory framework that will enable us to deliver net zero,” Olivier Jankovec, director general of ACI Europe, said.

The majority of cuts would come through developing new technologies such as including hydrogen and hybrid-electric propulsion.

Aerospace engineers such as Airbus have already drawn up designs for a new generation of electric passenger planes.

A switch to sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) could be itself lead to a 34 per cent reduction in emissions.

Earlier this week, British Airways announced that it would operate transatlantic flights partially powered by sustainable fuels as early as next year.

Carbon pricing policies, better air traffic management, and the impact of environmental costs on air travel demand would deliver more modest reductions, the report said.

In 2019, the sector emitted 192m tonnes of carbon dioxide.

 

 

Mediterranean

DUBAI - Venture capitalists poured $1 billion into regional start-ups last year, signaling high investor confidence, despite the global coronavirus pandemic, a report published by Magnitt said.

The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on international markets, leaving start-up markets in some regions hard hit.

However, the start-up scene in the Middle East, while not left untouched by the pandemic, has weathered the storm relatively well.

In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), 256 investors, including international venture capitalists, put money in regional start-ups, according to Magnitt, the start-up data platform for emerging venture markets. A quarter of investors were based outside the region, with 11 percent headquartered in the US.

“Despite Covid-19, we saw continued interest from international investors and new funds investing in MENA based start-ups. As the ecosystem continues to mature, and as Magnitt further expands into Emerging Venture Markets, we expect to see increased cross pollination across markets like Turkey and Pakistan, as well as increased international interest in the MENA region,” said Philip Bahoshy, Magnitt, founder and CEO.

FinTech was the most popular sector for investors in 2020, with 63 firms investing in mobile and online payment solutions.

In the first half of 2020, 251 start-up investment deals were struck, totaling $659 million, which at the time represented 95 percent of total venture investments from the previous year, a previous Magnitt report said.

Faris AlRashed, founder and chairman of OQAL Angel Investors Network said, “2020 had a noticeable impact on founders' and investors' behaviors. We have witnessed an increased number of newly formed startups in strong founder markets and a larger window of opportunity being presented to MENA investors, with growth startups securing funds amidst the pandemic. The MENA market evolution has attracted international investors, with more funds investing and participating, especially at growth stage financing."

Seafood Souq, a Dubai-based tech company creating an ecosystem for global seafood trade that saw 615 percent growth this year, had local and international investors support their growth in 2020.

“As we expanded internationally, local and international investors saw the value proposition that we bring to the global Seafood supply chain and the direct impact we have in the UAE as our home market,” Sean Dennis, CEO and co-founder of Seafood Souq told Arabian Business.

He said that fundraising during the pandemic was no different than in other years as coronavirus highlighted inefficiencies in the supply chain, making the need to digitise supply chains more apparent.

The number of venture capital deals for start-ups in the Gulf declined in the first quarter, but the total value of funding increased slightly. Venture capital deals dropped by 22 percent, Magnitt said in March; in contrast the number of venture capital rounds in the US had been slashed by 44 percent around the same time, according to Crunchbase.

 

 

CAIRO – A record 12.4 million Syrians - nearly 60 percent of the population - are now food insecure, according to alarming new national data from the UN World Food Programme (WFP). In just over one year, an additional 4.5 million Syrians have become food insecure.

An economic crisis, job losses as a result of COVID19 and soaring food prices have added to the plight of Syrians who have been displaced and worn down by a decade of conflict.

“The situation has never been worse. After ten years of conflict, Syrian families have exhausted their savings as they face a spiralling economic crisis,” said WFP Representative and Country Director in Syria Sean O’Brien.

Basic foods to feed a family for a month – bread, rice, lentils and oil and sugar- now cost at least 120,000 Syrian Pounds [US$234] which far exceeds the average salaries.

“It is alarming that a simple meal is beyond the reach of families across Syria, and this new data shows humanitarian assistance is the difference between putting a meal on the table and going to bed hungry. Lifesaving support has never been so crucial,” said O’Brien.

The 2020 Food Security and Livelihoods Assessment carried out by WFP and partners, also estimates the number of people who are severely food insecure – meaning they cannot survive without food assistance – has doubled in just one year to stand at 1.3 million people. Unless urgent action is taken, an additional 1.8 million people are at risk of falling into severe food insecurity.

Over the last year food prices across Syria have soared, and the price of basic items has increased by 236 percent , just as the value of the Syrian Pound has plummeted. On average, the price of oil has increased from 1000 Syrian pounds in Jan 2020, to 5000 Syrian pounds in Jan 2021.

Parents now report making desperate decisions to survive, eating less food so they can feed their children, going into debt, and selling assets and livestock to generate an income.
In addition, close to 50% of the Syrian population report having lost one or more sources of income because of the economic downturn and the Covid19 pandemic.

Each month WFP provides lifesaving food assistance to almost 5 million of Syria’s most vulnerable people. For many, this is the only food they eat each month.

WFP requires an additional US$375.3 million until July 2021 to ensure continued assistance throughout Syria.

The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. We are the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

By Dareen Khalifa and Noah Bonsey, International Crisis Group, 03 February 2021

The “terrorist” label affixed to Idlib’s strongest rebel group undermines a crucial ceasefire and blocks potential paths to avert a military showdown. It also reflects a gap in Western policy. Creative ideas from Washington could help break the impasse and set a useful precedent.


If the Biden administration is looking to correct Washington’s overly militarised foreign policy, one opportunity to redefine U.S. counter-terrorism strategy lies in Idlib, an area which U.S. officials once described as “the largest al-Qaeda safe haven since 9/11”. The north-western Syrian province is no longer that, for reasons explained below. But, in other respects, it remains what it has been for much of the Syrian war: a crowded refuge for three million civilians, the site of looming potential humanitarian disaster and a last stronghold of Syrian rebel groups. Its fate could also prove pivotal for the future of – and U.S. policy toward – Islamist militancy in the region.

The dangers in Idlib are well known. In 2019, the Syrian regime, backed by Russian airpower, mounted offensives that pushed back rebel forces, killing at least 1,600 civilians and driving 1.4 million others from their homes. A Russian-Turkish ceasefire has held for ten months. If it breaks down, the regime could launch another offensive that would result in massive civilian casualties and displace hundreds of thousands toward (and potentially far beyond) the Turkish border, while scattering insurgents far and wide. In other words, Syria’s conflict, for now largely locked in an uneasy standoff, could re-emerge as an epicentre of international instability.

This worst-case scenario is not inevitable but still very possible. The expansion of Turkey’s military role in Idlib over the past year has bought time. Hei’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the former al-Qaeda affiliate that is Idlib’s dominant rebel group, has broken with transnational jihadist networks and now seeks entry into the realm of political engagement on Syria’s future. In theory, that development should open opportunities for averting renewed violence.

In practice, however, HTS’s continued status as a “terrorist” organisation (as designated by the U.S., Russia, the UN Security Council and Turkey) presents a major obstacle. It has a chilling effect on Western support for essential service provision in Idlib, worsening the humanitarian crisis. It has also precluded discussions with HTS itself about its conduct and the future of the territory it controls, as Western states and the UN avoid contact completely while Turkey restricts itself to the bare minimum needed to facilitate its military presence in Idlib. The absence of engagement undermines the ceasefire and stops outside powers from pressing HTS to take further constructive steps.

There is an urgent need for creative ideas for how to sustain the fragile calm, including by directly addressing the question of HTS’s status. Yet it is difficult to imagine these ideas emanating from the protagonists in Syria’s north west: Ankara is reluctant to engage diplomatically with HTS (absent international backing); Moscow and Damascus prefer an outright military victory over the group; and HTS itself is focused on defending Idlib from further regime advances. There is a policy vacuum, and Washington is now well placed to fill it.

The Biden administration should work with European allies and Turkey to press HTS into further action that addresses key local and international concerns, and to define clear benchmarks which (if met) could enable HTS to shed its “terrorist” label.

In doing so, the U.S. could reduce risk of a violent eruption in north-western Syria while simultaneously addressing two additional policy challenges. Through cooperation with Ankara on this issue of mutual concern, Washington could improve strained relations with a key North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ally. Moreover, the Biden administration could establish a new approach to counter-terrorism that gives as much weight to diplomatic tools as it does to military ones. Such an approach would have wider value: it could lay out what a conditional roadmap looks like for other groups on today’s battlefields that have been designated “terrorists” but show willingness to forego their pursuit of transnational agendas and attacks on civilians, among other criteria.


The Case for U.S. Engagement


U.S. officials have thus far largely avoided grappling with the policy challenges that Idlib presents. While U.S. humanitarian aid continues – as do occasional drone strikes upon individuals allegedly linked to al-Qaeda and aligned with HTS’s jihadist rivals – a sense prevails in Washington policy circles that there is not much the U.S. can or should do to address the risk of renewed military escalation. This conclusion, while understandable, is short-sighted. It tends to rely on some combination of three assumptions: that a regime military takeover of Idlib might be desirable from a counter-terrorism perspective; that such a takeover is inevitable, in any case; or, alternatively, that Turkey is now sufficiently engaged in Idlib to deter regime attacks and address the HTS conundrum on its own, without U.S. assistance. All three assumptions are mistaken.

The first is easiest to rebut. Put simply: if a major regime offensive does occur, it will sharply exacerbate counter-terrorism challenges. The calm created by the March 2020 ceasefire has provided space and incentives for HTS to intensify its crackdown on transnational jihadists, hunting down remaining Islamic State (ISIS) cells and defanging the al-Qaeda-linked faction Hurras al-Din. So long as HTS can govern Idlib – its declared top priority – it will have ample reason to suppress elements that oppose the ceasefire or otherwise threaten local stability. Yet renewed regime attacks would reduce HTS’s capacity to sustain that effort, as its priority would switch to mobilising all available fighters in its own and Idlib’s defence.

Moreover, if regime forces advance deep into the province, the offensive would eventually push Idlib’s rebels to shift from territorial defence to guerrilla tactics, thus lending new relevance to senior figures in al-Qaeda and its affiliates, who have long criticised HTS for prioritising control of Idlib over fighting the regime and for abandoning the cause of transnational jihad. Rather than ending the war, such a regime advance would likely give way to a new phase of insurgency emanating from ungoverned spaces, with already overstretched regime forces unable to control Idlib’s hilly border areas, which were the first to slip from the regime’s grip in 2012 and remain home to many of its most dedicated opponents.

As for the second and third assumptions, the situation is neither as hopeless as the fatalists suggest nor as stable as the optimists profess. Further offensives and a regime takeover are not inevitable, as Turkey’s role in Idlib has opened the possibility of sustained calm in north-western Syria. With nearly four million Syrian refugees already in Turkey and popular resentment of the associated burden rising, Ankara is treating the threat of further regime advance as a major national security concern, recognising that it could push hundreds of thousands more Syrians over its border. Thus, Turkey launched a counter-intervention blunting the regime’s offensive in early 2020 – which succeeded in convincing Russia to negotiate the ceasefire – and has since deployed some 12,000 troops along Idlib’s front lines. These Turkish actions have underlined to Damascus and its backers that any future offensives would entail higher risks and costs.

Yet the ceasefire remains fragile, and Turkey’s role may ultimately prove insufficient to avert the resumption of major regime attacks in coming months and years. Joint Turkish-Russian patrols along the M4 highway have essentially halted since August; tit-for-tat shelling across the front lines continues; and Russia has resumed occasional airstrikes. Moreover, HTS’s “terrorist” status undermines the truce’s durability. The March 2020 agreement between Russia and Turkey explicitly calls for both sides to “combat all forms of terrorism, and to eliminate all terrorist groups in Syria as designated by [the UN Security Council]”. Moscow has repeatedly pointed to HTS’s designation by the Security Council to justify previous regime attacks on Idlib, emphasising that military campaigns against the group should continue and that the ceasefire is a temporary arrangement.

In contrast, Ankara realises that HTS is too entrenched to be defeated militarily without causing mass casualties and precipitating a disastrous wave of refugees, and that HTS’s adherence to the ceasefire – and its pressuring other groups to do the same – is a paramount benefit. All this leads Turkish officials to prefer a political solution to the HTS problem, but they are wary of unilateral engagement toward that end exposing them to accusations of whitewashing and supporting jihadists. Key officials are also simultaneously handling a range of complex Syrian and regional files, leaving Ankara little bandwidth to look beyond immediate crisis management in Idlib.

Worryingly, Russian-Turkish dialogue on the future of Idlib is deadlocked and UN-facilitated Syria talks are moribund. In effect, there is no meaningful diplomatic process for addressing the divergence between the Russian and Turkish positions on HTS or for consolidating the ceasefire politically.

In short, the situation is salvageable yet volatile. If the Biden administration is willing to sharpen its diplomatic engagement on Idlib, its role could be essential to averting an unnecessary escalation of destabilising violence. The first step is to introduce ideas and incentives for political ways of solving Idlib’s HTS puzzle.


HTS’s Al-Qaeda Baggage


In Syria, and in foreign capitals, apprehension toward HTS is grounded in real concerns. HTS is the latest iteration of a faction originally known as Jabhat al-Nusra, whose Syrian founder (now HTS leader) Abu Muhammad al-Jolani participated in the post-2003 Iraqi insurgency as a member of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI, which later became ISIS), and in 2011 coordinated with ISI leadership to establish a branch in Syria. Although al-Jolani’s approach diverged from ISI’s, he did not sever ties with the Iraqi-led organisation until 2013. Even then, he kept his faction within the jihadist milieu by declaring allegiance to al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, until breaking with that transnational group in 2016.

Meanwhile, al-Nusra became feared among many Syrians (including within the anti-regime uprising) for its aggressive tactics early in the conflict, brutal and thuggish conduct by some of its members, and its strong-arming of rival opposition factions. In 2012, for example, non-jihadist Syrian opposition groups criticised al-Nusra’s bombings of regime forces and facilities in urban areas, recognising that they undermined efforts to broaden the opposition’s appeal and international support. Al-Nusra continued to employ suicide bombings against military targets in the years that followed, which provided it a tactical advantage over non-jihadist factions but also contributed to local and international perceptions that the rebellion was turning into an Islamist militant enterprise. Al-Nusra members were also implicated in some of the ugliest acts committed by rebel forces, including executions and hostage-taking during attacks on Alawite villages in 2013, and a 2015 incident in which a Tunisian al-Nusra commander (subsequently detained by and expelled from the organisation) murdered more than twenty residents of a Druze village in Idlib. Between late 2014 (as al-Nusra) and early 2019 (as HTS), the organisation gradually dismantled, sidelined or subdued most of the mainstream armed opposition in north-western Syria while reducing space for civil society, in a successful effort to consolidate itself as hegemon.


HTS Today


Through a series of internal transformations and security crackdowns, HTS has distanced itself from the Salafi-jihadist movement while reducing space for transnational jihadists to operate in north-western Syria. Breaking from its jihadist roots, HTS leadership has steadily recast the group as a local Syrian actor capable of governing Idlib and willing to ensure that outside militants will not use the area as a launching pad for operations. This evolution does not erase the past. Nor does it address the concerns of many Syrians who continue to denounce the group’s autocratic rule and repressive conduct.

Yet it appears to be more than a mere rebranding. Rather, it reflects years of gradually widening ideological and strategic divergence from al-Qaeda and ISIS on key defining issues, including HTS’s opposition to transnational jihadist operations; its prioritisation of territorial control and governance over anti-regime insurgency; and its compromise on the imposition of strict Islamist rule in Idlib.

The HTS leadership’s objection to using Syria as a staging ground for international operations appears central to the group’s series of breaks from transnational jihadists. In a recent conversation, al-Jolani told us his version of the story: that his rejection of international attacks emerged as a key fault line between him and the radical circle surrounding ISI leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (prior to al-Nusra’s break from the Iraqi-led organisation in 2013), notably when al-Jolani and likeminded allies refused an ISI demand to bomb a Syrian opposition gathering in Istanbul. Al-Jolani added that a similar dynamic occurred later amid the more drawn-out breakup with al-Zawahiri, when hardliners in his group who opposed the 2016 decision to cut ties with al-Qaeda renewed calls for conducting attacks outside Syria. He argues that although advocates of such attacks played roles within al-Nusra, they failed to impose their agenda and steadily broke from or were pushed out of the group. Though details of al-Jolani’s narrative are impossible to confirm, the overall track record appears evident: while both ISIS and al-Qaeda made international operations central to their identities and strategies, HTS has distanced itself from transnational attacks and the militants who advocate for them. U.S. officials are aware of these key breaks and distinctions, which helps explain why drone strikes in Idlib typically target jihadists operating outside HTS but not the group itself.

Another core disagreement between HTS and global jihadists centres on HTS’s decision to value territorial control over conducting insurgent attacks on the regime and its backers. HTS has proved willing to compromise ideologically and militarily in order to preserve its control over Idlib, for example by largely halting its attacks on the regime and its backers during Turkish-Russian ceasefires and by welcoming the deployment of Turkish forces in Idlib. While it maintains its anti-regime rhetoric, HTS focuses today on achieving an extended freeze of the conflict, consolidating its governance in areas it controls, and gaining some form of international legitimacy through engagement with Turkey and (it hopes) other states it deems critical to Idlib’s survival. In contrast, al-Qaeda leader al-Zawahiri, in addition to strongly criticising HTS for distancing itself from transnational jihad, warned that the Turkish intervention was dangerous and called for shifting to a guerrilla war of attrition to weaken the regime and its backers. Other prominent Salafi-jihadists voiced similar criticisms, as did al-Qaeda loyalists within Syria. For their part, HTS leaders are increasingly explicit about the ideological and strategic divides separating them from more extreme rivals, for example by publicly slamming prominent Salafi-jihadist critics.

And HTS has not merely broken with hardline jihadist groups: it is combating them in Idlib. HTS has been at war with ISIS since 2014, and since the March 2020 ceasefire it has escalated its raids and arrests aimed at thwarting ISIS attempts to build a covert network of cells in Idlib following the latter’s loss of territorial control in eastern Syria. Meanwhile, HTS has contained non-ISIS foreign jihadists, and since March 2020 has forcibly dismantled elements who oppose HTS’s adherence to the Turkish-Russian truce – notably Hurras al-Din, an al-Qaeda-linked faction dominated by individuals who split with HTS over the latter’s relative pragmatism and who opposed the break from al-Qaeda. After first pursuing a policy of containment toward Hurras, HTS turned its guns upon the group in mid-2020 after Hurras attempted to consolidate an alliance with HTS defectors and other hardline factions opposed to the ceasefire. HTS raided the group’s headquarters, detained some of its leaders and forced Hurras and its partners to shut down their bases and checkpoints, hand over heavy weaponry and withdraw from the front lines. These measures have severely reduced (though not eliminated) Hurras’ ability to violate the ceasefire.

While HTS has used its military dominance and the relative calm to crack down on transnational jihadists, it has refrained from imposing a severe version of Islamist rule. Thus far at least, the form of governance applied by HTS and the “Salvation Government” (the civil administrative body it backs) is Islamist, but not draconian. For example, in contrast to groups such as ISIS or the Taliban, HTS has not imposed its own curriculum in schools (though it does compel gender segregation at schools and universities). It has not enforced the harshest interpretations of Sharia law. Nor has it compelled women to veil their faces or banned mixed-gender gatherings in restaurants. Its leadership says (with apparent pride) that women make up a significant proportion of the thousands of students at Idlib’s main university. Describing their approach to Islamist governance, HTS leaders emphasise the importance of remaining compatible with Syria’s mainstream religious traditions and mores. As al-Jolani put it: “Governance should be consistent with Islamic Sharia, but not according to the standards of ISIS or even Saudi Arabia”. Of course, this bar is very low – and many Syrians in Idlib and beyond will rightly insist that HTS should be pressed to allow more room for personal freedoms. (For more on HTS’s governance and broader evolution, see the work and forthcoming report by our colleagues Patrick Haenni and Jerome Drevon.)

To be clear: a former al-Qaeda affiliate governing three million Syrians and sharing a border with a NATO member is deeply problematic. It is understandable that many local and international observers remain highly sceptical of HTS’s evolution, given the group’s repression of opponents and the continued ambiguity as to how – in the medium to long term – it intends to balance its immediate priority of protecting Idlib with its ultimate goal of ending Bashar al-Assad’s rule over Syria. Moreover, the fact that HTS has separated and distinguished itself from ISIS, al-Qaeda and the Taliban does not make it “moderate” or democratic. Indeed, speaking with Christians in Idlib sheds light on the limitations of HTS’s evolution: during a recent visit, we heard cautious optimism from Christians that local authorities had improved their treatment of the population since HTS consolidated its governance, but frustration that armed factions (including HTS elements) had yet to return many properties they seized in previous years.


Toward a New U.S. Policy Approach


As the Biden administration settles in, the U.S. should revisit its approach to Idlib to ensure that it accounts for several factors. These include the significance of what is at stake for regional stability if the ceasefire breaks down; the HTS conundrum’s role in undermining the ceasefire; the lack of international initiative and political will to address the problem; and both the substance and limitations of HTS’s evolution to date.

Washington should also consider a broader internal void that has spanned multiple administrations: the U.S. has no clear policy – indeed, not even a playbook – for dealing with designated “terrorist” groups that show signs of being willing and able to forego the tactics and positions for which they were originally designated. This shortcoming is glaring. It should be particularly troubling to those in foreign policy circles who want the U.S. to reduce its reliance on primarily military means of addressing jihadists who are prominent protagonists in wars across the Middle East and Africa.

In Idlib, and potentially elsewhere, policymakers could avail themselves of additional options beyond whether or not to conduct drone attacks. The lack of clear, conditional pathways for designated groups to exit their “terrorist” box may discourage them from moving in a direction more amenable to Western interests and local concerns. Indeed, HTS leaders told us that first ISIS and later al-Qaeda-linked figures argued that refraining from international attacks was useless because the West would treat them as terrorists regardless.

These dynamics warrant a bold and more proactive U.S. policy that tests whether HTS is prepared to build upon the constructive steps it has taken thus far. The Biden administration should begin working with Turkey and European allies on the following steps:

Define joint standards as to what HTS would need to do in order for NATO countries to eventually cease treating or labelling it as a terrorist organisation, to support a similar change at the UN and to engage in conversations with it on the area’s future. These standards should be sufficiently tangible to provide HTS clarity as to what precisely is expected, and sufficiently measurable to enable the U.S., Turkey and Europe to quickly respond if, when and so long as they are met.

Introduce carrots and sticks aimed at encouraging HTS to not only meet those standards, but to do so on a continuous (medium- to long-term) basis while also taking further steps to address local and international concerns about its autocratic rule and repressive conduct. For example, Western countries could offer to conditionally increase stabilisation support for critical services in Idlib (much of which was cut following HTS’s takeover of the province in 2019), so long as HTS ceases crackdowns on its civilian critics, expands space for independent and Western-backed civil society organisations to operate, and demonstrates clear commitment to political and religious pluralism.

Once the U.S., Turkey and European partners reach consensus on these steps, Washington should open dialogue with Moscow in an attempt to identify additional measures that could address distinct Russian concerns about attacks emanating from Idlib on its military base in western Syria or government-controlled areas, while avoiding military escalation.
These steps to test HTS’s evolution are not a magic wand. They can reduce the risk of further violence in Idlib, but they will not in and of themselves prevent a new regime offensive, and they may fail to significantly alter Russia’s desire to reinstate regime control over Idlib. While cooperating with Turkey on this approach could help improve U.S. relations with a key NATO ally, the effort may draw criticism from other U.S. allies in the region that oppose Ankara and favour broadening the definition of “terrorist” to encompass a much wider range of Islamists (including in some cases the Muslim Brotherhood).

Yet the potential benefits clearly outweigh the disadvantages, and the risks in an approach based on clear conditions appear minimal. By opening the door to direct discussions and conditional incentives, the U.S. and Europe would gain influence and leverage in an area of Syria where, at present, they have none. They would give themselves real and direct opportunities to further reduce the danger of Idlib becoming a staging ground for international militant activity, to improve conditions for its three million inhabitants, and to prevent it from becoming a new major source of refugees (as well as fleeing militants).

This approach would also help Washington define and test new tools for a diplomacy-first counter-terrorism policy. If successful in Idlib, the U.S. could apply a similar playbook toward other designated groups that show signs of shedding the baggage of transnational jihadism and demonstrate willingness to take meaningful steps in that direction. For U.S. officials interested in ending the “forever war”, with its over-reliance on military means, the situation in Idlib is a chance to start developing practical policy tools matching their rhetoric.

 

 

By MOUNA GHANEM

COPENHAGEN - As the war in Syria comes gradually to its painful conclusion, the country's destiny is under the influence of ever more regional and international powers. Europe, however, is not one of them.

For Europeans and Syrians alike, it is a disastrous situation. From the refugee crisis to violent extremism, Europe has felt the impact of the Syrian civil war more than any region outside the Middle East.

Yet the EU continues to have virtually no influence or even policy on the country. What little there is has been always linked to US policy. But global politics and simply geography mean European and US interests are not necessarily identical.

Fundamentally, Syria is much closer to Europe than it is to US, and immense numbers of Syrians are now refugees in Europe. When extremism thrived in Syria, it was not long before it was exported to European capitals and cities.

US attitudes to Syria are best characterised by its former American special envoy, James Jeffrey, who stated that his "job is to make the war a quagmire for the Russians".

The corollary of a policy aimed squarely at bogging down Russia has been further catastrophe for Syrians caught in the crossfire of geopolitics. Increasing poverty, hunger, illiteracy, drug and human trafficking, radicalism, combined with an ever more oppressive Syrian regime.

All development indicators show that Syrian women are the first victims of that "quagmire".

The persistent efforts to weaken Syria are pushing it to become a failed state. It goes without saying that failed states are the major threats for regional and international security, and it is enough to look at Iraq to remember that reversing the situation from failed into functional state will be a challenging task.

When the demonstrations started in 2011, the EU and US claimed that they would help Syrians to be able to protect their human rights from the violations of the Syrian regime, to help them to fulfil their aspirations of a democratic Syria.

Nonetheless, Western support would find itself in the hands of armed factions in Syria who themselves opposed democracy and who would themselves violate the human rights of Syrians.

It was not long into the political struggle that words such 'human rights' and 'democracy' disappeared from the vocabulary of Europe's Syrian diplomacy. Syrian democratic groups were marginalised and forgotten.

The war might have brutalised Syria, but its people are still human beings living in the 21st century. We still see the benefits of democratic systems, we bitterly regret the fact that democracy and development were not supported, and deeply resent that our country was pushed back into the darkness of terrorism and radicalisation.

Syrian women - who have proved their capability and ambition for peace over the last 10 years - are angry that international support went to political groups opposed to women's rights. Whenever they had the chance, these groups have worked effectively to disempower women and deprive us of our internationally-recognised rights.

The US is now using sanctions on the presumption that increased economic pressure will lead to a fresh wave of protests in Syria, and finally regime change.

But such strategies have proved to be unachievable, thanks not only to the oppression of the Syrian regime, but also because Syrians do not see the current opposition as a modern, democratic, viable alternative.

The civil war's conclusion demands that Europe finally develop a cohesive policy that gives hope for those Syrians determined to build a secular and democratic state. There is no need to reinvent the wheel in Syria, Europe started its modern era when it adopted democratic, pluralistic politics - freedom of speech


EU 'ideally placed'


If Europe wants to help the Syrian people - and especially Syrian women - it is imperative to build its strategy on recognising the fundamental rights of Syrians as people, not as pawns in a greater political game. It must support Syrian political groups that actually value human rights and modern values of freedom, democracy and secularism.

Decisions made in Brussels should not be based on whether they will hurt the governments in Damascus, Moscow, or Tehran.

The EU is ideally placed to play a catalytic role in convincing the new Biden administration of the futility of current and historic US policy in Syria, and its negative impacts on Syria and the region.

Europe can show the necessity and urgency of a political settlement that takes into consideration the aspiration of Syrians for a modern state.

It is also critical that the EU helps Syrians build a democratic alternative to the regime, something that will protect Syria from collapsing, and ensure that Europe has a peaceful, modern and democratic neighbour. That would realise the dreams of 2011 and do much to stabilise the Mediterranean.


AUTHOR 


Mouna Ghanem is a democratic activist who has written about the civil war and peace process for outlets including the Guardian and Independent. She previously served on the Women's Advisory Board to the UN special envoy for Syria. A medical doctor, prior to the civil war she worked for international agencies including UNFPA and UNIFEM.

 

North Africa

By Jeffrey Feltman, Federica Saini Fasanotti, Pavel Baev, Courtney Freer, and Ranj Alaaldin, Brookings, 17 February 2021


February 17 marks the 10-year anniversary of the uprising in Libya that ousted long-time leader Moammar Gadhafi. In the years since, the country has descended into civil war. The conflict is characterized in key ways by warring nonstate armed actors, many of which are backed by foreign governments.

Below, Brookings experts on Libya briefly reflect on the key dynamics they see as critical at this juncture.


Jeffrey Feltman, Visiting Fellow in the Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology: One year ago — with Tripoli besieged — few would have envisioned that, by the 10th anniversary of the uprising against Moammar Gadhafi on February 17, a three-track, United Nations-facilitated process would create the most promising moment in Libya in years. The next five weeks are critical, as I write with former Acting Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General Stephanie Williams in another piece. If deadlines are met and spoilers sidelined, Libyans will have a unified executive authority for the first time since 2014 and national elections on December 24, 2021, the 70th anniversary of Libya’s independence.

Astonishingly, 71% of Libyans polled express satisfaction with the February 5 selection by the 74-member Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) of an interim executive authority. Over 1.7 million Libyans (a quarter of the population) participated virtually, as 45 candidates answered questions submitted by the public. This novel transparency doomed some high-profile candidates: House of Representatives Speaker Agila Saleh was asked for a response to western Libyans about his support for the assault on Tripoli, and he shrugged that “everyone makes mistakes.” Abdul Hamid Mohammed Dbeibah, the prime minister-designate from the winning slate, has 21 days to propose a cabinet, and the House of Representatives an additional 21 days for confirmation.

Political progress derived from success in the security track. In October, generals affiliated with both eastern and western authorities (the “5+5”) expanded a de facto truce around Sirte into a nationwide ceasefire. The economic track has, among other things, unified exchange rates, approved a single national budget for the first time since 2014, and restored oil production.

The United Nations Support Mission for Libya (UNSMIL), and especially Williams (whose tenure ended February 5), deserve credit for creative facilitation in all three tracks.

Momentum, however, can stall. Potential internal and external spoilers are numerous. If Washington puts its muscle behind the current process, Libya might become a positive story. Democrats in Washington, burned by the politicization of the 2012 Benghazi murders, may recoil from engaging on Libya. But a resumption of chaos in Libya would affect global oil markets, divide European allies (via migration), complicate counterterrorism efforts, pit our Arab and Turkish partners against each other, deepen schisms inside NATO between France and Turkey, and provide an opening for Russian expansionism. As when President Thomas Jefferson deployed the Marines to battle Barbary pirates on “the shores of Tripoli” in 1805, so today: We have strategic interests in Libya.


Federica Saini Fasanotti, Nonresident Senior Fellow in the Center for Security,
Strategy, and Technology:

 

On February 5 in Geneva, after weeks of negotiations among the LPDF — comprised of Libyan representatives from all over the country and under the blessing of UNSMIL — Abdul Hamid Dbeibah and Mohammad Menfi were selected as prime minister and head of the Presidential Council, respectively. The ceasefire agreement signed by Libya’s opposing factions last October has made possible the U.N.-backed political talks.

Despite these encouraging developments, deep-rooted socio-political tensions — rooted in Libyan soil and exacerbated by foreign actors — represent a serious challenge on the path to diplomacy. The newly appointed U.N. Special Representative for Libya Jan Kubis faces an extraordinary difficult set of tasks.

With a weak government, a constellation of militias (often with criminal characteristics), and four years of American absence, Libya has become fertile for foreign competitors like Turkey, Russia, Egypt, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Many of them have militias on the ground, in spite of the January request by Libyans for their withdrawal. The Russians and Turks, in fact, have strengthened their positions, and nothing suggests that they will leave.

Thus, in the face of some political improvements, military confrontation remains possible. That would be extraordinarily dangerous for the democratic process, with new national elections slated for December 24.

The former acting special envoy for Libya, Stephanie Williams, with her resilience, has shown that it is possible to proceed towards stabilization. A strong stance is now needed from the United States and, above all, a serious strategy implemented by a muscular diplomacy.

 

Pavel Baev, Nonresident Senior Fellow in the Center on the United States and Europe:


The United States should retain a stake in the international management of the Libyan conflict for many reasons, and one of them is that Russia is deeply engaged. Moscow is pretending to act as a key peace-promoter, but in fact is acting as a spoiler.

For President Vladimir Putin, Gadhafi’s horrible end remains a recurrent reminder of the risk of violent uprisings, which was allowed to materialize in 2011 by the bad decision of then-president Dmitry Medvedev to grant NATO the right to execute an air campaign with the U.N. approval.

Russia began a hybrid intervention in Libya in 2018 — a reflection of its geopolitical ambitions, but also its urge to “undo” the mistake of allowing the West to unleash uncontrollable violent chaos in the country years earlier. Unlike the official military intervention in Syria that Moscow launched in 2015, the operation in Libya involved only the deployment of about 1,500 mercenaries from the so-called “Wagner group.” This approach was less costly (and funded partly by the UAE) and entirely deniable.

Russia’s experience with this low-risk power projection is, nevertheless, decidedly mixed. The mercenaries added enough capabilities for the motley forces of General Khalifa Haftar to launch an offensive on Tripoli, but when Turkey decided to back the besieged Government of National Accord (GNA) with its own limited intervention in early 2020, the stalled offensive turned into a rout. Russia has made an unofficial deal with Turkey, and the hostilities have remained frozen along the Sirte-Jufra line. The squadron of Russian fighters deployed to provide air support to the Wagner forces, which retain control over several oil fields, has remained idle.

In the current diplomatic efforts at rebuilding Libya’s governance, Moscow’s reliance on the Wagner mercenaries compromises its claims of impartiality and exposes its interest in manipulating rather than ending the war.


Courtney Freer (@courtneyfreer), Nonresident Fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy:


One development we’ve seen in Libya over the past few years is increased international involvement in the crisis. In particular, the rift between Qatar and Turkey on one side, and the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia on the other has been transposed onto the Libyan context. While the U.N. ordered that the UAE-backed General Khalifa Haftar and the Qatar- and Turkey-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) withdraw their proxy forces by January 23, it did not take place (at least not on that schedule). In fact, recent U.N. reports charge that Emirati involvement continues via Sudanese proxy fighters.

In its domestic and foreign policy, Emirati leadership is increasingly seeking to repress Islamist actors. Its support for certain proxy forces in Libya illustrates that, and this is something the Emiratis have pursued in Sudan, as well. This approach was easier to sustain under a Trump administration concerned with transactional relationships rather than more normatively-oriented U.S. involvement in the Middle East. The Biden administration now needs to take seriously the consequences that increased involvement in the region’s domestic political issues have — both for direct American interests and for the the broader, longer-term stability and security of affected countries. In Libya, a U.S. absence has meant that Emirati and other international interests have become increasingly entangled on the ground.


Ranj Alaaldin (@RanjAlaaldin), Visiting Fellow in the Brookings Doha Center and Nonresident Fellow in the Foreign Policy program:


I had the privilege of visiting Libya during the early stages of the uprising. Speaking to Libyans in Benghazi, members of the opposition, and the revolutionaries undertaking the battle, the revolutionary spirit was palpable, including a sense of optimism about the future of the country.

While Libya is engulfed in instability today, it is important to not lose sight of the real possibility that Libya would be in a far worse position had Gadhafi remained in power, and one only needs to look at Syria to have a striking sense of where the country may have otherwise headed. Indeed, the dismantling of Gadhafi’s weapons of mass destruction program in the years leading up to the Arab uprisings — thanks to the efforts of former British prime minister, Tony Blair — was critical to preventing a form of mass atrocity that Syrians were not so fortunate to escape. No-fly zones can work, as can Western efforts to remove the ability of brutal despots to carry out humanitarian atrocities.

However, the international community and their Libyan partners failed to accomplish what should arguably be the most pressing objective in the aftermath of any conflict: the disarmament of militia groups, a prelude to establishing a professionalized security force that manages the fallout from a major military conflict, prevents the proliferation of arms and additional militia groups, and enables pathways for political stability.

The aftermath of the uprising was not followed with a viable power-sharing arrangement. The rush to hold elections prior to securing reconciliation exacerbated divisions and entrenched the prevailing military balance of power. The opportunity to build on the success of the intervention to establish a success story out of the post-conflict aftermath was missed. The consequences have been profound and reverberate today through civil strife, an internationalized proxy war, and the demarcation of territorial boundaries by rival factions.

 

Seizing Opportunities and Strengthening Alliances in Northwest Africa: Ideas for Policy Toward Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia

 

By Robert Satloff and Dr Sarah Feuer, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Policy No 94, 03 February 2021.


Modest invest­ments of U.S. diplomatic capital, economic aid, and security assistance can help these three countries and advance American interests.

In the third in a series of TRANSITION 2021 memos examining the Middle East and North Africa, Robert Satloff and Sarah Feuer look at the U.S. relationship with Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. All three countries are facing sharp challenges, from economic strains exacerbated by the pandemic to potential instability arising from the conflicts in Western Sahara and Libya. But this far corner of the region also offers strategic opportunities for the Biden administration to help these countries and, in turn, advance a range of key U.S. interests.

“In contrast to many other areas of the Middle East, northwest Africa offers a realm in which relatively modest invest­ments of American diplomatic capital, economic aid, and security assistance can yield substantial returns, and the point of departure for the incoming administration’s bilateral engagement will, for the most part, be not one of tension but rather of opportunity,” write the authors.

In the coming weeks, TRANSITION 2021 memos by Washington Institute experts will address the broad array of issues facing the Biden-Harris administration in the Middle East. These range from thematic issues, such as the region’s strategic position in the context of Great Power competition and how to most effectively elevate human rights and democracy in Middle East policy, to more discrete topics, from Arab-Israel peace diplomacy to Red Sea security to challenges and opportunities in northwest Africa. Taken as a whole, this series of memos will present a comprehensive approach for advancing U.S. interests in security and peace in this vital but volatile region.

For the full report, visit: https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/seizing-opportunities-and-strengthening-alliances-northwest-africa-ideas-policy

LONDON - A painting by Winston Churchill that is a piece of both political and Hollywood history is coming up for auction.
Christie’s auction house said Monday that the Moroccan landscape “Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque” — a gift from Churchill to US President Franklin D. Roosevelt — is being sold by Angelina Jolie next month with an estimated price of 1.5 million pounds to 2.5 million pounds ($2.1 million to $3.4 million).


The image of the 12th-century mosque in Marrakech at sunset, with the Atlas Mountains in the background, is the only painting that Britain’s World War II leader completed during the 1939-45 conflict.
He painted it after the January 1943 Casablanca Conference, where Churchill and Roosevelt planned the defeat of Nazi Germany. The two leaders visited Marrakech after the conference so that Churchill could show Roosevelt the city’s beauty.

“Roosevelt was blown away by it and thought it was incredible,” said Nick Orchard, head of Christie’s modern British art department. He said Churchill captured the view in the “wonderful, evocative painting” and gave it to Roosevelt as a memento of the trip.
Churchill was a keen amateur artist who completed some 500 paintings after taking up painting in his 40s. Orchard said that “the light in Morocco and over Marrakech was something that Churchill was passionate about” and painted again and again.


“He loved the dry air, the light, the sun and the way it played on the landscapes,” he said. “And that’s absolutely visible here in this painting. You can see the long shadows and the turning purple of the mountains and the deepening of the sky — classic sunset time.”
The painting was sold by Roosevelt’s son after the president’s death in 1945, and had several owners before Jolie and partner Brad Pitt bought it in 2011.


The couple separated in 2016 and have spent years enmeshed in divorce proceedings, amid speculation about the division of their extensive art collection. They were declared divorced in 2019 after their lawyers asked for a bifurcated judgment, meaning that two married people can be declared single while other issues, including finances and child custody, remain.


The painting is being sold by the Jolie Family Collection as part of Christie’s March 1 modern British art auction in London.
Orchard said the auction house was hopeful it could set a new record for a Churchill work.
“The record price at auction for Churchill is about 1.8 million (pounds) for a painting that, in my view, is not as important as this,” he said. “And I think this is probably his most important work.”

 

 

GENEVA - The 74-members of the UN-led Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) have selected an interim Prime Minister and President of its new executive council, marking what the UN Special Representative called another "historic moment" on the road to unification of the war-torn country and national elections in December.

The winning slate at talks in Geneva, saw Mohammad Younes Menfi, selected President of the Presidency of the Presidency Council, where he will serve with Mossa Al-Koni, and Abdullah Hussein Al-Lafi.

Abdul Hamid Mohammed Dbeibah was chosen by majority vote to serve as Prime Minister designate.

"On behalf of the United Nations, I am pleased to witness this historic moment", said acting Special Representative and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Stephanie Williams.

"The importance of the decision that you have taken here today will grow with the passage of time in the collective memory of the Libyan people."

Libya has descended into crises on multiple fronts, since the fall of former ruler Muammar Gadaffi in 2011, with the country essentially divided between a UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) based in the capital Tripoli, and a rival administration, led by General Hafter, who commands the western-based self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA).


Differences overcome


"This process, your process, has come a long way from when we first convened you virtually in October of last year", added Ms. Williams, who has successfully steered the LPDF through a series of breakthrough agreements in recent months. "You overcame your differences, divisions and the many challenges you have faced during this difficult, but fruitful journey, in the interests of your country and of the Libyan people", she added.

The executive and transitional prime minister will now work to form a full unified government in the days ahead. "Our bet was that you would be able to build a truly Libyan-owned solution. And that is what you have done", said the acting UNSMIL chief.


'Respect the results': Guterres


The UN Secretary-General António Guterres, welcomed the selection of the interim leadership, making a statement to correspondents in New York at UN Headquarters, and called on all members of the LPDF, and international stakeholders involved in the Libyan peace process, "to respect the results of the vote."

He welcomed the pledges made by the new executive, to form a government "reflecting political pluralism, geographical representation, and its commitment to include no less than 30 per cent of women in executive positions, as well as the ensure the participation of youth."

The UN chief called on the executive and all concerned in the process," to uphold the principles and timelines" of the agreed roadmap, towards democratic national elections due to take place on 24 December this year.

"The United Nations commitment to support the Libyan people in their efforts to build a peaceful and prosperous country will continue", Mr. Guterres said.

Research Papers & Reports

NEW YORK - Nations are “nowhere close” to the level of action needed to fight global warming, a UN climate action report said on Friday, urging countries to adopt stronger and more ambitious plans to reach the Paris Agreement goals, and limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, by the end of the century.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)’s Initial NDC Synthesis Report measures the progress of national climate action plans, known as Nationally Determined Contributions or NDCs, ahead of the 26th session of Conference of its Parties (COP26) this November in Glasgow.

It found that even with increased efforts by some countries, the combined impact falls far short of what is needed.

“Today’s interim report from the UNFCCC is a red alert for our planet. It shows governments are nowhere close to the level of ambition needed to limit climate change to 1.5 degrees and meet the goals of the Paris Agreement”, Secretary-General António Guterres said on the report’s findings.
2021, a ‘make or break’ year

He said 2021 is a “make or break year” to confront the global climate emergency.

“The science is clear, to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, we must cut global emission by 45 per cent by 2030, from 2010 levels”, he stressed.

The Secretary-General called on major emitters to “step up with much more ambitious emissions reductions” targets for 2030 in their NDCs, highlighting that COVID-19 recovery plans offered the opportunity to “build back greener and cleaner”.

“Decision makers must walk the talk. Long-term commitments must be matched by immediate actions to launch the decade of transformation that people and planet so desperately need”, Mr. Guterres urged.
Report, a ‘snapshot, not a full picture’

The UNFCCC report covered submissions from countries up to 31 December 2020, showing that 75 Parties to the Framework Convention communicated a new or updated NDC, representing approximately 30 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Patricia Espinosa, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, said that the report is a “snapshot, not a full picture” of the NDCs as COVID-19 posed significant challenges for many nations to complete their submissions in 2020.

She added that a second report will be released prior to COP26, and called on all countries, especially major emitters that have not yet done so, to make their submissions as soon as possible, so that their information can be included in the updated report.

“We congratulate Parties that rose to the challenges posed by COVID-19 in 2020, honoured their commitments under the Paris Agreement and submitted their NDCs by the deadline … but it’s time for all remaining Parties to step up, fulfil what they promised to do and submit their NDCs as soon as possible”, Ms. Espinosa said.

“If this task was urgent before, it’s crucial now.”

 

 

International Crisis Group, 23 February 2021

 

The October 2020 accord between rebels and Sudan’s transitional government is a big step forward. But difficulties remain. External powers should help Khartoum broaden the deal to include holdouts, reform the security sector and keep promises to invest in the country’s long-neglected peripheries, reports the International Crisis Group.


What’s new? A peace agreement signed on 3 October 2020 paves the way for armed and unarmed opposition groups in Sudan to join the transitional government, dramatically expanding representation of the country’s peripheries during the interim period before elections. The two most powerful rebel movements remain outside the accord, however.

Why does it matter? Clinching the agreement was necessary for the country’s transition but implementation poses challenges. The agreement risks bloating the military and sets up a prospective political alliance between the rebels and Sudanese security forces, which could further sideline the government’s civilian cabinet and threaten to bury its reform agenda.

What should be done? The interim government should negotiate with holdout rebels to bring them into the transition. Sudan’s international partners should press for security sector reform that decreases the size and political dominance of a newly expanded military while funding and supporting the authorities’ spending commitments in the peripheries.


I. Overview


Sudan’s October 2020 peace agreement, involving the interim government and rebel movements in Darfur and the Two Areas, among others, is an important step in the country’s transition after the ouster of former President Omar al-Bashir. The deal allows for representatives from armed groups in the country’s peripheries to take government posts and for significant public money to go to these areas. It is a way to rebalance the Nile Valley elites’ decades-long domination of Sudan’s political system. But it also creates new problems. Some of the rebel movements that signed on to the pact are divided; the two strongest remain outside it. Khartoum also lacks the billions of dollars it needs to meet its obligations under the deal. The government should bring in the holdouts and incorporate rebel factions in security institutions without bloating the military, which would drain the treasury and sink the civilian cabinet’s reform agenda. While Sudan’s backers press Khartoum to reform the security sector, they should fund demobilisation programs and support the cabinet’s commitments to invest in peripheral areas.

Although they fought Bashir’s repressive regime for years and can claim some credit for weakening it, members of Sudan’s main armed opposition coalition, comprising groups spanning parts of the Darfur region and South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, were largely bystanders when the long-ruling autocrat fell. Bashir was toppled in April 2019 after months of sustained protests by an organic, diverse civilian movement, propelled into the streets by the economy’s collapse.

In August 2019, the Transitional Military Council (TMC), which took power after Bashir’s downfall, and the civilian Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), representing the protesters, signed a power-sharing deal. That in turn led to formation of a hybrid civilian-military government tasked with revitalising the ailing economy and steering the country to elections. The signatories also agreed to talks with insurgents to end decades of conflict in areas neglected by Khartoum. The talks took place in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, leading to an accord on 3 October 2020.

The Juba Peace Agreement seeks to redress the historical imbalance between the country’s centre and periphery by devolving power and wealth away from Khartoum. In early February, representatives of armed groups from Darfur and the Two Areas (as South Kordofan and Blue Nile are known) were appointed to the cabinet and Sovereign Council, which oversees the transition. They will also take up seats in the yet-to-be-formed legislative council, which is expected to oversee the executive and craft laws, including those designed to pave the way for elections. Because they have divergent interests and perspectives, the ex-insurgents could, however, jostle with one another as they seek to dominate a limited amount of institutional space allocated to them.

Many aspects of the agreement’s implementation could throw up new problems. Crucially, two of the biggest rebel groups on the ground did not join the talks. Politicians in other parts of the country have protested what they perceive as Khartoum’s undue focus on Darfur and the Two Areas compared to other historically marginalised regions. Nor is it clear, given the near empty treasury, where the government will find the funds it has promised to pay to compensate war-affected civilians and support recovery and development programs in the peripheries.

While it is encouraging to see rebels integrate into the political system and the security services, their entry comes with risks. With a professed hope for a more inclusive Sudan, the ex-rebels on paper have more in common with the FFC and the transition’s other civilians than they do with the security forces. But some already appear to be allying with the interim government’s military component, believing that by supping with their old battlefield enemies, whom they consider the real centre of power, they will extract greater political and economic concessions from the system. Merging yesterday’s rebels into the security services means that these forces are likely to strengthen and swell in size, adding more pressure to an already strained public purse and increasing pressure on the civilian cabinet members who carry the unenviable burden of reforming a venal political system historically dominated by the military.

The answer is not to abandon the long-overdue push to recast centre-periphery relations in Sudan. Indeed, the interim government and its external partners should try to expand that effort by bringing holdout groups into the tent or risk prolonging their rebellions. Yet in moving ahead with integrating them, Khartoum and its partners must ensure that the security services do not become so swollen that they deplete state funds or make work even more difficult for the civilian cabinet. That cabinet is already struggling to reform a Sudanese state long dominated by military factions that retain a vice-like grip over the country’s political economy. To manage these risks, while also maintaining fair representation within the military, some rebels will need to demobilise, as will some existing military factions, so as to make room for other rebels to integrate into the security forces.

Sudan’s parlous economic state means that international assistance will be vital to help soldiers and rebels lay down their arms but also to underwrite the government’s spending commitments in the peripheries, which according to the October deal should amount to billions of dollars. The country’s partners, the European Union, Saudi Arabia, the UK, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the U.S. and the UN should provide financial and technical support for the deal’s implementation, even as they keep encouraging the civilian cabinet to make economic reforms that will give donors confidence. The peace agreement’s success will be more than worth the price, as it will help Sudan move to more stable and representative governance.


II. The Challenges of Redressing Neglect


Sudan has known neither peace nor stability since achieving independence in 1956. Underlying the country’s bloody conflicts is smouldering resentment in peripheries of their systematic political and economic exclusion by the riverine elites who have ruled Sudan for decades. Until Bashir’s ouster, every Sudanese leader since independence hailed from the Hamdi Triangle formed by the cities of Abu Hamad, Khartoum and Shendi in the Nile Valley, home to Arab-identifying ethno-linguistic groups.

Elite neglect of other parts of the country, such as Darfur, eastern Sudan, the far north, the Two Areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, and what in July 2011 became South Sudan, took the form of economic and cultural marginalisation underpinned by a lack of political representation. The neglect sparked rebellions and wars that killed millions. Beyond the terrible human and economic toll they have taken on Sudan’s peripheral regions, these conflicts have cost the state dearly.

Most strikingly, the July 2011 secession of South Sudan struck a major blow to Sudan’s economy, taking away the bulk of its oil wealth.

Following Sudan’s 2018-2019 revolution, the country’s civilian and military elites agreed in the August 2019 constitutional accord to seek to redress the imbalance between the periphery and the centre.

The FFC and TMC committed to ensuring that Sudan would shift away from the autocratic, highly centralised state that Bashir had presided over to a democratic, pluralistic system benefiting all Sudan’s diverse people.

Peace talks followed shortly thereafter and, after almost a year of negotiations in Juba between transitional officials and civilian and armed opposition representatives, including from rebel outfits in Darfur and the Two Areas, the parties signed a deal on 3 October 2020.

The Juba Peace Agreement is actually a collection of accords setting out principles covering power and wealth sharing, land reform, transitional justice, security arrangements and the return of displaced persons. It also sets to zero the clock on the country’s post-Bashir transitional period that had initially been fixed in the August 2019 accord, extending it by 39 months to early 2024, when elections are now due to be held. Authorities have put the cost of carrying out the Juba deal at some $13 billion over ten years, with Khartoum responsible for $7.5 billion of that sum for the agreement’s implementation in Darfur.

The important provisions for the rebels are questions related to integration of their leaders into government and their fighters into the security forces, as well as how power sharing between their regions and Khartoum will evolve. Rebels are to be absorbed into security agencies with those who are not returned home through a disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) program that will help them find civilian livelihoods.

According to the deal, signatory armed groups will also receive three seats in a newly expanded fourteen-member Sovereign Council, which under the August 2019 agreement acts as government’s executive organ, and one quarter of the cabinet seats. The deal also sets out a change in power sharing between centre and periphery, suggesting that Sudan adopt a federal system of governance. As steps in that direction, it provides for restoring Darfur’s former status as a single region, improving national representation for Darfuri tribes and increasing control over natural resources and Darfuris’ national political sway while also granting greater autonomy to the Two Areas.

One challenge is the divergence of interests among the armed groups under the umbrella of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF), the rebel coalition from Darfur and the Two Areas, which signed the October agreement.

Malik Agar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement-North (SPLA/M-N) faction has little in common with Darfuri groups and a more overtly national agenda. As for the Darfuri groups, the Sudan Liberation Army/Movement of Minni Minnawi (SLA/M-MM) broke away from the SRF in May, though it nevertheless signed the agreement alongside the other groups. Jibril Ibrahim of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), newly appointed as finance minister, has restored ties with Islamists in Khartoum as well as traditional backers from western Sudan’s Zaghawa ethnic group. Signatory groups have also fought as mercenaries on different sides of Libya’s conflict. The SRF is thus divided in general outlook and over how its constituent groups will share seats in the transitional government.

The agreement excludes Sudan’s two most powerful and politically relevant armed movements: an SPLA/M-N faction led by Abdel Aziz al-Hilu, which operates in the Two Areas, and an SLA/M faction led by Abdel Wahid al-Nur, which maintains bases in central Darfur. Abdel Wahid’s movement draws significant support from the Fur ethnic group and the internally displaced in Darfur. Abdel Aziz’s faction enjoys backing from the Nuba and other groups in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

Unlike the agreement’s rebel signatories, which are militarily degraded following a string of defeats by Khartoum in 2015 and 2016, the two holdout groups have substantial strength on the ground. Both have resisted signing the agreement and are unlikely to do so out of discomfort with the security forces’ continued dominance in the transitional government and their insistence on a credible national dialogue as a precursor to an inclusive peace deal, among other reasons.

Getting those groups to lay down their arms and join the government requires more talks to address the holdouts’ deep mistrust of the military’s dominance of the Sudanese state and their concerns over the persistence of Islamist networks inside various state institutions. Holdout groups’ leaders view such networks as working to sabotage the transition and restore the old riverine Islamist order.

Indeed, Abdel Wahid rejects the Juba agreement wholesale and declares that he will negotiate only when Khartoum has a civilian government. Abdel Aziz insists that a transitional legislative council be formed to provide oversight of the military, thus ensuring that the Sudanese Armed Forces are accountable to civilian institutions.

Both men also wish to see the Council of Ministers rather than the military-dominated Higher Peace Council made responsible for any subsequent negotiations with them.

Abdel Aziz fears that if a reform-minded civilian cabinet is not in the driver’s seat of the constitutional conference that is planned as a follow-up to the agreement, Islamists will hijack the proceedings and re-establish control over politics and the economy while rejecting his core demand for a secular Sudan.

Finding a way to bring the holdouts into the deal is only one of the delicate tasks that lie ahead. The deal has also provoked hostile reactions in other parts of the country, where some feel that it gives too much prominence and offers disproportionately large dividends to Darfur and the Two Areas.

Various forms of protest have already emerged. In eastern Sudan, home to former rebels that in 2006 had signed the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement with Bashir, thousands of Beja youth mobilised by Sayed Tirik, a stalwart of ousted President Bashir’s National Congress Party and an important Beja chief, shut the critical Port Sudan-Khartoum highway in July 2020. They wished to signal discontent with the agreement’s sections dealing with the east, arguing for inclusion of a right to self-determination for a single region comprising the three eastern states of Gedaref, Kassala and Red Sea, and a provision enabling reclamation of land rights.

Arab Misseriya, natives of the former West Kordofan state now absorbed into South Kordofan, are angry that they were not consulted when Agar’s SPLA/M-N faction negotiated over the Two Areas with the government.
Their grievances over exclusion from the talks may make implementation of the agreement in West Kordofan challenging. In response to the perceived slight, Misseriya members of the Popular Defence Forces, a paramilitary group closely aligned with the Bashir regime, have re-mobilised to press for greater government consultation with Misseriya over their claims to land and resources produced in West Kordofan.


III. A New Scramble for Power in Khartoum and Beyond


The Juba agreement could alter the balance of power in Sudan’s transitional government in two important ways.

First, by bringing actors from the periphery into the transitional institutions, the agreement threatens to dilute the influence of riverine elites from the Hamdi Triangle. These elites include the FFC, who continue to be dominated by old-guard political groups from the centre. Some, especially those once associated with Bashir’s regime, have already shown signs they are unhappy with this prospect and are prepared to push back, but so far have posed only an indirect threat.

Secondly, the arrival of armed factions and their representatives into transitional institutions could tilt the balance of power within the transitional government away from civilians and in favour of a military wing of the power-sharing coalition, with lasting consequences for Sudan’s future. General Muhammad Hamdan Dagalo “Hemedti”, the head of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the most powerful military actor in Khartoum, has brought rebel factions who signed the agreement close to his own camp, bolstering his overall political weight and that of the RSF within the transition.

The newfound relationship between Hemedti and signatory rebel groups is on one level counterintuitive. They were, after all, on opposing sides in Darfur, where Hemedti fought with the Janjaweed militia that perpetrated atrocities against Darfuris and inhabitants of the Two Areas. But a number of considerations have created the conditions for a pragmatic political alliance. For one thing, Hemedti has sought to overcome the weight of a difficult history by invoking the two sides’ common origins in Sudan’s peripheries along with shared mistrust of the riverine centre.

Secondly, SRF members claim that the UAE, which maintains strong relationships with both Hemedti and the armed groups, has encouraged the latter to cooperate politically with the RSF commander. Thirdly, many SRF officials believe that FFC representatives, many tracing their roots to the Hamdi Triangle and fearful of having power dispersed from the centre, tried to lock them out of power as the transitional government was being formed.

Still, the biggest factor may be power politics. Some SRF armed groups might share the FFC’s stated hopes for a more inclusive Sudan, but they remain sceptical of the civilians’ ability to advance their interests, while also seeing them as comprised of metropolitan elites distrusted by those in Sudan’s peripheries. Senior SRF figures view Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok as lacking the clout to deliver transformational change to Sudan and believe that they will be better served by aligning with Hemedti, whom they see as Khartoum’s real power centre.
Typifying the view of several armed group leaders who were part of the agreement, Minnawi said “there is no way civilians will take control” of the state.

As the signatory armed groups pivot toward a political alliance with the military factions in government, they have taken to recruiting more men into their ranks, to achieve three things.

First, by ramping up numbers, they aim to claim a greater share of positions within the security services, which they argue are too dominated by riverine elites. The October agreement directs that the armed groups be either absorbed into the police, General Intelligence Services, Sudanese Armed Forces or paramilitary RSF, or disarmed, demobilised and reintegrated into civilian life. Secondly, the more recruits the groups bring in, the better positioned they are to benefit from the cash windfall that armed movements believe will flow from participation in that demobilisation process. Finally, recruitment is a way for the groups to ensure they have a standing force at hand if the transition collapses.

As a result, a number of dangers may emerge from demobilisation. From a financial perspective, if the security forces are bloated after absorbing more men, the national treasury will be further strapped at a time when the cabinet is under pressure to spend more on other public services.

Failure to provide those services could contribute to public restiveness and endanger the transition. In addition, the bigger and more powerful the security services become, the harder it will be for the civilian cabinet or legislative council to enact reforms that curb their business interests, which include control over many state-run companies that generate profits for top officers even as they consume vast amounts of public resources.

Moreover, should signatory rebels and other armed actors beef up their numbers and the expected demobilisation windfall fail to materialise, the former rebel commanders’ command and control over newly expanded and diverse forces, which may be harder to control, may deteriorate. With more recruits in their ranks, rebel forces also become a possible future threat if the agreement collapses. The threat could be particularly acute in Darfur, where the mandate of the UN-African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) has ended, meaning that a key mechanism for deterring violence has vanished. Renewed intercommunal violence is a risk, as is a descent into fighting among disaffected armed groups.

Still, if absorbing armed factions into transitional institutions carries risks, leaving them out in the cold would be even worse. It would perpetuate a sense that Sudan’s transition is playing out only within the confines of the Hamdi Triangle, deepening centre-periphery tensions that have been a powerful driver of conflict in Sudan. The task for Khartoum now will be to negotiate the many challenges in the path toward implementation, which will be key to driving the transition forward.


IV. Implementing the Juba Agreement Wisely


In attempting to redress the exclusionary policies that have dogged Sudan for decades and spread power more evenly between the Nile Valley and Sudan’s diverse peripheries, Khartoum has taken on a set of daunting challenges. It and its partners should take a number of steps to improve prospects of success and minimise dangers.

For starters, the interim government should prioritise efforts to reach a separate accord with the two major armed groups that did not join the Juba accords.
In entering the Juba talks, Khartoum had said it was seeking a “comprehensive” solution to Sudan’s long-running conflicts. But the absence from the table of Sudan’s two most powerful armed groups undercuts that ambition and undermines the Juba deal’s effectiveness in actually ending conflict.

There are divergent opinions among authorities in Khartoum on how to bring the holdout groups to the negotiating table. To date, Khartoum’s strategy has included military pressure on al-Hilu’s SPLM/A-N faction through empowerment of the SPLM/A-N faction headed by his rival Agar in the Two Areas, requests to the South Sudanese government to cut off al-Hilu’s forces from resupply and gold smuggling routes, and efforts to limit aid to areas controlled by al-Hilu.

Authorities have also pursued partly successful attempts, with Egyptian cooperation, to splinter Abdel Wahid’s Sudan Liberation Army/Movement, the other major holdout group. Khartoum also hopes that the deal’s implementation and resulting peace dividend will ramp up grassroots pressure from the holdouts’ constituencies.

This approach assumes optimistically that effective implementation on the ground can begin expeditiously.

But to many, military pressure is the wrong approach and only dialogue can work.
The holdouts’ entry into the transition likely rests less on the success of military operations against them and more on their being offered sufficiently influential roles in the transition and seeing the military’s hold on power being rolled back. Sudan’s international partners, particularly the EU and U.S., can help get the ball rolling by engaging with both Abdel Aziz al-Hilu and Abdel Wahid al-Nur to reassure them that they will continue to press Khartoum to undertake such reforms, including by offering to underwrite those measures, and to encourage them to continue talking with the government about addressing the core concerns that have kept them outside of the agreement.

At the same time, Saudi Arabia and the EU, UAE, UK and U.S. should urge the military to press for progress on reducing the armed forces’ stranglehold on the economy; this is imperative for the transition’s success more broadly, but it could also help persuade the two holdout groups’ leaders that things are moving in the right direction.

At the same time, the newly reshuffled government should accelerate the process of forming the legislative council, which would have oversight powers over the military. Its formation should make clear that there will be meaningful space at the table for the holdouts to participate in government and advance their interests from inside the transition. International partners, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, the UK and the U.S., should also prevail upon authorities not to launch new military offensives in an effort to bring the holdouts to heel.

How the Juba Peace Agreement’s armed signatory groups will be incorporated into the security services will be crucial. It is essential that the transitional government does not bloat the security services, and in so doing further empower the military while deepening the country’s fiscal crisis, leaving it without resources to fund other key components of the agreement and needed services.

To achieve that and maintain fair representation within the security services, only a certain number of rebels can be accommodated. The rest should be disarmed and supported to reintegrate into civilian life. For this to work, the Sudanese Armed Forces and Hemedti’s Rapid Support Forces will need to be prepared to demobilise some of their men in order to make room. Further difficult negotiations will be required to thrash out this balance.

The risk is that the generals will do just the opposite, seeking instead to absorb entire units of signatory rebels, thereby indeed bloating the size of the military and expanding its influence, while also allowing the ex-rebel groups to keep chains of command open for reactivation if the transition goes bad. That is an outcome that Sudan’s partners must steer the country away from. As Crisis Group has pointed out since 2019, the survival of Sudan’s transition will require the state to clean up institutions dominated by armed elites and their cronies, which have preyed on the country’s economy and profited from the persistent conflicts they have helped feed. Only a reform-minded civilian government can do this job. If the military grows more powerful at the expense of civilian leadership, prospects for positive change will dim.

External powers that have a stake in Sudan’s future can help guide the country away from that outcome by providing civilian authorities resources to manage implementation of the Juba deal prudently. To guard against bloating of the armed forces, Sudan’s partners should bankroll demobilisation efforts, so that there is a viable path out of the security services for those rebels who cannot be absorbed into the army, and any current units that have to be shed to make room for other rebels to be integrated. Donor funds will also be needed if Khartoum is to make good on the rollout of the billions of dollars it has promised to spend in the peripheries, which it does not have on hand.

Donors should stand ready to offer other forms of bilateral support. As Crisis Group has previously advocated, authorities must press ahead with enacting painful economic reforms to give confidence to donors that they can manage any influx of funds responsibly.

In turn, donors should be ready to channel funding through the transitional government’s civilian-led ministries to strengthen the civilians’ hold over the budget and their ability to direct development funding to all the peripheries. In supporting Khartoum’s spending commitments in the peripheries, donors should work with Sudanese authorities to shape high-impact aid programs in neglected areas. These dividends are needed to reinforce to the armed signatories the value in drawing close to the FFC and civilians rather than to the military.

International assistance to the transitional government has fallen short of the robust levels that the situation calls for.

Until the December removal of Sudan from the U.S. State Sponsors of Terrorism list, a key block to addressing Sudan’s crippling debt, the U.S. government had largely stayed on the sidelines, offering limited support to the transition. On 1 January, however, the U.S. Congress passed the Sudan Democratic Transition, Accountability and Fiscal Transparency Act providing for increased support to Sudan for development, peacebuilding, governance and economic growth.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia, which funnelled several hundred million dollars into Sudan while the TMC remained in charge at the start of the transition, have since chosen to keep their purse strings tight, instead providing staple commodities such as flour and fuels and maintaining quiet backing for their military partners in government. The EU has made Sudan a priority country in the region, providing an attendant funding boost, although the amounts have also been too small to meet the country’s considerable needs.

It is not just the civilian authorities that are counting on stepped-up external support to the transition. Hemedti, a key ally for the UAE, is looking to Abu Dhabi and Riyadh to offer more funding to rescue an economy whose tailspin has already created tensions and driven demonstrations across the country over bread and fuel prices as well as dissatisfaction with the pace of government reforms. If the protests spread, they could result in the kind of unrest in the streets of Khartoum and violence in the periphery that the government might not be able to control.

Despite its shortcomings, Sudan’s external partners need to rally around the Juba agreement and help steady the transition. A new U.S. administration creates an opportunity to breathe new life into this and other transition-related efforts. The U.S. should press Saudi Arabia and the UAE in particular to boost support to the civilian side of the government while impressing upon the military that security sector reform must begin. The latter will be an especially sensitive, challenging and deeply political process, but it is indispensable to Sudan’s transition.

The peace agreement and the constitutional charter place responsibility for this reform with the military itself, meaning the security forces must be convinced to buy into a painful reorganisation. Riyadh and Abu Dhabi are best suited to helping them muster the requisite political will. For its part, the new UN special political mission, known as UNITAMS, should provide technical support and mobilise funding for this vast undertaking.


V. Conclusion


Sudan’s transition – beset by an economy in freefall and the poisonous legacy of years of autocratic rule – may be stuttering but it remains an inspiration to many in the region and beyond. A peaceful and diverse protest movement achieved what many considered barely possible in unseating one of the Horn of Africa’s most entrenched rulers. But the progress can easily be reversed if Sudanese and international stakeholders do not pour the requisite energy, attention and resources into helping propel the transition forward.

A key task is to make a success of the Juba Peace Agreement, which advances Sudan’s transition by opening up political space to previously neglected corners of the country. For all its imperfections, the agreement creates a framework for addressing inequality and resolving conflicts that have plagued the country since independence. Its implementation will have to be handled wisely, lest it trigger a second order of problems that could destabilise the country further. Particularly critical is to ensure that absorption of rebels does not skew the balance of power further against the government’s civilian side. The responsibility lies primarily with Sudan’s leaders, but they cannot do it alone. The transitional government’s external partners must step up with political and economic support. Absent that, even greater pain could await Sudan and all those with an interest in the Horn of Africa’s peace and security.

Khartoum/Nairobi/Brussels, 23 February 2021

 

 

By Elena Sánchez Nicolás

BRUSSELS - The world's richest countries have monopolised over half of current and projected production doses of vaccines, leaving low-and-medium-income countries struggling to secure vaccines, a report by anti-poverty campaigners found on Friday (19 February).

Ten countries in total have so far administered 75 percent of all Covid-19 vaccines - while 130 countries have not yet received a single dose.

In their analysis, the ONE Campaign revealed that the 27 EU countries, Australia, Canada, Japan, UK, and the US have already secured a total of over three billion doses of approved vaccines - almost one billion more doses than they would need to vaccinate all their citizens.

The excess doses of rich countries alone would be sufficient to vaccinate the entire adult population of Africa.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world has only been able to buy 2.5 billion doses.

The EU alone has secured 2.6 billion vaccines doses - an amount that would allow the bloc to vaccinate every European twice, and still have almost 500 million doses left, according to the advocacy group.

The report focusses specifically on contracts with the five leading vaccine developers: Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, and Novavax.

However, it notes that if other vaccine candidates are found to be safe and effective, like those from Sanofi or CureVac, there would be an additional one billion excess doses available to share.

Anti-poverty campaigners warned that the monopoly of vaccines by rich countries could lead to twice as many deaths from Covid-19.

"As long the virus remains unchecked anywhere on the planet, it will continue to mutate, breach borders, and wreak havoc on communities and the global economy," reads the report, which estimates that vaccine hoarding could cost the global economy about €7.6 trillion.


Voluntary solidarity


Last month, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the world was on the brink of a "catastrophic moral failure" because of the unequal distribution of vaccines.

The WHO has recommended that all countries vaccinate at least 20 percent of their populations, covering health care workers and the most vulnerable, before vaccinating more widely.

But reaching this target in 92 low-and-medium-income economies is subjected to raising funds for COVAX - the UN's programme which aims to ensure that 190 countries have equal access to two billion vaccines by the end of the year.

Norway, for example, has already started to share doses through COVAX.

The EU has also announced that they will share vaccine doses with other countries through COVAX, although with no clear timeline.

"There might be a limited number of doses, for now, we are waiting for the delivered [doses] to become more stable overall. Perhaps it is only at this stage that we will have more to offer," a commission spokesperson said on Friday.

Under the EU vaccine strategy, member states can share doses with poorer and neighbouring countries voluntarily.

French president Emmanuel Macron has called on the US and member states to allocate up to five percent of current vaccine supplies to developing countries. Macron said German chancellor Angela Merkel has also agreed that sharing EU's vaccine stockpile should be a common effort.

The EU and its member states are one of the lead contributors to COVAX with over €2.2bn. The US has pledged €3.2bn to ramp up global vaccination efforts.
Vaccine diplomacy

The so-called "vaccine nationalism," or the seizing of the first batches of doses by rich states that can pay the most or the quickest, has simultaneously triggered a race to show geopolitical leadership.

According to Brandon Locke form the ONE Campaign, "while Russia and China are already sharing Covid-19 vaccine doses with lower-income countries, the EU is losing ground in the race to deliver a global response to the pandemic".

Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Nigeria, among others, are lining up to receive China's Sinovac vaccine, while Russia's Sputnik V had been approved already in 26 countries, including Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Belarus, Bolivia, and Guinea.

Last week, EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen shed doubts on the Sputnik V vaccine, questioning why "Russia is offering millions of millions of doses while not sufficiently progressing in vaccinating their own people".

Moscow has responded, saying that von der Leyen's comments could indicate "an effort to politicise the issue in an unsubstantiated and…deplorable way" or an inadequate level of awareness, regarding the reported 92-percent efficiency of the vaccine.

A separate study recently revealed that while the vast majority of the adult population in rich countries will be vaccinated by mid-2022, some 85 poorer countries may not have widespread access to vaccines before 2023, at the earliest.


DISCLAIMER

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's

 

 

STOCKHOLM - The United Nations (UN) Security Council will hold an open session on the topic of climate change and security. The security implications of climate change are highly diverse, crossing and linking different sectors of society, writes SIPRI on Monday.

They have a particular relevance for the peace operations conducted by the UN (see box 1 below). As of December 2020:

- 10 out of 21 ongoing UN peace operations were located in countries ranked as most exposed to climate change (see box 1).

- 6 of the 10 biggest UN peace operations (by total international personnel) were in countries ranked most exposed to climate change.

- Of a total of 92 159 personnel deployed to UN peace operations, 80 per cent (74 396 personnel) were deployed in such countries.

Recent research in highly exposed countries shows that climate change’s impacts on host communities can have serious implications for both UN peacekeeping operations and special political missions. For example:

- Both slow-onset climate-related impacts such as reduced rainfall, droughts and desertification of farmland, as well as rapid-onset hazards such flooding, can set back work to increase food and resource security as part of the peacebuilding process. Lack of economic opportunities linked to these impacts can hold back disarmament, demobilization and reintegration efforts.

- Such impacts can also lead to population displacement and migration. This can put added pressure on resources at the destination. It can also undo careful work to engage population groups and negotiate power- and resource-sharing arrangements.

- The absence of basic services and adequate mechanisms to respond to climate impacts can also contribute to the further weakening of governments in affected regions, and undermine their popular legitimacy. This creates governance vacuums that local armed and criminal groups can exploit.

- Flooding, sandstorms and other climate-related hazards can reduce peacekeeping troops’ mobility, as well as their combat performance.

The UN Security Council cannot ignore climate change and its impacts on UN peace operations. Not only do operations need to better inform the UN Security Council about the climate-related security risks they face, but the UN Security Council needs urgently to identify what additional measures, authorities or partnerships are required in order to properly plan for and address climate-related security risks in mission contexts.


A case in point: Climate change and peace operations in Somalia


During three decades of conflict, Somalia has experienced an increase in the frequency of climate-related problems, including severe droughts. The country’s overwhelmingly poor nomadic herders have been particularly hard hit, as their traditional grazing routes have become unviable. The results have included population displacement and conflicts with farmers. Internal displacement has made local people more vulnerable to insurgent groups such as al-Shabab.

Climate-related issues have increased the pressure on an already overburdened and under-equipped governance and judicial system. They have moreover directly inhibited the work of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM). UNSOM has responded with promising initiatives such as the development of a Recovery and Resilience Framework, the establishment of Drought Operations Coordination Centres, and the appointment of an environmental security adviser.


How United Nations peace operations can adapt


UNSOM is, however, among only a handful of UN peace operations, even in the most exposed countries, to reflect climate-related risks in their mandates and operational plans. UN peace operations need to become more climate sensitive.

The UN Security Council resolution extending UNSOM’s mandate in 2018 included a call to report on climate-related security risks. It should become common practice among peace operations to regularly assess what climate-related risks exist in their area of deployment and how those could impact the fulfilment of their mandate. Operations and other agencies in the field should share their knowledge about those risks and their experiences in managing them, in order to accelerate learning.

The UN Security Council should also institutionalize the position of environmental security adviser in peace operations highly exposed to climate change impacts. This adviser can enhance coordination with the local government and helped to integrate responses within the UN system, across the humanitarian–development–peace nexus. They can also help to mainstream climate security into the work of the UN system at the community level.

On the more positive side, responding to local climate impacts can also create opportunities for peacebuilding. For example, it can reduce pressure on freshwater resources or land that are creating intercommunal tension. In some cases, the response itself can be a forum for negotiation or cooperation between conflict parties.

Interviews with peace operations personnel suggest that they often have little awareness of how climate change is impacting their host communities and the work of their operation. They should be sensitized to climate change to encourage them to take it into account in their problem solving and everyday work.

About the author

Dr Florian Krampe (Germany/Sweden) is the Director of SIPRI’s Climate Change and Risk Programme.

Africa

By E. Gyimah-Boadi, Landry Signé, and Josephine Appiah-Nyamekye Sanny, Brookings, 23 October 2020

Despite the Trump administration’s announced December 2018 Africa strategy, a significant gap between the lofty blueprint and the concrete actions needed to turn it into reality remains. U.S. interests in the region are being increasingly undermined as China, Russia, and other powers move to fill the policy spaces left vacant by the United States and other Western nations. Admittedly, attention to what has crucial value for African publics may not be a typical priority in the crafting of U.S. foreign policy; however, attention to African preferences and policy priorities should be of heightened attention if the U.S. is serious about successfully countering the $10 billion Chinese soft power initiative and better competing with other global players.

Overall, as AfroBarometer survey data shows (https://www.afrobarometer.org/), the value preferences of African publics and policy priorities—such as subscription to democratic norms (7 out of 10 Africans in the sample countries express support for democratic governance and government accountability) and desire to see more investment in health and education (health, education, and infrastructure were most frequently cited by respondents after unemployment when asked where leaders’ priorities should lie)—broadly align with traditional U.S. values as well as recent U.S.-Africa development cooperation initiatives. At the same time, however, Africans’ opinions do not always align with U.S. policy priorities, most notably regarding the attachment of economic or political conditionalities to development assistance and national control over development spending. Given China’s increased unconditional spending and attention to the region, as well as emphasis on Africa’s stated priorities such as improved infrastructure, it’s no wonder China and partners with similar strategies have been gaining influence on the ground so quickly.

But all is not lost for the U.S. programs, as the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), the President’s Malaria Initiative, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Power Africa, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), and the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), among others, have clearly made their mark, and such initiatives provide a roadmap for charting a foreign policy course that aligns with the aspirations and values of African publics, and is, at the same time, consistent with American values. We believe this is the best way to build a durable alliance with the people of the continent, and, through them, with their governments. In short, this strategy is a smart approach for making America a more competitive global player while safeguarding its geopolitical interests.


SO, WHAT DO AFRICANS WANT FROM THEIR GOVERNMENT?


When it comes to policy priorities, the most recent round of Afrobarometer surveys (conducted in 18 African countries between late 2019 and 2020) reveals that Africans want their governments to prioritize jobs and health, followed by physical infrastructure/roads, education, and water (Figure 1).


Note: Answers shown are from 15 countries between 2011-2020. Specifically, respondents were asked: In your opinion, what are the most important problems facing this country that government should address? Respondents could give up to three responses. The figure shows the percent of respondents who mention the issue.

U.S. foreign aid already emphasizes health: After emergency response spending, health spending (including for HIV/AIDS) constitutes the largest category of American foreign assistance to Africa. In fact, the U.S. provided close to $3.5 billion dollars toward better health outcomes in Africa in 2018 alone. Given the unprecedented public health challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the importance of health needs to African citizens, the U.S. should consider increasing this aid.

Similarly, given the increased importance of job creation to everyday African citizen, directing more aid toward efforts that (directly or indirectly) lead to job creation—or at least making a better case for why investment in areas such as education, infrastructure, and electricity is directly tied to economic growth and jobs—might also increase positive sentiments toward the U.S. in the region.


WHO SHOULD DECIDE HOW AID IS SPENT? AFRICAN, WESTERN, AND CHINESE APPROACHES


Nationalist sentiments have increased in Africa in recent years, and with them has come an increased desire for control over domestic affairs. As shown in Figure 2 below, a majority of those polled agree that their government should retain full autonomy over development assistance. The poll also showed that a slight majority of Africans dislike aid conditionality, even when the rules are designed to promote democracy and human rights, which they do support (Figure 3). In other words, the majority of Africans do not wish to be dictated to by outsiders, even if this is accompanied by material assistance intended to strengthen democratic values that they support—a finding that reveals key differences in the Western approach (offer aid but use it as a bargaining chip for liberal reforms) and the Chinese approach (offer aid with no requirements of domestic policy change). Although African countries are still relatively young, African nationalism and pride are quite prominent and have real implications.

Note: Answers shown are from 18 countries between 2019-2020. The figure shows the percent of respondents who “agree” or “agree very strongly” with each statement. Respondents were asked: Which of the following statements is closest to your views?

1- When other countries give loans or development assistance to [insert country], they should enforce strict requirements on how the funds are spent.

2- When other countries give [insert country] loans or development assistance, they should allow our government to make its own decisions about how to use the resources.


Note: Answers shown are from 18 countries between 2019-2020. The figure shows the percent of respondents who “agree” or “agree very strongly” with each statement. Respondents were asked: Which of these statements is closest to your views?

1- When other countries give loans or development assistance to [insert country], they should enforce strict requirements to make sure our government promotes democracy and respects human rights.

2- Even if other countries give [insert country] loans or development assistance, our government should make its own decisions about democracy and human rights.


WHAT POLITICAL VALUES MATTER TO AFRICANS?


The findings from the Afrobarometer surveys demonstrate fairly consistent
support for both democratic norms and accountable governance among Africans. In fact, popular support for core democratic ideals and institutions has remained stable or increased over time. Seven out of 10 Africans express preference for democracy, and even larger percentages reject one-man (81 percent), single-party (76 percent), and military rule (73 percent). Africans have specific expectations for the ballot box as the sole legitimate method for choosing governments, indicated, for example, by their support for the two-term limit on presidential tenure (Figure 4). Indeed, Africans prefer accountable governance over “getting things done,” suggesting that democratic governance is valued by ordinary citizens across the continent, even if it comes with costs. Therefore, a values-led foreign policy that reinforces democratic norms and accountable governance would be expected to find public support in Africa, even if it rankles incumbent autocratic leaders. Conversely, the U.S. should continue to be very cautious in its dealings with dictators, even if they claim to provide effective governance.


Note: Answers shown are from 15 countries tracked from 2011/2013 to 2019/2020. Specifically, the percentage of citizens who support the following statements:

- “Democracy is preferable to any other kind of government.”

- “We should choose our leaders in this country through regular, open, and honest elections.”

- “It is more important for citizens to be able to hold government accountable, even if that means it makes decisions more slowly.”

- “Constitution should limit the president to serving a maximum of two terms in office.”


LESSONS LEARNED: SHARED VALUES CAN LEAD TO SHARED SUCCESSES


U.S. diplomatic and aid efforts focused on jobs, health, infrastructure, and education will receive the most support from African publics and will ultimately help address complex issues such as fragility, insecurity, violent extremism, and illegal immigration. U.S. efforts should also focus on democratic norms and accountable governance, both because they are strongly and consistently supported by African citizens and because they will ultimately better U.S. commercial engagement with the region. Such an approach would be efficient, effective, and impactful, without necessarily having to match China’s pledged $60 billion in loans, aid, and broader financial support to the region. All in all, the incorporation of the citizen perspective should be important for shaping U.S. foreign policy toward Africa as it makes America more competitive on the continent and advances mutual U.S.-Africa interests.

 

By Witney Schneidman, Brookings, 22 January 2021


Editor's Note: Below is a Viewpoint from Chapter 6 of the Foresight Africa 2021 report (https://www.brookings.edu/research/foresight-africa-2021/), which explores top priorities for the region in the coming year. This year’s issue focuses on strategies for Africa to confront the twin health and economic crises created by the COVID-19 pandemic and emerge stronger than ever.


President Joe Biden has committed to restoring American leadership globally. With the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, this task became immensely more challenging. For Africa, nevertheless, this will translate into an American policy that strives to respect the people and governments on the continent.

Respect for democratic governance—which the president has called not only the foundation of our society, but the “wellspring of our power”—will also be at the top of his policy agenda. Given Donald Trump’s effort to overthrow our election and the violent breach of the U.S. Capitol, the Biden administration needs to speak up for democracy and human rights at home and globally more than ever, a point made by my Brookings colleague, Thomas Wright.

Indeed, a desire for democratic governance is part of the connective tissue between Americans and Africans: Afrobarometer finds that 7 of 10 Africans aspire to live under democratic governments. A greater majority reject authoritarian or autocratic rule, presidents-for-life, and military rule. (For more Afrobarometer findings around African attitudes towards governance, especially under the pandemic, see the Chapter 6 essay by E. Gyimah-Boadi).

The institutions of American democracy faced extraordinary pressure during the 2020 elections and were under siege during the transition. The challenges we faced in this election cycle should enable the United States to share, listen, and learn with its partners on the continent while laying the groundwork for a renewed U.S. policy agenda in Africa to promote resilient, democratic societies. It is appropriate, for example, that Joe Biden’s first congratulatory call from Africa came from South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, whose own democracy has been stress-tested by eight years of “state capture” under Jacob Zuma, not to mention the ongoing struggle to overcome the legacy of apartheid. Our shared experience in shoring up democratic governance and working to address legacies of racial inequality offers a unique opportunity to re-energize our relationship with South Africa and other countries on the continent.


THE MIDDLE GROUND


Last year in Africa, electoral outcomes often did not reflect African aspirations. Such was the case in Guinea, Tanzania, Burundi, and elsewhere. Moreover, the 2020 Ibrahim Index on African Governance has found that the public perception of overall governance is at its lowest in over a decade, and the pace of deterioration has nearly doubled over the last five years.

In reality, democracy in Africa is a work in progress, as it is in the U.S. and everywhere, with some countries progressing better than others. While the Ibrahim Index notes a deterioration in the average African governance score over the last year, it also finds that overall governance performance has improved slightly over the last decade. At the same time, Freedom House ranks only seven countries in the “Free” category—the smallest number since 1991—but the group of “Not Free” countries is also shrinking. The U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), which makes infrastructure investments based on a rigorous set of governance indicators, has initiated programs in 25 African countries. Only two programs have been terminated, Madagascar in 2005 and Mali in 2006, and one suspended, Tanzania in 2016.

 

 

By Nicolas Pinault

PARIS - France says it will not draw down its troop presence in Africa's Sahel region, despite earlier reports that it could bring home hundreds of soldiers following significant gains against extremists.

Addressing via videoconference regional leaders from Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Chad, French President Emmanuel Macron said there would be no immediate reduction of French troops in the Sahel.

Macron said that reducing French troops too quickly and massively from the region, which is a possibility he studied, would be a mistake. So, in the coming months, nothing will change, the French president said.

The pullback of the additional 600 French troops deployed in early 2020 is still on the table and will be discussed later this year. Their probable departure would not have a negative impact, but a change in strategy is needed according to Nicolas Normand, a former ambassador of France to Mali.

"The impact on the ground should be limited because the European force called Takuba can take over and replace those French militaries. Barkhane French forces were so far too independent. The military involvement of the Sahelian forces themselves is not sufficient and [the probable departure of French troops] implies a new type of cooperation with them. There is a need to make them more effective and equip them," he said.

After the recent killings of top jihadist leaders linked to al-Qaida or Islamic State, France also will intensify its efforts to help decapitate these organizations on the ground.

General Dominique Trinquand, former head of the French military mission to the United Nations, said President Macron is calling to reinforce the global fight against terrorism and using the term "decapitate" refers to targeted missions to eliminate jihadist leaders. To launch such operations, they would use intelligence provided by U.S. and French drones — and local armies.

Currently, 5,100 French soldiers fight extremist groups alongside African and European soldiers in the region. An additional 1,200 Chadian soldiers will soon be deployed in the zone bordering Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso.

More than 50 French soldiers have been killed since 2013 while fighting extremists in the region.

A new G-5 Sahel Summit is scheduled to take place later this year.

By Joséphine Dedet, The Africa Report, 18 February 2021

When, in 2005, he first set foot on African soil, on a tour of Ethiopia, South Africa, Morocco and Tunisia, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had two goals: to take his country out of its almost exclusive relationship with the West and to open up previously untapped areas to Turkish trade.

The Turkish government had made a first attempt to improve ties with Africa back in 1998. Liberal foreign minister Ismail Cem drew up an “action pact for Africa”, but it was never implemented because of the serious economic crisis in Turkey. The coming to power of Erdogan’s Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi and the rise of the pious and dynamic Anatolian bourgeoisie in business changed the scene. In the wake of Turkish Airlines – which now serves 60 African cities – and giant conglomerates that have set out to win business on the continent, small Turkish companies are also seeking opportunities.

Fifteen years after Erdogan’s first visit, Turkey is now a big player. The government is a “strategic partner” of the African Union and a non-regional member of the African Development Bank. Its trade with Africa has grown from $3bn in the early 2000s to more than $26bn in 2019.

There are many Turkey-Africa business forums; the most recent took place by video–conference on 8-9 October 2020. Turkey’s major business lobbies, Tüsiad and Müsiad, and the Deik (council for economic relations with foreign countries) are active on the continent. They are supported by TIKA, the Turkish development agency, which has 22 offices in Africa and finances projects in the construction, agriculture and health sectors. It also renovates buildings from the Ottoman period, such as the Ketchaoua mosque in Algiers.

This is part of Ankara’s soft power, which is not limited to the Turkish drama series that are all the rage in North Africa. Construction of hospitals, such as the one in Mogadishu, free medical operations and the donation of a fleet of buses in Conakry – the list of gestures of generosity from the state, NGOs or private companies is long. In addition, there is the work of the seven Yunus Emre cultural centres and the Maarif educational foundation, p­resent in 31 African countries.

Political ties are also well-­established. Like Russia and China, Turkey generally tries to avoid telling other countries what to do. In resolving crises, such as the one in Mali, it advocates the use of ‘African solutions’, or, failing that, those from the United Nations. It is also lobbying for a better representation of the continent in international institutions.


Diplomatic daring


Regarding other actors in Africa, the Turkish government’s discourse is sometimes less smooth. Erdogan is often quick to castigate France’s colonial past, the world’s indifference to the ills that afflict the continent or the base mercantile interests of its competitors, to whom he opposes a “win-win”, egalitarian and fraternal relationship.

While defending Ankara’s political interests – such as its intervention in Libya – Erdogan has encouraged foreign affairs minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu and his administration to acquire African expertise. Among their objectives: the organisation of a third Turkey-Africa summit and the opening of an embassy in each country of the continent. There are now 42, and soon 44 with Togo and Guinea-Bissau.

Erdogan has developed friendly relationships with several leaders, such as Guinea’s Alpha Condé, Senegal’s Macky Sall and Niger’s Mahamadou Issoufou. His affinities with Libyan prime minister Fayez al-Sarraj led to the signing of an agreement on the Turkish-Libyan maritime border in the eastern Mediterranean. Erdogan’s good ties with Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and the fact that he was the first foreign head of state to visit war-torn Somalia enabled Ankara to open a military base in Mogadishu, where 200 Turkish soldiers are training the national army.


This article is available as part of the print edition of The Africa Report magazine: ‘Africa in 2021 – Who will be the winners and losers of the post-Covid era?’

 

Francais

Huit priorités pour l’Union africaine en 2021

International Grisis Group, 03 fevrier 2021

En 2021, l’Union africaine poursuivra sa lutte contre la pandémie de Covid-19 et ses répercussions économiques. Notre revue annuelle identifie huit autres situations dans lesquelles l'intervention de l'organisation pourrait contribuer à résoudre, circonscrire ou éviter un conflit.

 

Que se passe-t-il ? Début février 2021, se tiendra le sommet annuel des chefs d’Etat de l’Union africaine – en ligne, du fait de la pandémie de Covid-19. La crise sanitaire sera certainement au cœur des discussions, tout comme les élections de la Commission de l’UA, qui ont lieu tous les quatre ans.

En quoi est-ce significatif ? Ces élections constituent une étape importante du renouveau institutionnel, dans un contexte de réformes globales de l’UA. Une transition en douceur vers une nouvelle direction sera essentielle pour assurer la continuité des travaux de la commission sur la paix et la sécurité.

Comment agir ? Après la tenue des élections, l’UA devrait tirer parti de ce sommet pour faire face aux crises les plus urgentes, y compris les récentes violences en République centrafricaine, la guerre au Tigré (Ethiopie), la Libye, le Sahel, le Soudan et le changement climatique. Ce briefing définit huit priorités de l’UA pour 2021.


Synthèse


Au cours de la première semaine de février 2021 se tiendra le sommet annuel des chefs d’Etat de l’Union africaine (UA), mais cette année, il se déroulera sans le faste habituel. En raison des précautions sanitaires dues à la pandémie de Covid-19, les chefs d’Etat et de gouvernement et les ministres des Affaires étrangères se réuniront virtuellement. Lors de ce sommet, le président de la République démocratique du Congo, Félix Tshisekedi, prendra la présidence de l’UA, assurée en 2020 par le président de l’Afrique du Sud, Cyril Ramaphosa. Comme tous les quatre ans, l’UA doit également élire les candidates ou candidats à la présidence, à la vice-présidence et les six commissaires de la Commission de l’UA, qui est le secrétariat de l’organisation.

En 2020, l’UA s’est bien entendu concentrée sur la pandémie. Sous la direction de Cyril Ramaphosa, l’UA a joué un rôle central dans la gestion des efforts déployés sur le continent pour circonscrire l’impact sanitaire et économique de la Covid-19, en mettant sur pied le Groupe de travail africain sur le coronavirus, qui a, en coordination avec l’Organisation mondiale de la santé et les Centres africains de contrôle et de prévention des maladies, aidé les Etats membres à renforcer le dépistage et les tests et à garantir l’approvisionnement en vaccins sur l’ensemble du continent. Cette nécessité de contenir la pandémie a toutefois fait dévier l’UA de son objectif de « faire taire les armes » – un projet ambitieux d’éradication des conflits en Afrique avant 2020. L’organisation a fixé la nouvelle échéance dans dix ans.

Sur le plan diplomatique, les résultats de l’UA sont mitigés. L’organisation a rapidement réagi au coup d’Etat survenu en août au Mali en suspendant l’adhésion du pays pour une durée de trois mois après l’éviction de l’ancien président Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta. Aujourd’hui, l’organisation participe à un comité de suivi qui observe la transition du pays vers un régime totalement civil. En revanche, au Soudan, l’UA est plus discrète dans le processus visant à garantir l’arrivée d’un gouvernement civil inclusif, alors qu’elle a joué un rôle essentiel dans les négociations pour assurer la transition politique après la destitution militaire du président Omar el-Béchir. Au Soudan du Sud, l’UA a été peu active pour lutter contre les divisions qui morcellent l’Autorité intergouvernementale pour le développement(Igad), l’organe régional de la Corne de l’Afrique. Ces divisions ont participé à la stagnation du processus de paix dans le pays. Le Conseil de paix et de sécurité de l’UA n’a pas encore mis à son ordre du jour les attaques de plus en plus dangereuses des insurgés islamistes dans la province septentrionale mozambicaine de Cabo Delgado ou la crise anglophone au Cameroun, qui couve depuis 2017.

Concernant les évolutions institutionnelles, l’année 2020 a vu l’élargissement du rôle du Bureau de l’UA, un groupe de cinq dirigeants (issus de chacune des régions géographiques de l’UA) dont les missions étaient administratives et se limitaient principalement à l’organisation du sommet de l’UA. Sous la direction de Ramaphosa, les tâches du bureau ont pris un caractère plus politique. En convoquant régulièrement le bureau pour gérer la pandémie, Ramaphosa a conféré un rôle d’encadrement au groupe à l’échelle du continent. Le groupe a établi sa légitimité à intervenir sur des questions de paix et de sécurité lorsqu’il a arbitré, en juin, un conflit tendu entre l’Egypte, l’Ethiopie et le Soudan concernant le Grand barrage de la renaissance éthiopienne (Gerd). Il reste à voir si pendant son mandat à venir à la tête de l’organisation, Félix Tshisekedi conservera et consolidera ce nouveau rôle du bureau en faveur de la paix et de la sécurité.

L’année 2021 sera tout aussi importante que 2020 pour le continent, puisque la pandémie continue de faire rage. Les responsables espèrent que l’apparition de la zone de libre-échange continentale africaine, devenue effective le 1er janvier 2021, contribuera à stimuler le commerce africain et à contrebalancer l’impact économique majeur de la Covid-19. La pandémie et les élections de la commission seront certainement au cœur des préoccupations lors de ce sommet et sont, bien évidemment, des questions essentielles pour l’UA. Cependant, l’UA devrait dégager du temps pour aborder une série de points urgents en matière de paix et de sécurité. Alors que de nouveaux dirigeants reprennent le flambeau, les huit priorités pour 2021 sont les suivantes :

1. Veiller au succès de l’élection de la Commission de l’UA ;

2. Limiter les dégâts du chaos électoral en République centrafricaine ;

3. Gérer les répercussions du conflit au Tigré en Ethiopie ;

4. Saisir une occasion de s’impliquer en Libye ;

5. Redonner la priorité aux stratégies politiques au Sahel ;

6. Soutenir la Somalie pendant ses élections et au-delà ;

7. Se réengager pour soutenir la transition au Soudan ; et

8. Attirer l’attention sur les risques sécuritaires inhérents au changement climatique.


Cette liste n’est pas exhaustive, mais elle met en exergue les situations dans lesquelles le rôle de l’UA peut se révéler déterminant cette année. Le continent est confronté à d’énormes défis, d’autant plus avec la Covid-19 qui a détourné l’attention des conflits les plus urgents et perturbé les cycles de financement en faveur des initiatives de développement et de sécurité. Dans la mesure où elle recevra probablement moins de financements de la part des Etats membres comme des partenaires internationaux, la capacité de l’UA à faire face à certaines des crises, en particulier par la voie politique, sera plus importante que jamais.


I. Veiller au succès de l’élection de la Commission de l’UA


En 2021, la Commission de l’UA élira les candidates ou candidats à la présidence, à la vice-présidence et les six commissaires. Il s’agira des premières élections organisées après des réformes institutionnelles qui ont fait passer le nombre de commissaires de huit à six, alors que quatre départements ont fusionné pour ne plus en former que deux ; les départements Affaires politiques et Paix et sécurité ne font plus qu’un, tout comme les départements Affaires économiques et Infrastructure et énergie. Pour éviter que les travaux de la commission ne soient interrompus, en particulier en matière de paix et de sécurité, cette transition devra absolument s’opérer en douceur.

Le vote est habituellement à bulletin secret mais, cette année, étant donné les mesures sanitaires liées à la Covid-19, ces élections se tiendront en ligne. Néanmoins, certains Etats ne sont pas à l’aise avec ce procédé inhabituel et remettent en question la fiabilité d’un bulletin secret électronique. Si les élections n’avaient pas lieu, pour quelque raison que ce soit, elles seraient reportées en juin 2021, à l’occasion de la réunion de coordination des organismes régionaux, ou même au prochain sommet des chefs d’Etat au début de 2022. Un tel délai risque de maintenir l’attention sur la campagne électorale et de faire perdre de vue les travaux de paix et de sécurité essentiels pour lesquels la commission est mandatée.

Le président sortant, Moussa Faki Mahamat, est le seul candidat à sa propre succession. S’il est réélu, il sera le premier président à obtenir un second, et dernier, mandat. Au cours de sa présidence, Moussa Faki s’est résolument attaché à la prévention et la résolution de conflits et a renforcé les relations de l’UA avec des partenaires multilatéraux – l’ONU et l’Union européenne (UE). Il a en outre coordonné la réponse africaine à la pandémie de manière proactive. A l’avenir, toutes ces questions seront des points importants à l’ordre du jour de la commission.

Si les élections ont lieu, le résultat pourrait encore être retardé, dépendant du résultat de l’élection à la présidence. Il est possible que Faki n’obtienne pas la majorité des deux tiers requise pour se voir confier un second mandat. Certains Etats membres sont préoccupés par les accusations qui font état d’une culture de harcèlement sexuel, de corruption et d’intimidation au sein de la commission, pendant sa présidence. Faki a formé un comité spécial en 2018 pour enquêter sur les allégations de harcèlement au sein de la commission, et a fermement rejeté les plaintes portées contre lui pour népotisme et corruption. Il a également rencontré, dans certains cas, des difficultés à combler le fossé entre les groupes anglophone et francophone de l’UA, qui s’était creusé pendant le mandat de son prédécesseur. Les Etats du sud de l’Afrique sont particulièrement méfiants à l’égard de sa relation avec la France, qu’ils estiment étroite. Le règlement actuellement en vigueur stipule que si suffisamment d’Etats s’abstiennent et que Faki n’obtient pas le nombre de voix nécessaire, la commission devra reporter les élections jusqu’au prochain sommet, ce qui implique une période d’incertitude pouvant aller jusqu’à douze mois. Si les élections sont suspendues, l’UA devrait éviter un report tardif et s’arranger pour organiser des nouvelles élections le plus tôt possible.

Dans le cadre des réformes internes, la commission a déjà sélectionné des candidats pour les élections, conformément au nouveau règlement. Un panel d’éminents Africains a ébauché la liste des compétences requises pour chaque poste et a sélectionné des candidats, lesquels sont tous nommés par les Etats membres, sur la base de critères convenus. Toutefois, étant donné que moins d’un tiers des candidats nommés pour les six postes de commissaires étaient des femmes, seules huit des 25 personnes sélectionnées sont des femmes, ce qui signifie que pour un poste, il n’y a pas de candidate et pour deux autres, il n’y en a qu’une. La prochaine fois, les Etats membres de l’UA devraient s’assurer qu’ils nomment des candidates solides dans le cadre de ce processus.

Quelle que soit la personne choisie pour occuper le poste de commissaire pour le nouveau département des Affaires politiques et de la Paix et de la sécurité, elle devra être particulièrement attentive à la gestion de la fusion entre les deux anciens départements. Ce processus, qui concernera probablement de nombreux membres du personnel et impliquera des coupes budgétaires, risque de prendre plusieurs années et pourrait miner le moral des effectifs. Celui ou celle qui sera élue commissaire devrait s’assurer que les recrutements sont réalisés en toute ouverture et transparence, en particulier pour les postes de direction, et que les réductions de personnel et les coupes budgétaires sont communiquées clairement et gérées avec la rigueur et la sensibilité requises. Si le commissaire investit rapidement dans des cadres et processus clairs pour chaque département, cela améliorera l’environnement de travail et permettra au nouveau département de déployer tout son potentiel.


II. Limiter les dégâts du chaos électoral en République centrafricaine


A quelques jours des scrutins présidentiel et législatif du 27 décembre 2020, des combats opposant le gouvernement à six principaux groupes armés ont éclaté en République centrafricaine (RCA). Ces violences ont porté un coup dur à l’accord de paix de 2019 parrainé par l’UA que le gouvernement a conclu avec quatorze groupes armés, parmi lesquels figuraient les six groupes qui participent actuellement aux hostilités. Le 4 janvier, en plein conflit, l’organe électoral national a déclaré que le président sortant, Faustin-Archange Touadéra, avait remporté les élections. La Cour constitutionnelle a confirmé sa victoire le 18 janvier. L’opposition politique a plaidé pour une annulation du vote, arguant que la recrudescence des combats avait entravé la campagne électorale et empêché plus de la moitié des électeurs inscrits sur les listes de voter. L’UA et la Communauté économique des Etats de l’Afrique centrale (Ceeac), qui ont toutes deux reconnu la victoire de Touadéra, sont les garantes de l’accord de 2019. Elles doivent faire en sorte que l’accord de paix ne soit pas davantage fragilisé, en cherchant un consensus entre le gouvernement et l’opposition et en ramenant les belligérants autour de la table des négociations.

Depuis des décennies, la RCA est en proie à l’instabilité. En 2013, une prise de pouvoir violente a déclenché une crise qui s’est prolongée jusqu’à aujourd’hui. En mars 2013, la Séléka, une coalition de groupes armés insurgés, a évincé François Bozizé, qui était alors président et a ensuite contribué à créer des milices locales « anti-balaka » pour combattre les rebelles. Après la fin de la guerre, en 2014, la Séléka et les milices anti-balaka ont éclaté en plusieurs factions poursuivant leurs propres intérêts. En 2019, après une série d’accords infructueux, l’UA a dégagé un accord qui suscité de nouveaux espoirs de paix. Malgré cela, la violence a persisté alors que les groupes armés et le gouvernement marchandaient concernant la mise en œuvre de l’accord, notamment sur l’établissement lent d’unités mixtes de sécurité que le gouvernement et l’ONU voient comme une première étape vers le désarmement.

Les tensions entre le gouvernement et l’opposition politique, devenue de plus en plus hostile au président Touadéra au cours de l’année écoulée, ont conduit à une nouvelle flambée de violences. Le 3 décembre 2020, la Cour constitutionnelle a rejeté la candidature présidentielle de Bozizé, ce qui a déclenché une spirale d’évènements qui ont finalement tourné au conflit armé. Lorsque la cour a statué, Bozizé faisait partie de la principale alliance d’opposition et n’appelait pas à la violence. Mais au fil du mois, il est apparu clairement qu’il était associé à une nouvelle coalition composée de six des plus grands groupes armés (comprenant des groupes de l’ex-Séléka qui avaient auparavant lutté contre Bozizé et d’anciens groupes anti-balaka), laquelle a manifesté son intention de perturber le scrutin. Les combats se sont étendus, et les groupes armés ont gagné du terrain alors qu’ils avançaient vers Bangui, la capitale. Les troupes russes et rwandaises sont intervenues aux côtés de l’armée nationale et des Casques bleus pour chasser les rebelles des villes de province et repousser plusieurs attaques sur Bangui, la capitale. Néanmoins, le gouvernement et ses alliés restent à la merci d’un ennemi insaisissable qui bloque les routes d’approvisionnement menant à Bangui, provoquant des pénuries alimentaires dans la capitale.

Il est essentiel de faire revenir le gouvernement et les groupes armés à la table des négociations, mais l’expansion des combats ne facilite pas les choses. Le chaos qui a entouré les élections fait vaciller l’espoir du gouvernement d’asseoir sa légitimité. Néanmoins le soutien extérieur qu’il a reçu et sa capacité à obtenir des financements constitue probablement une source de satisfaction pour le président Touadéra. Les groupes armés ne sont pas parvenus à suspendre complètement les élections, mais ils ont prouvé qu’ils pouvaient être des éléments perturbateurs en paralysant le vote dans les provinces et en se rapprochant de la capitale. En résumé : les deux camps peuvent se targuer d’une certaine victoire. A court terme, il est dès lors peu probable que des négociations semblables à celles de 2019 se renouvellent.

L’UA et la Ceeac doivent être prêtes à faciliter les négociations entre des groupes armés et les responsables gouvernementaux. Elles devraient établir des contacts avec les chefs de chaque groupe armé séparément afin d’appréhender leurs intentions et intérêts propres, notamment quant à la manière dont le gouvernement pourrait encore les intégrer dans les unités mixtes de sécurité, les arracher à la sphère d’influence de Bozizé et aider à pacifier des zones instables à temps pour le deuxième tour des élections législatives, prévu dans les semaines à venir.

S’appuyant sur ses relations avec les chefs des groupes armés et sur son expérience de médiation en RCA, acquise au cours de ces deux dernières années, l’UA devrait demander une aide technique et logistique auprès d’autres partenaires comme l’ONU et l’UE pour appuyer ses efforts. L’UA devrait par ailleurs essayer de faciliter des pourparlers pour que Bozizé et Touadéra s’entretiennent, même à distance, car l’hostilité qu’ils nourrissent l’un pour l’autre alimente les tensions entre leurs groupes ethniques respectifs. Par la suite, l’UA pourrait convoquer une réunion des signataires de l’accord de 2019 afin d’en réaffirmer les principales dispositions. Pour l’heure, toutefois, la priorité pour les partenaires africains de la RCA est de limiter les dégâts du chaos électoral.


III. Gérer les répercussions du conflit au Tigré en Ethiopie


L’UA, dont le siège se trouve à Addis-Abeba, n’a que rarement émis des commentaires sur la politique intérieure de l’Ethiopie, car ce pays connait une stabilité relative depuis une trentaine d’années. Aujourd’hui, à la suite d’une montée des tensions liées à des divisions à la fois ethniques et fédérales qui ont conduit à l’éclatement d’un conflit début novembre dans la région septentrionale du Tigré, l’UA commence à donner de la voix. A mesure que la communauté internationale prend connaissance des détails de la guerre au Tigré, l’UA se voit contrainte de s’impliquer davantage en Ethiopie.

Le conflit au Tigré est probablement l’un des conflits majeurs du continent. D’après un rapport de l’ONU, des milliers de personnes sont mortes dans les combats, et quelque 4,5 millions de Tigréens ont désormais besoin d’une aide humanitaire, selon un rapport de l’ONU. Depuis avril 2018, la tension montait entre Addis-Abeba et Mekele, la capitale du Tigré. A l’époque, le Premier ministre Abiy Ahmed était arrivé au pouvoir à la faveur de contestations populaires, ce qui a mis fin à la prédominance du Front populaire de libération du Tigré (FPLT), le parti qui gouvernait la région du Tigré, au sein de la coalition au pouvoir depuis 1991. L’élément déclencheur de la guerre au Tigré fut le rapt, par les forces tigréennes, d’unités militaires fédérales dans la région, après un litige constitutionnel sur le droit du Tigré à organiser des élections de manière autonome. Le 3 novembre, Abiy a ordonné à l’armée nationale d’évincer le FPLT du pouvoir dans le Tigré.

Bien que des troupes fédérales se soient emparées de Mekele fin novembre et qu’elles contrôlent désormais la plupart des grandes villes, les combats se poursuivent dans certaines zones de la région, et la plupart des dirigeants tigréens recherchés sont en fuite. L’accès au Tigré reste strictement limité, et Addis-Abeba n’a accepté de laisser passer l’aide humanitaire que dans les zones contrôlées par le gouvernement fédéral, alors que l’administration temporaire en place dans le Tigré fait état d’au moins deux millions de personnes déplacées dans la région. On pourrait assister à une catastrophe humanitaire si l’aide alimentaire essentielle reste bloquée.

Les hauts responsables de l’UA ont exhorté Abiy à envisager le dialogue. Le président de la Commission de l’UA, Moussa Faki, a publié un communiqué peu de temps après l’intervention fédérale dans le Tigré, faisant part de son inquiétude et appelant les parties à entamer des pourparlers. Toujours en novembre, le président de l’UA, Cyril Ramaphosa, a dépêché trois envoyés de haut niveau – les anciens présidents Joaquim Chissano du Mozambique, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf du Libéria et Kgalema Motlanthe d’Afrique du Sud – à Addis-Abeba, où ils ont rencontré des hauts responsables fédéraux en vue d’apaiser les tensions. Le gouvernement fédéral n’a toutefois pas autorisé l’accès au Tigré à ces émissaires de l’UA. Au cours d’une réunion, Abiy a rejeté leurs requêtes de pourparlers avec le FPLT, critiquant l’ingérence internationale dans ce qu’il décrit comme une « opération de maintien de l’ordre ». Par ailleurs, la crise au Tigré ne figure pas encore à l’ordre du jour du Conseil de paix et de sécurité de l’UA. Il est peu probable qu’elle apparaisse parmi les points à aborder tant que l’Ethiopie y siègera, c’est-à-dire jusqu’en 2022.

Malgré les difficultés rencontrées, le déploiement d’envoyés de l’UA est une initiative utile. Un domaine dans lequel les envoyés pourraient jouer un rôle positif est l’urgence humanitaire au Tigré. Ils devraient, en effet, soutenir l’ONU et l’UE dans leurs efforts pour obtenir un accès humanitaire sans entrave à l’ensemble de la région, et dissiper ainsi la crainte que l’aide ne parvienne pas à des millions de personnes. L’UA devrait appuyer l’appel de l’UE en faveur d’un accès immédiat, inconditionnel et sans restriction au Tigré pour les travailleurs humanitaires. Par ailleurs, les envoyés devraient se préoccuper de la situation des droits humains dans la région. Malgré le signalement de graves violations commises par différentes parties, le gouvernement éthiopien rejette les demandes d’enquêtes indépendantes. Les envoyés devraient, en partenariat avec l’UE, exhorter Addis-Abeba à autoriser ces enquêtes.

Au-delà de l’urgence de la situation dans le Tigré, l’UA devrait inciter le gouvernement fédéral à adopter des mesures de conciliation envers les opposants des autres régions afin d’y atténuer les crises, en particulier à Oromia, la région la plus peuplée d’Ethiopie. La Commission de l’UA soutient déjà le ministère de la Paix éthiopien pour initier le dialogue à petite échelle et résoudre les conflits locaux dans le pays, mais elle devrait agir davantage à un niveau supérieur. Elle pourrait par exemple faire pression sur Addis-Abeba afin qu’elle amnistie les chefs d’opposition emprisonnés. De manière générale, un dialogue national global et inclusif reste la meilleure piste pour résoudre des conflits destructeurs et interconnectés, dont certains sont liés à un système ethno-fédéral qui délègue le pouvoir à des régions administratives définies sur des bases ethniques. L’UA, d’autres dirigeants africains et les partenaires internationaux devraient faire tout ce qui est en leur pouvoir pour encourager le Premier ministre Abiy à emprunter la voie du dialogue.


IV. Saisir une occasion de s’impliquer en Libye


Le cessez-le-feu libyen, résultat d’un accord signé par les belligérants le 23 octobre 2020 à Genève, est fragile. Il tient, mais la mise en œuvre élargie de l’accord se fait attendre. Les négociations facilitées par l’ONU se poursuivent sur des questions politiques et économiques importantes, mais les tensions restent vives et sans consensus sur ces points, le cessez-le-feu pourrait être compromis. L’UA estime à juste titre que la Libye est un pays essentiel à la stabilité de l’Afrique du Nord, mais aussi à celle du Sahara, du Sahel, et d’autres régions. Elle s’est longtemps plainte d’être tenue à l’écart des efforts visant à mettre un terme au conflit libyen. Cette tentative récente de mener des négociations nationales marque une nouvelle étape dans le processus de paix libyen. Pour l’UA, il s’agit d’une opportunité à saisir pour jouer un rôle.

Pour beaucoup de responsables de l’UA et de diplomates africains, la Libye est source de contentieux depuis qu’une résolution du Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU adoptée en 2011, tout en prenant acte des appels de l’UA à privilégier le dialogue politique, a finalement approuvé une intervention militaire. Quasi immédiatement après l’adoption de la résolution, trois membres permanents du Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU – la France, les Etats-Unis et le Royaume-Uni – ont abandonné l’option diplomatique promue par l’UA. En lieu et place de celle-ci, ils ont lancé une opération militaire sous conduite de l’Otan, qui a outrepassé son mandat de protection des civils en évinçant du pouvoir le dirigeant libyen de l’époque, Mouammar Kadhafi. Les trois membres africains du Conseil de sécurité d’alors (l’Afrique du Sud, le Gabon et le Nigéria) ne sont pas parvenus à faire front commun, en raison des attitudes divergentes des Etats membres de l’UA à l’égard de Kadhafi, ce qui a contribué à affaiblir les appels de l’UA en faveur de négociations politiques.

Depuis lors, l’UA a été écartée du processus de paix libyen pour plusieurs raisons. En premier lieu, le continent est divisé quant à la faction à soutenir dans la guerre interne qui a éclaté en 2014, qui est elle-même liée à la politique et aux rivalités régionales. En outre, l’ONU joue un rôle de chef de file. L’organisation mondiale dirige une mission politique spéciale intégrée, la Mission d’appui des Nations unies en Libye (Manul), et le Conseil de sécurité a mandaté une série d’envoyés spéciaux du Secrétaire général pour piloter des efforts de rétablissement de la paix. En 2020, le conseil a rejeté les propositions visant à nommer un envoyé conjoint ONU-UA.

Aujourd’hui, l’UA a l’occasion de soutenir plus activement le processus politique délicat piloté par l’ONU et peut-être aussi la réalisation des conditions du cessez-le-feu. La nomination récente du diplomate zimbabwéen respecté Raisedon Zenenga à la coordination de la Manul est un bon point de départ pour l’UA. Néanmoins, l’UA sera confrontée à un certain nombre de défis alors qu’elle se prépare à renforcer son soutien au processus de paix en Libye.

Tout d’abord, l’UA doit déterminer en quoi sa contribution au processus libyen peut changer la donne. Sur le plan politique, elle pourrait appuyer les négociations menées actuellement par l’ONU en tirant parti de son influence pour amener des Libyens à la table des négociations, en particulier ceux qui disposent de contacts haut placés dans les capitales africaines. Cette option serait préférable à l’organisation par l’UA d’une conférence de réconciliation séparée, une idée évoquée depuis longtemps, mais qui ne fait pas l’unanimité.

Par ailleurs, l’UA devrait porter son attention sur les élections prévues le 24 décembre 2021. Si la médiation suit son cours, l’ONU jouera un rôle clé pour contribuer à organiser le scrutin, et l’UA devrait observer les élections. S’agissant de la mise en œuvre du cessez-le-feu, l’UA devrait proposer d’envoyer des observateurs, même s’ils sont peu nombreux, pour composer ce qui sera probablement une petite équipe d’observation opérant sous l’égide de l’ONU. L’accord de cessez-le-feu envisage aussi le retrait des combattants étrangers de Libye, notamment divers groupes armés du Soudan et du Tchad qui sont employés par les coalitions militaires rivales. Les observateurs africains du cessez-le-feu devraient, en coordination avec l’ONU, se préparer dès à présent à la démobilisation de ces groupes afin de s’assurer qu’ils ne deviennent pas mercenaires dans d’autres conflits proches ou qu’ils ne sèment pas le trouble dans leur pays d’origine.

L’UA doit rationaliser ses activités opérationnelles concernant la Libye. En effet, une multitude d’organes de l’UA s’occupent du dossier libyen, notamment un Comité ad hoc de haut niveau, une envoyée spéciale du président de la Commission de l’UA, un bureau de liaison et un groupe de contact international créé lors du sommet de février 2020. Bien que chacun de ces organes apportent une pierre importante à l’édifice, ils risquent également de dupliquer les efforts puisque certains mandats se chevauchent. L’UA doit clarifier la répartition du travail entre ses différentes émanations, et coordonner étroitement ses efforts avec les membres africains du Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU.

Enfin, l’UA devrait s’assurer qu’elle dispose de capacités suffisantes pour suivre l’évolution de la situation et s’impliquer pleinement. Lors de son sommet de février 2020, l’Assemblée de l’UA a décidé de transformer son bureau de liaison en mission en Libye et de la doter des capacités politiques, diplomatiques et militaires nécessaires. L’UA devrait mettre sa décision en œuvre rapidement. Elle devrait également fournir des canaux de communication clairs et efficaces vers son siège d’Addis-Abeba afin de le tenir informé de l’évolution de la situation.


V. Redonner la priorité aux stratégies politiques au Sahel


Alors que les violences persistent dans une grande partie du Sahel, il est urgent de repenser la stabilisation de cette région. L’année 2020 y a été l’année la plus meurtrière depuis des décennies. Elle a été marquée par une montée en flèche des violences intercommunautaires dont les jihadistes et les milices ont profité pour générer encore davantage d’insécurité. Le coup d’Etat d’août 2020 au Mali, survenu à la suite de manifestations populaires contre la corruption et l’insécurité, illustre la profonde colère des populations vis-à-vis de leurs gouvernements. Bien que la question de la gouvernance soit une source croissante de préoccupation, la réponse de l’UA, à l’instar de celle des puissances occidentales, s’est récemment orientée vers une action militaire. L’UA prévoit d’envoyer une force au Sahel en appui à la force conjointe du G5 Sahel, une coalition ad hoc composée du Burkina Faso, du Mali, de la Mauritanie, du Niger et du Tchad.

Le 27 février 2020, le commissaire à la Paix et à la Sécurité de l’UA, Smaïl Chergui, a annoncé que l’UA déploierait 3 000 soldats au Sahel. Des sources internes à l’UA indiquent que ceux-ci seront affectés à la zone des trois frontières (Mali, Niger et Burkina Faso) du Liptako-Gourma, où les opérations jihadistes sont les plus intenses. Les détails relatifs au fonctionnement de la force, notamment ses mécanismes de financement et les pays qui fourniront des contingents, ne sont pas encore arrêtés. Le concept d’opérations est encore en cours d’élaboration.

Trouver une source de financement pour une telle force sera probablement difficile. Les contributions des Etats africains au Fonds pour la paix de l’UA arrivant bien plus lentement qu’espéré, l’UA a décidé de reporter la date butoir pour atteindre l’objectif de 400 millions de dollars pour la période 2021-2023. Elle ne puisera probablement pas dans ce fonds avant que ce montant soit atteint. La Communauté économique des Etats de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (Cedeao) pourrait apporter un financement, étant donné son engagement pris en 2019 d’affecter 1 milliard de dollars à la lutte contre le terrorisme au Sahel, mais il est peu probable que ces fonds soient alloués rapidement, puisque la Cedeao doit encore les rassembler. Le Nigéria et le Ghana ont déjà critiqué ce qu’ils estiment être un manque de coordination entre la Cedeao et l’UA concernant l’élaboration de cette force. Les éventuels bailleurs en dehors du continent sont également sceptiques.

Même si la force de l’UA était finalement déployée, elle ne permettrait sans doute pas d’améliorer la sécurité dans une région déjà saturée d’opérations militaires qui n’ont, jusqu’à présent, pas pu apporter de paix durable. La plus-value de l’envoi de soldats supplémentaires au Sahel est loin d’être garantie. En réalité, cela pourrait même avoir l’effet inverse. Les exactions commises par les forces de sécurité nationales, qui se sont souvent alliées à des groupes d’autodéfense locaux et des milices ethniques, ont déclenché des conflits entre communautés opposées qui sont aujourd’hui plus meurtriers que toute autre forme de violence au Sahel.

Au lieu de renforcer « l’embouteillage » sécuritaire dans la région, l’UA devrait élaborer une stratégie politique pour le Sahel, pilotée par l’Afrique, et qui se concentrerait sur les causes profondes de l’insécurité. Elle devrait finaliser le plan de stabilisation de la région et entreprendre une navette diplomatique renforcée avec les gouvernements du G5 pour qu’ils contribuent au document. Cette nouvelle stratégie devrait mettre l’accent sur la nécessité, pour les Etats sahéliens, de restaurer leur crédibilité auprès des communautés rurales, notamment par le biais d’efforts visant à résoudre les conflits locaux, apaiser les tensions locales et mieux réglementer l’accès aux ressources locales. Les Etats du Sahel devraient en outre s’ouvrir à l’idée de dialoguer avec les communautés hostiles aux autorités, y compris celles qui sont soupçonnées d’abriter des jihadistes. Les Etats sont contraints d’avoir recours à la force pour lutter contre les groupes jihadistes, mais les opérations militaires devraient s’inscrire dans un plan de stabilisation et ne pas constituer une fin en soi.

Parallèlement, les efforts pour maintenir sur la bonne voie la transition post-coup d’État au Mali seront essentiels à la stabilité régionale. L’UA devrait utiliser son siège au Groupe de suivi et de soutien à la transition au Mali (GST-Mali), établi par la Cedeao, pour coordonner l’appui international fourni pour les dix-huit mois de transition du pays vers un régime démocratique. En collaboration étroite avec la Cedeao et les Nations unies, l’UA devrait faire pression sur les autorités de Bamako pour s’assurer qu’au cours de cette période, le Mali atteint les objectifs fixés. L’UA et ses partenaires devraient plus particulièrement s’assurer que les autorités tiennent leurs promesses de lutter contre la corruption, de distribuer les postes gouvernementaux de manière équitable, sans consolider le pouvoir de l’armée, et d’avancer dans les préparatifs électoraux selon le calendrier établi.

L’UA devrait également tirer parti de son envoyé spécial pour la région, une fois qu’il sera nommé, pour intensifier le dialogue avec les différents groupes politiques maliens et les partis politiques naissants qui souhaitent prendre part aux élections. Le poste d’envoyé spécial pour le Mali et le Sahel est vacant depuis la démission, en novembre 2020, de Pierre Buyoya (décédé depuis) et ne sera probablement pas pourvu avant que le nouveau président de l’UA ait été élu. En tout premier lieu, le président entrant devrait nommer un nouvel envoyé doté de l’assise suffisante pour collaborer avec Bamako et les partenaires internationaux, et son équipe devrait être élargie en conséquence. Si possible, l’envoyé devrait être basé au Mali.


VI. Soutenir la Somalie pendant ses élections et au-delà


Une élection présidentielle controversée doit se tenir en Somalie le 8 février prochain, à peine un jour après la fin du sommet de l’UA, mais les craintes que la violence éclate pendant la campagne électorale rendent ce scrutin de plus en plus incertain. Le pays est sur des charbons ardents depuis décembre. A l’époque, les élections législatives qui auraient dû lancer le cycle électoral ont été reportées à la dernière minute. Les relations entre le gouvernement fédéral somalien et certaines régions du pays, ou Etats membres fédérés, qui s’étaient dégradées ces dernières années en raison de désaccords sur le partage du pouvoir, se sont encore envenimées suite à des différends sur l’organisation des élections. Le groupe insurgé islamiste al-Shabaab, qui a renforcé ses attaques en Somalie au cours des derniers mois, et l’Etat islamique en Somalie, pourraient tous deux exploiter les troubles liés aux élections. Si des combats éclatent, l’UA et sa mission militaire, l’Amisom, seront appelées pour apaiser la situation.

L’Amisom s’attelle déjà à renforcer la coopération avec les forces armées locales pour contribuer à sécuriser des zones déterminées dans lesquelles des notables de clans et des délégués électoraux iront voter. L’UA devrait jouer un rôle de médiation en cas de violence. Elle devrait s’associer à la Mission d’assistance des Nations Unies en Somalie (Manusom) pour coordonner toutes les initiatives de dialogue et ainsi s’assurer qu’elle complète les efforts de l’ONU, sans les dédoubler.

Cette année, l’UA devra par ailleurs préparer l’avenir de l’Amisom. Cette mission, déployée sur le terrain depuis 2007, subit une pression financière croissante à l’approche du renouvellement de son mandat, le 28 février 2021. Le financement de l’Amisom par l’Union européenne, sans lequel la mission ne peut pas fonctionner, doit arriver à son terme en juillet. Actuellement, Bruxelles met la dernière main à ses nouveaux mécanismes de financement en faveur des opérations de paix et de sécurité dans le monde, et les Européens ne sont pas encore en mesure d’indiquer si un renouvellement du financement sera possible.

Le contingent de l’Amisom a déjà été réduit de 3 000 hommes depuis 2017 – ce qui ramène le nombre de soldats déployés autorisés à 19 626 – en prévision de son retrait prévu en 2021, en faveur des forces de sécurité nationales, conformément au plan de transition de la Somalie. L’UA craint, à juste titre, que les forces nationales ne disposent pas encore des capacités nécessaires pour prendre le relais et que le départ prématuré de l’Amisom anéantisse les avancées durement réalisées dans la lutte contre al-Shabaab. La plupart des partenaires internationaux partagent l’inquiétude de l’UA concernant les forces somaliennes, mais rechignent à continuer de financer les opérations de l’Amisom, dont le coût est estimé à 1,2 milliard de dollars par an.

Lors du renouvellement de son mandat, l’Amisom pourrait voir son financement ou ses effectifs réduits. Dans ce contexte, l’UA et ses partenaires devraient faire pression sur Mogadiscio et les Etats membres fédérés pour qu’ils établissent un calendrier cohérent et harmonisé pour la mise en œuvre du plan de transition de la Somalie et le développement des forces de sécurité nationales, en mettant notamment davantage l’accent sur leur capacité à sécuriser les centres urbains. Cela permettrait à l’Amison de se consacrer plus activement à la lutte contre les insurgés d’al-Shabaab. Cette tâche devra probablement attendre la fin des élections car, quelle que soit la nouvelle administration, elle voudra apposer sa marque sur le plan de transition, que le Conseil de paix et de sécurité de l’UA a adopté en avril 2018.

Il est important que l’UA défende fermement ses recommandations politiques auprès du Secrétariat et du Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU avant le renouvellement de mandat de l’Amisom. A tout le moins, l’UA devrait chercher à persuader ses partenaires de demander au Conseil de sécurité d’élargir le rôle de l’Amisom dans l’accompagnement de l’armée nationale, pour développer encore les capacités locales et autonomiser la Somalie dans la sécurisation des centres urbains.

Toutefois, même si l’armée nationale obtenait un soutien supplémentaire de l’Amisom, il est peu probable qu’elle parvienne à prendre le relais de l’opération de soutien à la paix d’ici fin 2021. Dès lors, les partenaires internationaux de la Somalie doivent se préparer à prolonger le mandat et le financement de l’Amisom après 2021. L’UA devrait quant à elle impliquer les partenaires, y compris l’UE, pour définir le nouveau mandat de l’Amisom, et évoquer notamment la possibilité d’une mission allégée davantage axée sur la lutte contre le terrorisme et la planification d’un transfert des responsabilités sécuritaires aux forces locales.


VII. Se réengager pour soutenir la transition au Soudan


Après les mois de contestation qui ont débouché sur l’éviction de l’ancien président Omar el-Béchir, l’UA a joué un rôle central dans les négociations menées pour former le gouvernement intérimaire du Soudan, composé de civils et de militaires. Elle était également témoin signataire de l’accord de paix de Juba, conclu en octobre 2020 entre Khartoum et les mouvements rebelles du Darfour et des régions du Kordofan du Sud et du Nil bleu. Cet accord vise à mettre un terme à des années de conflit civil dans lequel des centaines de milliers de personnes ont péri et que des millions d’autres ont fui. Pour consolider ces avancées, l’UA doit revenir sur son désengagement récent et reprendre son rôle de garante et d’observatrice de la transition, tout en contribuant à négocier l’entrée dans le gouvernement de transition de groupes rebelles qui n’ont pas signé l’accord de Juba.

L’avenir de la révolution soudanaise est en jeu. L’économie approche du point de rupture, ce qui déstabilise l’arrangement fragile entre les civils et les militaires nommés au Conseil souverain créé en août 2019 et qui gouverne le pays. Le cabinet civil pourrait en effet perdre la confiance d’une population très éprouvée par les décennies de gouvernement Béchir et qui attend de lui des résultats sur les plans économique et démocratique. Si les manifestants redescendent dans la rue pour se plaindre de l’absence d’avancées, les acteurs militaires pourraient exploiter l’instabilité ambiante pour élargir leur pouvoir. De fortes pressions s’exercent sur le Premier ministre, Abdallah Hamdok, pour qu’il augmente les dépenses au profit des citoyens ordinaires. Le gouvernement doit faire preuve d’habileté ; il doit libérer des fonds actuellement alloués à des services de sécurité congestionnés ou à des projets inefficaces qui profitent à des personnalités influentes liées à l’ancien régime. Cependant, un excès de réformes pourrait provoquer le mécontentement de ces mêmes personnalités et mettre le cabinet civil en difficulté.

En outre, d’importants groupes rebelles restent en dehors du processus de paix. Le groupe le plus puissant des régions du Kordofan du Sud et du Nil bleu, dirigé par Abdel Aziz Al-Hilu, a refusé de signer l’accord de Juba. C’est également le cas du chef rebelle du Darfour, Abdul Wahid Al-Nour. Abdel Aziz exige des droits à l’autodétermination plus étendus pour les deux régions et une moindre influence de l’armée. Selon Abdul Wahid, l’accord n’est qu’un nouvel exemple de cooptation politique par les autorités centrales qui n’ont pas réussi à régler les causes profondes du conflit au Darfour.

Bien que l’UA ait contribué à dégager l’accord de Juba, elle a refusé de jouer un rôle direct dans les efforts plus larges visant à stabiliser le pays. Etant donné la gravité de la situation au Soudan et la réussite de l’UA à mener le pays à l’accord d’août 2019, l’organisation devrait reprendre un rôle plus proéminent. Elle devrait nommer un envoyé au Soudan, basé au bureau de liaison de l’UA à Khartoum, dont la mission serait d’arbitrer les tensions entre les membres du nouveau gouvernement de transition élargi au Soudan et de les encourager ensuite à respecter les dispositions en suspens des accords de transition et de l’accord de Juba. Celles-ci comprennent les réformes du secteur de la sécurité et de l’économie ainsi que les préparatifs électoraux. L’envoyé pourrait rapporter les sujets de préoccupation au Conseil de paix et de sécurité de l’UA et ouvrir des pourparlers pour faciliter l’entrée d’Abdel Aziz et Abdul Wahid dans la transition.

Le retrait en cours de l’opération hybride Union africaine-Nations unies au Darfour (Minuad), qui laissera probablement un vide sécuritaire dans une zone fragile du pays, est une bonne raison pour l’UA d’intensifier sa médiation politique. Le Darfour est de plus en plus en proie aux conflits communautaires locaux pour l’accès aux ressources, que certains acteurs pourraient exploiter pour pousser les groupes locaux à gagner du pouvoir et de l’influence à Khartoum.


VIII. Attirer l’attention sur les risques sécuritaires inhérents au changement climatique


La crise climatique attire de plus en plus l’attention internationale en amont de la 26e Conférence de l’ONU sur les changements climatiques (COP26), désormais prévue pour novembre 2021, et grâce au retour bienvenu de Washington dans l’accord de Paris. Tirant parti de cette prise de conscience mondiale accrue, les Etats membres de l’UA savent depuis des années que le changement climatique menace les populations de tout le continent. Ils devraient profiter de la conférence pour mettre en évidence les risques de conflits liés à la crise du climat et élaborer des politiques d’adaptation visant à les réduire.

L’avenir climatique de l’Afrique est préoccupant. Comme l’ont montré des scientifiques de l’ONU, des millions d’Africains ont déjà connu des vagues de chaleur sans précédent, des épisodes de précipitations extrêmes et la montée du niveau des océans – des changements qui ont une incidence sur les moyens de subsistance, exacerbent l’insécurité alimentaire, intensifient la compétition pour les ressources, raréfient les réserves d’eau et accélèrent la migration. Selon les prévisions de la Banque mondiale, des dizaines de millions d’Africains devront bientôt quitter leurs foyers en raison du changement climatique, mettant sous pression les villes et les pays qu’ils traverseront pour aller tenter leur chance ailleurs. Des réponses politiques créatives sont donc nécessaires. Alors que la démographie explose, l’eau destinée à l’usage domestique et à l’irrigation deviendra un bien encore plus précieux. Sur le Nil, l’Egypte et l’Ethiopie ont déjà échangé des menaces d’action militaire concernant le Grand barrage de la renaissance éthiopienne. Pour Le Caire, ces menaces représentent un risque vital pour la stabilité et la prospérité du pays, que le changement climatique ne fera qu’accroitre.

Les effets du climat sur les conflits ne sont cependant ni simples ni linéaires, et dépendent fortement de la manière dont les Etats sont gouvernés. Les répercussions des changements climatiques sur les conflits peuvent être très différentes selon la réponse politique apportée. Dans certains cas, l’augmentation des températures et les précipitations inégales génèrent en effet la rareté des ressources et donc des conflits. Comme l’a montré Crisis Group, les sécheresses survenues dans le nord-ouest du Nigéria ont intensifié la compétition de longue date entre éleveurs et agriculteurs pour des ressources qui se tarissent peu à peu. Dans d’autres situations, c’est la réponse gouvernementale au changement climatique qui a accéléré le conflit. Dans le Sahel central, par exemple, les efforts d’adaptation comme les puits creusés et les programmes agricoles déployés sans planification suffisante ont attiré des agriculteurs non autochtones, ce qui a créé des tensions avec les éleveurs nomades locaux et les agriculteurs autochtones. L’UA devrait attirer l’attention sur les risques sécuritaires induits par le changement climatique et lever des fonds pour financer les initiatives d’atténuation, tout en disant clairement que le lien entre le changement climatique et les conflits n’est pas direct et que les gouvernements du continent jouent un rôle essentiel pour minimiser les risques.

L’UA a la lourde tâche de rassembler suffisamment de fonds pour financer les efforts d’adaptation climatique sur le continent. Les gouvernements occidentaux et les entreprises qui s’étaient engagés à générer 100 milliards de dollars par an, à partir de 2020, en faveur de l’atténuation et l’adaptation au changement climatique dans les pays en développement n’ont pas tenu leurs promesses. Les pays riches susceptibles de faire des dons sont plus préoccupés par la réduction des émissions de carbone à long terme que par des efforts plus immédiats d’adaptation climatique pouvant aider les Africains. A cette fin, l’UA doit intensifier sa campagne mondiale pour obtenir de l’aide. En mai 2018, le Conseil de paix et de sécurité de l’UA a demandé que le président de la Commission de l’UA nomme un envoyé spécial en charge du changement climatique et de la sécurité. Ce poste n’est pas encore pourvu. La nomination de l’ancien secrétaire d’Etat américain, John Kerry, au poste d’envoyé des Etats-Unis pour le climat et le plaidoyer des nations européennes en faveur de la désignation d’un représentant spécial de l’ONU pour le climat et la sécurité montrent que l’Afrique a l’attention dont elle a besoin pour présenter ses propres idées et priorités.

Le président de la Commission de l’UA devrait immédiatement nommer un envoyé doté de suffisamment de poids politique pour faire pression sur les acteurs internationaux et soutenir la prévention de conflits liée au climat. L’envoyé travaillerait à promouvoir les intérêts du continent, en particulier dans la préparation d’une position africaine commune en amont de la COP26. Elle ou il pourrait également élaborer des normes contribuant à éviter d’exacerber les conflits locaux à l’heure de financer les mécanismes d’adaptation climatique.


Addis-Abeba/Nairobi/Dakar/Bruxelles, 3 février 2021

 

International Crisis Group, 25 janvier 2021


Treize ans après que le Kosovo a fait sécession de la Serbie, les deux pays restent bloqués dans une non-reconnaissance mutuelle, et tous deux en souffrent. Les parties doivent passer outre les détails pour s’attaquer aux vraies questions : l’indépendance de Pristina et l’influence de Belgrade sur la minorité serbe du Kosovo.


Que se passe-t-il ? Les efforts pour résoudre le conflit persistant entre la Serbie et le Kosovo concernant l’indépendance de ce dernier ont échoué. Les négociations de l’UE ont permis un accord sur des points techniques, mais pas sur les questions politiques essentielles. La médiation proposée mi-2020 par Washington a capoté quand le président du Kosovo, accusé de crimes de guerre, a dû se retirer.

En quoi est-ce significatif ? Le conflit empêche le Kosovo d’adhérer à l’ONU et d’autres institutions internationales, maintient les deux pays en dehors de l’UE, met en danger les communautés minoritaires et entrave la sécurité régionale. Résoudre ce conflit serait une aubaine pour la stabilité dans les Balkans occidentaux et en Europe.

Comment agir ? Les parties devraient rechercher un accord de reconnaissance mutuelle, et les Etats de l’UE indiquer qu’ils soutiendront tout accord respectant droits humains et droit international. Belgrade et Pristina devraient reconnaitre publiquement qu’un compromis est nécessaire. Parallèlement, le Kosovo devrait solliciter une intégration politique, sécuritaire et économique accrue avec ses partenaires.


Synthèse


Le conflit qui oppose le Kosovo à la Serbie dure depuis des décennies. Plus de vingt ans après l’intervention de l’OTAN de 1999 visant à mettre un terme à la brutalité de la Serbie envers les Kosovars albanais, et plus de dix ans après la déclaration d’indépendance de Pristina de 2008, Belgrade et des dizaines d’Etats, dont cinq membres de l’UE, considèrent toujours officiellement le Kosovo comme une province sécessionniste. Tant que le conflit ne sera pas résolu, les portes de l’UE resteront fermées aux deux pays, et le Kosovo sera également exclu de l’ONU et de l’Organisation du traité de l’Atlantique nord. En attendant, Belgrade exerce une influence malvenue au sein du Kosovo.

Pour que la Serbie reconnaisse le Kosovo, il sera probablement nécessaire d’apporter en échange une aide internationale, une plus grande autonomie pour les Kosovars serbes ou un échange territorial — ou éventuellement un soutien accru combiné à l’une des deux dernières options.

Bien qu’elle émette des inquiétudes légitimes liées à la redéfinition de frontières, l’UE ne devrait cependant écarter aucune issue, tant qu’elle respecte les droits humains et le droit international. En parallèle, les Etats-Unis devraient faire en sorte que l'élite politique désorganisée du Kosovo parvienne à une position de négociation viable, et les partenaires du Kosovo devraient l’aider à tisser des liens bilatéraux et multilatéraux en attendant un accord.

Depuis 2006 au moins, Pristina et Belgrade discutent, de manière discontinue, de la manière de normaliser leurs relations. Les deux camps se sont accordés sur de nombreux points, mais achoppent à la question principale : l’indépendance du Kosovo. L’influence continue de la Serbie sur les communautés serbes du Kosovo est une autre question litigieuse. Les régions à majorité serbe du Kosovo, en particulier les quatre municipalités septentrionales qui jouxtent la Serbie, ne sont encore que partiellement intégrées et pourraient être une poudrière.

Les Serbes élus au parlement du Kosovo et nommés à des postes gouvernementaux suivent ouvertement les ordres de Belgrade. Cette influence, combinée aux conséquences de la non-reconnaissance du Kosovo par Belgrade, est une source d’irritation constante pour les Kosovars. Cela leur rappelle en effet qu’ils ne se sont pas encore tout à fait libérés de la Serbie. Une adhésion à l’UE serait bénéfique pour Belgrade comme pour Pristina, mais celle-ci leur est bloquée, à tout le moins dans les faits, tant que le conflit se poursuit.

Une médiation entre les deux parties, entamée en 2011 sous la conduite de l’UE, a donné lieu à des progrès hésitants sur des points techniques, mais a échoué sur les questions qui sont au cœur du différend politique. En 2018, les présidents des deux pays ont laissé entrevoir une avancée potentielle fondée sur une proposition d’échange de territoires, mais une controverse nationale et une opposition émanant du sein même de l’UE ont fait capoter cet accord. Le dialogue piloté par l’UE a été réactivé en juillet 2020, en parallèle d’un effort américain, mais ce nouvel élan diplomatique a essuyé des revers majeurs.

Alors que le président serbe, Aleksandar Vučić, semble intéressé par un accord, son homologue kosovar, l’ancien président Hashim Thaçi, est poursuivi pour crimes de guerre, laissant le gouvernement de Pristina dans le désarroi et sans défenseur de poids pour parvenir à un accord négocié. Avec Thaçi sur la touche, le sommet organisé en septembre à la Maison-Blanche était principalement symbolique.

Dans ce contexte, la marge de manœuvre pour dégager un accord exhaustif qui résolve la question de l’indépendance du Kosovo est étroite et peu claire. Cela ne sera possible que si Belgrade et Pristina adoptent une approche très différente de celle qu’ils ont eue jusqu’à présent. La constitution serbe exige que tout accord octroyant l’indépendance au Kosovo soit approuvé par référendum, mais les responsables politiques n’ont rien fait pour préparer les électeurs aux compromis nécessaires à un accord. Le Kosovo ne doit pas satisfaire aux mêmes exigences constitutionnelles, mais ses dirigeants pourraient décider de soumettre un accord au vote pour lui conférer de la légitimité, et quoi qu’il en soit, ils devraient préparer la population kosovare aux concessions requises. Chaque camp devra en effet avoir l’honnêteté de dire à ses citoyens qu’il ne sera pas possible d’obtenir un accord dans lequel seules ses conditions sont prises en compte.

Quant à la forme que pourrait prendre ce compromis, trois possibilités se dégagent. L’une consisterait à accorder des faveurs à la Serbie — une injection d’aide au développement de la part des bailleurs et une adhésion accélérée à l’UE — qui seraient le prix à payer pour la reconnaissance. La deuxième serait de troquer la reconnaissance serbe contre la création de nouveaux districts autonomes pour les Serbes du Kosovo et les Albanais de Serbie. La troisième serait de revenir à l’approche des échanges de territoires qui étaient au cœur du projet d’accord en 2018.

Aucune de ces options n’est la panacée. S’agissant de la première, au vu des dynamiques internes, l’UE pourrait tout bonnement être dans l’impossibilité de promettre une adhésion accélérée, et les incitations matérielles ne suffiront probablement pas à régler une question inhérente à l’identité politique de la Serbie. Des deux autres, l’autonomie apparait comme le meilleur choix, puisque cela a fonctionné ailleurs en Europe et qu’il génère des soutiens parmi les Etats membres de l’UE. Toutefois, cette option est aussi celle qui semble susciter les réactions les plus acerbes chez les parties concernées elles-mêmes.

Les dirigeants kosovars y semblent particulièrement opposés ; sans doute craignent-ils qu’elle ne mène à une gouvernance sclérosée, comme celle qu’ils observent en Bosnie-Herzégovine, toute proche, où la plupart des décisions doivent être prises de concert par les deux entités et les trois principaux groupes ethniques. D’un autre côté, des gouvernements européens, en particulier les Allemands, s’inquiètent à juste titre du précédent que pourrait créer une redéfinition des frontières en termes de déstabilisation pour les Balkans, mais pas seulement.

Pour l’heure, Bruxelles devrait s’atteler à encourager une négociation dans laquelle les parties sont libres d’explorer tout accord qui respecte les droits humains et le droit international, en gardant à l’esprit qu’il sera nécessaire d’obtenir le soutien de la population nationale. Tant l’UE que les Etats-Unis ont un rôle à jouer dans cet effort. L’UE devrait déterminer si elle peut modifier sa position commune afin de fixer deux objectifs clairs : parvenir à un accord final fondé sur la reconnaissance mutuelle (ce que les cinq Etats de l’UE qui ne reconnaissent pas le Kosovo ont jusqu’à présent repoussé) et préciser que ses médiateurs sont tenus d’entendre les discussions portant sur l’autonomie ou sur des échanges. Quant aux Etats-Unis, ils devraient travailler avec le gouvernement du Kosovo à l’élaboration d’une stratégie de négociation viable, reposant sur la notion que la reconnaissance est possible, mais qu’elle nécessitera des concessions.

Enfin, dans l’immédiat, les partenaires extérieurs du Kosovo devraient se préparer à la possibilité que les négociations se prolongent sans aboutir à une résolution. Dans ce cas, la meilleure stratégie pourrait consister à chercher des pistes permettant au Kosovo de poursuivre son intégration aux institutions internationales prêtes à l’accueillir et de renforcer ses liens économiques, sécuritaires et politiques avec le reste du monde. Ils peuvent aussi rediriger une plus grande partie de leurs investissements dans les Balkans et de leur aide vers Pristina. Cela permettrait par ailleurs de rappeler à Belgrade qu’elle ne peut en permanence opposer son véto à l’avenir du Kosovo. Ces liens n’apporteront pas la stabilité que seul un accord politique sur son indépendance offrira, mais en contribuant à apaiser la frustration et les rancœurs, ils pourraient constituer de petites fenêtres de progrès dans une situation qui se dégrade depuis trop longtemps.


Belgrade/Pristina/Bruxelles, 25 janvier 2021

 

 

Les défis de l’armée tchadienne

International Crisis Group, 22 Javier 2021


Acteur important de la lutte contre le terrorisme au Sahel, l'armée tchadienne est aussi une source d'instabilité potentielle pour le pays. Les autorités tchadiennes, appuyées par leurs partenaires internationaux, devraient rendre l'armée plus représentative et professionnelle et soutenir des garde-fous pour décourager d’éventuelles violences en cas de crise de succession.

 

Que se passe-t-il ?  L’armée tchadienne, souvent sollicitée par ses voisins et les partenaires occidentaux, est une pièce maitresse du dispositif contre le terrorisme au Sahel. Mais sa cohésion générale est faible, les tensions communautaires et les problèmes d’indiscipline y sont récurrents et, plus récemment, de nouvelles dissensions ont émergé en son sein.

En quoi est-ce significatif ? La question de l’armée se pose avec davantage d’acuité aujourd’hui, car le Tchad va traverser une période d’incertitude, avec à court terme une élection présidentielle organisée en 2021 dans un climat social tendu et, à moyen ou long terme, des risques de succession violente si le président devait quitter le pouvoir.

Comment agir ? Les autorités tchadiennes, appuyées par leurs partenaires internationaux, devraient rendre l’armée plus représentative et plus professionnelle, répondre aux mécontentements qui s’expriment et permettre un débat public sur le futur de l’armée nationale. Enfin, des garde-fous doivent être soutenus par les partenaires du Tchad pour décourager d’éventuelles violences en cas de vacance du pouvoir.


Synthèse


L’armée du Tchad joue un rôle central dans le dispositif international de lutte contre le terrorisme au Sahel, mais elle est en même temps une source d’instabilité potentielle pour ce pays. Les différences de traitement entre les troupes d’élite et les autres soldats ainsi que le manque de représentativité régionale et ethnique aux postes de commandement minent sa cohésion. Par ailleurs, ces dernières années, des dissensions inhabituelles ont vu le jour. Certains officiers ont en effet refusé de combattre leurs « parents » rebelles et d’autres, certes peu nombreux, ont publiquement critiqué la gestion des affaires militaires. De nombreux Tchadiens s’inquiètent des risques de succession violente et de luttes au sein d’une armée divisée si le président Idriss Déby Itno, âgé de 68 ans, devait quitter le pouvoir. Les autorités tchadiennes, avec l’aide de leurs partenaires, devront, dans les mois et années à venir, chercher à répondre aux mécontentements qui existent au sein de l’armée, améliorer sa représentativité et surtout identifier des garde-fous pour éviter une transition violente.

Longtemps considéré comme un pays pauvre sans réelle influence régionale et en proie à des rébellions, le Tchad a pris une stature nouvelle sur la scène africaine au cours de la décennie écoulée. Il doit ce regain d’influence avant tout à sa capacité à déployer son armée sur les théâtres d’opérations extérieurs pour combattre les mouvements jihadistes au Sahel et au lac Tchad. Devenu un acteur militaire incontournable dans la lutte contre le terrorisme, le pouvoir tchadien a joué la carte de la diplomatie militaire et consolidé son alliance politique et son partenariat sécuritaire avec les pays occidentaux, notamment la France et les Etats-Unis.

Pourtant, si l’armée est conquérante à l’étranger, elle est loin d’être un facteur d’unité nationale sur son territoire. La volonté affichée par le président Déby à son arrivée au pouvoir en 1990 de créer une armée nationale et professionnelle ne s’est jamais concrétisée. Au cours des 30 dernières années, les autorités ont certes mené plusieurs réformes, mais aucune n’a permis une réelle restructuration des forces de sécurité et de défense, qui demeurent organisées sur des bases communautaires. Par ailleurs, l’absence de méritocratie ainsi que le fossé entre troupes d’élite (dirigées essentiellement par des membres de la communauté du président) mieux formées, mieux équipées, mieux rémunérées et le reste des soldats, nettement moins considérés par le pouvoir, sape la cohésion de l’armée. Cette situation provoque un fort sentiment d’injustice et la frustration de nombreux soldats.

Les relations entre la population et les forces de défense sont ambivalentes. Dans les zones où l’insécurité est forte, comme dans la province du lac Tchad, l’armée est parfois perçue comme un pourvoyeur de sécurité. Dans d’autres régions, au sud par exemple, elle est en revanche souvent considérée comme intrusive. Ces dernières années, une défiance envers les militaires s’est accentuée chez une partie de la population. Les abus fréquents et les cas de corruption dégradent l’image de l’armée, et l’impunité de certains soldats perçus comme proches du pouvoir est de moins en moins tolérée, notamment par la jeunesse.

Si la question de l’armée se pose avec plus d’acuité aujourd’hui, c’est qu’elle connaît des fragilités inhabituelles. Celles-ci tiennent, avant tout, à sa nature et aux défis auxquels elle est confrontée. Si la lutte contre le terrorisme fait consensus au sein de la société, le Tchad est aussi en proie à des conflits « fraternels » dans lesquels rebelles et soldats ont parfois des liens de parenté. Ainsi, en février 2019, lors de l’incursion sur le territoire tchadien de rebelles de l’Union des forces de la résistance (UFR) depuis la Libye, certains officiers tchadiens de haut rang ont refusé de combattre leurs parents enrôlés dans la rébellion. La même année, des militaires ont exprimé leur réticence à aller combattre des groupes d’auto-défense dans la localité aurifère de Miski au nord du pays pour des raisons similaires. Dans ce contexte, les loyautés militaires sont fluides et dépendent surtout des circonstances.

L’état actuel et la nature même de l’armée présentent un risque pour la stabilité du Tchad. A court terme, l’élection présidentielle prévue en avril 2021 pourrait se dérouler dans un climat social tendu et mettre à l’épreuve les forces de sécurité. A moyen terme, beaucoup de Tchadiens et de diplomates sont surtout inquiets des risques de crise de succession violente le jour où le président, dont la santé fait l’objet de spéculations récurrentes, quittera le pouvoir. L’armée concentre en son sein beaucoup des enjeux de pouvoir et des rapports de force qui divisent la société tchadienne. En cas de fin de règne soudaine du président Déby, l’armée pourrait se morceler et des luttes entre factions rivales, notamment le long de lignes communautaires, pourraient éclater avec des conséquences imprévisibles, voire dangereuses, pour la stabilité du pays.

Tant qu’Idriss Déby est président, il est peu probable qu’il engage une transformation en profondeur de l’armée tchadienne. Cela risquerait de fragiliser ses soutiens, redonner du poids à des communautés perçues comme lui étant hostiles et donc mettre en péril sa survie. Pourtant, le président et les autorités tchadiennes, tout comme la société civile, certains partis politiques et les partenaires du Tchad, sont conscients que l’armée porte en elle les germes d’une crise future et qu’elle doit évoluer. Si aucune réforme d’ampleur n’est envisageable à court terme, des progrès, même limités, sont possibles, en prenant plusieurs initiatives :

- Les autorités devraient rendre l’armée plus représentative de la population et renforcer sa cohésion interne. Cela implique de diversifier et rendre plus transparentes les campagnes de recrutement, de mettre fin aux promotions éclair peu justifiées et de permettre des évolutions de carrière plus formelles et linéaires. Par ailleurs, les autorités et les partenaires internationaux du Tchad devraient s’assurer que les investissements, notamment en matière de formation, ne sont pas uniquement concentrés sur les troupes d’élite.

- Pour redorer l’image de l’armée et réduire la défiance d’une partie de la population à l’égard des forces de défense et de sécurité, les autorités devraient sanctionner rapidement les abus des militaires. Par ailleurs, dans les zones rurales, les autorités pourraient prévenir les conflits d’intérêts en évitant de déployer des hauts gradés de l’armée dans des zones où ceux-ci possèdent de grands troupeaux et ainsi éviter que ces derniers ne prennent parti dans la résolution des litiges entre agriculteurs et éleveurs.

- Les autorités tchadiennes devraient inscrire le sujet de l’armée à l’ordre du jour du prochain forum national inclusif prévu en 2022. Ainsi, partis politiques et forces vives du pays pourraient échanger sur l’état des forces de défense et tenter de bâtir un consensus sur les évolutions nécessaires au sein de l’armée à moyen terme. En attendant le forum, les organisations de la société civile pourraient travailler sur ces questions en créant des espaces de dialogue et en formulant des recommandations constructives sur le sujet. Les partis politiques pourraient également utiliser la séquence électorale d’avril 2021 pour présenter leur vision de l’armée tchadienne à moyen et long terme.

- Afin de dissuader, même avec une ambition limitée, les acteurs armés de recourir à la violence en cas de vacance du pouvoir, les organisations de la société civile chargées du suivi des violations des droits humains pourraient travailler à recenser et à documenter les exactions des soldats et des autres combattants tchadiens. Les bailleurs de fonds internationaux et partenaires du Tchad devraient faire leur possible pour s’assurer que ces organisations peuvent opérer dans un cadre sécurisé et ne pas faire l’objet de menaces. La société civile devrait également nouer des relations plus étroites avec les autorités traditionnelles et religieuses qui, en cas de conflit, pourraient jouer un rôle stabilisateur et inciter les jeunes à ne pas prendre les armes.


N’Djamena/Bruxelles, 22 janvier 2021


Pour ‘integralise du text, visiter: https://www.crisisgroup.org/fr/africa/central-africa/chad/298-les-defis-de-larmee-tchadienne

 

International Crisis Group, 14 Javier 2021

De nouvelles structures financières permettront bientôt à l’UE de financer directement les opérations militaires africaines – y compris en fournissant des armements létaux. Pour éviter d’aggraver les conflits, Bruxelles devrait mener de solides analyses de risques, effectuer un suivi constant de son assistance, insister sur les stratégies politiques qui doivent sous-tendre les efforts militaires et permettre à l’UA de garder un rôle de supervision.

 

Que se passe-t-il ? En 2021, l’Union européenne introduira de nouveaux modes de financement pour la paix et la sécurité en Afrique. Le fonds dédié qui appuyait les efforts de prévention et de résolution des conflits de l’Union africaine (UA) sera remplacé par de nouveaux instruments offrant plus de flexibilité dans l’octroi de l’aide.

En quoi est-ce significatif ? Ces nouveaux instruments permettront à l’UE de financer directement un plus large éventail d’opérations et coalitions africaines de soutien à la paix ainsi que les formations et le matériel pour les armées nationales. Bruxelles devra cependant rester vigilante pour éviter des investissements contreproductifs qui aggraveraient des situations déjà tendues dans certains Etats fragiles.

Comment agir ? Pour gérer ces risques, des garanties solides seront essentielles. L’UE devrait insister pour que les bénéficiaires élaborent des stratégies politiques capables d’orienter leurs activités militaires, poursuivre sa collaboration étroite avec l’UA et lui donner les moyens d’assurer une supervision, et éviter de financer le matériel létal des Etats fragiles.

 

Synthèse

 

En 2021, la manière dont l’Union européenne (UE) finance les efforts de paix et de sécurité de l’Afrique depuis seize ans sera modifiée. Jusqu’à présent, l’UE distribuait principalement les fonds destinés à soutenir ces efforts via les structures de l’Union africaine (UA). Les nouveaux outils financiers offriront désormais la possibilité à l’UE de contourner l’UA et de contribuer directement à des initiatives militaires nationales et sous-régionales. Pour la première fois, Bruxelles pourra par ailleurs financer du matériel militaire létal pour les armées africaines. L’UE s’octroie ainsi davantage de flexibilité, mais celle-ci comporte des risques. Bien souvent, les opérations militaires visant à éliminer les menaces à la sécurité africaine ne sont pas accompagnées de stratégies politiques visant à traiter les facteurs de conflit ou à gagner la confiance des populations locales. Pour investir de manière utile et éviter de soutenir des efforts militaires qui pourraient aggraver des situations déjà tendues, l’UE devrait insister pour que les opérations de soutien à la paix qu’elle finance s’inscrivent dans des stratégies politiques et soient supervisées par l’UA. Bruxelles devrait, en outre, procéder à des évaluations de risques avant de financer des formations et du matériel militaires pour les armées africaines, et éviter de fournir du matériel létal à des Etats fragiles.

Depuis 2004, l’UE contribue aux efforts de prévention des conflits déployés par l’UA par le biais de la facilité de soutien à la paix pour l’Afrique (APF), un fonds qui aide à financer les opérations africaines d’appui à la paix, le renforcement des capacités des institutions de l’UA et les initiatives de prévention des conflits conduites par cette dernière. En 2021, l’UE restructurera ses fonds pour la politique étrangère et, dans ce cadre, remplacera cette facilité. Bruxelles apportera désormais un appui financier à la paix et à la sécurité africaines à travers deux nouveaux fonds mondiaux : un pour les opérations militaires et de défense et un autre pour l’aide au développement.

Il n’y aura plus de mécanisme exclusivement dédié au financement de la paix et de la sécurité africaines, mais les nouvelles modalités offriront à Bruxelles davantage de flexibilité et l’UE espère que cette approche permettra d’obtenir de meilleurs résultats pour le continent. Bruxelles pourra financer directement des opérations africaines de soutien à la paix et des coalitions militaires, même lorsqu’elles ne sont pas menées dans le cadre d’un mandat du Conseil de paix et de sécurité de l’UA. Elle pourra également apporter un soutien financier bilatéral pour les formations et le matériel militaires des armées africaines. Ceci n’était pas possible avec les modalités de financement précédentes.

Si l’UE procède à ces changements, c’est notamment pour se défaire de certaines des limitations liées au financement APF et pour appuyer ses propres missions civiles et militaires sur le continent. Cette nouvelle flexibilité doit permettre à Bruxelles de s’assurer que les missions menées par l’UA ne dépendent pas à l’excès d’un appui financier illimité de l’UE et d’éviter les retards d’approvisionnement conséquents résultant du passage des fonds par l’UA. En outre, les fonctionnaires européens et des Etats membres voient en ces nouvelles capacités l’occasion d’intensifier le soutien bilatéral que les Etats membres et l’UE fournissent déjà en matière de formation militaire et de missions de renforcement des capacités dans des pays comme le Mali ou la Somalie.

Cette nouvelle approche pourrait toutefois présenter des écueils. Elle pourrait par exemple affaiblir le rôle de l’UA dans le maintien de la paix sur le continent. Les fonds des facilités qui succèdent à l’APF n’étant plus exclusivement destinés à la mission de paix et de sécurité de l’UA, il se peut qu’un plus grand nombre de bénéficiaires éventuels entrent en concurrence pour obtenir des ressources financières. Le rôle que joue Addis-Abeba dans la supervision des opérations de paix africaines pourrait également être amoindri, puisque Bruxelles pourra financer directement des coalitions ad hoc constituées en dehors de l’UA. L’UE devrait veiller à éviter cela ; elle a besoin de l’expertise de l’UA et a tout intérêt à renforcer les capacités de cette dernière. Bruxelles a besoin qu’Addis-Abeba soit un partenaire fort pour pouvoir relever les défis de stabilité sur le continent qui, pour de nombreux dirigeants européens, sont liés à la sécurité européenne.

L’UE devrait également tirer les enseignements des coalitions ad hoc, comme la Force multinationale mixte qui combat Boko Haram dans le bassin du lac Tchad ou la force conjointe du G5 Sahel. En effet, toutes deux ont rencontré des difficultés à promouvoir une stabilité durable, notamment parce qu’elles ne reposaient pas sur un plan d’action politique visant à établir un lien de confiance entre les populations, à éviter l’exacerbation des tensions communautaires et à faciliter l’accès aux services de base. Si Bruxelles renforce son aide financière à ce type de coalitions, elle devrait insister pour que les opérations militaires soient articulées autour de stratégies politiques et être prête à utiliser son fonds de développement pour contribuer à leur mise en œuvre. Associer ainsi les outils civils et militaires de l’UE nécessitera une volonté politique forte de Bruxelles et une planification stratégique mieux intégrée par les différentes institutions européennes.

Le point le plus controversé sera peut-être que, dans le cadre de cette nouvelle approche de financement par l’UE, Bruxelles pourra financer des formations et du matériel létal militaires pour les armées nationales africaines. Ce type de soutien peut se révéler particulièrement dangereux dans des Etats où mauvaise gestion et corruption des forces de sécurité sont généralisées et où il sera alors difficile de garantir que ce matériel est utilisé aux fins prévues et ne tombe pas dans de mauvaises mains. Les militaires eux-mêmes peuvent devenir un risque pour la stabilité, comme l’a montré le coup d’Etat survenu en août 2020 au Mali. Avant d’apporter ce type de soutien, et pendant la période de financement, Bruxelles doit procéder à des évaluations de risque approfondies, fondées sur des renseignements fournis par les Etats membres de l’UE, afin de déterminer dans quelle mesure son soutien peut attiser les dynamiques de conflit. Dans des Etats fragiles, caractérisés par de hauts niveaux de précarité institutionnelle et sociale ou touchés par des conflits armés, où il est particulièrement probable que l’aide soit mal utilisée, l’UE devrait éviter de financer armes et munitions et se concentrer sur un appui non létal.

Addis-Abeba/Bruxelles, 14 janvier 2021


Pour l’integralitedu text, visiter: https://www.crisisgroup.org/fr/africa/african-union-regional-bodies/297-how-spend-it-new-eu-funding-african-peace-and-security

 

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